Sank You

I have always believed we can learn so much by watching children. In fact, it is one of the reasons I became a teacher. I just never realized how great a lesson one could teach you, until today. Now that I work from home, my son only goes to child care a few days a week but we always make that drive time special. Each morning we pray and sing songs and each afternoon we talk about his day. Today was no different. We started out by thanking God for the sunshine and the great time we had on vacation this week. We remembered to pray for Grandmas and Grandpas, cousins and our dog and to thank Him for things like trucks and tractors. But my three-year old does something else each time we pray that today touched my heart in a distinct way. He thanks God for his biggest fears. This kid is fearless when it comes to heights, heavy equipment or airplanes but is terrified of the hand dryers in public restrooms, hates elevators and is not a fan of escalators or using the potty. About a month ago, I noticed he would thank God for these very things as he prayed. “And sank you God for elevators and escalators and hand dwyers and the potty”. At first I just thought it was really sweet, but as he prayed it today my eyes filled with tears and God spoke to me in a very real way. Thanking God for our current circumstances creates a cord of hope that connects us to His ultimate desires for us. Sometimes God changes our situation and other times he offers the strength to endure it. Either way, our current struggles have been lovingly planned by a Father who will never let us bend so far we break. I spent years going back and forth in this constant struggle of viewing every problem as an attack or at the very least an obstacle. Life became me versus the world and at times even felt like God versus me. There were times I even began to look at problems as punishment. When my son was born, anxiety issues I had dealt with my whole life were suddenly magnified and on many days I found it hard to breathe. I knew God was big enough to take that feeling away and my prayer was that he would, in an instant. I kept praying and waiting for the magical moment when God would just say “storm be still” and all that was raging within me would be no more. That was not the way he chose to deliver me. From that dark and frightening place, God chose to draw me near to his side; to come to know him in a new and more personal way. He became my very breath, my strength to rise and my song. The cord of hope was extended and the journey to the me he created me to be began. My struggle did not end in an instant and my circumstances were not suddenly changed; I was. I began looking at things differently and learning from the trials in my life. As my perspective changed, my situation changed. Years later, I can look back on times of trial and realize God was doing something there. For some situations, I still have no answers but I trust in the One who does. As my son thanked God for his four biggest problems in life, I began thanking God for mine. I started visualizing what blessings might be born from brokenness and started speaking those blessings out loud. I thanked Him for the things that irritate me and the things I still wish I could change about myself. That act opened the door for God to begin working in those areas. The cord of hope grew. What if one day, I looked at everything as one more love knot in the tapestry God is weaving in my life? This journey to our ultimate home in eternity could be so much more vibrant if we only let love win. If we learned to be grateful for our faults, fears and failures and let God use them for his glory what an impact we could make with our time here on earth. This one step, this one lesson from a three year old will be my starting point. “Sank you God…”

Praise from the Garden

The sun takes its moment to shine forth in brilliance. Its rays beam and burst out in all directions with four strong points to north, south, east and west as if a blazing cross has been set in the sky. As the trees wake to the breeze they clap their morning praise. The sun seems to pulse in and out of the leaves; the heartbeat of the sky.

All creation shouts your praise and I delight to join in the chorus. What can I say? What could I sing? I pause. I simply sense your greatness in this place; the magnitude of your presence. I stand silently in awe of your glory. This is worship.

The veil is torn. The coal has touched my lips. Your love has seared my soul. Your grace has cleansed my heart. This is holy ground.

