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.

WRONG!

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!

Expansion

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Ephesians 3:20

It’s high time we stop focusing on our “lack”.  God can do so much more than we could even begin to imagine!  We are called to have big dreams, visions, and expectations.  We are to live as children of the one true KING.  God says that he can do infinitely more than we could ever even think up to ask.  The dictionary describes “infinitely” as immeasurably, indefinitely and exceedingly great. How awesome is that!

We can’t even really wrap our mind around the great work God can do in and through us with the Holy Spirit in us.  It’s truly immeasurable.  We just have to throw wide the curtains of our hearts and trust God with the process and the outcome.

Enlarge the place of your tents, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. Isaiah 54:2 (NIV)

We need to walk that out daily.  We must not settle for less.  Let’s expand our tent pegs.  Take new ground for God, in our personal lives but also for the Kingdom!  Don’t hold anything back or keep a part of yourself hidden from this work God is calling you to do.

It’s time to break out of our small comfortable tents.  They may seem comfortable but they are dark and cramped.  God is calling us to new territory.  A place of expansion.  A place where He wants to meet us and usher in His kingdom. 

In order to really throw the curtains of our heart wide open we have to be willing to lengthen our cords.  In other words, expansion.  In order to do this we need to strengthen our stakes.  This requires us to root down deep into the word of God.  This stretching of ourselves will only truly be accomplished by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us.

He must become greater; I must become less. 
John 3:30

We need to empty ourselves out in full surrender and trust God with the expansion process he has planned for us.  Trust Him with the dream he has placed on your heart.  Know that He can do SO much more than we could ever imagine or even hope for!

Jesus, Your power in our lives is so amazing!  You can do more in and through me than I can even imagine or think to ask.  We receive the power of Your Holy Spirit and ask to be used for expanding Your kingdom.  We are ready to enlarge the place of our tent and trust You alone with our hopes and future.  In Jesus mighty name, Amen!

Leave Fear Behind

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7


I have known fear.  I have felt that growing, ever nagging fear of failure many times in my life.  I’m pretty sure I’ve known it since I was born.  Many of us experience this.

Why?  What is in us that makes us so scared to fail?  That kind of fear that cripples so many of us from even trying.  Because somehow if we don’t try at least we can’t fail.

Simple answer is fear is from satan!  The enemy knows that if he can keep us crippled by fear he can keep us from walking forward with Christ.  If we’re too afraid to try to walk into the freedom Jesus promised us, then the enemy can keep us bound up.  This in turn will keep us from doing the kingdom work God has called us to.  

I’m trying to be honest here but even this is a scary situation for me.  Putting your fears out there for the whole world to see opens you up to others as well as facing those fears.  I’m ready to face those fears though!  I have to say that to myself loud and proud as it’s still not easy and sometimes I’m really still trying to convince myself!

I have been scared to let my family down as well as myself by choices I make.  Even ones I’m sure were good at the time.  I’ve been afraid of looking foolish if I don’t succeed at things I put out there for the world to see.  What if I pour my heart and soul into something I feel God has called me to do and I fail?  Does that make me look weak?  What will people think of God if I’m such a failure?

If I looked in a mirror more often I would tattoo to my forehead, “If God calls me to it HE will see me through it!”  God can’t fail.  I’m not saying I can’t fall on my face, but not trying is the bigger failure.  When God calls me to do something, even if it looks like a failure to the world, my obedience IS success!

Let’s just say that one more time to really get that to sink in – “My obedience IS success”.  

I’m making the daily choice to stand up to these fears and call an end to them. I realize I can’t do it on my own.  It’s only with the help of the Holy Spirit in me that I can say no to fear!

Father God, I have tried to fight fear on my own in the past and lost the fight.  Please forgive me!  I know I can only truly be free from the grip of fear by trusting YOU with my life.  Help me to follow wherever YOU lead and do it without fear.
In Jesus name, Amen.


