Wednesday, October 30, 2013

#MovingForward

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I've never considered myself a runner - the confining shoes, the jarring of my body with every stride, the dripping sweat and out of breath gasps - all of it is not in the slightest bit exhilarating to me.  And yet I am a runner and I have been my whole life, or at least the parts I remember of it.  But my running has not been to get or to stay fit.  It has not been for sport.  And it has definitely not been to win anything - unless you consider a life of guarded loneliness a prize to be showcased on your mantel, which I ashamedly admit that for many years in my life I did see it as just that.  But that's another story for another day.

In last weeks blog post, I shared a part of my story with you that went all the way back to grade school - to the sixth grade - the year I put on my running shoes.  If you missed that post, you can read it here.  But the part of that story which speaks to what I want to share with you today is that I encountered some pretty intense bullying that year in school, with the toughest part being the fact that it came from those whom I believed to be my closest friends.  A dramatic tragedy in the life of a young child whose whole world, whose whole identity, had been wrapped up in the pursuit of being "popular."

While I could go into the details that were to be my everyday dreaded experience that school year, that is not the story I want to focus on today.  That is not where I want to dwell.  I excelled at dwelling there for far too many years.  Today, I simply want to take a glimpse back...to share with you what I've learned has kept me from #movingforward.

It was from that point on in my life in which doubt proceeded me into every room and carried into my every relationship.  It acted as a smoke screen through which I viewed my life and the world, making it very difficult to see the truth amongst the haze.  Instead, I ran...from everything...

Someone hurt me and broke my trust - I ran.
Someone rejected me - I ran.
Someone attempted to get too close - I ran.
God tried to show me His love - I ran.

I ran, I ran, I ran...same marathon story in which I always lost repeated over and over and over...

It would take me many years into my adult life, into my married life even, to realize that the smoke screen is artificial - a tool of the enemy to mask his movement in our lives - to conceal the real battle going on here for the confidence of our hearts.  A lesson I am just now beginning to fully understand.

It has been many years since I've felt any sort of ill feelings or grudges towards those grade school friends turned rivals all those years ago.  In fact, just about every one of them is on my FB friends list and I even chat with a few of them from time to time recalling the good memories we did have.  And yet, despite the forgiveness that has taken place, I still have to fight the urge daily to not put up the guard our gracious Lord has been so diligently and patiently working to remove since I made the choice to turn towards Him.  But why?  Why after all these years do I still leave my running shoes at my side ready to lace up in moments notice?  Why has there not been a #moving forward once and for all story?!  The answer? - Pg.89, "A Confident Heart," by Renee Swope:

"Sometimes that hurt little girl still has too much say in my heart.  If I listen to her, powerful yet immature emotions from my past rise to the surface."
 
Wow!  The story of my doubts summed up in two sentences.  Well, three really because she then goes on to write the best part:
 
"But they are not the truth in my life."
 
Amen!  They. Are. Not. The. Truth.  Repeat that again if you need to...
 
The truth is, The enemies plans and intentions don't fool God and they don't have to fool us either. 
 
God can clear the smoke away with just the hush of His voice - the whisper of His promises.
 
The weight of His Word is mightier than that of the enemies lies.  And so, just like lighter air is lifted and cleared to make way for denser air, so does God's promises clear the rooms of our hearts and minds, causing our haze of doubts to rise up to Him where He can begin His cleansing works and wash us with His healing love.
 
This is the knowledge I want to tuck away in my heart - the promises of our mighty God!
 
It is time to say a final good night to the lost and hurting little girl inside.  It is time to stop running from the pain that she felt.  And it is time to run instead into His healing arms where He can wrap me up in His loving truth and send me running on into His will and purpose - to run the race that God has marked out for me...you see, over the last year, I have felt called.  Called to share my story.  Called to reach out to others who are where I was - living like a robot going through the motions of life, but wanting to be free, wanting to be loved, wanting to experience life in full measure but too afraid to step out and risk getting hurt.  And me knowing that it is simply the lack of knowledge of God's love and truth in their lives -the missing presence of His prevailing promises - how can I not share...how can I not lead others to the freedom I am experiencing in God?
 
I know if I'm to do this, if I'm to be #movingforward towards the call, then I must claim God's promises over my life and give Him back the spot in my mind and heart that should only be reserved for Him.  All those doubt thoughts I've had of 'I'm not healed enough, good enough, knowledgeable enough in the Word...all those 'I haven't arrived so I need to wait' thoughts...all the fear and worrying of 'what do I have to offer' and wondering what others will say or do in reaction...all of these doubts that kept me frozen - stuck in the muck of my past - all these measly lies of the enemy must be lifted up to our Lord and replaced with His mightier truth! 
 
