Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day

Today happens only once every four years.  It is special.  Scientifically, it is necessary to keep our calendars in line.  Apparently, according to a leap year expert (not me) we would lose 24 days every 100 years if it weren't for this special day!  So, let's leap! 

There is another who is leaping, but not for the calendar's sake.  He is leaping with joy over you! 

The Lord Your God is in your midst
The mighty One will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness.
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.  Zeph 3:17

He will rejoice over you with gladness....

The Hebrew word for rejoice used here is "suws" and it means "to leap, to spring in gladness".   

So, it is really saying that He leaps in joy over you with gladness!

He will rejoice over you with singing....

This word "rejoice" is a different Hebrew word.  It is the word "giyl" and it means " to leap for joy, to go in a circle"! 

Can you imagine God so delighted over YOU that He leaps for joy and then spins around and around in a circle with arms spread out wide.  He dances...twirling and twirling while singing. 

What a wonderful picture! 

He leaps for us!  Let's leap in excitement over His love for us!  I pray this image brings a smile to your face this entire leap day! 

Your God delights in you, rejoices over you, leaps in joy over YOU!  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Finding that "Crazy About You" Love

"Crazy About You" love.  Have you ever experienced it?  Are you experiencing it now?

Chris and I did the typical "I like you, but I'm not going to tell you I like you" game when we were first falling for each other.  Both of us almost blew it a couple of times before we had a chance.  

Then, one night a friend of mine had had enough of it! She knew we liked each other and by golly she was going to see to it that we knew it also!  We were at "Lucy Bluz", (remember, this is pre-Jesus) a dance club at the time, currently it is a pawn shop. : ) She encouraged Chris to ask me to dance.  He did!  During the dancing, he looked at me and said, "You know I'm crazy about you, don't you?"  My heart melted.  I will never forget it. 

I was crazy about him too, and I still am after 13 years of marriage.

I am also crazy about Jesus.  I remember when I first fell in love with Jesus. I wanted to tell everyone!  I wanted to tell them everything He was doing in my life, whether they wanted to hear it or not!  He radically changed my life. 

I would say all Christians experience this "crazy about you" love for Jesus at first.  But, sometimes it fades or gets supressed.  Why does this happen?  I'm not going to pretend to know all the reasons, but today I am going to talk about one reason. Works.

Sometimes we can get so busy "doing" for the Lord that we cease "being" with the Lord.

I know your works, you labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil.  And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.  Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Rev 2:2-4

Now, I am not saying we shouldn't serve the Lord, oh contrar.  The verse right after this one says:

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works...  Rev 2:5

However, these first works are the principle works, the work He has called you to do.  You are not called to do everything!  You are called to have passion and do what you are passionate about.  Does this mean we shouldn't sweep or help clean up after an event  if we do not feel passionate about it? Um, no!  It means follow your passion, but have a heart that is willing to sweep.  

I also want to look at Martha and Mary.

Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me."  (She seems a little annoyed with her sister, doesn't she?)  And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

Martha was serving, but had forgotten the most important part.  She was so busy "doing" for Jesus that she forgot to "be" with Jesus. 

The same thing happens in dating and marriage.  At first, you are just happy to "be" with each other.  Dating is just a lot of "being" together.  Many times in marriage, people get so busy in doing, and they forget to just "be" together.  That can be where the love is dampened or seems to fade.  It is really still there, just quenched under all the doing and busyness.

Find your first love feeling again with Jesus and others you love.  

Stop all the doing!  Pray.  Cut out what really isn't important.  Cut out what you are not passionate about.  Be with Jesus.  Be with your husband.  Just be.  You will find that "crazy about you" love for Jesus and the ones you love.  It is there, buried under all the busyness.  Let it breathe, and give it life.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"That is so Sweet"

Falling in love can be intricate.  At some point, you have to let yourself "fall".  Falling indicates the possibility of getting hurt.  When you give your heart away, there is the risk of a heartbreak.  

This month I have been writing about "Falling in love with Jesus".  In some of the posts, I have used parallels on "falling in love" with my husband. 

After Chris and I had been dating for four weeks, he planned a romantic dinner to celebrate our one month anniversary.   I showed up to his condo for our anniversary dinner a little nervous for some reason. One month is a big milestone (at least it was for me). 

