Monday, February 23, 2015

Recently I joined the Influence Network to get connected to other like minded women. I had been following them for a couple years but just finally decided to jump in. With joining you get to take one of their classes a month and so I signed up for one on creativity with Hayley from The Tiny Twig.

Here this girl is, a mom of four boys, running a clothing company, the Influence Network and working on co-authoring a book. She is doing the thing. She is pursuing her dreams. Our class was all about creativity and she left a lot of time to ask questions and so I asked her how she dealt with striving and what she did when she found herself comparing to other people around her. Her answer has really stuck out to me as she said she has to really "put her blinders on" and held her hands up to her eyes. That she had to stop looking around at all that others are doing, if that meant getting off social media for a while, so be it. She had to stop thinking of how she couldn't become what so and so was, or do what so and so was doing and be focused enough to listen to the Lord and obey Him. 

I think we can all relate to this struggle. I know I can, I know I am. I so struggle with wanting to pursue passions and then wondering if I am too late in the game? Do I have what it takes to accomplish such tasks and I am joining a competition that I want no part in? Leaning into my own strengths, abilities or even knowledge or place of learning God has brought me to leaves me shaking in my boots. But this is just the thing, it has little to do with us when we are really wanting to do something for God right?

I was listening to a talk this morning where she said, "Nothing in me, everything in Him". 

It's just the same as Peter walking on the water to Jesus, really. Think about it, Jesus tells him to come out to him and the guy just jumps out there on the water. He is doing really well but then I think the thought occors to him, "wait, what am I doing? I can't do this" and the sinking begins. Had he stayed focused on Jesus the whole time, maybe that wouldn't have happened. It was because of his self doubt that he began to sink. It was Jesus' power that was allowing him to walk on the water but it was he that had to take the steps.

That is us, that is me. We want to do something bold and faith making for the Lord. We might even get out of the boat and start trying to move towards his calling. But then, for me, for you, it could be looking around and seeing..."oh but she already does that, and so well." "There are so many people who already seem to be doing that, I won't bother." "What am I doing? Who do I think I am? Why would God want to use me in this? I certainly can't do this" and these are the things that bring us to doubt. To start second guessing that Jesus has ever called to us to "step out in faith" at all. Perhaps He says to us "why did you doubt?"

The truth is, we aren't brilliant enough, creative enough, savvy enough to do or be what God is calling us to. That is just the way He likes it. But, living by faith is not knowing how, but getting out there and trying anyways.

Did Peter have all the facts of how that water was going to hold up his weight before he tried?
 No way. 
Did he have assurance that because Jesus could do it that he could as well? 

Sometimes we are waiting for God to prove it to us that we can do it, and He is waiting for us to try in faith. We call ourselves believers but maybe we should call ourselves proofers. Ha. Lest we have forgotten what faith is all about, it's being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. On top of that it is impossible to please God without faith. 

I tend to want to wait for that sure feeling. This overwhelming confidence that this is actually going somewhere or God is for sure going to use it in some way. I want to be sure that I am not making a fool of myself or I will for sure not fail. But that is just not the way it will ever be. We can't know, we have to put our blinders on.

We get that saying "put our blinders on" from horses and their blinders, I assume. I looked up why horses wear blinders and here was this little anecdote...

"Some say that blinders were invented when a preacher had a wager with one of his friends. The preacher bet that his horse could walk up the stairs in his home, which the horse did with no problem at all. But, when he tried to coax the horse down again, it wouldn’t budge! So, the preacher covered the horses head and lead him down. He realized that covering all or part of the horse’s vision could encourage the horse to take chances it would not normally take."

This is what we must do as well. We have to stay focused on the Lord, block out some of our side vision. Whatever that means for you. If that is someone that you are having a hard time with, if that is watching other bloggers or friends that seem to be more successful or where you want to be. This could be with life dreams or goals, this could be with personal every day accomplishments, how you want to be as a wife, mother, friend, anything. 

