Power Up

I have the poweeeerrr!!!” Remember that old cartoon, He-Man? I know I’m completely dating myself with this reference, but once in a while that slogan bounces through my mind. Random, I know. Growing up, my brother loved that show and occasionally I would watch with him, though I preferred She-Ra. Lol. From what I can recall He-Man was some kind of warrior that would thrust his sword into the sky seeking his power source, when battling with the evil Skeletor. When lightening would strike He-Man’s sword, he was empowered to conquer the seemingly impossible. I’m sure the show had nothing to do with God’s empowering grace but for whatever reason, it comes to mind when I feel I’m in need of strength much greater than my own. 💪😉

Power has an interesting effect on people.  God’s power enables us to do what we could never do on our own strength, while human power is based upon our physical and mental abilities.  God’s power can propel us to do amazing things; conquering giants for His kingdom, winning souls, overcoming obstacles, achieving His plans, and pushing back against darkness in our world.  Human “power”, or will-power, can only take us so far.  At our best we can accomplish goals, acquire knowledge, and achieve influence over people.   At our worst, our pride can inflate….leaving a path of destruction. Inflated pride will always deflate God’s power in our lives.

Ultimately, we are limited,  since we are not God.  There are situations we will encounter in life that will seem insurmountable.  We will ALL face them.  Inevitably, we will get to the end of our own strength; for some this might take a lifetime, but it will happen.  It is at the end of ourselves, that we can truly find power.

I’ve never felt power-full, as I’ve often lacked self-confidence, but the truth is, I have access to great power. God’s power is made perfect in and through our weakness. He actually uses those of us that feel “weak” to do things we could never do on our own strength. For example, I could not pack up our home and kids, moving away from what is familiar and comfortable to a place I know nothing about and know no one, in order to help establish a new church for Jesus. I’m not strong enough for that, but that’s exactly what I did through God’s strength.  That kind of risk and change is not in my nature. I like predictability. I’m a creature of habit. I can eat the same thing, and do the same things day after day….and be ok with that. However, God has had, and continues to have, bigger plans for my life then my own small mind can imagine. His power has enabled me and my hubby to plant two churches, one of which required moving away from everyone and everything I was familiar with, leaving family and friends. Recently, God has called us to move again to begin a revitalization effort in an established church in Yucaipa, California. It’s meant uprooting our kids from everything they’ve known over the past 8 years. It’s been challenging, at times lonely, and we still feel the ache of those we’ve had to say goodbye to, and yet, we sense God’s power at work in this decision.🙌

With every move we have made, I’ve felt ill-equipped for the challenges, but God has proven faithful, giving us just what we need at just the right time. Experiencing His power only happens as we get to the end of ourselves. We witness the power of God as we cling to Him, as Jane to Tarzan, experiencing the exhilaration of a life surrendered to Jesus. He’s taken me to places that I never thought I’d go and I’ve done things I never dreamed I would do.

I was struck by God’s power exhibited through Paul and Silas in Acts 16 today. Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and flogged without any legal or moral justification. They had actually helped free a slave girl from spiritual bondage and it bothered her owners because it effected them in the pocket book. The Philippian owners had been exploiting the poor girl for her fortune telling abilities and now she was useless for their financial gain. When they “realized their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities.” Greed can bring out the ugly in people and this was no exception. Things got U-G-L-Y.

These Philippian owners must have had some power and influence over the people. Before long a crowd had grown and they were all hurling insults and accusations at Silas and Paul, convincing the magistrates to have them thrown in jail, even without a trial. This was a no no because they were Roman citizens. It was illegal to whip a Roman citizen and to put them in jail without a fair trial. They were about to encounter God’s power.💪🙌

This is when Paul help up his sword and said, “I have the poweeeeeerrrr!” Not really.😉 At this point they are sitting in jail, exhausted, beaten, bloodied, and fastened in stocks. I’m guessing they probably felt like they were at the end of their own strength….and the end of their ropes! Their solution?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God…”

They prayed and praised God, realizing they could do nothing at this point upon their own strength. So, they trusted The One that could move mountains…and jail cells. 😀🙌. It was then that God released His power in that jail as a violent earthquake shook, opening prison doors and loosening everybody’s chains. This was no ordinary California shaker. This was the power of God!

