Saturday, September 3, 2011

Spiritual Beauty Rest

Lately, I have felt uninspired, underwhelmed, vacant of creativity and just plain hum-drum! Ever felt that way? I suppose so. I don’t know that any of us are immune from the pendulum swing into Blahsville. It just seems I got stuck there, like in the Twilight Zone or on a time-warp continuum of lack-luster existing. Worse, I felt like my spiritual eyes were becoming glazed over by the problems and trials whirling around me. Hope seemed shifty, and for days I was just adrift in ambiguity. God seemed at a distance despite praying and reading His Word.

No, I wouldn’t call it depression, although I suppose my intro sounds like I am feeling a little sorry for myself. Honestly, I don’t expect to live on the precipice of epiphany or inspiration; I might keel over from the shock. I was just at a loss about why I had been lingering so long in this state of apathy. I wanted to serve Him, love others to Him, share Him, but the words and opportunity wouldn’t come – at least, not in the way I thought would be best.

Through the past couple weeks, as I would think on my dim and dismal state, I asked God why my motivation was near melt-down. “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” would cross my mind. In the moment that song seemed so out of place and irrelevant that I would just shove it aside and concentrate on my predicament. But it kept coming back, “all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand”. Grrrr! It was irritating. I didn’t feel like singing it and I sure wasn’t getting the message of it… I really thought it was just one of those broken record, stuck-in-a-rut, music annoyances and hoped it would pass. It didn’t.

Turns out, God was using this frame of mind and hymnal prod to direct my attention to a personal weakness. A long standing, people pleasing, earn my keep, perfection driven, high expectation, do it out of my own strength kind of pride. Yup… Pride. I knew in the back of my mind that He was letting me know, straight up, that the only words that are worth their salt are His, not mine. That His timing, not mine, would reap the greatest blessing. I knew it, but I didn’t know where the root of my problem was hiding. Like a pea under my spiritual mattress, it was an irksome thing that had to be found!

One day, after another rendition of the words crossed the vacuity of my mind, I decided to look it up on the internet. Here are the words to that song that I so wrongfully suspected would be pointless in regard to my situation.

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

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

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

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

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

Funny how this song says NOTHING about measuring up to what other people think or expect of me, or if I work hard enough then God will approve of me. Instead it reminds me to wholly lean on the Name of Jesus.

Finally, the Lord let me see. Maybe it was because I finally cried, “Uncle!” or maybe He was getting tired of my whining. But He let me clearly see that I was getting my identity from the wrong source! While I knew my identity in Christ, I continued living as though I believed my worth came when I was doing enough (in my own mind) and pleasing others. Instead, my merit and value need to come from that deep knowing that I am His and He is mine. Nothing else matters. “He wants our significance to come from using our God-given gifts to serve Him, but not from specific accomplishments within that service for Him.” (Pastoring with Passion by Dr. David Holt)

I am the daughter of the King! A Princess in the court of the Most High! And such a wonderful Father could not pass up an opportunity to call attention to that disruptive little pea under the mattress. That irritating lump would surely fester and frustrate, and interfere with what God has in mind. You see, it would keep me from fully resting in Him, and when we don’t rest, we don’t grow. Spiritual Beauty Rest is indeed what we find in the presence of our Lord once we hold all that we are up to Him and surrender.

Even when I don’t feel it, I must trust what God says in His Word: my cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5), and it does because I am justified in Him (Romans 5:1) – completely free from condemnation (Romans 8:1)! Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (emphasis mine).” It is not our job to do, He who began it will complete it! We get to rest in the privilege and blessing of being able to participate (as He directs) and witness His majesty and creativity. Those lean moments that come, are wholly used to drive us to His lap of love, remind us that all good gifts come from Him alone, and the only true significance is found in who He says we are. He is all we need. Say it with me ’cause it feels so good, “He is ALL I ever need!” Amen, Sister! Forward march!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Gift

Happy Mother’s Day… For most of us, those words feel so good to say to our moms or to other women whom we respect and admire. But why, for so many of us, do those words conjure up feelings of guilt or inadequacy? We look at our children and view them as beautiful gifts. They may be annoying and selfish little beasts at times, but we can easily block out the irritations and frustrations and see them as cherubs dropped directly from the hand of God. We see past their whines and flaws, affording them abounding grace, intent on remembering their smiles, giggles, and successes. So, why don’t we grant ourselves a sliver of that same charity and allow our hearts to completely relish the joy of being loved and appreciated, even for just one day a year? Why do we look at our children and often feel sorry that they must endure us and our mistakes?

