There is nothing-no circumstance, no trouble, no-testing that can ever touch me until, first of all it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a GREAT PURPOSE, which I may not understand at the moment. As I refuse to become panicky, as I lift my eyes up to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will ever cause me to fret-for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is- that is the rest of VICTORY!!!!



Saturday, December 31, 2011

The "what if ? "

Its funny because I wrote part of this two years ago. Another example of how human I am. Even in the things I write sometimes I needed reminded of them. I can just write them and you can just read them but if neither of us use them to better our lives and walk with Christ its all for nothing. Thank you Jesus for allowing me to stumble upon this today and be reminded of how much You are in control. Its easy to lay it out for all to see and do when things are great but when things are difficult may I still praise You and show You in a glorifying way....

So i wonder how many of you spend so much valuable time worrying about things??? Maybe some of you have been called worry warts a time or two. I know its something i am guilty of, and that is just worrying about things we can't have much control over anyways. We spend so much time and energy worrying about whats ahead instead of focusing on whats right in front of us. Someone once told me that the best way to handle worrying so much is to instead of putting a question mark at the end of all our worries put an answer. By this i mean take whatever we are worrying about and adress it as if we already have an answer by writing down a negative outcome and a positive one. What this does is it puts things into perspective and allows us to have a clear look at what it is we are worrying about.

Maybe its money, a relationship or job you are worrying about so say to that worry ok if this job doesnt work out what is the worst that can happen and what could be the best that could come from it???  Maybe its a possible health diagnosis that has really shaken you up. I have done this alot with many areas of my life and in theory it sounds amazing and it is very helpful. Its taking the unknown and saying "ok Satan throw it my way if that were to happen I will still be ok, I will still rejoice and I will still proclaim the name of Jesus."  It takes the "what if" time out of the game and removes the time that Satan has to work on us and grind at us with the agony of fear, anger, and anxiousness.

We often take our worries and give them over to the Lord trusting that whatever concerns us it will too concern Him. Our worries are so important to God but there will be times when what we worry about doesnt have a happy ending or the ending we would have liked. If we address both the good and bad before we really have an answer this just helps prepare us for what could happen. Whenever I start worrying about things i get my little pen and paper out and write ok if this doesnt work out how i would like what is the worst that could happen and whats the best. When i do this i often find myself being more aware of the blessings i do have instead of what i dont or might possibly lose. I find myself taking the time to remember that regardless of the outcome of my worry I still have God, my family and so on. It helps me to see that regardless of the outcome I'm going to be ok still. If you are struggling with some worries in your own life right now take the time to go ahead and answer those worries with a postive outcome and a negative one...then take it into perpsective. God is still with us even when that job fails, a relationship fails, money is tight, that diagnoses comes. What is it that you are worrying about??? is it something you have no control over anyways??? take a little time and answer the what ifs, then take those worries and the outcomes to Jesus and let them go. Trust that whatever the outcome will be you will still be ok and there are still blessings around you that are so beautiful.

"In the midst of the roller-coaster ride our emotions sometimes take us on, we have to constantly bring our minds and thoughts back to the Truth. The Truth is, God is good, whether I feel like He is good or not. The Truth is, God loves me, whether I feel loved or not. The Truth is through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ on my behalf, I am forgiven, whether I feel forgiven or not. The truth is, God will never leave me or forsake me; he is with me all the time, even when I feel alone or forsaken."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The most beautiful skies ever.....

Sometimes, ok maybe alot of times, I feel like the Lord places the littles things in our lives to show us His unfailing love and promises for us. Maybe an encouraging note from a friend, a beautiful blue sky, a childs laughter, gentle hug, anything that makes you stop and think for a second wow I am blessed classifies as a God moment to me. A simple reminder in the midst of the chaos enough to make you step back for a second and sigh a breath of relief is a God moment. Today I am thankful for one of those God moments. A moment that I felt as if the Lord was whispering directly into my ear His sincere, tender, intimate love for me and showing me that He is holding me in the midst of His embrace.





Driving home for a doctors appointment in Cleveland today I was feeling kind of yucky and having a moment where I was just tired of being tired and going through the health stuff. A moment where I thought to myself "Ok God seriously?!" But there right in front of me was the most beautiful blue skies with the sun bursting through with a glow that warmed my heart. It was one of those moment where I kind of chuckled to myself and thought "Yeah I get it." Regardless of how chaotic life gets, how long the road to the journey seems to wind and go up and down hills and valleys God always sends the most beautiful reminders to us that He is still there. Not only is He there but He is fighting for us and with us the battles of this life. As if the moment couldnt have been more amazing there was a song playing in my car at the same time and it talked about the power of Christ love for us and how nothing can ever seperate us from that love. The words say this:

I believe Your love is faithful  
When all my hopes have crumbled  
It is standing strong and able  
When everything else fails
I believe Your love will cover me  
Through every storm I am persuaded

Nothing in life
Nothing in death  
No mountain high  
No ocean depth  
No power below  
On earth or above Can separate me from Your love!!!!! 

Romans 8: 38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Praise now and feel it later....