What I love about this story is that Paul and Silas demonstrated such tenacious, steadfast faith in the most dismal of circumstances. Maybe they didn’t “feel” like spiritual power-houses, but they had at least mustard seed faith, and they knew their source of power. They tapped into His power by praying and praising! Their hope was in what God could do, not based upon their own abilities. This enabled God to get the glory in every way! The guards and other prisoners got to witness God’s power first hand; causing one of the jailers, and his entire household, to come to faith that very night! God often uses our weakest moments to draw others to Himself. But we have to let go of our frayed ropes and tap into His power.

God loves to get the glory for empowering us through impossible circumstances. But so often we don’t let Him. We try to control, manipulate, and maneuver to get our way. Or, as I often do, we lose sight of hope so easily and resort to “stinkin thinkin”. That’s what my hubby calls negative, downer thinking; as if all hope is lost.

But what if when we get to the end of our ropes, we let go and let Him swoop down and catch us? He has proven time and time again that He will never leave us or forsake us, so how can we lose hope? There is always hope, when we are clinging to Jesus! The trick is, you can’t see Him. We have to let go of our ropes by faith.

I’ve been there. Holding onto the remaining strings of my own abilities, knowing I can’t possibly make it without help. I was there when doctors said I would never have babies. (I now have 3 children). I was there when my son was dying in the NICU (He’s now in 7th grade). I was there when my marriage was crumbling and my rope became brittle bitterness. (I’m about to celebrate 22 years of marriage with my best friend). I was there when church leaders lied, accused, defamed us, and manipulated circumstances, having everything to do with the greedy pocket book. This has happened on multiple occasions; a sad reality. (God has provided for us every.step.of.the.way). He is faithful in every circumstance, through every trial, and every heartache. At my weakest, He has been strongest in my life….but I had to let go and trust in His power.

Each time I’ve neared my ropes end, He has been there to pick me up and catapult me to new heights, drawing others to Him through my weakness. It’s been glorious, faith building, and power-filled. Those moments have changed me and are shaping me still into the person He desires me to be. None of us are perfected yet, but we can spend our lifetime in pursuit of His holiness.

I don’t know what your week has been like, the circumstances you face, the hurt you feel physically or emotionally, but I know you have a power source much greater than yourself or your circumstance. He’s ready to swoop in, grab hold of you and empower you through. Maybe you need to stop right now in this moment and remind yourself, out loud if you need to….”I have the poweeerrrr!” You do! If you have Jesus, you have everything you need to overcome, press on, and become all that He wants you to become. He has such great plans for each of us. Don’t keep grasping hold of your frayed rope. Let go, and let God do His best work in your life. Pause to pray, praise, and power up! I’d love to hear your stories of how God has or is revealing His power through your weakness.💜 Feel free to share them below. I will be praying for you. Let’s give Him the glory! We can do ALL things through Him!!💪🙏🙌

2 Cor. 12:9~But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Acts 16:16-26~Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Miracles and Madness

(This post was written last Sunday. I contemplated about whether or not I should share it, as it was more for myself, but felt lead to share it. Enjoy my Mommy madness.😉) 

Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush; it can color any situation.” -Barbara Johnson

I’m feeling a little bluish today…with a shade of grey, and a swirling bunch of colors that start to look like a muddled mess. The kind of mess that happens when we mix to many colors at once and they become this ugly blob of brown/grey. Yes, it’s been a rough week. I listened to my husband preach today about what to do when having a “bad day” and honestly my insides were pouty and I had an overwhelming urge to stick out my tongue at him or roll my eyes, like a temperamental toddler. 😝😂 Either that or burst into tears. My feelings are a little erratic this week, to say the least. Don’t worry, I resisted the urge, though no one would have seen me since I sit in the front row at church. Oh so tempting!