We are too consumed with what our friends (or even strangers) have done, how we will never measure up, so why bother at all? I doubt this is what God wants for us. He has an immeasurable supply of creativity, words, books, dances, paintings, photos, businesses, Bible studies, races, events, etc. As long as we are being faithful to who He has made us to be, know we are not trying to prove our worth or be someone else, resting in His grace and trusting His provision we can step in faith and take risks that we might not take if we didn't keep our eyes on Him.

What is He asking you to do? What is the dream in your heart? Is someone else already accomplishing or accomplished that and therefore feel like it's worthless or pointless? Do you feel compelled for a certain group of people, to a particular art form, to a work place or ministry? What makes you come alive and what is stopping you from stepping towards it?

I have always loved this quote by Theodore Roosevelt.

Let's be like Peter and jump out on the water. Not the ones that are paralyzed by the fear of failure, of competition, of losing or sinking. Let's please God by having faith that as we listen to Him and watch Him and wait on Him that He will sanctify our hearts, our callings, or gifts and we can step towards them with all our hearts.

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Stepping Out in Faith
4:02 PM

Stepping Out in Faith

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I thought this week I would take a break from regular posting and just share a little about what is happening in our lives as a bit of an update post.

Daniel has now been at his job at United for about 3 weeks and is really enjoying it. It is almost like he is getting to go on an airport field trip every day. He gets to check out planes, tour behind the scenes, and the like. He is having fun all the while getting the iPads ready for the pilots. The only down side is that it's not looking as though this will be able to move into something full time. Most of the people who work in the airport for decent wage are ex-pilots, or even current pilots and everyone else works their way up. So, we are still really not sure with all of that. I have thought it is so nice of the Lord to give him a job while we wait for the long term job so he doesn't have to sit at home any more. We are really trying to put the money we are getting to work for us but it does put us in the awkward position of not being sure of when we can get out of my parents house, which is a bit hard on the planning end.

His heart is still whirling from the loss of his dad, but he seems to be doing OK, considering. Having a job has certainly lightened his burden emotionally. We had a great date the day after Valentines Day and the Lord is really bringing us to the same page.We are just planning on waiting and listening from the Lord what He wants us to do next. We were able to get our second car fixed this last Monday which is a great relief.

Here is a video of our little family on New Years Eve 

The boys are great.

Ashton is now 5 (as of January 5th) and we will be looking for schools for him as he will start this coming school year. We are still not sure where, but I am praying about it and am sure that the Lord will show us when we know for sure where we will be living. In all honesty he has been testing me something crazy lately. It's been an adjustment for us to get back into mommy being fully in charge and getting into a new routine with that again. He is usually pretty fun loving, however, and loves playing with his brother. He has always liked company, so I am glad he has some built in now. I think Eisy will really miss him when he is off to school.

He is into playing Minecraft a lot and this has caused him to be interested in becoming an architect someday. He is really good at it on the game. Coming up with structures or objects all on his own. He still says funny things like the one I posted on Facebook the other day when I told him he couldn't say some words because we hold him to a different standard and he told me to lower him down. He is very interested in math and counting and doing simple addition problems that he counts out on his fingers (like his mom). He also is starting to read simple things as well. He is so lanky and tall now and Mr. Skinnybones Jones. We bought him new pants at Christmas and they are already high waters on him. 
Thus begins the never ending clothes buying!

Eisy is just a character morning, noon and night. He is always doing something that is so charming or entertaining. I know I am biased, but really. He has started swiveling his hips when music comes on, walks like an old man, jumps, talks CONSTANTLY and won't let anyone leave without them giving him kisses. He is such a little love bug.

He is starting to string together words now, even if they aren't totally clear. We always say when I wet their hair for church that we are activating their curls and on Sunday he said "acagate curs" but it was clear he was trying to copy me saying the same thing. Or "go bye bye en car" he loves to go bye bye.

I am doing well.

I have been officially off medication for about 2 or 3 months, can't remember exactly. Sometimes I wonder if being on it would help sometimes because I feel I get too easily irritable sometimes, but just trying to take it a day at a time. Overall, emotionally I would say I am doing much better, however.