Psalm 148:5, Matthew 27:51, Isaiah 6:7, Exodus 3:5

It is Well

It’s just the two of us. His greatness and my frailty are mingling together. We are one in this place, though the thought is almost unbearable and nearly unimaginable. My facades are removed. Every mask is taken off and dropped at His feet.
I am Bare.
Shame attempts to intrude but He gently pushes it away. My heart exposed, He begins to mend, restore and tend to each need. This is a process. Each time I come, more work is accomplished. Often, there are new wounds. This broken world easily produces more brokenness.
No matter to Him. It is as if He doesn’t notice. He is unshaken by anything I could bring. My worst, He makes his best. This process, so tender and so gentle, brings waves of peace and undertones of tranquility.
I rest.
I know all will be well. In this place, more than any other, I can truly say it is well with my soul. It is here I am made alive and anew. What is not complete is held in his hands, reserved for another meeting. It needs time; a process of healing. This rests well with me as He knows better than I.
I wait.
In hopeful, joyful expectance I wait. He breathes life in my lungs while the warmth of peace and the cool rush of anticipation fill my soul. There is more, much more. There is a promise; a sweet hope. For here, I see dimly. This is only a portion, just a small glimpse, of what awaits. It is but a foretaste of what He has prepared.
I hope.
My hope is placed fully and only in Him. It is well. It is well.

Lamentations 3:22-23, James 1:2-4, Psalm 23:6, John 14:3

Holy Ground

Morning barely makes its appearance and she wakes, taking her Bible in hand and tip-toeing through the house. She walks past the laundry pile begging to be folded and curtails the dirty dishes in the sink. Her destination is that secret place. She swiftly makes her way to this favorite spot where she meets with Him once again. Quietly she opens the pages of that worn Bible with the underlined passages. She prays no one wakes to disturb this precious time. This time she needs. This time she craves. Even a few moments here in the garden of His presence is enough, but she always craves more. He is tangible in this place and she has come to need that more than anything else in her day. She needs Him first. Some need a cup of coffee in the morning, but she needs the One who quenches her soul. He is the one who meets her greatest desires. Here in this place, deep cries out to deep. Creation dances with creator. Breath and soul meet the giver of life.
It is good.
It is needed.
She sits quietly breathing in his presence. She praises by sensing his greatness. She asks by revealing every thought to Him. She confesses by bearing her heart. Nothing is hidden. Nothing is wasted. Here, there is no condemnation. Here, every weight is removed. Burdens are lifted and every desire is taken, held and considered for the perfect time.
His love overwhelms her and his peace envelopes her. She is seen. She is known.
This is holy ground.

Luke 10:42, Genesis 16:13, Exodus 3:5

Great Love

babybird

A few days ago we found a baby bird. It had fallen from its nest and it was not old enough to fly. The little guy was certain to be prey to the next animal that came along but we weren’t sure how to help him. We couldn’t find the nest and weren’t sure if the mother robin would come back for him. My husband couldn’t bear to leave him on the ground so tiny and vulnerable. He knew he would either starve because he was too young to find his own food or be killed by another animal, possibly even our dog who was watching all if this intently. We called the animal rescue center and they gave us some tips on how to help this baby robin. In the meantime, my husband fed the tiny bird worms by hand. We read that these little guys need to eat from the time the sun rises until it sets each day, and should be fed every 10-20 minutes during that time, but unlike mammals, robins never need overnight feedings. Whew! And I thought nursing an infant was work. On the advice of the rescue center, my husband crafted a makeshift nest out of a minnow trap and attached it to the side of a tree with a bungee cord. Ok, so it wasn’t the Hilton but it was a place to stay, more along the lines of the Motel 8 variety of bird domains. Within minutes of being placed in his temporary dwelling, the mama robin came to him with food. She came and she came and she came. Back and forth she went getting worms for him. It was her job. She never rested, just fed that little baby. Within days, he had nearly doubled in size and flew out of the nest. Still she would find him and feed him. Whether he moved to another tree, was hidden in the branches or landed on the ground, she would find him and take care of his every need. Even when she left him, she was aware of him. She knew exactly where he was at all times and those moments when she left his side, she was still tending to his needs. Isn’t it amazing that God created this bond even in the smallest of animals? He planned every detail and equipped the mother perfectly to care for her fledgling. The Bible tells us if He does this with even the birds, how much more does he care for us? Matthew 6:26 tells us our Heavenly Father feeds them and cares for their every need and that he does the same, even more so for us. Luke reminds us, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” After all, we are of much more value to him than birds. Christ laid down his life for us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. The Lord cares for us so deeply that even the hairs on our head are numbered. So how much more does he tend to our needs than a mother robin cares for her young? Can you envision it? The God of creation, the One who made the Heavens and the Earth watching over you, sheltering you under His wing, bringing you nourishment, keeping you safe and never letting you out of his sight? No matter where you go, how far you fly, He is there. We can exclaim with the Psalmist, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” What love is this? What great love not only covers a multitude of sin but cares for your every need as well. Only God. He is all and is all we ever need. Let Him care for you and remember no matter where you fly, He is there.

