Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dancing with the King

I wrote this post over a year ago, but I really wanted to share it with you again.  Today is my birthday...Happy Birthday to me!!!  (I love to tell people it is my birthday, I know there may be a bit of narcissism in that, I'm not sure)  ;  )  But, I wanted to give you a gift on my birthday.  This gift is a visual gift, a gift that hopefully you can hold dear to your heart and enjoy with your King. 

I hope you enjoy with post originally entitled "May I have this dance?":

"You have turned my mourning into dancing..."  Ps. 30:11

My mourning into dancing....there was a period in my life of deep grief,  a deep wound that I felt would never heal.  This was a self-inflicted wound, which was infected with unworthiness, shame, and guilt.  It wasn't a physical pain, but a deep emotional pain....a sadness/emptiness only Jesus could heal.   That is why this story is even more amazing to'll see as it unfolds. 

Picture yourself wearing a white flowing dress.....

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."  Is 1:18

It doesn't matter what you have done.  I felt like my sins were branded on me like the letter "A" in The Scarlet Letter.  I felt that everyone could see I was unworthy to be a "Christian".  Newsflash....none of us were worthy of the price He paid for us....that is why it is "by grace we have been saved"  (Ephesians 2:8).  No one is good enough, all have sinned (Rom 3:23).  The good news is....though our sins were like scarlet, He has washed them away and we are now "white as snow"!  That is the reason for the white dress.  

This is important...are you picturing yourself in a beautiful white flowing dress? 

Now, picture in your mind for a moment Jesus in front of you.  Only He isn't wearing the white cloths we are so accustomed to seeing Him in, picture Jesus in a.....tuxedo. : )

He then takes your hand to ask you to dance.  He holds you in His arms, He dips you, He twirls you around and around.....

This my friends, is what I picture every time I listen to the song playing right now.  Amazing Love is "Our song".  Sometimes during other worship songs, I will also picture dancing with my King.  It is a sweet moment with the Lord and I wanted to share it with you so you too might have this kind of sweet moment with Him.  If you have another kind of sweet moment with the Lord,  please share! 

He has turned our mourning into dancing and made us white as snow!  The King is asking you to dance, dear one. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Foggy Sunglasses

While vacationing recently, I was enjoying lying in my beach chair by the ocean beholding the beautiful creation of the Lord. As I was lounging in the warm sun feasting my eyes on the view, a man from the hotel came by and ask me if he could clean my sunglasses.  It was a courtesy of the hotel and he was going around to all the beach dwellers to serve their sunglass needs.

Surprised by the request, I replied "Oh, no thank you.  I think they are fine." 

He paused making me feel like I should let him, so I said, "Well, ok, thank you" and handed him my glasses.

He polished away with his cloth and handed them back to me within seconds.

WOW!!  What a difference!  I didn't even realize how dirty they were!  Everything was clearer.  Everything was crisper.  I could see the glory of the Lord's creation even clearer and it was even more beautiful!!

Isn't that how we live at times....looking at the world and ourselves through dirty lenses?

 We can be living with impaired vision, not seeing all the Lord has for us to see.  We can be viewing the world through a fog and not even realize it!

Our hearts can be dirty and we can think we are fine.

The Word of God washes.  It cleanses.  It reveals.  It acts as a mirror into our soul, showing us areas of our hearts that may be not so clean. 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Ps 51:10

God comes along and offers to give us clear vision.  What is our response?  Is it, "Oh, no thank, I think I am fine"? Or do we allow the Lord of all creation to wipe away all the dirt and grime?

The people of Israel had eyes, but it says in Isaiah 6:9-10, they could not see.  In the New Testiment when Jesus was speaking in parables and was asked why He spoke in parables, Jesus said:
Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, 
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull,
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.  

He was quoting from the passage in Isaiah 6:9-10 here.   The ones who wouldn't hear and couldn't see were the Israelites whose hearts were hard and calloused and the pharisees whose prideful self-righteousness kept them from seeing truth.  He wanted them to have clean hearts so they could hear the truth.  The problem was they didn't think they needed him.  We won't allow God to cleanse our hearts if we think our hearts are fine.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if thre is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:24 

Hardness of heart keeps vision from being clear.  That is why we need to ask God to give us and clean heart, to renew a right spirit in us, and search our hearts and reveal any sin hindering our relationship with him.  