At the beginning of this year I felt like that Lord said that a new season was starting for me in regards to ministry and that was part of the reason I re-branded and started focusing on sharing what He has pressed into my heart over the past 3-4 years. I just really want to be faithful to be available to Him to serve in the ministry the Holy Spirit wants to do, even if it's just with those few people who might come across my blog. It's been so amazing to me that every week different people have told me how much God used it to speak to them, I am so grateful to be used by Him.

In the bigger scheme, I have dreamed of being a speaker for years, as some of you may know. When I was in Northern Ireland with Youth for Christ (about 2003) my first year ,I remember listening to Beth Moore and thinking, I really want to do that. Over those years I was able to teach and speak some and when I returned home I was given a few chances here and there with women or youth, but in all honesty God had a lot of work to do on me. Needless to say that dream and or calling has laid dormant for several years although still in my heart.

For years I thought I knew what it was going to look like, but as I suffered through depression I wondered if I would ever be strong enough to ever be able to do that. I couldn't even take a negative comment from someone on Facebook, how would I ever serve Him in front of more than that. The desire never left me, and as God has brought us through this very hard year I felt my confidence growing once again and the urgency to stay in Christ. I started praying bold prayers again to be used as I feel like a shaken soda bottle ready to explode with all He has so graciously done in me. I prayed that if it was something that He still wanted me to do that He would give me an opportunity to speak by the end of January.

Two days before February I was chosen to be one of the speakers at a conference in Indiana. And so I will be going in April to speak! I have struggled since with whether this was real, whether I was ready, etc, etc. But, I am going to believe in faith that God opened this door and I am casting my lack onto Him and trusting He will do through me what He wants to do.

I am also leading a small group of women at my church and we discuss the sermon each week. I am really enjoying that and praying for them and seeing God work and move in all our lives. I love our church for its encouragement of authenticity. We really get into the nitty gritty of life and can love, encourage and support one another through life. If that isn't beautiful and life giving, I don't know what is.

I am still praying and working out getting my tooth fixed, it's an ongoing thing. Just praying for wisdom to know where to start and what money to put towards it and all that.

Over all God is doing and speaking so much. There is so much in us to work on and I am praying we will be faithful to listen to Him and obey quickly. That He would take us where we need to be for Him to get the most glory from our lives.

Thank you for all your love, prayer and support for our little family.

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Jackson Family Update
10:29 AM

Jackson Family Update

Monday, February 9, 2015

Life is a bed of roses, or a bowl of cherries, or perhaps skipping through the daisies. Let's be honest, although there are definite moments of cherries, roses or daisies most parts of life are really hard. It's less a skip and more a battle.

I have a hard time, sometimes, when people portray themselves as having a life of bliss and ease. I can only guess they do this because they are scared of vulnerability or possibly of being judged or are simply feeling out of control of how they want to be be perceived by the world. Regardless, grace to them, as I am sure that has troubles of its own. It's just that life isn't like that, not for anyone and I suppose I struggle with that perception because many times I feel horrible my life is not easier, what is wrong with me anyways? Or what is God withholding from me since my life doesn't look like theirs?

It's like sometimes I feel stuck, defeated, pulled under or chained like I have been writing about. It's like we are going around the same dumb mountain again and again and frankly I am tired of the view. Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard we try and fight we just keep losing. Giving up just seems like the easier thing after a while.

Recently God brought me to Joshua 7, the place where the Isrealites had marched around Jericho and had seen a miracle happen right before their eyes and had little to do with any effort on their part. In this chapter they are going to scout out Ai for the next battle and their scouts get killed.

Joshua is at a loss.

What was all this about? Why was the Lord not with them and allowing them to defeat them as He had promised?

He threw himself before the Lord and said 
"O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies. For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it and will surround us and cut off our name from the earth. And what will you do for your great name?"

Let's face it, this is a whiny, desperate prayer if I have ever read one. I should know, I am quite familiar with praying whiny prayers myself. All too close to home and mine would sound something like this...

"Lord, this is not OK. Actually I am getting kind of mad about this. I have been trying to do out and do the things you've wanted me to do and you must remedy this. How can I serve you an share you without you dealing with this? No fair, you've spoken that you will be with me and here I am Lord, under attack, again. Honestly Lord, I am tired of trying, I'm tired of hoping. I am just tired."