Refined by Pressure

I think you ought to know, dear brothers and sister, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.  We were crushed and completely overwhelmed, and we thought we would never live through it.  In fact, we expected to die.  But as a result, we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.  2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT)

I’m amazed how perfectly God orchestrates everyday circumstances for our own good.  It’s very clear how well he sees the big picture and guides us into truth in ways we can each understand.  God used a recent experience for me to really bring home a message I needed to hear.

I train Border Collie dogs to work livestock.  It’s a dance of pressure and release.  They need to apply the right amount of pressure to livestock to get the desired response from them.  They also need to release pressure at the right moment.  The same goes for me in training the dogs.

I went to a small sheep dog trial (competition) awhile back.  I had been dealing with some strife and conflict in my own personal life right around that time.  I kept replaying the conflict over and over again my head.  I was explaining to God how he needed to fix this problem.  I had many conversations with myself on what I could say to fix this whole situation if given half a chance!  To be perfectly honest, I wanted to fix this problem with my fists.

Jess is my little female dog that is a firecracker!  She had always come out fighting (gripping) when she felt pressure.  So at this trial when she was feeling pressure from the sheep challenging her, she immediately went to her default of hanging and dragging on sheep.  Because I wasn’t disqualified with her right then, which was a first, she had to work through the pressure.  She had no choice but to start dealing with it.  No cop out this time.  She learned to settle in and find other ways to cope and deal with pressure.  It was hard for her but she progressed!

Rock, my older male, on the other hand came out and handled some extremely tough sheep with calm power.  They weren’t pushing him around but he wasn’t lashing out from the pressure either.  He handled them calmly and with respect.  The sheep tried to split up as to divide and conquer. They weren’t going to get away with anything but to be completely victorious in the situation he needed my help!

God revealed to me that my default reaction is just like Jess.  When I feel pressured or especially if I feel like someone is hurting one of my “own” I want to lash out and get physical.  It’s honestly a cop out as I don’t have to deal with the hard stuff that way.  The emotions and discussions that come with the dealing with conflict.

God wants me to react with the calm power that He has given me.  He is right there with me!  I can’t do it on my own.  But I CAN do it with HIM beside me and IN me!  Stand firm!!  That is the practical side of all of this.  That IN HIM I can do all things.  It might not be easy but it’s possible.

I don’t have to settle or back down from the attacks of the enemy.  But, I don’t have to lash out and give the enemy any foothold into my life or my relationships.  These people that I think I’m protecting, God is already protecting!  I’m putting my faith, trust and hope in God to handle the situation!

Father God, help me to trust you in pressure filled situations.  You are the God who raises the dead!  Surely You alone can handle these pressured areas of our lives.  I trust YOU to handle these situations and give me the words, if any, to say at Your perfect time.  Help me to trust You and to not take it back into my own hands.  Thank you Lord!  In Jesus name, Amen!

Words of Life

“Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.”  
Psalm 119:133 (NIV)
What we allow into our lives always effects our lives.  If most of our life is filled with words from negative sources, we can’t honestly expect to not be negative!  It just makes sense.  If we put trash into our minds that is what we’ll get back out.
When we spend our days listening to music that’s filled with sinful behavior, it will seep down into our hearts.  We try to make excuses for the TV shows we choose to watch. “It’s just entertainment and means nothing” we tell ourselves to justify watching it.  These are lies the enemy uses.
Freedom!  Jesus brings freedom.  This freedom is not permission to continue to sin.  It’s not always easy to look honestly at ourselves and admit our sins.  The seemingly innocent material we fill our minds with is a doorway for the enemy to bring about temptation and destruction.  We need to be honest in our evaluations of ourselves on the material we are allowing into our lives!
We MUST guard our mind as it greatly affects our heart.  “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT).  

We need to fill our minds with God’s word.  That is where we will find the truth!  Jesus told us there would be times of trouble in our life.  When you face troubles, and you will, you need to be armed with God’s truth so you can endure the test.
Fill yourself up with Christ.  More of HIM and less of me! 

Father God, please help me to run everything I allow into my life through the filter of your truth.  Let me look honestly at what worldly materials I have allowed into my life that conflict with your word!  I repent and ask for forgiveness.  I need your help!  Fill me up with the truth of your word so that my life may be shaped by words of life!  In Jesus name, Amen