The reasons for feelings of inadequacy are endless, with as many varying and unique rationales as there are mothers. Yet they all point back to one thing, as specific, longstanding, and maternal as Eve herself ~ expectations that are outside of God’s directions, followed by our futile attempts to meet those expectations in our own strength. You know it’s true! Think about it. Did God give you a command to do the things that you think ought to be done? Or, have you created for yourself a vision of an ideal, perfect mom that you strive to become? Honestly, Mama, that ideal is really just an idol ~ a figment of your imagination, whose picture hangs on the wall of your heart and blocks the beautiful masterpiece that God has in mind. Your personal “Super Mom” definition is nothing more than a leech and a joy sucker.

Is that what God intended for you? Certainly not! Your Father in heaven looks upon you with love, deep affection, and abundant grace. He hand-selected a child, or children, that He wants you to love, nurture and return to Him with open hands. He didn’t just think your children would be a blessing to you, dear Sister. No, He also knows you to be a blessing to these little “chitlins” He chose to put in your care. He created and fully knows the mother’s heart that you carry within. He gave you specific gifts and talents that would compliment the personalities of your kids. I know that doesn’t always seem true, especially in the moments of tantrums, teenage years, or prodigal tragedies, but His plan is perfect. He sees the story from beginning to end. He knows what He is doing, Mama.

Give yourself a Mother’s Day gift this year and cut yourself some slack. Let your Father reveal His plan for your life and your mothering, and let yourself enjoy the ride. Following Christ and allowing God to direct your day is freedom beyond compare. Yes, this will likely mean less doing and more resting in Him and in the moment. Yet this is where the memories are made, Mama, where you will gain access to your child’s heart. You will hear the details of dreams and hopes, fears and tears. These are the gifts of your motherhood AND his/her childhood. These are the times when you will touch your dear one deeply, the way you had hoped to, the first time you saw that sweet face. Will you be remembered for baking five dozen cupcakes for the bake sale? Maybe. But you will definitely be remembered for the day you let her paint your toenails, or the walk when he told you about his first crush.

Children are resilient and full of grace. As long as our mistakes are followed with love and the opportunity for forgiveness, their wide and deep hearts can manage our shortcomings. Don’t read in here that I am suggesting to excuse or wash over abuses; I am talking about the good-willed mom who wants to love well. We all make mistakes and we will all have regrets. Just don’t stay there in the wallow, Sister. Don’t try to salvage your imperfection by trying to attain the impossible. Throw yourself upon the great mercies of the Father, and ask Him to again direct your path. He longs to show you that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He will use you to raise up His children, and through you He will impact them for eternity! Sounds like a huge and impossible responsibility, and it would be on our own. All we are called to do is focus the eyes of our heart on Him and trust Him to do the rest. He is able!

2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bird Poop

You Want Me To Put Bird Poop… WHERE?

That’s it! Sister, that is when you know we have finally lost our marbles as women! Straight up, Chicks are laying down over $200 a hit for Bird Poop facials! You can’t make stuff like this up.

I recently watched a web video talking about beauty essentials and those luxuries or treatments that could be given up in order to save a buck or two. No joke, the Commentator talked about these little poop treats for your face, its proposed exfoliating properties and ability to “brighten the skin.” Seriously, anything would look brighter once the bird poop was washed off! Anyway, Bird Poop facials made the “give up” list (this alone should attest that there is a God) because they were found to be no more effective than cheaper (less poopy?) options. Heavens to Mergatroid! You don’t say? How’s about I help ya put that facial out on the rose bushes, garden patch or in the compost pile?!

