Sunday, March 31, 2013


Easter is a holiday full of traditions for so many.  Spring decorations and candies fill the shelves of the stores.  Parents fill baskets and await the early morning "wake up call" to see what the Easter Bunny left.  Eggs are dyed or filled with candy and hidden with care for the children to find.  For many, there is a feast of ham and all the side dishes to eat after going to church in the finest of Sunday clothes.

I guess, as a parent, this has not been my strength.  To be honest, our Easter celebration changes from year to year and .... dare I confess this.... we did not even hunt eggs last year.  I can't even find our Easter baskets!  The only "tradition" that we hold to as a family, is one that is occurs daily within the walls of our home.  That is the discussion of the life of Jesus Christ and marveling at the empty tomb..... why?  I cannot help it but talk about it.  That one moment in time- that occurred hundreds of years ago- has become the central focus of my existence.  It is my purpose, my joy, my hope, my past, my present, and my future... it is life.  An empty grave means that the full atonement for my sins was completed and the sacrificial lamb lives!  An empty grave means that my Savior is alive and fully capable of teaching, training, and providing all that I need to thrive in this hard world.  An empty grave is victory- it is my victory!

So, as a family, this affects our daily lives, but it is central to all that this holiday is about for us.  Please don't misunderstand my heart... we have hunted eggs, we have eaten ham, and we do own Easter baskets (somewhere)- however, our focus is on the Savior.  The celebration of an empty grave is much too personal for me.  I cannot pretend that a bunny is what this day is about when it's genuine meaning is my very life breath and my purpose for living.  To focus on anything other than the fact that my Savior lives feels like a betrayal to His very sacrifice.  I guess in some ways, our Easter celebration lasts all year long.  It continues long after the decorations have been put back into storage and the leftovers have been eaten.  Why?  Our celebration is alive and living... just like our Savior!

Today, savor and enjoy all your family Easter traditions, but also savor that we are meant to live out our Easter celebration daily.  Live as the redeemed.  Live as a child of a living God.  Live out the victory of an empty grave!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Looking for Sunday

"In every aspect of our lives, there is no resurrection without death first. Friday is painful but Sunday is coming." Jefferson Bethke

I have pondered this statement so deeply over the past 24 hours- not because I question it's validity, but because it rings so true in the quiet recesses of my existence. In every area of my walk of faith, the great mountaintop spiritual experiences were always preceded by painful "deaths" to my earthly state. A lost relationship stirred the desire for Christ to be my life-long Lover of my soul. A lost job killed my pride and self-sufficiency and yet, taught me about the Jehovah Jirah who provides for all needs.

Living through the "Fridays" is painful and challenging at best. They are meant to break and put to death all the impurities that hinder us from the Christian life we are meant to live. In those moments, we must cling to the hope that Sunday is real and that victory will come! Be aware, however, this victory is for the Father's glory in us and may not look the way you envisioned. It will be what is absolutely best -even if the picture is different than your mind thought.

Are you struggling with the pain of a Friday? Trust, hope, and cling to the knowledge that our loving Father has you fully encompassed in His loving embrace. Sunday WILL come!

If you are living in the victory of a living Sunday- rejoice and share in that victory. Our world is crying out for more victorious, Sunday living!! More pain will inevitably come, but so too will the incredible growth and reward through perservance.

Thank you, Father, for painful Fridays that bring the glorious redemption of Sundays!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Adopted- Our Genuine Identity

Tender, precious and beautiful to behold is the moment when one- who had been unclaimed- becomes an entitled member of a family.  Given a name and a home but more than that given love.  We call it adoption, but for believers it is so much more.... it is living picture of our own redemption story.  I have a precious niece and nephew that came into our family through the miracle of adoption and watching them bloom in a family's love has been quite humbling to me.  Just think of how we bloom in the love of the Father, and how that love carries us to do the same for others....

Today, in Grace for the Moment, by Max Lucado, he reflected on how we are God's children.... fully entitled children of the King of Kings.... can you grasp it?  He had 1 John 3:1 quoted in the passage, but as I read the verse from The Message, my heart filled to overflowing....