Moments like that reveal the condition of the canvas of my heart and mind. This heart and mind of mine is….well….tired.

It’s been a week of miracles and madness as I had to tend to my 3 sick children, a home I had to prepare for viewing to about 20 prospective tenants, a house in escrow with a mountain of paperwork and details to attend to, as we prepare,emotionally, for a big move…not to mention, meals to make, kids to tote around to doctors, school, sports, laundry, dishes…you know, Mom stuff. Add to that my own allergies, congestion and asthma; keeping me awake at night. I felt like I was managing the madness fairly well, but this week Momma slipped into overdrive and nearly burned out my internal engine.

I felt forced into overdrive as our youngest daughter had an allergic reaction to something.   We thought it was due to the antibiotic she was taking for her bronchitis, but now aren’t sure. She had hives ev-er-y-where. I’ve never seen such a rapid transformation to skin, but it was quick and awful, causing swelling over her ENTIRE body, hands, feet, cheeks, tummy…you name it, she was covered from head to toe. She saw the doctor three times last week and I called Kaiser so many times that I likely exasperated the nurses. When Benadryl, Zyrtec, ice packs, and cool showers don’t work…there’s just not much more to try. (Except showering in Cortisone, which I knew was not a good idea). I truly felt at the end of my rope last night when those pesky lumps, bumps, stinging red welts rose up once again. It was 10:00pm and I was already tapped out, but Mom’s don’t go down without a fight when their kids are sick, and so the war against hives ensued.

I’d love to tell you my attitude was steadfast in the Lord, but yesterday it was more like stomping my feet internally and demanding He fix my kid. I vasilated between tantrums and despair, wanting to raise my white flag of surrender and crawl back into bed. Yes, Pastor’s wives have temper tantrums…at least this one does, on occasion.😉

On Thursday I soared with gratitude from Him answering my prayer and completely healing my daughter of all her stinging itchies, (It really was a miraculous healing, at least for that evening), and yesterday I sank to the depths of despair when those irritating welts returned, feeling helpless that I couldn’t help her. It’s a good thing faith isn’t feeling based!

So, I want to re-paint my attitude today, right now, and maybe help you re-paint yours. Miracles abound in each day, but I have to choose to see them as I reflect on God’s goodness. Here’s what I see today….God is good. He answered my prayers this week when Ashlyn was at her worst. God is good. We opened our bible while she was transforming into a swollen, red lobster right before my eyes and we read scripture together, reassuring us that God works all things for the good. (Can you believe her Jesus Calling devotional was about “Embracing Your Problems”? Ash and I had a good laugh about that last night. How do you embrace hives?😂) God is good. We stayed up late into the night sharing stories and my introverted daughter talked my ear off. God is good. We got the hives under control about 1am this morning.🙌 God is good. She woke up this morning without a single hive or bump. God is good. We went to church and had people hug on us and shower us in love. God is good. My husband came home earlier than usual to bring us lunch. (Pasta and bread…be still my beating heart!❤️🍞❤️). God is good. My kids are quietly watching a movie they ALL agreed upon…that is a miracle in itself!!👏👏👏😜

God is so very good, in the miracles and in the madness. Some of His best work is done in the madness of our souls. He is good when people and circumstances aren’t. Even if Ashlyn had continued to have hives, He would still be good. He never changes and He sustains us, empowers us, and loves us, no matter how blue we feel or how out of balance our lives get. He helps us find balance, even amidst the storms, if we reach out to Him.

