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.

Stubbed Hearts

There’s nothing quite like a stubbed toe. It can bring out the inner sailor mouth in any of us. You can be in a hurry, just minding your own business, trying to get things done, when….BAM….your poor unsuspecting toe hits the corner of the wall, the leg of a chair, or a bed frame. Ouch! 😵

The pain can be searing and you think your toe might just fall off. Actually, you kind of hope it does  just so the pain will alleviate. My initial instinct is to kick the object of my pain again, because,  it hurt me!😉  Then your whole body goes on temporary  lock down until the pain subsides.   It seems certain that the toe has been crushed,  given the intensity of the the pain, but it’s most often just bruised, and will heal over time.

There is no thinking clearly or communicating with grace in these moments. Just intense, overwhelming pain. How can something so small, cause so much anguish? I surrendered my inner sailor mouth years ago, when I became a Jesus follower, so I’ve had to create new vinacular for moments like this. If you hear me say “crumb bucket”…it’s serious! 😜 (Occasionally the pirate in me will still escape, though, if the conditions are just right…or maybe just wrong. 😉).

But there’s something far worse than a stubbed toe, even more painful, and that is a stubbed heart.

A couple weeks ago my husband and I experienced the trauma of a stubbed heart once again.   We were on the recieving end of hurtful words, accusations, and blame….followed by what feels like complete rejection from a few people we have called friends.  So painful!  It happens in life. We know in this life we will have troubles, but there are occasions, when like an unexpected stubbed toe, it seemingly comes out of nowhere, hitting you by surprise and knocking the air from your lungs. It feels more like the shattering of our hearts into pieces. It can cause that sinking feeling, out of complete disbelief, in a free fall of hurt, and initially it feels as though the heart might just give out altogether.  Life becomes temporarily on lock down, for my mind and heart feel high jacked by hurt; an unwelcome intruder.  There is no shaking off this pain and nothing but time and clinging to God’s gracious hand will lessen the ache. Kicking the source of my pain won’t fix it, though I have to admit, I’ve visilualized that a time or two…or three or four. 😉  We have to deal with our stubbed hearts, but we won’t die from them,  contrary to my feelings.

Ever felt accused and betrayed by people you care about?  We’ve experienced this kind of pain more than I’d like to remember.   I doubt I’m alone in this, given that even our Savior,  Jesus, experienced the heartache of interrogation, accusation, rejection,  and ultimately, condemnation from the religious “elite”, and yet, Jesus was and IS perfect. Even His closest friends  failed Him, as He prepared for His painstaking journey to the cross.  Remember Peter? He denied knowing Jesus to protect himself.  Or how about the two “sons of Zebedee”? They fell asleep instead of praying like Jesus had asked. Jesus was literally sweating drops of blood, and they couldn’t even pray?? How unbelievable! How wrong! How selfish!! How HUMAN….

Then there’s the obvious…Judas.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Yes, Jesus understands being let down by people, being labeled, rejected and accused. I wonder if the emotional lashes that He acquired were as painful as the physical lashes? Sometimes it seems that heartaches are intolerable.  When my heart feels teetering on fragile, torn strings, my Jesus, He holds my heart so tenderly, until I’m completely tethered to Him. It is at this point I’m reminded that “if God is for me, who can be against me?” Oh to be loved by Him! He restores my soul to wellness and peace.

Stubbing my toe can cause me to jump up and down with tears in  my eyes….grabbing the wounded little piggy in hopes it will cease its torment. A stubbed heart can illicit similar kinds of reactions. My inclination is to throw a tantrum of teenage size, throwing accusations back, pleading my case, while covering my heart so as to safeguard it from further injury. But then, Jesus…..

He reminds me of His response when accused. His was often silent, for no justification was necessary from Almighty God. When insults and accusations were lashed upon Him in His final days on earth, His words were few with the occasional, “yep that’s who I Am”, or “yep, that’s what you said about me.” (Pardon my paraphrase😉). No denials, just acceptance, for He knew their hearts and minds.  There was no rationalizing with them. A heart determined to find flaw will inevitably find it.  Besides its so much easier to see the mistakes in others; then we don’t have to look within.  Jesus knew His calling in life was ultimately in His death for all of humanity and so He went quietly, willingly.  He modeled surrender and sacrifice.  Ouch!

