Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Knot in my Stomach

It's almost two a.m. and I'm awake again. I'm reminded of Jacob and when he was traveling back toward Esau with his family and all his possessions. Jacob had a knot in his stomach. God told Jacob that He would be with him the entire way, He would keep Him, but still Jacob did not feel safe.
Yesterday, I met with a friend in my office and traveled down memory lane. We are working on a project together and as we talked, I realized that the more I traveled back towards the pain in my memory banks, the more I wanted to run for safety, my kind of safety. I was afraid. We presented each other with the question: "What were the challenges in the relationship with each other, that we've never talked about?" I knew what those challenges were, but I had not voiced them, and in my heart it felt like giving them a voice was a huge risk. But, I stepped out and put words to the challenges, she listened. Then, I asked her what her challenges had been and she did the exact same thing.
We both listened, we both said that we were sorry, we both forgave. It wasn't as scary as I had anticipated, yet at the same time, I still had a knot. I still had tears that wouldn't stop. I still seemed to be responding as if it was terrifying!  I was still feeling like Jacob, unable to believe that God was with me, there to be my Safety and my Refuge.
I had the knot along with a headache for the rest of the day. In fact, my stomach still does not feel like it's normal self. I mulled over our project for several hours after I got home and did some writing about it, still the knot. I prayed, I thought, I sent my friend a text. Still the knot. And now, it's just after two a.m. the knot in my stomach is alive and well, I'm thinking still of Jacob and his wrestle with God. His refusal to let go until he was blessed and his desperate need to just hang on and be with God.  I am just going to hang on too. When he asks me to step out on the ledge and give the challenge a voice, I will step. When He asks me to walk through the fear, and into relationship, then I will go. It's not easy for me, because it feels like I'm heading towards my Esau!
Jesus, there's a knot in my stomach. I do know that you keep Your promises, I know that You keep me. Now, as I wrestle with my challenges, Say That Again to me!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Late Night Post

I fell into bed last night and went to sleep right away. Exhausted from a busy, long day. My day had started very early, at four a.m. and there had been several hours spent stirring apricot jam over the hot stove. It was a good time, coupled with a visit from a friend, several laughs, and my children playing with Lego on the counter.
The afternoon engaged my focus with a team meeting at our ministry house and I found it entertaining to see just how much I don't know about what I'm doing!  I rushed home after the meeting seeking God's guidance and wisdom, eagerly listening for anything He might have to say.
My evening was delightful as I enjoyed time with my daughter in law. Our dinner consisted of chocolate and apricots. We played a game with my son and daughter, and spent time talking; it was a treasured moment.
By the time my kids were safely tucked in bed, and my daughter was off to her own home, I was ready to be done for the night. It had been a long day, busy and full. I slept for four hours, now I am awake! I had a good long nap, and I can't go back to sleep. Fur Ball is pacing the floor, panting, but other than that, the house is quiet. I could get up and work, or just sit here and write, or try to sleep, or read...
I could text my husband, he's out of town right now, and he's probably awake.
Now, it's two a.m. on Monday. I do not know what this day will bring, but I pray that I will be able to rely on the promises God has given me.  As I walk through another day with Him, I will remember how He has walked with me before, and carried me before, and I will have faith. I do not know what today will bring, but because of the way He was in my life yesterday, I want to remember today that He is faithful, steadfast, loving, and kind.  He is my Shelter, it's okay to rest in Him.
Say That Again, Jesus, You have walked with me and carried me, I can have faith in You.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Great Escape

God and I have been conversing about feelings the last few days. He prefers that I feel them, I prefer to skip over them. It can be challenging to feel, respond, and move on.  This morning, God led me to read the story of Jonah, and this guy was really something! God asked him to go on a mission, to go and preach to a city of lost people. But, Jonah, didn't want to so he decided he would go the opposite direction and he hopped on a ship and hid.
Once the ship got out to sea, God sent a huge storm, the ship was about to break into pieces, when the crew found Jonah they starting asking questions. Finally, they threw him overboard, because he told them to, and the storm stopped. Just like that!
Jonah was running away from God and from his feelings, he wanted to escape everything. He actually thought he could escape the presence of God.  Once he was in the ocean, God sent a big fish to swallow him up and there he stayed for three days---ewe.
Fish got indigestion, Jonah got spewed out of belly, and God told Jonah to go to the city and preach to the lost again! He finally got the message and he went, and all the people surrendered to God, Jonah got mad because God was so darn good and kind!  Seriously? Jonah pouting because people are saved? He did all that work, and God changed His mind. Poor Jonah.
I know how Jonah feels. Sometimes I have these overwhelming amount of feelings,  many of them due to my circumstances, and I find myself asking God "so what are you doing?" or "you said this, but I see this."  My desire is to run and make the great escape, just like Jonah did. But, when I make that choice, God usually sends a storm of some sort to bring me back.
God used Jonah to preach to a city, and through his voice 120,000 people chose to serve the God of heaven. So, God chose to save the city, He was pleased. Jonah chose to feel self-pity, and anger. Still, through it all, God used him. And, Jonah was blessed, I think he learned, and I have learned from Jonah, and I have laughed from his story too.
Father, Say That Again, You send me, You bring me back when I try to escape, You hold me when I feel. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The God of Jacob