Don't walk around in a fog.  Don't walk around viewing yourself or your world through dirty lenses.  Allow the Lord to remove the dirt and grime from your lenses and give you new eyes,  His eyes.

Lord, cleanse my heart and renew a right spirit within me.  I pray that you would search my heart and reveal anything that is unpleasing to you.  Give me eyes to see what you want me to see.  Help me see others through Your eyes, O Lord.  In Jesus' Precious Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Luke!

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You. When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.  

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!  
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.  Psalms 139:14-18 

Happy Birthday to our precious son, Luke!!! 

Luke, you are wonderfully made!  God knit you together perfectly and wrote all the days of your life before you were even born.  I am so thankful to be your mom.  You are a joy and a blessing!!  God has given you unique gifts, talents, and abilities.  He has designed you specifically for His purpose!  He has a great plan for you!  He loves you very much and we love you!! 

Thank you for sharing in the celebration of the gift of our son!!!  

All that is said above could be said of you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God hand crafted you in the depths of your mother's womb.  He knew you before you were born and has a wonderful plan for you!  Enjoy this day that the Lord has made knowing you are loved!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Love Believes the Best

Though I speak with tongues of men and of angles, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  1Corinthians 13:1-3

Our love walk (how we relate and treat others) is so vital to our relationship with the Lord. 

Without love, the words we speak are just noise, and irritating to those around us.

Without love, all the gifts the Lord has given us are useless. 

We could serve in the church day and night and give everything we have to the poor, but without love, He says it is all nothing. 

God has been drawing my attention to the "love passage". 

Yes, I know it is familiar....but I want to encourage you to look at it with fresh eyes.  There is more there than originally meets the eye.  I am going to elaborate on a couple of phrases of the passage from Corinthians 13 that the Lord put emphasis on for me.....

Love suffers long and is kind (1Cor 13:4).  Other translations say, "Love is patient and kind." 

The footnotes in my Bible add...Love is "having patience with imperfect people". 

Ponder "patience with imperfect people."  Love doesn't get upset with the lady driving 35 in a 45.  Love doesn't snap at the grocer at the check out when she needs a price check (not even in thought).  Love doesn't use an ugly tone with her spouse if he forgets something she asks him to do. Love doesn't yell at the kids...

People are imperfect.  People make mistakes, and love gives people the grace to be.... well, people. 

Love does not envy, love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,  (has good manners and is courteous)

does not seek its own,  (does not insist on its own rights or demand precedence)

is not provoked,  (is not irritable or touchy)

thinks no evil;  (doesn't keep an account of wrongs done to it, it forgives)

does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth;  (does not rejoice in the shortcomings of others or spreads gossip)

bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  (love believes the best in others and credits them with good intentions)

Love never fails.  1 Cor 13:4-8 

That last part is the part God has been dealing with me about.  Love believes.  Love believes the best of others and credits them with good intentions. 

Recently, there was a series of things my husband did that I took the wrong way.  Sorry Honey.  When I confronted him, I was not in love.  It was in a "why did you do that" kind of way.  I did not credit him with good intentions.

Like I said above, people mess up.  People do things without meaning to hurt or slight us, and it is up to us how we react. 

We can get angry with our friend who didn't call us back or we can realize how busy she is credit her with good intentions. She probably just completely forgot.  Call her.

We can get angry with our spouse for not doing that thing we have asked them to do a million times or we can believe the best of them.  Life is full of daily life stuff.  I can't remember to do it all, can you?  I know it is important to you, just be patient with them and pray

Love doesn't judge others, it is not critical or demanding.  Love sees the best in people and not the worst. 

I pray I would be someone who believes the best of others.  I pray I would see people as God sees them.  I pray I would be a person who gives grace just as I need grace from others. 

Try to believe the best of others today.  Be patient with others realizing we too need others to be patient with us.  We are not perfect.  We need love and grace as much as we need to give it. 

Dear Lord, I pray I would love others as you do.  I pray I would see others as you do.  I pray I would be patient with those around me and display Your love to them.  I pray I would not be irritable or touchy.  I pray I would credit others with good intentions and not be offended.  Help me respond as You would. Please help me walk in Your love.  In Jesus Precious Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Sad Side of Sin

And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but the fruit of the tree which is the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"

Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die."

"For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.  Genesis 3:2-6 (emphasis added)

"the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable...."

Sin is deceitful.  It can seem pleasant and alluring.  It can seem like a moment of fleeting fun.  Can you hear the serpent?  Oh, come on....what harm will it do, just take a small bite?

