Monday, December 21, 2009

Life Isn't Fair, But God Is Good

Ok, so I stole that title off a book I saw in a bookstore the other day. It caught my attention. I didnt' really even have to pick up the book to look at what else it wanted to say. It was enough to get my wheels turning about weather I can really say that and mean it. I think we all can say the "Life Isn't Fair" part and believe it, but how many times do we say the "God is good" part and actually believe it. It's become very cliche to say it. Though our actions will most often prove that we believe differently.
I've been dealing with some attitude problems when it comes to the whole fairness thing. Yet my head tells me all the time that God isn't trying to make life fair, just to offer grace...and unfortunately, we may never understand completely that til we are in heaven. But we are to receive it.
Like, why do I have to constantly pick up after 4 other people in my house only for them to turn around and mess it up again? But when the house isn't kept nicely, who gets the blame for not doing their job? At least I feel I get the blame. Ok, so that was me venting a little but it's just what goes through my daily...and I don't know a mom out there that doesn't think the same way often.
But truthfully, I have been really asking the Lord to take over my heart about this because that attitude makes me miserable, and I'm sure I make my family miserable too. I have still felt so incredibly sinful and ugly when it comes to the spirit that comes out of me in regards to this. Like today, I was having one of my episodes again, "How can they expect me to keep up with their mess all the time?". "There's one of me and 4 of them". "How do I do this and not go insane?" I went in my room and began to weep. I was so mad but more than that, was so mad at myself for still being so selfish and bitter still. "Really, God? Is this who I have be the rest of my life? Where is the Holy Spirit that is supposed to take over when I need it most?"
Then the Lord stopped me in my tracks. First He spoke to me about what I was basing my love for Him out of. We usually only like to spend time with God when we expect something from Him or want something from Him. Ouch! That is not love at all!! So when it comes down to it, how many can truly say that we love God for who He is? That we want to be with Him because of His character. Because we really just like Him and nothing more.
And sadly, the only way I was to relate to that was by thinking of some friends that I love being around because of who they are. And I really don't expect anything in return from them. I just love to be with them because they are a joy to be with. Yet God is so much more, at least that's what His Word says. He will always bring out the best in us. He will always be enjoyable. But more than that, He will always have the character that we long to have and be around.

I confess that I have fallen short of that not only toward God, but toward my family. I have fallen into this trap of only thinking of what's in it for me, and not loving them simply for who they are. Yes, they are gonna treat me unfairly, as is anyone we know, yet I have based my feelings toward them on that. It pains me to think that I have fallen that shallow toward the ones who are to be nearest and dearest to my heart.
I am not falling under condemnation here, just seeing a revelation of how caloused my heart has become. I also realize that it is only by His Holy Spirit that my heart can change. That I am but dust and He is the only one with any hope of me changing. Only through His love, can I love unconditionally again.
So even if life isn't fair, people aren't fair, or we don't think God is being fair, are we gonna believe He is still good...and that those around us are worth the love we are to give to them?

I feel like a hypcrite typing that last part. Because I know I still am processing it all and can't give the "good" answer. But I pray that the Lord will work out what He has stirred up in me. I know I can't do anything on my own, but there is hope, because He says, "All things are possible with God."

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Confidence....this is an area that I have struggled with my whole life. It is very easy for me to believe myself as one who can't possibly rise above a daunting situation, whether big or small, or be capable of believing that my opinions, decisions, or whatever are the right ones. I don't know where this all started in the 34 years I've walked this earth, but nonetheless, I easily fall into a trap of low self-worth and not feeling I amount to much when it comes to worth. The enemy knows that this is something he still can easily knock me on the floor about. I hate it but it's true. And I want to find the root of it but I can't.
Right now, I'm hurting. For some reason, I have fallen into a mentality that once again what I think or believe don't have much merit to those that mean the most to me. It's easy to speak these things to people I don't know or those out there that I know will encourage me in it, but to be vulnerable to those who's opinions mean a little too much to me, when you know there's a chance they might be in disagreement or be quick to crush your confidence, is sometimes too painful to brush off and still receive the grace that God gives.
There are scriptures after scriptures about only having confidence in Christ who dwells within us, but I can honestly say I haven't come to grips with how that plays out in my struggles. I need to know that what I have in my heart matters, that what is stirring up inside is worth hearing, or that decisions I make will be the right ones at some point. My decision-making skills lack because of all of this. I just need to know that there is still grace attached no matter what I think or do, right or wrong.
Jesus taught grace, plain and simple. And I have no doubt that he gives it to me every breath I take. I'm just still working through how to respond when grace isn't given by people here on earth. And am not sure at this point if I can handle the possibility of being given judgement throughout life in areas that I need grace the most.
I'm sure the enemy has a lot to do with where I'm at right now, but God wants to reveal something through it. I know it! I just don't have eyes to see it just yet.

Lord, open the eyes of my heart so I can see you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Wife's Role

I feel this is a good follow-up to my letter to my husband I posted last week. God just gave me a neat picture last night of what my role as his wife is supposed to look like and used something that I love to do the most, to show me clearly.
Over the past several years, I have been given the privelege of being part of our praise team at our church as a background vocal. Worship thru music is something that my heart beats to and it really is a passion of mine. And I love singing harmonies with our worship team the most. I have never felt very comfortable singing solos which also kind of falls in line with my point I'm about to make.
All that to say, last night as I was singing back-up for our band during the evening service, I felt the Lord speak to my heart thru it. He said to me "As a wife, this is really what your role is to your husband". To be specific, I am to be in harmony with my "lead man", my husband, but in a way of support, not a way being out in lead with him. We can hold hands together in our journey, but I am still to let him be the lead. The word says that we are to come up under them, to lift them up and support our husbands, so that they can fulfill their role as the leader of our families.

On the contrary, what does it look like when I am not in harmony with him? It's like "the fat lady singing" behind a lead singer, trying to be in charge where it has not been given, or sounding like a clanging symbol where it is not to be played. This, as we know will only throw off the band leader, and the same goes with our husbands. We play a important role to give our husband an environment where they can feel confident and able to lead out as God has called them. If we try to beat to our own drum, or be in charge where charge isn't given, it then throws him off, along with the rest of the "band" (or family).

We are simply to follow their lead and find a harmony that works with what they are doing, and that applies even if we don't always agree with what they are doing. And in both cases, thru music and thru our marriages, if we can find harmony, we are worshipping our Creator wholeheartedly as one and able to move forward together into His perfect plan.

In reality, I know like probably most women will say, I have fallen so short of this time and time again. This can easily make you feel like it's a standard you can't meet. But the truth is, it's a heart issue. What is your heart beating with today? Is it trying to beat to it's own drum or is it in line with the position God has put us in. This is not a way to make anyone out there feel inadequate or less than me or anyone else. It is just simply a picture of God's purpose in a marriage, something worth praying about and allowing the Lord to work out any "wrong notes" that we may be "singing" as we are living out our marriages.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Letter to My Husband

To the love of my life,
I know I have not always been the affirmer that you need me to be or the support in ways I should be, but that doesn't mean there isn't a day that goes by that I don't love you more than the day before. I don't know why I can't show it the way I want. But God is working on me about that. But the truth is, my love for you has truly grown in leaps and bounds because of who you are and who you've become through your love for Christ. And I know God isn't finished with us yet in our life together as one flesh and followers of Him.
You have grown into the Godly husband that I began to pray for several years ago more than I could imagine. You have a passion for Christ in a way that I never dreamed possible. And because of that, my passion for Him has grown as well. I am the woman I am today because of your willingness to stick it out and stand by me no matter how difficult I am or what the sacrifice.
We may have our ups and downs, and we will always have hurdles and obstacles that want to get in the way of the growth that Christ is accomplishing in our marriage and relationship with Him but I think those things are exactly what are molding us into more of His likeness. I know I have failed you when it comes to the unconditional love that you've needed from me, but yet you still have loved me despite that, and have never given up. And for that, I am forever greatful. It truly humbles me. I know that the Lord has put us together to sharpen and strengthen each other. You were born to be my husband and my children's daddy. God knew what He was doing when He made you. And His plans yet revealed for you are huge! I know it!