But what God says next to Joshua knocked me back a little.

 He says
"Get Up! Why have you fallen on your face?"

It made me ask myself why God would respond this way?

Could it be that the posture and tone of Joshua's prayer was, for lack of a better term, a bit "victimy". 

Poor us. 
Why aren't you? 
No fair, no fair, no fair, stomp stomp! 

That this was not a time for groveling in desperation and own self pity because in fact, the Israelites had caused this.

He goes on in verse 11
"Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel can not stand before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction."

Back when they had overtaken Jericho the Lord had given them specific instructions not to plunder, that those things were devoted to destruction. But some of them, in their own wisdom, must have decided they would go with their own very great judgement and take a bit. Certainly all would be OK if they took just a few things. So they took these things and hid them among their belongings.

Oh those Israelites, so foolish, so disobedient, 
so much like me. 

What are the things God has convicted us about that we refuse to obey in, that we hide amongst our things?
We have judged them to be acceptable, non essential items, that the Lord certainly doesn't mind if are apart of our lives. The Lord showed me these "things" don't have to be really giant or overtly obvious. Maybe it's the conviction to stop gossiping, but we decide it's not such a big deal. Maybe He has been speaking to us about not eating to that point of fullness, or maybe He has asked us to trust Him in eating a different way? But we have decided God doesn't care about food, it's not a thing He really minds over. It could be watching certain shows, hanging around certain people that aren't a good influence over you. Maybe it is bigger things like stop stealing, stop compromising, stop watching porn, or lusting after a co-worker that is not your spouse? 

Only we know what those things are. God points these things out to us again and again, sometimes simply because they bother us and sometimes because they are beginning to completely destroy us. Sometimes we know why and sometimes we just are blind to it. We have just decided that they can stay among our belongings, that surely God knows I can't, am not ready, or He just doesn't care and no one will notice anyways.

But then, as soon we are caught up in a battle, a trial, a temptation we find we are overtaken...every. single. time. We have no victory in our lives that Christ died for us to have. Trying to keep our head above the water our enemy triumphs over us.

Many times we throw ourselves before the Lord asking why, tell Him why it's not fair, how could He, when will He? And perhaps He says to us in some circumstances as He did to Joshua

"Get Up!"

He says in verse 12, 
"I will be with you no more unless you destroy the devoted things from among you."

We know that as New Testament believers we are in Christ and God will never leave us or forsake us but still 
in Luke 11:28 

Jesus says 

"Blessed rather are those who hear the 
word of God and obey it." 

In James 4:6-10
Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

We have to recognize we are not as smart as we think we are, that perhaps we are sabotaging our own victory because we are too prideful and stubborn to realize the things we are holding onto are hanging us up.

The Lord says to Joshua again
"Get up! Consecrate the people and say "Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, thus says the Lord God of Israel. There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You can not stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you."

I once heard a teacher say that if you don't know what God wants you to do to, go back to the last thing you knew for sure He did want you to do, and do that thing. Usually we want to super spiritualize this but for me it it was as simple as; do the dishes, vacuum, be a kinder wife, don't be a rude driver, etc.

It might not feel like a big deal but the size of the obedience I don't believe really matters to the Lord. He is after our hearts, our obedience to Him in sometimes what we perceive as really trivial ways.

The Lord had Joshua deal with the wrong doers in the camp, quite harshly I might add, and He gave the Isrealites a chance to fight the enemy again. If we confess and turn He will be faithful and just to forgive us, and when we face our enemies again, because we will, maybe this time we will find ourselves victorious for the first time in a long time.

The interesting thing about the next victory was that God allowed them to plunder. It wasn't about not plundering, neither is it always about our specific convictions or making hard and fast rules for ourselves over certain convictions and then imposing them on others, lest we become legalists. It's about our hearts, that no matter how simplistic the request from Him that we would be willing to trust Him and obey or respond to His convictions. So often we don't really trust His heart towards us and we think we really do know a better way.

What is God asking you to obey Him in that you have sort of pushed aside or ignored?
 Would it be worth enough for us to begin to obey Him even in the smallest of ways for the opportunity to truly become free?

