Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Drop the Camera

I remember the day that we decorated the house...  after we had put up the decorations I got my phone out to snap a quick pic to post on Facebook, but before I could post my perfect Christmas decoration pic I had to crop out all the trash and other junk that was all over the floor, so that everyone would see my beautiful lights and tree and NOT my dirty house.   In our generation we have a plague that is sucking the joy out of our life, it's called "Being Camera Ready". 

A few days ago, sitting at the table across from my cute date, at Wingstop, eating what could possibly be the messiest food on earth, I saw an unexptected sight over his shoulder...  Two woman sitting across the table from each other, taking selfies of themselves at Wingstop.  It took a while for them to get the perfect shot and I just had to laugh.  That's us.  Our generation (and I include myself in this insanity) always taking the perfect pic, of the perfect date, our perfect family, our perfect Christmas decorations...  always cropping out or retaking our pics until they don't reveal the reality of the situation, namely that you are at Wingstop, eating messy wings and this is really not the best time to be worrying about how your hair looks when you are stuffing your face and have original hot sauce all over your mouth.

Expectation of perfection are causing us to be a generation of frustrated, unthankful, joyless fools...  I say fools because perfection is an illusion.  We can not attain perfection, but we try and when we don't succeed we crop. 

Minutes after we arrived at my husband's graduation ceremony I overheard a mom say to her young graduate "I just want your day to be perfect."  I'm sure everyone there had been visualizing this day and all the perfect photos they would upload of their perfect graduation day...  However, it was anything, but perfect.  After we had been standing around in the foyer, that was getting extremely crowded for what seemed like eternity, one of the staff of the college stood up on a chair and said "Well, we are going to have to go with an impromptu plan B... the electricity is out across this part of the city."  Then they began to bring in chairs into the over flowing foyer and seat the people they could fit, as the rest of us stood closer than you would ever want to stand to another human being you don't know.  As the families and friends were finding our places the graduates had to fill out a paper with their names and degrees to hand to the speaker who would then call their name and hand them a diploma...  the problem was the grads would be up on the balcony and we would barely be able to see them.  Only if the whole room remained silent would we be able to hear our grad's name called.  It was not the picture perfect day anyone had dreamed of.  It was a lesson learned that the journey is the important thing, not the photo op.  It was a lesson learned that you have to roll with the punches and enjoy the ride or you will be a sorely disappointed and unhappy human being.

Mary probably had a lot of hopes and dreams of what her life would be like.  She was engaged and soon they would be married and start a family and live happily ever after.  PERFECT!!!  Then the angel of the Lord said to the "unwed, teenager"...  You've been chosen, highly favored...  You will bear a son, the Savior.   Wow, wait...  I'm not married yet... what will he think?  what will my parents think?  this is NOT the way it works Mr. Angel? 

Mary probably had a lot of visions of what her perfect delivery would be like.  Little did she know that she would be travelling the uncomfortable rocky, hills of the Israeli countryside, ready at anytime to give birth.

Mary probably dreamed of the perfect place to bring her baby into this world...  little did she know that she would be turned away countless times, until she was forced to have her son in a place only fit for animals.

I'm sure she would have liked to provide so much more for the Savior of the World, but she couldn't do that and her reality was anything, but perfect.  What can we learn from this young girl that God hand-picked to be the mother of HIS son?  What was her response when her life didn't look the way she thought it would?

"And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for BEHOLD, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For He that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name.  And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation." Luke 1:46-51

Thank God, Mary was willing to drop the camera, and let go of her idea of a perfect life to bring forth the Savior of the World.  Thank God, she was willing to let go of her hopes and dreams and plans for her future to allow God to save the whole world.  It wasn't about her.  She wasn't focused on how things were going to look.  She wanted to be a part of God's plan and she was filled with JOY that God would choose her.

When her plan was messed up she said "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; BE IT UNTO ME ACCORDING TO THY WORD."

Mary was willing to let God have his way even when his ways didn't make sense to her.  She was willing to allow God to use her even when it was hard and uncomfortable.  She REJOICED to be a part of God's amazing plan...

What about you this Christmas...  will you exchange your picture perfect Christmas for the one that Christ has planned for you?

Monday, December 21, 2015

In my dreams...

The gifts are wrapped beautifully, in shiny silver and red paper, under the tree, waiting for Christmas morning.  The anticipation is about to kill my oldest daughter.  She has an idea of what she might find under there and she can't wait.  I told her the longer she waits the more she will appreciate what she finds in those boxes, when the time is right to open them.  It's hard to wait.  I know how she feels, but there is something about waiting that makes those gifts so much more special, the longing so much more intense.

I lay in bed this morning with my eyes closed long minutes after I woke up.  She was there in my dreams this morning and I didn't want to let her go.  I wanted her to stay with me.  I miss her.  Christmas time was my Mother's absolute favorite time of year.  She made it special for my brother and I...  if there is anytime of year that we can not ignore that she is gone, it's now.  Every thing from the day after Thanksgiving, when we decorate, until the day after Christmas, reminds me of her.  I'm reminded of the good times when we were little and it was all so fun, and I'm reminded of the last Christmas, when she was sick, and I know she knew it would be her last.   She brought boxes of decorations over for me to go through (she said her house was too small for all that stuff), and I had always begged for her to give some of her abundance to me.  She had 3 generations of Christmas decorations... things I had seen every year for my whole life.  Here they were, all for me.  Now they are sitting all around my house.  My constant reminder of a loving Mother. 

The dream passed and with it the all the details, all that remains is the feeling that she's thinking of me too.  Just a brief moment in my sleep to let me know I will see her again. 

What I used to love about Christmas was the lights, the tree, the gifts, the family gatherings...  but since my mom died the deeper meaning of Christmas has eclipsed all those other things.  Now when I think about that baby in the manger my thoughts go straight to the man on the cross.  I will never be able to just celebrate the birth of a King, who brought news of God's good will toward men,  I will never not be drawn immediately to the image of the KING on the CROSS.  The King who laid down his life for me, who was bruised for my sins, who took my place, so that I could have a place with HIM in heaven. 

Heaven...  my home.   This life is a long journey to that place.  The Bible says "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor can we even imagine the things God has prepared for us."  In God's word we get a little glimpse of what it will be like, but our minds could never even imagine what we will find.  We will be with our God.  There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more sickness, no more sin, NO MORE DEATH.  A perfect place, with a perfect God.  

Heaven...  her home.  Heaven will be the place that we see those we love again.  Just like my daughter might have some idea what she might open Christmas morning, I have some idea what I will see that day.  I will see her...  my Mother, but she won't be like she was before.  She won't be sad, she won't be sick, she won't be worried, she won't be in pain.   While I'm waiting to see her that day, my longing for her grows, and with it my anticipation for HOME.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Don't Stop Believing...

 I'm getting the stank eye from my "too cool" preteen daughter.  I can't help it...  I'm jamming to my own inner concert with Journey.  You know the one, sing it out with me wherever you are... "Don't Stop Believing... Hold on to the Feeling."  There you go.  You're feeling it too. 

I know it's easy to stop believing.  It's happened to me.  I had given up on my hopes, dreams, and prayers ever being answered. 

It might be a marriage that's in shambles.  It might be a rebellious teenager.  It might be a sick loved one.  I don't know what it is today, but you've given up believing.  I know you have, because believing is HARD and we don't do hard.  You've resigned yourself to just existing... this is all there is.  You've even gotten used to the numbness in your soul.  The heartsick of hopelessness. 

I know how you feel.  I had given up too.  Since it's been this long it will never happen.  I had even gotten angry at God for ever making me hope in the first place.  Hope-hurts, especially when it's dashed again and again. 

Abram felt that disappointment as well.   Think about how he must have felt.  Twenty-four years had passed since God came to Abe the first time and said "Leave and go and I will bless you."  Abe did his part.  He left and went and for what?  His life has been a little frustrating.  He's 99 and he's living with two unhappy women.  Poor guy.  I feel for him.  I know what it's like to live with a disappointed woman (me)...  she doesn't even have to say anything, she just mopes around all the time, silently letting you know how you have screwed up her life.  

God where are you and what are you doing?  Why?  Why did you make me hope all these things?  Why aren't you doing what you said?  WHY?

Yet here we are again.  God comes to Abe and says "And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you EXCEEDINGLY." 

Abe does the only thing that a person can do in that situation... He falls on his face before God.  Can you imagine the relief that Abraham must have felt to know that all he had believed was being confirmed?!  Sometimes we just need a reminder.  Sometimes we just need confirmation that we have NOT made all this up.  Sometimes we need a little help to believe.  We are not alone.  You can read through the word of God and see it repeated over and over again...  It's hard for us to believe, but thank God he is willing to remind us again and again.