I guess what grabbed me most, about this whole idea, is how far our focus and thoughts have traveled as a society, in the quest for beauty and youth. We have rambled so far down this ridiculous road that we have somehow forgotten that poop belongs on the ground, in a hole or otherwise flushed… NOT on our faces. But then, what a perfect metaphor, don’t you think? You know that old saying, “Here’s to mud in your eye!” That phrase is thought to have risen out of the horse racing world, and was a playful nudge from the winner to the loser (who would most likely be spattered with mud from following the winner). Well girls, we are falling behind in the race to see more of Jesus in this life and some of us don’t even recognize that instead, we are playing the part of the dirty looser – not with mud in our eye, but with poop on our faces!

When we get so sucked into the idea that youth and beauty determining our worth, we loose sight of life’s joys as God intended. We willingly smear bird poop on our faces (literally and figuratively) in attempt to be what the world says is special. Doesn’t that strike you as nuts? Romans 8:5 says, “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Our hearts can be so deceptive, and lead us down fruitless and dead end roads. Jeremiah 17:9 tell us that, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” So we must intentionally keep our thoughts on the things of God and what really matters for eternity. (Philippians 4:8)

No, maybe you don’t spend that much on crazy concoctions and potions for the promise of glorious skin or smooth thighs. Maybe you don’t stuff your bra with gel balloons, or look to see what you can improve about yourself surgically. Maybe you don’t spend hours upon hours at the salon each month on hair or nails. I am not suggesting these things are wrong; they are just smoke and mirrors. What I do want you to ask yourself is this: Does your appearance or what others think of you outweigh in your heart who God says you are? The Word of God asserts this question through Paul in Galatians 1:8, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Who we aim to please, plainly says who we serve.

Despite the wrinkles, crinkles and gravity dimples; God says you are His beloved daughter with a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) With or without the extra pounds, you are His beautiful creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) You are lovely to the Lord, even with the scars, stretch marks and tracks of your life traveled. God rejoices over you, whether you dress like a diva or wear dime store duds. (Proverbs 31:25, Zephaniah 3:17) Even if you have lost parts of yourself or have been disfigured because of cancer, disease, or accident; your Father in Heaven says you are complete. (Colossians 2:9-10) You are His true love, the one He gave His life for, and He will pursue you until you turn and give all of your heart to Him. Those who have received Him as their Lord and Savior are His beautiful bride, without stain or mark, washed by the blood of the Lamb. (Isaiah 62:5, Ephesians 5:27) Dear Sister, you are so special, exactly the way you are! YOU are an expression of the life of Christ! (Colossians 3:4)

Yes, these bodies of ours are God’s temple and we are to care for them. (1Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) But we are to keep in perspective that these temples are a temporary dwelling, they are not eternal. That fact is obvious when we glimpse ourselves naked in a full length mirror! These imperfect earthly bodies are meant to simply be a vehicle to carry our spirits and souls, meant for the Lord’s work. (Ephesians 2:10)

Sister, if we resolve to do anything in the coming year, let it be a resolution to learn to like ourselves, even love ourselves, just the way God made us. If we learn to be content and happy in who we are, then we can be an example to our children and those around us. Don’t you ever look at your dear friends and daughters and wish they could see how lovely they really are? Don’t you think your God and Creator wants the same for you? He does! He wants you to know His unconditional love and acceptance, and to be a living testimony of this blessing to others. Knowing who you really are in Christ is true beauty magnified by God’s love through you. He is ready to transform your heart with this beauty make-over if you will allow Him. No appointment necessary! Oh, and Girl, He is running an eternal special, it doesn’t cost a thing! He is able!

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

All Scriptures NIV 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Giver or a Taker?

One Sunday not too long ago, a friend of ours
approached me and gave me a hug. She said she had been thinking of us often and
wondered how we were doing.  This dear Sister has been privy to some of
the heavy things on our proverbial "plate" of life.  So in
response, I immediately set about telling her all that was going on, never once
really coming up for air.  You know what I mean, monologue style,
rehashing every last uncomfortable detail... Throwing in a, "but God is so
good," and a "despite it all, I feel so blessed" here and there for
a good measure of Church Speak. 