I am thankful to have a husband who has sacrificed dreams and desires to work at a place of pure misery, so that I can be home with my children. I am thankful that you see something in me that most of the time I can't see myself. I am thankful that you always have words of wisdom and encouragement to give when I need it. You are an awesome daddy who's children cherish their every moment with you. Your love for us is evident in your words, your actions, and once again, your sacrifice that you give every day in a workplace that makes you miserable. Not every man is willing to succumb to that for his family. But you have been willing and I am so thankful. This is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to the love I have for you. But I hope it will give you a little sunshine today to know that I have your back no matter what, and I hope and pray that God will continue to grow me into the wife that I should be for you.

And my prayer for you today is:
Lord, reveal your love for my husband today and every day in a way that he can grasp how intimately involved You are in his life. You love him so much and I pray that he sees You in every part of his life, even the miserable parts, like at work. We don't know what our future holds, but you do, and it is part of your perfect plan. Remind him that You have not left him nor forsaken him. For you are there with him. May you bring him favor and blessing even at work, give him a heart for the lost around him, give him a larger love for You and others that would ultimately bring his joy back into his heart. Show him his purpose there. And may this Christmas season be the best one yet for Tim and for our family. You are enough, Jesus! You are enough! Thank you for blessing my life with a man after your own heart. He is your son and your friend and he is my best friend. And I look forward to walking the rest of our journey along side each other and with You. I wouldn't have it any other way. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Living Loved

I have been reading this book on and off for a while. It's the one pictured to the right. I have picked it up on and off over the past few months. And I will probably be reading it over and over for months to come because of the truths that are saturated in this book. It is a must read for anyone. He is simply talking about how to live loved. And he describes how Jesus did that just that throughout the New Testament. It is beautiful and has left me once again, undone. I have picked it up this week after it sat on the shelf for a month or so and it has really helped settle some of the things I was struggling with last week. So I find this to be a good follow-up to all my ranting and raving last week. God is so faithful when we ask for Him to cut through the fog that keeps us from experiencing His presence. Last week, I was in a fog and felt confused, but the fog is lifting, "Praise Jesus!" And I'm thanking God for all the encouragement from you who have read and responded to my blog posts this past week. God has had His fingerprints all over your words of truth and encouragement.

So moving along, here's a section from this book out of a chapter called "Trying to Earn Points with Someone Who is No Longer Keeping Score". This has really just penetrated my heart and I pray that as you take it in, let it begin to take root into your every day life. This is His heart's desire for us and it is my heart's desire for my life to reflect His glory and grace in our lives:

Freedom to grow in him comes when you recognize that his love for you isn't affected by your actions.
Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more...and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love. Our only choice is whether or not to LIVE loved, trusting that his eye is on us and that he can work out in us everything he desires.
That is the challenge of life in God's kingdom. He has done everything to demonstrate his irrefutable love, but he will not make us live there. We can still live less loved, pursuing our own agenda with our own resources and in the process not only destroying ourselves, but hurting others as well.
The choice is yours, and it can't be made once for a lifetime. This choice is made EVERY DAY in every circumstance in which you find yourself.
So back to my own words, here's another concept that I am trying to grasp. Have you ever considered that even the worst circumstances have actually come through His love and grace? In order to have the heart of Jesus, we are to be given the opportunity to respond as Jesus did, even in the worst circumstances. When Jesus was breathing His last breath on the cross, His last words were, "Father, in your hands I commit my spirit". Even in the greatest agony and pain of the cross, He still trusted His Father's love for Him and completely gave Himself over into His Father's hands. And that trust came out of His relationship with His Daddy. What a beautiful picture of relationship.
And to think God wants us to have that kind of relationship with Him too. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rising Hope...

Things are a little better but still have some confusion and aimlessness that has not completely gone away. When I try to pray, my thoughts seem disjointed and like my words don't makes sense to me, but I have to trust that God still knows what I'm trying to say. He knows my heart better than I. I'm thankful someone does for sure...especially Him.

Last night, I had a great heart-to-heart with my husband. We seem to be going through similar frustrations and confusions and I don't find it coincidental now that I know it is happening simultaniously between the both of us. So my conclusion is, our home as a whole is under attack. That's the only conclusion I can come to. But it's not the kind of attack that is obvious to a job loss, or a death in the family, or a sin issue that has surfaced again, or someone doing wrong to us. It's a subtle, almost unidentifiable thing, which is almost more frustrating. I think the enemy is trying to attack our character and make us doubt that who God says we are in Him is actually true, which makes us doubt God too.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were challenged and felt very convicted in some things in our lives that we felt we need pray over. Just some different approaches on how we are to do things, what we are to do about them, and what our purpose is in them. What needs to go or what needs to change, so we can be wholeheartedly in the center of God's will?  We were in one accord about what we need to pray about. It seemed clear of what God wanted our focus to be in our prayers for our family. So I don't find it just coincidence that the enemy is trying to distract us from what seemed so clear to us a few weeks ago. Now it seems like a distant memory and there's a sense of "maybe we just aren't cut out to do what He wants" in my mind. And the enemy knows as long as we entertain that thought, we are sure to stay bound up and in a fog, only to remain outside of God's perfect plan. I have to remind myself too. God doesn't walk away from us. We are always the ones walking away if we so choose.

One more thing I want to add. As my husband and I were talking last night, something came out of my mouth that I hadn't really thought of before and it really has penetrated in me since last night. I believe God spoke it through me because it came out of nowhere and my husband even took pause when I said it.
I basically said that if we are this miserable when we feel God has distanced himself from us, doesn't that say a lot about how strong our bond is with Him? What a great gauge for us to know where our relationship with God is. That gave me hope really right where I needed it. I need to know the bond is still in tact, even if I feel otherwise. Because on the contrary, if I didn't really give a second thought to feeling a distance from God in my life, that should say I obviously haven't have enough fellowship with Him to notice the difference.

I think I feel some hope rising...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brutal Honesty

I am feeling discouraged right now. I feel everything that I touch here at home just falls apart before me. I'm very ADD (literally)and it shows in every area of my life it seems. I'm unorganized, my kids are walking tornadoes, it makes me irritable and cranky, my mind is exhausted from it all, my flesh feels very strong all the time, and the things I want to do I don't, and the things I don't want to do, I do. I can't respond to conflict or affliction the way I'd like. I pray, pray, and pray more about the things that are heavy on me. I want to yield it all to the Lord but I still very much get in the way. I am very selfish with my time and am very weary at home and my husband and kids are suffering because of it. Yeah, I can choose to not be, but will that really be the answer? Really? Because I'm still ultimately selfish and weary.

There's desires I've had for a long time that are not being met still. I give them over, take them back, give them over, take them back. I don't want them anymore but something in me just can't let go no matter how hard I try. It's eating me up. I acknowledge that the enemy is coming at me, that I live in the flesh still and this is all pride talking...bleah, bleah, bleah. But where is the POWER that God promises? I want to carry that power with me and I just don't see it anymore!!
People talk to me all the time about the encouragement I give them, and I'm so glad to know that God is using me somewhere, but I still feel that when it comes to my home envirnment, I am falling oh so short! I don't want to hinder my children from growing in God's love because of my mistakes, or my flesh that wants to come out at any opportunity. I am always walking around with too much burden around here, and it's wearing me down minute by minute. I'm not experiencing the joy still that the Lord promises. I guess I've forgotten how to live that in this part of my life. It used to be there. Where did it go??? All I wanted to be was a wife and mommy when I was young. And God blessed me with an amazing husband and 3 beautiful girls. So what has happened?

I have friends who are hurting so bad right now through the worst circumstances anyone can ever go through. There's people I love dearly who are going through health issues that I can't fix nor make them fix. My children have a very large lack of respect for me right now and though they love on me and want me to love on them, they completely don't respect my authority or the boundaries we try to set before them. How long will I be beating my head against a wall in the areas that I want to experience victory in or where I want my kids to have victory? Will I have to always sit back and watch others want to experience victory where there isn't, even when I pray fervently for it?

That song "How long will you forget, Oh Lord", by Michael Card keeps coming in my head by the way.