Luke 12:6, Matthew 6:26, Matthew 10:30, 1 John 3:16, Psalm 139:7-10

Just One Name

Hello_My_Name_Is_Sticker_by_trexweb

There are times when words fail me. When heartache cuts deep, when loss is so great, when the longing of my heart surpasses known language, those are times when only one name needs uttered. Jesus. A whisper, a cry, my very breath; only Jesus. There is a place deep within each of us, a need only he can fill. This place we can’t describe or name. Where deep cries out to deep. That need is only met, when we cry, “Jesus”. He turns my way, he looks at me, knowing everything. He knows more than I how I need him. Here, face to face, all is known and all is understood.

There is a moment in one of my favorite movies, Dirty Dancing (yes, I’m using Dirty Dancing in a devotional blog) where Johnny is walking away and Baby cries out to him, “Johnny!” Just that one word; his name. He turns and he looks at her. Their eyes meet and all is known. No words are exchanged. With one glance all is understood.

I think of that when I cry to Jesus. Only magnified one hundred percent because he knows everything. As creator, he knows my very being. My past and my future; all of eternity is in His hands. He knows every desire of my heart because he places those desires within my heart. His sovereignty is unmatched. I am his and he is mine. One word, one name. Jesus. The name of Jesus.

Genesis 16:13, Romans 8:26, Psalm 37:4

Confidence

trailblazer

With God, you can be confident enough to take long strides. You don’t need to tip toe through this journey. However, there are times when He speaks in slow ways so we have to be patient and listen. It is only by dwelling in His presence that we learn to move in His rhythm. His ways are not our ways, neither His thoughts our thoughts so to move with Him we must learn his ways. Something happens when we truly enter into the presence of the Lord; when He washes over us and all else fades away. We are fully known by Him and we begin to glimpse who he is. We won’t fully know the Lord until we see him face to face in glory. Our human bodies will not allow us to even comprehend the fullness of his majesty, yet we can taste and see of his goodness. By sitting at his feet we enter his rest and begin to feel the stirring of the Holy Spirit. In our hearts we hear his voice. In our thoughts, he speaks his ways. For He give us the desires of our hearts. When we walk this trust walk with him, the desires of our hearts align with this will for us so that His ways for us become our heart’s desire. He becomes our heart’s desire. There is a confident trust that grows when God is our desire. A confidence in his strength and his power, for he has already equipped us for this journey. Move boldly along the trail he has blazed for you. He has promised never to leave your side.

Isaiah 55:8, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Psalm 34:8, Luke 10:39, Psalm 37:4

Needy

I’ve begun to realize, I may need the Lord more than others. Perhaps I was made weaker and needier. I see people going here and there; doing and living, and their strength seems to surpass my own. Do I have any strength apart from the Lord? I do not know where I would be without God’s intervention in my life but I imagine, most days, it would be a challenge to just get out of bed in the morning. Oh how I need Him! Every hour I need Him. My very breath, every step I take, I need Him. I used to resist this need. I would look at others and assume there must be something wrong with me; as if I should be able to handle more of life’s challenges on my own. Now I see it as a gift, for His power is made perfect in weakness. Every time I try to run ahead of Him or walk in my own strength, I fail miserably. I falter. I fall. His ways are not my ways but He has shown me the path of life. I stand only in the strength of the Lord and oh what a glorious strength it is! He has clothed me in righteousness that I may walk in the light. For it is in God alone that I live and move and have my being. Thanks be to God!

