Author Archives: layeredhearts

About layeredhearts

I am just a woman who would be nothing without my Jesus. He rescued me, and continues to deliver me. He renews my mind daily through His written Word, His spoken Word, and the Body of Christ. I have found freedom, joy, liberty, and strength in Him. In Him, and through Him, I fully believe that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. I have surrendered my need to understand and have entered into a place of complete trust. I am a woman who chooses daily to say, "Yes, Lord, I will follow."

Rush rush rush

Standard

Rush. Rush from wake-up to the gym. Rush from wake the kids up to get the little one  off to school. Rush from the school to back home to homeschool the bigger one. Rush to pick up the little one. Rush home to make lunch. Rush to have “quality time” before nap time. Oh, I have to work during nap time, rush to get that all set up. Oops, the house is a wreck, quick quick, hurry hurry, clean it up before anyone comes. Rush to clean up after work, and then to get them fed. Laundry, oh theres always laundry. Did you really just spill the entire container of ____________. No we don’t glue that to walls! Now where is my magic eraser? Little brother has a stinky diaper. Is this day over yet? Wait, now I have to prepare for tomorrow. Rush to get it all ready. Rush to fall asleep so I don’t start tomorrow tired.

Rush. Somehow, it has become my lifestyle and I did not even notice the switch. You see, I am not a natural rusher. I like to go slow and take my time. Like so slow, and usually in the left lane, and I make rushing people even more stressed than they were. (It’s ok if you hate me a little more now. I get how bad that habit is. I’m in process people!) Usually, I allow things to go undone so I can cherish the people in front of me (because like all of you incredible multitasking women,God did not give me that gene.) I tend to play on the floor with my kids, create art, build towers, play silly games, and be in the moments. This is the only way I know to be.

But something happened this week. My husband took my older child with him, so I did not have to rush home and get school started. I dropped my little curly headed cutie off, said my, “Good Morning, how are you,” to all the women I wished I had time to get to know, and began rushing back to my vehicle. That’s when the Holy Spirit nudged me, “Where are you rushing to?” I literally just stopped walking, and realized, I had no where to be. (Sure I could always find plenty to do, but nothing I particularly HAD to do at a certain time.) He continued, “Go back to that woman you wished you had time to get to know, and see how she is doing.” So I did, and we had breakfast,and we cried a little (maybe I cried a lot) and it was like finding hidden treasure. I began to ask the question, “Jesus, what’s with this rushing stuff?

He gave me this acronym:

R-esisting

U-seful

S-tillness

H-abitually

He began to show me that He has been trying to teach me to be, “Patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.” Well I’m learning that to me, trouble is anything that feels dangerous because it’s out of my control, which happens to be (ahem) L-I-F-E. So be patient in life, and always be prayerful? He began to show me that rushing through all that has to get done, is a (dangerous) way of coping with the fear that you will fail at it all. He began surrounding me with women who were feeling led of the Lord to “remove a plate,” in their lives so they too, could slow, and release the overwhelm a little. So the next question was a simple, natural progression: What is stillness then?

S-avoring

T-ime

I-nstead of

L-osing

L-ife

So now I’m returning to the land of allowing the Holy Spirit to have control over my moments. I have a plan, but its flexible. Lord, here is what I think I’m doing today and who I am doing it with and for, but You get to write this story. In the midst of these important pieces being handled, if You want to send me help, help me to accept it. If You have a divine interruption, help me to recognize it and let go of my control. If I can let go of something to be more available to my moments, show me and give me the courage I need to lay it down. Help me to let go of the notion of failure/success like those are my only two options. Help me to see, admit, and embrace, that it’s always both. I’m growing, I’m becoming, and that is beautiful.

So friend, I’m not sure if rushing has snuck its way into your life too, but I want to encourage you to ask the Lord. Ask Him to show you where you are missing the beautiful in order to not fail. Or if you are being drained dry anywhere and He wants to fill you up. Maybe see if you need to slow and learn the relief of stillness. I am actually being amazed by how much more I “accomplish” when my rhythm and pace matches the Lord’s. There is no life to be found where He isn’t present, so I’m officially done trying to race ahead of Him. Join me?

The Mind of Christ

Standard

The ocean seems to be a place of rest for my soul. It seems while I walk upon the shore, feel the sand all round my feet, and hear the constant melody of the waves breaking, I can really exhale. I can release the pressure from the day-to-day, clear my whole self, and just be.

In this place of emptying out, I often find myself being filled. It seems as though when I release all of the yuck from the faster-than-the-speed-of-light life stuff, and I loosen my grip on everything I’m inevitably trying to maintain, that I can really receive.

The last time I was in such a position, what I found myself asking for, was for God to take my thoughts and transform them into His thoughts. I was intrigued by hearing myself ask for this. I just wanted to think about the things He was, and to see them through His heart, His perspective. I began to encounter His presence as I asked, and what I understood was that I was asking for the Mind of Christ.