My husband and I just came back from a beautiful island.  Its beauty is breath-taking.  During the day, the island is filled with people enjoying the sun and gorgeous clear-blue waters of the ocean.  However, during the night, the island beckons the vacationers to its night-life, enticing them to the lure of sin. 

Since we are not interested in the night-life, most nights we just stayed at our resort after sundown.  However, one night after a sunset cruise we walked down this street to return to our hotel.  Everyone seemed happy.  Everyone seemed to be having such a great time.  Then, I saw her.....

A young lady was sitting in an alley behind a bar.  She was dressed in a long black summer dress.  Her knees were pulled up close to her body with her arms tightly holding her knees to her chest.  Her hands covered her eyes.  She leaned her head forward  flipping her long black hair over to cover her face.  She rocked back and forth while violently crying. 

Oh, how my heart ached for her.  What had she been through that night?  What hurt had caused such a tormenting cry?  I wanted to run to her and put my arms around her and tell her it would be ok and that Jesus loved her.  I wanted to ask her if I could pray for her.  I did pray for her.  She may never know it, but I did. 

Sin may seem harmless in the moment.  Just a bite.  No one ever enters into sin with the intention of having a heart-break.  No one ever enters into sin realizing how far it could take them. 

Sin may seem pleasant to the eye.  It may seem good and desirable.  It may seem fun and without consequences, but as that girl sat in the alley....all I saw was the sad side of sin. 

The reality of hurts. 
It will take you farther than you want to go, take more from you than you want to give,  and can lead you down a path that is difficult to break free from.

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.  James 1:14-15

Yikes!  Do not be deceived.  Do not let Satan entice you and lie to you.  A bite will hurt.  No matter how pleasing to the eyes, there is always a sad and deadly side to sin. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

God, I Could Really Use a Tissue

The sound of the ocean and pale early sunlight called me to rise and shine.  What a glorious way to begin a day!

Is there any sound as beautiful on this earth as the calming sound of the ocean? Is there any vision as heavenly on earth as glimmering waves as sunlight reflects off the surface of the deep? 

The ocean is full of the presence of the Lord.  What is it about the ocean?  Its vastness and beauty is a remarkable display of the Lord's glory, yet even it is dismal in comparison. 

As I sat by the ocean that morning basking in the presence of the Lord, it seemed that the world stopped for a moment.  The busyness of the world had not yet rose to meet the day.  The only sounds were the sounds of ocean waves and sea gulls flying overhead. 

There seemed to be no one else in the world but me and God.  Complete peace.

I sat on the beach soaking in His glorious creation.  I felt the Lord's presence as I wept tears of joy for all He has done for me.  A heart full of gratitude.  A heart full of praise.   The tears turned into sobs until I was just a snotty, leaky mess. 

I laughed at myself as I spoke to the Lord, "God, I could really use a tissue?"  : )

As I spoke I had humorous visions of the Lord causing a tissue to float down the sandy beach into my lap.  The vision made me smile as I thought of how wonderful our Lord is, and how much He loved me. 

I did look down the beach to see if a tissue was coming.  No tissue, so again I smiled at the thought and decided to open my Bible. 

You, seriously, are not going to guess what happened!  A tissue (napkin) flew out of my Bible!! 

Is our God awesome or what?  I just shook my head in amazement as I wiped away my snotty mess.  God, you are really too much!

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways.  Psalms 17:7

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, 
What is man that You are mindful of him? 
For you have made him a little lower than the angels, 
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.  Psalms 8: 3-5

 The Lord provides everything we need and He takes care in attending to the details of our needs.  He wants to "show off" to us, and I think He gets a kick out of it. 

The Lord who created the vast ocean and all the life that fills it, was mindful that I was in need of a tissue that morning.  He knew I would be sitting there in His presence.  He knew I would need a tissue.  He never ceases to amaze me! 

He is aware of every hair on our heads, every tear shed. 

You number my wanderings; Put my tears into You bottle; Are they not numbered in Your book?  Ps 56:8

It overwhelms me that the Lord would keep my tears in a bottle and number them.  (It must be a bottle the size of the ocean!  I have very active lacrimal glands!)

What an incredible God we serve!  He sees every tear.  Nothing goes unnoticed by Him.  Do you need a tissue?  Do you need Him to wipe away the tears and bring fullness of joy?  His Word brings comfort no amounts of Puffs could ever bring you.   Ask Him for the "tissue" you need, open His Word and let Him amaze you! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mommy Mess Up

Mommies mess up.

