Sunday, June 9, 2013

Badges of Honor

The first week of Summer 2013 was filled with blessings. The kiddos..all FOUR..vacationed in Orange Beach with Mimi and Grandad for the week and Jason and I... Well, five nights ALONE in SanDestin, need I say more? 
The kids had a blast. They played at the beach, swam at the pool, left their mark on the water park and every video arcade near the Alabama/Florida state line.  
Jason and I, ahhhhh...we slept (and slept and slept), ate at some delicious GROWN UP restaurants and had some much needed alone time. Hear this: I showered every day! I wore makeup everyday! I wore stylish, adult clothes.. from THIS season!! It was fabulous...aside from missing our little monkeys the whole time of course.  
We all returned home Sunday rested and rejuvenated from our respective vacation spots and the unpacking, washing and story swapping commenced. 
Well, it's Tuesday...two days later...I sit here typing, still wearing Sunday's make-up and T-shirt (which happens to be an old college one, circa 1998, that's covered in coffee and applesauce)--not cute! And someone please tell me, what happened to my spray tan? It must have faded.. And what happenend to my pretty feet? The Spa Pedicure from the resort is shot from little Croc-clad feet stepping on mine.  Lobster? Filet Mignon? dinner last night was a bowl of Cap'n Crunch cereal after getting all the kids down! 
Forty-eight hours and it's official..I'm back to being a re-fried mom. No more lazy days on sandy beaches..white, gauze kaftan blowing in the breeze..cold drink in one hand, a great book in the other (insert record scratch)...
I was spending time with the Lord this morning, feeling quite gross and quite pitiful as He began speaking to me about: What else?  Princesses. I was excited about that because..well, I am one you know..and if He is your Father you are too.
The King began by reminding me of the world's view of a princess: She will have the nicest clothing, accessories, carriages, and castles. She will be very concerned with external beauty and of course the nicest beauty treatments. She will desire the best food. She will be served by others, and desire the attention of others.  This is the world's view of a princess..not His.  
Then, He showed me His daughters...His princesses. She will seek things contrary to this world. She will probably not have the nicest earthly  clothing or possessions. She will be more concerned with spiritual clothing...robes of righteousness and being clothed in humility (Isaiah 61:10; 1 Peter 5:5) She should not be concerned with worldly standards of beauty or the nicest beauty treatments, but instead that she carries the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 90:17).  His beauty will radiate from her. She will not prioritize the "best" earthly food, but will feast daily on the Bread of  Life (John 6:35), the Manna from Heaven (Psalms 78:24)...Jesus, the Word made flesh, and she will be satisfied (John 1:14). Above all, she will be a servant...much more concerned with serving others than with being served (Mark 9:35). 
Today, this princess is servant to a man, a seven year old, two five year olds, and a 14 month old.  In the world, a servant's clothing is often old and sometimes covered with coffee and applesauce. I am thankful for many things today, but above all that My Father showed me that these two stains are badges of honor, jewels in a crown. A crown that I thankfully and joyfully cast at His feet.  Isn't it awe-inspiring how God's economy is always upside down to our human understanding?  

"Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgemets and unfathomable His ways!"
 Romans 11:33

"Those who walk in pride, He is able to humble" 
Dan 4:37     

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pray and Keep Watch For Me

This June, my sweet husband was on mission in Africa--Kenya actually. Once he shared with me that he was feeling called to this, I began to pray--for protection, provision, anointing, salvation--for so many things.. Many prayers went up for him, his team, the lives they would encounter. It wasn't until he was gone that it occurred to me how much we would struggle here at home. Boy did we.  Our three little boys and I are blessed with such a wonderful father and wonderful husband in him, and let me just say, I rarely have everything on my shoulders from day to day. The day he left, during my first time with the Lord, He reminded me of Mark 14--Jesus in the Garden.  "Pray and keep watch for Me, so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (vs 38).  Jesus asked this of His trusted disciples, His closest companions, while in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

There are so many things going on in this scene, but two stood out to me during this time.  First, how, in times of danger--whether it be physical, spiritual, or danger of "falling into temptation"--there is only one dependable option--pray.  He is the only One that will truly comfort and protect us, but do we go to Him? Peter, James and John, hours before were ready to die for Jesus.  "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You! And they were all saying the same thing"(vs 31), and then moments later they could not merely stay awake to pray. Is this any different from my proclaimations to love Him and follow Him, then 'little' day to day choices of worldly comforts over going to Him?  I say I love Him above all.  I say I love Him more than my life, but when I am tested, what do I turn to? This message was such a wake up call for me, but the next brought me to my knees.
The most beautiful part of this scene to me is the gentleness shown from our Father to His Son.  While praying, our sweet Jesus agonized and pleaded in the garden. He knew what He was facing.  He asked God two separate times if possible for this cup to pass from Him (vs 36,39).  Each time, He returned to a gentle reminder, of our hopelessness--how desperately we need a Savior, and why this burden was His alone.