The truth is Jesus WAS the King of the Jews (as they mocked), the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is, in fact, only guilty of being who He said He is. But you know what? At the end of the day, I am guilty. Guilty of all kinds of imperfections, some intentional, some not…..and so are you.  But God knows our hearts. He alone knows our every thought and intention.  With that knowledge I can sing “It is Well with my soul.”

I’m taking my stubbed heart to Jesus and asking Him to soothe the pain, and to help me move forward in spite of the hurt. It’s easy to get stuck in the throbbing aftermath of accusations and rejection.  We can be consumed by it, debilitating us from God’s purpose and plan for our lives. It clouds the mind, and lingers like a fog, that effects our focus and ability to find joy.  Fog can be dangerous. We can lose our way, or rather, His way, if we aren’t careful.  I know I’ve lost my way if I’m more concerned about what people might think about me/us than what God thinks.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my 40ish 😉 years of life: stubbed hearts won’t kill you, but they can propel you toward the arms of Jesus. His loving, grace-filled, forgiving, perfect, patient, humble, gentle, comforting arms will enable us to rest in the storms, trust in the uncertainty, forgive the unforgiveable, offer grace to the most ungracious, and love until our last breath. If heartache is what it takes to trust Jesus more, then bring on the pain! There’s nothing like knowing Jesus and being known by Him.  He loves us in ALL of our imperfections. ❤️

In coping with heartache, I’ve opted for silence and prayer. I’ve written letters to our “friend” and those entertaining negative perceptions about us, and I’ve kept them: usually a good idea after a stubbed heart. God can handle our “crumb bucket” moments, but people usually can’t.  Feelings can be controlled through the power of the Holy Spirit. I will refuse to villainise those that have hurt us, because God’s grace is as sufficient for them as it is for us.  Thank you Jesus!

I’ve cried and cried, and then cried a lot more, releasing the pain, but also allowing myself to feel it. Ignoring our pain just saves it for later and it ends up spewing out on innocent bystanders….usually those we love the most. After buckets of tears and sometimes through them, I praised God. I mean like hands fully extended, heart fully exposed, with passion and assurance, praised His name. In my bathroom. In my bedroom. In my kitchen. In my car. Anywhere and everywhere I’ve been praising Him, because He is good! He is not responsible for my hurt but He will use it to His good and for my growth. When I praise Him, my heart feels lighter, taking the hurt away, even if only temporarily.

Aches and pain seem to return at night. Why is that? What is it about bedtime that brings out every hurtful thought, worry and anxiety? 😳  The enemy seems to delight in the darkness, so we must engage The Light. I’ve opened up my bible when dark thoughts tried to creep in.  I’ve paused to pray, read articles that are helpful for our situation, and looked for ways to reach out to others. A few nights ago I was wrestling with my hurt, so I baked pound cake for some new friends and took it to their home. It got me thinking forward instead of dwelling on the pain and sitting in misery. What could have been a night of basking in my sorrows, became an evening of friendly conversation and the smell of coconut pound cake….the smell alone helped distract my weary heart.😉

Are you feeling hurt, accused and misunderstood this week? Remember it’s just a stubbed heart.  It won’t kill you but it can make you stronger in Him. This momentary pain won’t last forever, but God’s grace will. In the scope of eternity, this is a tiny, itty bitty, owie….your heart is stubbed, not shattered. He will work this to His good, even if you can’t see how right now. Have faith for what you can’t yet see. The fog is going to lift at some point and it will all become clear. With tears and the Son comes a beautiful rainbow!🌈🙌

Know this, Jesus is empathizing with you. He’s felt the sting of accusation, speculation and condemnation of others. Take your wounded heart to Him. He understands.

Be prayerful. Be patient. Get to praising. Press into Jesus for His power, and bake pound cake for friends…😉 He’s got a plan and a purpose for our pain. 🙌  We can do all things through Him!

Matt. 27:12~When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.

Psalm 34:18~The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Hebrews 11:1~Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

John 16:33~”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.”