So, I'm back to Jacob again in my bible because God  keeps sending me to his story.  I read several chapters this morning and I'm thankful that my husband only has one wife!! Jacob went running off, scared stiff of Esau because he lied to his father about who he was. Then he made it to his Uncle Laban and saw Rachel, it was love at first sight. He said that he would work for seven years so that he could marry her, and work he did. Then, he married, only to wake up on his wedding day to find that dear Uncle Laban had given him big sister Leah, not his beloved Rachel. Interesting turn of events for Jacob to have such a trick pulled on him, I think, but he wasn't happy at all and he went straight to Laban and put in his complaint. Laban told him that it was the custom to marry off the oldest daughter first, then the youngest, and if he wanted Rachel he had to work another seven years. Jacob agreed, and he got Rachel too! Plus, along with both daughters, their maidservants.
Jacob did not love Leah, but she is the one that gave him sons.  Her first son, she named Reuben, which means,  Behold a Son.  Then, she had Simeon, which means, Hearing. "Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved." she said.  Then she had another son and named him Levi, which means, attached, with this son, she said: "with this son my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons."  And, then she had yet another son and named him Judah, which means, praise, and she said, "I will praise the Lord."
When Rachel realized her sister was having children she became jealous! And, the competitions were on, the rest of the story is in Genesis 30, and I found it fascinating to read again the story of how Jacob's family grew, and how God blessed them, even through the jealousy, and the sin, and the endless competition between two sisters!
Then there's Jacob, God finally told him to pack up and take his large family back home, back to where Esau was. So, he gathered everyone up and escaped without Laban's knowledge. Even though He had the promise of God that God would go with him, he was afraid. And, he even wrestled with God face to face, and received a blessing, yet still he was unable to trust Him.
I am relieved to see that Jacob was as human as I am. God has told me over and over again that He will go with me, that He will not leave me or forsake me. His promises have been sure and solid right in front of me, yet still there have been so many times that I am still afraid and unable to trust. There are many times that I am just like Jacob! Still God is steadfast, not leaving me, but calmly reassuring me that He has a plan.
Say That Again Jesus, I get caught up in the competition of life, or I forget to trust that you have a plan. But You are here and You are trustworthy, enable me to remember that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is my God too!

The Answered Prayers

Both my husband and I have been taking some time to think and pray, to step back and reflect. Yesterday as my husband was talking to me about the prayers he has prayed the last couple of years, he pointed out that God is, and has answered most all of them. The route He has taken us in answering them has been rather long and painful, but He has answered! We prayed, He answered.  This is true for my prayers as well, they have been of a different nature than my husbands, but God certainly has answered. It is different than I may have imagined, yet in some ways hope can allow me to believe it will get better.
This morning I have been paging through Psalms and thinking about David. God said that David was a man after His own heart. What does that mean? David was an adventurous man, a tender man, a warrior, he killed thousands of men, he took another mans wife, he had numerous wives, he didn't rescue his daughter after she was raped, or discipline his sons, and he often took matters into his own hands.
David had to flee his kingdom because his own son was out to kill him! It seems there was some tension going on amongst the family members. This was his prayer to God when he ran from his kingdom:

"Many are saying of my soul, 
'there is no deliverance for him in God.' 
But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. 
I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain."
Psalms 3:2-4

David did do a lot of stuff. But what I've noticed about him is that he continually came to the throne of God and talked to Him. He knew that God could and would save him! He understood that God was the Rock, the shield, the firm foundation, the Only One to call upon when in distress, and the Great I Am.  He understood confession, and God's redeeming grace. David was not afraid to go to God's holy mountain and claim his identity as God's child.

In Psalms 18:2 it says this:

"The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

David praised God his entire life, through all his trials. And, when he sinned, he confessed his sin, and God forgave him. God thrived within David's heart, because David openly spoke of who God is. When I skip to the end of the Psalms in my bible, it's the same, still praising God.  In chapter 147 on the Message side I have this underlined:

"He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars and assigns  each a name.
Our Lord is great, with  limitless strength;
we'll never comprehend what he knows and does."

Father God, today I will praise You because You love my heart. I will praise You because You see me and You forgive me. I will praise You because You are my refuge, shield, and stronghold, and You do answer my prayers when I call. Say That Again, Father you answer prayer!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Ladder to Heaven

A friend of mine asked the question about what would life look like if there were no masks? What if she and all people were just themselves? All the time? 
I started thinking about the people in the bible and wondered what it would've been like for them to not wear masks. I often think about Jacob, and what if he had not pretended to be Esau? What would've happened? He got himself all gussied up in goats hair and went into his fathers tent and made up a big fat lie about his identity! And, he did it so he could get his father's blessing, because he didn't trust that God could get it for him. He wore a mask. But then, Esau was so stinking mad, that he wanted to kill Jacob for stealing the blessing! 
So, Jacob had to leave home. On his way out of town, he stopped for the night and rested his head on a stone. He had a dream of a ladder set on the ground, and it reached to heaven. God's angels were going up and down the ladder.