I knew this wasn’t a one time prayer, and I determined to ask and keep asking. This has become quite honestly one of the deepest desires of my heart. But what I didn’t fully expect was how this prayer would begin to change everything about my life. I want to share 2 examples that have marked transformation to me personally.

One morning within a matter of moments, our air conditioner broke, our toilet overflowed, and our vehicle wouldn’t start. The thought arose, “Does this stuff happen to everyone?” And then immediately the truth came, “No! It doesn’t! The majority of people living on the earth do not have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, or their own vehicle. They aren’t lucky enough to have enjoyed these gifts in the first place to have to endure them needing to be repaired.” As my husband and I spoke of these truths, instead of growing overwhelmed, irritated, or frustrated, we began to give thanks to God in the midst of it for all that He has so freely given to us. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! As  I asked the Lord why were we able to have such a different experience than has been our norm, He showed me that it was an answer to the prayer to have the mind of Christ.

Most recently, there was a public attack against my character and as my husband presented it to me, the words that came out of my mouth were victory and love, even though I was not experiencing that emotionally. There was so much power in my response of truth that it totally diffused the anger that was trying to entangle us into being offended. As I later processed through what had taken place, the Lord showed me that again, I was equipped to have this response as an answer to praying for the Mind of Christ.

I share this testimony not to boast about myself, but to encourage you to join me. The reason these were notable is because for the past 30 years I have responded to similar circumstances in much different ways. This is a miracle to me to have reactions that do not devastate myself or those involved. It is growth that I mark personally as miraculous and give God all glory, honor, and praise for.

There have been victories in my life recently that I have never even believed to be possible. In fact, most areas that God is dealing with right now, I have for years just believed it was my lot in life. But as He is growing my vision and perspective to be united with His, I am beginning to really believe everything is possible with Him.

Will you join me? What areas in your life have you just settled into defeat about? Is there anything you aren’t willing to talk about with God and give Him the authority to be Lord of in your life? I want so deeply to continue to grow in His love, His truth, and His purpose for my life. It is so refreshing to actually believe that is possible! Praise God!

 

Rejoice

Standard

Eyes open, first thought, I’m still tired. Next, oh well, you must keep marching on. Then, ok- I have so much to do, where do I even begin? Upon rising and brewing up hope for energy in a cup, I begin- already feeling behind. My whole day seems in the deficit. Not enough. Not enough energy, time, patience, self-control. All I see is lack. Everywhere. I hear the ‘shoulds’ in my mind. My children should know better. I should have exercised more. My house should be cleaner. Maybe I should be working. Should I wear this? Should my marriage be more? Should I serve others more? Should I have said that? I’m plagued, worn down, depleted. Day after day, the exhaustion, the frustration, just piles. I don’t even have energy to sort my piles. The piles eventually become a mountain. The mountain becomes hopelessness. How did I get here? How do I get out of this? Is this just normal life? Am I ever going to feel good again?

I sit with Jesus, and I say, “Lord, why do I always feel exhausted, frustrated, running behind? Is there hope for my future? Can I make a change? Is this what life will be like from now on?”

He showed me that He has poured out into my life blessings of every kind. He has given me salvation, life, health, food, shelter, friendship, love, hope, purpose, amongst many other things. He said that it was His delight to pour it out over my life, but that He cannot make me rejoice in it. He cannot make me actually enjoy, notice, celebrate, or rejoice in all that He has freely given me.

OUCH! As I heard this from the Lord, tears silently streamed down my face. I realized that, just like the Israelites, the Lord has provided abundantly for me and yet, I still find things to grumble and complain about. My heart broke and I repented before the Lord. I asked for grace to cover my selfishness and sin.

Repentance has two parts, turning from is first.  Turn from any destructive activity, belief, or motive that is less than the Truth. Then, turn towards something true, constructive, and motivated by love for ourselves and God.  My very next question, as I dabbed the tears from my cheeks, what how Lord? How do I replace my grumbling and complaining to rejoicing? What am I called to rejoice in? All I know to do, to find the answer, is search the scriptures.

First things first- He showed me that the word rejoice actually means to make oneself glad. It’s an action. It is up to me. None can make me glad but me.

Next He showed me was that the Scriptures call us to rejoice in the Lord, in our salvation, and in the righteousness we have been given in Christ, which makes having an intimate relationship with the Father possible. That alone, in my heart, is plenty to rejoice in for all time.

Finally, for my practical application, He gave me this scripture:

Deuteronomy 12:7

“There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you.”

I have to share that as I read this passage, my current perspective on the undertakings I’m tending to was in stark contrast to what this was calling me to. I was feeling like, “I have to ………” You can fill in the blank. Now as I read these words I saw that the things God has trusted me to tend to were actually blessings and to be rejoiced in doing. So my perspective shifted from I have to, to wow- God trusted me to do this.

He reminded me of all of those times I prayed, “God use me. Send me.” And showed me right now, this is the answer to that prayer!