Not being good for goodness sake, but trusting Him enough to lead us out of wandering and constant defeat and into real conquering freedom.

Stop lying there, taking it, whiny praying.....


Obeying God to Victory
4:10 PM

Obeying God to Victory

Sunday, February 1, 2015

I grew up good. You probably know what I mean by that. I was the first born rule follower who was absolutely devastated when I got detention for chewing gum at school. Getting in trouble scared me, I wanted people in authority over me to approve of me. If that meant modifying my behavior to being a "good girl" that was what I was going to do.

Maybe you didn't grow up like me. Maybe you could have cared less, did whatever you wanted, maybe you were even a hard core rebel without a cause. But chances are if you are reading this, at some point you went to church, maybe heard about Christ and how He died for you, and maybe began that relationship with Him and then you too, became "good" like me.

Of course following Christ means we are meant to look different, to act different, to live different than before but what we don't often realize is that these changes that are meant to take place in our lives have little to do with our best efforts and everything to do with Christ setting us free.

I don't presume that this is everyone' experience. Perhaps you leaned into the power of grace from the moment you started walking with Him? But if you are anything like me I really wanted more than grace simply because I didn't understand it. I wanted people in  my church's approval, to be seen as dependable and mature in Christ, I wanted Jesus to be happy and proud of me and to use me. And in all my best efforts to be "good" or "good enough" a little chain was latched onto my wrist, a chain called condemnation.

I am not sure you could have written a more "Christian" life than mine was. I went to a Christian school all my educational days that was connected to the church I attended since I was 6 months old and was heavily involved with. I went on mission trips, was on leadership in my youth group. performed roles in our Christmas plays and had plans to go to a Christian college.

After high school, however, I began to experience something different. I was no longer in my safe bubble where everyone knew me and validated everything I did. I began to have to listen to God for myself, for my own life, and as I tried to do that and also look around for approval of my decisions another shackle was placed on me "unapproved".

I knew I was making decisions that were out of the ordinary and I was happy to jump out in faith but the aftermath started closing in on me. They are are judging me, they don't approve of my choices, and slowly I became more and more enslaved in these chains. To my good behavior, to what others thought about me, to being misunderstood and constantly worrying about it, the bitterness began to grow like mold on my heart.

Whether you grow up good or not, when we come to Christ we are so grateful to be saved by grace because we know we have never done anything good enough to deserve it. But then, whether consciously or unconsciously we begin to work hard to keep both God and godly people happy with us. This condemnation starts growing up all over our souls as we "know all the right answers" but feel irritated that the right answers aren't matching up in our true hearts. We feel no freedom there. We are chained.

For each of us it can be something different that we feel responsible for and yet hopeless to change it at the same time. We know we need to change, that something has got to give, but we are at our wits end to know how to change it. We are chained.

As months rolled into years my life of living for approval gave way to disappointment and what I felt was nothing but rejection. My world began to crumble in on top of me. I would try desperately to swim to the top hoping to catch a breath, to get some relief but there was none to be had. 

This quickly turned into "whose fault is this?".  Why am I feeling this way, why am I trapped, this has to stop and someone must be responsible and someone has to pay.

The weight of my my bitterness laid heavy upon me as nothing I tried made any difference at all. Anger would explode in tears, again and again and again. It was all too much, I couldn't deal with this. I watched my husband and baby son bear the weight of my burden as well. My son would come to me every time I cried and would say "don't cry, don't cry, don't cry. You're OK." I would try to assure him mommy was just tired or something else, but you can't hide crying that much. I then bore the weight of guilt that I was ruining my son. More guilt, more hopelessness. I was chained.

I would cry out to God "how can this be happening to me?  I know I am supposed to be good but I am so tired, it's not helping, it just makes me more and more angry. I feel their judgmental stares as they glare at me in my brokenness "You really should be praying more, maybe if you read your Bible more, of you would just evangelize or serve more, get your eyes of yourself". But when your soul is broken there is no amount of good things you can do to work yourself out of it. I knew that and so this judgement I placed on myself most of all not only condemned me but also made me furious. Don't you care about me, not just what I am useful for?? Is this what God loves me for, only what I can do for Him despite how I feel completely broken and undone? The voices led me deeper and deeper, locked strongly in my chains.