Each reminder of God’s goodness is like a stroke of brighter colors on the canvas of our hearts and minds. He’s adding brighter colors to my attitude today…hues of red, orange and yellow, that of a sunset. 🌅 There is nothing quite like a sunset, especially by the blue of the ocean. It’s brilliant, calming, and peaceful; just like Jesus. I love how God takes my blue blobby mess and shapes it into something beautiful….but I must have eyes to see His creative masterpiece.

What’s your attitude painting today? Try giving Him the paint brush and ask Him to color your heart and mind with His goodness. We choose what we allow our minds to ruminate on.  Think about His goodness. He makes all things beautiful in His time and in His way. We can do all things through Him!

Romans 8:28~And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 5:3-4~Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Phil.4:8~Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Psalm 150:6~Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

Grow With The No

I’ve never liked the word ‘no’. It seems to carry a measure of negativity and disapproval. ‘Yes’ feels approving, positive, uplifting and welcoming. I’ve joked about being the “Yes Woman” at church, since it easily falls from my lips when asked questions. Being that I’m a Pastor’s wife and a worship leader, people often come to me with questions. What is particularly comical about this is I usually don’t know the answer to what is being asked, but I enjoy saying yes, and so I do.😉

But, I’ve learned and am still learning, that ‘No’ can be a healthier, faith based, peace-filled answer. ‘No’ protects our time, guards our hearts and can be God honoring. Sometimes a no can be useful for setting boundaries with family and friends. This can be particularly helpful around the holidays, when we need to say no to over committing or risk being burnt out for what is most important, saying yes to Jesus call on our lives.

Jesus said no, a lot. No, it wasn’t His time yet. His family and closest friends anxiously anticipated the moment of truth; when His glory would be revealed. No, He wouldn’t use violence to overthrow the Roman Empire. His kingdom would be lead by love. No, He couldn’t stay with His disciples any longer, for He had a greater call on His life. He knew His purpose and nothing would stop it from coming to fruition. Jesus was not about bringing us happiness, but holiness.

This morning I was reading in Luke 12 and Jesus warns about division we will face while on this earth. Yuck, I don’t like division. I much prefer unity, where everyone gets along, works together, and plays nice. Why can’t we all just get along, like an episode of Friends; where every issue is resolved in a 30 minute TV show? Jesus answers this simply, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but division”. What? Another no? I thought Jesus is the Prince of Peace? Well yes, He is, but the peace He offers is internal, not always external.

Jesus comes into our hearts, when invited, and offers peace when there is chaos swirling around us in our lives. We don’t get to live in a perpetual Disneyland, where we live happily ever after all the time, but we can tap into the Prince of Peace, when everything and everyone around us seems out of whack. He is our peace that surpasses understanding, when the trials we face are anything but peace-filled. But experiencing His peace often starts with a NO.

No, we won’t always have peace in our relationships with family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, if we are saying YES to Jesus. The very nature of following Him will lead us through troubled waters. It requires laying down our lives for His purpose and plans…that is going to rub people in your life like sand paper. Often, friends and family won’t even know why our faith annoys them, but it will. It’s going to cause friction and some pain; maybe a lot of pain. Don’t lose heart my friends, that sand paper is going to refine you into a finely crafted masterpiece for Jesus. How lovely and exquisite you will be to your Heavenly Father as He watches you persevere through the trials you face. He won’t just be a casual observer; He will be with you, carrying you when necessary.

Has God told you ‘no’ recently? You want peace in a relationship and He’s saying no. He’s doing a work in you and/or in them and you just can’t see it yet. Hold onto Jesus and trust Him to get you through the unknown. No, you can’t have that promotion or job, because God’s got grander plans for you. No, you won’t have the physical healing you desire, but He will give you spiritual strength and passion that will inspire many people to follow Jesus; making you a redwood tree among a field of ferns. Ferns are pretty, but they can’t withstand drought and they will never grow tall; there is no distinguishing between them. You’re going to stand out. Think of the remarkable view you will have, stretching to new heights, as you experience growth like that. The pain of the no will be worth it with immeasurable growth as you press into Jesus.