I’m definitely not declaring that I never have bad moments or days, but I can say I believe this key of rejoicing is turning around my anxiety. Now a morning might look like this:

Wake up- Thank You Lord for another day of life. I have a lot on my plate today Lord, I admit right now that I will need You to do any of it well. Would you go with me and help me? Brew my coffee and anticipate what treasure He has for me in His Word that morning. What truth will I have to cling to as I live a life unto Him that day?

After my time with Jesus, the tape begins playing in my head of not enough. Now I am equipped to take whatever is not enough yet, and give thanks for it and ask the Lord to bless it. To thank Him for what I do have, and to hopefully expect an increase. In my rejoicing, the thoughts that used to defeat me, now lead me to prayer.

In the undertakings I’ve been blessed with, I’m so often aware that I alone am not enough. He has called me live a life beyond myself so I would need Him and others. Living out what I am called to leads me to relationships, which require love. The call on all of our lives is to love God and love others. I need Jesus, and I need you. And now, I rejoice in that! Join me?

Stillness- a heart’s posture

Standard

As I checked my blog, I couldn’t believe May was the last time I posted. But as I began considering what has been unfolding in my day-to-day since then, it comes as no surprise. Birthday after birthday, summer break, vacations, visiting family, unexpected losses and surprising gains. Wow- this summer has been full to say the least- and what is all the more interesting is that as this fullness began rapidly unfolding, the Lord called me to stillness.

Stillness might sound good to some of you- but for me that seems incredible foreign. I am not sure I know how to do still. Which is super funny in and of itself because you don’t DO still, you GET still. I am learning as I am working this out with Jesus, that stillness is a gift to be received, and sometimes the ability to receive is where the lesson begins.

He called me away from all I was DOING( in His name, mind you) earlier this summer. It was like a knife had gone straight through my heart. How could I just walk away? I didn’t want to obey, and He warned me- You do not want to be outside of obedience. OUCH! Then my heart broke, for the ones I was enjoying ministering to and with, I was afraid they might feel rejected or forgotten or or or….and He silenced my fears by saying, “You can trust me with the whole world.” Oh yeah, He is God. I remembered again and allowed His peace to settle in.

My sweet friend returned from a missions trip, and we shared and rejoiced in all that the Lord had been doing in both of our lives. I shared this whole new ‘stillness’ journey and she laughed. She looked at something she had heard from the Lord while praying for me BEFORE she had left (almost two months prior) and the Lord had told her that I needed to find my stillness in Him. Even as I type that line, I can sense shame wanting to be triggered in my spirit, like I should already know how to be still. But this is just me, being open and real with exactly what I am learning.

Yesterday, I had a beautiful time of thanksgiving and worship with the Lord. I connected with Him and cried out to Him in a way that isn’t always available as I am raising these two amazing boys. My life is full, but as you will read, I am learning to find the stillness in the fullness. I know, I know, that may sound crazy, but actually, it’s refreshing, simple, and beautiful. You see what I am finding about being still, is the joy of getting to see Him in all of it. It may not be stillness like I had imagined, like I am sitting and not moving or not doing anything.  As I am entering into a lifestyle of stillness, a heart’s posture, a perspective, I am learning that it’s simply allowing my spirit to be still, to be fully present, as I do what is required, the ordinary or seemingly mundane. He spoke to my heart one morning, that what He sees as extraordinary, is men and women who invite Him into our ordinary.

This is just the beginning, but I can tell the fruit will be long lasting. I know, as I am sure you can tell, that I am just scratching the surface.  As I journey in listening, following, and obeying without fully understanding, I am becoming aware of how this movement could benefit so many more than just myself. I sense the Lord calling His Bride back to sitting at His feet, and experiencing intimacy with Him that takes time, noticing, thought, and care. I sense that I am not alone in my draw towards busyness, and He desires to shift all of us to stillness.

Here is a section of my journal entry from yesterday. Perhaps you will be blessed to know you aren’t alone in your crying out. I know He cares, and He hears, and He answers our cries. He is faithful!

August 13, 2015
Father there is so much of me that wants more of You. I want to see You, know You, experience You at deeper levels. I feel some slime about that, like I should be doing more for You to receive more of You. I feel like I am distracted and that’s why my heart feels so dry most of the time. The truth is, I am busy raising these children. I do experience You in the doing. It’s incredible. I thank You for that. I experience You when my son prays, or is kind, or compassionate. I see You in them, in their living. Thank You. I guess what I should be asking for is for my eyes to be opened more to see You in the doing. I do, when I sit here and contemplate, I see You in all of it.
I see You when I choose You instead of my flesh. I see You when my husband and I chose to stay connected in a disagreement instead of turn from each other. I see You when we relax into each other and just be. I feel You when we pray together and when he believes in me more than I do myself. I experience Your joy when I watch my children accomplish a new feat for the first time and I am overwhelmingly proud of them! I see you in it all. I guess what I need is to invite you into more of it.
So Lord, won’t you come? I open the door to all of my waking moments, all of my resting moments, all of my breaths, and I invite You to come. I almost beg You please- which is unnecessary because there You are. You are always here with me. I see You now, again, afresh.  And how refreshing it is to my soul to see You, to feel You, to know You- I need You. I fully and utterly admit how lost I would be without you. I need You more- or maybe I’m simply more aware. Your presence is life to me- help me to be still and know.
Help me Lord- for I long to find my stillness in you- but I am not sure if that is my reality. Will you teach me?