2 Corinthians 12:9, Isaiah 55:8, Psalm 16:11, Acts 17:28

A Messy Life

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I’ve been meaning to clean out my purse for about 2 months now. We went to Tampa, Florida for a business trip in January and my purse is still housing boarding passes, parking tags and gum wrappers not to mention my son’s handfuls of spilled Cheerios, a few wayward fruit snacks and the other day I found a whole orange in there! I have to admit that purse is a true reflection of my life right now. We are in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year in our It Works business so couple that with mom-life and toss in a full-time teaching job and you’ve got a life that looks like a messy purse explosion! You see, it’s not just the purse. It’s the laundry all over the couch and the dog hair piling up on the rug…oh, and my goodness those dirty dishes! I am running in all directions but there is a means to an end and a purpose for this phase of chaos. It won’t be like this for long but while I’m in the thick of it, I sure am glad God doesn’t judge our messes. You see even when we’re not cleaned up and looking our best, God still loves us the same. He loves us for who we are, not what we do. There is no measure to his Grace. Ephesians 4:7 tells us that to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. How could one ever put a measure on Christ’s gift? Just as we can not to this, so we are unable to measure his Grace.

About a month ago my husband was on a chat forum and one of the comments made was about Christians being “mindless followers”. This sparked a nerve with my husband so he commented back and asked this man, “What is your belief system? What do you base your life on?” The man replied, “Science. We live according to our own merit.” My husband’s reply was simple, “Wow”, he said. “That must be exhausting”.

I am so thankful we do not live according to our own merit. Who could measure up? Who could stand? I am reminded of these lyrics by Gerrit Gustafson; “Only by grace can we enter. Only by grace can we stand. Not by our human endeavor but by the blood of the lamb.” He doesn’t ask us to be cleaned up, in order and presentable before we come. The beauty of grace is we come just as we are. In the midst of our chaos, in the middle of our mess, He says, “Come”. You see, He works all things according to his purpose. In time, our mess will be cleaned. When we bring our brokenness, our cluttered past, our bags full of crumbs, He lays them out gently and tenderly weaves his perfect plan before us. He carefully wipes away the dirt and mends the worn edges. He lovingly puts everything back in its place. Maybe not where it was before and maybe not where you expected it be but nevertheless in its rightful place. So bring him your mess. He says, “Come”.

Ephesians 4:7, Romans 8:28

Choice

courtesy coachjohnbrewer.com
courtesy coachjohnbrewer.com

The busier life gets, the more difficult it can be to “be still and know”. Even when I take the time to sit and rest in the presence of the Lord, I find my mind still spinning in several other directions and it seems nearly impossible to just rest. This morning I told the Lord I want to run away with Him, just us, no outside distractions, for a week. Then He reminded me how he uses all of this, these blessings that sometimes feel like burdens to teach me, to strengthen me and to reveal himself to me in new and glorious ways each day. Humph!, Ok then God, no chance you’re calling me out of my job and household duties today? Then help me open my eyes to seek your face and my ears to hear your voice above all the other noise that beckons for my attention. These blessings are beautiful but sometimes it feels like they’re piling up into one beautiful mess when I have little time to devote to each one. Remind me that only one thing is needed and help me choose the better portion. Choice. We do have a choice to make in every situation. The enemy would love to tell me I have no choice, I’m just too busy to concentrate on the Lord and I’ll never get my thoughts in order. Satan would love for me to buy the lie that I’m too weak, ill-equipped, or over-extended. He would love for me to believe I’ll never see any fruit from this business, my family or any other area of my life. If I buy in to that first whisper of doubt, that first lie that I says I have no choice, then I open myself to the downward spiral of lies that creep in like termites and quickly begin to rot away the truth. It is vital to know the truth and then choose to let it be your lifeline. The truth is God equipped me for this path before he even called me to it. He is faithful and constant and will never forsake me. God uses all of this for his glory! I choose Him. I choose truth.

Luke 10:42, Philippians 4:8, John 8:32, Ephesians 2:10, Hebrews 13:5