"What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we're called children of God! That's who we really are. But that's also why the world doesn't recognize us or take us seriously, because it has no idea who he is or what he's up to. But friends, that's exactly who we are: children of God. And that's only the beginning. Who knows how we'll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we'll see him—and in seeing him, become like him. All of us who look forward to his Coming stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus' life as a model for our own." (1 John 3:1-3 MSG)

"That's who we really are."  That's who we REALLY are- God's child.    When our precious niece and nephew came into the family, their parents had to teach them what it meant to be claimed, loved, and a part of a family- they could trust in the security of their new family.  That is us, too, my friends.  We have been claimed, loved and are a part of a Holy family.  We can trust in the ultimate security of our new Father.  As we truly "see" our Father working in our lives, we become more like him...."with the glistening purity of Jesus' life as a model for our own."  I love hearing my sweet Asian princess talking just as Texan as the rest of us... she has become reflective of the love that has changed her.

My friend, are you God's child?  Have you been searching for a true love that heals and restores?  Such love is only found through our Holy Father and His Sacrificial Son.  It is always available to you, but be aware that it WILL change you... you will be reflective of that healing, forever love that redeems all hurts and losses.  If you are the child of KING, are you glistening with purity from your example in Christ?  We are meant to be different, but it is because we ARE different.  We are a child of God, bought by the blood of Christ.... "that's who we really are..."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

His Blood, My Victory!

Tonight, as I walked the prayer journey to the cross at our church, I found myself kneeling and broken....  overwhelmed by the task at hand as I picked up a pen and attempted to write my sins on paper to be nailed on a wooden cross.  In that moment, the magnitude of all that I have ever done hit me square in the face.  Is there even enough paper in production to list them?  To be brutally honest, no matter what I could write on that small, white square would never be sufficient.  Only when the full weight of all your failures hits you, can one truly comprehend the magnitude of freedom we have been given.  Finally, I managed to find some words to fill my blank white sheet and I walked to the cross.

As I picked up the hammer and nail, I wanted to cry out-- Lord, why?  Why did you bear it all for me?  Your blood spilled out screaming innocence while mine cries out for your redemption.  That blood bought me freedom- it is my victory!  This moment was beautiful, heart-wrenching, painful and powerful...always redeeming.

Where are you?  Does your blood cry out for His redemption?  Have you truly recognized the weight of your sin to fully grasp the freedom you have been given?  His blood was spilled for you.... it can be your victory!

Imperfect Humanness

This morning, I have enjoyed some quiet free moments.  I began reading in Luke 22 as Jesus took part in the Passover meal just hours prior to his arrest and execution.   On Sunday, our church had communion in honor of our Savior, but I was unable to take part in it due to needing additional help in the preschool area.  So tonight, Reagan and I plan to have a family communion here in our home.  Have I mentioned lately just how much I love and appreciate him???

In order to prepare my heart and mind for our family communion together, I read in Luke 22.  I have always marveled and awed over the love of Christ that He would give up His life for sinful humanity.  I still can't fully wrap my mind around that.... can you?  Today, however, I was drawn to His time in the garden beforehand and the mental torment that He went through.

"Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation." He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face. He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give in to temptation." No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, "Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?" When those with him saw what was happening, they said, "Master, shall we fight?" One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest's servant and cut off his right ear. Jesus said, "Let them be. Even in this." Then, touching the servant's ear, he healed him. Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: "What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I've been with you in the Temple and you've not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it's a dark night, a dark hour." (Luke 22:39-53 MSG)

Christ was torn- ever so desperately- between His perfect Holiness and His perfect Humaness.  He knew what His Father expected and the purpose behind it.  It was for us.  Our redemption was at stake and a perfect lamb had to be sacrificed... He was that perfect lamb.  Yet, His perfect Humaness, that enables Him to identify with our needs and faults, struggled.  Never underestimate His sacrifice as it cost SO much.... ultimately, His perfect Holiness prevented Him from doing anything but pleasing His Father.   I wish I could please the Father so well, but too often my imperfect humaness dominates my decisions, thoughts and efforts.  "We find the Christian life so difficult because we seek for God's blessing, while we live in our own will.  We make our plans and choose our own work, and then we ask Him to give us His blessing." (Andrew Murray)  Ouch!  It is so true and yet so hard to accept.... but, it is our reality. 