Together is the answer

Standard

Yesterday was a day where my phone was blowing up with prayer requests. It is my absolute delight and honor to lift my brothers and sisters up in prayer before the Throne of Grace. I LOVE TO PRAY! I love to be with God, asking Him for wisdom and if He would share His heart and perspective with me. I LOVE being a part of the miraculous taking place on the Earth. I love people, and especially when they are first hand experiencing God caring about them and the details of their lives. I love watching the prayer requests transform over time as the person has experienced God and is sure of His love for them. What an honor to be a part of that journey. It is not a burden. No, not at all. It is one of the greatest joys, thrills of my lifetime.

Two people in particular who had requested prayer in the early hours yesterday has received an answer by the end of the day. What is better in the whole world than rejoicing in the Lord together? Nothing I can think of. So I spent my morning just before the Lord here and there as I went about the duties of my day as a wife, mother, housekeeper, writer, coach , and other things I have been laying my hands to. And as the answers poured in throughout the day, I got to spend my evening rejoicing. I thought, “this is living! THIS IS REALLY LIVING!’ The joy of seeking, waiting, believing, and then rejoicing and/or growing together when the answer isn’t what we wanted is life to me.

Together wasn’t always on my list of desires or even in my opinion, my needs. I was going to take the world by storm, and increase the Kingdom of God, ALONE! I didn’t want to need anyone else, I only wanted to be needed. But now, as I have journeyed through the process of laying my life down daily, and saying the hard yes when He bid me to come closer and leave more and more behind, and actually through doing that finding myself, as I was originally created to be, I am ever aware not only of my increasing need for others to be able really live, but of my desire. What joy there is in relationship, communion, and fellowship. Now I recognize this as the gift it is, and I have actually placed great value on true, genuine, real and raw relationship. THANK YOU JESUS! This is one small facet, for me, through which He is teaching me to love, and to keep loving, and in that way I am being transformed more and more into His image, which is actually the greatest reward!

As I was thanking Him for allowing me the honor of serving His children by praying for them, my heart was moved towards the little girls in the nations on the world who do not value females. I began contemplating how they probably have no notion that they are an individual, that they were created in the image of God, that it is ok to dream. They probably can’t fathom being given a voice, or even an education. Furthermore, do they even know that they can pray to a loving God and find hope in how BIG, ABLE, and WILLING He is? Will they ever know true friendship with no agenda other than love? Even harder to consider, do they or have they ever known love?

I know for a fact that most of the girls and women in the world are treated as objects to be used. The majority of women in the world are oppressed, and kept down by the lies of their culture. Most women are seen as workers and bearers of sons. But if they cannot do either of these things, they are worthless. They also are treated as a means to an end for the fervent sexual appetite of the men surrounding them. Used as you would use a power tool, and then put away on a shelf until the next time, which even more abhorrently, isn’t likely a long break in between being used. Work, work, work. There is no joy, no laughter, no value, no peace. Turmoil, pain, and shame day in and day out.

But there is hope. I believe with all of my heart that HOPE is alive in the blood that was shed for me, for the world. Every time I close my eyes I see their faces. The beautiful shades of brown skin, yellow skin, redskin, white skin, deep ebony skin, and my heart overflows with His heart, His love for each and every person on the face of the Earth. He shows me that we are called to be His hands and feet on the Earth, and Jesus never turned away any who came to Him. I see these faces and I see Jesus and I know that nothing is too hard or too big for Him.

I have a birthday coming, and I have a dream. I have a dream of giving my birthday away and allowing the celebration of my life to pour forth into the world. My dream is to rescue 30 girls for my 30th. I have sweet friends who run an alliance mission where they fund missionaries who are ministering in their own nations, in others words, native missionaries where the majority of the population is unreached by the gospel of Jesus. They have orphanages, and just need proceeds to be able to support the children who need rescued from the painful lives which until now is all they have ever known. For only $25 a month we can rescue a girl from being raped every night and give her the opportunity to know love, to know Jesus, to know friendship, to get an education and be raised up as a missionary for the coming generations. Want to help me help them change the world?

Please visit their website or check out my video to find out more! I really believe the answer is in the together. It is only together that we can change this world! I need you and you need me. And by the way, can I pray for you?

As He is, so are we.

Standard

I was graciously afforded a few days at the beach. Weary, taxed, and just plain depleted from the day to day, my husband lovingly booked me a few days away at my favorite place. For some reason unknown to me, the ocean makes me feel ever aware of the closeness of the Lord. It seems as I look out upon the vastness I can see with my eyes, I always seem to consider how much greater is the One who created this ocean. I realize in stark contrast, just how small I am. How small I am and yet, how detailed and intimately He knows and cares and values me. I am always undone by this great revelation and when I stand along the ocean shore, it hits me with such a deep force, again and afresh as each wave rolls in.