The LORD says I will make my covenant with you.  He is making a promise to Abe that isn't dependent upon Abram.  He is telling Abram "I'm going to do the impossible." 

God is about to bring life from a dead womb.  WHAT IS TOO HARD FOR HIM TO DO FOR YOU??? 

He's not just bringing life from death....  He's going to do it EXCEEDINGLY.

Exceedingly- to an unusual degree; very; extremely.

He's going to do it so big that everybody is going to know that He did it.  You know why?  Because God wants the world to see HIM, to know him, to give him GLORY. 

He wants to do it so big that you are on your face, overwhelmed by thanksgiving because you had given up.  You stopped believing... 

I love the fact that God just keeps on talking to Abe while he's on his face...  He keeps on speaking his promises to him, while Abram is completely overwhelmed by the presence of EL SHADDAI (The ALMIGHTY GOD).  

"And as for me, BEHOLD, MY COVENANT is with you, and you shalt be the Father of Many Nations." vs4

MY COVENANT.  His PLAN.  HIS PURPOSE.  This is not just about you Abe.  This is BIGGER than you.  This is bigger than your hopes and dreams.  BEHOLD I'M DOING SOMETHING. 

We have the short term in view.  Our little bitty lives.  God has eternity in view.  God had chosen Abe, because God had a BIG thing he was doing. 

JESUS, the Messiah, the SAVIOR was coming through the descendants of Abraham.  Abraham was going to be the Father of MANY NATIONS...  He is the Spiritual Father of ALL those who believe in Christ in EVERY NATION.

This isn't dependent on YOU.  This isn't about your vapor on earth.  This is about your descendants.  DON'T STOP BELIEVING, just because it hasn't happened YET...  God has a bigger plan than you do that He is working out in HIS TIME.  It's NOT YOUR TIME. 

It might take longer than you wanted, BUT GOD IS WORKING HIS PLAN OUT IN THIS WORLD and you get to be a part of that...  SO KEEP ON BELIEVING. 

"Now unto HIM, who is ABLE to do EXCEEDINGLY, ABUNDANTLY above ALL that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." Ephesians 3:20

How can you continue to believe today?  The bible says that "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the WORD OF GOD."  If you want to increase your faith.  If you want to keep on believing you have to get in this book and allow God to increase your faith. 

"But without Faith it is impossible to please Him: for he who comes to God must believe that HE IS, and that HE is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Heb 11:6

My hope has been restored.  My faith has been strengthened.  I believe again because as I read Abe's story, God is whispering "Don't Stop Believing".   

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Can I have a Do-Over?

I just went to bed.  I didn't care what happened outside my bedroom door.  The day had been an epic disaster.  I wanted to blame them (my children) for everything.  I wanted it to be all their fault, but I knew it was me.  I had made a huge mess.   It started with math...  no explanation needed if you have ever tried to teach math...  it ended with an explosion and a threat that they would all be in the school around the corner next year.  When the anger finally gave way to the breakdown and my emotions were all played out I just did the only thing I could do... I climbed in the bed and shut my eyes.  Let them all take care of themselves, I had screwed it all up. 

When I woke up it was dark outside.  I wrestled between the choice to stay in that bed (and let dad order pizza) or get up and make dinner, even though it would be late and little people would be starving.  Finally, I decided 2 wrongs don't make a right...  I needed to put my big girl panties on and do what needed to be done.  I mean really what is the difference between the fit she threw about math saying "I can't do it, it's too hard" and the fit I was throwing about being a wife, mom, and homeschooler?

Attitude is everything isn't it?  The first equation she had done on the whiteboard took her less than a minute... after her attitude change the very next equation took her 2 hours.  She knew how to do it.  We've been working on this for 2 weeks.  Nothing had changed, except her attitude.  As I lay in that bed I realized the same was true with me...  I knew how to do this, but my attitude had changed and now I just wanted to give up and say "this is too hard, I can't do it". 

After you screw things up you have to go back to the basics.  What do you know to be true?  Well, I KNOW that God has called me to homeschool (no matter how I feel).  I know that I can't send them to school, because this is my journey.  This is my sanctification, which is just a big word that means "to make holy"  I'm NOT holy...  I'm so far from holy it's sad, but this side of heaven is all about me becoming more like my Savior Jesus, and this is the way God has decided to clean me up.  This is the way God has decided to work out my sin. 

Sanctify-  to make holy, to purify, TO MAKE PRODUCTIVE OF OR CONDUCIVE TO SPIRITUAL BLESSING.

You see as believers in Christ we have been blessed with ALL spiritual blessings (eph 2), BUT we have to be made productive for those blessings.  It's a work that God is doing in our life, using the hard things to purify us.  To make us Holy.  Sometimes it hurts.

Abram had been blessed with spiritual blessing and promises, BUT Abram had screwed up royally.  Abram needed a do-over.  Twenty-four years had passed since God had first called Abram out of Ur.  Along the way Abram had made some big mistakes.  Along the way Abram had learned about the character of this invisible God.  He had learned about mercy.  He had learned about grace.  He had learned about the power of God. 

After 24 years God comes to Abram again and renews his promise.  I'm sure that Abram knew that if the plan could be messed up, then he had messed it up.  What a relief to Abram to know that God was not through with him yet...  In fact this was the beginning, not the end.  

"And when Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be blameless."

In human terms this was the end.  Abram was 99.  He was old.  He had screwed up.  Surely after Abe is dead God can choose someone a little younger, someone a little less likely to screw up and start over, BUT God is just getting started. 

God comes and appears to Abram.  I could stop right here and that would be enough.  How amazing that GOD came to man.  WHAT???  Then instead of saying "Look Abe you have royally screwed up my plan."  He says "I am the Almighty God."

You see it's not about us.  We are limited to this human flesh and God knows we are weak... It's about HIM.  The name that God chooses to use for himself in Hebrew is 'EL SHADDAI'...  the Almighty God.

EL- the powerful, mighty, eternal God.
SHADDAI- comes from the root word, "shad" which in the Hebrew word for breast.
It literally means the breasted one.

This is a picture of God himself as a nursing mother. 

Think about that... a nursing mother supplies every need of her child.  A baby is completely dependent upon the mother.  A baby can do nothing for himself.  Only the mother can meet his needs.   As this relates to God- He is the God of total provision. 

God revealed himself to Abram through this name because he wanted Abram to know that He was the ALL POWERFUL ONE-  He was about to promise Abram that he at 100 and Sarai at 90 were going to have a son.  He was about to bring life from a dead womb.  He was just getting started.  God wanted to reveal to Abram that HE was the supplier of all of his needs.  God wanted him to know that outside of EL SHADDAI, he would need nothing.

I know God has been trying to show me this for a while...  He is the only one that can satisfy me.  He is the all sufficient One.  If I have Him, I have all I need.  Just like a baby who only needs a mother to thrive and be satisfied.  He is the powerful God who will perform his plan in my life.  I'm just the bystander.  I CAN'T jack this thing up.  

His grace is sufficient for me, His strength made perfect IN MY WEAKNESS.  He didn't choose me to homeschool and to have a house full of kids because He looked down and thought "wow, she'll be so good at this". 

I'm sure it went a little like this... God looked down and said "Wow, that girl is a mess. I choose her, then everyone will know I did this."  The bible says that God takes the weak things of the world to confound the wise.  When my kids grow up and anything amounts from this adventure we have been on, my mind will be blown, and I will glorify the LORD, because I know what happened inside these walls and if we succeed it will be because of the All Mighty God.

IF there is anything that God wants me to know in this season of life it's this...  He is the All powerful, mighty God who supplies ALL my needs.  That is exactly what He wanted Abram to know as well. 

"And we KNOW that ALL things (good or bad) work together for the good of them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."  Rom 8:28

I know you might be feeling overwhelmed.  I know you might be feeling like you don't measure up, but take heart friend, it's not up to you.  God didn't choose you because he thought you could do this thing.  Draw near to the Father as a nursing child would draw near to his mother and allow him to meet your needs are do all things for you. 



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

There's life here.

He sits at my kitchen table, drinking a glass of sweet tea, and rambling on.  There are a million things I need to be doing.  The dishes are piled in the sink, we just finished our school day and all I really want to do is get my house in order again, but he's here again, 3rd time this week.  My first response is FRUSTRATION.   I do not have time for this.  My next thought, not my own, a whisper from my heart...  where the Spirit dwells...  He says "I sent him here."  So, for God's sake and not my own I listen, as he tells me who the Ranger's picked up, about his job, and a million other things his lonely heart wants to tell me.  At one point he asks our plans for Christmas day and I tell him, it will be a busy day, a full house.  With a far away look in his eyes, he gazes at our tree and says "I remember when Christmas was big deal at my house, but it's quiet now."   He came because there is life here.