Joe, my nine year old son, had a field trip a week ago and I went with him.  He thought we had decided I would definitely pick him up after the bus dropped him back off at school.  It wasn't definitive to me.  It was, though, to him.

I drove in my car behind the bus he was in and we arrived back to the school at about 1:50 pm. 

Hmmm.....I could go home for a little while before picking up the kids and have 45 minutes of quiet and peace.  (Quiet is hard to come by with three kids at home!)

So, I did not pick up Joe.  I went home and thoroughly enjoyed my 30 to 45 minutes of nothingness.  Can any of you with kids relate?  Awww....just 30 minutes of nothing.

About 2:40, I went to get Joe, Luke and Sarah.  To my surprise, I found a teary-eyed Joe entering the van.

"Mommy, where were you?  I waited in the hallway with my backpack for 30 minutes.  I thought you were coming to get me."

As you can imagine, my heart sank.

"You did?  I am so sorry, I didn't know you thought I was definitely picking you up?  I thought you might want to stay and play outside with your friends."

Joe then said , "No, I stayed inside because I thought you were coming."  

 Did I say I was coming?  I cannot say for sure, but one thing was sure...he thought I was. 

I felt terrible.  Again, I apologized, "I am so sorry, I should have come to get you."

In my mind, it was a misunderstanding.  In his mind, a promise had been broken.

This was not a time to disagree with him and tell him why he was wrong.  This was not a time to justify why I didn't pick him up.  This was a time to make things right with my son.

All I could imagine was him standing in the hallway alone for 30 minutes waiting......while I was doing my nothing.  

"I am so sorry, I should have come to get you? Mommies mess up sometimes, and I messed up. Will you forgive me?"

Confess your faults one to another.  James 5: 16  

James is referring to confessing your fault to the one you have wronged.  (Just a side note: He is not condoning the confessing of all sins publicly without discretion. )
Therefore if you bring your gift to the alter, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the alter, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Matthew 5:23-24

I wronged Joe.  If left unaddressed, that situation could have torn a heart string out of socket leaving our relationship damaged.  Our relationship needed reconciliation.  I love my son too much to allow a heart string to be broken.

"Yes, I forgive you, Mommy."

But, I wanted to double make sure all was well.

Our Pastor recently did a series on "favor" and how to have "favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).

Fresh on my mind, I recalled that one way to increase favor is gift giving (Proverbs 21:14, Prov 18:16).  

I explained, "Joe, I feel really bad about what happened.  How would  you like to go out for ice cream, just you and me?"  He lit up with smiles...and nodded.

There is power in asking for forgiveness....... and a little ice cream doesn't hurt either. : )

Friday, May 4, 2012

More of My Story

The blue velvety interior of the car did not seem as soft that day.  The sun was shining bright outside, but inside me there was a dark cloud.  Numb, I looked out the window with eyes vacant and empty.  Fresh memories of screaming from pain and uncontrollable tears flooded my mind.  This car ride of one and half hours would feel like an eternity.   All I wanted was for my life to go "back to normal".  All I wanted was to finish college, get married and live the dream.  Why did this have to happen to me?  Why did I have to get pregnant?  Miserable. Full of despair.  Hopeless.  I thought this trip would give me my dream.  I thought this decision would be the answer.  Instead, it gave me an unexpected nightmare of grief, loss, depression, guilt, shame, and unshakable feelings of unworthiness.  Bondage.  A part of me was ripped from me that day.  A part of me died that day.  I would find Jesus to be the only one who could mend the endless hole.  Jesus would be the only one who could restore my life......

             I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday.  I accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and savior when I was 4 years old.  I remember that day.  It was real and I loved Jesus.  I lived for the Lord until my teenage years, then I started drifting away.  The drifting turned into a falling until I was living a lifestyle of full-fledged sin with no evidence of my Christian foundation. By the time I entered college, I couldn't stand who I had become, but I didn't want to stop the sinful lifestyle. I found comfort in a bottle that dimmed the pain of reality.   I made countless bad decisions that cluttered my heart with regret.  My relationship with Jesus was all but a past memory.   Part of me still longed to know Him again, but not enough to exchange my lifestyle of sin for a life full of His glory.  (Looking back, I don't understand why anyone wouldn't make that exchange!)   

