A Letter to You…

Child of Mine-

If only you could grasp the depths of MY love for you, MY intimate care of every detail of your life.  If only you could suffocate the shouts of worldliness for MY gentle, calm voice, you would hear all that you need.   You would truly be living as I have created you, as I have planned for you.  Your focus would be completely on ME.

THIS life, a life with ME, is not a fantasy, it is truth and it is wondrous and fruitful.  Choose ME…over your to-do list, over your friends, your phone, your workouts, your cleaning, your bucket-list, your family, your image, your work, your ministry, your house.  I AM bigger than your pain, your heart-aches, your questioning, your fears, your weaknesses.

I AM here…I AM always here.  In all these moments, in all the gladness, the struggles, the doubts, the stillness, the mourning, the routines…I AM.

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

LOVE,

Your Creator

 

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

 

 

 

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A Note to a Friend

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Dear Friend,

I have written this note to you numerous times in my head.  Over and over the words turn, the thoughts grow but nothing ever seems to fully encompass the message I want you to hear.

So I start by asking for your forgiveness…

If I have not show you grace, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, love, kindness, humility, gentleness, if I have been less than a follower of Christ…please forgive me.  If I have caused your heart to be calloused, for you to doubt God’s people, for you to feel as an outcast…please forgive me.

Words can hurt; even more so to someone who is already hurting.  My intention was never to drag you down any deeper into the pit of despair.  Never did I want you to feel the hand of humanly judgment, when God’s judgment is enough.

If you will allow me to explain with meager words how I think ‘friends’ are attempting to help…

Iron sharpens Iron, just as one friend sharpens another.  Yep, we all need accountability.  I am the first to say if you see me trapped in satan’s lies, please fill me in.  Don’t let me go down that road any further.  But the problem here is there are times in our lives when we just aren’t Iron.  We are weak and vulnerable and raw, so when others come along and try to sharpen us (or expose darkness) it’s painful.

I am not saying we should overlook, or allow a friend to sit in darkness, but we should first show grace, love, mercy and compassion.  And sadly many times our first emotions are anger, frustration, and annoyance.  We rush after the sinner and our words shout out, how could you?  We see the wounds of those around without thinking of the gushing pain of the one fighting in darkness.  We throw stones from a distance instead of love from up-close.  We pick the wrong battle with the wrong enemy.

So, I humbly say to Jesus, I am sorry I was no help in this battle.  I prayed, yes.  But I also judged, gossiped, used words without grace…spoke without seeking God first.  I am thankful the power of God can overcome, even when His people fall short.

I love you my dear friend.  I would do battle for you any day!  Thank you for being vulnerable and speaking out.

CRAVE

As I was taking an early morning drive to the airport, a thought came to me…

If I do not crave YOU – to worship You, to study You, to speak to You, to learn from You – what am I replacing You with?  How did this happen?

I remember a time when I craved God.  When I could easily awake and crawl out of bed at 5 or 5:30 am, just to sit, read and learn from Him.  There was no special drink involved, no certain Bible study I was following, no dire need I was necessarily in, it was my Creator and I, it lasted for over an hour each morning and I could not get enough.

It started as a call to prayer.  It was a very distinct warning that I needed to devote my morning to praying for my husband.  Honestly, at first I might have been obedient out of fear…fear that something was going to happen to him.  Josh had been working a lot in his own business and things in our lives were very subtling crumbling.  (Story to come later, it’s a sweet one!)

There are few words to describe a life like that – a life so in tune with the Holy Spirit that you can hear His every lesson for you.  It is beautiful and magical and far above words.  I recall reading Scriptures and He would give me a name to be praying that specific Scripture for.  In fact, He would give me Scriptures to right down and insert someone’s name in.  He was the Teacher and I was the willing student and it flowed like life should.

So here I am, vowing to get back to that kind of relationship.  To CRAVE Him more than my to-do list, more than my cleaning and laundry schedule, more than my time with friends, more than my breakfast, even more than my workouts.

Yes, Father, I say yes!  To all of You.  You are my Source for all that I need.  There is no other fulfillment than sitting at Your feet.  Forgive me when I put anything or anyone before You – Idolatry.  Take this life You have given me and use it for Your Glory.

Love You

-A

Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever.  (John 6:35 MSG)

“Glory in the Highest”

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the Glory that will be revealed in us.”   Romans 8:18

Ten years ago I was not drowning in the worldly preparations of Christmas, as it is so easy for me to do today.  In fact, I had gotten very little in terms of gifts…a couple of puzzles for my young son, a gun cleaning kit for my husband, and if I had gotten anything else I don’t recall.  It was not about earthly presents for us…it was about a Heavenly Presence.

On December 22, 2005, I was giving birth to Glory, my daughter.

10 weeks early…

10 weeks less I would be her mom on this earth…

10 weeks too soon for my heart.