So moving on, another thing is, Tim and I have felt convicted about wanting to love others as ourselves more, to go out to the world and be Jesus in skin to others, to shine Jesus light to those in the darkness, whether its family, friends, neighbors, or strangers. Well, the truth is, I am scared to death still about sharing Christ with the lost, with developing new relationships that I feel I don't have time for. I am overwhelmed already at the things set before me in my own home. Yes, once again, these are all things the enemy wants for me to continue to feel or believe so I won't be effective "out there". And yes, they are lies, but they are so real and feel so true in my life right now. The real Truth seems so hard to grasp. Like I hold it for a second, then it slips right through my fingers. Why is it so much easier to believe lies than Truth? Why?

Hope is still a word that I grapple with. The Word says hope never disappoints. Well, I wish I could believe that truthfully. Hope seems to always be paired with expectation to me, and I can't seem to separate the two. And if I am to put my hope in the Lord and nothing else, what does that mean? What am I hoping about Him? He has already accomplished everything, right?

Like I said, I'm being brutally honest about the things that go through my mind these days. These are the questions that pop up as I read Truth, or try to believe it. I'm tired of kidding myself and others about the things that still entrap me. And I'm tired of feeling entrapped by them. I've had glimpses and real experiences of freedoms in my life, but why don't they remain? I need to find where the Bible talks about that exactly. I'm sure it's there, but if anyone has some places to guide me, let me know. I need help there.

I just read the "faith" chapter in Hebrews, where it talks about all those who walked out on faith and were counted as righteousness because of it, but then at the end, it says they never actually saw the promises that God spoke to them or us about. What?? I know we are still living out some of the promises God has spoken of back then, but honestly, my reaction to that wasn't that great. I know we are a microwave society that wants instant results, so maybe that's just my impatience is coming out as unbelief. But that's just what stirs up. One more thing I grapple with!

For anyone reading this, please lift me up in prayer if you will. I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to rise up and battle with me. I don't want to give up, but part of me has nothing in me left. But maybe that's right where God want me right now. I don't know. Just please pray for me.

"You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry..." Psalm 10:17

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Your Own Understanding

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." Psalm 3:5

A verse we have all heard many times. I read it yesterday for the thousandth time as I was going through a review study of "Lies Women Believe". I finally stopped at "your own understanding" and decided to ask the Lord to reveal MY own understanding so that I can begin to remove more obstacles that are preventing me from trusting Him. Because according to that verse, our understanding will get us nowhere., He answered me. I pulled out my journal and started writing down what "my own understanding" really means...LIES. And the ones God revealed to me are those really suttle thoughts that quickly come right after you read a truth, hear a truth, or even are talking to someone or even God about truths you are trying to believe. I have been beating my head against a wall lately about why it is I still am not living life the way God intends. Why I'm still falling short. Why I still am not acting out what I say I want to, what I tell others they should believe or receive.
The sermon we had at church Sunday was all about hearing God speak to us and to not just be hearers of what He says, but to let Him do through us what He says He wants to do. To let him reveal His love to us the way He wants. God's word is true in every aspect of my the Bible says. But why I am not living as if it's true? Well, I finally have realized that I'm still believing those suttle thoughts that the enemy wants me to think aren't there, the ones I just brush off. That I really just "subconsciously" think but don't realize I'm actually believing them based on my response. Um, yeah, those suttle thoughts are actually my biggest hurdles, even mountains that are getting in my way.

So here's some examples of what I wrote down that God revealed:

1. If I say, "God, speak to me today about what your will is in this situation, or what it will take for me to follow you with all my heart", that little voice says "You can't handle what God is going to tell you. You'll fail at it. It'll just be too hard". And most of the time, I agree, and stop listening to God!

2. If I start thinking about calling a friend in need, or reaching out to some lost neighbors or friends, that voice says "what if you scare them away, or what if you say the wrong thing, mess up the relationship or even mess up a relationship before it's even started". Makes sense to me, so I agree...ouch!

3. When I want to start discipling my kids or sharing God with them more, that voice says "do you really think they'll listen? What if they think you aren't making any sense? It might just be a waste of time. Maybe they just aren't ready to hear yet." I say yeah, probably....then I cave.

So you get the picture. But what if I turned the tables and answered back to the lies:

1. "Will my kids really listen to me? Will the really understand anything I'm teaching them? What if it is a waste of time"

Answer back: Jesus said "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". Matt. 19:14
See all the "me's" in the doubt? It's actually true that if I depend on my own abilities, yeah, I'll mess up and they probably won't listen. But if I can draw in His power and let Him penetrate their hearts, that's when the receiving happens.

2. "What if that neighbor or friend rejects me? What if I mess up the relationship by trying to bring Jesus into it?" Ouch!!
Answer back: Since when did Jesus mess up friendships? I may mess it up, but He won't if I let Him speak through me.

3. "What if what God tells says to me is too hard to hear or I fail?"

And this one takes us back to my first point of Truth:
"Trust the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding".

Now to just believe it and live it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Un-doing

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-11

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

As many people do, I have been guilty for a large portion of my life of falling into the trap of self-pity and condemnation over not measuring up to some standard I give myself when it comes to my responsiblities of life...mainly as a wife and mom. I beat myself up daily to the point of near self-destruction sometimes. And lately, it seems my weaknesses have become more and more prevalent. Like glaring in my face...all the time! It's ugly and I feel I am fighting a fierce battle that has come against me in this area. Fierce! But here's the deal! I'm DONE! Done fighting in my flesh, done striving! Done thinking I can figure it all out! Done trying harder! But did I say I'm done fighting? No! But I'm not fighting alone. I'm letting God in to fight for me!

The verses above has been my life-source the past few weeks. And there have been some small victories already over my own fleshly responses due to applying these verses to those lowest, weakest moments. For an example, when I have clearly messed up in how I talk to my kids, my husband, or lacked faith once again over our finances, and when the word "failure" wants to haunt me and enter my mind over and over, I answer back "His grace is sufficient". "Because of Christ in me, when I am weak, then I am strong" ."For His power is made perfect in my weakness". That is such a quandry to many of us. How is that true? How does that work? The way we become stronger, is recognizing our weaknesses, then yielding our weaknesses to Him...and I mean all of them. What prevents us from doing that? Our friend Pride. Who likes to admit that they can't do something on their own. Who? To hand them over minute by minute, day by day, until His power has become a reality in our lives is not an easy task, but the Word says it is necessary to find that abundant life He has promised.

I have felt the Lord impressing on me to literally let some things that I have tried to be in control of fall apart, so that I can see clearly where I have no power in my own strength. Then I can clearly give Christ the power where power is due when those things come back into order. Because I know it isn't me doing it. It's been tough. As the devil tries to throw the failure card at me over and over. I mean, it is true that apart from Him I can do nothing. But praise God that I don't have to depend on myself to do anything. PRAISE GOD!!

But where I come in is where I WILLINGLY AND HUMBLY let Christ be in control of me in every aspect of my life. Not just during my quiet time, or when I send a prayer up here and there. Or when things are going great around me. But in EVERY moment of my day. Talking with Him all the time, fellowshipping with Him as I do dishes, or cook dinner...yielding to His instruction or guidance when I am about to lose my temper with my kids or have a bad thought that will take me on a slippery slope. My flesh wants to control me in all of these things and we know where that leads. Romans 7:714-25 explains it all. But He didn't die on the cross so I can stay there, Amen?
So it's time to let the cross and it's power take over in everything. Everything! When He said apart from me, we can do nothing, He meant it! I think we'd be amazed at what He can do through us if we just give Him the reins and let His power rest on us the way He intended it. I'm sure I'm in for a long road ahead with this un-doing, but I can't wait to see what God can do if I'd just get my flesh out of the way and let Him take over 100%.

Lord, I pray for your consuming fire to burn away all the fleshly passions and desires that have run my life. Your love is enough for me! You are enough for all of me! May the life I live reflect who You are, and who You say I am in Christ!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

When Our Children are Our Teachers

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthian 13:1-8

God has been pounding this into me for a few months now and using my children to do it. As you know, he's been showing me His heart is toward His children, including myself. I believe that our children are not just brought to us to fill a desire to be a parent one day, or just so we can potentially raise more disciples, or to experience those sweet joys that children bring. Those are valid reasons, but not all of them. They are also brought to us so that we can hopefully come to grips at the magnitude of God's love for us personally.

