Soul Resistance

I have learned more about the faithfulness of God from my enemies than from my friends.~ Lisa Bevere

It is through the fire that we are refined. I don’t like this reality, but God is vastly smarter than I am, so I trust the refiner. I’m not in the thick of enemy fire at present time but over the course of my 43 years have experienced it more than I would like. Yet, I appreciate this perspective….what if we thank Jesus for our enemies? For it is through them that we press into Jesus, finding out what we are really made of and determining our source of strength.

Resistance makes the soul grow stronger. It likens working out at the gym. We won’t grow in strength, muscle mass, or endurance if we don’t push ourselves a little more than we are comfortable with. It’s the resistance that forms/maintains muscle and develops endurance.  What if we see our enemies as resistance training for the soul?  They push us to trust Jesus more, pressing into His promises, and applying His truth to our circumstances.  God will take what was meant for evil and bring something  good out of it, as revealed in Genesis 50:20.  Enemies are muscle makers for the soul.

At the same time, I want to resist becoming an enemy to my enemies. Others may choose to find flaws and fractures in me, not a difficult task, but my desire is to reflect His light. I hope He shines through all of my flaws. Defending ourselves is unnecessary when we know Jesus. He alone is our judge, jury and justifier. If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed! Resist the temptation to justify and defend yourself.   If you offer no defense, it takes the wind out of their fiery sails and they will be left to deal with Jesus in the matter. You, on the other hand, will have grater soul strength, enabling you to accomplish far more than you ever thought possible for Jesus. Choosing forgiveness is where freedom is found.

Who are you villainizing in your mind this week? Stop stewing over the offense, letting it simmer in your mind.  There is zero resistance in that kind of thinking.  Trust that God is going to do something amazing in you, as you persevere and praise Him through the pain.  The soul resistance is making you stronger.

Is there someone that once was a friend or family member that has suddenly started to accuse and betray you? It hurts. I know my friend. I’ve been there, but so has Jesus. He empathizes with you. Find strength in Him. He’s going to make you stronger through the fire. Resist the urge to defend yourself and don’t drag their name through the mud. Imagine taking them to Jesus and leaving them at His feet. Remember the guys in Luke 5 that lowered a paralyzed man through the roof of a house so he could be healed by Jesus? Think about your accusers that way. Maybe they are spiritually sick and paralyzed, but unaware of how infected their souls have become. Leave them before Jesus and move forward. He will attend to them. You will be free and your soul will be a whole lot stronger.

Prayer: Jesus, you understand betrayal and accusations. You were perfect and yet people chose to reject, insult, beat and murder You. In return, you offer grace, forgiveness, faithfulness, love and the hope of heaven. It makes no earthly sense and yet we are so thankful. Thank you for being our defender and loving us unconditionally. Help us to surrender our accusers to You, laying them at Your feet and trusting You to deal justly with them. Help us experience freedom in You and strengthen us through the resistance we encounter in this world, especially when we experience it from family and “church people”. Radiate through our weaknesses, Jesus, so that others will see You. Thank you that we can do ALL things through You! In Jesus name, Amen

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Faith Through Fog

Foggy days are fun as long as I don’t have to drive in them. There’s something mysterious and quiet when the clouds enfold us. It makes me want to slow down, have coffee, read a book and rest. We have few days like this in Southern California, so I make the most of it when we do.

But extreme fog while driving is stressful. It’s unnerving to drive when you can’t see what is coming. Wise drivers will slow down, inching their way through the unknown, keeping their eyes on the lines so as not to cross into oncoming traffic.

I’ve found much of life to be foggy days, the not knowing how situations will turn out. When will we meet the “right one”, get married, have babies, figure out career goals, buy a house…and all of the how’s? How will we overcome the obstacles…marital strife, financial challenges, health issues, family dynamics, relationship tensions, employment disappointments? So many questions and so few certainties. We have little control, really none, outside of our own choices. Life is foggy.

We can choose how we approach the fog. Either plow ahead, taking chances, and trying to control the unforeseen in our way and our timing, or maintain a posture of surrender, trusting God for the unknown, moving in His timing and His way.

I remember the fog being thick as pea soup through my infertility days. It seemed endless; an abyss of heartache. Nothing seemed certain except my relentless desire to have what I couldn’t. How could that be God’s plan?

The fog settled long, dark and suffocating. I stopped seeking God’s will and went my own way…getting lost, causing injury to my marriage and even my own body. It was only in my surrender that I began to believe God could see what I couldn’t. He required that I let go of my own pursuit, pick up my cross and follow Him. There was great pain in letting it go, trusting the Lord for what my future would look like, possibly far different than my hopes and dreams. Still, inching along with Jesus through the fog was safer than my own instincts and choices.

As I began trusting again and moving forward with Jesus, the fog lifted and I could see new plans on the horizon. My husband and I made plans to birth a new church. It was exhilarating, scary, and purpose-filled. We couldn’t birth a baby, but we could birth and build a church. (Want to grow your faith, plant a church!😉) While on this new path, a week before our first church service, God provided for my hearts desire. We were pregnant! Doctors had said it would never happen, but I know someone that makes the impossible possible.