I was lying in the bed, looking around at my family sleeping and thanking God for each of their beautiful lives. Thanking Him that I get the opportunity to love each of them and to know them deeply. Thanking Him for how I see His beauty reflected in their existence. I also was hearing the waves. You see we kept the balcony door opened and were each lulled to sleep by the consistent roar of the tides. As I listened and thanked and exchanged love with my Lord, I was noticing how the ocean never sleeps, stops, gets weary, nor depleted. The Lord created the ocean to be exactly as it is, and without ceasing, it continues to produce waves, shelter sea life, bring beauty and majesty before our eyes. And with that thought, I also was considering how the Lord never sleeps nor slumbers. He does not need to sleep. He does not need to, so I can rest easy. I can rest easy because He is watching and protecting and planning and loving me and all the dear ones who are His. I found rest and peace and joy and went sweetly to sleep.

As I awoke, my dream of spending the day soaking up the sun and splashing in the waves with my children was quickly deterred by the dense fog and misty rain and gray skies. This surprised me, but I knew it didn’t surprise HIm. I asked Him what He had in mind for me and my family that day. He showed me this lighthouse a few miles away, and asked me to go there. I grew excited because my song for the year is ” My Lighthouse,” by Rend Collective. The song gives testimony to how God is the peace in our troubled seas. I’ve been seeking Him and knowing Him as such this year through every wind, wave, storm, struggle, fear, worry, or anxious place. He is my Prince of Peace and He doesn’t change even when my circumstances do.

So I climbed. I climbed and climbed and climbed. 203 steps up a winding way. Heart pounding but still fixed on hearing His voice as I was literally standing in what I’ve been calling upon Him as. I knew that He had a fresh word for me. I was expecting, asking, waiting. I reached the top and walked all the way around. The rain was hitting my face and I was waiting. Waiting for Him to speak as I was so sure He had something it would please Him to share with me, challenge me, and call me to. And then He spoke, “As He is, so are we.” He went on to share that I have been seeking and finding Him as my lighthouse. He has been the light to help me remember where I was going in the darkness. He has been he One who keeps my journey ever fixed on where the light is. He is the One who leads me safely to where I am called to go. He is the One who doesn’t change and doesn’t dim no matter how relentless the storm is. He is truly our faithful lighthouse and will never fail showing us the way as we seek Him.

And again says, “As I am, so are you Jenna.” You are called to STAND. You are called to remain when the storm is relentless. You are called to be unshakable when the wind and waves batter with no end in sight. You are called to shine brightly before all men while the storm is still raging. You are called to be the light of the world because I live in you. Your light is supposed to show the ones who are tossed to and fro in the enormous waves and winds of life, how to return to Me. How to find safety, refuge, hope. You are called to be a lighthouse to them. You are called to let your light shine so before all men. You are called, by Me, for Me, and with Me, to lead them home, out of the darkness, to safety, to hope, to life, to love.

And I wept. And I asked for help. And I prayed for wisdom. And I’m still seeking. This is what I am learning. How can I stand in the storm? How can I shine a bright light when I myself and being beaten by the wind and the waves? How can I lead anyone home? How can this be possible?

You see, if I take Jesus out of any equation, none of it would be possible, or even worth it. But He says in His word that with Him all things are possible, and I love because He first loved me. Therefore, I can’t. I can’t do any of this without Him. But I’m not without Him. He lives in me. He is the light of the world, and He lives in Me. So all I have to do, is let His light shine through me.

Do you think I can withstand battering wind, waves, lightning strikes, darkness, pain, exhaustion and doing more than I ever imagined or believed was possible for me? NO! But can Jesus? Absolutely and so much more. He can do all things. Nothing is too hard for Him! He has given me everything I need to stand- He has given me Himself. I need nothing more. Further more- through every storm when I have wavered or forgot to ask Him for help- He has still been there. He has been faithful. He has been true. All of my days, and hours, and moments spent with Him is what brings the strength to stand when it’s hard. All of my love and adoration and awareness of His presence in each day good or bad, is the truth even when I can’t see it or feel it. I can stand in the storm because who He is when it’s calm. I can choose to believe what I know when I need it the most instead of choose to question it in that place.

In each day, each choice to live for Him, each moment of decision to believe is what has prepared my feet to stand still, on my Rock, who can’t be shaken, when everything is being destroyed around me. I don’t find strength from the storm- but from the One who can calm the storm and I know Him because He is with me always. In the good and the bad- I can praise Him. When it’s a time of rejoicing or a time of weeping- I can thank Him. He is faithful and He is true and I can trust Him. He is always good and I am always loved, no matter what it feels like. As He is, so are we. I will choose Him. I will choose to love and trust and stand upon Him- in all times and rejoice in all things.

