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.

Good Endings

I love a good book, especially if it ends well. When I get swept up in the words of a novel, it seems I can hardly wait to find out how it will end, and yet, I hasten to finish it. I mean, when it’s over…it’s over! I can re-read it, but it’s not the same, since I already know the ending. There’s a bit of a let down when finishing a book that has captured my heart. I guess I’ve always struggled with endings. It’s a love/hate relationship.
We are nearing the end of a chapter in our lives this week. Well, it’s more like finishing a book in a volume of books. It’s our last week pastoring a church my husband and I planted eight years ago. I remember the day we moved to the city of Modesto so clearly. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it hasn’t always felt that way.
My initial feelings towards Modesto were, ummm….less than thrilling. 😬😉Yet, I knew we were called and I’ve always desired obedience to the Lord. We came to this city excited about what God might do, and terrified about what on earth we were getting ourselves into. We didn’t know a single soul here and we had benchmarks to meet in order to meet our basic necessities. My husband and I agreed we would hold it all with an open hand and trust God to bless it. If things didn’t work out, no shame in that, we would just pack it up and move on. So, we pressed on, seeking Him, meandering through this unknown journey, getting glimpses of God, as He revealed the story of this exhilarating chapter. (“Terrifying chapter” would better describe how I used to feel, but now as I look back at those early pages I see them more as an adventure ride. I’m so glad we hopped on and didn’t let fear hold us back!😄) Honestly, that first year, was harder than I ever could have imagined and also more thrilling than I can explain in a few sentences. To trust God weekly for His basic provision, was a nail biter, but my faith grew immeasurably as I witnessed miracles from living a life surrendered to Him, even when it hurts.

We cashed out 401k’s, sold one of our two cars, prayed tirelessly, reached out to every stranger, cried a lot (at least I did), adjusted to quiet holidays where the only people at the dinner table were the same people we saw every day….our party of five. Those were some lonely days. I eagerly anticipated the next chapter in those early pages, even praying that God would bring us back home, but God is infinitely smarter than I am and when we allow Him, He writes the most beautiful stories through the challenges of our lives. He’s a far better story teller than I could ever hope to be and so it’s best to let the author of life create our stories.

Over time God brought people to The Well that loved us like family. We saw many surrender their lives wholeheartedly to Jesus; an experience that makes the whole journey worth the pain. Life became full of meaning and loneliness subsided. God faithfully filled this chapter with people that will forever be in our hearts. We grew in numbers at the church, but more importantly, we grew in Jesus. Each milestone was so miraculous, we couldn’t possibly take the credit. Christ alone is the Cornerstone. The church became a beacon of light in our community, drawing people in need of hope and healing. While we are still far from perfect, grace abounds at The Well….most of the time. (There is no perfect. Thank goodness, or they wouldn’t let me attend.)😉

This story has unfolded rapidly as I’ve watched our kids grow and thrive, both at church and at school. We’ve experienced the blessing of baptizing two of our kids at The Well, and all three of our children asked Jesus into their hearts during this chapter of life. Kids have a way of making time move at the speed of light. If only I could freeze time….sort of like you can when you put a good book down, forcing the ending to wait a little longer.

It’s Saturday night. Tomorrow morning will be the last time I wake up early to drive to that cute little church on the edge of town. It figures that tomorrow is “Spring forward”…if you know me, you know I’m allergic to mornings.😉🤧 I usually dread when we lose an hour of sleep! Yet, it feels completely appropriate on our last Sunday at The Well. God’s going to catapult us all forward into our next chapters; no more dog earring those pages and saving them until later. It’s time to finish, so we can start anew.

Here’s what I know for sure; He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It won’t be easy, but it will be faith building, hope filled, and soul refining. God will do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine and the pages of our lives will be rich in His stories of grace, healing, restorative power and above all, His love.❤️
I can’t wait to read the beginning of the next book in the volume of our lives, but first, I will savor the ending of this one. I love a good ending.🙏❤️🙌

Phil.1:3-11~3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

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.

Two Faced Clowns

Growing up I had a clown doll with two faces, popular in the 80’s. One side was a happy face, the other side was sad….though it looked more angry to me. That doll was the cause of many nightmares. There was something creepy and duplicitous about it having two faces. I mean, which was it? Happy or sad? (Even the happy face looked evil😳). It was kept safely hidden in my closet until it was finally given away. No more two faced dolls.

I’ve experienced the same kinds of duplicity in people, on a grander scale. It’s always unnerving when you encounter people that say one thing but demonstrate entirely different behavior. Their words don’t match their speech. There are those that are gifted in manipulation, if there is such a gift, and they use it on unsuspecting targets.

I remember the agony of discovering the person we were partnered in ministry with was not who we thought he was. My husband and I had blindly trusted, hoping our pastor ‘friend’ would be an honest, God fearing person, but we were sadly mistaken. It was not the first time we had encountered duplicitous behavior in people, but it still left us reeling, uncertain of what to do next. The entire experience left us with a terrible aftertaste, particularly towards pastors….which is amusing, since my hubby happens to be one. The truth is, it’s not a pastor problem. It’s a people problem, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Our ‘friend’ would smile from the platform and then plot against us behind closed doors. He would project sincerity and kindness, but we saw another side. There were all kinds of ‘secret meetings’ discussing how to control what we said and did. At the low point I was told I was not allowed to baptize my closest friend, we could not send out prayer letters to talk about our upcoming move to Modesto, and we received a certified letter informing us we were to remain silent about anything we considered an injustice, or we would not receive our paycheck. In addition, there was a sum of money voted on by board members and promised, that was never given to the new church we were planting.  It was God’s money, not ours, but he withheld it.  Not exactly a display of Jesus love. It.was.awful. How could this be happening? Our hearts broke and doubt was planted in the brokenness. Doubting people and their motives would be a process to overcome. Who could we really trust?