Romans 8:1-2Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

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

Romans 8:31~What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Matt.11:29~Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Just One

The letter H made all the difference. It should have been an M, but I’ll blame the foggy contact lenses. I saw H. This tiny, insignificant mix up lead to an adventurous drive through unsavory parts of San Bernardino last week as I looked for the carpet store to pick up some laminate we ordered. What I thought was “Hill” Street was really “Mill” Street, and so my undesired exploration began…with a phone battery that was dying….as I wandered up a big hill….in a residential area…so obviously NOT the right way.😆

Sitting in front of the home that was clearly not a carpet store, Siri announced I “had arrived at my destination”. It should have been funny but I was frustrated, in a hurry, and annoyed at my own lack of awareness. How did I let myself get here? It should have been obvious this was the wrong direction. So I did what any rational person would do in this situation, I scolded my phone.😜 Stupid phone! 😆Upon further investigation of the address, I realized Siri wasn’t so dumb after all. She had followed the directions according to my prompting, making me the not-so-smart-one. I apologized to my dying phone as she flashed “low battery” and begged her to continue working for another 15 minutes to get me to the correct place. Am I the only one that has conversations with my phone? 😉 Siri persevered, without talking back to me, and I had just enough battery to get there. Crisis averted. 🙌 Phones are very forgiving.😁

We can get off course so easily, can’t we? One negative thought, one reach toward retaliation, one flicker of fear, one jolt of jealousy, one selfish stop or start…just one. It only takes a teensy tiny little emotional detour on our part and before we know it we have a relational blow out, end up in a dead end job, circle the round-about of unforgiveness, lurk down the dark alleys of addiction, climb the hills of materialism and greed, or cruise the courts of complacency….Complacent Court can really trip me up. The trappings of this world are to many to name. We need a dependable navigation device to “stay on the straight path” (our favorite Hermie and Wormie reference, for those of you with kids.😉) and we have one….The Bible.😊 God’s word is full of directions for living a full, joy-filled life, but He doesn’t force us to open it, seek Him, or even follow His promptings. He will let us travel down unsavory roads if we choose to do so, but He freely offers a better way. He is in fact, The WAY, The Truth and The Life.

Jesus will never get you lost and He will never lose you. When traveling down roads of uncertainty, His words bring comfort, peace, and assurance, even if circumstances remain unresolved. He gives glimpses of light in the dark alleys we meander down; enough light to get us back to His path, without shaming us home. He doesn’t scold us when we mess up or blow up; He just points to The Way, gently whispering directions to the perfect plan He has for us. His plans are far from easy for they require we maintain dependency on Him, but they will be full of hope and abundant blessings. (Not usually the monetary kind of blessings. That kind never lasts anyway.). I’m talking about the blessings of peace through the storms, hope, when life is uncertain, and above all, love, that is like no other. His love is eternal and not based on what we do, but what He’s done for us. It’s lavish. It quenches our deepest thirst. It restores us to health. It guides and is gracious. Oh how He loves us…

Need to get back on track with Jesus this week? It only takes one thought, one decision, one split second of surrender to find your way back to His way….just one. Seek Him and you will find Him. He’s not hard to find, if you’re looking. Make sure as you seek Him through His word, you don’t try to alter His directions to suit your path. You’ll just end up lost, probably on a hill you don’t want to be on, wondering how you got there. Let His word guide your path, even when it hurts. He may require that we journey down roads we never thought we would, but that’s where faith flourishes; leading us down unimaginable adventures with Jesus. Keep seeking Him one moment at a time, one turn at a time, one yield at a time, through the stops and starts. Don’t let one undesired stop derail you from His plan; just re-route, and get back on track. We won’t follow His roadmap perfectly and we are bound to get lost from time to time….that’s ok, He’s very forgiving. We can do all things through Him!

John 14:6~Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Jer. 29:13~You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Proverbs 3:5-6~Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

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.”

When Happy Can’t Be Found

IMG_0258Grumpy. That pretty much sums up my attitude this past week. I have plenty of excuses for my grumpiness. We moved homes last Thursday, not just homes, but locations. The relocation meant a new home, new church, new city, new schools for our 3 kids, new EVERYTHING. New can be great and exciting….and overwhelming and exhausting. Add a bronchial cold/flu just to make things even more draining, and you’ve got one grumpy, fit to be tied, no whistling while I work, Mom. Did I mention all 3 of my kids are at 3 different schools? Try being in 3 places at once. As far as I know, only God can do that. 😉 Do you hear the edge in my tone? My kids and hubby sure have.😳 I don’t like grumpy me, but sometimes, happy just can’t be found.