The enemy may have had me fooled that "my beautiful" was still a broken down child crushed by the mistrust of her grade school friends, and that "my beautiful" was not in fact beautiful at all because it is not perfect.  But the truth of our God tells us different.  The truth of our God tells us our brokenness is beautiful.  The truth of our God tells us that our brokenness is what makes us usable.  The truth of our God blows away the lies and fears that we will forever be broken!  The truth is I am broken and beautiful and you are too.  Did you hear that?  The truth IS.  Not the truth was or the truth will be, but the truth is.  Period.
 
Are you running lost in the haze of your doubts?  Is there smoke in your life that needs to be cleared?  Will you stop running with me and turn instead towards our God today?  He is there waiting for you with the hope of His promises offering you the way to begin #movingforward from the pain of your past.  I hope and pray that you'll do so. 
 
Lord, we turn toward you today and ask that you would help us to clear our smoke screen of doubts.  Fill our hearts with your promises so that each and every doubt is displaced and lifted to you for your cleansing and healing touch.  Lord, give us a confident heart in you and help us to run the true race - the race you have marked out for us and us alone.  In Jesus name, Amen.
 
 
"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." -Hebrews 12:1b-2a
 
"Why are you frightened," he asked.  "Why is your heart filled with doubt?" -Luke 24:38
 
"They will build the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." -Isaiah 61:4



        

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Heart Surrendered to Christ

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For those of you who've been reading my blog from the beginning, you may have read this story before in my #Legacy post last May, but I am sharing it here again today for those of you who are newer here and joining me from the P31 OBS blog hop for "A Confident Heart" as it is so much a part of my "heart" story...

I grew up in a really small town in North Idaho.  The kind of town where you don’t want to blink or sneeze while driving through or you just might miss it altogether.  The kind of town where everybody knows everyone and everybody thinks they know, or thinks they should know, everything about everyone they know, if you know what I mean? 

We moved to this small town when I was four and a half – the “half” being very important here because this meant that I was going to get to start kindergarten that coming fall, and I was very excited about this fact to say the least!  Unfortunately, when that first day of school finally came, my mom ended up with a very disappointed little girl on her hands because apparently Idaho’s deadline for turning five differed from that of California – the state in which we’d moved from.  As a result, I had to wait a whole other year to attend.  Oh the horror!  You’d think the world was coming to an end.  I was crushed.  Little did I know then that just one year later my excitement would begin to give way to dread.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Already Chosen

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I stood awkwardly amongst my peers, all in a row, gaze focused downward on the dewy grass of the ball field.  'Why do we have to play these games in school anyway,' I wonder, "and why can't the teacher just split us up into teams?  I HATE this!'  Feeling as if the whole world was starring at me and jeering, 'You're no good.  Why would we choose you?  We'll lose if you're on our team!' - my self esteem shrivels as each name is called that isn't mine.  And as the group I stood amongst became smaller and smaller, the desperate pleas in my mind became louder and louder.  'Please pick me, please pick me.  Please don't let me be the last chosen!"

In the world, this is how it most often works - people waiting, seeking, hoping to be chosen.  Whether by classmates for a game as a child, or as an adult for an employer for a job.  Whether to be a spouse, on a committee, or part of a ministry group.  Whatever it may be, to be included in these "teams" we usually have to be chosen first.  But not when it comes to God's Kingdom.  Here we have already been chosen.

"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God.  The LORD God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." -Deuteronomy 7:6

In God, we don't have to wait anxiously shuffling our feet wondering, 'Will my name be called next?  Will I make the team?'  In God, we don't have to be "good" enough to be included.

For IN GOD we are chosen first.  IN GOD there is no last.  IN GOD we are celebrated, honored, treasured.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#PerfectLove

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When I was instructed to turn to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 by a devotional I was reading this morning, I was almost tempted to skip right on over it.  'I've read it a million times,' I thought, 'I don't need to read this verse right now.'  But God leading, I did turn to it and read:

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

As I was reading, God was whispering to my heart, "Katrina, stop.  Examine your heart.  Open it to my Word today.  Do YOU love?"  I have to be honest here that as my eyes fell over many of those descriptions of love breathed by God, my heart whispered back, 'No Lord.  I do not.  I don't love like this."  Then, tempted to hang my head in shame, He led me to turn to Psalm 136:1...

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, His love endures forever."


"Give thanks to the Lord" because I fail to love according to His Word?  No.  "Give thanks to the Lord" because HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER!


Wow, what an awesome God we serve! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Little Tree: A Call to Growth

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Little tree, Little Tree,
Why don't you grow?
God's Word is the soil -
Dig deep so you'll know!

Little Tree, Little Tree,
Can't you see?
The quenching Spirit of the Lord,
Wants to fill you abundantly!

