Joy in Visiting

Click clack, click clack. I love the sound of a keyboard humming along with the flow of words. Or the feel of pen on paper scratching out letters that come from my heart.

I can get lost in my own little world of words, thoughts and dreams on paper. Sometimes retreating there when things are tough too.
It’s so much easier to just send someone a quick text, message or note letting them know I love them then taking the time to go visit.
God has been impressing on me lately that this gift and passion He’s given me can be used as means of escape for me all too often.
There is a LOT to be said for a face to face visit with people! We are made for fellowship. Face to face time!
I really love people as well. I enjoy time connecting with them and getting to know what makes them tick. Finding out their God given passions.

I want to be truly present in each moment. 
Not thinking of the next task, but soaking in each moment with people. People God puts in my path for his glory. Then our joy will be complete.
I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. 2 John 1:12 (NLT)

Pure Excitement (and a little fear)!

I signed up for the She Speaks Conference in July. (Happy dance!)

She Speaks is a combination of spiritual inspiration and practical application for writers, speakers and leaders. There will be so many amazing teacher’s there to work with us as well.

I have prayed for months for a big directional sign. God has been giving me subtle hints the whole time. I just needed to slow down long enough to see them.

But with this immense excitement comes a little fear. I’m very much a country girl. I truly live “in the sticks” and enjoy it. Large groups of people can feel pretty overwhelming to me. Even thinking about traveling to North Carolina already has me saying “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto”! Or in my case it would be South Dakota, but you get the idea.

I would normally consider myself a fairly brave person but traveling across the country by myself to a very large place is a little unnerving.

I even tried to rationalize to God that maybe this year wasn’t the right time. “Next year Lord, I’ll be ready next year.”

Another Compel writer reminded me of Ephesians 3:20 and I’m going to hold on to this scripture as I prepare. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

That’s something I can really sink my teeth into and hold onto when doubt starts to creep in. When the enemy tries to tell me I’m not equipped for this I will tell him that God has called me to this and through HIM I can do more than I could ever imagine.

The other part that is unsettling to me is how I’m going to pay for it all. I know God is calling me to go though so have decided to step out in faith and trust him to provide.

It’s hard to believe how real this makes this dream as well. I have loved to write for a long time but I’m well aware of my lack of formal training. I pray that I don’t feel like a fish out of water in the midst of so many professionals.

I think what I’m looking forward to the most is being among so many writers, speakers, leaders and people that are following God’s call on their life. Just being able to rub elbows with people who hunger and thirst after God is a huge blessing.

A conversation I had with one of my son’s not long ago made this all come together for me. I was informing him of my desire to take my writing more seriously. We discussed that having dreams that are only accomplished through Christ are dreams worth having! God sized dreams remind us daily to surrender them daily to Him.

I would really appreciate your prayers as I prepare for this conference and the new directions the Lord is taking me.

Stand Up!

It’s time to take a stand.

As Christians, myself included, we have become way too complacent. Living out our comfortable lives with our fish symbol stickers and our perfectly orchestrated worship hour. Trying hard not to rock the boat. Living an “abundantly” moderate life. Showing up just enough for church to be counted among the “good”.
 I don’t think respect for people and letting our beliefs be trampled all over have to go hand in hand! I can respect a person and still not compromise my convictions.
The Bible tells us the devil prowls about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  We are to be vigilant and watchful. Resisting him steadfast in the faith. Knowing that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)
The picture of the 21 brave men of the cross murdered on a beach by terrorists for refusing to denounce their faith will forever be etched in my mind. They were steadfast to the very end! They didn’t have faith in their fish stickers on their car. They were vigilant in the name of Jesus. 
Now don’t take this as an assault on any other faith.  It’s not! This is not a call to “arms” but a call to our knees. It is simply time as Christians that we stop hiding our heads and thinking that in an effort not to offend anyone, we are run down by the enemy.
Apathy is what the enemy is hoping for. If he can catch us off guard and not being watchful for his sly tactics he can shake our faith.
Satan is after our faith.

He will bring persecution against faithful people in an attempt to destroy their souls.
Matthew Henry’s commentary says, “You must moderate your affection to worldly things, or else Satan will soon overcome you.”
We can get so caught up in the comforts of our cushiony lives that we don’t even see Satan coming. He just wriggles in ever so camouflaged by the little lies we allow ourselves to believe. The lies that lethargy of faith has no consequences.
If any of you want to walk My path, you’re going to have to deny yourself. You’ll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Luke 9:23-24 VOICE
I’m guilty of shirking back when the cross bumps into my comfort zone. God forgive me for that! Lord, help me brave and be willing to risk my easy life for YOUR sake.
I pray that the persecution our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering all around the world will be a wakeup call to all of us! We can’t sit idly by and just hope our comfort zone is never touched by those same forces.
Our indifference to the evil in the world won’t make it go away. Our own strength won’t make it go away. There is only victory found in Jesus. Not some pie in the sky kind of victory either. Real, eternal victory!
Jesus promised struggles in this world but I honestly wasn’t prepared for the struggles I hear about every day. Not just in foreign, far away countries either. The evil that is encroaching into my own, safe, little world is heartbreaking at best and completely crippling at worst.
Even still, God is in control. He is still the God of promises. He promised Peter in Matthew 16:18 that He will build His church on the rock and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
Evil may think it’s getting the upper hand but God has already won!
Lord, come quickly please! Rescue your people. Build us up in the faith so that we can proclaim with conviction that we too, are people of the cross! Amen