You know what else is new? His mercies, every morning. In reading my devotional this morning, I was reminded of Gods amazing gift of mercy. Mercy is an act of kindness, compassion, or favor when it is unmerited and undeserved. Certainly I don’t deserve such love and grace from a God who is holy, and yet He says He gives it to me daily; freely and with great affection. How comforting is the love of our Heavenly Father?  His mercy is like a warm, cozy comforter that protects and comforts my tender, frightened and weary heart. Underneath all my grumpiness is a tired, worn out, scared Mom. He knows my every fretful thought and He longs to bring His reassurance and tenderness….even to grumpy me…and to grumpy you….or indifferent you….or selfish you….or bitter you….the list goes on and on, and so does His endless love for each of us.

I hope you experience His mercy today and then extend it to someone else in need. Life is full of challenges and we never know how much someone else might need a kind word, a kind act, or the freeing gift of mercy. It might just free them from Grumpy to Happy. Maybe not, but either way, God will be pleased and that’s reason enough. Mercy is undeserved…so don’t worry about those in your life earning it. None of us can. Today, I’m whistling while I work, wrapped in His mercy comforter. I’ve got this, because He’s got me. We can do ALL things through Him who gives us strength.

Lamentations 3:22-23. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Luke 6:36~36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Titus 3:5~He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

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.

Truth Fairy

The post-it note was placed on my pillow. I didn’t find it until hours later as I crawled into bed for the night. It read: “Mom, I am sad a lot because you told me tooth fairies are not real, but you are right and I still love you.” The back said, “Goodnight“, followed by several sad faces.😢 Oh, my sweet girl. It both hurt my heart a little and made me chuckle. Earlier that day evening Ashlyn, my youngest daughter, who was in first grade at the time, had asked for the truth….is the tooth fairy real? I remember looking at her and asking, “are you sure you want the truth?” Sometimes what we think we want and what we actually want are two very different things. Like, I think I want to eat healthy, but I want bread, desserts and Cheese-Itz more.😜 That is my reality.

After reassuring me she needed to know the truth, I informed her that I was the mysterious tooth fairy, which is why, on occasion, money was delayed in its arrival. Turns out the tooth fairy is tired at the end of the day, and forgetful. I could see her face fall a bit with this new reality, one she already knew deep down, but longed to keep the magic alive.

We both hurt that night. She would no longer wait with anticipation for dollar bills to magically appear under her pillow. My little girl was growing up. Growing doesn’t occur without some pain.

While we know the truth sets us free, we don’t always want to be freed from our cages; those things, behaviors, beliefs, and opinions that falsely make us feel safe, but just trap us. There is no real growth when we choose to stay incarcerated by sin, and yet, the truth can seem more painful than the lie. When we choose the lie, our growth is stunted.

There was an invalid that Jesus encountered along His journey. He had been disabled for 38 years. Jesus question to Him probed at the truth of the matter, “Do you want to get well?” It implies that He had a choice in His health and well-being. What sick, injured, or disabled person wouldn’t choose to be rid of their pain and infirmity? On the surface, it seems a redundant question for Jesus to ask. But the truth is, many of us choose to stay emotionally and spiritually sick because we don’t want to face the truth. The sting of truth can cause us to shrink back and hide in the lie. We might say, yes of course we want to be well, even while choosing sickness for our souls. When we choose to ignore the Truth, it has physical effects. You can not separate the physical from the spiritual. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not insinuating that physical illness is always a result of poor choices, but rather, there are times we choose what is spiritually and emotionally unhealthy for our souls. Its easier to grab junk food than health food, but there are long term effects of eating junk food.