The smell of spagetti was in the air.  All 5 of his roommates were gone for the evening (I'm pretty sure he paid them off).  We were in the kitchen while the noodles finished softening.  While we were waiting in the kitchen, he pulled out a gift to give to me.  A bear with a heart on it that said "I Love You". 

Now, neither of us had yet uttered those three little yet potent words.  Was he saying he loved me?  Yes, because after he gave me the bear, he said the words. 

I stood there staring. Frozen.  For Chris, I'm sure it felt like an eternity.  After I had a moment to process, I responded in a way he probably wasn't anticipating.

I took the bear and with a smile said....."That is so sweet."

(Not the response he was hoping for, I'm sure.)  Can somebody say, "Awkward"? 

We went about our anniversary dinner trying to pretend that didn't just happen.

You see, I was terrified of falling in love.  Also, I was skeptical.  Others had told me they loved me and really didn't.  My heart was a bruised and wounded mess by the time Chris found me. I didn't know how many more breaks it could bear.  Those words get thrown around so much that many in the world have no concept of what love really entails.  I wanted to be sure.  I didn't want to say it unless I was sure I meant it. 

I finally did tell him.....two weeks later!  You know those were a LONG two weeks. 

God also gave us a gift to show us He loved us.  The gift He gave us was Jesus and the cross with "I love you" written in bold bloodstained letters. 

"But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Chris died for us."  Romans 5:8

How do we respond?  Do we respond with "That is so sweet." 

That is how many in the world respond to God's gift.  They hear the story of Jesus and think, "That is so sweet"  and then go on about their lives with nothing changing. 

They too may be terrified of falling in love.  After all, that would mean sacrifices on their part, that would mean risk.  Anything deeper would require a profound response.  

Perhaps they are skeptical.  Maybe they aren't sure they believe Jesus died on the cross for them or that God really loves them.  They have been conditioned by the media and even some Christians to believe God is out to get them.  Why would they believe He loves them or trust Him? If that is you, I am here to set the record straight.  God is not out to get you, He loves you.

However, the real question we need to ask today is how do we respond to the gift God gave us.  Do we respond with a "That is so sweet"?

The gift of Jesus' blood on the cross writing out "I Love You" demands more than a "That is so sweet" response.  Be bold for Him.  Love Him.  

Perhaps your heart is a bruised and wounded mess and risking one more heartache is almost too much to bear.  Risk it.  Fall.  I promise He will catch you.  I promise you can trust Him with your heart.  He won't break it, He will heal it. 

He gave His life for us.  Let's respond by giving Him ours, completely.  Are there things in your life you need to give up to completely live for Him?  Is there sin you need to surrender to Him?  Say, "I love you" back to Him, don't be afraid.  Give Him everything.  Let yourself fall in love. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

And the Winner is.....+Love Shines

Good Morning!!!

Thank you to all of you who entered to win Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  I used to pick a winner and the winner is....Becky!!

"Arise, shine; For your light has come!  And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.  For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising."   Isaiah 60:1-3

When someone is in love, you may have heard someone say they are "glowing".  You can see the love radiating from their face. The love in them contributes positively to their atmosphere. 

Love Shines. 

I have been thinking about how I contribute to my atmosphere.  Do I create a positive atmosphere?  Am I glowing?  Is love radiating from my face?  Do I shine?

Sadly, I do not think the answer is always "yes".   I would keep this to myself, but something in me tells me I am not alone.  I want to change my answer.  I want to be a person that is an atmosphere changer.  I want people to see the glory of the Lord upon me and be drawn to it! 

The love of God is in me and you.  (Romans 5:5)  I want His love in me to overflow into my atmosphere and the people around me.  
"But sanctify the Lord God in you hearts, and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..." 1 Peter 3:15

I pray people would see the hope in me and ask me to give a reason for my hope.  I pray they would see that I am in love.  I am in love with the King of Kings!  I am in love with Jesus.  It is my aim to be an atmosphere changer. I pray to respond with the love of God, and not give into my flesh.  The world is full of darkness and many are searching for the Light.  Are you with me to shine today? 