Ugh, I'm so over this funk I have been in for awhile. I feel like a puppet merely going through the motions everyday instead of my heart bursting with excitement and overflowing through in everything I do. There is no character in my dance everyday through life its so choreographed and impersonal lately. I know I'm not alone by the numerous posts on Facebook I have seen lately. There seems to be a funk virus spreading rapidly right now in the lives of so many people. Its not a depression and a pure dread for life I'm talking about but almost like the spark that so many people use as their drive and motivation and zest for life has a short.

I have said so many times and even posted on my blog that its supposed to be the most joyous and happy time of the year with Christmas and New Years and that I was going to get my rear in gear and be joyful but then I find myself sliding right back in this hole of funk. I was nervous about writing this post actually because for a moment I thought "wow they are gonna realize how ordinary I am and how much I struggle daily with the things of this world like everyone else." My joy and strength is in Jesus but I will be the first person to admit that I am not superhuman and each day is a struggle for me just like anyone else. I came to the conclusion this morning that possibly the root of my funk is alot of little things added up that have happened around me and we have been through lately that can just wear on you. The more life I live the more I realize one of the biggest battles is with our minds and how much of an impact thoughts and attitudes can really play into how we feel and our motivation each day. If there's negative situation after negative situation around you then you are going to get into the attitude of negativity. If you are surrounded by positive and happy things then you will find yourself having an attitude of praise more and more. With witnessing alot of tough stuff with friends around us and Macie and I being sick this Christmas it was easy to get into the negative yuck mode. I don't feel like I am in a "I hate life, I hate everything around me, this stinks, blah blah blah.....mode." But rather a quiet phase where although I'm not being negative, I'm definitely not going out of my way to be positive and try to change my thought process either.

The Lord convicted me of this today and reminded me that who am I to only praise Him in the good and forget even in the blah that He is still awesome? There is a quote I heard from Beth Moore last week and it says this "sometimes we have to praise now and feel it later." How awesome is that?!! Sometimes life isn't going to "feel" the best but even then we need to glorify the Lord because He is still good. Even when the future is unknown or life is handing you a difficult hand to play we need to still praise Him. Not because of our circumstances but because of His faithfulness, goodness, and power that has always sustained us and will continue to be with us. I guess this is all just to first  confess that I am human also and I hope someone else can relate to this post today and realize that they aren't alone and that although we have allowed ourselves to get into this funk the beauty is that we can choose to get out and no longer stay in it. I encourage you today that if your dealing with the funk virus yourself to decide from this moment on that you will surround yourself with positive thoughts and actions and ask for the Lord to help you in those moments when you start getting back into the negativity pit that He would convict and help you to change it. Satan would love to have power and to keep the spark from our lives everyday but because of Jesus the victory has already been won and we don't have to stay in that pit any longer. Praise now and feel it later, thank you Jesus!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ultimate Birthday Bash...

With 27 hours to go and various Christmas gatherings already taking place we make a mad dash to the finish line. Tensions high, presents to buy and stores busting at the seam we are all functioning in pure chaos mode towards the same goal. Christmas Day, a time to gather, eat, laugh, exchange gifts and be reminded of how blessed we truly are is inevitably one of the most beautiful times of the year.

As I sit back tonight exhausted from the preparation of Christmas time I am reminded that although I still get giddy pulling the rings from the Christmas countdown chain each year and decorating the house with lights and colors that regardless of how much we prepare Christmas day always comes and goes before we can even take in all the details of the days events. We spend so much time and energy preparing for that magical day and then with a blink of an eye its gone. Like the birthday parties I plan for my precious Macie every August I start weeks ahead and try to make sure all the details are perfect, and before I'm even able to breath and enjoy I realize I am in the midst of the clean tasks of taking down balloons, streamers, decorations and saying goodbye to our party guests, yes that quickly its over.

A friend posted on Facebook today a status that literally made my heart leap for joy and was a reminder to me that regardless of the effort we put into the preparation we still can't even fathom what heaven and the ultimate Celebration on Christmas will be there. The party planning, stress and chaos will be non existent and instead we will merely be a guest at the biggest Birthday bash we could ever imagine. My Sweet 16 and their million dollar parties will have nothing on the ultimate showdown we will experience as we Celebrate with Jesus. I imagine nothing but smiles, laughter, dancing, joy and inexpressible gladness that inst over in 24 hours but lasts for eternity. I imagine the most beautiful lights, streamers of gold and an overwhelming sense of carelessness and peace that we can only dream about. 

"I love our Christmas parties on Earth, but i bet the Christmas party in heaven is absolutely AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breath of Heaven....



Breath of Heaven: Amy Grant

I have traveled many moonless nights,
Cold and weary with a babe inside,
And I wonder what I've done.
Holy father you have come,
And chosen me now to carry your son.