A few minutes later, he asks the boys if they want to play catch.  He's more comfortable with them than he is with us adults.  He tells jokes and laughs with them.  When I look at my children as a job, he sees a blessing.  He told my husband one day, "I come here, because there's life here".  He's talking about them, my children, they are the life that he's talking about.  What he doesn't know is he's talking about Christ, who came to give us abundant life...  It's because of obedience to God that this house is overflowing with life. 

I remember when Bobby and I moved into our first house...  we prayed and blessed our house, our specific prayer is that it would be a refuge for anyone that God should choose to send.  I didn't know then what I know now...  With blessing comes great responsibility.   I didn't know God would be answering our prayer in ways that didn't always make me happy.  I didn't know that I would even be in opposition to the way God answered my prayers, but I do know that he has used the answer to humble me over and over again.  He has shown me that I don't really have the heart of Christ for the lost and the lonely. 

She sat across from me at the table...  She comes off and on.  She's a favorite with my children and I don't often get a chance to spend time with her when she's here, she doesn't come for me.  She comes because there's life here.  As we sat talking last night, she gazed at the tree and said "yeah we haven't had a tree in years."  I didn't know that...  she is a part of our Christmas decorating every year and I know that she loves it, but I didn't realize, she comes here because there's nothing at her house.

While I'm busy worrying about laundry, dishes, school work and things that really don't matter, God is sending people here to this refuge, because there's life here.  The Bible says "That children are a blessing from the Lord." I confess that I don't feel this way a lot, but it's because my priorities are backwards.   As husband and wife we have said to God "we will accept the blessings that you send"...  I had no idea that the blessings were the answer to bringing the lost and lonely to our house.  There's life here. 

Children are a blessing.  They don't take life so seriously.  My little people laugh a lot and do crazy things that make me roll my eyes all the time.  Children accept people the way they are.  They love unconditionally.  They look past imperfections.  They make time for people.   The people that God sends to my door don't come here to see me...  they come because there is life here and there is life here, because Christ is here. 

Everything I do for Christmas I do for my children.  The candles, the baking, the tree, the decorations, it's all for them.   I want them to have memories of beautiful Christmas celebrations...  it's all for my children and the lonely are drawn here to be reminded of what Christmas used to be for them.  They come because there is life here.

The greatest work of God, the most miraculous thing that God ever did happened 2000 years ago when God sent his son, as a baby in a manger. 

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Isa 9:6

In the stable, lying in a manger, one night in Bethlehem, a child was born, a blessing that would bless the whole world.  A child brought life here. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Who is the good guy???

 I heard my 2 year old screaming upstairs for a few minutes and decided that since it hadn't calmed down it must not be a simple fit.  Up the stairs, I go to find out who did what and why?!  When I get there my 7 yr old starts explaining what the 2 yr old had done, and then my oldest son says "that's not the way it went" and starts explaining how each person had done something equally mean and annoying to the other.  So, once again it takes two to tango, but no one ever sees what they have done wrong and blame the other person.  We have seen this since the beginning of time, with the first two humans.

This little episode was a perfect illustration of the story I've been studying...  I recently decided to take a closer look at Sarah, Abraham's wife, the woman that God chose to begin the Hebrew nation and ultimately use to bless the whole world, with the birth of Jesus Christ. 

For the last couple of years my "faith" or religion, whatever you want to call it has been taking a radical shift.  I gave my heart to Christ at the age of 19 and from that point tried to prove my worth to God.  I had a works based faith.  If I could be a good enough person, then I could earn the favor of God.  He had been so good to me and his love so extravagant that I could not wrap my head around His GIFT of salvation.   The problem with that kind of religion is that I begin to think I am "good" and other people are "bad".    All along I was not good though...  as hard as I would try I knew there was no goodness in me.  Oh, sure if you asked other people they might say that I'm a good person, but I know me and God knows me too.

As I have taken a closer look at the people that have a prominent place in scripture I can see a pattern.  God takes regular humans, who act very human and intercedes in their lives in big ways and eventually, these humans don't become good people, they begin to see a GOOD GOD and FAITH in HIM begins to grow and characterize their lives.  These are NOT moral people.  God doesn't choose these people because they are good.  He chooses US, because HE IS GOOD.

Take the story I am reading right now.  Abram and Sarai are promised that they will be fruitful and multiply and that God will bless the world through their family.  Eventually the promised Messiah will come through the seed of Abraham.  The problem is they have been waiting a LONG time.  10 years has gone by since this promise from God and NOTHING. 

Sarah being a woman after my own heart takes matters in her own had and decides to go with the custom of the day and give her servant Hagar to Abram as a wife, hoping she will supply the long awaited heir.  When Hagar becomes pregnant she starts to despise Sarai and isn't afraid to show it.  Sarai blames her husband for all of her unhappiness (which all of us women do), and will not be treated like this in her own tent, so she decides to use her power as Queen Bee and make Hagar's life hell...

At this point Hagar runs away, after a while she gets tired of running and sits down to refresh herself at a spring of water...  Sound familiar.  We get mad and pout and run away, only to wear ourselves out and make matters worse for ourselves.  Do you notice she is trying to refresh herself???  Fill that need that only God can fill?!  ANYBODY HEAR ME???

While she's sitting there the Bible says "And the Angel of the Lord found her there."  God went looking for her.  She didn't look for him. 

"and he said, Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, where have you come from?  And where are you going?"

Isn't that just like God...  first he calls her by name (and Egyptian slave) and shows her how much he  cares for her.  Then he reminds her who she is, Sarai's servant.  Isn't that just like God to remind us who we are.  That pride that caused her to run says 'I do not have to put up with this.' 

Then he asks her an even more loaded question...  "Where are you going?"  She has no where to go.  It's her pride that drives her out into the wilderness and now she has no where to go and GOD FORBID she turn around.  I've been there.  My husband and I were in a fight one day and I left him here with 5 children (one being a nursing baby) and went and got a sonic diet coke and just sat there in that stall at Sonic, thinking now what?  Now you have to kill this pride and walk back in that house with your head down in shame because you know you acted a fool, but I sure didn't want to.  I wanted to head to Mexico, but what was I going  do there?  Where was I going to go?  I belonged at home.

Hagar admitted "I fled from the face (or anger) of my mistress Sarai."  God helps her to see that she was in the wrong as well, which prepared her heart to receive his next statement.

"And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to your mistress, and SUBMIT yourself under her hands."

Look when 2 people are wrong, somebody has to submit.  WHY in the world did the angel of the LORD not go to Sarai?  I have NO IDEA.  I'm always wondering WHY DON'T you talk to that person????  You are always telling me what to do????  Can you tell them something every now and then...  HAHA...  You know you think the same thing. 

God didn't do that.  He followed Hagar, He showed her he cared, He listened to what she said, and then he told her what to do and Hagar did what God said. 

Hagar called the name of the LORD that day "The God who Sees."

Who's the good guy in this situation?  The LORD.  Who is right?  Sarai?  Hagar?  Abram?  Is this story about moral people?  Is there any moral lesson for us to learn?  Does God want us to be moral?

I think God wants us to realize that "there is none good."  There is none who seeks God.  He follows us, he finds us (in our sins), He cares for us, and He builds a faith in HIM, not a religion. 

The verses in this post are found in Genesis 16...  Go read it for yourself and see that God is the HERO of this story, of this Book, of my life and the Savior of this world, through the family of Abraham and Sarah, we have been given Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus the Messiah. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Saved to Slave...

Laundry, diapers,
dishes, trash,
Rinse, Repeat,
Don't let me crash.



Girrrllllll.... I am fighting mad right now.   After spending the afternoon trying to find a good recipe for dinner, cooking said recipe and thinking that I had done pretty well, I did NOT get the reception I wanted.  The fire rose up from the not very buried depths of my soul. 

You know what I did, because you do it too...  I went on a silent rant that went something like this...  "Do you people have any idea how much of my life is consumed by slaving away for you?  Without a thank you or job well done?  Do I get a raise or any help without begging for it??????"  I could go on, in fact I have been going on for hours, silently letting them all know just what I think. 

My whole night was ruined over how ungrateful these people can be.  My attitude soured by a lack of appreciation.  I'm just a MAD WHITE WOMAN right now... and then of course the verses that I have memorized come flooding in right at the moment that I don't want them to.  How dare the Spirit of God interrupt my pity party with the Bible?!?!?

Verses like "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory: but in LOWLINESS of mind let each esteem others (like my family) better than themselves.  Look NOT every (mad white woman) man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.  WHO, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: BUT MADE HIMSELF OF NO REPUTATION, and took upon himself the form of a SERVANT, and was made in the likeness of men"  Philippians 2:3-7

As if that one verse is not enough I have to remember Jesus saying "The son of man came not to be served, but to serve." 