One of my children has lately been my biggest parenting challenge as she is my most strong-willed and independent of the three. I think she really believes that her way is always the right way, and that her mommy has really lost her mind when it comes to asking things of her. When she knows she's in trouble, she runs away, and isn't really open to instruction or correction yet. It seems to just bounce right off of her. When she is being asked to do something, she always gives her opinion of what she wants to do instead or how she thinks she should do it. When it's my idea to ask for a hug or kiss, only half the time she responds to it well. And sadly, she's even said some things lately that indicate that she doesn't feel very loved all the time. It really is heartbreaking when it comes down to it. And I take full responsibility for the lack of love that she can receive or the false conceptions she has of my love for her. I am human and have obviously made many mistakes as a parent, and am already facing the consequences for it through having a child who doesn't completely trust my love toward her at the age of 4.

So here's the kicker....aren't we that same way as God's children though? Why do we disobey Him, run from Him, doubt His love for us, not want to spend daily time with him, etc.? Those things are a bi-product of us just simply not trusting His heart toward us...or receiving His love for us the way He is trying to give it out freely. Yet the difference between Him and me is, His love is perfect! It knows no bounds, it is always there waiting to scoop us up into the safety of His arms, to drive out fear, to drive out shame, to drive out the things that keep us bound within ourselves. It brings rest in our hearts, a safe place for us to go, boldness in our confessions and repentance, therefore it brings us freedom from ourselves...and directly into the Christ-filled life that He promises, and we can't help but pour it out into others because we are overflowing with it...but only if we receive all of Him into all of us. All!

My love for my children is actually very limited because I live in the flesh still. We as human flesh are pretty conditional lovers. But I actually had a glimpse recently of what happens when I was able to receive God's love fully, and it was amazing! I was able to pour out endless grace to my children, love them unconditionally, discipline with love, not a hint of anger came out, I put my own selfishness and hurts aside, and was able shower love to my kids from the depths of my heart. They were spotless in my eyes...and that is exactly how God sees us always. But when I'm allowing guilt, fear, shame and condemnation come upon myself, that is what comes out to others, mainly my husband and kids. I start doing things that make them feel the same way. So how do I stop it before it starts? Receive God's love for me fully.

So when it all comes down to it, what we are receiving from the Father, is ultimately gonna come out to those around us. What is coming out of you? God's love...or the opposite of!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Words to Chew On

These are some exerpts from some of Beth Moore's books/studies that are compiled in a little min-book of mine. Thought I'd put some out there that leaped out at me and I believe are worth chewing on.

--Please beware! A head full of biblical knowledge without a heart passionately in love with Christ is terribly dangerous, a stronghold waiting to happen. The head is full, but the heart and soul are unsatisfied. Satan knows that we all long for passion. If we are not given to godly passion, we will be tempted by counterfeits.

--A powerful motivation for believing God in our present is intentionally remembering how He's worked in our past.

--If in our pursuit of knowledge, God seems to have gotten smaller, we have been deceived.

--The key to answered prayer is sharing the mind of Christ over any given matter through His words actively abiding in us.

--Part of Satan's ploy is to make his victims "feel" addicted and powerless.

--Believers are only powerless in their own strength, yet God has promised to provide a way of escape for every temptation.

--God's Word is our Sword of the Spirit, but we have to learn to use it if we are to be a powerful force for the kingdom and against the darkness.

--People with a genuine heart for God cannot remain in a practice of sin. At some point they will cry out in total desperation for deliverance. For those who have walked closely with God, the desire for a return to His intimate favor finally exceeds the lure of the seducer.

"Lord, many or the woes of the wicked, but your unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in You." Ps. 32:10

"The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Ps. 27:1

"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor" Isaiah 61:3

"The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Do We REALLY Want?

The past week has been an on and off week. There seems to be a little more of a battle going on within me than there has been in a month or so. Right now, there's a lot of just willing and choosing going on when my heart doesn't feel into keeping the fellowship with the Lord each day. I've found though that I shouldn't ignore my feelings though as they do help identify that there is something off and I need to go to the Father and ask Him to reveal that to me. He knows me more than I do in every moment I take a breath and there is nothing to hide or be afraid fact, quite the contrary. I should find rest in Him alone when nothing else gives me rest. He is my Refuge, my Comfort. Even when my heart isn't where it should be, He is there waiting to welcome me back with open arms.
I came out of an incredible time of prayer and worship Monday night with my prayer "sisters" that felt like it should have kept me filled for days. Yet, the next day, there was a sudden emptiness that didn't make a lot of sense. How could I be so filled then so empty so fast. I really haven't figured out where the "filling" went. I could throw it out there as the enemy, the flesh, anything that is NOT God trying to hinder the flow of the Spirit in me. And there is Truth in that. I've felt a sense of apathy about some things that have come out of nowhere too. But at the crux of all of this, I've been hearing this voice in my mind and heart asking me over and over, "What is it you want today Bethany?" It's a still small voice that I know is from the Lord. Because it really gives me pause about what my prayers have been to Him. "Lord, I pray for a financial miracle". "Lord, keep my marriage moving in the right direction". "Lord, give me the right heart toward my children". And they are good things to ask if they are asked with the right motive, which begs the question, "If these things are not answered when and how I want them answered, would I be content with the unbroken fellowship that the Father desires more than anything with me." If these things weren't falling in line with my prayers, yet my relationsip with my Father was growing in leaps and bounds, would He be enough to sustain my heart even in disappointment?
Mainly, it's the finances right now that come to mind when that question enters my mind. Because I feel He is answering the other prayers in leaps and bounds. My parenting approach is changing, not without some slip-ups of course, but all in all my heart is changing toward my children just as I have asked. And it's great! My marriage is better than it's ever been. My husband and I are both growing in the same direction with the Lord and it's exciting. But if he decides to hold back on the financial blessings that we are asking for, but in that holding back, we in the end stay closer to the Father because of it, can we stay content with that? And truthfully, at this point, I probably am not discontent enough when I feel a distance from Him. I do feel lost and know I need to spend that time with him, but it usually takes a point of desperacy finally to make me run back into His arms.
Now on the other hand, at this point, if I were to have to choose between a huge bonus check in the bank or unbroken fellowship with my Father, my heart wants to choose the latter. And that is not said because it's a church answer. And I used to not be able to say that in all honesty. I truly am starting to believe that God is enough. Now He may test me with other things in my life besides money that will ultimately make me doubt, be afraid, get mad, and have some fits I'm sure of it because we still live in the flesh that likes to rear it's ugly head. But I love that I am at this place where I know deep down in my heart that the sweet love, peace, rest and joy that comes from living in His presence is something money or earthy goods will never bring. So I am changing my prayers to "My soul finds rest in you alone, God. For my salvation comes from you". "As the deer pants for streams of water, my soul pants for you God." Will I still ask for a financial miracle, sure, because that is a faith prayer knowing He can do it and I don't think He wants us to stop asking for miracles? But if it comes in the place of what God is accomplishing in our relationship with Him, than no thanks! He can hold off if that is what it takes.
This is that surrender and reckless abandon that God wants us to get to so that we can finally know through experience, growth, and wisdom that He is our true, deep desire. He has always been our desire. It's just that a large percentage of the population just doesn't realize that. They are filling it with everything else they can find. And if He so chooses to bless us with earthly goods, wonderful, but we are to understand that He will give and He will take away, only so we can find Him again...and have unbroken fellowship with the Father once and for all.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When God is Just Showing Off...