Life Lessons in the Dressing Room

Ok, how many of you women out there love shopping?  

I went jeans shopping the other day and the devil tried to run absolutely rampant with my thoughts and emotions. You see, I’ve gained some weight back. Yikes, that’s not fun to put on paper for the whole world to see.

In the past I’d been down the road of “not caring” at all and ate with abandon and didn’t exercise at all. Then I headed down the road of “control”. I figured if I could control how much I ate and how much I exercised, I’d get the results I wanted. The problem was I did get the physical results, but my heart was a long ways from whole!

I’ve been trying to find balance in my life and knew I’d gone WAY too far with obsessing about food and exercise. Somehow I thought freedom from that was full abandon. I wasn’t finding myself obsessing about what I ate which is good. In what had been my “mottos operando” for quite some time, I figured if not obsessing a little was a good thing, not caring at all must be even better. Wow, I can’t believe I was right back where I started. So frustrating!

So, in that little dressing room, trying on jeans that have fit in the past but now didn’t, I had a revelation. First, God really does love me even when I struggle with loving myself. I don’t think he sees the cellulite, stretch marks and baggy skin. He does, however, see my heart. He saw the enemy coming after it right there in that tiny room with too many mirrors!

I felt Him call out to me and remind me that I’m a daughter of the King. There is no condemnation with Him. Only mercy, grace, and conviction.

You see, part of my revelation that day was that there’s a balance to this life. I would probably tell you that freely if we visited but I don’t think I really believed it.
I just knew the opposite of being in bondage to so much control had to be complete abandon. NO!

God spoke to my heart walking out of that dressing room. I’d found freedom from obsessing about food, exercise and my body image.
I GET to take care of my body/health. It is a gift from the Lord and I WANT to steward that gift well.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

What I’ve also realized is MY best is not the same as YOUR best. I’ve been stuck in the comparison trap for way to long too. Time to crawl up out of that pit.

God loves each of us right where we are. Whether or not we make the choice to take care of our health. You can’t earn His love in any way. You can’t starve yourself and he’ll love you more. You can’t exercise yourself into the ground and expect any more love from the Father.

You also can’t just turn completely away from obsession and swing to the other extreme of abandon and find more love. Peace is found in balance.

It’s just accepting that God loves you, for YOU. Not your jean size. Not a number on the scale. Not a false sense of freedom. Just YOU!

This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.                      
1 John 4:10 (NLT)

When Seasons Change

I’m excited to be linking up with many talented bloggers for Five Minute Friday!  Every Thursday night a prompt word is given and writers take 5 minutes and write what’s on their heart. It’s a free write. No editing, no over thinking and no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. 
Link in the sidebar.  Everyone is welcome to join the fun!

When life comes in seasons. We are children and care free one moment. Then young adults seeking out our future the next.

When you blink and open your eyes again you’re young couples starting out on the road of life together. There are big dreams. Plans of many years together that seem like an eternity.

When you think pregnancy will never end and as it does you’re sure you’re not ready for this new season change.

When you’re babies go off to school for the first time and you fight back tears and try to put on a brave face for them.

When life has a way of feeling like one day dragging into the next and all you see is piles of laundry and a never ending to do list.

When you wonder how you’ll ever survive these late nights waiting up for teens who are spreading their wings.

When you drive away from the college dorm and sob uncontrollably once you’re out of sight of your son.

When your amazing husband reaches across and holds your hand and tells you, “You did good mom!”

When you’re facing empty nest and you wonder where the years have gone.  Wasn’t that just yesterday I started this journey with my wonderful man?

When you fall to your knees and praise God that He has always been the one constant in these ever changing seasons.

(Daniel praising God) – He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. Daniel 2:21 (NIV)

See You Later Mountain!

Okay, I have not only circled this mountain of weight loss and maintenance countless times, I’m sure I could have counted it as several marathons by now.

I was one of those when I was younger that I could (and did) eat anything and everything and “get away” with it. It shocks me now when I think back on my eating habits. Or lack thereof. I played sports all through school but basically lived on Pepsi and limited amounts of real food. 