Who am I that I would take offense at serving my family with out thanks?  I know I've been bought with a price, called to serve and love just as my Savior served.  Who am I to become sullen and angry?  Who am I to allow my pride to be wounded with Christ as my example of humble service and obedience to his Father's will? 

Before, I get all Madea on people around here, it would do me well to remember that Paul said "And WHATEVER you do, do it heartily, AS UNTO THE LORD, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: FOR YOU SERVE THE LORD CHRIST." Col 3:23-24

My reward comes from the one I serve... So, I better get my own mind right and remember just who I have been saved to serve...  Jesus Christ. 

How can this "Mad White Woman" be mad after I remember what Jesus has done for me?

"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and by his stripes we are healed." Is 53:5

Madea, put the gun away!!!

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Choice.

You are my Idol,
I pledge my devotion to you.
Anything you ask,
That's what I will do.

I have another Lover,
He wants all of me too,
But there is nothing left,
I've given the best of me to You.

He calls me with a whisper,
He says come take my hand,
"I will give you all you need,
I will help you understand,

That all your other Lovers,
can't compare to me,
All they want to do is take,
But I hold the key,

To everything that satisfies,
I'm every thing that's true."
I know He is what I need,
and I will find only heartache with You.

I want him,
But I want you more,
I knows He is good,
but it's You I adore.

You can't quench my thirst,
You can't fill my hunger,
With you I leave empty,
You almost pull me under.

He tells me He's the true vine,
He tells me He's the Way,
I want so much to believe Him,
but I always walk away.

I know when I let go of You,
He will faithfully take my hand,
He will love me like you never could,
But all of me He will demand.

It's up to me
I have to choose,
I can't have you,
and have Him too.

His love is so much more,
than you could ever give.
It fills me up, it is enough,
It's what I need to live.

I'm not sure why I hold on,
When all you do is take,
Maybe it's this sickness,
in my soul that Ijust can't shake.

I run to you everyday,
Looking for my fix.
But, I should know by now,
You're just a cheap bag of tricks.

I have to make a choice,
I can't take this anymore,
You don't love me,
You just looking for a score.

I would like to say,
Please set me free,
But even I know,
It's up to me.

It's hard to resist,
You are so intoxicating.
Everyday I come to you,
You are completely captivating,

But it's all a lie,
It's all confusion,
The things you promise,
Are just delusion.

I'm turning,
I'm leaving,
I'm going,
I'm grieving.

You're not the one for me,
I want to say goodbye.
I can't handle anymore,
You are nothing, but a lie.

It's Him, It's Him,
My soul longs for.
The King of Kings,
Is the ONE I will adore.







Saturday, December 5, 2015

Not my home...

I don't fit in,
I don't belong,
I used to fight it,
But that was wrong.

You came in my life,
and started chipping away,
You took me in your hand,
like a broken piece of clay.

You've molded,
you've shaped,
you've sanded,
and scraped.

You've given,
You've taken,
And although I've cried,
You've never forsaken.

You had a mission,
From the start,
To be the idol,
Of my heart.

You will never take,
less than the best,
even when I fight,
You demand the rest.

There have been times,
When my heart would roam,
When I would forget,
This is not my home.

Like a sheep,
looking for greener pasture,
I strayed away,
only to find disaster.

At times I forget that eye,
Hath not seen,
nor can I imagine,
or even dream,

About the place,
that you have prepared for me
and how incredible,
My future there will be.

Help me while I'm here,
to fix my eyes on home,
and while I'm on my journey,
never let me roam.

It will be a battle,
To fight against my flesh,
to war against the desire,
I have just to mesh.

But, fight is what,
I will continue to do,
I will die to this flesh,
and depend on you.

Sometimes I think you've made a mistake,
leaving me here this long,
When I make a big mess,
And get it all wrong,

But You say "My grace is sufficient,
I'm faithful and true"
You are able to bring me
safe on this journey to you.

So until the day that my Faith
becomes my sight,
When I see you
and I'm done with my fight,

I will walk with You,
I will lift up my hand,
I will try to follow you
and keep your command.

When I'm finally home,
And in your arms I stand,
I will know it was worth it,
to follow your plan.





















Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Come INN.


I had a job meant just for you.
I had a mission only you could do.
I had something,
And it was so important too.

But, it wasn't big enough.
Nobody would have seen.
It wasn't on your terms,
so you completely ignored me.

I was hoping you had the candles lit,
and the music playing soft.
I was hoping you would,
Tell them to come in and sit.

I was hoping your smile,
would be the first thing they would see.
I was hoping he'd find cookies,
and a glass of your sweet iced tea.

I was hoping he would be overwhelmed,
with family, love, and Christmas Cheer.
I was hoping they would find me,
when they came to visit here.

I sent them there to see...
That the baby in the manger,
is the Savior on the tree.
I sent them there to find me.

But, what they found was an angry woman,
yelling at her kids,
They didn't smell the fragrance,
the aroma of the Christ.

Instead they saw only bitterness,
hidden in your eyes,
They found you were to busy,
and overwhelmed with life.

I sent them there to find me...
But, there was no room in the Inn.
I led them there with a star,
But you wouldn't let them in.

You're worried about about being noticed,
You're worried about being seen,
You're worried you're not important,
But YOU are so much more to me.

I need you in your home,
To open wide the door.
I need you to share the love of the season,
with the least, the lost, the poor.

Let them Inn.  Let them see.
Move out of the way...
They came to see me.
Smile and hug, serve and love.

Give them what they want,
Give them laughter, give them love.
Bake the cookies, brew the tea.
Give them what they need.

In the Name of the One,
Who came to save the world. 
Show them who I am,
Open wide the the door.

I had a job meant just for YOU!!!

Let me Love you...

 
 
OH LORD...  Please save me from myself.   I have the Martha disease.  You have asked me 1000 times lately to just let you love me and I can't.   I am consumed with shame and guilt that should have been stripped away long ago.  I think that IF I do enough for you then I will have earned your love, the very same love that was given to me while I was yet your enemy.  The love that I could never earn is freely given to me.  WHY can't I understand that you want to walk with me in the cool of the garden?  WHY can't I let you lavish this love on me?  WHY am I always trying to earn your favor or do something for you?  YOU hedge me in everytime and say "Be still, my love".  You tell me to rest that I am the one in need of seeing you.  I try to blindly go out and make you known in attempt to somehow earn your favor, but you say be still, be quiet.   I  am like a dry wasteland that needs YOU to rain down on me, but when you do I won't let the water to go past the surface.  I am dying and yet trying to save the world.  I try to offer what I will not receive...  LORD, help me.  I cannot accept your love and it's the very thing I need.  I don't need to do another thing.  I NEED to let you love me, BUT I don't know how.  SAVE ME FROM MYSELF... 

This morning I woke up with the driving need to do something for Christmas and I wracked my brain to see what I could do?!?!?!  It was so overpowering, but all the sudden the Holy Spirit calmed my raging sea and spoke to me the same message he has been speaking...  "Let me love you."  I had just read Psalms 42 and those words come back to me...  "My soul thirsts for you." 


The Lover of my soul says "Beloved, let me love you!  My child let me love you!  My daughter, let me love you!"
 
I don't know how, but my prayer is help me soak it in.  Help me be like Mary at your feet.  Help me adore you this season...  You are the reason.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fix My Eyes

Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity 38 years.

When Jesus SAW him lying there, and KNEW that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, "DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WHOLE?"

38 years...  that's a long time to be in an infirm (feeble or weak in body or health) condition.   It doesn't escape my awareness that this is my 38th year... and like this man who was lying on that porch waiting for someone to solve his problems, I feel like I've been waiting to be made whole too.  My infirmity is not a condition of the body, but of the mind.  Obsession with what I'm not, or what I am, or with my situation changing or any other number of things I fix my eyes on, has left me feeling weak and unable to move. 

Jesus says to the man lying there "Do you WANT to be whole?"  The sick man answers "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred, but while I am coming, another steps down before me." 

The Bible says that there was a pool in Jerusalem that had 5 porches and the sick, lame, and blind would wait there for an angel to come down and stir up the water and the first person to get in the water would be healed.   This man has been waiting 38 years for his chance to be made well, but standing right in front of him is the One, who has absolute power to heal.  The man is looking right through the ANSWER to what he thinks is the solution.   Isn't that just like us.  We look around at all the reasons WHY we are not whole.  Many of us have known Jesus for years and we look right past him, offering to heal us, with our eyes fixed on our problems and our excuses. 

Psalms 107:20 "He sent his word and healed them; He rescued them from the pit."

Jesus has the power to heal us, but we have to stop looking around him.  It's funny that he asks "DO You want to be whole?"  DUH...  that's why he was sitting there for 38 years, waiting to be healed.  That's just like us...  we sit around waiting for something to change to make us all better.