Little Tree, Little Tree,
Look to the sky.
Where the power of God's Son,
Shines to bring you alive!

Little Tree, Little Tree,
The time has come -
To grow and bear fruit,
For the glory of God's Kingdom!

Read: John 15: 1-8
Reflect: What is keeping you from bearing more fruit?  Do you have branches that need to be pruned or cut off altogether?  What element is lacking in your day to day walk with God that needs to be tapped into in order for you to take root and flourish?  What consequences will you face if you continue to not tap into that particular element of God?
Respond: Decide on one change you will make this week that will begin a desired growth in you, bringing glory to God. 

God is waiting...your heart is waiting! 

Be the change.

Lord, we want to grow and bear fruit for the glory of Your Kingdom.  Help us to recognize the elements of You that are missing in our everyday walks and reveal to us the change you would have us make this week.  In Jesus name, Amen.

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." -2 Corinthians 3:18

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life Interrupted

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When I took the picture above, I was aiming to get a shot of the alpacas that stood just on the other side of the fence.  I thought I had held the camera in the perfect spot in between the links of the fence to be able to capture the image that lay beyond, but apparently the focus was all wrong because this is what I got instead.  My perfect shot was interrupted by the fence that stood in my way…or was it?

Last week, in my post “#YestoGod No Matter What,” I shared about how my computer crashed for the second time since saying Yes to God to being a FB small group leader for P31 OBS and how it breaking left me feeling very discouraged initially.  It had even brought me to the point of questioning God – did I hear him right that I was to say yes to this?  I mean, how was I supposed to do an online study AND lead a group on FB for that study when the device I needed to do so was no longer working and I didn’t have the funds to have it repaired again or replaced?  Pretty valid question wouldn’t you say?

 Well, obviously I’m still doing the study because here I am posting for the blog hop, but maybe you are wondering why and how I’m still here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#YestoGod No Matter What: A Perfect Lesson in an Imperfect Post