The deeper I journeyed into my prison the angrier I became. I was becoming furious with people for not caring. Don't you see me, someone help me, someone save me! I was being swallowed by darkness and if I reached a hand out hoping to be pulled out it seems I was met only by shrugs and "just a little too much for me, thanks".

One night I was feeling very hopeless, very suicidal if I am totally honest. It was as if the only solution I could think of was to end it all. Nothing at all was helping. How could my family possibly live with me like this, I was ruining their lives. During one of these depressive ruminating episodes my son came in and sat on the chair with me, followed by my husband. He began to sing Jesus loves me and I videoed him and we all sang along. I was watching that video the other night, struck by remembering that moment. One of those moments where I felt hopeless and alone and like there was no point He reminded me, He loves me.

The hardest part was remembering how intimately we had walked together, He and I. That we had these incredible moments together that I knew without a doubt that I was precious to Him. Where were these days now? Where was He? 

When I was on the mission field and He had been so near, He spoke to me about His calling in Isaiah 61 to bind up the broken hearted, to bring into light those that sat in darkness, to trade a crown of joy instead of ashes, and that I was to be a part of that call. I was going to help "those" people.

Here I was though, in this prison, with these chains, with my ashes and nothing more. He showed me that I am not going to help those "poor" people, I was one of those people. None of my good works or calling or growing up made me different from those people. I was trapped and enslaved myself, and even as a believer I could be chained up, but HE, He had come that I would have salvation. Not just salvation from hell, but from myself. That grace had saved me, and now grace was going to change me. Confronting my own desperation and need for Him was where we had to start.

In the dark, where I felt no hope at all, Jesus sat with me and held my hands as they were shackled to the wall with condemnation and shame. It was as if He was asking me the question "what can I do for you?" or "do you want to be free?" Like many times in the Bible when He asked those that had come to Him for something. Isn't it obvious Lord what I need from you? But it wasn't a question He needed answered in the practicality as if He was unaware, but rather an invitation to be invited. 

Sometimes our chains are comfortable, even though we hate them. Sometimes leaving them means something new, and that is often scarier than the shackles themselves, we believe. Sometimes we choose to stay, because God is not going to demand we be free. It is something He asks us to participate in, and sometimes that is really hard. The truth was that I had allowed myself to become an inmate by believing on some level I deserved it for failing to be good enough. I thought it was all up to me, it was all going to be in my strength because after all, I had been taught and raised, I should know better and be able to do better. But all I had been able to do was fail, and fail, and fail again. 

I was so mad that I couldn't just be accepted and loved just the way I was by people. I began to blame person after person for not being to me what only Christ could be for me.

I can't say just how or when but I knew I was out of options and I was tired, so very tired of trying to save myself. I was tired of being rejected and striving and failing miserably and I gave up. Being good enough was getting me no where but more deeply enslaved to condemnation. 

But then, God.

He began to empower me to move my frozen feet. As I began to give up He began chipping away  at those shackles. The more I admitted I could never be good enough, how I could never change myself, it was as if Jesus said...yes. One little movement at a time He began to free me. One trusted step of letting go of controlling what people thought about me or being good enough, thinking the perfect or right thoughts or having it all together.

Romans 8:13 says "For if you live according to the flesh you WILL DIE. But, if you by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will LIVE."

I didn't realize I was trying to live in my flesh, changing myself, just trying harder, just being good for goodness sake. But I was dying. My soul was drying up.

Romans 8:1-2 says  "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the SPIRIT of LIFE has set you FREE in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."

In Him, by Him, through Him.

For all I thought I knew about being a Christian, for all the times I memorized the above verse at church or school, it was only through the Spirit Himself that I could truly understand what it meant to be living by the Spirit of LIFE rather than death.

It is sad to think that so many of us, whether we came to the Lord at a young age or later in life, can be held so captive in our own prisons. We try so very hard to look the part, do more, and hope we are making the Lord proud of us in all our trying. But the Lord wants freedom for us, liberation, running in confidence towards His loving arms even in our brokenness, even in our shame. He died for that freedom. Don't you dare live without it. 