Along came marriage and kids and with it the increase in my weight. I felt hopeless and lost. I didn’t recognize who I was anymore. Physically, emotionally or spiritually.

I figured I just needed more self-control, right? NOPE!

I’ve set up camp on the mountain of control unfortunately. The all or nothing mentality was always tucked right in my backpack for the journey around the mountain as well.

If I couldn’t do “it” just right then I’d just run faster around the mountain. I knew I must just not be trying hard enough so I would punish myself with either more exercise or less food. Most times, both.

To the outside world it probably looked like I had it together as I was able to lose the pounds and was quite active again. Along with many other women though, I was good at making the trip around that same mountain look just how I wanted it to the outside world.

What I hid from others, as well as myself honestly, was the attempt to control everything was sucking the life right out of me. I placed every ounce of my value on how well I could “perform”.  And I do mean perform! If I could just do a better job of controlling my food intake and my exercise output I’m sure it would fill the spaces that were empty in me.

I remember the day I was driving a tractor in the hay field and I felt the Lord nudging me towards the truth. I was trying to do everything my way. God wanted to be God of everything in my life. That meant I couldn’t give him my heart but withhold my body.

My body is and always has been HIS! I wanted God to be the Lord of my life.  BUT, only the parts I wanted to surrender. There were a few things I was sure I just needed to hang onto. I mean, God has a ton of stuff on his plate already, right? He couldn’t possibly care about my weight issues.


He does care. Every hair on my head. Every breath I take. Every choice I make, even in regards to my health.  He cares!

I wish that with this revelation I could tell you I make healthy choices every minute of every day. I don’t. I still forget to plan sometimes and end up grabbing anything I can get my hands on because I let myself get to hungry. I freely admit I still prefer chocolate over celery any day of the week.

I have found freedom though. No more extremes either way for me. I may look at the mountain from time to time but I refuse to get back in the rut that circles it. I’m making a daily choice to turn north.
Lord, help me trust you with this north bound path. Give me the strength I need to make healthy choices. I want to be fit for the call you have for me. Thank you for new revelation in our lives. I pray you will move in each person’s life that is reading this.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Share God’s Glory

And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. 
Romans 8: 17 (NLT)

Jesus came to share in the human experience with us.  He knows the sufferings we face.  He fully experienced those and beyond.  Nothing surprises him about our troubles here on earth.

We are joint heirs with Jesus.  None of this ‘the first born only get the good stuff’ for us.  We are co heirs with Jesus.  In other words, we share in God’s glory too!

This is huge! I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that fully.  Yes, I have sufferings.  To be honest this last year has felt like a blur of sufferings for my family. 

We’ve come to know our fair share of joy’s though.  There has been a glimpse of the great glory God has for us as well through countless blessings we’ve experienced.

Through the miracle of this past year we’ve also been given a huge gift.  The opportunity to share the good news of God’s saving power.   

Jesus freely shares himself with you, share yourself freely with HIM!

Please leave a comment on how I can pray for you.  Feel free to leave unspoken if you wish. God knows!

I’m excited to be linking up with many talented bloggers for Five Minute Friday!  Every Thursday night a prompt word is given and writers take 5 minutes and write what’s on their heart. It’s a free write. No editing, no over thinking and no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Link in the sidebar.  Everyone is welcome to join the fun!

Five Minute Friday - 4

Please, Not Me! (Five Minute Friday)

Have you ever felt that small tug at your heart from God? You might brush it aside and chalk it up to just a stray thought. But, it just doesn’t go away. It continues to grow. 

 A couple of years ago God was calling me out of my comfort zone. He was calling me to be our local youth group leader. Wow, this was going to be a stretch for me. I hate to admit it, but I resisted. Strongly! 

“God, there has to be someone better for the job,” I said. “I’m not at all equipped for this kind of ministry.” Besides there was already someone in that role at our church. Why was I feeling such a strong pull when from what I could see, there wasn’t a need? 

 But when God sends us to do His work, He’s already got a plan. He is equipping us in the “off season” to prepare us for the season of work ahead. I wrestled with God over this issue for some time and finally just said, “Okay, I don’t see it at all, but I will trust you and go where you send me.” 

It was only a few short months after that when the youth group leader had a shift in her own life and our church was in need of someone to step up. I was still scared and didn’t feel equipped, but God had been preparing my heart and the circumstances. 

Also, God in his perfect timing, sent a new gal into our community to help with youth leadership. She has truly been a God send and our youth group is not only still alive, it’s flourishing. We are watching the youth of our community come alive for Christ. I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination in making the choice to go where God sends!

Blessings in the Middle of Pain

It’s a New Year and full of so much promise. You can just feel the fresh heartbeat, can’t you?  Change is in the air.  In the process of all this change, it’s always wise to reflect on the past year and see where God has taken us.

