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!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not a dictator....

As a little girl life seemed much easier. I couldn't wait to grow up and have this uninhibited sense of freedom. What I didn't realize until I became an adult though was that there wasn't this new found freedom uncovered but actually a greater sense of captivity by the world. As I watch my 7 year old daughter play with Barbies, make friendship bracelets and draw pictures of flowers and sunshine there innocence and simple beauty found through her eyes. I have said numerous times over the past few months "Macie growing up isn't fun so just stay little forever." Of course she scrunches up that button nose covered in freckles just as I did at her age and laughs but I wish I could scoop her up in my arms and keep her 7 forever. Now let me clarify and say everything about being an adult isn't bad it's just super complicated. I love being able to eat a brownie for breakfast if I wish or stay up as late as I want.  Being able to go places that I choose, decorate my house, cook my family dinner, go shopping and be a wife and mother but let's get honest for a minute its  complicated. I can't just eat a brownie for breakfast because I feel like it, I can't just stay up late without feeling like I got hit by a truck the next day, I can't go shopping and buy anything I feel because there are bills and responsibilities and being a wife and mom is hard work!

I mess up daily and am still sorting through being a grown up and making wise decisions. There isn't an instruction manual at Barnes and Noble that you can pick up with all the categories to being an adult with a step by step strategy on how to conquer life but there is a God that sent His only Son Jesus to die for me. The same Jesus that died on the cross for me when I was innocent at 7 also died for my imperfections and weaknesses at 29. Life doesn't get easier once you begin a relationship with Jesus but you can always count on Him to help you and through His word the Bible you will find an instruction manual for the difficulties. One of the most difficult Chapters on being an adult is about money. The Bible mentions money 2300 times, 5x's more than prayer and 5x's more than faith. Did you know the average debt per family is 136%? When talking about Credit Cards the average Credit Card debt is $14,575. The average debt for 21 year olds is $12,000 and for 28 year olds which is my age bracket average $28,000 in debt. Money causes young people to be held in bondage, marriages split and families destroyed. 55% of families are living paycheck to paycheck which causes stress, worry and poison in relationships.

Hearing these statistics its terrifying! The bondage that we can find ourselves in because of money doesn't limit itself to a certain category of people, it doesn't matter what economic bracket you fall into money can be difficult for all of us. We are under this misconception that if we just had a little more money life would be so much easier but what often happens is the more you make the more you spend or the more you find yourself in debt. Proverbs 2:7 "The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender." They did a study and found that the average lottery winner is bankrupt within 3 years of striking it rich. Like all other temptations and strongholds money can be a big one that Satan tries to use to lure us into bondage. I would love to say that money isn't an issue for me but to be honest it has been at the root of difficulties in my husband and I's marriage at different times. I am a spender but he is a saver. We are both moving towards improvement but I think you can take both sides to the extreme and get into trouble. It's crazy how many difficulties in life we can pick apart and find somewhere money being a contributor. "Money is not the root of all evil its the love of money. Money is neutral it's how you use it."Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Money is an uncomfortable topic for most people and one of those subjects that's off limits to discuss openly. As scary as it sounds "money is one of the best outward measurements of the inward condition of our hearts." Although we would like to place money out of bounds in life we must surrender it to the Lord and ask for His wisdom and guidance in our spending, saving and giving. Money doesn't have to be a dictator in our lives and a destroyer of our relationships but instead we must take a stand and say "As for me and my family we will serve the Lord in ALL THINGS INCLUDING MONEY."

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Promise and Prayer

Exhausted I opened my email today to find a message from my sweet friend Jamie that took my breathe away by how perfect it is.

By Renee Swoope Proverbs 31 Ministries

Are you facing something that’s more than you can handle on your own?
You are not in this alone.
God is with you.

He is for you.
Jesus is working on your behalf.