So I'm gonna turn the page here for a day and share a neat story that happened just yesterday. It has to do with a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer...yes you read right....a stand mixer. I have to admit over the past week there have been a lot of times where I have been having a bit of a pity party over myself due to the fact that my birthday is around the corner, not to mention all the fun holiday activities coming up over the next few months and with us in a financial crisis right now, we are having to give up a lot of "extras" which is making the upcoming season feel a bit daunting, having to accept that I will have to give up a lot of things I really want. Well, I have approached my birthday with a bit of melancholy thrown in knowing that we really don't have a lot of money to do a lot, nor would we have money for Tim to get me anything. I know it sounds selfish but hey I'm human and who doesn't want to be spoiled on their birthday when it comes down to it :).
Well, little did I know that God has had something up his sleeve all along only to show that he really does care about the little things in life that matter to us...and wants to bring us joy and happiness....even on our birthdays. I guess when you think of it, what "father" wouldn't want that for their daughter.
Well, in light of that, Tim with his wonderful gift-giving heart arranged to pull money together from my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law and ventured out last night to get me something that I've been wanting for over a guessed it....a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer, especially since now I'm thinking about getting into cake decorating.
Well, on his way out last night, he prayed that God would show His love and favor and help Tim find the best deal possible on a mixer so that he wouldn't have to shell out a lot of money himself because he knew how apprehensive I was about Tim spending any money on me right now. And lo and behold, God came through big-time. Tim went to 3 stores to find the best deal and at the 3rd store, there it was....a Kitchen Aide mixer for half the price Tim originally found it for...and he only had to shell $30 out of pocket himself with the money the others had given him to buy it for me...and most of you know how expensive those things are. We can't even afford something like this and God made a way anyways. Tim came home beaming and couldn't wait to tell me the story of a direct answer to his prayers...nor obviously could he wait to give me my gift on my birthday since I now already have it. So yes, I have my birthday gift that I've always wanted, and with no stress about the cost....God is sooo good...he really does care about the little gifts that bring us joy too...especially when He gets the glory for it...and He gets to watch His children's beaming faces when they open it. Now that is a testimony of the love of our Father.

And thank you my sweet husband, my awesome sis-in-law, my amazing mother-in-law, and of course God for blessing me with one of the best birthday presents ever. I can't wait to bake my first thing with it!! And just in time for the holiday season!! woohoo!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Oh How He Loves

The song below really sums up what God is showing me in every aspect of my life these days. I've always said I knew God loved me but this past week I've realized that I never really understood completely what that looked like in my day-to-day life. He isn't out to punish me or call me on every thing I do wrong as I've thought for a very long time. I've realized now that His love doesn't work that way!
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18.
Punishment would make me fear him, not love him. So why would he want to punish me? He is love for goodness and His perfect love will drive out fear, not cause it.

On the contrary, the story of the prodigal son paints a perfect picture of God's heart toward us. Before the son even finished his sentence to his father when he returned to him, his father was already celebrating his return, not even wanting an opology but just happy to have his son. He knew what his son did but still just wanted the relationship and to show his love for him and nothing else.

Being "good", calling on God's name, confessing sin, or even worshipping Him will never make Him love me more than He already does, and sinning or doing the wrong thing will never make Him love me less. His love is perfect, matchless, and is enough for me! And the only thing I am to "do" is receive it, live in it, and let Him do what He does best, loves!! And I can never do anything to earn it because it is already fully accomplished through His son Jesus. Jesus paid my price for that I can live freely in God's love every minute of every matter what I do or don't do! It is done! and I am undone by the awe of Him and His love for me!

How many of you have ever been undone by the truth of God's love for you? Or have you not really wanted to receive His love because you were scared of what it looked like? Ask the Lord to reveal what is holding you back from receiving His love the way He wants us to. Usually it's fear, shame, or a lie about God's character, or what His love even looks like...or a lie about how He sees you. His love is perfect and brings freedom, not fear or shame! The words to this song say it all!! May God's love become truth to you today...and every day.

Oh How He Loves:

He is jealous for me

Love's like a hurricane,

I am a tree Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy

When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory

and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.


Oh, how He loves us so

Oh, how He loves us

How He loves us so.

Yeah, He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,

Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes

If grace is an ocean we're all sinking

So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss

and my heart turns violently inside of my chest

I don't have time to maintain these regrets

when I think about the way

That he loves us,

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves He loves us,

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves us

Woah, how He loves

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A New Perspective on Scripture

I just had to put a little 'aha' moment on here that I had a few days back. It might be kind of a "duh" thing for some of you but I think many of us in our Christian walk have been in a trap of reading scripture with the wrong intent or thinking that it is there for us to see our sin and our shortcomings and to give us all the do's and don't's of life...only to make us miss what God is trying to reveal through it.
I have been reading a book that my husband recommended to me which is awesome and in it, the whole point of the book is to reveal the character of Jesus and also the unchangeable, unfathomable love of God toward us and how to get out of the trap of trying to earn his love. It portrays Jesus in a way that I haven't even seen before and it's been beautiful.
Well, as I've been reading through the passages the past few days, I have started focusing in on how God's word is revealing who He is, not who I need to be, because praise God through Christ I already am victorious, Amen?!? The Bible is all about our relationship with Him!! Nothing else! We are merely required to receive nothing less than His love for us and to have to do nothing more than accept that it has been accomplished through Jesus Christ. It is not a book that is supposed to give us a bunch of do's and don't's of life. It is a book to help us know our Abba, our Father, our Creator of Heaven and earth and to learn why we are meant to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. After all the whole reason He created us is for His enjoyment. He wants a relationship with us. And it is only through that relationship is when the doing starts. Yes, obedience brings blessing, but when we obey with the wrong motive, it does not reap the reward God intends. We are not to try to earn His love one more second, just receive, and then the "doing" will outflow from that...and I believe that is when God is going to do immeasurable more than we can ask or seek.
So as I read through scripture now, I will be zero-ing in on the character of God through it and underlining, writing down anything that describes my Abba, my First Love so that I can once and for all get to know Him the way He wants me to.
This is not a new lesson to some I know, nor is it to me, but I think if we implement it, it will change everything we stand for, hope for, and dream for in our walk with Christ.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Calling Out to the Deep

I'm gonna be even more personal today. I don't want to sound like what I am going through right now is something that I am alone in and that no one can relate to. Because I know this is a very wide-spread issue with many right now. I've heard it first hand from many. It is the issue of God's provision thru our finances. It's been a doozy for me lately and my sweet and long-suffering husband has been having to take the brunt of it from me which I hope he knows that I am so very sorry about. That is something I never want to add to his shoulders. But we are persevering and knowing that God has a purpose in all of this, even if right now we aren't feeling a lot of relief from this financial strife.
All that to say, I have been continuing my reading each day and have had to pause and stay with a few passages over the weekend that put me a day behind, which I'm just taking as God keeping me at His pace with me and not me trying to stick with a rigid schedule. No rules! Just relationship! I'm doing this simply to hear from God, listen to His instruction, and develop my relationship with Him. And I encourage those who are reading along with me to go at the pace God wants you to go. That is where you know it is a heart-driven journey with Him.
In Proverbs 1:32, it says "...whoever listens to Me will dwell secure and will be at ease; without dread of disaster."
I had a rough day Sunday fearing our finances again, knowing we had more bills than money in the bank. I didn't even know if we'd be able to buy groceries this week. It's a bit of a tense subject for Tim and I right now. But after talking it through on Sunday, we just decided to stop trying to figure it all out since it was bringing more strife, and to still our hearts, pray, and ask God to direct us through this. Questions I always am asking are, do I need to go back to work? Do we need to do more in cutting down on bills where we can, even if it's a little? What next, Lord? It's just hard to know what the right answers are in those moments when fear and doubt set in and have you confused. And I pretty much every morning wake up with this very think on my mind and the enemy tries to throw me off before my day even starts by bringing worrysome thoughts to me. But I'm learning how to combat it thank goodness. And I honestly don't have clear answers at this moment even about what our next step is, but I have to trust that God knows the end from the beginning and that since He is not worried, that I shouldn't be worried either. The Lord is still here, and very much speaking to me about waiting on Him and trusting Him, and I believe if anything that He is saying, "Stop trying to fix it all. I've got it under control."
Here are some verses that stuck out to me the last few days that confirm this is what He is saying:

Psalm 4:8 - In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for You, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 5:3 - In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare a prayer for You and watch and wait for You to speak.