"Then God was right before him, saying, 'I am God the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. I'm giving the ground on which you are sleeping to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will be as the dust of the earth; they'll stretch from west to east and from north to south. All the families of the earth will bless themselves in you and your descendants. Yes. I'll stay with you, I'll protect you wherever you go, and I'll bring you back to this very ground. I'll stick with you until I've done everything I promised you.'" Genesis 28:13-15

When Jacob woke up from this dream, he marveled at the fact that God was in this place! He said: "God is in this place-truly. And I didn't even know it!" He built a pillar in that place and named it Bethel. Then he made a vow to God:

"If God stands by me and protect me on this journey on which I'm setting out, keeps me in food and clothing, and brings me back in one piece to my father's house, this God will be my God. This stone I have set up as a memorial pillar will mark this as a place where God lives. And everything you give, I'll return a tenth to you."

I don't know how it would've been if Jacob would've waited on the Lord and not worn the mask of goat hair. Even after his dream of the ladder and hearing God promise to protect him and be with him wherever he goes, he begins his vow to God with an "if". Clearly, Jacob was unable to trust God, yet God was steadily by his side, unwavering, faithful, loving, and full of grace. God saw the heart of Jacob, not the goat hair!
I've thought about this a lot and about Jacob.  I like his story. I like how God is so patient with him and the blessings He bestowed upon him. I know I will continue to learn from his story, and continue to climb upward on the ladder to heaven.
Say That Again, Strong God of Heaven, You give all Your children a ladder to heaven, and promises of protection.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Incense

When I think about all the changes in life for me and our family, I start to feel pretty overwhelmed. And, the changes are still in process. We've been experiencing them for the last couple of years, and it appears, unless something changes, we will continue to have some major changes in the way we live our lives. I have found it to be a big adjustment, and for my husband, it has been an incredible test of his faith in God. My husband has watched everything that he has worked for slip away. He has kept his hands open to God and his life surrendered knowing that all that we have belongs to God anyway.
I have been challenged with many emotions on all levels. As I watch my husband work to hold our business together, as we work to keep our ministry house,  our home, and as a family we pray for God's will and purpose in our lives; it appears that nothing is going to stay together! God has a better plan. His plan to expand the territory of our hearts and use us to further His Kingdom is well underway, but clearly if I am hanging on to old stuff He cannot be as effective in my life. There are the moments, the days, that I feel like I won't stop crying, like it probably won't ever get better, but, I know that is not true. God's promises are eternal and He has given me riches and beauty and heaven. He has given me a plan and a purpose here on earth, and He will use all of this as part of that plan. He is an amazing God. He takes all things and turns them into good.
This morning, when I woke, the scripture that came to mind was Revelation 5:8

When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowl full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

The prayers of the saints are like incense, sweet smelling. And, on those times, when the saints, when I am unable to voice my prayer, the Spirit of God  takes that sweet smelling incense to the throne of God and tells Him my thoughts, because He knows. He knows, because he resides in me. There have been a few times this week that I felt like my prayers were moans and groans and all I could do was simply cry. I had no words for God. I don't know what is going to happen, but I do know it's probably not going to be easy. I also know this, I am  so very blessed. I praise the name of Jesus for He is God and He is Light.
Say That Again, Sweet Jesus, the air smells sweet with the incense of prayer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Stolen Identity

Several days ago I watched a movie about a young women that was divorced. She decided to travel for a few months in hopes of discovering God and herself. In her travels, she met some friends that began asking her questions about who she was and as she answered them, they responded back by saying to her: "this is what you do, not who you are!"
I have been working on taking back my identity for a long time. It was stolen from me. The enemy of my soul stole it before I even had a chance to recognize that it was mine to keep.  He does that to many of God's children, and then he convinces them that they can't take it back. It's a lie.
God, the Lover of my soul, Truth Maker, Identity Creator, Soul Redeemer, Mind Transformer, Heart Molder, and Life Lighter, has my identity in his Hands. He shaped me in my mother's womb, He created a plan for my life, a purpose for me, and as His child, He will fulfill that purpose in my life!
But, there's the identity thing....I spent some time thinking about this yesterday and as I looked over my life I could see how the enemy of my soul had very successfully stolen my identity from birth. It has taken me years to claim it! And, not just claim it, but believe it, walk it, and live it!  And, then just when I think I'm believing it, something else might pop up, and the enemy will say: "remember when?"  And, he begins to pull at my claim on who I am in Christ Jesus, the truth of what I know.
He is a thief, he tells lies, he is cunning. If I am not clothed in Jesus, the armor of truth and righteousness, I will not be protected from his arrows.
This was read to me by someone dear yesterday:

But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, A holy nation, a people for God's own Possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. For you  once were not a people, but now you are  the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

Jesus, thank you for fighting for me, and giving me an identity. I know the enemy will relentlessly work to steal it! Jesus, Say That Again, I am Your chosen child, captured in Your Hands!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Results

Our team came together, like they always do, and worked really hard this last weekend. We had fun.  We were blessed with a lot of donations for our House Yard sale, and we spent a lot of time sorting, pricing, and laughing!
I watched a team of people come together and work seamlessly. They got along with each other in a kind and loving way. They reached out to the community and to each other. I felt blessed to be on their team. I watched them be rich in the Spirit of God, and further His Kingdom. I saw their hearts and the hearts of others expanded, and that was exciting.
I don't always know what God is doing or how He is going to do it, but I do know He is going to do something good. I know He is going to keep His promises and there will be abundant blessings because of it. This is what He did last weekend.
Jesus, thank you for using The House Yard Sale to be a good result in my life and the life of others. Say That Again, You are working in the community and I feel blessed to be a part of that work!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Breastplate of Righteousness