We have too long put our trust in our own goodness and all we do is fail and fail and fail again. When we throw all our trying and mistakes onto His grace, knowing that we bring only brokenness to the equation, then He can begin.

It reminds me of a song that a friend of mine used to play on his guitar when I lived overseas.

"You can have my heart, but it isn't new. It's been used and broken and only comes in blue.
It's been down a long road, and it got dirty on the way. If I give it to you, will you make it clean, wash the pain away.
You can have my heart, if you don't mind broken things.
You can have my life, if you don't mind these tears.
Cause I heard that you make all things new, so I give these pieces all to you.
If you want it, you can have my heart."

He does want it, He wants to make it new and the thing is, only HE can.
Only he can bring beauty from the ashes we lie helpless in.
In fact, it's His specialty.

If you are feeling like you are drowning, sinking, and no one hears your cries for help, cry out to Him. Let go of all the splashing and treading water that is getting you no where but the end of yourself. 
He is after all, Savior. 
Let Him save you. 
Again, and again, and again.

Been Set Free, Again
4:03 PM

Been Set Free, Again

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Today I ended up looking at a lot of Taylor Swift quotes because of an interview I saw with her and wanted to see other things she had to say. So, here is a little sampling of a few of those for fun with a couple other valentines day phone lock screen wall papers in there for fun!



Free Taylor Swift Quote Downloads
10:33 PM

Free Taylor Swift Quote Downloads

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I sat in my mom's living room with my one friend whom I had picked up and brought to my baby shower. My sister-in-law was there with her sister who had helped my mom get all these cute details together to help celebrate the little life that was growing inside of me. 
We were really struggling financially so the thought of having the blessing of gifts for him was something I was so grateful for.

Over the previous few weeks I had emailed people and handed them personal invites for the baby shower, but no one rsvp'd, so we sat and waited, and waited. The time for the shower had started and there we were, my one friend had came, a couple family members and the rest never showed up.

I knew God had me in a season of invisibility but this was hard. Satan was doing his best to yell in my face how no one cared about me and certainly my situation nor my unborn child. I didn't want it to hurt, but it did. 

I had come from a church where I could hardly fit the amount of people I wanted with my first baby shower, and now this?  My mom had worked so hard to make special food and drinks with cute green and white straws and had purchased most of the gifts that sat on the floor. 

I was so grateful for the people who were there, I was grateful for the gifts and the love I did receive this day, but it was just another hit in the humiliation gut in this season God was walking me through. 

When you are a stay at home mom, in a new state, without a car, life feels somewhat like a prison. Add onto this pregnancy and just call me "Big Belly Rapunzel". Days pass with no major difference as you wipe noses, change clothes and sing songs at bed time over and over and over and over again.

I know it doesn't take much to relate to this season I was in. Maybe your story isn't just like mine, but something similar. When it feels like every part of who you were, all your dreams and hopes, all your friends and loved ones that sort of framed who you were, the place where you knew your role and your part, are stripped from you.

You could be a new mom, or an older mom, or an empty-nester, or a younger single girl wondering, is this IT? This? This is what you want for me Lord? 

I feel like I would literally be talking to someone many times, and it was as if they couldn't see me or even hear me. They would begin a conversation with someone else and simply walk away as if I wasn't there at all. 

It was during this time that it was as if it was me and God, all alone, in my heart. That who I was, who I wanted to be, how I wanted to fit in or be used was all invalid, I was invisible.

It was during this time God began to speak to me, about many things but in particular not to waist this season.

So many times in seasons like the one I am describing we do anything we can to fast forward to a more meaningful point, get frustrated, or feel guilty about feeling either of the previous ways.

Waiting is hard, feeling insignificant is hard, wondering what on earth to do now is hard, but here is what God spoke to me.

This is sling shot training for you.

No, I haven't taken up weaponry, but I still have a battle that I am in and so are you.

Maybe God has spoken to your heart about something He wants to use you for, has shown you your gifts or talents and has previously used them but at the moment they are dormant. Maybe He has given you a dream or has shown you your calling, but now you wonder what happened to all that? Maybe you are questioning all that you thought you so sure about?