God has been opening my eyes to some truth over this past year with all the political hype around our nation. He’s been asking me, “do you want to be well?” My honest answer, yes and no. You see, I have strong opinions about our nation, politicians, policies…etc. Opinions are deeply rooted inside of me. I’ve had to bite my tongue, my lip, my cheek, you get the idea, to keep from spewing verbal judo all over social media. Ouch, my mouth hurts. Lol. It’s worth the pain though because I don’t want my way on this earth, I want His. It’s not for my kingdom. It’s all for His kingdom to come and His will to be done. This doesn’t mean I stop having opinions; just filter them through His word. I want to be well, so I’ve taken all my internal angst to Jesus, and asked Him to give me His perspective; so much healthier than my own. It turns out much of the political ranting and raging I’ve been entertaining is nothing but spiritual junk food.

Here’s what I keep hearing: He is The Way, The Truth and The Life. If I want to live a balanced life in this politically tumultuous world, I must keep my eyes and heart focused on the One that offers truth and gives life. I realize that isn’t earth shattering information. It’s simple, but not easy. We so easily operate out of our feelings instead of the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to hear His promptings over the shrill accusations on both sides of the political aisle….but we MUST.

We must be still before Him, dig deep into His word, and live a life of surrender to our God. It’s how people are going to see Jesus…or not. There is a time to speak out, but first, we must listen. James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”. Why should we do this? He answers in verse 20, “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” Human anger doesn’t produce what God is after. There is a time for righteous anger, but usually our anger is not righteous at all. It’s motivated by feelings, opinions, our own experience and things of this world. God does not care about our political preferences. We won’t be defined by our political persuasions in heaven. None of it will matter anymore. No republicans. No democrats. Just people. How glorious will that be?😀🙌👏👏👏

Friends, my encouragement to you is, don’t share angry posts without praying first. Don’t get caught up in the frenzy of emotions that well up inside of you when you see posts that are contrary to yours. Unplug from the smorgasbord of junk and seek Him first. Stop, look and listen. (If it works when kids cross the street, it can work for adults when posting.😉) STOP your fingers from clicking share. LOOK to Jesus and His word before responding. LISTEN to that inner voice, the Holy Spirit, encouraging you to love others to Him. Love won’t always translate into being a peace maker, just make sure it’s Him leading you. Let God judge. He’s way more qualified for that position than any of us….and don’t forget, we have an amazing defender, Jesus.

There is no politician that’s going to solve the worlds problems. The tooth fairy doesn’t exist anymore than the perfect politician does. Obama was no more perfect than Trump, and vice versa. They are just men, created by God, who are in need of a savior. So, let’s not kick them to the curb or put them on a pedestal. There is only One who saves and that is Jesus. By the way, He loves Obama and Trump equally, whether or not they love Him in return.

In my attempt to follow The Way toward His truth, He has prompted me to keep my eyes on myself…kind of like, keep your hands to yourself. (We learn important lessons as kids.😉). Every time I feel tempted to unleash the wrath of self righteousness on FB, God pokes my heart and asks how I’m doing personally in furthering His kingdom. How am I loving my spouse and my kids? How am I loving those that are hard to love? How am I overcoming obstacles by His grace? When we keep looking in the mirror rather than wagging our fingers at others for all of their wrongdoings, we can actually see life change. We can be world changers for Jesus as we take responsibility for doing our part in this world.

Since I’m already sprinkling Truth-fairy dust today, might as well dust off the lie of shame too. I’ve witnessed a multitude of posts shaming one another; primarily between my Christian friends. It sounds something like this, “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves for voting for 👤(fill in your own blank)….or for agreeing with such and such policies.” Really? What does God say about shame? Look at Romans 8 as a guide. There is no condemnation in Jesus my friends, so please, stop, look and listen before you click post. Jesus is clear that everyone will know we are His disciples by how we have love for each other, not how politically correct we are. The world is watching. Let love reign.

What Truth are you struggling with embracing? Are you choosing to be well or have you been binge eating spiritual junk food for the soul? It feels easy there, believing what you want and what comes naturally. Junk food tastes and feels good in the moment, but causes truth decay. We lose our spiritual strength when we fill up on junk. Fill up on His truth in His word. He will help you change from natural instincts to supernatural strength! God asks us to do what we can not do on our own strength, so He gets the glory. We will grow stronger and experience more freedom as we become more proficient Truth seekers. Stop, look, and listen. He will set you free. We can do ALL things through Him!🙏🙌

John 14:6~Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Matt.6:33~ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
John 8:33~Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 13:35~By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.