As I was rummaging through a box a couple days ago to prepare for our yard sale I came across a play breastplate that my children used to play with when they were little. The Breastplate of Righteousness. They would get dressed up in all their armor and out the door they would go, straight into battle. When I saw the breastplate, it brought back many fond memories of little boys fighting many serious battles. A little later my 10year son came running towards me sporting his older brothers sword! He had it secured to his belt and was prepared for battle himself. The Sword of the Spirit, another story.
Back in the day, the Roman breastplate was usually made of bronze, sometimes chain mail. It was called the heart protector, because it guarded the vital organs that keeps us alive.
If I am going to have the breastplate of righteousness on and keep it in place, I must first put on the belt of truth, which holds it in place. Then I put on the breastplate, which is practical application of truth in my life, and then practicing what I know is right.
The enemy, of course, will not like this. he will throw fiery darts my way and do whatever he can to get me to take off the belt of truth and all my armor. So, I am left defenseless on the battleground. He will fling all kinds of accusations my way, I know, because I hear them! But, with the breastplate of righteousness his accusations and lies (fiery darts) can be met with God's truth. Through the power of God, I can say: "I renounce that lie Satan! The truth is, I am complete in Jesus." And, so the battle continues, His Saints are marching on. The Armor is in place, and the war has already been won.
In Ephesians 6 on the Message side I read this:

God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Say That Again, Jesus, Clothe me in Your Armor today, keep my eyes open, and enable me to be there for other's in the way that You desire, so that none of us falls behind.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The House Yard Sale

I worked most of the day at Agape yesterday getting ready for our yard sale. We have a lot of furniture, clothes, odds and ends to sale today and tomorrow. It's been a lot of work and fun getting it all together with a team of people. We met last night for dinner and pulled a lot of it outside and started to price it and organize it. It came together pretty well, although at times, it seemed chaotic. We have a lot of children that run to and fro and that always adds to our adventures. When my son came and started to play basket ball in the middle of our yard sale project it got a little frustrating to tired adults!
Our entertainment was children pushing a man on my motorcycle down the road, and adults taking turns holding my grandson! And, of course every 30 seconds someone had to retrieve Fur Ball as he seemed to escape the house or yard.
This morning, as I replayed the evening in my mind and smiled about each person that God has placed in my life, I feel grateful for the family he has given me. This is a team of people that consistently show up in my life to love and support the calling God has placed on their hearts and mine. Not only that, but I have found that they are seeking truth as well, like me, so we are like minded.
I read in Ephesians again this morning which is what made me think of all of this, chapters 3 and 4. In chapter 3, verse 12:

When we trust in Him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go..."

Then chapter 4, verse 1:

....Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called."

We all stand on the same ground before God, everyone of us. And, there's this amazing thing about that, God in all His beauty, loves each one of us so much that He gave Jesus to save us, to save me. And, because He did that, I have a Body of friends that I can call my family. If I am able to trust Him, I will be able to be free enough to say whatever He prompts me to say and bold enough to go wherever He tells me to go. And, through that process, I will live in a manner worthy of His calling. Even, in the chaotic yard sale moments, when basket balls are flying, or motorcycles are zooming by, Fur Ball is racing off. Life is chaotic, adventurous, and for me I guess it will be bazaar at times. This is the walk He has given me, I will trust Him.
Jesus, Say That Again, You will give me boldness, and freedom if I trust in You!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Boy in the Tree

My son has had an extra dose of spunk lately. I had to have a little talk with him last night about his over zealous attitude, and complete loss of manners. I wondered if the manners got left in the tree that he was stuck in, the one I had to rescue him out of just yesterday?
He climbed up in the chestnut tree, via a table he had pulled over to step up on to give himself a lift, then up he went into the tree. I watched him do it as a friend and I visited on the deck. Then, as he climbed into the tree. The other children peered up at him, but none of them attempted to get on the table and follow him up the tree. All was well, for a little while, until it was time to come down and he realized getting out of the tree was far more challenging than getting up the tree! "Great." I thought to myself
I just happened to be wearing a dress that day and sandals, not exactly tree climbing attire.
So, I first considered waving down a nice passerby. I could just be the damsel in distress, and some guy could come rescue him. That should work, but the guy in the truck that drove by looked at me and pushed the gas pedal down a little more. So, that didn't work.
So, I got a chair, put it by the table, my dear friend securely held the table and up I went onto the table. Yes, it was odd, I'm sure, and I'm not sure how many neighbors were watching, but my son was stuck in the tree! I coached him to slowly turn around and make his way into my arms, one leg at a time. I cautioned him to go easy, reminding him that he weighs almost as much as me and I wouldn't be able to hold him for long.
He made his way down, and I grabbed onto him, steady, steady, the plastic table still standing beneath us. My son, made it into my arms and off the table and me back onto the chair and then the ground. My friend then announced that the legs of the table were bending and the kids should stay off that table! Whew, just in the nick of time!
My son and his friends went off to find more mischief as seems to be the summer pattern, and my friend and I had a good laugh. But, of course I was reminded of how I am so often stuck somewhere and God comes to rescue me. He does what it takes to get me out of the tight spot, and into the security of His arms. And, if I run off to get into more trouble, being ill mannered again, He pursues me again and brings me back and talks to me about it. He presents the issue to me and works me through the problem. He keeps doing this until I am no longer stuck or ill mannered! Just like I do with my own son!
I read this verse in Psalms 136 this morning:

God remembered us when we were down,
His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
His love never quits!