1 John 4:17 17 In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him], because as He is, so are we in this world.

Matthew 5:16Amplified Bible (AMP)

16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your [a]moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and [b]recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14Amplified Bible (AMP)

14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Ephesians 6:13-18The Message (MSG)

13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Job 38:8-11New International Version (NIV)

“Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?

Luke 1:37Amplified Bible (AMP)

37 For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.

Captured in His Love

Standard

I am sitting in a hotel room by the ocean, balcony door opened and I can hear the waves. The incredible aroma of the salty air is clearing my senses and I am at peace. My babe is sleeping in the same room, and I give thanks in these moments. I give thanks that I have quiet space. I give thanks that I have crazy chaos, because one of the most amazing joys of my life is being the mother to my children. But what I am being overwhelmed with in these moments is how thankful I am that I know my God. I mean I intimately know the One who created the ocean I am being lulled by. How can this be?

I know Him, and He knows me. I know Him and He knows me and we spend time exploring the depths of each other. This love. This love is undoing all that I have done. It is unleashing all that I am. It is healing, moving, leading, guiding, correcting, providing, and enjoying me- the fullness of who I am is truly found in I AM. He is the One who my heart beats for, the One who I long for, the One who see me and completely knows me and yet somehow is still drawn towards me. This must be too wonderful to imagine, to great to comprehend- this must be something I can only receive. As I drink deep of the affections from the heart of my God- I am humbled and in awe of His beauty, His majesty.I am blown away by the gentleness of His fierceness. I am undone. I’ve come unglued. All the glue that held any of me together trying to convince me that I was at all in control of all of this life thing- has been melted in the fire of His great, pure, passionate pursuit of my whole self.

Somehow when I am washed in the coolness and fire of His presence- none of me wants to be in control. All of me wants to be found in Him. I long to move, to breathe in perfect unity with Him. I long that my heart would become more like HIs. I yearn to walk in beat with HIs symphony about me. Who is this God? I’ve been discovering Him for so long and yet somehow feel like I’ve barely scraped the surface. Oh but I want to know more. I am desperate to know more. I need more of Him to continue on. I simply can’t be without Him. He is life to me.

Somewhere between the waves and the birds singing to one another-I hear a voice of correction. Daughter, don’t you know you are worth the interruption? Don’t you know you matter as much as the ones you serve? Don’t you believe that all I say about you is true? Why then, why do you treat your own needs as less than important? Why do you not ask Me to help, or give others the opportunity to help you? As I share this with some trusted- I hear a warning- that is really a form of pride.

Then in the quiet contemplative place- I remember. I remember the marching orders given to me in a previous space and time- the call was only to rest, trust, and worship. To live, and move, serve, give, love and be only out of that place. How did I so soon forget- again. Rest, trust worship- first. Give thanks. Ask for help. Rejoice and again I say rejoice.

As the waves steadily roll in, and the fog lays heavy, I remember-again. I remember the stillness is where I see Him. I remember the calm, the sweet place of trusting even though no circumstance has yet shifted- is where I declare who is my Lord- He is. He is the One I trust. He is the One who does not change nor disappoint. I can trust the Only who is constant always. Oh and as my gaze yet again is filled with Him- I cannot help but to worship Him. Oh He is Majestic, Beautiful, Worthy. My legs go weak. I find my knees bent and my eyes spilling over whenever I behold Him. He is. Oh He is- alive and near and within and over. He is all. He is my all in all. I love Him so.

I see myself reflected in His eyes as He behinds me too. I didn’t know I looked like that? I didn’t know I was made of that! I didn’t know I could become that! I didn’t know I was so desperate. I didn’t know I was so needy. And yet- my portion is the One who I am looking upon and enjoying being with. My needs are filled, my soul is resurrected, and my journey has become secondary again to the One who I journey with. It is Him- it has always been Him. I am His and He is mine.

O Lord- help me. Help me to always place You in Your rightful place.Help me to see myself as Your see me. Help me to ask for help. Help me to ask for everything I need. I enjoy You- oh Lover of my soul. I enjoy your essence, I enjoy being Your reflection. And my heart is so desperate for more of You. I humbly bow low before you and cry out for more of You.You gently lift my head and pour out all of you into all of me again Filled to be emptied and filled again. I need You Lord. I want more of You. I just love You so. My Jesus, My King, My love. it is You- first- always You.

Still standing, firmly rooted

Standard

So my kids have been sick for a little over a month with one well week, in which I worked and worked and worked to catch up on all that fell behind when I was care giving full time. Thinking I would get to the end of that week, and what felt like a marathon, would be over. Then that evening, they started with being sick again- and even last night-another night with no sleep, high fevers, administering medication and breathing treatments. (My 3 yr old had never even taken antibiotics before this October and now he has been on two rounds with a total of three ear infections! THIS IS CRAZY!)