              My life was one debris pile of bad decisions, and then at age 19, I found out I was pregnant. With my heart stone-hard with sin, I made a decision that would cast a dark shadow for years and forever affect my life.  I made the decision to have an abortion.

             Instead of waking up to the destructive patterns in my life, I invited more destruction.  Every day when I woke up for over a year, I was tormented by the choice I made.  EVERYDAY.  I fell into depression and chose to drink excessively in an attempt to cover the hurt only the blood of Jesus could cover.  I felt unworthy of love so I settled for cheap counterfeits.  The more I attempted to dull the hurt, the more I hurt, so I attempted to dull the hurt more.  It was a vicious cycle that would have led to death had I continued.  

              However, during that time, the Lord never forgot me.  He was there, grieving over my sin.  He was there  waiting for the little girl who use to walk with Him to come back to Him.  He was waiting there with arms open with love to be my Comforter and Restorer.  

              Two years after the abortion,  I hit my rock bottom.  I woke up and I couldn't stand the person I had become.  Where was the sweet girl who use to be in love with Jesus?  That pivotal Sunday morning,  I literally ran from church to church crying.  It was past "church time" and it was finals week, so I had difficulty finding someone who would talk to me.  I needed someone to help me out of my vicious cycle.  I needed God.  Someone did talk to me that day.  A sweet college girl took time out of studying for her finals to talk to me.  I wish I could remember her name.   God helped me that day.  I didn't completely give my life over to Christ that day, but He did help me stop the destructive patterns.  It was two weeks after that morning that God brought Chris, my husband, into my life.  He used Chris to demonstrate His love to a girl who felt unworthy of anyone's love.

In 1998,  Chris and I got married and about two months later made a decision to completely turn our backs on our old lives and rededicate our lives to Christ.  I began attending church again for the first time since high school.  However, I felt like no one could ever know of the sinful lifestyle of my past, especially about the abortion.  I really thought I was the only one who had a clouded past and everyone else in church had always lived for the Lord.  I know it sounds crazy, but that is how I felt.  I was a Christian locked in a prison of shame.  I felt unworthy to be around other Christians.  I felt like I had a scarlet A written across my forehead.  Satan lies and tries to tell us we are the only one, we cannot tell anyone. "Keep it a secret.  You can't tell anyone.  What will they think?"  However, God says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.  

God started chiseling away and began reconstruction on me right away!  A friend, Jill (love her!), invited me to a bible study.  She was a living picture of His grace and love.   Through the Word of God and the love of other believers, God began to show me His grace, mercy and forgiveness.  He began to show me who He was and who I was.

My heart longed to be like the other Christians I saw at my church.  They seemed to have it all together.  I wanted to really know Jesus like they knew Jesus, I wanted a peaceful countenance and confidence.  I wanted healing.  I wanted freedom.  My self-image was torn down to where it matched the pile of debris left by my strain of poor choices.  It took years of renewing my mind through His Word to   increase my self-image to where it should be, which is that of a child of a King, because I am.   

Though my sins were as scarlet, He has made me white as snow (Is 1:18).  When we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteous (1 John 1:9).  If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new  (2 Cor 5:17).  My identity is not in my past, my identity is in Him.  

He has completely transformed my life by His Word, His Blood and His stripes.  I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind to His Word.   The blood of Jesus cleansed me from all my sins.  All my sin was nailed to the cross with Him, and He remembers them no more (Is 23:45).   By His stripes I have been healed.   My heart once broken and ripped has been completely mended and made new. 

He took my pile of garbage and gave me a crown of glory. What an exchange!  What a glorious Savior!  He has completely restored my life....He has given me beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness (Is 61:3).  

He wants to do the same with you.....have you made the exchange?  Have you traded in your pile of junk for a life full of His beauty?  Give it to Him, whatever it is.....  Your story may be similar to mine or maybe you feel unworthy of God's love from other sins or circumstances that were not your fault.  God wants to take your life and start chiseling away what needs to be removed and rebuild the areas beaten down by years of brokenness. 
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;  
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  
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 53:4-5

Receive His healing power today in your life.  
Thank you for letting me share a part of my story with you.  I pray it brings you another step closer to freedom in Him.  I felt God wanted me to share this part with you as well before moving on.   In the next post, I promise there will be a much more light-hearted story about ice cream.  : ) 

With Love, praying for you to know the resurrection and restoration power of Jesus,