Say That Again, Jesus, You will never quit on me, or Your children. You will always come for me.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Bride

This morning, when I woke the thought I had was about reconciling the bride with Christ, and Christ coming back for His Bride--me and you, His Body. As soon as I made my coffee and got to my study, I started to page through my bible. The verse in Revelation 19: 6-8 was highlighted:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters, and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For the Lord God almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

A few days ago, my husband and kids were watching a movie and there was a bride dressed in the most stunning gown. I've seen the movie several times, but this is the first time that I had really noticed the details of her gown and veil. I thought she looked magical, the perfect bride.
I thought of her again this morning, as I envisioned myself preparing for the coming of the Lamb. His Robe of Righteousness around me, bright and clean. My life before Him, surrendered, rejoicing, and glad to give Him the glory!
Say That Again, Jesus, You are coming back for Your Bride. For me, and for all that love you. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Day at the River

We went to the river yesterday. Its a beautiful drive there. And, this year we've had so much rain, it's especially green. Our friends have property right on the banks of the river, so the view is spectacular! Our children, and our dog, had fun playing in the water.
And, then, as a group, we started telling stories about another visit to the river. The time we were there and a friend packed his two kids and his wife across the river and climbed the mountain. Everybody laughed in amazement. My son decided that he should climb the mountain and asked if he could cross the river too.  Eventually, my husband and two children were headed out to cross the river, one on his shoulders, the other firm in his hand.  The river banks lined with an audience.
Half way into the river, my son lost his footing and panic washed over his face. At that point, I had my own rescue plan secure in my head, just in case. But, my husband never lost his firm grip on him, not ever. And, my daughter, still high on his shoulders, never felt at risk, not even once. My husband gently turned around, and guided my children back to where they started, he decided they really couldn't make it across the river.
Naturally, I was very relieved to see them turn around and as they were gingerly walking back, I continued to pray that their steps would be steadfast and God would hold them up. When they made it to the river bank, I felt many emotions. I didn't like seeing my family out in the river like that, away from me. Leaving me with nothing to do, but PRAY!  I realized, hadn't I just asked God to enable me to be completely dependent on Him?  I can't do anything?  I have to simply pray and then leave it all up to Him?  I often think I do that, but that was a good test. I'm thinking prayer is mighty, and that is the reason His Word says things like "pray without ceasing" or "devote yourselves to prayer" or "Jesus prayed the whole night" As I was standing there on the riverbank, praying, I was doing the most powerful thing for my family. It was the best rescue plan available to them. It really was my only option.
God, I am blessed to have the ability to pray. You have given me prayer partners. You have given me Your Spirit to take my prayers to Your Throne. You hear me, and speak to my heart. Say That Again to me, and I will pray!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Perfect Moment

Both of my children had a wonderful time gazing upon their nephew yesterday. It was the perfect moment! We were gifted with his presence for a few hours, and never once was he put down. He is my first grandson, and I'm certain I could hold him all the time, given the chance :) 
As a family, we spend considerable time looking for the resemblance of other family members in him. "He's just like his daddy, when he does that!" "His eyes are exactly like his mom." Most everyone thinks that he looks just like his daddy, but as I look at him, I see more of his lovely mom. Whatever the case, he clearly comes from them, and I am so excited to have him in our family. 
As I cared for him and held him yesterday, recognizing his complete dependence on me, my thoughts turned to my relationship with God. I cannot breathe, my heart does not beat, my very soul is not alive without a relationship with my God. He is my life, and unless I learn complete dependence on Him, trust, in Him, I cannot fully live my life!
This morning, I was just flipping the pages of my Bible and in Galatians chapter 3, on the Message side this was underlined:

"Anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure."

That's pretty clear. Further down, it says this:

"The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you."

Jesus, I need You. You are the Way, The path I choose to walk. You are Light, air, hope, everything that is good. Say That Again to me today, so I surrender to You, and keep my eyes on You.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Spiritual Blessing

I've been thinking about blessings a lot. God has pointed out my blessings over the years, and has asked me to focus on blessing others. Sometimes, I have gone through a day and have failed to see the blessings, because I've been in too much pain. In the pit of despair, it can be challenging to know that the blessings of God are alive and vibrant, even when my life feels like it's falling apart!
I read Ephesians 1 this morning and it's all about the spiritual blessings that God has given me. In verse 3 it says that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ! 
The first blessing  listed is Adoption. Long ago, He decided to adopt me into His family through Christ Jesus.
The next blessing is redemption and forgiveness. Now I am free, abundantly FREE.
Blessing number three? He made known to me the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention. He has let me, and all His children in on the plan. It is through Christ that I discover who I am and what I am living for!
Next blessing? I have a great inheritance. I'm predestined for His purpose, and He works all things according to His will.
Topping it off with the blessing of the sealing of the Holy Spirit, who is given as a pledge to me.  The Spirit is a promise to me that I will get everything that is promised to me, which is a glorious and praising life. 
I enjoyed reading this chapter, and will read it many more times to remind myself of these blessings. To tell myself of the richness that I have right now deep within my soul. On the days that I feel like I'm in the pit, I will work to remember that I have a great inheritance!
Say That Again, my Jesus. Blessings abound!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Man's Dog