Remember David, from the Bible? No one is more familiar with waiting than He was. David is one of my favorite people from the Bible because of his raw honesty with the Lord. That is so something I can relate to. 

Here is the account of David being annointed King in 1 Samuel 16

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord's anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest,[a] but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” 12 And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.

This story is amazing for so many reasons, one of my favorite is that David wasn't even an option for this anointing. Surely not David, he wasn't even thought to be worthy enough to even appear before Samuel. His own father didn't even think that this was possible, he thought for sure he knew who God would want to use, the strongest, the oldest, the wisest, but no, he was wrong. God sees those of us who feel invisible. He knows and He does the choosing. So when many people over look you, when you feel you have nothing to offer or like there is no way you will ever be chosen, remember God sees the ones that aren't thought about.

What was David doing? What he was supposed to be doing...
 tending the sheep.

What did David do after he was anointed King??

You would think that He went out with Samuel for training and hair cuts and getting fitted for robes and all that fun stuff, but nope, that is not what happened. He went straight back to watching sheep.

What? How does this make sense?

Now just wonder how David may have had an internal struggle with this.

So, I am going to be King, when is this going to happen. These sheep are smelly, and boring, and if God thinks I could be doing so much more, well why in the world am I wasting my time out here??

But what God spoke to me about these seasons of invisibility, these seasons of just showing up and doing the thing right in front of us day in and day out, these seasons are not a waist of time. On the contrary, I think they are specifically placed in our lives as training seasons. They are just much as part of the journey as actually doing the thing, whatever it may be. It is all in the way we choose to see it.

The fact that David was "only" shepherding sheep didn't mean that he wasn't capable or leading an entire kingdom, like he would one day. It just wasn't time yet.

So, I began to let God change the way I was looking at my situation. I decided that I was going to choose to trust Him in this monotony, in this pain, in this desert. As I cleaned the house every day while Ashton was taking his nap I was listening to sermons, lets face it, I was listening to sermons whenever I could. When I was sweeping, when I was loading the dishwasher, when I was cleaning up the bedrooms. I decided to let God begin to renew my mind, to make me strong and warm up that sling shot. To let him do inner work in me that I was unwilling to look at, that had I been busy might have not had time to look at or make changes on.

You see when David finally went to visit his brothers on the battlefield and watched as Goliath mocked them He was confident of two things, he had been anointed as king, and he knew how to take out big threats. All those days in fields killing bears and lions, in the monotony of smelly boring sheep, he was ready when God brought him to a place to take out a giant. 

He hadn't sat down and felt sorry for himself that his life was un-glamorous and so unfair. He decided to hone his skills in the place God had him in. He knew it was not yet his time, but when his time came, he was ready.

What is God asking you to be faithful to right now, right where you are? What skills can you refine? What things have you been running from that you know God wants you to face head on and be brave enough to let Him change? What words of love and affirmation do you need to sit and receive from the Lord that people can not ever give you?

Sometimes we avoid silence because it screams truth to us. Sometimes we can be in a season of invisibility even when we are running like there is no end in sight and feel exhausted but with no real meaningful purpose in it. Striving, striving, or checking out and having a well deserved pity party, or so we have decided.

Matthew 25:21
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Be faithful in the little things.

A story was told me this last week about Josh Groban. He hadn't made his big break but he kept practicing. One night his manager called him and told him that Andrea Bocelli could not sing that night with Celine Dion and could he sing the particular song with her. He could, he was ready.

You may not know yet what God has in store, most of us don't, but start with what you know for sure God has placed right in front of you. 

I believe the season of invisibility may be coming to an end for me but I still am very much in it, I have just become more OK with it. I know God is good at being God and no manipulating or hissy fits on my part seem to help at all, believe me I have tried. 

When God does things He does them right. Let's trust that even our seasons of monotony are all apart of making us into who we need to be. Let's be faithful with what He has given us now, pressing in and trust His heart and love for us rather than presuming His silence is His absence. 

You are seen by Him, you are not forgotten.

Being Faithful in the Small Things
3:30 PM

Being Faithful in the Small Things

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