Jesus returned twice to find Peter, James and John-arguably his closest disciples, sleeping. These were men who had walked with Him, seen miracles, seen Him transfigured while speaking with Moses and Elijah, and men who hours before were ready 'to die for Him."  Jesus pleaded, "My soul is deeply grieved even to the point of death..keep watch for Me," and they couldn't even stay awake. When He returned to them sleeping, I believe Our Father, in those precious moments, was gently answering His prayer--this could not pass from Him.  He was displaying that even those who try are capable of nothing without His sacrifice. Even with the best of intentions, we fail miserably everyday.  The sheer beauty of this scene leaves me speechless.

"Pray and keep watch for Me, so that you will not fall into temptation."  We are hopeless without Him--certainly before we know Him, but also after. It reminds me of one of my favorite worship songs ( I know..I love music):

How many names
Can I use to explain
The love of my Jesus
The life that He gave...

Your name is Jesus
Your name is Jesus
You're the wonderful, counselor, my friend
You're what I hold on to
I know that You brought me through
All the days of loss and to the cross, You knew
That I'd need a Savior

How many songs
Can I sing to proclaim
Your wondrous love
Oh and beauty so great
Oh and, What would I say
If You brought down the rain
And everyday I walked through the pain
My heart would still say… 
Your name is Jesus
Your name is Jesus
You're the wonderful, counselor, my friend
You're what I hold on to
I know that You brought me through
All the days of loss and to the cross, You knew
That I'd need a Savior
  -Among the Thirsty   
How many times has the Lord asked me to pray and I didn't? How many times have I felt the Spirit nudging me to do something uncomfortable or difficult that I didn't do? Or put off until it's too late? Oh yes, I fall asleep.

He knew...and in that moment He was reminded...that we need a Savior.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Nails

Last night there was an accident at our house.  It was close to the boys bedtime, but they needed to burn off some extra energy. This happens often, and when Mommy and Daddy are "kaput," we usually send them upstairs to Jackson's room to "jump and slide." His bed is a play-fort with a platform, ladder, and a slide.  Last night was one of those nights.  
I was in our bedroom reading, and Jason was in the office doing some work. I could hear the boys laughing and playing, but suddenly, the playing sounds turned to screaming. We have had some pretty scary stuff happen in our house concerning the arm catch on fire, two people fall down a flight of stairs, and more.. So, I guess I'm sort of on high alert. As soon as I realized something was off, I was running and praying aloud. The twins met me at the middle of the staircase crying, "Jack fell" and "Jack's stuck."  Sprinting up the stairs and holding my breath as I turned the corner, I found him.  He had fallen behind his headboard, in between where it meets with the wooden fort. These two structures (the headboard and fort) are supposed to be attached--with many, long sharp nails.  
He caught himself by his arms and was hanging there...kicking and screaming.  As soon as I saw him, I knew he had nails in his chest.  I did not know how many, or how deep they were. Still praying aloud, I pulled the headboard back with my left arm, slipped my right arm around and in front of him and was careful to pull him straight back off the nails--to not cause more damage.  Then I lifted him out.  Right then Jason came running in the room.  I laid him on the floor as we, frantically, were looking for the injuries and the blood...but there was none. We flipped him over, looked at his back, flipped him back.. I refocused my eyes... We could not believe what we were seeing. Praying turned to praising.  There is no way possible those nails did not at LEAST scratch him.  He was wedged, with all of his weight on his chest, plus the weight of the headboard.
I held him and rocked him while Jason tended to the twins, and we all calmed down.  Jason and I started thanking God. When I pray over him in that very bed as he sleeps, I ask the Lord to protect him and to surround him with powerful angels.  He is faithful. So faithful.
This morning I was talking to God about a personal struggle I have been having with my thoughts.  He reminded me that when the negative/sinful thoughts come, to rebuke them and replace them with a Philippians 4:8 thought. I asked Him to give me one for today--just a default, pure, joyful thought.. 

He gave me one. "Think on the cross and your children."
He then showed me that last night, OUR precious little son, was saved by Him from being pierced by those horrible nails...  Yet, He sent HIS most precious, only Son to endure those horrible nails and so much more...for us.  Oh how He loves us...

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" Isaiah 53:5
3-5 inches apart/Aprox. 1.75 inch in length

"And when Jesus had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet" Luke 24:40

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blessed be Your Name

The sermon series "Questions?" wrapped up yesterday with Kyle York delivering a powerful word on "What's the Point of My Pain?" This particular topic is near to my heart anyway..mostly for two reasons: because of how our Father has shown me so powerfully (yet ever so gently) why things have happened in my own life and how He is using it for His glory, and even more, He has blessed me with a passion to see other women come to this same place in thier faith journey.
The message was also timely..we can barely watch the reports coming out of Joplin, Missouri. The death toll is rising. The devestation is unbareable. The beautiful words written by Mandi Mapes after the earthquake disaster in Haiti have been running through my mind all morning..I meditate on them often..