To become more reflective of the Christ I love, I must look to how He handled the decision set before Him.  First, He went to a quiet place and prayed.  He went to the Father- who He always wanted to please.  I need to do the same when in a difficult place in my walk with the Father.  Second, He had others pray for Him.  He shared that He needed to be "carried" to the Father and had His closest disciples lift Him up to God.  Another realization, is that Christ was honest about His anxiety with the Father- this realization was not for God, but for Christ to share His vulnerability.  I have to be honest with the Father about my feelings, failures, needs and anxieties- not for God's sake, but for mine.  Finally, Jesus put the will of God before His own..... and isn't that what a life lived for Christ is about?  The prayers lifted, the heart honestly opened and choosing what He would desire for us knowing that ultimately it is for our best interest....

Today, as I reflect on the Lord's Supper, I cannot help but think about the sacrifice He made for me.  Not just on the cross, but in His life as the Holy of Holys veiled by frail humanity.  Thank you Jesus.... for by Your stripes, Your life example and Your sacrificial love.... I am healed.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Living with Epilepsy

Nine years ago, I awoke on a Tuesday and prepared to go to work.  I had just started a new job as the Children's minister at our home church.  As part of my responsibilities, I was the Mother's Day Out director as well, and I was preparing for the day ahead.  Reagan and I had made the decision for Caleb to stay home with him that day since Reagan was off as well as letting him get some additional rest since he had been overly tired the night before.  About seven a.m. I heard a thud coming from Caleb's room and I waited to see if he came out of his room.  However, he didn't and I left to go to work.  About 30 minutes later, I received a call that changed my life forever.  It was Reagan and he was in a panic as he had found Caleb in the middle of a seizure.  We agreed that he had to call '911' and I quickly prepared to go home.  On the drive back home, I calmly called family to let them know what was happening.  I honestly thought that we would go to the hospital, have some tests done, and be back home before that evening. 

When I arrived at our house, my heart sunk as I saw two ambulances outside our house as well as other emergency vehicles.  Reagan met me at the door to let me know that Caleb had quit breathing as a result of the medication they had to give him to stop the seizure.  I fell apart.... two people were working on Caleb getting him stable and ready to be flown to Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.  We began calling family back to let them know things were more serious than first anticipated and that we needed them to come.  They left with Caleb and we made the longest drive of our lives.  We arrived and began a several day stay in ICU as test after test was run on Caleb to find out what happened to our son.  Several weeks later, it was determined that Caleb had epilepsy.

Caleb's seizures are hard to define.  Originally, he was diagnosed as having complex partial seizures, but over time his have progressed to more generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures.  The other frightening aspect of his condition is that he rarely comes out of the seizures without medical assistance.   I have a medication that goes everywhere with us to help him stop if the need arises. His recovery (after an episode) can take hours as he battles a migraine-type headache, nausea, and a desperate need for sleep.  Thankfully, Caleb has seizures only rarely and that makes his condition manageable.  However, there is nothing that prepares my heart to see my son in that state- I even shared that in a previous post.

Epilepsy is frightening and it does affect our day to day life as medication and sleep are key factors for our son's health.  It has affected his emotional, physical and mental health because he is so small for his age.  We have had many discussions regarding his size, his self-esteem, and living on constant medication.  At one time, Caleb was having to take close to 50 pills a week, but thankfully that has changed.  We still have hope that he will outgrow it and be able to live a life free of medication, but only God knows what is ahead for Caleb.  The main thing I have come to accept is that this part of Caleb's life is not an accident- it is part of God's plan for him, and for us- as a family.  I have also learned that sharing our story helps others who deal with this illness as well.

I ask you to please join me in praying for those you know that deal with this illness as well as participating in benefits to help fund Epilepsy research.  Also, being understanding and supportive of families -like ours- that deal with this illness is more helpful than you could ever imagine.  Several friends have offered meals, prayers, and hugs of support on particularly hard days- especially on days that he has had a seizure. More than anything, my hope is to inform and help others to have a greater understanding about this disease.  Please "share" this with others!  We appreciate your love, prayers and support!