Jesus said "Rise, take up your bed and walk."  

We have be willing to listen, get up and take that step of faith.  The Bible says immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.  He took his bed...  He didn't plan on coming back there. 

The Jews said to the man that was healed "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed."   He answered them, "He (Jesus) WHO MADE ME WELL said to me 'take up your bed and walk." 

You know how you stay well?  Listen to what Jesus said.  THE ONE WHO HEALS YOU is the one you need to listen to.  I get caught up in what everybody else is thinking and saying and stop listening to the one who heals me and find myself right back in that same ole tired place again. 

Afterwards Jesus found the man in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well.  Sin no more, lest a worse thing comes upon you."

This speaks volumes to me.  My mind is infirm (weak).  My mind stews and worries.  My mind begins to wear me out about every little thing under the sun, then I start to dwell on my situation.  I think if this was different or if that was different I would be ok.   Looking right past the One who longs to heal me, I dwell on what I think is the solution.  Jesus wants to heal me, but I want my situation changed.  Jesus wants to set me free, but I want to give excuses for why I am still sick.  Jesus wants to make me strong, but I just settle for weakness.  My healing is there for the taking, but I have to fix my eyes on Jesus and take the step of faith. 

No one wants to be sick.  The key is being willing to stop the excuses...  I have to fix my eyes Jesus and listen to what he says, that's the only way I will be made WHOLE.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My Do It.

"My do it, Mommy!"  I'm standing over my precious (tongue in cheek), strong-willed 2 yr old, offering to help him, but he wants to do it.  He has his toothbrush in one hand and the toothpaste in the other, trying with all his might to squeeze the toothpaste on the toothbrush, but nothing is coming out.  I know this battle...  I've lived through this a few times before and I know that if I don't let him figure out he can't do it on his own, that this will turn into a power struggle.  So, I stand there and wait.  I wait longer than I want to and fight every urge to just take it from his little hands.  I wait while he has his head down, trying to figure out how to make this work.  I wait until he figures out...  he can't do this on his own and while I wait the Spirit of the Lord speaks to my heart...  He shows me what I look like when I try to do everything on my own.  He shows me that there are things that are too hard for me...  things that I really need to give to him.  There are things that He, as my Father in Heaven, is able to do and wants to do for me, but He waits until I surrender and place them in His able and faithful hands.

One day Jesus and his disciples went into a ship and launched out on the lake and when they sailed out Jesus fell asleep.  While they were out on the water a fierce storm came on the lake and the boat began to fill with water, and they were in danger of sinking.  After trying as hard as they could to keep the ship from sinking, they came to Jesus and woke him saying "Master, Master, we perish."  Then he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased and there was calm.

Do you notice how the disciples were focused on the minors...  They were trying to save themselves and the boat from sinking.  Jesus was focused on the majors and went straight to the storm and calmed it.

We have to face it, sometimes things are too big for us.

As I read this story this morning I thought about my storm.  The last couple of weeks I have had some anxiety about starting school.  Last year was HARD.  I wanted to quit homeschooling and send my kids to school everyday.  I know, because I have prayed about this repeatedly, that this is what is what God desires for our family, but it is nothing like I envisioned in my head, and most days ended with me feeling like a complete failure. 

This year I have committed to praying for my homeschool and not relying on my own strength, knowledge and ability.  This job is too much for me to do alone.  I need help.  I need to hand over the toothpaste and let my Father put it on my toothbrush. 

Today the Lord reminded me of this verse...  "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect (at peace) with Him."  II Chronicles 16:9

and "Commit (roll off onto) your way to the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass." Psalms 37:5

and "In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct (make smooth) your paths." Prov 3:6

God is my Father.  He desires to be actively involved in my life.  I either push him away and try to do it all myself, and struggle, OR I can hand my life over to him and rest in his protection, provision, and help.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present (an abundantly active) help in time of trouble." Psalms 46:1

There are so many verses I could put in here, because the Bible from the beginning to the end is a love letter telling us that God wants to be our loving Father, but I think you get the idea, He wants to be involved in our lives, but He will wait patiently until we hand our lives to him. 

Quit being stubborn and just give him the toothpaste already!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Much Love

She's a woman, who has lived a fast life...  The Bible calls her a sinner, but most believe that she was a harlot, a prostitute.  What was she thinking that day that she walked into the Pharisee's home?  I'm sure she knew what everyone there would be thinking.  They were all "good people".  The host was a religious leader, he would know exactly who she was, but she didn't care, she had to take the chance.  She had never been this close to him before, Jesus, he was here, and she had to see him.  She had heard him speak before, and the words he spoke had changed her life.  His words had gone to the depths of her soul and given her hope for a real future, one without being used and abused by men.  His words of God's love and forgiveness, for even her sin, which most would say was the worst of all. 

As she walked through the door she had only one thing on her mind, she had to get to him.  In her hands she clutched a bottle of expensive ointment, she had purchased it just for this.  All the men were lounging around low tables, with their feet behind them, talking about religion and asking Jesus questions.  The room was full and if she had been in her right mind this is the last place she would ever be.  In the dark of night she may have seen some of these same men, but in the light of the day, she would have been less than pond scum to them. 

There he was, Jesus.  Her heart swelled when she looked at him.  Her love for him and gratitude could no longer be held in.  She started weeping and kneeled down before him.  Not able to look up or say anything to her Savior, she kept her head down, crying.  She pulled out the bottle and poured it on His feet.  She didn't care that this was the job of a servant, she would do anything for him.  She rubbed the ointment into his skin, as the tears dropped onto his feet, with no towel to dry his feet, she let down her hair, and wiped his feet with her hair.  She was so overcome with her love for him and lost in the moment, she didn't even hear the conversation going on around her.

Simon, the Pharisee, is thinking "If Jesus was a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is that touches him, for she is a sinner."

Jesus knows his thoughts...  His heart aches, because this is the very reason he has come.  People have forgotten what God really wants from them.  They are so wrapped up in their own "goodness" that they condemn anyone they deem unworthy.  There's so much hate, so much brokenness and this is just another example.  He says "Simon, I have something to say to you."

"Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water to wash my feet: but she has washed them with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.  You gave me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in has not ceased to kiss my feet.  My head you did not anoint with oil, but this woman has anointed my feet with ointment.  Wherefore I say unto you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom is forgiven little, the same loves little."

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible.  This is one of the reasons that I love Jesus much.  I was once the same kind of woman.  I felt like I was unworthy of love.  I was hopeless that my future could be any different, but one day I heard the words of Jesus.  I heard "Your sins have been forgiven".  I experienced the unconditional love of God and I was changed.  I love Jesus much, because I too have been forgiven much. 

Oh, what a Savior. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Remind Me

Last night, with a car full of children, in the middle of an intersection, our car decided to die.  We sat in the turn lane for about 10 minutes, while I tried repeatedly to start the car, hoping for enough juice to get us to the gas station right across the street.  Finally, the car started and we coasted into the parking lot and died again.   My husband comes to the rescue, in our other vehicle that has also been giving us trouble.  After about an hour of working on "Ole Blue", as we affectionately call our 16 year old Suburban, he was able to get it to start.  He heads home and I follow along behind him.  On a wing and a prayer, we make it to our neighborhood and turn on our street, where to my utter shock and horror... both vehicles die right in front of our neighbors.  Talk about humiliation.  Hanging my head in shame, I grab kids and stuff out of the car, and trudge to the house.   Among this and other things that are weighing heavy on my heart right now, I succumb to doubt and fear.

This morning, out of habit, not desire, I pick up my Bible and my bible study (Chase by Jennie Allen), grab my cup of coffee and head out to my patio.  I don't really feel like praying, I don't really feel like reading, but I do it anyway, because I know somewhere in my overwhelmed heart that God is real and it's all true, even if I have doubts.   This week our study is on DOUBT.  Seriously that's the name of this weeks lesson.  I started flipping through the pages half-heartedly and land on a page that says "describe a time in your life when, beyond a shadow of a doubt, God was real to you."  Then she goes on to explain that the word Remember is in the Bible 150 times.  God tells us to remember what he has done, so we will have faith in the times that we don't see him or understand what he is up to.

Well, I skipped that page, because right now I'm not really in the mood to remember, but the Spirit wouldn't let it go.  So, I turn back and like a rebellious teenager, with a crappy attitude, I think when have you (God) been so real to me.   On a good day, when I'm on the mountain, I could name 1000 times, but today, in my mind, is NOT a good day.

Then God reminds me of this time almost 2 years ago, when I was in this same chair, over being pregnant and praying about delivering a beautiful baby boy.  I was praying for a natural delivery.  I had been induced 4 times before and had meds and all that.  Two of my besties had just had babies naturally and I wanted to do the same.  It was actually becoming an obsession, like if I didn't, I wouldn't be woman enough.   I was praying so fervently about having this baby drug free and on my own, when the Spirit led me to Matthew 11. 