And it was Christmas.

I know the heartache that can accompany this time of year.  It’s like a low-lying, unspoken of cloud that just hangs.  Not everyone can see or feel this dense fog but if you do, it’s presence is difficult to deny.

I remember.

But know there is Hope.  There is a time for this.  I have always felt God has you there for a reason.  And He is not letting you go until you are ready. Maybe you can even change your way of viewing that cloud.

If you search the word ‘cloud’ in the Bible you might find an entirely different outlook that is anything but grim…

“I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.” Genesis 9:13

“And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.” Exodus 13:22

” Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.” Num 9:22

But in your great mercy you did not abandon them to die in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud still led them forward by day, and the pillar of fire showed them the way through the night.” Neh 9:19

“Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Ex 24:18

Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord— rejoice in his presence!” Ps 68:4

For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Ps 57:10

“Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”  Mark 9:7

 “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory.”  Luke 21:27

Just like Moses, maybe He calls us each by name into His cloud, His presence…

With His agenda…

With His timing…

To guide us…

And transform us.

A Divine Appointment

“But now this is what the Lord says–

‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.'”  (Isaiah 43:1-2)

Last night I got to meet God’s Glory.  A sweet, precious, much anticipated little baby girl.  Our introduction to each other was not prearranged, it was not anticipated and to be honest I had no idea she was making her entrance into the world yesterday.  But God knew.  He had arranged a Divine appointment for us to meet.

A Bit of History….

I met a young couple, Bryan and Meg, February 2014 in a small, dark labor and delivery room at Wesley Hospital.  That too was a Divine appointment.  This poor momma was preparing to deliver her baby girl, yet that sweet baby girl was without her earthly life.  It was greatly unexpected as she was quickly approaching her due date.  Typically, I do not meet with families before they deliver their babies.  I guess I assumed that was a time reserved for families only and I come later to help them on what their next steps might be.  (If you don’t know, I am HIGHLY involved in the ministry of AgapeCare Cradle…we minister to families who have lost babies…you can check out our website, but don’t judge us on it’s lack of technological advancement).

(Back to the story)…

If it wasn’t for Meg’s father, being slightly PERSISTENT that I come to see her before she delivers, I probably would not have visited with her until the next day.  But God had a much designed purpose for our presence (Amy, executive director of AgapeCare was with me).  Walking into that labor and delivery room is something I will never forget.  The lighting was very minimal, as if a dark cloud hung low, yet you could sense light but it’s presence was almost hidden as if it was there but needed to be found.

We spoke.  I shared my story.  We prayed.  The Holy Spirit moved.  The pain was there, the sadness was still deep, the cloud hung around.  But HOPE made it’s entrance.  That family had permission to find the light, to search for the good. God works in indescribable ways and I am beyond-words blessed to have been apart of this family’s story.

Last Night…

Bryan and Meg delivered an adorable baby girl, Gloriana Sue, Glory.  It was as if God was revealing to me that I had come full circle.  I smiled.  Not that Bryan and Meg’s girl was named after my Glory (it was just the name God had revealed to Meg for their baby girl), but it was as if God knew what would speak to my heart.  Like He was just walking right beside me and telling me, ‘See, I still have more to your story that you could have never even dreamed up.’

Our meeting last night was bittersweet.  I did not come to meet Glory.  I came because I was called to meet with another couple who sadly lost their baby girl yesterday.  What a wonderful couple that I am confident God will use for His purposes. I pray they can have a small glimpse of the hope and joy I feel today.  That they can know, trust, lean-on the Great Comforter.  That He, and only He will reveal the plans He has for them through all this.  It was no coincidence that they were there yesterday, that I was there, that Glory was there, and that Bryan and Meg were there all at the same time.  God has a plan, set to reveal itself in it’s own time.

Nine years ago, Josh and I were that couple.  Filled to the brim with pain too harsh for words to define, we faced each day never grasping how time could move within such a thick cloud encompassing us.  In the depths of that season of my life there is no way I would have imagined all that God would do with His Glory.  I gave Him death on December 22, 2005, my Glory, in exchange for life, His Glory.

The Point…

What I hope you know by reading all this scattered rehashing of Divine events…First, God is so Cool!  Secondly, He knows. He knows our heartaches, our pain, our shortcomings, our trials, our questions, and people… He. Has. Got. It.   If you listen, if you desire Him, He will speak to you. His hand is not too short to save. He will quietly, very subtly reveal His plans for you.  Trust. Believe. Praise.  Do it not out of religious obligation, but as heart-quenching thirst for your One and Only. He wants you and that means you knowing Him.  Let’s step out of rehearsed prayers and memorized religious practices and let’s cry out to Him in the good as well as the bad.