Monday, March 25, 2013

I am FREE!

Our youngest son, Kendall, just turned three recently.  As a result, many of our friends and family have asked him recently how old he is.  He desperately tries to hold up three fingers and then says, "I am free!"  I just laugh at his declaration.  I tried last night to help him hear the "th" sound by saying, ""  His response was, "!"  No matter how hard I tried, he just doesn't hear the difference yet. I know it will come in time, but I love that he shouts out to the world that he is free.

It hit me that his declaration is my own.  Isn't that what this blog has turned out to be?  An opportunity for me to share my struggles, growing insights and to shout out to the world, at large, that I am FREE!  Free from the sin that entangles, the heartache that destroys, the disappointments that would dictate the world's value of my life, and free from living a life that has no impact.  I cannot declare my freedom unless I acknowledge the one who bought and paid for my liberation through His own life-blood.  My Jesus, my Savior, my Friend, and the lover of my soul- He, who saw me torn and broken, saw my promise and purpose.  He saw what I could be through His redeeming love and gave of His life so that I might have a new one.  What kind of love is that?  One that is only found through Christ....

We search for it in this world, but nothing compares.  All other attempts fall short and leave us empty and longing..... but, not the love of Christ.  It fills us to overflowing and enables us to love others with a love that is beyond ourselves.  We are not just FREE from the things that hinder, but we are FREE to give as well.  We suddenly find ourselves able to bless and generously pour out of love, time, finances, and energy into the needs and individuals around us.  Freedom gives freedom.

"Let all who fear the Lord repeat: “His faithful love endures forever.” In my distress I prayed to the Lord , and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" (Psalms 118:4-6 NLT- Emphasis mine)

"Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free." (John 8:34-36 NLT - Emphasis mine)

"Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:3-11 NLT - Emphasis mine)

My friend, we are free!  Why do we live as those who are still bound?  If this world fully saw and grasped a glimpse of the genuine freedom that we have in our Redeemer, we would not be able to handle the crowds that would come- ever so desperately- to find Him.  We must live out our freedom in Christ... not just for our sake, but for a world that needs to believe that wholeness is still real.  They must see us living in that freedom to need it themselves.  Let us declare.... I am FREE!!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lego Love

Tonight, as we were doing a usual pick up and cleaning of toys, I noticed a bunch of small odd and end Lego pieces on Kendall's dresser.  I picked them up and showed them to Carson as I asked him if he knew whose they were.  He with one quick glance responded, "Oh, some of those are mine and some are Kendall's..."  Now, my boys love their Legos and could build with them for hours.  Every time a new Lego magazine comes in the mail, they will read them cover to cover.  The thing that amazed me about this whole interaction was that Carson knew which small pieces were his and those that were not.  These pieces weren't anything necessarily special or defining in purpose, but he still knew which ones belonged to his collection.

The thought hit me that God knows us that well.  We may feel "lost" in the sea of humanity in our world, but our Father "knows" who His children are. Beyond that, He knows every detail about you- including the thoughts never spoken and the emotions never expressed.  From the hairs on your head to the freckles on your face, He knows all your physical details.  Nothing goes unnoticed before Him because He chooses to know you that intimately.  Never question your value or if you are loved.  It takes a deep devotion to want to know someone as well as He knows each of us.  It was that same devotion that held Christ on the cross- He couldn't know you that well and let you perish in your sin.  It is love, my friend, just love in it's truest form.

"O Lord , you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord . You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers! They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name. O Lord , shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you? Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalms 139:1-24 NLT)

When you read Psalm 139, how can we ever question or wonder if we are loved?  My friend, never question the love God has for you!  His thoughts of you outnumber the grains of sand.... that is love, my friend, in it's truest form.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Oh my friends, our family has had quite a challenging last few months.  Our little K-man, Kendall, has been battling an ongoing ear infection.   As a result, we have spending a lot of time and finances at the doctor's office trying to get him well.  Yesterday, after two doctor appointments this week, I awoke and just felt drained.  Drained of energy, drained of time, drained of the capability to complete the ever-growing list of needs ahead of me.  Tired.... weary....empty. 