In Your arms
is where I want to be
when my world
comes crashing down on me
so hold me close
keep me Yours always
bid me, break me, be my rock
for now and all my days

whom have I
when my heart begins to fail
when sorrow fills the streets
and sounds of death prevail
Jesus is my hope
and I know He stills the wind
so take my very life away
as long as I get Him

my soul longs
for the day I'll see Your face
when sin and death will pass
and tears are wiped away
so let the sky fall down
and earth and cities quake
and I'll say of my God and King
Lord, blessed be Your name

blessed be, blessed be Your name
blessed be Your holy name

"The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.." Ex 34:6

He never leaves His throne.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Body

First, You showed me Yourself. I believed You. Then You showed me Your will for me--the hope of my calling. I heard YOU, Father, but I listened to man. Wholeness. Perfection. To be completely unbroken.  I strived for this.  I strive for it.  I hear You, Lord. I will never reach it. It is not Your plan. Broken to Beautiful, You say. Bring darkness to light. I don't have to be good enough to walk out Your plans for me. I don't have to be whole enough, fixed enough..You call--We answer..period. I heard You, but I listened to man. "Stop regarding man who's breath of life is in his nostrils: Why should he be esteemed?" "I am the LORD your God who brought you up from the land of Egypt."

My faith faltered. Finally...renewed, I stepped forward. No. Limped forward. Then You took me by the hand and showed me the way. And now, now You show me that wholeness, that beautiful, elusive wholeness, is in the journey.... through the very ones you have called me to.

"And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised,because God had provided something better for us,so that apart from us they should not be made perfect".
Hebrews 11:39-40

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Eyes are on You, Lord

Hebrews 11:24
“By faith Moses when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25. choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26. considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for He was looking to the reward. 27. By faith he left Egypt not fearing.. for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.” 

Who am I? Where do I come from? How have I hidden parts of myself ‘to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.’? The list is deep and long. My reproach was tucked away, hidden by space and time. No longer—Christ has greater riches.  He alone is worthy.  In the beginning, He was dragging me out of Egypt.  Now, I am crawling.  Lord, help me stand and walk boldly—with no fear—by keeping my eyes on You…for Your glory.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Swimming in Grace

Does the Lord use visual images to show me things because I am a visual person? Or am I a visual person because the Lord speaks to me so often in visions? Hmm.. Whichever the case, it happens often: His truths come to me in mental pictures rather than in words.  I saw us, believers...

While we were lost, we were still of the fallen world (on dry, parched ground..with our worldly thoughts and desires). Once we are in Christ, we are plunged into His grace. Like the ocean, it covers us and all our sin (perfectly symbolized in baptism).  Some plunge deeper than others and at differing times of their walk when needed (to be covered or enveloped more by His grace).
The problem is, for a lot of us, we don't know we are that ocean of grace.  We still see ourselves on that dry land--with the illusion of control, without true forgiveness--given or received, and some of us, this is where I was, until recently, have realized where we are.
We know of the grace that surrounds us, but thrash around like drowning people in the water for survival, grasping for a life-line...we have a need--a real one or a perceived one--and have not allowed Him to meet it.  It reminds me of watching Jackson, my now four-year-old, in the pool when he was younger.  Before he learned how to swim, he would panic if I took my hands off of him even in just a couple of feet of water.  I would try to explain that he could stand, but he couldn't hear me over his fear.  This was me.  I couldn't see this until I allowed the Lord to fill this place in my heart, rather than 'grasping' for something that would never measure up.  When He showed me this He also said: "I have met the need, now I will heal the wound. Tell others. Comfort them. Serve them."
You can walk on this water if you would just trust Him enough to put your feet down.    
In Christ.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Little Miracles

"Umm..Were you on fertility medication?"asked the sonographer. "No!?" Jason and I both replied in unison.. "Well, um..err..there are um two in here.." "WHAT?!?!"...Thank goodness Jason was holding Jackson (13 months at the time) or he may have passed out ;) ...and that is how monkey A (Will) and monkey B (John Wesley) made their debut into our lives. They will be turning three next week... little miracles. Identical twins--3 out of 1000 conceptions were their odds--and they made it.

Through my own personal journey, the Lord has blessed me with a unique heart and adoration for children, and the awareness that they truly are one of His greatest rewards...if you know my story.. a miracle.

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127:3

He used the passion and love in my heart to cover any fear or anxiety over what was to come. Our little miracles were born 7 weeks early and had to live in the NICU for a month. For the duration of that month we were covered by our unbelievable church family with prayer and support. Leaving our babies--either one at home or two at the hospital--was very difficult. Our Father used that time to teach me patience, thankfulness for trials, and how to mother..REALLY mother my children. To go beyond myself to advocate for what is in their best interest...whether it hurts them,hurts me, makes me uncomfortable, or embarrasses me.. it took three babies for me to understand that fully...a miracle.

Jason and I came across the picture below last night. We talked about how it is a perfect example of the Lord's power and presence and His grace and peace during that time... The twins are two months, still on apnea monitors (you can see the wires), and five lbs each...Jackson is 21 months...We were so thankful and so at peace. There was no fear. Only joy. I look back at this picture now and think "How was I not afraid or overwhelmed?"...a miracle.

Philippians 4:6"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."