I am waiting in a silent prayer.
I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven.
Breath of heaven


As I hear the words to such a beautiful song this Christmas I can't help but wonder what Mary must have felt that dark night. A virgin chosen to carry the son of God within her very body and offer hope to all who believed in the name of Jesus. Such an ordinary woman picked by God to be used for an extraordinary purpose, I am sure there must have been many feelings of joy, confusion, inadequacy, fear, and why's that we can't possibly wrap our minds around the depth of her heart during those days. Regardless of how unsure she may have felt God chose her to carry out His plan in the birth of Jesus Christ which we all Celebrate on Christmas Day each year. I admire the woman and mother Mary must have been for even before she knew of all that her Son would endure for the sins of others she decided to head to the Lords calling for her life and submit to the Lords will. I am thankful for her sacrificial heart and the way she chose to share her precious child with us all. I am thankful for the birth of Jesus and that because God chose to use a woman so ordinary to bring forth the greatest blessing of all we can each be reminded everyday of the hope and purpose we have for our lives and power through Christ.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A burden for the broken....

My heart is heavy today for the burdens of this world. Maybe this is what it means to wear the heart of Jesus and to allow the so many hurts of this world to break into the core of your being and really feel how truly broken, empty and messy we are. The more I seek to know about Jesus the more confused I feel at times. Looking at the many hurts of this world and trying to grasp my mind around them I just walk away surrendering because I realize I can't make sense of any of it. I don't think God expects us to understand the things that warrant no understanding. I don't think God expects us to understand unexpected death and disease, children with Cancer, sudden earth shattering tragedies and so much more.  

"Why does God allow us to spend so much of life in the heat of battle? Because He never meant for us to sip His Spirit like a proper cup of tea. He meant for us to hold our sweating heads over the fountain and lap up His life with unquenchable thirst" Beth Moore. When our world is turned upside down and our human mind can barely process the pain let  alone understand it we uncover a realization and desperation to simply grab ahold of Him for safety and shelter. I don't think God wants us to view the pain in this world with joy or acceptance but instead with a burden and uneasiness so that during those times we will instead seek Him and discover a boldness to steer others to safety also. When we read in the Bible that we should rejoice in our suffering I don't think its the actual suffering He wants us to be joyful about but instead Him in the midst of our suffering.Regardless of how hurt or broken we may be we are reminded that God is still good. The things of this world may be terrible and unfathomable but our God is still loving, Holy, tender, just and all knowing. Man may waiver by the storms we face but God never falters. God knows every delicate and intricate part of our beings and He doesn't expect us to be anything more than broken, messy, hurting, confused people who in the heart of the battle can do nothing more than clench our worn and tired arms around His neck so that He can to carry us through the journey.

When our human understanding runs out and our strength is gone, when we feel empty and desperate its Him we can hold tight to. What I'm learning is that He never wants us to truly "get it"  but instead to sit powerless with our hands in the air saying "I need You Jesus." People often question Gods existence bbecause of the senseless hurt in this world and I have come to a point where when I really stop and look at pain and uncertainty in life everyday and the situations that make absolutely no sense I have to in my mind believe there is a God that works all things together for good because if I were to simply say there wasn't then where would my hope come from and whats the point of it all really?  I can't deal with life thinking everyday that there is no rhyme or reason for some things and that's just a part of life. I have gone through situations in my life and have watched others experience deep earth shattering hurt and to simply say thats just a part of life and there is no purpose I can't be ok with that. In order for me to face this scary, hurting world each day I have to believe there is a God fighting for me or I might not ever have the strength to face another tomorrow. Each day the more questions we realize we don't have the answers for and the more pieces to the puzzle that just don't seem to fit just emphasizes the immense need we have for Jesus. Instead of trying to find the answers to the hurt my trust is in the Lord. God doesn't promise us a life without heartache, a life without fear or pain but He does promise us that in the midst of those things He will reach down with His mighty arms and embrace us. Isaiah 41:10 Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A legacy has been left for sure....

http://www.marionstar.com/article/20111217/NEWS01/112170311/Kathy-Dixon-Marion-Public-Health-commissioner-dies?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage


This past summer I am reminded of moments with the sun beating down and the humidity thick as Macie  asked everyday, "mommy can we swim?" Growing up I loved swiming. Come to think of it I'm not sure I would clasify it as swimming but more wading since I still don't really know how to swim. I think I could doggy paddle enough to save myself but I wouldn't go jumping off the high dive anytime soon or taking any chances. I remember watching other kids plummet off that fiberglass board with such anticipation and excitment, but when it was my turn I was too afraid to step out and take a chance.

There were of course moments where one of the kids would jump and land SMACK right on the water awarkdly and although I have never jumped from a high dive I have leaped from the edge of a pool enough to know what it feels like to do a "body smack" and its not fun. Lets be real it hurts, it takes your breath away for a moment and leaves your body stinging for awhile. Life is alot like jumping from a high dive. We can be afraid to jump in but we arent going to make much impact sitting on the side with our feet dangling safely in the water. Heb 13:6 "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. In order to make an impact we have to be willing to go the distance, climb the ladder and face the unknown even if it means staring down from a high dive and sometimes facing the sting of an awkward fall from life.