Then, I read the following passage for the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young....
"I shower blessings on you daily, but sometimes you don't perceive them.  When your mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me nor My gifts.  In faith, thank Me for whatever is preoccupying your mind.  This will clear the blockage so that you can find Me."

I felt so convicted.  All I had been focused on was my personal inadequacies, my shortcomings, and how ill equipped I felt for the day ahead.  I just failed to recognize the unlimited resources available to me through my Father who makes inadequacies adequate, shortcomings suddenly measure up and He equips us all that we will face in any given day.  Alone, I am not enough, but in the hands of the Father, I am perfectly equipped for every challenge that will fall at my feet.

I took out my list of "needs" and slowly prayed over every item.  Praising Him for the bills that needed to be paid because He provides for our needs.  Praising Him for the dishes to be cleaned because it meant we had plenty of food to eat.   I continued praying over each and every item finding that praising Him for each of the tasks to be done helped me to have a new perspective on the tasks ahead.  Slowly, I felt a weight lifting off of my spirit and peace filled all my empty places.  He never wants us to handle things alone.  Our Father longs for us to need Him and to recognize all that He can accomplish in and through us.  Only God can make the broken whole, complete and perfectly designed for all that we will face.  We are stronger broken and healed than we would ever be on our own.

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude" (Psalms 46:1-3 NLT)

"But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." (2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NLT)

"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” (Psalms 50:14, 15 NLT)

God IS our strength.  Let Him remove the veil before our eyes; so, we can see and know what He is doing in our lives.  Give Him the sacrifice of your praise and let us honor Him with our lives.  Today, you may be tired, weary and empty.... but, God will fill you with all that is needed.  He will make you sufficient and capable while filling all the emptiness with His all encompassing peace.  My friend, the only real need you have today is a need for more of Him. 


Monday, March 18, 2013

God, With Us

"I am with you always."  Matthew 28:20

Yesterday, as I worked with a group of three and four year old kids at church; we learned that verse.  I think I repeated it with them about 20 times during our short hour together, but each time they quoted it, my heart soared.  There is just nothing like a young child learning the scriptures and memorizing them.  At our church, the two year old on up learns at least one verse per month and the older kids learn at least one a week.  The verse this month, in the preschool area, is Matthew 28:20. 

It is a simple verse, but how many of us truly grasp it.  God- the Holy, perfect Creator of all that is known- is with us always.  We never leave His sight, His grasp and thoughts of us never leave His consciousness.  We are never alone.  This is a beautiful promise to quote and share, but when the full blown reality of the harshness of life hits us, do we recognize this truth?  When you find yourself empty of energy, funds, hope and strength.... does the reality that He is always with us truly transform us?

Think of Joshua.... he had witnessed the plagues under the scorching Pharaoh in Egypt as well as God's deliverance.  He saw the Red Sea part and was one of the first set of eyes to see the promised land.  He became the chosen leader to lead the Israelites into that same promised land forty years later.  How do you think he felt sitting on the banks of the Jordan River?  He had seen what God wanted for the Israelite people, and he had believed that God could deliver it into their hands.  Others doubted..... now, God had chosen him to cross that great river and take this multitude into a land flowing like milk and honey. 

"After the death of Moses the servant of God , God spoke to Joshua, Moses' assistant: "Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I'm giving to the People of Israel. I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It's all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God , your God, is with you every step you take." (Joshua 1:1-9 MSG)

The desert heat had worn them down and forty years of "what ifs" in their heads and hearts had humbled them.  Their fears had cost them greatly, and now, in obedience, they would witness the blessings of God firsthand.  What is God's final charge to them as final preparations are being made?  "I'll be with you.  I won't give up on you; I won't leave you.  Strength! Courage!...Give it everything you have, heart and soul."  My friend, I think God desires the same thing from us.  To recognize that He is always with us and will give us the strength and courage we need to face today, tomorrow and the countless "moments" ahead.  Just as he commanded the Israelites, we must focus on the scriptures He has given us and meditate on it day and night, putting it into practice so we can be victorious in all that He has for us.  I want to live a victorious life.  Sometimes, that victory is simply trusting He is enough to carry me through a difficult moment and trusting that it has a purpose.  Whatever you are facing in this day, God IS with you and He will not leave you.  Have strength!  Have courage!  Give this life all you have, heart and soul... our promised land awaits.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unbreakable Lifeline