In Matthew 11 we see that John the Baptist has been thrown in prison and he sends two of his disciples to ask Jesus "are you the one or should look for or another?"  What he means is, looking at his circumstances was making him have some doubts about Jesus as Messiah.  He's thinking surely if Jesus is God, he wouldn't allow John to be in prison.  John having doubts?  The very one who introduced the world to Jesus and said "BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD."  The one who baptized Jesus and heard a voice from heaven say "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased." 

Jesus sends them back to John with this message "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.  And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."

Only Messiah could do the things that Jesus was doing.   John knew that Jesus was Messiah and Jesus was reminding him that no matter what your personal circumstances may be, JESUS IS GOD.   Look at Jesus, not at your circumstances.

Reading that I just knew that He was preparing me that things were not going to go the way I wanted them to, but He was still God, still in control, and could still be trusted, NO MATTER WHAT.   One week later, a week overdue, I went into labor on my own.  It was an exciting feeling to experience labor on my own, but after just a few hours I started to feel like something was not right.   To make a long story short, after a very loooonnnngggg labor, with no progress, I started running a fever and the babies heart rate started dropping, and he wouldn't move down the birth canal, I was rushed to the operating room for an emergency C-section.   The TOTAL opposite of what I had so desperately prayed for.  There on the operating table, with my guts wide open, and no control over anything that was happening, I can hear chaos in the background.  The baby isn't breathing.  Then my Dr. tells my husband that she has to call in another surgeon, because she has cut my bowels.  During the 20 mins that we are waiting, with my guts still hanging out, for the other Dr., the hospital Pediatrician comes in to tell us that they are rushing our new baby to another hospital, he has an infection in his lungs and isn't breathing well on his own.  This hospital doesn't have a NICU.  If you know me at all you know I don't even let my new babies go to the nursery, except for what is completely necessary, let alone to a completely different hospital in another city, and because of the C-section I would have to stay at this hospital for 48 hours. 

The crazy thing is though, I had already known this was not going to go the way I wanted.  God had already prepared my heart.  I'm just laying there, during all of this, thinking no matter what my circumstances "JESUS IS MESSIAH".   The whole time I felt the Spirit of God, calming my fears, and reassuring me that He was with me and He was in control.  No matter what, I could trust him and I had peace.  I had peace that didn't make any sense.  I had peace that if mommy couldn't be with my baby that there was someone with him that was even better than mommy.  I will never forget the moment, two days later, that I met my sweetheart for the first time.  As soon as I spoke his name his little brown eyes turned to find his mommy.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have experienced.  There covered in breathing tubes and feeding tubes was the sweetest little blessing and I was overwhelmed with joy, because I had just experienced the presence of God like I had never before.

This morning, despite not really wanting to, I remembered when God was there and when His presence was so real to me.  When my circumstances were scary and out of my control, and I'm reminded of His goodness.  My doubts dissolve and my faith is restored, just remembering what God has done before. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why I Left My Acting Career

You may not know this about me, but I had a big acting career, and I just decided to quit one day.  Oh, I know what you're thinking...  You've never seen my name in lights or on the cover of a magazine.  No, I wasn't famous.  You may not have heard of me, but I'm sure you've seen some of the productions I've been in like; "Super Mom" and "Isn't She Perfect".   Oh, what you mean you've never seen that?! 

Well, whether you've seen me or not, I just thought I'd share with the world why I would leave acting.  It was a hard decision.  I mean I love acting.  I loved performing and being on stage, but it was so exhausting.  I couldn't seem to act and live a normal life, so one day I just decided to walk away from it all.

 I mean sure it was glamorous. Just what you would think, always having to have hair and makeup, clothes done.   I mean people want you to look your best, but it was so much pressure.  Sometimes you just want to be in gym shorts and a t-shirt, with your messy hair up in a bun.  I mean people it's too hard to look perfect all the time.  I just got tired of worrying about looks.  You can't act and not be concerned with looks, so I walked away. 

It was super hard though to hold it all together.  You know being a acting mom can really be hard on family life.  It's so hard to relax and just be with your family.  Always running around from this acting gig to the next.  Even vacations can be a production.  The paparazzi can show up anywhere...  We actresses always have to be on our game.   I felt like my family was paying a toll, because I always had to be photo ready.  My house had to be like a museum instead of a home.  It's hard to have little children and keep everything perfect.  So I gave up acting. 

Busy.  Oh yeah I was busy.  Running from here to there.  All those balls up in the air...  You have to juggle it all and never let 'em see you sweat.  It was so hard.  I don't know how other actresses do it and not have a break down.  That's one thing you might not know, all that pressure just made me crazy.  I had a breakdown.  Took some time off to recover, but when I  realized how awesome life could be without acting, I just quit. 

For real though...  I really was an actress.  I wanted my life to be perfect.  I wanted myself to be perfect, my home, my children, but it wasn't and the pressure I put on myself and everyone else to be perfect sucked all the joy and magic out of life.  It was a relief one day to find out that God never called me to be perfect.  I was playing a part that was not made for me.  I found comfort and relief in quitting acting and just resting in GRACE.  Grace is Unmerited FAVOR.  God had lavished me with his favor.  His GRACE for my weakness and imperfection was just what I needed.  Peace replaced performance.  His perfect love replaced my fear.  His joy replaced my agony. 

My life's verse has become "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  2 Cor. 12:9

I will never measure up to my idea of perfection.  I will never be Super Woman...  I tried.  It was too hard, so I'm trusting that God really is ok with my weakness and that when I am weak, He is strong. 

I'm tired of acting like I'm good or like I have it all together, because I don't.  I'm tired of caring what people think and living according to the way other people I should live.  God is ok with me and so I decided to be ok with me too.  I hope you will join me in the "Leave Acting Revolution".   I hope you can join me in resting in His Grace. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Soul Weary

It's been a while since I've had a good nights sleep.  We have been plagued recently with multiple sicknesses and that means Momma's up with sickies that can't sleep, cleaning up puke, or nursing a fussy baby.  Kid's that don't feel good and little ones who are whiny have a direct affect on my mood.  I try to be a good, kind, gentle mom, but a lot of times I'm a complaining, frustrated, yelling mom.  This morning has been a rough morning and my heart is heavy with guilt.  Guilt that I can't seem to be the mom I want to be, guilt that several relationships in my life are struggling, guilt that I can never seem to get it right.  When my heart is heavy I usually run to my closet and cry out to God.  I brought all of this and more to the Father this morning and prayed.  I was praying Psalm 23 and when my lips spoke "He restores my soul" my soul cried out "LORD, please restore my soul."   My soul is weary.  

Why can't I ever get any of this right?  AND why Lord did you give me all of this...  if you know everything, then you know I'm not capable of doing this and doing it well.  I feel heavy burdened today with the worries of the world.  My mind is consumed with thoughts of inadequacy and failure.  I worry about what they are eating, I worry about what they are watching, I worry about friends, or if my kids will be the ones who lead people astray.  I worry about the future.  I just worry.  I feel the heavy burden of it all on my shoulders and I know me...  I worry and then I wonder WHY?  Why me?  I'm not enough for all of this. 

David said "I have hid your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."  Thankfully through the years I have hidden some of God's word in my heart, because the Spirit can use His Word, which is alive and active, it's our defense, to calm my fears and worry.  Worry is a sin.  Worry is pride.  Worry is the belief that everything depends on us.   Worry makes us and our problems big, and our God small. 

So, today in my closet, on my knees, with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes, with the weight of my world sitting on my shoulders...  the Spirit reminded me:

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  Psalms 23

The Lord is my Shepherd and it's his job to take care of me.  I have nothing to fear because He is the Good Shepherd.  I am his sheep.  The sheep contributes nothing to their own welfare.  They can't find food on their own or water.  They can't protect themselves or find places to rest.  It's up to the Shepherd to meet all of the needs of His sheep. 

Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28

Jesus is supposed to carry the heavy load, not me.  I'm not able to carry the weight on my own and God knows that...  It's up to me to remember that He's got this.   He is good at spinning planets is motion and meeting the needs of His sheep.  He's used to telling the Sun when to rise and when to set.  He does all this on His own, without my help, but I can do nothing apart from Him.  He is the vine and I am the branch.  The vine supports the branch and supplies all it needs to flourish.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST: According as he has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him IN LOVE: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins: according to the riches of his grace."  Ephesians 1:3-7

He blessed
He chose
He adopted
He forgave
He loved

According to the riches of His grace.   His grace is sufficient (ENOUGH).  He is strong, WHEN I am weak.  He gets glory when he takes the weak things of the world and shows his strength through them.  It has never been about me being capable.  He is ABLE.  It has never been about me doing or working.  It's always been about the work He is doing in me.  It's never been a test to see if I could do it all or be good enough.  It's always been about Him lavishing His love and grace on His child. 