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." There are situations, circumstances, trials and hardships that leave a mark and hurt for awhile but we can't let that keep us from climbing back up that ladder rung by rung and leaping in the waters again. In our community this past week there was a tragic loss of Dr. Kathy Dixon. We knew Kathy through church but also because her husband is my Primary doctor so she would often be apart of my medical care as well. She wasn't just a doctor but a friend and an encouragor. Regardless of how exhausted or sick I was she was always uplifting and compassionate. You can't help but notice this past week of the thousands and thousands of people who have grieved her loss and shared beautiful memories about her life. The way that she lived each day serving others and being so caring shows what a selfless and beautiful woman she was. A loving mother, wife, doctor, friend, sister, and witness for Christ you can easily see the legacy she left and the impact her life had on so many and the ripples are still continuing. We all have an opportunity everyday to leave a legacy and to step out of the bounds of whats comfortable in life and go beyond ourselves to reach into the hearts of others and change them forever. We can leave a negative impact or a postive one and our steps orchestrate an everlasting impact on someones life and journey in this life.

There is a song and the lyrics say " I wanna leave a legacy how will they remember me did I choose to love, did I point to You enough to make a mark on things I wanna leave an offering, a child of mercy & grace who blessed Your name unapologetically, and leave that kind of legacy." I pray that as we are faced with the opportunity to look over the edge of the high dive in life everyday that we would choose to cling tight to Jesus and jump. Regardless of whether we land perfectly or things don't go as planned and life leaves us hurt we still have an opportunity to use that leap of faith to make an impact so that the presence of Jesus will cause ripples in the lives of others and leave a legacy for His Kingdom.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Victory.....

When there are so many uncertainties in life, when Satan tries to cloud our minds and hearts with confusion our hope can rest on the promise of Jesus. Our minds and our thoughts can become such a powerful defense in our battle against the enemy and one thing I have learned is that when Satan likes to cause doubt, God replaces with absolute. Life is full of maybes, mights, probables, possibles and sometimes but with Jesus we can hold to His promises and be confident that there is NO maybe, there is NO possibly, there is NO probably, and there is no might but we can claim with 100% certainty that God will be victorious and that we can stand on that promise and seek, believe and receive it with our whole hearts!!!!

As we read throughout the Bible we never read that God possibly delivered someone from the hurts of imprisonment, we don't read that God probably will set captives hearts free, we don't read that its possible for Him to heal the sick, we read that I WILL, with boldness, passion, and positivity. "Those who hope in the Lord He WILL renew theirs strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint."A beautiful reminder that although you may be weak, although you may be tired I WILL renew your strength. The verse doesnt say maybe, might, or possibly, it says HE WILL, with absolute confidence and expectation!!! We are considering it already done and for that God will have victory and praise!!! 

As life causes doubt, as Satan tries to throw in uncertainty God is our defense and can fight the battle for us with absolute  certainty because He knows He will be victorious. When Satan has to throw in the mights or possibles because he doesn't know if the battle can be won, God is already claiming it! There may still be a fight but a winner is already chosen before the match takes place. God has already promised to give us the win and through Him we can rest assured and bask in a party of celebration!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In Christ Alone.....

In circumstances where nothing makes sense I sometimes wonder why? When tragedies strike, when health emergencies arise, when innocent children are hurt, when life knocks us off our feet with the harshness of this world I just stand speechless. Not because I don't trust in God but I just don't understand why?

I can rest assured that although there may not be a reason behind the heartache I know there is a God who will meet us right in the midst of our pain and wipe every single tear from our eyes. Its in those moments of uncertainty where we become desperate for Jesus to wrap His arms tightly around us saying "I am with you." I don't think there is this insatiable need to be a warrior but instead you come to a point where every ounce of your being depends on the strength that Jesus can place in you. Its not about being brave, courageous or unbreakable but instead being broken, scared and uncertain and in those moments our strength runs out and we reach out to the Father in our desperation, and in our desperation He picks us up and gives us a determination to continue walking with Him through the storm.

There were moments where I didnt think I could take one more step and there where days where tears flooded my soul and uncertainties haunted my mind but even still God stood right there, He didnt sit high above like a spectator at a movie but He was apart of the cast in each scene of my life. Right now I am praying for God to reach down in all the hurts and prayers tonight. Praying for God to continue to reveal Himself and show how personal and loving He is. Thank You Jesus for being in my most precious and joyful days as well as my darkest and for always loving me and carrying through the unexpected.We trust in Your miracles and Your power and claim it now in the name of Your Son Jesus and believe with expectation that You will come through!!!!

We love and trust in You Alone. In Christ alone our hope is found You are the light our strength, our song. This cornerstone this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, when fears are stilled, when strivings cease. Our comforter our all in all, Here in the love of Christ WE STAND!!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Choosing to love....


A few years ago I wrote a blog about my husband and the love encapsulated within in our marriage. I shared a very real and honest testimony of how marriage has been difficult for us and I can bet we aren’t alone. Life is difficult and when you have two imperfect humans brought together you double the mess and the hardships. It’s much easier to tackle the stressors of life with a teammate but it doesn’t divide the heartache that will come because there are two of you. It’s heartbreaking to see so many broken marriages, or marriages and relationships today that lack love and commitment. I’m not talking about that warm fuzzy feeling so many people call love because after a while the butterflies in your tummy that you had when you first met him or her will run out.  
  