My husband, likely noticing my friend's eyes glazing over, stepped into the
conversation and asked her how things were going for her at school (she has
gone back to take some college courses).  I was immediately embarrassed,
realizing how focused I was on my own problems.  I had chosen to forget
that those around me have their own lives and things to work through.  She
gratefully smiled in response to his concern and said that she loved her
classes and so the long commute was worth it.  However, the day before, as
she was driving to school, she had been in a pretty bad car accident. 
UGH!  She had suffered a significant scare and set back.  If my
husband hadn't asked, I would have continued on about myself, never knowing
what she had been through.  Even more convicting was her faith. 
There was no complaint of, "Why me?" or fear of, "What shall I
do?"  She was trusting God in the details and sincerely grateful that
she was not injured or worse.  

I realized that I had again let myself sink into the arms of self
absorption.  Believing that my time, my life, my problems are most
important and imperative.  There in that self-wallowing place, we are less
sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His call to minister.  There in the mire
of our hearts, we are unable to love and sympathize with others since our
interest is tied up in our own problems, paralyzed by selfish
preoccupation.  We miss the blessing of loving others, encouraging others
- the very thing that will swiftly lighten the load of our own struggles.

Years ago, a dear friend of mine had lovingly committed to praying for me
and my family.  We were going through a pretty wide and dry desert at the
time, and I was so grateful for her listening ear and willingness to
pray.  However, my fears and flesh began to slowly suck the blessing out
of the love this Sister offered.  I began to see the relationship as a way
to dump all my problems, describe all my woes, and explain every wretched detail
of my troubles.  I chose to ignore that this friend was also living a life
mottled by problems, speed bumps, and grief.  I was so wrapped up in my
need to be heard, why I thought my life sucked so bad, and wanting to explain
why I needed prayer and how I wanted God to answer, that I forgot to be a
friend to the one who was taking so much time for me.  Worse yet, I had
forgotten that we are to thank Him even in the midst of our troubles, and the
sweet assurance that His perfect plan will bring all things good AND bad to
beautiful fruition in Christ. (Romans 8:28, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, James 1:2)

Finally, after many woes-me letters and phone calls.  My dear Sister
lovingly and courageously told me to shove it.  OK, not exactly, she was
much gentler than that.  In fact, as I look back, I can't believe how kind
she was.  She spent time relaying to me how God loves us and would take
care of us.  Then came the sentence that
hung in my mind for months, well actually, years.  She wrote, "It is
time to become a giver, and stop living as a taker."  She told me how
God had things for me to do that would bring Him glory.  Those good works
He prepared in advance for me to do! (Ephesians 2:10)  She assured me that
as I trusted Him, gave, and let Him use me as a vessel to pour out, I would be
abundantly blessed in unexpected ways.

She was right.  I began to take every
thought captive to the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:5) and find things to thank Him
for even in the days where it seemed difficult to simply function. (1
Thessalonians 5:18)  As God gently retrains my mind and heart’s
perspective (Isaiah 64:8, Romans 12:2), my thoughts are less likely to hovering
over the troubles I was experience.  When worries, fears, or complaints
come to mind, I am better able to see through an eternal perspective and
realize that they are no where near as weighty as I would like to believe.
(Isaiah 55:8-9)  It is amazing how self absorption throws reality out of
whack and causes us to believe we are suffering far more than we really are, or
that our problems are more important than someone else's.  I don't know
why it is so easy to slip into a proclivity of doom.  I haven't the
foggiest why self pity feels so darn warm and cozy, vindicating and right...
Because it isn't, and we must take caution to avoid that lie that only leads to
an ineffective and powerless frame of mind.

In no way do I intend to belittle problems you face.  Instead, I want
to encourage you to ask God to help you view these things through His eyes.
Nor would I suggest that you stop talking to godly counsel about your problems,
this is so important and the Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens
(Galatians 6:2).  But the verse says, "bear one another's," not
"dump your troubles and run."  Sure, it isn't going to always be
a fifty-fifty deal, but the intention is not to take advantage, spill or heap
our burden on others, or assume our needs are greater; instead, we are to give,
and share the load.