I love that our pastor preached on Luke 5 Sunday, which happens to be in my Bible reading today. Jesus shows up to who will be his first disciples soon after, and teaches them on their boat, He then asks them go out into the deep to catch their fish. They had been fishing all night and had caught nothing but had stayed in the more shallow end. So they did what He said and went out deeper, and soon after their nets were breaking from the overflow of fish that they were catching. It was then that they were humbled and felt very underserving to the point of repentance. But Jesus said that soon they wll be fishers of men. How many of us feel underserving of what God does for us, only for Him to turn around and use us to bless someone else. What amazes me in this story is, that after Jesus told them what he told them, they laid down everything they just caught and followed Him. Would we do that if he asked us to?

I'll be honest. I've been asking God what the "deep" means for Tim and I over trusting Him in our finances. What is it that we can do to show we trust Him to provide for us, even if it means discomfort to do so? The groveling certainly isn't doing us any good. I believe that our faithfessness is definitely one of the main things that is keeping God from showing Himself in the way He wants to. But at the same time, I also believe that even in our toughest circumstances that He allows, that is when He will accomplish His bigger purpose, and that is having more of us for Himself, than us giving ourselves to the things of this world (money, material things, etc). The disciples gave up everything they knew as "normal" to follow Him. And I see that happening in my own home and it hurts, but I think it will serve a much higher, eternal purpose than paying my next bill. Do we even want God to be our all in all? Tough questions but we will all have to answer Him one day. Are we in or are we not?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Days 3 & 4...cont.

I spent some more time reading through these scriptures again last night and I have to say, God always comes thru when you wait on Him. He is so faithful! Here's the crazy part! The part the really grabbed me was when I read through the geneology of Christ at the end of Luke 3. Most people probably skim thru it and think it's not that exciting. But what amazes me is that He was willing to come into this world related to so many imperfect people...Rahab the prostitute is in his bloodline for goodness sakes.
I actually got a very cool refresher on Jesus and His humility and willingness to be made human (though remained sinless of course) when I read thru the geneology of all His ancestors. He came from a bloodline of very imperfect people. He chose to become like us so that we can become like Him and be made perfect. How incredible is that!! Who can match that??? No one!
And the last Word from God that came to me through all of this is that I can rest in knowing that because I am one with Christ, I have already been made perfect thru Him. I may not act perfect, or make perfect choices all the time, or think perfect thoughts, because I still live in an imperfect world in an imperfect body, but I know that I have an eternal destiny to live a perfect life with Jesus Christ when He comes back some day. Now that is something worth celebrating!

Thank you Jesus for becoming like us so that we can become like you! Show us how we can give others this hope that you have so willingly and sacrificially given to us! Thank you that you want all of us so we can become like all of you!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 3 & 4

Well, after reading thru Luke 3 & 4, I'm still pondering it and am really having writer's block right now.
Jesus' birth and childhood, parents losing him in the temple, then finding him, Simeon's prophesy fulfilled, and then some....a lot of stories within a story in these passages. Then John the Baptist preaches, baptizes Jesus, and so on. So much to take in, it's hard to sort through it sometimes. I need to go back and read through this again some more. Still waiting for an"aha" moment but so far nothing yet. These days will happen and that's ok. A lot on my mind the last few days so that could be some of it. Just need to be still some more and soak in what God is revealing.
To be continued....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 2...Belief!!

Believe Him, Believe Him, believe Him!

That is pretty much the sum of what God revealed to me thru Luke 1 today. What an exciting chapter of hope that He keeps His promises and He WILL DO what He says He will do! But He also revealed to me what can happen when we choose not to believe what He says.
Zechariah was approached by an angel of the Lord about the impending birth of his son, John (a.k.a John the Baptist). When the angel told him that his barren and aged wife, Elizabeth, would have a son, he questioned the angel and doubted. So the angel made him mute until his son was born and the prophesy was fulfilled. When John was born and Zechariah believed, he was able to speak again. But he couldn't share the good news as long as he doubted. How many of us have a tough time sharing something exciting that we feel God has told us because there is still something in us that is doubting. That is a direct consequence of our own unbelief.

Then enters Mary, an great example of one who believes God and His word right away. She was approached very similarly when she was told that the prophesy of Jesus about to be accomplished and that she would be the one to bear him. We've heard this story many, many times. Yet, I still am amazed and can only imagine the fear and trembling she experienced at that moment. But she didn't doubt the truth and she showed her belief immediately following her news. And she was immediately blessed.
I love this passage from the Amplified Bible of what the angel said to Mary and then how she immediately responded. And this is my verse of the day...Luke 1:37. Something I can stand chewing on for a while.

Luke 1:37 (Amp)"For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment."

Then Mary's response astounded me:

Luke 1:38 (NIV) "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
Wow! Have we ever responded to God so humbly and willingly when He gives us a task that seems so beyond our ability? It's not about our ability but His ability to use us despite ourselves, and our willingness to let Him enter in fully.
Then we go on to read about her running to Elizabeth to tell her the good news and how the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth, John leaping in her belly, etc. God blessed their belief and faith in Him. Then came "Mary's song" (Luke 1:46-55)-....a beautful account of her love for God and His promises. I can stand to meditate on that for a while. And praise God that He gave Zechariah the grace of returning his ability to speak again once he did believe which gave him the chance to declare God's faithfulness and love for all generations in Luke 1:67-79...and a son who was monumental for God's Kingdom. His grace is just as sufficient for us too.

This is hitting hard with me. I know I'm not believing everything God says to me. My actions show it, my thoughts show it. What blessings are being withheld because of unbelief? Or how am I grieving God because of it? Can we believe like Mary did? This is not to condemn but to just bring awareness that God wants to do more with us than we allow Him to.

I'm gonna end with this quote that I got off my husband's blog. Not sure if it applies directly to this but it can be in relation to it. Just has stuck with me since I read it yesterday.

God is more interested in winning all of me than in my winning all the world for him.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My New Personal Challenge...Day 1

Something that I admit I have always struggled with is staying constant in God's Word every day...I know it's a heart issue and that if I desired Him more, I'd want to spend more time with Him and desire in listening to His instruction and guidance every day. Well, I have been praying about it a lot lately and I have felt the Lord really prompting me to do something that it is a bit intimidating but also will help me stay the course with Him each and every day. I kept asking him, "Are you sure this is coming from you and not something I'm trying to do to "fix" what is a heart problem?" "Can I really do this?" Well, after going back and forth about it with him, He still hasn't let it leave my mind so I am going to take that as a big, "Yes"! and trust Him with the rest.

So I am going to start a year-long challenge that involves reading His Word each and every day. Yes, a year! Yikes! But with His help and prayer, I know it is possible. I am going to go thru the New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs over the next year. I realize that this can easily fall into a "law-driven" thing and not a heart driven thing, but like I said, I am just trusting that God will take care of that as I listen to His instruction and guidance. Obedience is very much a heart issue, so if I'm willing to obey Him with a joyful heart, that in itself is a form of worship.

So here's the link with the plan that I am going to be following just in case anyone gets on here and is interested in following along. It's only chapter or two of reading a day so it looks very doable. And even if you get something out of just one verse, that's great!

I have also created a bit of a way to get something more out of each passage. I learned it through a study I did last year and it helped immensely. I simply write down in my journal any verses out of that passage that stick out to me and that I want to meditate on (usually 2-3 verses). I then will pray over them, and just kind of let is soak in and see if God is telling me anything specific, then I write it down as well. Then I write the question, "How can I put this verse into action"? James says to not just be hearers of the word but doers. I know I fall short of the "doer" part and really want to change that with God's help. After all, without Him, I can do nothing. In Hebrews it says "The Word living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword." How cool if I can really experience that as a reality in my life day after day...and not just on occasion.

In addition, I am hoping to blog each day about what God is showing me. Maybe a nugget or two of a passage that stuck out to me or that I am still processing. Hopefully it will bless someone who needs to hear a word or some encouragement on any given day. I'll let God lead that. He knows who that "someone" will be. It'll also be a source of accountability for myself. We'll see how it goes. I know I may fail on days, but I realize I am not under law, but under the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ. My heart will be the driving force here and nothing else. "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

So here's my first nugget that the Lord has given me today. It's not ironic that He would plan this as my first lesson. You'll understand when you read ahead. In reading Psalm 1 and 2, I read about finding delight in the law (or instruction) of the Lord and what fruit will come of it.