Father, help me shine for you today.  Help me respond in love.  I pray I would be full of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  I pray that I would be aware of Your love and Your presence that surrounds me.  I pray for your love to flow out of me to others.  I pray that I would positively affect my atmosphere with Your love.  Help me get out of myself and look to You and think of others.  I love you.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love Pursues

Don't forget to register for the giveway of the book "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers  It is the best love story and book (outside the Bible) that I have EVER read!  I am so excited to share it with you!  You can register by
1. Liking or commenting on my blog on facebook
2. Becoming a new follower of my blog
3. Sharing my blog on facebook (just be sure to let me know if you do either #2 or #3 so I don't miss you!
4. Commenting on the blog

I will close the registration on Thursday at midnight and announce the winner on Friday. 

"Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away!  O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely."

This quote above is not from the latest Twilight book or romance novel.  It is from Song of Songs 2:13-14 in the Bible. 

Yesterday was Valentine's Day.  A day of romance, a day set apart to celebrate love.  Perhaps you had a romantic evening with the one you love or.... perhaps not.  Chris and I plan to have a date night this weekend.  He was romantic, though.  He gave me a beautiful necklace.  Thank you, Honey!  

Did you know you have a God who not only adores you, but is also romantic?  This book of Song of Songs in the Bible is pretty racy actually.  You may *blush* while reading it.  You will also hear the voice of the Lord in it.  You will hear Him pouring out His heart to you.  You will hear Him romancing you.  You will hear Him pursuing you. 

Love pursues.  

Last night and this morning, God led me to read the whole book of Hosea. I have to admit, I don't remember reading the whole book before and I haven't heard much, if any, teaching on it.  The first exposure I had to this book was when I heard that the book I am giving away this week, "Redeeming Love", was inspired by it. That information peaked my curiosity about it. 

In the book of Hosea, the Lord instructs Hosea to marry a prostitute.  Hosea loves this woman even when she returns to a life of prostitution again and again.  Hosea loves this woman who is unfaithful to Him and betrays Him and His love.  He pursues her and brings her back and loves her.  How many men would really do that?  Perhaps Hosea stands alone on that one.  Alone with Christ.  
Can I tell you what I hear when I read Hosea?  I hear the Lord, crying out to His people to turn back to Him.  I hear the Lord heartbroken over those He loves who refuse to love Him in return.  I hear the Lord pursuing the people He loves.  

Our God continues to pursue us, to draw us to Him.  He longs for us to be close to Him and stay faithful.  He desires greater intimacy with us.  He wants us to be abandoned to Him and His love rather than loving the things and pursuits this world has to offer. 

God is pursuing you, He is inviting you to come away with Him, to go to higher levels with Him in the clefts of the rocks.  He is longing to hear your voice, for you to seek His face. Will you answer Him?  Will you pursue Him?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Anniversary!!

One year ago on February 10, 2011, God led me to start this blog.  It has been a joy to share my heart and His through writing.  

It was a little out of the blue.  The Lord just started laying it on my heart to write.  Write a blog.  I argued with Him a little.   Me?  What do I have to say?  Who am I to write?  Then, one morning,  He told me to get up and write.

So, in faith, I got up and wrote A Display of His Splendor.

He told me to "Tell them who they are and tell them I love them."  That is my calling.  Those words are my marching orders until further notice, so that is what I do and that is why I write.  

 In honor of  Living Free in Him's one year anniversary, and in appreciation for all of you,  I am having a giveaway!!!  I am so excited about what I am giving away!!!

As you know, it is Valentine's week and I have been doing a series on Falling in Love with Jesus.  The best love story I have EVER read and the best book I have EVER read (outside the Bible) is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

This week, I am giving this incredible book away!  It is a MUST READ!  If you have read it, still enter so you can give it to someone! 

All you have to do to enter is become a follower, leave a comment, like my blog on Facebook or share it on facebook this week.  If you follow my blog, but are not an official "follower", please consider clicking the little "Join this site" button on the side over there.  : )  The giveaway will end on Thursday at midnight.  I will announce the winner on Friday.  If you share my link on Facebook, please send me a message so I will know.  I don't want to miss anyone! 

I am so thankful for all of you, my readers.  It is my prayer that the Lord would speak to you through these writings.  I pray for my words to be His words and that my heart would be His heart.  I pray for all of you to grow closer to our Lord Jesus as we journey together Living Free in Him.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wild Ride

On Monday, I shared a little bit about how Chris (my husband) and I met.  If you are interested, I thought I would share a little more about that story today.  (I love a good love story, don't you?)