So... reality check for me.  Yes, hell or high water may come, but it
is nothing that our mighty God cannot handle if we only open our hearts and
lives to Him and surrender it all.  God is greater! (Genesis 18:14,
Matthew 19:26)  No sense in pretending anymore, dear Sister, we have never
been nor will we ever be in control.  So, why not let the Almighty take
the helm and enjoy the opportunity to be used of Him and witness, first hand,
the work of the Lord?  Being a ready and open vessel is the ultimate
drown-er and squash-er of troubles, it is a divinely appointed remedy for
woes.  No, those trials will likely not vanish, but your choice to focus
on something or someone else will help you to keep things in perspective, help
keep you from reacting out of emotion, and help alleviate the stress and strain
on your spirit and physical body that comes with worry.  The best part is,
our heavenly Father is patiently waiting for us to ask Him to do this work in
us!  The Word says, I can do all this through Him who gives me strength!
(Philippians 4:13)  He is ABLE!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankfulness in All Things

"Is it really possible?  Has another year passed?" I thought this Sunday after church as my husband and I were pulling up frozen weights by net handles out of a sea of plastic wrapped carcasses, in search of the perfect bird.  "Do I really want to cook a turkey, didn't I just do this last week?"  Then came a trickle of memories of the year's past, then the trickle became a stream, followed by a flood.  Good days and bad days, that had all been shoved back and tucked away in my mind, began to fly through my head.  They reminded me that indeed, twelve months have passed since I wrestled a slippery, goose pimpled, headless monster in my sink.  I guess the thinking on these things, coupled with a really good sermon on the sovereignty of God, added up to the question that followed, "Am I thankful?"

This hasn't been the easiest of years.  Nothing catastrophic in and of itself, just the overwhelming gnawing of seemingly unresolved problems and uncertainty.  My heart has at times felt exhausted and overrun.  I have questioned God and wondered, even yelled, "Have you forgotten? Hellooooo?"

Yet, as I look back, I can see that by God's hand, the bad times were carefully and creatively matched with good and sweet moments, and at times met with new and old family in Christ.  There has been an answer for every grief, a gentle kiss from the Father, offering blessing that would have been missed if He had spared me the pain.  It is evident that God is truly in control and He has allowed each of these difficulties to come so that I might grow to a better understanding of Him and how He loves me.

Our God allows the trials and tests to strengthen us for the good works He has prepared in advance to do.  In His loving wisdom He exercises our faith, challenges our hope, and demands our trust.  He calls us to join Him as He looks deep within our hearts and considers our motives.  The landscape of our hearts can be such a difficult view to take in, with barren areas, miry pits, and ugly walls of stone... But if we honestly appraise the condition (Psalm 139:23) and willingly hand over the deed to what might otherwise appear to be useless space, our Master Gardener will begin to cultivate a garden that is as abundant as it is lovely in the fruits of His Spirit.  Some of this work is only possible by the Father's miraculous hand, but much of it He will ask us to do under His loving guidance.  Uprooting the dead and lifeless, pruning back the useless, and tearing down walls that keep us from fully experiencing Him. (John 15:1-16)  We will see the voids well up with streams of living water and never run dry.  Yet none of this is possible without sharp tools, elbow grease, and dirty knees.  Knees that learn to love being bent in worship and service, because of the amazing view that is provided from that place of humility while we weed the garden of our hearts under the light of His presence.  A garden of retreat and a place meet with our Father.  A place to pick fruit that we can pelt at the troubles that come, just kidding, "pelting" is probably not the best metaphor albeit satisfying to think of at times!  All in all, it is nothing short of amazing that He can redeem the dirt of our lives, and from it, bring forth such bounty! (Romans 8:28)  He is ABLE!