No, don’t settle for less than His best, not in relationships, not in your work, not in your heart, not in your life! Don’t lose heart with the ‘No’s’. Thank Him for what He is doing through the No….He’s got great plans! God is preparing you for what is right around the corner from that no. Grow with the no. You can do all things through Him!

Luke 12:51~”Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? NO, I tell you, but division”.
John 16:33~33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jer.29:11~For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Wrong Rights

I LOVE peanut M&M’s. They bring delight to my tastebuds and they are colorful morsels of happiness. On a bad day, like tax preparation day, I have my yellow bag on standby.😉 Now, I know they are not good for me. In fact, there have been articles written about the health hazards of eating to many. Occasionally, I have justified my indulgence by thinking, well, they have peanuts in them, and that’s a protein. Since protein is good for me, I can eat what I want. You could say, it is my right to eat peanut M&M’s, all day, every day, should I choose to.

The interesting thing about “rights” is they can be so very wrong. My body would revolt after awhile, if I chose only to partake in my little round, happy, chocolates. While they do contain  protein, they also have lots of ingredients that I can’t even pronounce; some of which have been linked to cancer.😳 I’ve considered laying down my rights to M&M’s altogether because of the health risks, but I’m a work in progress. 😉

In recent news and social media I have heard a lot about “rights”; women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, African American rights, rights to guns, rights of free speech, rights to protest….the list goes on and on. Many of my Christian friends have participated in discussions about “rights”, which has caused me to pray and seek Jesus and His perspective.

In reality, there is a peanut of truth to the discussions about rights.  These discussions are labeled as rights, but I think the desire behind the dialogue is more about value.  Do we all have equal value?  The answer is a resounding YES.  Jesus is about equality of all people as evidenced in scripture, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(Gal.3:28) Incidentally, this scripture isn’t absolving gender identity or the fact that we are born of different cultures.  Rather, it is demonstrating that every life has equal worth, through Christ Jesus.  He is the great equalizer.  We don’t need anyone else to tell us we are valued in order for it to be true…it’s true because Jesus says so. No person or circumstance can lessen our value.  Period.

Jesus also points out our equal need for a Savior.  He openly admitted we all fall short of God’s glory and are in desperate need of His grace and forgiveness. Every person, including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, need Him.  Though they have differing views on political policies, they both equally need grace and forgiveness.

Honest dialogue about perceived inequality can be good and healing.  However, there seems to be more behind some of the social media discussions of “rights”; ingredients that are unhealthy for the soul.  There is an angry tone, a loathing, a disgust, an entitlement simmering that is damaging.  There is one who comes to kill and steal away our joy…we have a real enemy, and it isn’t each other.

As a Jesus follower, it is my right and privilege, to lay my life down, pick up my cross and follow Jesus; loving God and loving people.  His ways are often different than popular opinion…especially those displayed in the media.  The news and much of social media has been offering up a lot of spiritual junk food.  It’s of little value and we should be careful about absorbing to much of it.  Allowing ourselves to get caught up in angry finger pointing, is like eating to many M&M’s….it tastes good in the moment but makes you feel awful after. There is no value to it, since it solves nothing, just fans the flames of anger and hostility.

Brothers and sisters of the faith, remember we no longer fight for our rights, but for God’s. We no longer live for us, but for Him and His plans. What ‘right’ do we have to anything?  Is it possible for us to feel entitled to anything more  when God has given us everything in Him? If anyone could have felt entitled, it should have been Jesus.  Being the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, He had that right, but He waved His rights, out of His great love for us. Such humility and grace, I can hardly take it in.

I don’t even have the right to my next breath, unless He gives it to me.  There is no guarantee of tomorrow, or even 10 minutes from now.  Every moment we have on this lovely earth is a gift given from our Father above.  Rather than investing our limited time on endless discussions about ‘rights’, what if we savored each moment, appreciating the people placed in our lives and enjoying our blessings?