For those of you who have been to Disney World in the past, do you remember "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride"?  It isn't there anymore, for good reason--no one remembers the cartoon.  It is now the "Winnie the Pooh" ride.  A much better use of space.  However,  those cues lines will also hold a special place in my heart.  It was in those cue lines that I realized Chris was a gem.  (Waiting in line has its advantages--there is often purpose in the waiting.) The "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" revelation happened during that first week I mentioned on Monday.

So, you may be wondering....what could have happened in a cue line?  He listened to me.  He showed interest in me. He asked me questions about me.  Most of the guys and people I had met, talked more than they listened.  It was clear, He wanted to know me.  It was the turning point for me as seeing him as more than just a guy with a Frat hat.

Do you know that you have a God that is interested in you?

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.   Matt 10:30

The God of the Universe cares about every hair on your head.  He cares about your deepest desires.  He cares about your darkest fears.  He cares about your innermost heartaches.  He knows all you have been through.  He saw you and knew you before you were even born (Jeremiah 1:5).  He had you in mind before the foundations of the world!

Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love.  Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.  (What a pleasure he took in planning this!)  Ephesians 1:4-5 (MSG)

Most people have heard about Jesus.  They know a little about Him or at least they think they do.  They may just look at Him as just another religious figure or guy with a white robe and long hair that wants to tell them how to run their life.  My heart breaks for them.  Jesus is more than just a guy in a white robe. 

He is standing next to you in the cue line for the wildest ride we could ever imagine on earth, much wilder than Mr. Toad's!  ; )  He is waiting for you to get on the ride with Him.  He wants you to know He is interested in you.  He wants you to know Him.  Talk to Him.  Let Him listen to you.  Abandon yourself to the wildest ride and greatest love you will ever know. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

First Love

The summer of 1995 was undoubtedly the best summer of my life.  It was the summer I worked at Disney World on the College Program.  It was days of endless magic, a bit of work, but mostly magic.  It was also the summer I met the earthly love of my life.

A friend I had met only hours earlier invited me to go out to lunch.  Excited to make new friends, I eagerly accepted.  When he came over to pick me up, he brought his roommate....Chris.

I wish I could say it was love at first sight and birds and forest animals were singing as we sang a romantic duet (isn't that what happens in most Disney Fairytales?).   No, actually at first, I didn't like him.  He was wearing a hat boasting his fraternity.  Frat guy - one strike against him. (I know...don't judge a book by it's cover or a guy by his hat.)  He made fun of what I ordered- strike two.  Thankfully, there wasn't a third strike that day.  I did think he was cute.  : ) I left that lunch thinking I would never see him again.

However, God had other plans.  I did see him again the very next day and practically every day for the first week!  By the end of that first week, I was falling for him.  A week after that first unimpressive encounter, it was my birthday.  He wooed me by showing up after a long day at work with a rose, a single rose.  I saw him from afar, at the end of the long street lined with dance clubs and restaurants.  In the midst of a sea of people, I saw only him and the rose.  A rose I knew was for me..... 

There is more to this story that I will leave for another time, but we started dating a week after my 21st birthday.  That whole summer, I would wake up filled with anticipation.  Something exciting is happening in my life.  I get to see Chris today!   I was overflowing with joy.  It was magical. I was in love (I still am).

There is nothing like that  feeling of when we first fall in love.  You know the feeling...butterflies, excitement that can barely be contained, joyful anticipation and expectation.  It is euphoric!

That is how the Lord wants us to feel about Him.  He wants us to remember our first love. 

....I have this against you, that you have left your first love.   Rev 2:4

 Do you wake up each day full of excitement and anticipation because you have a Savior that ADORES you?!  The God of the Universe is enthralled with your beauty!  Do you have butterflies and long to spend time in His presence?  If not, that is ok.  That is why I am doing this series.  Jesus is so in love with you.  He is there longing to woo you, to draw you to Him.  As you spend time with Him, you will fall for Him. 

Can you see Him standing in the distance holding out a rose- a rose that is for you.   Your Prince is calling. He is drawing you near.  Run to Him.   