I know the cloud that can cover life.  Believe me when I say, I GET IT!   Read again the words above in Isaiah 43.  YOU are redeemed, HE summons YOU by name, YOU are HIS.  Let that mean something in your life and do not take it lightly. What satan intends for evil, God has intended for good.  Look to the cross for that story!

So people bring your junk.  Check your baggage at the Cross.  Fall to the foot of His throne.  He promises to work for the good of those who love Him, those called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Father-

Wow, You never cease to amaze me!  Just when I think I can close the book on the story of Your Glory, You are there.  Never failing, never dull, You speak straight to my heart.  Father, I pray we choose to see You in all things.  That we trust You to show us the good when the world screams bad.  Thank You for trading death for new life abundantly.  I love You.

Disclosure:  This story will probably make very little sense unless you know Glory’s Story.  You can find it under the God’s Glory tab above.  Thanks.

Refined in the Furnace

“As sure as God puts His children in the furnace, He will be in the furnace with them.” Charles Spurgeon

Hmmmm…

Let me just start out by saying I could totally plagiarise my entire devotional for yesterday’s entry.  It was convicting.  And that happens almost every day (if you are looking for a good devotional – “The One Year Devotional; Walk with God”- Tiegreen).

God’s word is even better…okay, way better.  But there is something about a good devotional that brings His word down to right-here-right-now in language that totally speaks to right where you are in life.  Amazingly (and sometimes a bit annoyingly) devotionals speak the truth of what we are facing.

I digress…

The conviction?   Where is my heart yearning when I am faced with a trial?  How far do I let my mind wander into worldliness?  If God keeps His promises…if God has a plan for me…if He is my refuge, strength, stronghold…then why do I get so entrapped in making my life more comfortable, more pleasing, more like ‘everyone’ else’s?  Why am I so quick to want to jump ship when the storm is starting to brew?  Is my faith only skin-deep?

But oh, He sees it coming.  I pray (ehum…beg).  I bargain. I deny.  I am anxious and sweating now.  I start planning my escape.  Acting as if He wouldn’t see or know of my plan B, C or even D, I become consumed with looking for the nearest exit out of this uncomfortable furnace.

It’s getting hot isn’t it?  Why is God not rescuing me?  Where is He?  Doesn’t He see me searching for the…  And then it hits me.  What am I searching for?  Him?  Or the world?

Truth be told, I can see God work in the big trials of my life (and believe me there have been plenty).   When I see no other alternative and only then am I quick to passionately seek His face.  It’s when I have minor set-backs, little annoyances that I look for the quick-fix way out.  Truthfully, waiting on God’s timing is not my ideal.

And that is precisely where FAITH steps in.  Faith says:

I must be careful to not believe the lies of the Deceiver (Matt 16:23).  God speaks truth.  Furnace or no furnace, He is what I seek.  He is where my help comes from.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Dear Father,

This life I call ‘mine’ is so far from that. Help me to remember this life is not about MY comfort, but about whatever brings You the Glory. Thank You for sticking with me in the furnace…for giving me the time I need to grow in You.  I love You.

A

Love…a heart or a cross?

In elementary Sunday school, we are working on the virtue “friendship.”  The kids and I were working on a devotional yesterday pertaining to friendship…it was about love.  And like usual it struck a question in my soul…how do I view love?

In our study we drew a big red heart on the board and wrote all the things that the ‘heart’ represented to us, such as: love, kindness, candy (Danner), nothing bad, no sadness, friends, happiness, etc  And then we drew a cross on the board and likewise wrote what it meant to us, such as: death, Jesus, sadness, sin, evil, scared, worry, painful.  The difference shocked me.  The cross is the greatest act of love God has shown us, yet it is viewed with such sorrow.  It is a reminder of who we are without Jesus…it is a reminder of what all unbelievers carry around with them, because Jesus’ sacrifice is not real to them, so they must carry their own crosses without hope.  Yet, I can choose to carry that same cross daily and allow it to weigh me down just the same.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b)  He is being honest with us.  Yes, we will have hardships, daily…but through the cross He has taken up those hardships and overcome them just as we overcome them with His joy, grace, mercy, love.  Jesus also tells us to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  Go through the hardships and trials because they will come anyways, don’t spend time fighting them, persevere, and by following Him (closely) we will experience that joy, peace, love (fruits of the Spirit) that He so freely gives because He overcame the cross.  

So all that is left of the cross is love.  He is The Overcomer…so we don’t have to be…we can be the receivers of all His goodness if we choose to accept it.

Dear Father-

Thank You for Your ultimate act of love, for sending Your Son to overcome all of our hardships so we may pass through them knowing our Great Reward is You!  Let us cling to You and Your fruits and not to the emptiness of this world.  I lift up anyone who does not have an exceedingly abundant relationship with You…that they may lift up their cross and exchange it for the cross You overcame.  Praise Your Holy Name!  I love You!