"But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:2-3

"Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling" Psalm 2:11

I realize I haven't delighted enough in following God's instruction and definitely don't fear the Lord enough. I pray that God will change my heart in this. Also the part that keeps coming back to me is the fruit that will come from it. After all, what do we try to teach our kids? Obedience brings blessings, and disobedience brings consequences...but we also want them to obey with a happy heart, then even more fruit will come of it. We all want to be "good" deep down and want to have some kind of purpose in life and know that we matter. My prayer today was that with God's help, I would start finding anything and everything to find delight in what God has instructed me in, and that He would start planting the seeds of His word in my heart more and more so that prosperous fruit would begin to come. I also realize this may not be an overnight change, but something that takes time, patience and waiting, but I must stay rooted in His word no matter what I see on the outside. Fruit doesn't form overnight, sometimes takes quite a while, so that is when I have to remember to stay rooted in His word, even if I'm not seeing results yet, and trust that He will not fail me in producing the fruit of His Spirit that He has promised. For His promises are true!

Thank you, Lord for Your instruction and Your unfailing love for us. And that you keep your promises! Help us to put your Word into action so we can see the fruit You long to bear in us. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Silver Lining

The past month, we've had some things come our way that have not been all sunshin-y to say the least. It's been refining us and in the midst, and the clouds have seemed quite heavy. I've allowed some of it to really steal my joy and I had become a big ball of anxiety and fear because my focus was in the wrong place. Funny how that all came about after my last post. Though I would pray and pray for God to take away my anxiety, for Him to give me joy again, etc., etc., it would never come. I kept asking if my faith was too small or if I was doing something wrong, still no answer. After a while, I was just plain frustrated and just got cranky and emotional all the time because nothing seemed to be happening. Then I started trying to fight everything on my own and it just made me feel worse.

Then my husband went to a prayer service last week and he told me about how they spoke of how God sometimes wants us to have "reaching" faith. The kind that asks us to overlook how we feel and come out of our comfort zone when we ask for His hand in something. He wants us to reach up and take hold of Him in our prayers. For instance, if we are asking about financial provision, sometimes He wants us to give Him something out of our finances as an extra measure of faith, even if it's small, rather than just ask and wait for Him to do something. Or sometimes we need to go and ask someone else to pray over us in a situation instead of trying to pray by ourselves.

So in that, God has also helped me learn "reaching" faith since. Here's my story. Hannah has had lice on and off for 3 weeks over the past month, and I have really let fear set in that we would never get rid of them. I've been trying to fight it on my own and have just gotten plain exhausted emotionally.
Finally, my husband reminded me to ask God what it is He wants to teach me through this. So I asked the Lord, "What are you trying to show me through this, Lord? I'm at the end of my rope". After that, last week, those silly bugs came back after a week of not seeing any. First I panicked again, then I began to pray, then I did a triple treatment on her head, but at the same time, I was prompted to pray over Hannah as I was treating her head, and not just pray for the lice to go away, but I was prompted to bless Hannah in my prayers and asked God to make this somehow a time of learning and growth for us, and if it is His will, to PLEASE take the lice away as well. That was also I believe a "reaching" faith.

How many times do we take a miserable situation and still use it to draw attention to God and use it for His purposes right then and there? Or do we just complain and fuss about it? I was doing plenty of the complaining and fussing and the enemy was enjoying it too much. So I turned the tables on him. And guess what, no lice since!! And as I look back, through the refining and sifting of stuff, God also showed me that lice is a lot like our sin. How many of us really want to carry sin around all the time? When it's there, if we don't sit at Jesus' feet every day, it can get out of control. When God wants to remove something from my life that doesn't belong there, He has to sit me down and make me still so He can tend to it. But I have to be willing, just like Hannah had to be willing to sit and let me look through her hair every day. She couldn't get rid of that lice on her own. She needed me to do it for her. Now am I willing to sit at the feet of my Jesus and let Him tend to me the way Hannah let me tend to her?

And to finish off, I was talking with a friend yesterday over email. And as I was typing to her when she asked how she can pray for me because she heard about all I was going through, I layed out some things, then in the end, began to start realizing all the answered prayers that God had given me over the past week aside from all the things I was dealing with. I realized there that my focus had been in the wrong place all along, and that's why I was getting so beaten down. And as soon as I started focusing on all the things God has blessed me with and the answered prayers that have come this week, I began to thank Him wholeheartedly because He was indeed answering prayers. I just wasn't noticing them in the midst of the "storm".

To name a few:

He gave us a buyer for Tim's truck last week to help with our finances

He has provided me with a way to make some money at home in the fall

He provided Becky the job this week she has been praying for

He got me through my surgery on Monday with no problems

Despite Faith's broken arm, she has been in great spirits and has had no pain.

And my friend's step-mom just found out that she is free of cancer after we've been praying for her for several months.

And that's the silver lining!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Prayer - is it always our last resort?

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:16-18

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints Eph. 6:18

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:5-7

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6:33

I've come to realize lately how many times I make praying my last resort instead of my first response. It is only after trying everything else under the sun to fix a problem or get thru a situation that I finally throw my hands up and cry out to God for help and mercy. How much frustration and failure would I be avoiding if I just "prayed continually" throughout my day?Or how many times do I pray about something but don't get the answer I want or in "my' timing so I go about doing it "my" way still? We should be praying each morning when we rise that what we choose to do that day will put us in line with what God would have us do. And then continue praying throughout the day in all things.

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I love this passage because it reminds me that I am a mere sheep and how desperately I need my Shepherd to guide me and protect me from the "slaughter". We can get ourselves in a heep of trouble if we don't stay close to our Shepherd each and every day. And that involves continual prayer and being in the Word.

In the end, His ways are much higher than ours and His wisdom is always perfect. If I go along life trying to do it all myself, I will most definitely screw everything up, keep myself unprotected, and ultimately have a disaster on my hands. But praise God, by His Spirit, I can pray in accordance to His will if I choose to seek Him first over all things, and walk in freedom and victory in every situation. That, I believe, is where "giving thanks in all circumstances" can be a reality...when we know we've prayed throughout our day and that we have put ourselves under the guidance and protection of our Shepherd.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Battle Within

I know a few months have passed once again. It's been tough to put into words where I'm at these days. But I had a friend last week who I haven't seen in over a year ask me how my heart is through the things I told her I've been working on day-to-day. It really forced me to think and be able to put it into terms where my heart is. So I think a good way to put it is that there seems to be a battle raging for my heart right now. And it hurts a lot. And ugly things are coming out of me because my flesh is crying out from the pain. And my flesh doesn't want to submit to the things of God. But the pain still means that things are waking up again, which is good. God is waking up passions and desires I didn't know I had.
I just finished going through the book "Waking the Dead" a few months ago and it is all about waking up your heart from the "sleep" that our day-to-day routines of life can put us it in. We can easily forget what we're put on this earth for. And sometimes it is easier to not be aware that we are in a battle, whether we like it or not. I believe God is waking me up to that reality.
It stems from the verse in Ephesians 5 that says "Wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you". But as we know, when light is shed on the darkness, and it wakes us up, sometimes what we see or feel doesn't feel so good (kind of like the pins and needles when when our limbs are waking up from being asleep or numb) because it's just part of the process. But we know that in the end, there is purpose in it.
There is also an enemy trying to discourage me from walking out what God is revealing. And I have to choose not to believe the lies he wants to throw at me. That's where the battle is raging the most. I am also finding myself clinging to some of these desires at times more than I am clinging to God, and am scared that God will not fulfill them if I hand them over, which in the end, makes them an idol. I have to choose. I'm having to fight so hard not to take my eyes off the One who put these desires in me. Because it is only Him that I can fully trust with them.
But in the midst, I'm praising God for the grace to be able to still enjoy where I'm at. I know it's part of the journey and I must find peace in the midst. I can still laugh, have a light heart most days and focus on the blessing He has already so freely given, and that is God's grace on me. But the reality is, there is a war in the heavenly realm that is battling for my heart, because to God, my heart is worth fighting for. That concept is so hard to grasp. I have issues like a lot of people I've known with believing that I am worth fighting for. But that is the Truth that He has spoken over me and I have to choose to believe it even if I don't feel it. He wants our hearts fully so that He can make it just like His. And it is only by the power of Jesus Christ that makes that possible. I'm excited to see where God is taking me on this journey. It's tiresome at times, but it will be well worth it in the end if I continue to keep my eyes on Him.