Jesus. We could trust Him and Him alone. Jesus experienced many betrayals while walking this earth. The religious leaders were often the most two faced, presenting themselves as righteous, but secretly plotting, manipulating and justifying their desire to see Jesus destroyed. In the end, it was one of His 12 closest followers that would betray Him. Jesus response was one of love in spite of the ultimate deception, leading Him to His death. He didn’t focus on Judas and the betrayal. When He was beaten, whipped, carried His cross and nailed upon it, He did not plead His case, nor did He point out the injustice, as evidenced in His words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He focused on His purpose and offered forgiveness. Jesus never wavered in who He was and what He was called to do. He demonstrated how to handle duplicitous people and injustices. Keep loving, keep forgiving and keep moving forward toward His purpose and plan.

We ended up leaving our church tattered and bruised, but not defeated. The why’s and seeming injustice of what we had just encountered, would have to be laid down, in order to move forward. There were many moments we wanted to carry our hurt, bitterness, and grudges a little longer, but the weight of it was to much, like carrying around giant boulders.   It drained us of energy, distracted us from our purpose and kept us from grabbing onto God’s goodness.   So, we dropped our boulders and reached up.  God had called us to a new adventure and He used the pain to catapult us into His plan. The Well, our current church, was birthed out of our pain. God can work all things to His good, if we stay surrendered to Him.  He blessed us beyond our imaginations as He brought beauty from the ashes of our pain.

God knows us inside and out. There is nothing hidden from Him, which is both comforting and sobering. At the end of the day, we all have a little two faced clown in us. Our actions don’t always match our words and thoughts. We are all works in progress and that’s ok. He can shape us and mold us as we get honest about the hidden truths in our hearts. He’s good at making masterpieces out of ugly, messed up, fractured clay. Rest in His truth and He will begin to reshape your life into something beautiful.

Have you experienced the hurt of two faced people? Don’t lose heart, dear ones! Jesus understands that hurt. He can empathize. Take your hurt and confusion to Him and lay it down at His feet. You will feel lighter and free as you let go of the boulders you have been carrying. That new freedom will catapult you into God’s best plan for your life. He has something amazing in store for you, just keep trusting and delighting in the One that never changes. Press on toward the goal that is in Christ Jesus! He will guide you and shape you, making your insides match your outsides.

If you struggle with your own duplicitous behavior, get honest with Jesus and the people in your life. God sees all and knows all. There is no deceiving Him. Don’t be a two-faced clown. You will be missing out on the intimate relationship you can have when you remove the costume and makeup, getting real with Jesus. You can do ALL things through Him!

Psalm139:1-4~You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

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.

Psalm 37:3-6~Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.

Phil.3:14~I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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.

Please Don’t Label Me

If you do have a fault or a weakness or make a mistake and you do not own it, you still have it. You will repeat it. It will occur again.~ Henry Cloud

Please don’t label me with anorexia, just call it for what it is, sin. My counselor looked stunned at my statement. In her twenty-ish years of counseling no one had ever made that request. She chuckled at my reply and said she needed to have a diagnosis in order for insurance to kick in. Regardless, I insisted the diagnosis could be depression (or control freak, which seemed more fitting for me), but not anorexia.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew I had those tendencies, but I didn’t want to be labeled. A label felt like an excuse, as if I couldn’t control eating, or not eating. I was concerned that allowing myself to be labeled with a “disorder” would give me a mental license to feel as if I was a victim of my tendencies, like I didn’t have a choice in the matter. The reality was I had a sin problem….the root of it was control. Infertility, among other things, had left me feeling out of control, and controlling my food became my method of coping. In my fear and impatience, I took matters into my own hands and decided to control what I could…food.

Apart from God we can do nothing…..nothing good. And so I journeyed down the rabbit trail of control. I ate less and less, working out more and more. Everyday, I got a little closer to the “perfect” weight. (As if there is such a number). It’s an endless, hopeless, dark pursuit, which can ultimately lead to death. It took an  infertility specialist to shine some light in the darkness of my thinking. Thank you Jesus for the truth, even when it hurts!

No, I wouldn’t make excuses, I would call it for what it was, sin. This didn’t feel condemning, it felt freeing. Taking responsibility helped me loosen the chains. I wasn’t resisting the chains, I was surrendering, and by God’s grace, they fell off. It didn’t happen in one single moment, it happened one victorious moment at a time, eating one “taboo” food at a time, all of it, not hiding any. There were times I thought I would never be completely free. But that’s a lie of the enemy, for if the son has set you free, you are free indeed! So, I kept seeking Jesus, finding Truth, and pursuing holiness as best I could, until one day I realized, the inward battle was gone. No more chains of distortion binding my heart and mind. Surrender is peaceful and freedom weighs less than chains. I would never go back.

The counselor never did diagnose me with anorexia though she could have. But it really wouldn’t matter because that label would no longer define or describe me. I am not defined by my worst mistakes, or even my best works, neither are you. I’m defined by WHOSE I am, not by what I’ve done….thank you Jesus!

Are you struggling to overcome something? There is nothing that you can’t overcome by God’s empowering grace. Remain in Him. Ask Him to help you and surround yourself with people that can help you achieve victory over your battle. Take it moment by victorious moment, and He will set you free! When you trip and fall, He will pick you up and send you on your way to victory. You can do ALL things!

(If you have a love/hate relationship with food, I’d love to pray for you. The battle of the mind is a powerful one. Send me a message and we will battle it together in prayer. Prayer is where the battles are won!)

John 15:5~I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 8:36~So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Romans 12:2~And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.