And as my exhausted body laid in my bed listening to the symphony of coughing, I was tempted to ask God why? Why when it would be so easy to keep His children from suffering, is this whole world filled with injustice and sickness and and and????. Then I remembered that a friend of mine recently heard from God about how much time He has to spend with us reassuring us of all that we already know. When we go through storms we often choose to question the TRUTH we have already experienced and that cycle keeps us stuck at that level. By questioning what we have already learned, we miss the opportunity to be ungraded into a new understanding of who He is to us, for us, though us, and with us. (It is SO important to be linked with others who seek Him because we all only hear in part and see in part and we ALL NEED EACH OTHER!) So I decided to pray instead- ‘God I know you ARE faithful, I know You are good! I believe You are protecting my family from more than I could ever understand and I want to thank You for that. God I ask that You would teach me more about You through this unique set of circumstances. Amen.’ And with that I was able to rest a while with peace until I was needed again.

Did my circumstance change? No! But my heart did. I chose not to question all that I know is true- but to position myself to learn MORE! Would my circumstances eventually pass and life return to normal? Yes- I get that this is temporary. However living with the passive mindset of “This too shall pass,” isn’t going to get me anywhere. How I navigate through each unique set of circumstances MATTERS. And as I type that, I feel its important to say that I am not  talking about denial, and faking that I’m okay no matter how long and /or hard it is. Here is the truth- I’m exhausted and kind of sad that this is all happening at Christmas because it’s not the “fantasy” Christmas time experience I had been dreaming of for this year. Another truth is, someone asked me if I needed anything today and my reply was simply, ‘hope’- even though you and I both know I have an eternal hope that is the anchor to my soul-I honestly felt like I could use a fresh dose.

I get tired, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, and sad-it’s true. But I am choosing to take those emotions to the Lord and ask Him to show me His provision for me right into my very weaknesses or depleted areas. AND HE IS FAITHFUL! Navigating well doesn’t mean it won’t be hard- it means as I share with Him what’s hard about it- He can teach me more about who He is for me in my weaknesses- and if I learn more about Him through any part of life and can share it with even just ONE PERSON- it has been worked together for good and I have not “suffered” in vain.

One other key I find to ALWAYS be fruitful is to give thanks. When I’m exhausted or undone- I choose to give thanks for all that IS good- and not allow a moment in time to define my whole life- I move up and forward- not down and backwards. This too shall pass and when it does I want to come on the other side stronger and more aware of who He is in me and through me and for me and with me. So I am saying yes to being honest about where I am, no to complaining. Yes to giving thanks, and no to questioning what I already have learned is TRUTH. When storms rage- I will choose to stand on what I know is true- not question it. THEN I WILL BE FOUND STANDING, FIRMLY ROOTED in Him when all of it does pass. AND THAT MATTERS! HE WILL GET THE GLORY! HE WILL BE MADE KNOWN! THAT IS WHY I LIVE!

Which invitation will you say yes to?

Standard

Lately, the Lord has been revealing to me how each interaction and set of circumstances is simply an invitation. I get invited to be offended. I get invited to love in the midst of adversity. I get invited to be afraid. I get invited to trust God. I get invited to join in celebrated. I get invited to feel alone. I get invited to love. I get invited to hate. I get invited to life. I get invited to death.

So, as a result of this sort of simplistic yet powerful revelation, I have found myself more often than not, evaluating what I am being invited to. When I see that the invitation is to engage in a hate filled, death breeding word battle- I am starting to be empowered to simply RSVP not attending.   When I recognize I am being invited to be stretched beyond my self-imposed limits and all my senses are screaming YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL- I, timidly, RSVP that yes I choose to attend. When I recognize I have two invitations in the same set of circumstances, I am trying to be intentional on choosing the one which leads to life.

Let’s dig deeper into  this life and death talk. Life-giving thoughts are thoughts that agree with the heart of God towards you and/or others. Our thoughts eventually become our words, and our words usually become our actions. Death breeding thoughts are any thoughts that are less than or against what God says about you or others. What we come into agreement with eventually we bring into our reality.

Matthew 12:34-35New International Version (NIV)

34 …….. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

Ephesians 4:29New King James Version (NKJV)

29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Proverbs 18:21New King James Version (NKJV)

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Agreeing with God- through believing He is who He says He is- and can do what He says He can do, brings life. Anything less than that- truly brings a slow, miserable death. Kind of harsh- or just kind of simple? Perhaps both- you get to decide.

So when I am invited to justify my emotional decisions- and stay stuck in that destructive cycle- I know now that I am empowered to simply state that I will not come to that party. I can choose instead to RSVP yes to take responsibility for my decisions and seek out the Lord’s best for my life, find out his constructive cycle and then begin intentionally living that out. When I am invited to have an opinion about an organization or another individual based on my limited understanding or personal perspective, I can choose to say no to that invitation and instead choose to seek the Lord and ask for His thoughts on that person or organization and choose to agree with His heart.

Most recently, both of my children have been very ill. I have had MANY invitations to feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and completely unfit for the tasks before me. Sure, maybe the first few days I had a great attitude and a can-do spirit, but by day five and six, when the symptoms had reached their height and I was exhausted and felt like I was somehow failing them-I recognized that those thoughts were an invitation to be distracted from doing the task I was entrusted with and I RSVP’d NO! I chose instead to reach out and ask others to encourage me and pray for me so I could be enabled, by His strength and power and Spirit, to continue on.