I took my kids and Fur Ball to the lake today. It's been hot here, so a dip in the lake was a welcome relief for all of them. Fur Ball especially needed to be cooled down, he has a lot of extra hair. We arrived at one of our favorite spots and hiked up the hill, then back down the other side to our beach. We were surprised to discover that there was already someone there. A man and his dog, the dog was just like Stinky dog! My kids were intrigued to see another Stinky dog swimming in the water, and asked the man what her name was and where she came from. I assured them that she belonged to him and it was not actually our Stinky Dog. They seemed a bit skeptical.
Fur Ball loved the man's dog, and he wanted to play. He tried everything to get her attention. He danced around the waves in the water and barked. He nipped at the dogs hind feet, and her butt. He did leaps and nose dives off the dock. But, the man's dog had no interest at all in Fur Ball. She found Fur Ball to be an irritation, and the more Fur Ball tried to get her attention, the more of irritation he became. Fur Ball even went all the way into the lake, getting his hair completely wet for the man's dog, but still she did not sway from her conviction that Fur Ball was nothing but an irritant.
She was a beautiful dog, but her attitude was not like Stinky Dog. In my opinion, Stinky Dog would have played with Fur Ball. But, I kind of liked Stinky Dog and was with the opinion that she could do no wrong, even after she attacked the biker in the street. So, I may not be the best person to ask.
It comforts me to know that Jesus has even more love and grace towards me than I had towards Stinky Dog. He pursues me more than Fur Ball pursued the Man's Dog today. His grace abounds, His love is endless. Say That Again, Jesus, You are my God and You love me!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Waiting Room

A couple days ago a friend and I were discussing how God has waiting rooms.  He will often call each one of us to wait for something, and then I feel like I'm "put" in a waiting room. It's like waiting in the hospital for someone to come out of surgery, or for my daughter in law to deliver her baby. Sometimes the waiting room can be painful, and seems to last for a very long time. It requires endurance, patience, and surrender. I think other times the waiting room can be exciting with some anticipation and hope.
To wait on the Lord means to expect eagerly, to continue steadfastly, and to sit constantly beside. Waiting is not passive. Waiting is actively involved in relationship with Jesus, asking daily for His desire, and seeking His will. Waiting is retrieving from Him boldness, courage, His power to be steadfast and constant. Sometimes, I have discovered that in the waiting room, there is bad news. Or, the waiting room can sometimes be labeled by other people as something they perceive like "lack of faith" "crazy" "sinner"  etc...it takes relationship with Jesus and a steadfast constant hand to wait for His timing and turn away from labels and endure bad news.

In James 5 verse 11 it says this:  "We count those blessed  who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."

Say That Again, Jesus, Your blessings, compassion, and mercy are full to those who patiently wait for You in The Waiting Rooms.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Sticky Table

Last night I had dinner with a friend for her birthday. We went to a restaurant by the lake and the view was serene and quiet. I was the first to arrive and the hostess showed me to a little table in the corner by a big window. I could see boats on the lake, mountains in the distance, and a sweet couple playing with their two dogs in the water. It was nostalgic, fun, and um...really sticky. I lifted my glass of water, and it was as if it had a worn sticker on the bottom of the glass. I put my hands down on the table, and sure enough, the entire table was, sticky. Interesting. It was clean, and sticky, and funny.
My friend arrived and she instantly noticed the sticky table, we laughed each time we lifted our water.  Our food arrived, our drinks, and the Sticky table cloth entertained us, even lightened our sometimes heavy conversation. Near the end of our meal, our waiter announced that for birthdays  dessert are free, so we ordered a chocolate brownie sundae, and off he went to retrieve the delightful finale to our meal. When he arrived with it, he put it in front of my friend and promptly knocked over the pitcher of huckleberry mint drink we had sitting on the table. Sticky huckleberry raced across the table and both my friend and I jumped out of our chairs in an effort to avoid having it all over our laps. Sticky, sticky, sticky.
The waiter was somewhat flustered and admitted he was new on the job. He raced off to find a dishrag, leaving us with useless napkins and a flooded sticky table! Laughter spewed out of both of us, thankful to be dry, and not sticky.  As our waiter came back to our table and surveyed the situation, he decided it would be best to simply move us to a different table with our chocolate brownie sundae. So, leaving him to clean the huckleberry disaster, we scooted over to a different table and settled ourselves down with our sweet dessert. I went for my glass of water, only to discover that there was a sticky cloth on this table too!!
I am so pleased to know that whatever sticky situation I am in, and whatever happens while I am in that situation, God's Righteous Right Hand is upon me! I read about it in Isaiah this morning in chapter 41, verse 10:

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Say That Again, King of Kings, You will uphold me through every situation, even the sticky ones!