This past year has been a chock full of ups, downs, and heartache but also so much joy for me! It’s been a chance to really come to know the Lord on a whole new level. I’ve been brought to my knees countless times this past year. When the enemy brings us to our knees, we can either collapse in despair or surrender in prayer.

I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time in doctor’s offices, hospitals, surgery centers and rehab facilities in this one year than I have in the last 5 years combined.  That’s saying a lot considering the fact that we’re sure our younger son helped pay for part of the new wing at our local doctor’s office.
I’m not sure which is harder honestly, being the patient or being the spouse, mom or sister. 

This could have been a year to just crawl up in the fetal position and feel sorry for myself and my family.  I could have become calloused emotionally.  My attitude could have taken a turn for the worse and thus making everyone around me miserable too.  I’ll admit I most likely wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows to live with every moment either.  I stumbled from time to time.

But, and this is a very important BUT, I made the choice to run to Jesus every time I felt my attitude starting to turn sour.  Or when I felt doubt starting to creep in about the outcome of yet another medical procedure.  I’m also very blessed to have an amazing family that helps point me back to Him when I’m struggling.

This isn’t to say that we are supposed to just ignore our emotions and stuff them down so no one sees that side of us. People have questioned my family all year on how we can stay so positive in the middle of all of these challenges.  To be really honest, there have been many tears shed.  I have felt scared, confused, nervous and even angry.

So what do I do with those feelings?  I cry out to Jesus. I play worship music.  I invite Jesus in to change the atmosphere. I tell him I’m hurt, confused or feel like I’m sinking.  I can’t hide those feelings from Him anyway so I may as well take them straight to my Creator. He’s a big God, with big shoulders. None of my problems are too big for Him.

I have Godly people all around me and if I’m really struggling I will call them to vent.  Most of the time they let me get it out but then quickly redirect me back to God’s promises. I put my trust in Jesus.  He is the only source of true peace.  Everything else can come or go, but He never changes.  He is the rock I anchor to.
Father God, thank you for the blessing of this past year.  It didn’t always feel like a blessing in the middle of it but I know that you have plans for me to prosper and not to harm me.  I cling to that promise and know that you work out all things for my eventual good.  Help me to trust you completely.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Deliverance to Freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 

Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Freedom is defined as the state of being free or at liberty as opposed to slavery or bondage.
The Israelites were held in slavery for many, many generations. (400 years according to Acts 7:6 and Genesis 15:13)   When God delivered them from their captors (Egypt) you would think they just walked out into the world and claimed their freedom.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Even though they had been delivered from slavery they still had the minds of slaves.  They were not living in freedom.   
Deliverance is only part of freedom.  An important part no doubt, but still just a fragment.  We need to be delivered from our captors such as addictions, strongholds, lies and fear to name a few.  Then we need to receive the freedom that comes with deliverance.
The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  Delivered but not really living in complete freedom.  Their minds often still held in the bondage of slavery.  Wondering if it might be easier just to go back to slavery than live a life delivered but not really free.  They enslaved themselves even amidst their own deliverance.
How many of us live just like them?  I know I have struggled for many years knowing God said I was delivered from an addiction but still living in a mindset of captivity.  That’s not freedom.  Freedom is no chains.  Freedom is the ability to live without constant fear of falling back into that trap if I take one misstep.  Freedom means I don’t just throw it all away if I do make a mistake.  It means I can accept God’s mercy and move forward with grace.  To me it means the enemy can’t use the addiction I was delivered from to pull me back to slavery.  I AM free!  I need to claim it and not look back. 
The Israelites wandered in their deliverance for way to many years.  So do many of us!  Often we’re too paralyzed by fear to know what steps we need to take from deliverance to freedom.  Every time they let their eyes drift from God they would wallow in their circumstances.  I’m guilty of the same.  If I take my eyes off Jesus for even a brief time the enemy tries to drag me back to the desert!
The Israelites could see the Promised Land.  Freedom was within their reach.  They stood on the hill to look.  They even stepped out into freedom to check it out.  Unfortunately, all most of them could see were giants in the land.  So they grumbled amongst themselves.  It spread like a virus.  How could freedom lie there?  It was there because God promised it!  So in an act of disobedience and lack of faith they turned away from their own freedom.  Just to walk back into where they had been delivered out of slavery to.  Stuck in limbo.  Not slaves but not free.
Let’s be like Joshua and Caleb and despite the giants we face, receive the gift of freedom Christ has promised us.  Accept the deliverance He has given you and walk out into freedom.

Jesus, help me to accept Your deliverance as a done deal.  Never again to pick up that yoke of slavery.  I know my freedom is IN You.  Give me the strength through Your Holy Spirit to make the choice to walk in freedom each day.  Keeping my eyes on You and Your promises!  In Jesus name, Amen!