Jesus is our model for living and He didn’t debate much, and rarely got angry; leading me to believe we get into the wrong kinds of discussions.  As Jesus followers we need  to be careful that our pride doesn’t swell, leading us to have an unhealthy perspective of “rights” and entitlement.  We ought to get on our knees in prayer, seek Him and maintain a posture of surrender to His will.  We are living  in times that  will challenge our faith like never before.  Be leery of your own feelings which can lead to emotional outbursts; laying down your cross, and hurling stones at one another. Pick up your cross, and follow in His footsteps. He reached out to people in love, humility, grace and truth. If people throw stones at you for expressing love, in truth, He will be your shield and protector. Don’t be discouraged or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you. Keep looking in the mirror and asking God how you can be the best YOU for Jesus, then be the change you hope to see in the world.    We are shining His light, and the enemy would love to snuff us out, giving the impression we are outdated and irrelevant. Don’t fall prey to the lies of the enemy.

Lets choose a healthier diet of “rights” by  loving tirelessly, giving generously, and letting  grace abound. Filter through the spiritually sick ingredients that are being force fed to us through news and social media, and check those ingredients with His word. If the ingredients don’t match scripture, don’t eat them! Throw them out and stand firm in His truth. Don’t look for a loophole, absorbing what is bad for your soul. Accepting what is popular and ‘feels good’ can be the path of least resistance, but there is NO growth in that. It’s just a diet of peanut M&M’s; slowly malnourishing our spiritual health.  Pretty soon, all the absorbed loopholes we’ve ingested cause our lights to dim, and we are no longer distinguishable to the world around us.  Jesus stood out in a crowd.

We will all be accountable for what we did with Jesus. He laid down His very life for each of us….there is no greater love than His. No politician, no civil rights groups, no protestors, no sports figures, no celebrities, no peanut M&M’s will satisfy the hunger we have for true love, value, and justice. Jesus gives it freely and fully.  He hands out healthy love by the bucketfuls, if we are open to receiving it. Recieve the free gift of His love daily and then give it out to those around you.  Don’t get sidetracked by discussions meant to keep you on a merry-go-round to nowhere.  Grab His hand And walk with Him, even though you will stand out and may get insulted or even assaulted. You no longer live for yourself, you live for Him. You can do ALL things through Him! 🙏

John 15:13~Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Gal 2:20~I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Luke 9:23~Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Isaiah 41:40~So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

What Ifs…

Hope was teetering on the edge and the cliff was steep. I feared if I lost my grip, it would never be regained. My heart clung to hope….

It had been 3 weeks since my body rebelled against my will. One evening I was leading a high intensity Zumba class and the next day my body felt as though there was an elephant on my back. Movements were heavy and labored. My head felt to heavy for my neck to support, forcing me to prop it up with pillows while sitting on the couch. There was strange tingling in my arms and up my neck, along with unmanageable exhaustion. For the first few days, I convinced myself I must have been exposed to a strange virus, but days grew into a week and beyond. By week two my doctor tried to diagnose me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome….but my gut said no. (This time my stubbornness paid off and I insisted on testing.)

Resisting an “easy” diagnosis, I was sent to a neurologist, a cardiologist, an ENT specialist, a physical therapist, had a multitude of blood tests done, CT scans with dye and without, and an MRI…yet, nothing was found. It was baffling. The “What If’s” became a lion trying to chase me off of my emotional cliff. What if….I don’t get better? What if….I can never care for my family again? What if…there is something REALLY wrong with me? What if…I can never sing or dance again? What if….I become a burden to family and friends? “What ifs” seem to come in bulk supply.