I love my husband but there are moments where I don’t like him so much, and vice versa. The idea of commitment I’m talking about is the decision to love the other person in a sacrificial selfless way. Love is a daily decision we make to remove the selfishness and love another more than our own plans, desires, or agenda. I always love the idea that “love is a decision and not just a feeling.” This is so true and one of the hardest things in life a lot of us I learn I think because there are moments when I don’t feel all warm and fuzzy inside in my marriage and I know my husband Scott would say the same thing. There have been moments where I wanted to scream and I have driven him to the edge many times also. It’s not just about this giddy romance that keeps us together it’s a daily decision that we made a commitment to God and each other that regardless of how tough life would get we would make the choice to tough it out together. Now that doesn’t mean every day is difficult and a struggle to just stay in my marriage without any of the good, warm fuzzy stuff because I love my husband but we have had our seasons as most couples. There are moments where I am madly in love and other times where life is difficult and its a battle. 

I think most people have this idea in their heads about what a relationship entails whether it be a romantic relationship, a friendship, a work relationship, or a spiritual commitment and there is this idea that because there is a bond between the two then things will just magically fall into place and the fairytale will write a story that’s “happily ever after.” What people don’t realize though that yes this bond brought you together but there has to be a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears to keep the relationship going. One of the greatest acts of love we can ever experience in the love affair with our heavenly father. Nothing could be a bigger example in this entire world then the ultimate sacrifice Jesus paid for us because He loves us. Jesus knew the pain and torture that was going to take place but even though it brought discomfort and burden to Him, He ultimately chose to be selfless to show us how much He loves us. The sacrifice and choice I’m talking about isn’t just in marriages but is the foundation for any a relationship you have. Whether it be with a parent, a sibling, a aunt, uncle, friend, coworker, pastor, whatever the situation there is still this desperate need for sacrifice to show genuine care and concern for the other person. Sometimes its hard because we may have the best intentions but we have to realize it takes putting others first, above ourselves and saying regardless of how much they hurt me and how difficult it can be at times I will choose to love this person, not because I always like and agree with them but because I am acting as Christ would want me to act and putting aside my selfishness for the survival of our relationship. 

Over the past few years I have had major health struggles and have been in the hospital for weeks and weeks at times and my husband has had to endure a lot because of it. I know there are marriages that wouldn’t have lasted dealing with the things we have, and I know there are a lot of guys who would have left a long time ago but my husband has continually showed me what love is about and how unconditional it is. Despite my illness and the burden that has been on him he still chooses to get up every day and love me and endure the pain with me. I think it’s easy when the going gets tough to give up and throw in the towel but love is about sticking it out and fighting for that person because you are desperate to have them apart of your life. When someone hurts you, disappoints you, persecutes you, it’s in that moment where you have the opportunity to make the choice to love them . They may not deserve it but you are going to act in the way as Christ did by displaying His love for us on the cross even when we didn’t deserve it.  Colossians 3:13 “Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].”Love is done in a way that doesn’t expect anything in return but is about a sacrifice and saying…regardless of what happens I will choose to act in a way that is pleasing to God. I will choose to put others before me. Love isn’t about the feeling you get, but the ability you have to offer yourself to someone, emotionally and sacrificially to serve and love them as Jesus would. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (The message) Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first, Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,Doesn't revel when others grovel,Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trust God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back,But keeps going to the end

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The first stone....

Over the past few weeks there have been numerous events happen that have caused my heart to be heavy. Last Sunday I heard a sermon about stepping out of our comfort zone and being the hands and feet of Jesus so that others would want to know Him. After talking to someone this week and extending an invitation for them to come to church sometime I was blown away by their response. It was in that moment I questioned if the church had failed in some ways to really represent the love that Jesus talks about, it was in that moment I had felt like a failure somehow. The response to my invitation that I got from this woman was that “people in the church are judgmental.” Wow that statement hit me like a ton of bricks and took my breath away for a moment.

The one place in this entire world you should feel loved and welcomed people are feeling judge and condemned. Somehow we need to change this way of thinking whether it be with our actions or the way we represent ourselves, our attitudes, our outreach I’m not sure. But I do know before I had a relationship with Jesus I too felt the same way and I have come to learn that there is this misconception that the people who go to church are perfect, have lives that are all together, never struggle with sin and are in a place that’s far beyond some peoples reach and never attainable for them and their mess. When someone invited me to church 10 years ago I thought to myself, “it’s not for me, my mess is way too big and those people don’t understand.” 