Jesus, You know what I am facing.  And how it feels like way more than I can handle. I’m  tired. I’m weary… yet THIS I call to mind, therefore I will have hope – because the Lord’s great love for me, I am not consumed. Your mercy never ceases.  You give strength to the weary {that’s me}, and increases the power of the weak. Because I have put my faith and trust in Jesus, and He lives in me, then I know that GREATER is HE who is in me than he who is in the world trying to discourage me and defeat me.
Today , I will not focus on my circumstances but, instead I will focus on YOU — Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than I can even ask or imagine according to YOUR power that is at work in me. Jesus, I am choosing today to walk in the assurance of Your love and the security of Your promises as I face this giant. My  confidence is in You and Your power that is at work in me! In Your Name, amen. {Lamentations 3:21-22, Isaiah 40:29, 1 John 4:4, Ephesians 3:20}

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Empowered for anything......

"Felix Baumgartner stood alone at the edge of space, poised in the open doorway of a capsule suspended above Earth and wondering if he would make it back alive. Twenty four miles below him, millions of people were right there with him, watching on the Internet and marveling at the wonder of the moment.A second later, he stepped off the capsule and barreled toward the New Mexico desert as a tiny white speck against a darkly-tinted sky. Millions watched him breathlessly as he shattered the sound barrier and then landed safely about nine minutes later, becoming the world’s first supersonic skydiver"  As Macie and I sat glued to the t.v. all 9 minutes you could've heard a pin drop. The intensity of the moment was overwhelming for us just watching. It seemed impossible that he would succeed and extremely dangerous. All human rationale would point away from even considering such a risky jump but here before you was a man with a dream, a vision and a drive to push beyond that fear and adversity and only focus on the potential success ahead.

As Felix glanced over the edge of the Space Balloon which held him safely along his ascent to an altitude of 128, 100ft he took a deep breathe unaware of if it was his last. I can't imagine the plethora of emotions running through his head. Fear, excitement, doubt, anticipation, anxiousness. As the questions of the unknown clouded his mind with thoughts of whether he would ever see his family again and all the logistics of his jump ahead he simply closed his eyes and let go. When asked what he was feeling right before he was quoted as saying "please God, don’t let me down…but if you are standing in His Son’s arm, you know, nothing can go wrong at that moment. That was what I was thinking." To imagine being on the edge of so many unknowns but still resting assured in Christ's faithfulness is the perfect example of faith. When everything before you points the other way and your human fear is crippling and yet you still make the decision to let go and rest in His arms is a testimony.

None of us will ever jump from a balloon at 128,100ft in the air I'm sure but we have all found ourselves teetering over the edge of something difficult in life trying to decide whether to rest in the safe zone and not risk the unknown of the jump or to take a deep breath, lean forward, and let go. Like Felix it can be scary to look down and see nothing there but only an open path that God has asked us to travel down. The task at hand may look much bigger than we feel we are capable of and it just seems impossible, but if God has placed it in front of us then we can rest assured that He will help us along the way.

One of my favorite verses which I have shared many times before is Philipians 4:13 "I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]." This verse doesn't say I have strength for some things, a few things, or the easy things it says I have strength for ALL things in Christ. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him. God's power and strength is limitless so if we are capable of all things equal to Christ there are no limits. In the moments where we feel incapable and inadequate we can be reminded that our strength is not based on human power but the supernatural strength and power of Christ for anything which He has called us to. 

 I don't know what situation you are facing as you dangle on the side of your balloon today but I do know that if you will loosen your grip and let go God will be faithful and He will catch you and help you glide gently through the clouds of the unknown to the finish line on the ground below. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Just keep....

Today I was reminded of a previous post from January called "Keep Running."

"Just keep running." I can hear being whispered softly in my ear. When everything in me wants to stop, when my body is screaming in agony and exhaustion, when I know the finish line is somewhere up ahead but I can't quite see the yellow tape yet, I hear it again, "just keep running." In that moment I push forward with every ounce of strength I possibly have left and focus on whats ahead. The road already traveled was difficult and because of the faithfulness of that faint whisper I find fuel in not looking back and not giving up but pressing on towards the prize."

Although my heart still knows this promise I have come to a new point of endurance. As I try to wrap my mind around the struggles of this week and the painful circumstances of those around me my human understanding falls short continually over and over. No explanation seems sufficient for why 3 young girls struggle with life altering illnesses, no human explanation consoles the heart break that a friend is experiencing at the devastation of her mom battling the end stages of Multiple Sclerosis and having to make life altering decisions when she is 28. The more we live the more we learn the more we learn the more we know right? Somewhere this theory doesn't make sense and really I think the more we live the more confusing life seems. As we age we become more wise but I don't think that wiseness entails a deeper understanding because honestly there is just no understanding to some things in life.