Friday, February 3, 2012

Father's Love

Last night, all I wanted to do was curl up on my Daddy's lap and have Him hold me with His tender loving arms.  The Daddy I am referring to is not my earthly Dad, but my Heavenly Father.  I cannot say why (literally, I do not know) that was my earnest desire.  I felt distant.  I felt withdrawn.  I felt broken.

Maybe the reason for my plight was that of being a woman.  A woman torn in all different directions.  The demands of this world pressing down like a boulder.  I am still just a girl, just a little girl in need of her Father's love.

No matter how strong a woman seems to be, she still needs love.  Many women hide their need under a hard calloused shell to protect themselves due to past wounds that still desperately need healing.  The shell doesn't cause the need to be any less.  

As I sat curled up, I let Him hold me.  I let Him love and comfort me.  I need Him.  The enemy whispers don't tell them...don't let them know your weaknesses.  Is it a weakness to admit I need Him?  Or is it a strength?

Jesus, I need you.  I pray for my love for you to never grow cold.  I pray for my compassion for a lost and dying world to never run dry.  I pray for you to fill me with your love, to fill me with living water that flows from me continuously.  

The Lord has appeared of old to me saying: Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you. Jeremiah 31:3

I am thankful to be blessed with an earthly father and husband that do love me, but I know that is not the case for everyone.   Your Heavenly Father loves you so much.  No matter what your relationship is like with your earthly father, you have a Heavenly Father whose love is unfailing.  No matter what your relationship is like with your husband, you have a Bridegroom that rejoices over you.

If you are in need of love, I encourage you to climb up on His lap and let Him hold you with comforting arms of everlasting love.

I am going to be doing a series on Falling in Love with Jesus this month (the "love" month).   May we never forget our First Love. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Oh, You Shouldn't Have

The last several posts were birthed through my personal journey of learning how to receive.

A few posts back in "Answered Prayer:The Keys to Receiving {Part 1}, I shared a story about how our Pastor had spoken a blessing from the Lord over us. He then looked into my eyes with laser focus and asked, "Do you receive this word?"  In that post I shared my innermost thoughts...

Did I?  Did I believe it?  Did I believe that what he said the Lord was saying would actually happen?  Did I believe I was worthy of it?

The truth is... at that time, I didn't feel worthy of it. It was a big word, and I am small.  Lord, are you talking to the right girl!  You know my struggles.  You know my weaknesses.  You know my insecurities.  You know all I have done.

I wanted to receive it, and I did in faith.  In faith was the only way I could receive it.  

Has anyone ever given or offered you a gift that you felt was too big for you to receive?  Have you ever been given a gift that was hard to receive?  Some of you may even have turned down a gift because you couldn't receive it. 

When it comes to the Lord, I want to receive ALL He has for me.  Can you imagine the Lord trying to give you a gift and you say, " Oh, Lord, you shouldn't have. That is ok, Lord.  You keep it. "  No!  A thousand times, no!  Yet, that is what we do many times.

God is God, and He has it all.  Not only that, He is our Father and we are heirs according to the promise!  We are joint heirs with Christ!  (Romans 8:17, Romans 4:1-25) 

The Lord has given us many gifts including prosperity (financial and spiritual), good health, abundance living, forgiveness, restoration, justification, grace, joy, peace, love, and others.

I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.  3 John 1:2

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  John 10:10

Charles Stanley said:

"One of our greatest comforts is the fact that God never changes. Unless we realize that this truth includes His love-which He gives us no matter what--insecurities and feelings of unworthiness will rob us of the abundant life Christ has promised."

For the longest time, I could not receive "forgiveness".  I was punishing myself for past sins, when Jesus had already paid my price.  I had already been justified to righteousness through His blood.  However, I was unable to receive all the good the Lord wanted to give me.  I felt unworthy of good relationships with other godly women.  I would self-sabotage because I didn't feel worthy of the good life God had for me.  My own feeling of unworthiness were robbing me of all Christ had promised me! 

Is there anything Jesus has already died to give you that you are not receiving?  Receive it in faith. Believe. In Romans 4, it says that Abraham received the word from the Lord in faith and it was accounted to him as righteousness.  God wants us to believe.  God wants us to receive all He has for us.

I would love for you to share if you have ever experience a difficulty receiving a gift the Lord wanted to give you.
Living Free,