As I lay motionless in the tube, listening to the loud clanking and hammering of the MRI machine, I forced myself to take my “what ifs” to Jesus in prayer. Without making a sound or moving a muscle, I laid it all out before the Lord. My fear, my anguish, my lack of control, every worry, all of it. Almost immediately, song lyrics from “The Heart of Worship” filled my mind, overpowering the machine:

“When the music fades and all is stripped away and I simply come. Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart. I’ll bring you more than a song for a song in itself is not what you have required. You search much deeper within….your looking into my heart. I’m coming back to the heart of worship and its all about You, it’s ALL about you Jesus”.

Suddenly, I was worshipping, without spoken words, or motion, but with all my heart. It was a powerful worship experience. I felt as if I had exposed all my inadequacies and brokenness to the Lord and I could almost hear Him say, “it’s never been about what you can do for me. Your heart is all I’ve ever wanted.” To be so fully known and so completely loved quenched my fears and slayed my “what ifs”. The truth was if I could never help another person, sing another song, dance another dance, or even move a muscle, He loved me, period. I may have felt physically helpless, but I wasn’t hopeless. My hope was, and is in Him and He never lets go.

It would be several months before my body started to fully cooperate. The healing didn’t come all at once and to this day I have lingering effects of the injury they found. A tear was found in my cervical spine, which caused spinal fluid to leak onto my spinal chord, causing the bizarre symptoms. It forced me to make a couple minor lifestyle changes, but none of the major “what ifs” occurred. The bulk supply of worries was laid to rest.

Are you carrying a bulk supply of “what ifs” this week? Are you ruminating in fear and worry? Lay it all down at the cliffs edge and fall back into the arms of your loving Father. Life can take us to the edge of what we can handle on our own strength. We were never meant to be strong enough to carry it alone. Jesus is our ever present help in times of trouble. He came as the bridge to carry you across those “what ifs” and comfort you through the unknowns. You don’t have to know what tomorrow will bring, when you know the creator of tomorrow. He’s with you through the cliff hangers, the stormy seas, even in the claustrophobic hammering of an MRI machine. He can give you a peace that surpasses all understanding….all He wants is your heart.❤️ He is with you…are you listening?

Phil.4:7~ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 46:1~God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 19:14~May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Daily Bread

Matt.6:11~Give us today our daily bread.

Bread. It just makes me happy. Oh the wafting smells of fresh baked bread. Is there anything more deliciously intoxicating? It distracts me as I’m walking through the grocery store. Usually I make a beeline to the bakery in hopes that I will pick up a baguette or French bread that is still warm….be still my beating heart!😉 Seriously, a fresh baguette with butter….is there anything better? Maybe it’s the Italian gene in me, but I’m quite certain that bread helps cure sadness and possibly sickness. Ok, maybe I’ve gone overboard, but you get the idea. I love bread!

As I’ve journeyed through the Bible, I’ve discovered that bread is mentioned, a lot. In the King James Version it is mentioned 361 times…God must have known it would draw our attention. I’ve begun highlighting every mention of my high in carbs, doughy, friend. Sometimes it’s used to reference our tendency toward thinking to highly of ourselves, our pride, as we get puffed up like bread. Other times, it’s used to reference our need for our daily bread, the Bread of Life, that is Jesus.

The thing about bread is, it always leaves me wanting more. Who eats just one piece?? I’ve never eaten one piece and thought, yeah, that was plenty, I’m satisfied. Nope! It’s usually difficult to stop eating it once I’ve started. (Maybe it’s just me?😜🍞) I feel the same way about the Bread of Life.

Once I start encountering the sweet deliciousness of my God’s goodness, tenderness and love, I can’t get enough. I long to be in His presence, to take in His richness. He alone satisfies the hunger in my heart. I’ve found that if I feast on His word (the Bible) every day, it gives me strength, encouragement, perspective, and lasting joy. I do my best to start each day by asking Him to give me my daily bread. He knows what my soul needs better than I do….sometimes it needs vitamins and veggies, a dose of reality and cleansing truth to draw out impurities. Often His word speaks to my soul of His unconditional love, how He, the creator of all things, delights in us…it’s like savoring the sweetest, richest of bread puddings, only infinitely better. There are times I can hardly take it in, how lavish His love is for us! As I let Him search my heart through prayer and His word, I’m able to live out my purpose with greater clarity and savor each moment.