There are moments in our most difficult struggles where I think its even impossible to see the finish line or to know where in the world the path is leading and that's the thing God is showing me now that instead of pushing forward and running I think we just float. We allow the current of God's embrace to wrap tightly around us and keep us moving one step at a time, one milestone at a time and one blessing at a time. I have always liked the children's movie "Finding Nemo" and I just now am getting it. Sure it's a cute movie but really its about a dad being seperated from his son and trying desperately to find him, the words repeated over and over again throughout the long journey was "just keep swimming." He doesn't know where he is at but only to keep going in one direction.

I think this is what God is asking from us at times. Not to know the why or even where we are going but to only let go and let Him move us. To surrender our hopes, dreams and understanding to His purpose and know thats far greater than all we have planned. There are moments of frustration where we just don't get it and instead of trying to figure things out He promises to carry us until we can see the home stretch again. "Even though good people may be bothered by trouble in life they will NOT be defeated" Proverbs 24:16.

Although we may go through difficulties in life we have an amazing purposeful God who uses our suffering to cause a rippling effect in the hearts of others. When water ripples there is no end, it may look still after awhile but there is constant motion within forever just as God takes our pain in the presence of His power and uses it over and over and over.  I don't know what impossible situation your facing today but I know that God only asks for you to be still, let go and allow Him to move you. If your facing a difficult situation remember God can handle it, your job is to keep persevering until He does.

"Keep Running..."

"Just keep running." I can hear being whispered softly in my ear. When everything in me wants to stop, when my body is screaming in agony and exhaustion, when I know the finish line is somewhere up ahead but I can't quite see the yellow tape yet, I hear it again, "just keep running." In that moment I push forward with every ounce of strength I possibly have left and focus on whats ahead. The road already traveled was difficult and because of the faithfulness of that faint whisper I find fuel in not looking back and not giving up but pressing on towards the prize.

I have never been much of a runner. In junior high school I ran cross country but it wasn't because I was fast. There was something about the endurance and perseverance it took to run that drew me in. I remembered I tried a 5k once which is only 3 miles. About 3/4 the way through the race when my body was done and I was sure I coudlnt do it anymore I wanted to give up more than anything but I thought about perseverance. I finished the race, I didnt finish first or even second but I finished. I finished and did the best I could and that was an amazing accomplishment. I may have looked a "hot mess" but when I crossed that finish line I had persevered and that prize was the best. Sometimes life can feel alot like that 5k race. You run and run and after awhile you feel exhausted. Your body and mind is crying out in agony to throw in the towel but then you hear that whisper "keep running." You may not have one ounce of strength left, I have been there. You may feel sick to your stomach you are so tired but again "keep running." When everything in you wants to give up, when Satan tells you, you can't keep going, when life hands you every reason to stop God gives you just enough to "keep running." You may get to the finish line a mess, you may get to the finish line in pain but you will get to the finish line. Phillipians 3:13-14 "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  If you’re going to whip the devil in every circumstance of life, you must have the attitude that you refuse to quit and that the devil will not defeat you or take anything that legally belongs to you again! Remember, in Christ, if you’ll stay faithful to God’s Word, you are assured of the victory in every circumstance.

I will be honest over the past few weeks I have been at the painful point of exhaustion. I feel like I have been running for so long and the finish line just seems to get farther and farther away. There were moments where Satan tried to tell me I couldn't do it and the circumstances of life wanted me to believe I had every reason to throw in the towel but then in my moments of weakness He whispered in my ear "Amber my precious daughter I love you, just keep running." I am declaring today that regardless of what circumstances may come in my life, even when I'm at the point of pain and exhaustion I will NOT give up Satan. I have come too far and trained to hard too give up. In those moments where you can't see the finish line, in those moments where you can't take one more step remember the many that you have already taken and the journey you have completed. Remember the prize ahead and allow Him to give you the strength you need to "keep running."