I will get real here for a moment and say that as a Christian there are standards the Bible has for our lives that I follow to the best of my ability and because I have given my life to Him it’s my greatest effort to live a holy and cleansed life. The catch however is this, I didn’t wake up one day and magically turn into the person I am now. It took many years, prayers, tears, lessons, forgiveness, joys, and mess after mess in my humanness that I had created that had to be released and cleansed only by Jesus.  As Christians or witnesses for Christ if people are missing the journey we have traveled and believe we are perfect and can do no wrong then as a church we have failed to show the broken, dirty, shattered pieces that have been laid at the feet of Jesus and transformed by His grace. Romans 3:23 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” It doesn’t mean that now I never struggle or that I life this joyous and stress free life each day but it means that in my humanness when I need strength when I need someone to fight for me and lift me to my feet and love me spite my faults I have Jesus. We read in John 8 of a woman who committed adultery and a group of people who brought her to the middle of the town in front of everyone and called out her mess before them. Jesus was there teaching at the time and they wanted to show off her sin to Him. They pleaded that the woman be stoned for her transgressions and Jesus response could have been that but instead He answered boldly , “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  One by one the people began to turn and walk away until only Jesus and the woman were left. Jesus then responded by saying “not one person condemn you so neither shall I” and he told her to go and leave her life of sin. This story in the Bible is a huge lesson to others about how we all sin and fall short and that because of that, we do not have the right or privilege to judge or condemn another person.

It saddens me deeply to think that people fear stepping into church because of the people in it. To the people who aren’t in church today and feel like you have been judged by someone else I am sorry and if I have ever done this to another person I apologize right now and seek forgiveness because I to am a sinner only saved and transformed by God’s grace.  I may look like I have it all together but I tell you what, I am a mess underneath. My life has come from deep sin, hurts, scars, brokenness and the list could go on and on and who am I to judge another person’s journey, and how dare another person especially in the church do the same!! I pray that as you consider a relationship with Jesus or the decision to give church a try please know that it’s not a room filled with perfect people and lives but instead filled with broken people that have allowed Jesus to remove the hurts in their lives and transform their story. With that being said there may be judgmental people, there may be people who struggle with addictions, there may be people who have deep debt, there may be people who gossip, there may be people who drink and although God has called us to live a life free from these things we all started somewhere and I hope you will also. 

As you read this ask yourself first why you aren’t in church or what turns you off about church? If you are in the church can you think of a time where maybe you were judgmental to someone else and need to ask God for forgiveness for this moment? I pray as the Lord calls us to go into the world and show the love of Jesus that we would do it in a way that others would not look at us and see perfection but instead brokenness transformed by Jesus. I pray that God would give me the tenderness and compassion to meet others at their time of need and be reminded of the emotion and battle I faced in that moment one time also. We all have a story and a journey and its only through Jesus where we can be cleansed and transformed.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hustle and Bustle......


What a weekend! I thought you were supposed to look forward to the weekend because its during that short 2 day break from the normal work week that you can rest and relax a bit right? I must say for me it’s been one of those weekends where I was honestly looking forward to Monday because I am exhausted. Like so many others I am sure this weekend was filled with Christmas preparations nonstop. From Christmas ornaments, paper snowflakes, lights, snowmen, presents, musical practice and all the other hustle and bustle it’s been overwhelming. 

This past Saturday we decided to put up the Christmas tree. Macie is always so excited and it’s something she looks forward to every year. Although I look forward to it also its always such a huge process. With moving furniture and getting out the boxes of ornaments and decorations, it literally takes hours and hours to get all the Christmas decorations up and the tree trimmed and glowing beautifully. This year as we were trying to get prepared so that we could decorate the tree Scott and I were both super frustrated at all the sorting and reorganizing of papers, iv supplies, toys, clothes, just lots and lots of stuff and the attitude and energy that flowed through our house was downright ugly. It was a moment of realization for me that I had gotten so caught up in doing that I forgot who I was doing it all for. 

Christmas is a time of celebration and joy, a time we can be reminded of the birth of our Savior Jesus. Every year as Macie’s birthday approaches I begin the preparations for the perfect party. I work on decorations, presents, guest lists, location, food, and the next thing I know it’s become such a huge task it’s exhausting. I can’t tell you how many pictures we have from parties Macie has had in the past and I look a hot mess because I had been running around up until the very start of the party so much that I wonder how many of those parties I really enjoyed and wasn’t so wrapped up in the busyness to just sit back and celebrate. Christmas is a lot like this every year for so many. We want to make sure everything is just right, the house is decorated beautifully, all the details are in place for when we have people are over, we picked out the perfect gift for each person, each family member has the perfect outfit to wear to Church for Christmas Sunday, the next thing we know our calendars are busting at the seams and we are running around so frazzled we can hardly think straight. Can anyone relate?? Does anyone else understand what this feels like, am I the only one?

 When I had that ah ha moment Saturday while decorating the tree, I really had to stop take a deep breath and say to myself “why are you doing all this? “Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” My attitude needed adjusting and I needed to be reminded that instead of planning the perfect party for Jesus birthday He just wanted me to be a guest. I think Jesus would be flattered at all we do to prepare for His birthday but if it merely causes us to lose sight of Him, then I would imagine He would tell us to save the decorations and presents because we are missing the point. 