Today was Kendall's birthday. I could easily share just how much I adore this precious blessing in our lives, but I think most of you already know that! :)

In honor of his special day, we went to our local park to play. The weather was wonderful with warm temperatures and a slight breeze. He just loved it!! He would run from one thing to another- the slide, the swings, and a rocking motorcycle. In the middle of the playground, there was a set of jumping pads that were spaced too far apart for his short, little legs. I offered to help him "jump" them, but he was frightened when I first lifted him onto the pad. He had a death grip on me!! By the time we left, he was a pro at climbing on the pads and jumping off!

Today, I read this passage....

"We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 6:19, 20 MSG)

I love the wording of this passage from the Message. I thought of how tightly Kendall clung to me, and I think that is how desperately God wants us to cling to His promised hope. Our hope, our joy, our all in Him!!! He is our unbreakable lifeline! Glory!! When we are struggling with the day to day issues in life, we can look to our Savior- our high priest.

Today, I need that reassurance. How about you? Remember the security you have in an unbreakable lifeline!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To Save a Car

Last Friday night, our family had a fun opportunity to go with our small group to a local arcade and mini-golf establishment.  The weather was cool and we decided to enjoy the arcade games inside.  The boys were having a great deal of fun- even Kendall who played several games with a old, silver Corvette toy car held tight within his grasp.

At one point, Kendall became very agitated and I soon figured out that he had been driving his Corvette car up "road" that was really a skeet-ball ramp and it had fallen into part of the arcade machine itself.  I looked over the situation and put out a SOS call to Reagan.  He, too, looked over the situation and determined that the car was not going to be rescue.  I rationalized that it was an older, dented, and heavily used toy car.  It could be replaced for about a dollar and at that point, I would gladly have purchased a newer model.   That was what I shared with Caleb, who was suddenly aware of what had happened.  I was NOT prepared for the look of horror that crossed his face and tears that began to well in his eyes....."That was MY toy car.  I let Kendall play with it.  Please get it out!" he said.  Ugh!  To me, this car was a cheap toy- easily replaceable- that was heavily used.  It was a minor loss.....but, that was not how Caleb saw it.  He viewed that car with a heavy attachment built through countless hours spent together.  Every dent and scratch was a memory...he loved that car and it was profoundly HIS.

Caleb shared his plight with a worker at the arcade and she looked over the situation.  I read the look in her eyes and realized it was not going to be an easy rescue.  I immediately began to comfort Caleb and let him know that we would try to replace it as I thanked the worker.  A little later, the same worker found Caleb with the car in hand.  Miracles do still happen!  Now, a part of me really wanted to do a little happy dance over the rescued car, and yet, another part of me wanted to be frustrated by the attachment Caleb had with it.  Mostly, I was a little irritated with the toddler, but it was a perfect tunnel for driving a car..... Then, God spoke to my heart, how often do I place a limited value on other people in this world- maybe because they don't fit my "mold" or they seem to dented and scratched to have value.  That isn't how God sees them.  He has a heavy attachment built through countless moments seeking and searching for them.  Every "dent and scratch" is a memory.... He loves those individuals and they are profoundly HIS....  Oh, Father, forgive me!  Please help me to see the value in everyone I meet -even if they don't fit my picture- You love them deeply.  They have value.  They are loved.  You sent the Son to die for them just as He was sacrificed for the sins staining my soul.

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another." (Galatians 5:24-26 NLT)

If we are to follow the Spirit's leading, then we must change and reshape our view of others..... our view cannot be formed through the mold of conceit, jealousy or the intention of provoking.  If we belong to Christ, we have all nailed sins to His cross.  We, instead, must live out a profound love and calling that draws others to our Savior.  Let us view everyone we meet as God's precious creation- one that is profoundly HIS and love them in such a way that their heart begins to long for their Creator!!   

My friend, sadly we would spend far more time searching for a toy car lost in a game than we would seeking and saving the lost souls in this world.... Father, help us to love them as You love them.  Burden our heart for those who need your redemption, beautiful grace, and complete healing.  Give us a love for them and reshape our view of their value....