I feel this message is for more than just me- and in my totally exhausted state I fear I may not have articulated it as well as I would have liked- I pray that somehow the Lord uses these words to challenge you, and to continue challenging me, to consider where we are allowing ourselves to go, and on the flip side- where are we inviting others?

Love and be loved=Success

Standard

Trying to follow Jesus on this Earth proves not to be a task which entails comfort or instant gratification. Quite the opposite. It is a long journey, a process, of strengthening and endurance. It is filled with opportunities to make high quality decisions based on faith in who God is, or to reveal your unbelief and then be built up in that place by His power to be able to move forward with a firmer foundation. There are many times when you step out in a direction and the point of that journey wasn’t at all why you began- but something deeper. Our constant misunderstanding of what God is up to- is the very reason we are called not to lean on our understanding- but instead to TRUST. It is TRUE what the Word says- His ways are ALWAYS higher than our ways- and yet we seek to understand with our finite minds this incredible INFINITE God. Our lack of understanding doesn’t have to stand in our way- if we let go and lay down our need to understand, and we can only do that as we begin to enjoy and rest in the fullness of His great love for us, to move in the broad place of freedom and hope and joy and protection that is only found in intimate relationship with this With-US God whom we can know and love and not have to understand.

Recently I have been learning about how when the devil tempted Jesus- he tried to get Jesus to forget He was loved by the Father. I am coming to see, in my own life, every temptation I face- there is a moment of amnesia about the great love the Father has lavished upon me- I am found lacking in my own strength, my own wisdom, hope- there is actually nothing but lack when I take God out of my equation. If I choose to make decisions in fear and hopelessness and the urgency found in both of those states- I will never be making quality, forward moving, destructive-cycle breaking decisions. Instead, most likely, I will making destructive, pain-birthing, selfish decisions that will not only delay my becoming but could also hurt others.

So what is the disconnect? How can someone be moving fully in the love and liberty of being loved by God in one moment- and in another be in such despair that you can’t find one reason any of this life stuff is worth it? I believe the truth lies in the fact that our enemy comes to steal, kill, or destroy everything that God wants to give us. Our attack will always be directly aimed at what God is doing. The first lie you have to believe is that you are on your own- and in most cases in my experience this comes subtly from a person in your life and their message sounds like wisdom- except that they do not include God in their expectation of who they think you should be. If we begin to mediate on a message of perceived failure in ourselves that was communicated from someone who only values and see success as far as they can see on this earth- and you have been busy investing in the Kingdom of God- in eternal riches- you will begin to see yourself as foolish- a loser, a failure- this is often the first lie I believe when I begin to forget who God says I am.

Truly that is the hope of the enemy- to take our God-given IN CHRIST identity.Our enemy knows that when we take Jesus out of the equation we will find it near impossible to love ourselves. You see Jesus taught us that there are only two commandments we must follow- to love the Lord with all of ourselves- and then to love others as we love ourselves. HMMMM- how many do you know that love themselves, treat themselves with the value and worth that God says they possess? The core hope of any attack from the enemy is to get us to hate ourselves, whether we realize it and can articulate it or not- our actions, beliefs, interactions, and perspectives will show this. If we hate ourselves- we deny ourselves from being able to receive the full measure of God’s goodness and love towards us- and then we are depleted in our love tank- it is impossible to love others.

So let me share something that was absolutely solidified in my life this week. Here is what doesn’t matter- other’s opinions of you. The essence of who you are is NOT defined by the amount of dollars in your bank account. The outcome of your life will not be how big your house was, what car your drove ( or if you even had a car). You aren’t defined by how right you were all the time or if your proverbial ducks were always in a row. The summation of our lives in the end is- did you learn to love? Did you freely receive and freely give love? That is all we are called to do. When we are loving, regardless of our circumstance, we are in the absolute will of God for our lives. Loving others, sowing into their lives, believing in them, praying for them, celebrating with them, supporting them, is investing in a eternal portfolio and the return on investment is greater than anything we can imagine. Choosing to follow Jesus- to seek out His will for your life- to rest in Him and not trust in the sweat of your own brow- is never foolish.  Even when you don’t land where you thought He was calling you- you are always going to land in Him- and that is success.

I AM HERE TO TELL YOU TODAY- don’t quit because the direction has changed. Don’t buy the lie that you are foolish because God has a surprise for you. Don’t judge your worth by the approval or disapproval of others. Get in close to your Father- rest in Him, and ask Him to remind you who He says you are. Ask Him to show you any lie you are coming into agreement with. Ask Him to help you in your unbelief. HE IS YOUR PORTION-and He is more than enough! Lay down your need to understand and be positioned to receive His love- and then organically allow it to overflow out of you onto others. Just be loved and love- (which is what happens when we seek FIRST the Kingdom of God) and all things will be added unto you!