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Really Nice Pictures

Our son took photo's at The House Banquet, I'm excited to share some of them. I think he did a great job!   Once again, The House Banquet was a lot of fun, and God blessed all of us abundantly. I was blessed in many ways. 
Jesus, thank you for all that you do and for bringing the Agape Team into my life. Thank you for The House Banquet and for blessings like these pictures so we can remember. You are good, all the time.
Say That Again to me everyday. Continue to lift me up with Your Righteous Right Hand, and use me in Banquets, and all things!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Earnest Prayer

I woke this morning thinking about blessings again desiring to pray an earnest prayer to God for abundant blessings within my soul and heart. A prayer like the prayer that Jabez prayed. I've prayed like this many times, but this morning it felt more like a plea.

Father, most Precious God,

Bless me! Take all that you have given me, and enlarge it.  Our business, our ministry, every opportunity. Expand my horizons, and rescue me in every area that I am in trouble.
Bless my husband and my children. Bless my ministry team and every person that enters the doors of Agape.  Multiply the relationships there by the power of Your Spirit. Multiply the influence of Agape and the Team for the glory of Jesus.
Bring wisdom to my husband and courage, boldness, strength and joy.  Expand his territory for Your glory. Guard him from the evil one.
Bless my children, each one of them and expand their lives for Your glory.
Jesus, bless me and expand my opportunities and impact my life in such a way that I touch more lives for Your glory. Use me to do more for you. Favor my key relationships to influence Your Kingdom. Father, send me divine appointments, and bless me with boldness, courage, and wisdom to stand in Your truth. Enable me to depend only on You and Your Spirit to speak through me. Jesus, expand Your Kingdom A LOT though me, and enable me to trust You.
Father, keep Your hand upon me and upon my family. Keep us dependent on Your strength. Be great and work through us, Lord God. Bless us with the gift of faith. Your power, not mine.
I'm pleading with You, for Your blessing, indeed.  Your hand of Power upon me and my family.
Father, keep us all from evil. Be our Guard, our Hedge, a Firewall around us. Jesus, keep me from temptation. Keep me from making the mistakes I'm most prone to when temptation comes. Protect me Father by Your power! You are the true source of all that is really life, direct my steps away from all that is not of You.
Jesus, keep my focus on the life eternal. Show me Your glory, Your revelation of truth. Open doors that expand the borders of my horizons deeply into Your horizons! Jesus, bless me, indeed!
Say That Again, Bless The Name Of Jesus!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Little Trip North

My kids and I went on an adventure yesterday to visit some friends. They live in a town North of us, it's not far, but to my kids it seems like a long drive. When my older boys were young, we lived in this town for several years, so every time we visit now, my younger kids get to hear stories about their older brothers. our pets and all their escapades.
As we moved along the main street I pointed out to them where our coffee shop/book store use to be and where the story of how our dog Pretzel once made her way down main street and visited all the restaurants for a hand out!  This led to the story of how the same Pretzel mysteriously got stuck on our roof in a rain storm and I made my way earnestly up to rescue her only to find myself stuck up there with her. The three little boys peering up at me and the dog, as I tried to pry her wedged leg out from between a post and the roof. Finally, my eight year old called 911 and we were rescued by a fireman and his hefty ladder!
We visited the ice cream shop that their brothers would walk to in the summer and we had ice cream. It was still just as good. We drove by the house their brothers lived in, and to them I think it feels strange to imagine that their very big brothers were once little kids, just like them.
Our life has changed a lot since the days of living in the little town up North. Our three boys have grown up, and we have two more children, and grandchildren, and daughters! God has expanded our territory in so many ways, and challenged us in numerous ways. Our blessings have overflowed, the love has been abundant.
This morning, I skipped around a lot in my Bible, but the two areas that stood out the most were 2 Chronicles 16: 9 and Ephesians 3:16-19

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His...."

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth , and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God."

As I took my children down memory lane in the little town up North, God was also speaking to me. Reminding me of prayers I've prayed over the years, and answers He has given. "Father, bring my boys women to love them!"  "Father, protect their hearts, guard my husband, strengthen us as we move ahead, show me how to love people, penetrate my HEART!"  "Father, put Your Hand upon me, and give me Your spirit, reveal to me Your glory!"  "Father, use me to further Your Kingdom!"
He has changed many things, and continues to challenge my faith. I continue to pray. "Father, bless me, open up doors that I do not even imagine, use me, the ministry I have, our business, and each person I interact with to further Your Kingdom."  My prayer is that this place that I live right now will establish memories for my children that are bright with a life for Him. Rich with blessings of love and hope, where the Hand of God has touched each one of us in such a way that when they are grown they will talk of the richness of God's power to their children and the fullness of His Spirit.  Memory lane will be one of striving for eternity, living in faith, walking in courage and boldness and believing in a God that does what He says because He loves me, and I asked.
Say That Again, My God, You have heard my cry, and You have promised to see me and continue to bless me. Your Hand will continue to touch me with the fullness of Your Spirit!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Meeting

Last night I met with a lovely group of ladies. We had dinner together. We sat on the deck of a home that overlooks a lake and the view was incredible. I was invited "last minute" to come and listen to meet these ladies, but also to give information about our ministry.
The conversation bounced around with each woman sharing a little about her own personal story and then me sharing about what I do at Agape Celebration.  But, we seemed to come back to one thing often, and that was the abuse of  girls in our country.  Human trafficking, prostitution, slavery.  Big words, huh? Some people might want to stop reading, some people might want to say it doesn't even exist in our country, there could be a lot of thoughts about now....
This is an issue in our country. I know that I don't have a solution, but I do know the One who does. I believe God put me in that group of women for a reason, to speak, to give voice to a problem that is prominent and evil.
This morning when I woke, this was still on my mind, as I know it will continue to be. My Bible opened to Romans 8. As I moved down the chapter, I loved reading verses 15 and 16:

"For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out 'Abba Father'  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God."