I am His.  His banner over me is Love.  I can bring all of my worries to him and in exchange He gives me peace that passes my understanding.  I bring Him my failure and he gives me His grace and tells me His grace is enough for all that I'm not. 

I stand up in that closet, lighter than before.  The mystery of how all of this can be true somehow settles on my soul and gives me the strength I need to today.  He reminds me that this is not my home and I'm on a long journey, but He's walking beside me and it's all going to be ok.

You know that feeling you have when you've been on vacation, away from home and it's the day before you're supposed to head home...  you just feel worn out and want to get back home.  That's like our soul being weary in this place.  We are eager to get home and rest, but we aren't there just yet.  Sometime soon though we will enter into that complete rest, but for now we can go to that closet and meet with our Father and be reminded that He is real, heaven is real, and He is preparing a place just for us. 





Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Though None Go With Me

David was a shepherd.  It was a lonely job.  Out in the middle of nothing leading sheep from green pasture to green pasture.  Out there in the middle of nothing with his sheep, David had faced many dangers, like bears and lions, and David learned about God.

David the shepherd boy says in Psalms 23 "The Lord is MY Shepherd...  even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear NO evil...  You prepare a table before me IN THE PRESENCE of my enemies." 

Everybody thought being a shepherd was insignificant, but it was David's training ground for his future call.  Out there in the wilderness David had learned some things about God and those things made him brave.  He learned that in the Name of the Lord he could face any enemy. 

I've read the story of David and Goliath many times before, but this morning when I was reading something stuck out to me that I had never paid attention to before... 

"And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and encamped by the Valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines."   1 Sam. 17:2

The men of Israel prepared themselves for battle with the Philistine army everyday.  From all appearances they were ready to go to war.  They set themselves up day after day for battle, one army against another army, but when one man, Goliath, made a challenge for man to man combat, every man in that Israelite camp including King Saul, was shaking in their boots.  For forty days Goliath called out for one man to be brave enough to come fight against him and for forty days not one man could muster up the courage. 

"When Saul and all Israel heard the words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid." vs 11

David the Shepherd was the only man brave enough to fight the giant and when Saul heard this he called David to him, but when he saw that he was just a youth he tried to discourage him.  David's response to Saul clues us into why God calls him "a man after my own heart" and reveals a lot of why he was called by God and chosen to be King. 

"And David said to Saul, Your servant kept his father's sheep, there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: and I went out after him, and struck him, and delivered it out of the mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and struck him and slew him.  Your servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.  David said moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me, out of the hand of this Philistine."  vs 34-37

Out there alone in the wilderness with those sheep, doing the job that no one else wanted to do, the insignificant job of tending sheep, David had learned things about God that the men in that army had not learned.  He was ready to face any enemy even, if it was all by himself with only his God. 

He knew that God was BIG as he looked out at the night sky, every night and saw all that God had made.  When you read through the Psalms that David wrote you can see that he had an intimate relationship with God.  David knew that if God had made all that his eyes could see, then he was the living God.  Israel was surrounded by countries who worshipped dead gods, made by the hands of men, and I think that most people in Israel forgot that their God was the living God.  He is powerful and sufficient and David knew that. 

David knew that it was God who had delivered him from his enemies and he had nothing to fear.  If God be for me, who can be against me, was David's mantra.  He had seen what those men of war had not seen.  He had been one on one, with God on his side, and he had prevailed.  He knew that as long as God was fighting the battle the victory was sure.

Sometimes we have to follow Jesus alone.  Though none go with me, I still will follow.  What we have seen God do, in the past, will give us the courage for the battle.  The enemies that we have faced with God before prepare us for the battles that we will face in the future.  When we have walked with God in the valley, we will be able to stand with God on the battle field.  He reminds us again and again "Don't be afraid, I'm going before you.  The battle is mine."  He whispers "Be still, and know that I am GOD: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalms 46:10

You know the rest of the story... David went on to defeat Goliath in the Name of the Lord.  David's victory ignited the courage, in the men of Israel, to pursue the Philistine army and defeat them.  Sometimes it's one person's courage to follow God alone that leads others to follow God.  Will you be the one?  Will you believe God and go when none go with you?

I'm reminded of two songs this morning... The old hymn "I have decided to follow Jesus..."

I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back,
though none go with me,
I still will follow,
though none go with me,
I still will follow,
I have decided to follow Jesus,
no turning back, no turning back.

and "You make me brave"

You make me brave
You make me brave 
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way

Sunday, June 21, 2015

When They Get What You Wanted

I watched his face change as she pulled his little brothers gift out of the bag.  He had already received his, a super cool Avenger t-shirt, that up until that moment was the best gift.  He's just now getting into super heroes and Granny had picked out just the right t-shirt for him.  He had a big smile on his face, until she pulled out the Super Man t-shirt with a cape attached and handed it to his baby brother.  From that moment on his gift wasn't good enough.  Even though he's not a big fan of Super Man, he loves capes and ties small blankets around his neck, and flies around the house saving lives everyday.  All the sudden all he could think about was that his little brother got what he wanted.  I watched him admire that cape for the rest of the day, I watched him sulk, and poke fun at his little brother and I knew I had to sit down and talk with him.  We talked it out and I told him I understand how he feels.  It stinks when other people get what we want.  We talked about how Granny picked out his t-shirt, just for him, with Avengers, because that what she thought he liked.  No matter what I said though, he just couldn't get over wanting that t-shirt with a cape.  It's hard to be 5.  It's hard to be 37.  It's hard to sit by and watch other people get what you wanted.  

Maybe you know the feeling?!  Maybe you are single and want to be married.  Maybe you are married and want a baby.  Maybe you've suffered a miscarriage and had to watch as friends bring home new babies.  It's hard to see someone else get the very thing you have been wanting. 

Sometimes it's stuff like cars, homes, clothes.  Sometimes it's how someone looks or the friends they have.  Somehow no matter how great our life is, we get jealous and discontent, when we notice someone else who has it better.  T.V., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pintirest have made things even worse, because we can be plugged in 24/7, and imagine how everyone out there has it just a little better than we do. 

Tonight I was reading about someone who could really understand this feeling.  In 1 Samuel 1, the Bible tells us the story of Hannah.  Hannah was married to a man who loved her dearly, but had married another woman, because Hannah was barren (vs6 ...but the Lord had shut her womb.)   Hannah did not have a child, but her husbands other wife did have children (vs4 ...all her sons and daughters).   Hannah was jealous, but to make matters worse the bible says her adversary (the other wife) would provoke her severely, and make her miserable, because the Lord had shut her womb.  She was so upset that she wept and would not eat. 

"Then Elkanah her husband said to her, Hannah, why are you weeping?  and why are you not eating? and why is your hear grieved? am I not better than 10 sons?" vs 8

Elkanah asked the question that we all ask ourselves when we are upset about what the other person has...  WHY isn't what I already have enough?  Isn't that the truth.  We have good lives (most of us).  We have lives full of good things that make us happy, but sometimes there's just that one thing we can't stop thinking about.  We can allow that one thing to steal our joy. 

If we focus on that one thing we can grow completely discontent with our really good lives.  How do we keep that one thing from consuming our thoughts and stealing our joy?

Hannah did what we all need to do.  She went to the temple of the Lord and she prayed her heart out.  She prayed so fervently that Eli the Priest thought she had been drinking, but Hannah assured him she had not, but that "out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken here."  Then Eli said "Go in Peace and may the Lord give you what you ask for."  (my paraphrase). 

After Hannah had taken her petition to the Lord she went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.  

She took her grief to the Lord and she went away better.  Psalms 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he shall give you the desires of your heart." 

Sometimes what we want so badly is a good thing and God wants to give it to us.  James says "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes from the Father of lights..."  God loves to give good gifts, but sometimes he waits.  Sometimes he's teaching us patience or he's teaching us about answered prayers and increasing our faith.  There is no end to the things that God desires to teach us and why he makes us wait, but we can trust His heart.  We can trust his goodness.  We can rest in His love.  We can know that God would never withhold something from us that we needed. 

Did you notice how Hannah walked away feeling better after she prayed?  She didn't have the answer she just knew she had taken it to God and it was in his hands.  God blessed Hannah abundantly...  she had 4 sons and 2 daughters.  Isn't that amazing. 

"Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works with in us."  Ephesians 3:20

I'm not sure when Andrew told Granny that he really liked, the Super Man t-shirt with the cape, better than he liked the one that he got, but she mentioned that she was going to look for one for him, because he really liked that one.   All I know is that after talking about what had him upset his attitude changed and he went away to play no longer sad.  He told Granny what he wanted and I'm sure it won't be long before he has that Super Man t-shirt with a cape.  