As Christmas quickly approaches I just encourage you to evaluate your attitude, your schedule and your priorities and be aware of the reason we do all the “stuff” in the first place. I love being with family, I love gift giving, I love decorating our tree, I love seeing all the beautiful lights glowing from house to house but I don’t ever want to get so caught up in all the “stuff” we do that I lose sight of who we do it for. My prayer is this “Jesus please forgive my selfish heart, remove anything that is a hindrance and is of my own agenda. Make me aware of the times where my attitude stinks and I need a major adjustment and help me to be conscious of the chaos and busyness. It’s all about you Jesus and because of that I celebrate You, not just on December 25th Christmas day, but now this whole season.  Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Red Shiny Nose....

“Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight.” Hearing these words by Santa’s deep and gentle voice always sound so comforting and nostalgic. Growing up one of the memories of Christmas time drawing near I remember the most is catching “Frosty the Snowman” and “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer on cable TV. It plays numerous times from Thanksgiving until Christmas but regardless of how many times I have seen it, it never seems to get old. A short story of an insignificant reindeer with a bright red shiny nose captures the hearts of children and families everywhere. Macie and I happened to turn on the TV. tonight for a few quick moments while finishing up the bath/bedtime routine and happened to catch the infamous reindeer in action. My heart began to jump with joy, and as Macie giggled with excitement we sat cuddled together watching the remaining 30 minutes of the movie. 

Although just a cartoon and a storyline which is completely far-fetched we could still all learn something from this traditional Christmas movie. Rudolph was teased and struggled with feeling very insignificant and out of place due to his shiny red nose. He spent so much time running from the light and trying to cover it up, afraid of what his friends and family might say. Instead of seeing his nose as a beautiful vessel he saw it as an embarrassment. Although others didn’t understand the beauty initially, in the end we learn of how the one thing that others saw as being a hindrance and abnormal was really the very thing that set Rudolph apart from all the other reindeer. Rudolph had a light that lead his life and because of that he was able to push through the monster storm and lead Santa and the others on a beautiful journey.

I wonder how often we struggle with the Rudolph syndrome. We run from God or hold Him at a place in our lives where we are afraid to let His love shine bright and instead of embracing it we try and hide. We run and embrace the things of this world that don’t belong and find ourselves feeling separated and lonely like the misfit toys in the story. Or we don’t want others to see how real, beautiful and personal that relationship can be because we are afraid of what others will say and will view us as being abnormal or not cool. We often find though that regardless of how hard we try to cover up the light of Jesus in our lives we will never fully be able to. God’s love for us is amazing, abundant and unconditional, its power is something so intense that once we are touched by the love of Christ we can never run or go beyond His embrace ever again. We will never understand the depth of God’s love and the fact that even when we run and try to hide we can never go beyond His reach, its all-consuming and overflows throughout our entire being onto every aspect of our lives. When life is good and we need to celebrate He is there, and when life is difficult and there are huge storms ahead it’s that very light that can lead us through. 

The story of Rudolph turns out the same beautiful and perfect way every time I see it. He realizes the power and beauty behind the light and how important that light is in being the guide in the most important things in life. The scary thing is that the story of Rudolph is just a kid’s movie, it’s not real life and there are no alternate endings but in life there are. Each day we have to choose to embrace Gods love and allow that love to be a light and guide in our lives. We can choose another path but what will the journey along the story or the ending look like? John 8:12 “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Allow the love of Jesus to be that bright vessel each day that will lead you along life’s most beautiful and most devastating and difficult storms.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Glass of OJ......

 Lets play a little game. I will say part of a phrase and you name the product behind the commercial. "baby come back" (Swifer wet jet) "can you hear me now, good good" (Verizon" and one of my favorites,"maybe we should chug on over to mamby-pamby land to get you some self-confidence, you Jack Wagon," (Geico). How did you do??? I admit there are some pretty good commercials out right now but you have to admit there are also some pretty annoying ones too. The ones that are annoying in my opinion are either due to a.) as a marketing tool the volume always seems to go up about 5 increments when they come on or b.) they are just really cheesy.

One commercial that comes to my mind as being annoying is for the Prudential Insurance Company, and it has a huge whale tale flipping around in the ocean with this really odd music playing obnoxiously loud, does anyone know what I'm talking about?? Every time that commercial comes on Scott and I look at each other with the Cameron "give me a break" look and just chuckle to each other. The funny thing however is usually the most annoying commercials are the ones that leave the biggest and longest impressions in our minds which we remember, hence the marketing has worked perfectly. Every once in awhile though there happens to be a few commercials that really catch my attention. Scott loves the different commercials on ESPN which feature different sporting team mascots. Can you think of a specific commercial that's out right now that you really enjoy, or maybe one thats no longer on t.v. but it really caught your attention because you liked it or was annoyed by it???

Right now there is an orange juice commercial on t.v. that I love. The first few times I saw it I didn't think much about it but watching it this morning it gave me a different perspective. There are two versions of this commercial I have seen so far, one with a woman and one with a man. In the commercial the main character is sitting at the kitchen table and there are different people sitting around it also with him. He goes through a timeline of his day and the other people around the table chime in saying at what time what disaster will happen. 9 a.m. such and such will happen then at 10 a.m. he will get a flat tire all while his daughter continues to ignore him for a reason he is clueless about throughout the entire day and so on. After he gets through the projection of his day the punchline is "well at least I've had my orange juice." Does anyone know the commercial I'm talking about???