Again, God calls me and all of His creation to freedom. And, when there is captivity, He parts the sea and provides a way of escape. He brings a group of women who seek awareness and march forward as His Saints through the power of His Spirit, to do something, anything.  Then, like the swiftness of an arrow, and the fire in the night, there is change. He brings a passion in each heart.
Say That Again, King Jesus! I am Your adopted Daughter, Your Crowned Jewel, no longer bound to slavery in any way. You have come to set the captives free, and I will serve You!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The happy Fourth of July

We celebrated the Fourth of July with friends and family. It was a fun day. We started with the parade, and like every year, met friends walking the sidewalks and sitting along the curbs. My daughter and I even challenged a friend on a race to the bathrooms as the three of us found our way through the obstacle coarse of people.
Our house was full to the brim with children and dogs as we gathered for a barbecue. I felt grateful to my friends for being so helpful, because I was not prepared at all for a crowd.  I have been busy with other things the last few days, and didn't even know what was in my refrigerator! But, we pulled together and came up with a great meal, entertainment for six children, three dogs, and some restful time for the adults!
Our afternoon and evening was spent at the beach, again busy with friends and family. It brings me back to the blessings of God and the relationships He has brought into my life. He has gathered people around me that love me, and I feel blessed. Because of this, I will bless and praise His name. He has blessed me with the freedom to choose my relationships, to invite people into my life and to love them fully. He has blessed me with the freedom to give and to take. He has blessed me with the freedom to be a deep-spirited friend, and to receive deep-spirited friendships. This is why the Fourth of July was happy!
This morning, I read through parts of Isaiah again. My eyes rested on chapter 45, verse 2:

"I'll go ahead of you, clearing and paving the road.
I'll break down bronze city gates, smash padlocks, kick down barred entrances.
I'll lead you to buried treasures, secret caches of valuables--
Confirmations that it is, in fact, I, God, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name."

As I clearly saw the valuables in my life on the Fourth of July, and how my God has, and continues to clear and pave the road to them, I felt overwhelmed and honored to be called by God.  He has, without a doubt continually broke down city gates, smashed padlocks, and kicked barred entrances, in my life. He has done this so I could learn to love, and let love, this is the buried treasure.
Jesus, Say That Again, You will continue to lead me to buried treasure, and caches of valuables, and confirm to me that it is You that calls me by my name!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Hearts Freedom

As a country we celebrate our freedom today. My kids love to go to the parade, and then we always go to the lake and set up our chairs, blanket, cooler, and just hang out for the day. We have friends that come along, family, and it's fun. We always have a certain kind of cookies that we only eat on the 4th of July, my kids call them the firework cookies.  It's usually a warm day, filled with fun memories from past activities, and busy with the current activities of the day. I like it a lot.
This morning as I was thinking about our day and thanking God for freedom, I especially felt drawn to His heart. What if I did not have the freedom to go where I want to go, the freedom of my country?  Still, because God has pursued me so passionately, with an unrelenting swiftness, my heart has freedom wherever I am. Freedom in Him.
I read Psalms 103 this morning. It starts out like this:
"O my soul, bless God, don't forget a single blessing!"
Blessings like His forgiveness
His healing
His redeeming love
His love and mercy, His paradise crown
His goodness, beauty eternal
His renewal
Somehow, God manages to make everything come out right. I have been witness to this. In the midst of trials, fury, heartache, confusion, chaos, agony, loss, and surrender it doesn't always feel good. But, then there is a blessing. A moment of Light where forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, mercy, renewal, and His Crown touches me, and you, with beauty.
Say That Again, my Jesus, and I will continue to bless you with my soul!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Pile

"Pile your troubles on God's shoulders-- he'll carry your load, he'll help you out.
He'll never let good people topple into ruin." Psalms 55:22

Say That Again, Sweet Jesus, You have promised to take the load and keep me from toppling!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Hike to the Lake

I was blessed with another beautiful day with my family. We hiked to a nearby lake. It's early enough in the summer, that we still trudged through snow, and found ice on the lake. It was a lot of fun. Our youngest son climbed up a snow bank on the side of the mountain and slipped, he came sliding down at full speed. It was funny and scary at the same time. God had His hand on him.
When we reached the lake, we all ate lunch on top of a rock. One of the dogs got stuck in a bush and needed to be rescued by our sons. The baby was sprayed by another wet dog. Yet, in the midst of all our family chaos we all managed to take lots of pictures and climb lots of rocks and simply enjoy the beauty of God's creation.
Once again, the best part for me was the time with my family. On the way home we stopped at a local gas station that sells ice cream. It was a welcome treat. My grandson had his dinner too, and we visited under a shelter at the picnic table. God is good everyday and the hike to the lake was good. I will want to go again.
Jesus, Say That Again, You are good, and You continue to remind me of that by giving me precious time with the family that I love and surrounding me with Your Beauty. Thank you.