Are you feasting on the Bread of Life, or are you eating lesser things which will rob your soul of nutrients, decieving you into thinking your life is full? Don’t continue to consume empty calories which will only leave you with heartburn and indigestion. (This life has lots of empty calories to offer!) Taste and see how good God is. Start by asking Him to be your Bread of Life and to give you what you need.  Soak in His goodness through quiet times with Him. He will meet your needs daily as you seek Him with all your heart. Let Him satisfy your soul. Waft in the fragrant aroma of His goodness today. You can do ALL things through Him!

John 6:35~Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Psalm 34:8~Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 103:5~…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Phil.4:19~And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Hiccups & Sneezes

Hiccup, sneeze, hiccup, sneeze…this went on for the next 20 minutes. What is it about my husband getting the hiccups that makes me erupt with laughter? It only happens about once a year, but it’s like a special birthday present when it happens.🎁😆 The combo of hiccups and sneezes was more than I could handle. My sides ached and I couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard. Being desperate for relief from his current situation, he pulled into a McDonalds drive thru to order a drink, in hopes it would cause the hiccups to cease. Here’s where things got interesting…neither one of us could talk, I mean ZERO words could be enunciated between gasps of laughter, breathless, belly aching tremors, where no sound could escape. You can imagine the frustration for the person taking our order.😳 What proceeded was such silliness that it still makes us laugh today. We kept trying to answer her question, but inevitably Randy would hiccup or sneeze, and it all started over again. We genuinely felt bad for the woman on the intercom, who was becoming increasingly frustrated, but we felt powerless by the laughter. It couldn’t be stopped!😆 At some point he was able to recover just enough to respond with his drink order, but I was hopeless. I’m sure I looked a mess when we got to the window…more like I’d been crying than laughing, face red, still shaking with tremors as I painfully tried to stifle giggles. I felt so juvenile. I mean seriously, get it together! But, you know what? It was such a gift. I’m pretty sure God nudged our funny bones and allowed us to find humor that we were desperately needing.

It had been a tough season of ministry. We were hurting, but only us and God knew the full extent of our pain. Our times together had become problem solving, venting our frustrations, and praying for wisdom…it was quite dreary and way to serious. Joy seemed to elude us most days. We had just arrived in Florida for a conference and were hoping God would renew and restore us while there. God knows what we need, so in His divine wisdom he gave Randy hiccups AND sneezes that evening…a recipe for relief. (Well, it’s not for everyone, but it was for us.😉) The atmosphere felt a lot lighter that night. We even began joking about some of the hard stuff we were dealing with. It was glorious relief in the midst of our desert season of drought and pain. It didn’t change our circumstances, but it was a reminder to not take everything so seriously. The weight of the world doesn’t rest on our shoulders. We laid our weights down that night and picked up His joy. It’s lighter and gives us the strength to press on.

Don’t miss the moment by fretting and fuming over what can’t be solved in the immediate. Pray. Start by thanking God for the myriad of blessings in your life…to numerous to count. Ask Him for wisdom, His perspective, and to meet your needs. Then, embrace the moment. Find the funny. It might cause a belly ache, but it soothes heart aches.

Is your life feeling a little dreary right now, maybe way to serious, burdened by the weight of the world? Lay your weights at His feet and trust Him to carry them. You don’t have to have it all figured out right in this moment, or even tomorrow…or next week! God sees the beginning and the end. He’s already got it all figured out. Pour out your pain to Jesus and ask Him to help you choose joy today. I’m praying He will nudge your funny bone. 😉 You can do all things through Him!

Proverbs 31:35~She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
Neh.8:10~This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Phil.4:6~Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.