After seeing this commercial a few times I started thinking about a few things. First, what do you think it would be like to wake up everyday and have a roundtable discussion about what disasters to expect throughout your day? By knowing whats ahead we would be able to plan and remove the unknown of everyday life. We could always pack an extra pair of pants for that 9 a.m. coffee spill or remember to make sure our debit card is in our wallet for that lunch date instead of leaving them in our pants pocket the night before or even planning ahead to take a different route picking our kids up from school at 3 p.m. because there is a train stuck on the tracks. However we can't do that, and as glamorous as it may sound in theory if we did remove the unknown of the day then there would be no need to have faith and trust that regardless of what comes our way throughout the day God will provide. Instead of a dependence on Him each day I have a feeling we would start leaning on our own understanding for every situation and have the mentality that we can "plan" for whats ahead so we got it under control. Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." I don't know if it would make things easier or not but we can't just snap our fingers and have our day appear before our eyes instead of knowing whats ahead we have to face each day blindly.

If we look at the commercial another way, the way that it was intended through the punchline "good thing I had my orange juice," its saying that man my day is going to be crazy, but because i've had my oj I will be ok and make it through. What we if we treated our lives like this everyday but instead of a cold cup of oj in the morning we had our fill of Jesus. We all have days where its like the commercial and it seems like one thing after another keeps happening except we usually arent aware of them before they happen. By loading up with Jesus and our armor every morning its not going to ensure that we will never have one of those "terrible, horrible no good very bad days" ever again but it will give us comfort in knowing that we are prepared mentally for whatever is ahead. One thing we can do to prepar is by seeking God and asking Him to fulfill us in a way spiritually that He can be present in every part of our lives. Its by asking God to hold our hands every minute of everyday and walking with us. That doesn't mean life will be easy and unexpected things wont happen each day but it means that we wont have to face it alone. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you."

Each day Satan is on a mission to try and use those little disasters to bring us down and break our spirit but we have to remain hopeful. We have to just put one foot in front of the other and do the best that we can depending on Gods strength and not our own. There is a quote I read from someone else and it says "You choose how you want to feel about what happens to you." I love this quote because its so true, we can't necessarily choose what happens in life all the time but we can choose the way we react and the attitude we have. As you face each day instead of wishing for a rundown of your day and the disasters that are ahead by the people in the oj commercial get it from God because He already knows whats ahead and can help carry you through it all better than anyone else

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving....

I can hardly believe that Christmas is only 6 weeks away and Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I have to admit that fall is my most favorite time of the year. I love watching the leaves tumble across the grass, the feeling of the crispness in the air across my face, the smell of apple cider, the warmth a yummy bowl of chili fills my tummy with and most of all the closeness I feel with my friends and family all nestled together inside relaxing in our sweat pants enjoying each others company or a game of football on t.v.

Every Thanksgiving my mother in law posts a piece of paper on the door downstairs and we all take turns writing on it what we are thankful for that year. Normally my list goes a little something like this: Family, friends, food, a house etc. Not that these things aren't important but I really feel like this year the Lord has challenged me in many ways to reflect on what I am thankful for in a different sense than normal. I feel like He is challenging me to be thankful for not just the big things in life but also the little moments that we sometimes fail to recognize as being blessings and gifts from God.

Regardless of the situation or the struggles we go through I have always believed that in one way or another the Lord would use our journey for something good and that He always redeems all situations. This past year being in and out of the hospital so much its been a real challenge to me to keep sight of these things and to believe in my heart at times that the Lord would use my suffering for something good. As Thanksgiving approaches us however I feel like the Lord is trying to show me what it means to truely have a thankful heart in all situations. When life gets tough your perspective on things of this world change a little and you realize what really is important and the things that really dont matter so much.

I am sure I am only beginning to catch a glimpe of what God is going to reveal to me as He uses the struggles of this past year. I have noticed how much more appreciative I am for the simplest things like being able to give my daughter a bath and tuck her in bed at night or having the strength to make dinner for my family each night, picking my daughter up from school and hearing her talk a mile a minute about all the fun stuff she did and learned that day, being out of the hospital to worship with my church family on Sunday mornings, and being able to spend Thanksgiving with my family reflecting on this year and the journey the Lord walked with us through with a heart of gratitude and gratefulness.

I am thankful this year for the simple things in life and that even when I'm having a hard day or not feeling the greatest I can look back and be reminded of how far the Lord has brought me and through some of the darkest valleys at times. A friend of ours had a quote on his facebook probably a year or so ago and it has stuck with me ever since and it said "some of our worst days is someone elses best." I think that quote says its all, we can always look at where we are at and in the moment be reminded that it could always be worse or someone somewhere is probably going through a much more difficult time than us and that we should remain hopeful even in the smallest things. If you search the bible for verses pertaining to being thankful you will find pages of them but here are a few of my favorites. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Ephesians 5:20 "Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I pray that as we all celebrate Thanksgiving this year we would be reminded of the littlest blessings each day and we would truely take time to embrace each moment we have with those we love in all circumstances. Happy Thanksgiving friends! Love, ams