We only see in part what God sees fully, and that is probably better. It forces us to trust the One that sees it all, made it all, and knows it all. There are no obstacles for God. He sees with perfect clarity.

I’m sure of one thing, what we see as impossible in our lives, is actually completely possible through God. Our inability to see it just makes us human and Him God.

What are your how’s, when’s or why’s? Do not be discouraged or dismayed my friends. Slow down and seek Him through the fog. Rest in Him knowing He will make a way where there seems to be no way, but don’t stop moving! (Uncertainties and depression can cause us to stop altogether.) Move forward, drawing closer to Jesus. He’s always the right direction. He has a plan for you through the foggy uncertainties. While you are living and breathing there is purpose for your life…don’t get stuck in the muck of unknowns. Pain can propel us into His purposes….like church planting.😉

There is great freedom in surrender; accepting we are not in control. Breathe in His presence, grab hold of His hand and let Him walk you through the fog. He knows where He is going. He’s got great things in store. You just can’t see it yet.

Prayer: Lord, so much of life is uncertain for us, but You are certain. You are our constant, even when we lose sight of You. Help us trust You through foggy days. Increase our faith as we walk through the valleys without visibility. You can make the impossible possible. Help us trust You as we inch along the road of life with our poor visibility. Allow us to enjoy the journey, finding strength and rest in You alone. Your will be done, not ours. In Jesus name, Amen

The other side of the “but”

 

There are “buts” in life that are out of our control. We wanted to have a baby way sooner than we did BUT God had other plans for us. We finally had babies BUT we had major complications in all 3 pregnancies and nearly lost one child. My hubby and I have tried our best to lead people to Jesus, though imperfectly, BUT some people have still found reasons to focus on our flaws, missing the whole point. We have loved “the church” BUT have been deeply hurt by it at times. I’ve tried to be a good friend BUT I’ve still lost friends along the way. I’m passionate about dance and exercise, BUT I got injured many years ago, forcing me to lay down my passion for a season and modify it for life. These are just a few of my “buts”…what are yours?

Some buts can’t be helped, they are just a part of life. Others, we choose, out of pride, fear and pain; those times we don’t want to go God’s way or wait on His timing. I have a laundry list of those buts too, but that’s a subject for another time.

Joseph and Mary had to deal with some major unexpected buts. They were pledged to be married, BUT before they “came together, she was found to be with child.” (Matt. 2) Yikes, Houston we have a problem! Imagine the shock they both felt, the initial shame, and the dreaded rumors they would face. I wonder if they had thoughts of, “what did we do to deserve this?” They were trying to do things the right way, BUT here they were dealing with pregnancy before marriage and Joseph knew he wasn’t involved. I’m sure that was a pain in the….gut! 😉 Joseph, being the righteous dude that he was, decided he would break things off quietly, so Mary wouldn’t be publicly disgraced, BUT “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” and told him not to be afraid of marrying her. God had WAY bigger plans for Joseph than he could have ever dreamed…it was just on the other side of the but.

The truth is Joseph and Mary had a good plan for their lives, but God had something way bigger in mind for them. I’m sure there were days they wondered “why them”, maybe they even secretly wished God would have chosen someone else. Parenting Jesus required a lifetime of sacrifice and we all know sacrifice isn’t easy.

When we follow Jesus, sacrifice is required. We will make big plans and God might send us a big BUT, altering our course, but it will be gloriously better. Joseph probably never would have chosen the path God had for him, but he would have missed out on the honor of knowing Jesus as his son…and his Lord! Talk about the perfect kid! God knew Joseph would handle the challenge like a champ. Instead of doing what seemed natural, breaking up with Mary, He trusted God. His obedience helped usher in God’s precense, not only to their family, but to the world. It only takes one to do the right thing. Be that one.

Don’t trip over the but you’re dealing with. When you encounter the trial, remember it is likely the perfect place for Jesus to enter into. If You persevere, He will. Trust Him with what you don’t understand. His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He works ALL things to the good, even the buts that others meant to hurt us with…He makes everything beautiful in His time. Pray, persevere, and patiently proceed with God’s plan.

Are you struggling with the unexpected buts of life? Maybe you’re not where you hoped you would be; happily married, in the career of your choice, with the “perfect” kids, loved by many, in the “perfect church”. (PSA, there isn’t one.) Or maybe you have physical limitations you never dreamed you would deal with, but it’s now your reality. Do not be discouraged or dismayed my friends for God is with you through it all. Don’t give in to negative thinking and behaving. It will only make things worse. Choose to trust Him. He’s got great plans for you…just beyond the buts.😉

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that you are with us wherever we go. You are in every moment we face, the triumphs, the trials, the unexpected, the failures. You see us through loving lenses, not critical ones. Help us trust you through the buts in life, those you designed for our growth and those that are thrust upon us because of other people’s sin. Make each of us fully dependent upon You so that we can persevere through this race of life, growing in our endurance and hope. This life is not the end. We thank You for the future You have in store for us. In Jesus name, Amen

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.