I'm not sure what it is that you want, but have you taken your complaint to the Lord and prayed your heart out?  No matter what the answer is, it always feels better after I've had a talk with my Father!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Misunderstood

God doesn't make sense and when you decide to follow a God, who doesn't follow human rules, people are going to misunderstand you.  The bible says that David was "a man after God's own heart", but David was also the object of a lot of ridicule. 

If you are like me and like the people who knew David, you probably would have chosen someone else.  At times in David's life you probably would have felt very justified in thinking that God had made a mistake in choosing David.  David was God's chosen man, but he was a man. 

David was a lot of things.  Saul's servants said about David, when they were looking for someone to come serve Saul, that he was a skillful musician, a mighty valiant man, a man of war, prudent (wise) in speech, handsome and the Lord is with him.   It was obvious to some that God was with David. 

Very early in David's story you can see a trend that will follow David throughout his life...  opposition from people who think they know something.

One day David's father sends him out to bring food to his older brothers and to hear how the battle with the Philistines is going.  When David shows up, he hears all this commotion about a giant and something about Saul making promises to the man who will slay the giant. 

"and David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel?  for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said 'Why have you come here? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness?  I KNOW your pride, and the naughtiness of your heart; for you have come down that you might see the battle.'

It makes me laugh when I read Eliab's reaction to David.  WHY ARE YOU HERE?  Well, His father sent him.  Then Eliab brings up the "few" sheep that David was tending...  to remind David where his place was and that he was insignificant.  Eliab then accuses David of being prideful.  I think Eliab is deflecting.  He doesn't want to be reminded that NO OTHER MAN in that camp, including himself had taken the challenge to go against the enemy.  Here was his little brother acting like he was going to go up against Goliath and Eliab's PRIDE was wounded. 

Isn't that the way it is.  People who think they know you or know what God would do, try to discourage you from following God...  WHY?  because they aren't brave enough to follow God.  Maybe they are full of fear, pride, jealousy...  who knows, but people think they know and they don't. 

David's response is so brilliant to me.  Instead of defending himself the bible says he turns to someone else and said the same thing, "What's going on?"  Most of us would be so focused on what the accuser had said, that we would lose track of what we are supposed to be doing.   We would be stuck right there and never move on, because so an so thinks such and such.  We get paralyzed and analyze "now why do they think that?"  Not David, he moved right on and remembered what Eliab thought about him did not matter.  You know the rest of the story...  they brought David to Saul and Saul sent him out to defeat the enemy. 

David did not get side-tracked with worry over what people thought about him.  He just did what he was supposed to do and if people didn't like it "Oh, well!"  He cared more about following God and defending the name of the Lord, than he did about defending himself. 

People are going to misunderstand you when you walk with the Lord.  God doesn't make sense to us.  The Bible says the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man.  His way are not our ways. 

Proverbs 21:30 "There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord." 

I want to be like David.  I don't want to spend anymore time caring what people think about me.  I want to be focused on the mission that God has sent me on and if it doesn't make sense to the world around me I can be pretty sure I'm on the right path. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Home is where the... mess is.


In this last year I have been delivered from an obsessive need for my house to be clean.  Don't get me wrong I still want my house to be clean, and I have someone come every few weeks to sanitize, because that's important and I can't get to it.   I'm just saying I have let go of the idea that my worth and value are somehow tied into how clean my house is. 

It used to be super important to me what people saw when they walked in my door.  I would stay up late at night and get up early in the morning cleaning, if we were having people over.  I would dread a knock on the door from an unexpected visitor.  I would yell at my kids and stress myself out and entertaining became something I dreaded.  My kids playing and having fun was just more work for me. 
 
This picture is just a small glimpse of what my kitchen looks like everyday.  Little bit gets everything out of the pantry that he can reach and all of the bowls and pans out and sits for a couple hours creating.  This kind of thing used to drive me crazy... because it's just another mess.   It made my children nervous to get stuff out to play, because they knew CRAZY MOM would come out. 
 
I know I'm not alone.  I talk to moms all the time, who HATE the mess.  It consumes too much valuable space in our thoughts.  Instead of enjoying our children and watching them lovingly create and play and use their imaginations, we fret and fume and gripe and cringe when they make the dreaded mess. 
 
Our friendships are suffering too, because we either don't invite people over to our homes or we make apologies for our mess.  We frantically run around our houses making them look perfect and answer the door breathlessly, with sweat running down our forehead, because we just couldn't let them see the way we really live.  We are missing out on friendships because of mess. 
 
We yell at our kids and we walk around angry at everyone, all because of mess.  I'm not sure when we started buying into this idea that our houses have to be picture perfect, but we need to stop.  We need to let go of that idea.  Houses are for families.   Houses are not museums.  Houses are for rest and for relaxing, and for fun.  Houses are places for little people to learn new things and play and have fun.  Houses don't give us worth and value...  families give homes value. 
 
Children and mess go hand in hand.  We need to stop wishing away our children's youth, eagerly waiting for the day that we don't have anymore mess to clean up.  When that day comes I bet we will look back sadly wishing we had made more cookies and read more books and just let our kids be kids. 
 
Children learn through play.  They recreate what they see in the world around them.  They use their imaginations and build forts and color pictures.  One of my children's favorite things to do is make home made play-do and use beans, rice, oatmeal, crackers, sprinkles and anything else they can find and they play like they are on "CHOPPED".  They make a huge mess, they drag out every pan, every cooking utensil and spill half of it on the floor, but they LOVE to play that.  They are happiest sitting at my kitchen table making an enormous mess.  They are building relationships with each other and making memories and HAVING FUN.  I can clean it up later or leave it for tomorrow, but I don't want for my house to be a place where they can't be children. 
 
Home is where the mess is.  If you are brave enough, let go of perfection and let your kids play and let people see the real you.  Let people think what they're gonna think...  they are going to anyway. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

First of all, Thank YOU for everything.  It must have been hard to raise another woman's daughter, but you never let it show.  You were so quiet and gentle, I WISH I wasn't the polar opposite of you, because somehow you made it all look so easy.  And, well, the thing is I've found out it's not easy...  I wish you would have told me a few things, but thanks for not telling me.

Thank you for not telling me that sometimes you really loved me, but you didn't like me.  That probably would have devastated me to know.  I found out the hard way though...  You can love your children with all your heart, but not like them sometimes.  Like yesterday, it was raining and I was tired of being in the house, so I took the kids to a surprise trip to Chuck E Cheese.  I HATE that place, not even sure what I was thinking, because I wasted valuable hours of my life and spent too much money.  They were super excited and I had that "I'm a GREAT MOM" moment, but as we were walking out the door two of the little people had fits and ruined it all...  I didn't really like them at that moment, but I love them.

Thank you for having self-control and not screaming every time I spilled milk on the floor...  That should be awarded with an Olympic Medal or something.  Thank you for cleaning up those messes everyday and not giving up or taking me to a home for messy kids.   Yesterday one of them spilled a full cup of SWEET tea on the floor.  I mopped 10 times and I'm still sticking to the floor.  That's ok though because after someone else spilled a bottle of EVO on the same spot this morning I had to get the mop out again, hopefully we won't wear down the tile in that spot. 

Thank you for the time that you spent crying and praying to God for me, because you knew there was NOTHING you could do.   It's hard to love a person with every fiber of your being and be so completely out of control of their thoughts and actions.  I realize I can't make them do anything after a certain point.  Thank you for never giving up and for crying out to God for my soul.  I know there were times you grew weary, but God answered your prayers.  

Thank you for reading me books OVER AND OVER again...  I know every word to "Are you my Mother."  For 10 years I've read the same books over and over and over, but I know it's worth it.  One of the things I remember about being a kid, is being snuggled up to you and listening to your  voice as you read my favorite books, so I know how important it is to my little ones.

Thank you for making eat my veggies, even when I would throw fits.  Thank you for making me take a bath.  Thank you for not letting me dress like a "dancer" when I was under your roof, as a teenage girl.  Thank you for telling me the truth when I really didn't want to hear it.  Thank you for forgiving me over and over again and keeping your heart soft towards me...  did you know some moms don't do that.  I didn't even know that was possible, but I do now.  I know women who didn't have a mom like me.  I also know that it's up to me to continue to love my children and forgive them when they hurt me... because children do hurt their parents and they really don't even know it, until they have their own kids. 

There is so much to thank you for.  I see that now, because I'm a mom, and I love being a mom...  but it's not always easy.  There is not a day that I don't think, WOW, my mom should have told me, but you knew I needed to figure it out on my own.  You loved me too much to tell me how much loving me cost you.  You loved me too much to let me see how hard it all was.  Thanks Mom!  You are my hero!!!