Monday, March 30, 2009

God's Dwelling Place

For the past month or two, I have been kinda struggling with some ungreatfulness. Though Tim has a job and is bringing in income for us, things are still getting tight due to sales being so low the past several months. So we've been feeling the economic downfall to a degree.
Well, whoever is reading this, might remember a year and a half ago, when we moved into this house, how incredibly excited we were and how we thought this house was way more than anything we ever could have dreamed of hoped for. We couldn't stop talking about it for months. And don't get me wrong, I still love my house, but have been a getting really impatient about the things that we want to do in it to fix it up better to be even more pleasurable. And ever since money has started getting tighter and tighter, I started seeing more and more things I wished I could do to polish things up a bit so to speak. It needs new windows badly, there's still 3 rooms that I want to paint, we want to have hard floors in the main living areas, new patio, the list goes on.
Well, as I was focusing on these things so much, I began to almost dislike my house to a degree and had completely forgotten how much this house meant to us when we first moved in and the fact that it is still the same house and that it still has some of the wonderful qualities about it that drew us to it in the first place. It was "perfect" for us in our minds back then.

Well, the Lord as been speaking to me lately about the meaning of my name. Bethany means "dwelling place of God". And I"ve grown to love that meaning more and more as I've realized the reality that God dwells within my heart and that I am a "dwelling place of God". I was confessing to him last week about my ungratefullness toward this house and all the complaining I've been doing about all the things I wish I could do right now to fix it up more. It's definitely not a perfect house. No house is, and it needs quite a bit of work in areas. But nonetheless, it has still been very functional and has provided our needs to function as a family and then some.

I've also been having a hard time with focusing only my sin in my life lately, and how i can't get it together in the areas I know I need work on. And it's been dragging me down a lot and I have been confessing that as well.

God then spoke right to my heart. He said "Bethany, when you were created, I saw a perfect child, and saw your potential, and only saw the good in you, and to this day, that is still all that I see. When I began to dwell in your heart, I said 'Wow! Look at what I have created! This is amazing'! And that has not changed. You are being used for My purposes and are very much fulfilling the call in your life, whether you can see it or not. And I find pleasure in dwelling within your heart, for that is what I created you for."

And that my friends, is how he wants me to dwell also in my own home. When I look to see what has accomplished in this house and in our lives over the past year and a half (not material things), all I can say is "Wow! God is really at work in our lives, in this home, and this house has been nothing less than a blessing to us thus far". It may have a some flaws, but He is still blessing us in this home and will continue to do so, and will fulfill His purposes, and that is what is important. Thank you, Jesus,, for what you have done and what you will do in this home and in my heart. We have only just begun.

"In him you are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit"...Ephesians 2:22

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conquering Perfectionism

So to start out, over the past month and a half or so, I have been rejoicing over some major reconstruction that God has been doing in my walk with Him. And to add to that, what has been the icing on the cake is that my husband and I have both been going through the same thing at the same time, which is learning to get to know our Jesus intimately in a way we haven't experienced before. We're taking out all the do's and don't' in life that seem to keep us tripping over ourselves in trying to accomplish something in our own strength, and just simply pursuing a love relationship with our Lord and Savior and it has been nothing less than awesome to say the least. Christ Himself is revealing so many lies that we have been believing and we are finding Truths to counteract thatm. And in the process, Tim and I have become closer to each other than ever before. We are truly best friends now and are marveling at the Lord's hand in our lives now that our eyes have been opened to it. As we are falling more in love with Jesus, we are also falling more in love with each other. So yes, all the books that say that will happen are right. And not only that, we are loving others more than ever too and wanting those around us to experience what we are experiencing, because it is the Lord's desire as well as ours.
But as this is all happening, it is also exposing things in my life personally that God is wanting to remove, and as you see in my title, perfectionism is one of them. It has rared it's ugly head in my life way too long, and it is something that I am ready to say a final farewell to. I really never even knew I was a perfectionist til quite recently. It has left me frustrated in so many levels over the course of my life. I never could put a finger on the cause of the "symptoms" I was having over this. Because my picture of perfectionism was different that mine. And the way that it has manifested itself mostly is by way of me giving up on things too quickly. I have never been consistent about much of anything in my life and now I know why. Because I want to see a finished or pleasing result all too quickly, and when I don't, I think what I'm doing isn't working, so I quit. It has manifested itself through my housekeeping, my parenting approach, my nutrition stuff, and of course my spiritual walk,and I'm sure there's a huge list of other things that I could go on about.
All that to say, God has given me a very clear solution to this and that is finding satisfaction and pleasure in the process, or even the progress, that is happening in my life. Finding joy in the journey. Rejoice in the little steps forward that I've been taking all along. When I look back on my life, it astounds me at the growth that has taken place in me because of the Lord's hand in my life, even if today or tomorrow, I won't feel like I've grown. If I stumble, I must get back up and keep moving forward. Today was a day for instance that I really felt like I had taken several steps backward, but then the Words of Truth were resonating in me that I am no longer that old person I felt I was becoming again. "I am a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come." May I stand on the truth of what God has promised me, and not on what I feel on any given day.

I came across this other passage today and it really has encouraged me:

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." 2 Peter 1:3-4

This verse really speaks what God is trying to pound into me. Through knowing Him intimately, His glory, His goodness, and His promises will be revealed and given. To think that He wants us to participate in His work and let us participate in the divine nature and let us experience what He is part of every day. Sounds like a perfect plan to me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Spirit-filled Life

We have been challenged by Pastor Mark this week to embrace the Spirit-filled life and allow our day-to-day lives be led by the Holy Spirit. Not a new concept for me, but seems to be something that I definitely haven't gotten a handle on either. He is focusing on the addressing the family unit in the body of Christ right now and how we should build a foundation in our families that we can build a lasting Spirit-filled life on. He is going through Ephesians 5 right now and it has truly spoken volumes to me about things that I know need to change in my approach to parenting and in my marriage. Probaby the biggest thing is just what I let come out of my mouth to my children and my husband. Or how greedy I am with what I think is my time, my space, etc. The foolish talk, the empty words that can come out of my mouth to my children, which can lead to deception on their part as to who they are or what they will believe in their lives. It's just all very yucky to think about. But in Ephesians, it talks about what can happen when we allow our lives to be surrendered fully to the Spirit-filled life. and I know that it actually begins with obedience in one area, which is feeding myself with the Word daily and that has probably been one of the toughest things for me to stay constant with my whole life and therefore, I struggle keeping in step with the Spirit daily.

Ephesians says:

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord. 11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (5:15)
" filled with the Spirit. 19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. "(5: 18-20)

To be filled with the Spirit, I must be surrendered daily to it. I must make the most of every opportunity to fill myself with the Christ and His Word. I must let go of my rights, my fleshly desires, and allow the Spirit to take over. It says in Ephesians, that when we are filled with the Spirit, we will speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual psalms. That we will be always giving thanks to God for everything. I'm thinking that sounds like a fantastic way to be.
I have been finding this week that having a thankful heart is another mind-shift that is so vital in our spirit-filled life. I have been making a conscious effort to thank God in every circumstance, every day this past week and it has made the world of difference for my soul. Joy has been returning in areas that I had been losing it. It was amazing. But now to actually have a heart that automatically gives thanks without even trying sounds even better, which is what can come from a life surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
I was convicted today after the sermon that I have not been very active in introducing my children to the Spirit-filled life like I should. Why is it that I so whole-heartedly believe in this way of living, but I don't find opportunities to share it with my children. It's probably because I haven't surrendered to it fully myself, therefore making it hard to be able to teach it. We need to practice what we preach, amen? That is something the Lord and I are working out and I believe He wants to lead us to a way of parenting that all the parenting advice books don't tell you, which is parenting under the authority of the Holy Spirit.