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Joy in Trial

Wow- what a week we have had. I never dreamed that life was going to get so busy this week, but we have had appointments all week. Yesterday, we found ourselves at the dentist for a check up and for the first time in almost 13 years of parenting- we had a cavity. So, today, we find ourselves back at the dentist.

The crazy part in all this is that the child with the cavity was slightly excited over the possibility of having a new "badge" of bravery. I, however, was not as excited. I know it isn't the end of the world, but I still would have chosen to avoid this today. So, as I sit here- in the dentist office again- the thought hits me....what if I had a similar attitude when trials and troubles hit me? What??? Be excited because life is suddenly challenged and hard?!?! Perhaps, the joy and peace comes from knowing that God is in control and using those trials to grow me.

This morning I read these verses from James..."JAMES, A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad [among the Gentiles in the dispersion]: Greetings (rejoice)! Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him." (James 1:1-5 AMP)

I think God wants to change our eyesight and view of trials. Instead of seeing them as times when God has left us or has turned His back on us, we should see them as key markers in our spiritual growth. They are to keep us close to the Father and keep us "looking" for Him in the events of our world. Trials make us seek Him, and finding Him brings tremendous joy.

Are you in the midst of a trial or trouble? Are you desperately seeking Him in the midst of it? Have the events become a spiritual marker in your life? If so, keep searching for Him in the midst of it and rejoice in all that He is doing to keep you ever so close to Him. Change your view so you can truly see Him.

If life is easy right now, hang on because trials will come. The Father loves you too much to leave you where you are. So when they come, try to find joy in seeking Him through it and knowing He is ever by your side.

Much love and Blessings!!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

To Meet a Need

Today was a fun day for our family.  Since about mid-February, we had been plagued with illness- from ear infections to asthma issues.  Last weekend was really the best everyone had felt in awhile.  So, after a good and productive week, we decided it was time to celebrate a belated Valentine's Day and just spend some time together.  We went to a local museum and did a little needed shopping and were headed to the grocery store when we passed a family standing in the parking lot.  They were clothed warmly and the father held a sign that read, "Lost my job.  I have two kids. Please help!" 

Immediately, both our older boys asked what we could do to help the family.  We had already made a plan to "divide and conquer" our remaining tasks; so, Carson and I went into the grocery store while Reagan and the other two boys went to run another errand.  As we shopped, Carson asked several times about the family and I knew that his heart was burdened as was my own.  I knew we would offer some financial assistance and try to help, but I just wasn't sure how much.  To be brutally honest, we have had several unexpected expenses recently- mostly medical- with everyone having been so sick in the past weeks.  Reagan and I had just discussed how we needed to watch our extra expenses over the next week or two especially with Kendall's birthday right around the corner.  My mind tossed all these thoughts about as we bought the few items we needed. 

As I met Reagan at our vehicle, he confirmed that he, too, felt that we needed to help.  This did not surprise me.  More often than not, we offer what we have when we see a need.... and this hit a sensitive spot as we struggled several years ago when Reagan was unemployed.  Plus, we have always believed that God calls us to do help when we can- the one receiving the help will be held accountable for the usage of what we give, but we would be held accountable for our decision to honor Him by doing the giving.  Reagan said that he had just heard a song on the radio and a line in it was.... "when your generosity empties your hand, He will supply for your need."  So, off we set to find the family and they seemed genuinely thankful for our offering.

We drove home and began the process of unloading the vehicle.  I went to check the mail and found that we had received a check from some of our mineral rights.... it wasn't huge, but it more than made up for what we had given.  I was a mix of joy and conviction as I had struggled some with having the right heart about helping that family in need.  Don't get me wrong- I wanted to help, but kept thinking of the needs we had.  The tears welled in my eyes as I beheld God's faithfulness.... we can never out give the Father.  We have helped before when there wasn't a check waiting for us in the mail, but we also never missed what was given out because God blessed in other ways.  He is absolutely faithful, my dear friend.  Whatever situation you are in right at this moment- never doubt that He will be faithful to you.  I think the harder question is, will we be faithful to Him?

"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!" (2 Corinthians 9:7-15 NLT)