So... YES!  I am thankful!  Thankful for the opportunity to struggle, as weird as it may sound and as strange as it is to write.  The Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  Thanks that God would carefully craft the path of my life to involve tailored obstacles to challenge me and establish my dependence on Him. (Matthew 4:4)  After all, the joy of the Lord is our strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)  What He asks us to give is only that which we have already received according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus! (Philippians 4:19)  Thank You Lord, for loving us enough to prevent us from getting too comfortable, so that we might seek Your face, find You and know You more! (Jeremiah 29:13)
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:6-7

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.  LORD my God, I will praise you forever.  Psalm 30:11-12
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”  Psalm 70:4

Bible references from the New International Version.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His Glory and Grace...
                                              Helen H. Lemmel

Oh, how messy life can be!  You might feel as though you've got it all pretty squared away and the things of life are moving along in the right direction... and WHAM!  Someone, or something, puts a kink in your air hose and you find yourself fighting to reach the surface of sanity and for a breath of relief.  All of a sudden, you are struggling to keep your head above the waters of despair, grief, anger, fear, or all of the above.  We fight against the feelings of being overwhelmed, or at other times, we are paralyzed by worry and anxiety over tragedy and other things out of our control.  After exhausting and draining every bit of our waning energy, we fall into bed at night unable to sleep and recharge as we rehearse our next move, think through the worst case scenarios, or spend worry on the endless possibilities.

WHY?  Why do we even attempt to battle, defend, work, run and manipulate when the Word of God clearly tells us to rest...  Rest in Him.  Sisters, when we carry on out of our own strength and determination in the throws of trouble, we are disobeying direct orders from our Commander in Chief and we sin.  Why do we press on in pride trying to handle things on our own?  It makes no sense, yet I have struggled with this time and again.  We tell the Almighty God of the universe, Creator of heaven and earth, that we are grateful that He sent His Son to die for us and raised Him from the dead.  However, our actions are in contrast saying, "I don't trust You to take care of me or my problems.  I got this one, I'll handle it."  I might as well say to the Father, "I can throw my hands up in worship before a congregation of people, I will tell of Your wonders and grace, but I will not trust You to save me, carry me or heal me."  Sisters, if this is all there is to Christianity and we are left alone to fend for ourselves, then why make Jesus our Lord and SAVIOR in the first place?

The beauty and blessing of being a child of the Most High God, is that He promises to love us, protect us, and use ALL things, even the greatest tragedy, for our good!  He can redeem it all!  All we must do is learn to rest and trust in Him.  (Psalm 37:7)  This may be difficult in the beginning, not because He makes it so, but because our flesh does.  Although, if we continually call on Him for His peace that passes all understanding, and if we take every thought captive and hold them up to the light of His Word and Truth; He will train our hearts and minds to die unto our flesh and rest in His strong, capable, and loving arms. 

It is in these times that our wonderful God draws us near if we will stop for a moment, ignore the whirling winds around us and listen to His calling...  Calling to be still, stand and watch as He takes what we have, even the worst we can imagine, and see Him create beauty from ashes.  (Ephesians 6:13, Isaiah 61:3)  He will draw back the choking waters about our heads and turn it into wine that is sweet to our lips.  He will strengthen our weary backs burdened with the things of life and uphold us with His mighty right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Oh, believe me, I can complain with the best of them in the midst of such worrisome and grievous days!  Although, when I stop and press into Him instead, I find that these are some of the greatest moments with my Father.  I now look forward to those times, ones so personally miraculous that they are indelibly written on my mind and spirit and can be recalled when other dark days come.  Not to say that I want to invite trouble, but there is nothing like the moment when I finally decide to hold out my hands and give up my pathetic attempts to control my situation and life... and He lifts the burden from me, and I can almost tangibly feel the weight depart as His gentle love surrounds me.  It is then that my light and momentary troubles seem to wash away.  I can breath again and that deep indwelling joy begins to bubble back up to the surface and overflow, in the knowing that all of these things will be used for an eternal glory that will outweigh them all!  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)  I love that place.  That place in Him, where my spirit can find rest.

Will you hold out your troubles to Him today, and trust Him to complete the good work He started in your life?  (Philippians 1:6)  Will you allow Him to be more than just a passing thought or prayer at the dinner table, and allow Him to be your Savior?  Your Friend?  Your Protector?  Your Provider?  Your Rock?  He is waiting for you, dear Sister, and He is able!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 

Ephesians 3: 17-19  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  (New Living Translation)

Psalm 27:1  The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Bible references from the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.

My 95 year old Grandpa sends me pictures to remind me of home :) I love his perspective and thoughtfulness.