My computer crashed today.  This is the second time it has done so since saying yes to God to be a FB small group leader for P31 OBS.  The first time was before the study actually started so it wasn't as big of a deal.  It was inconvenient for sure, as I would've liked to have had it to prepare for both attending She Speaks and the Yes to God study.  But not having it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  A blessing in the form of a lesson.  A lesson of learning to depend on God rather then myself and a lesson on turning to prayer to prepare rather than tasks.  Great lessons, but only the beginning, or computer crashing 101 if you will.  Today I advanced to computer crashing 201.
Todays crash brought about entirely new lessons leaving me #Amazed at how God uses our circumstances to grow us and mold us.  Or to shape our character to match our calling as Lysa says.
"God is using all of your experiences, both good and bad, to develop your character to match your calling." -Pg.72
Boy is He doing that in me, and I must say, it's a rather humbling process!  You see, when I had set out on this yes to God journey, I set out to make my plans, set my goals, get organized, etc.  And this week I made a lot of progress in doing just that.  I had all my perfectly pretty little poster pins created and saved, and all my perfectly prepared posts typed out and saved, and I even had all 6 wks worth of other related posters and quotes that I'd searched out to use for the study - all saved...in my computer.  I felt like I had it all under control...except for this little tiny issue throwing a crutch into my perfect little world at every turn - my malfunctioning computer!
But you know what?  The computer wasn't the issue.  There were two very different from that issues.  "I" being one of them.  Did you notice all the I statements above?  Well, there's this little thing about "I" and it's not just the length of the word.  Anytime you notice a whole lot of "I" going on, it's because their "eye" isn't focused where it should be - solely on the Lord.  I allowed my focus to be continually diverted with every "techy" issue that arose, and believe me when I say arose too numerous to count.  But this wasn't the only problem.  The second came in the form of perfection.
Rather than focusing on perfect surrender to God in my yes journey, my focus was continually being diverted to striving for perfect performance.  While I have known for many years that striving for perfection is a struggle of mine, I started to recognize it's presence in this chapter of my life in chapter 1 of Yes to God when Lysa wrote:
"Saying yes to God isn't about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day."
Despite the fact that God had given me multiple mini lessons on perfection in the past few weeks, one of which I shared just last week in my "Forever, and never.  Amen." post, and two more that I had posts in the works for, it still took this computer crashing 201 today for this particular lesson on perfection to crash into my heart.  This was God's perfect timing though, to allow the enemies fiery arrow to pierce its target.  God had everything lined up just perfect.
First of all, my daughter woke up before I did, something she rarely does, causing me to forego my usual morning quiet time and leaving me weak and wide open for attack.  Secondly, today is worship wed in my group (shout out to group #56, you rock!), and worship is supposed to be all about Him right.  Then lastly, ironically enough, all the posts I had planned for my group today came from the section called "No Matter What" in chapter four and had very much to do about resting in the Lord.  Apparently the lesson I had planned God had intended for me.  Here's some of the quotes:
"We can't stop or control the things that roll our way any more than we can stop the water's edge.  But we can make the minute by minute choice to let our souls rest in God."
I was not in control, but God was.  And in circumstances such as this, we have a choice to make.  We could let our thoughts and actions race in a panic (which I did initially with many tears shed and words shouted - not a proud moment for sure), or we can rest in God...it's funny because I had read this entire ch. thoroughly several times, highlighter and all, and yet still found myself caught in the enemies snare.  And the next quote is even more revealing...
"Rest knowing all is so safe in My hands.  Rest is trust.   Ceaseless activity is distrust.  Without the knowledge that I am working for you, you do not rest.  Inaction then would be the outcome of despair.  My hand is not shortened that it cannot save.  Know that, repeat it, rely on it, welcome the knowledge, delight in it.  Such a truth is as a hope flung to a drowning man.  Every repetition of it is one pull nearer shore and safety."
First of all, notice it says safe in God's hands, not ours.  Why do we try to so desperately cling to these things?  Why don't we give them over to God where they are safe?  Secondly - boy did I feel despair.  I felt like if my computer wasn't fixed and it wasn't fixed now, the whole world needed to stop.  And drowning?  I had just used that word to describe how I felt about it all in the conversation with my husband afger it happened.  So dramatic I know!  But don't we get this way when our focus is off God and on ourselves when we are faced with a problem beyond ourselves?  Well, God showed me today that it was not in fact the world that had stopped, but rather it was my focus on Him that had come to an abrubt halt along with my computer, and I needed to turn my "I" back into my "eye" on Him and rest there in this trial.
When I was finally able to re-shift my focus, God showed me that what had been feeling like an enormous mountain I was climbing, was in actuality only a mole hill in the bigger scheme of things because in truth, OBS kept right on clicking along without even an inkling of a sign of my troubles affecting it.  God's message was still reaching the thousands and even my group despite my imperfect performance.  You see, the truth I learned today is that getting God's message out doesn't require our perfect performance.  It only requires His perfect love through our perfect surrender.
I wasn't going to share this in the blog hop today because I knew that in order to do so would require me to let go of my usual standard for my posts.  It would mean that I would have to type this all out on my smart phone touch screen without spell check or gramar check, and without having had time to re-read and re-write anything...and yes, even without all my pretty perfect poster creations, lol.  Not that there's anything wrong with doing any of those things, but when perfection is sought in these things and that perfection distracts and detracts from God, then it is an issue.
When I felt God nudging me to say yes to this post, my response to Him was: "Why can't I wait until later in the week when perhaps I will have a working computer again."  Which really what I was saying was: "Wait Lord, I can't share your message until everything is perfect."  Oh how many times we do this - we buy into this lie that we need to wait until everything is perfect for us to share the Lord and do what He asks of us!  Well, do you know what God's response was?  He said: "Katrina, do you want to limit me to only what you can do through 'perfect performance' or do you want to experience what I can do through my perfect and limitless love?"
Ouch.
Wow!
I had been putting God in a box.  I had taken His gifts He's given me and the call He's put in me and tried to wrap them all up in this pretty little perfect package to hand out.  Even now I'm picturing how perfect it would be to have a picture of that perfect little wrapped present right here in this post....
But God.
God doesn't need perfectly wrapped presents.  He only needs perfectly surrendered hearts.  Period.
This saying yes to God journey has proven to be challenging even in the small yeses, but when I said yes to God for this study, I said yes, no matter what.  I don't want to define for God what yes looks like or what no matter what includes.  I want to allow Him to fill in those blanks, whatever that may mean.  This is why when my computer crashed the first time, I said: "Yes God, no matter what."  And when my computer issues persisted into the study I still said: "Yes God, no matter what."   And so now, when my computer no longer works and I can't make all my posts perfect, or even know exactly how this is all going to work out, I say: "Yes God, no matter what!"
Not only has computer crashing 201 been a teaching lesson that I'm growing from, but it has also been confirmation for me that I am right where I'm supposed to be.  The enemy doesn't like that I've said yes, and he is seeking to deter me to ensure that I don't succeed.  But I have the omnipotent God behind me, beside me, before me, and in me.  A God that uses everything for our good.  A God with plans to prosper and not to harm me.  A God that provides me with hope and a future.  A God that sees His work in me through to completion.  A God thaf puts the enemies simple schemes and measly powers to shame!  This is the God I rest in and remain in and surrnder my heart to - the God of perfect love - No. matter. What.  What about you?
(A creation I had already posted in my group before my computer crashed, which is also imperfect because it doesn't have my blog address on it, lol)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Forever and Never, Amen.

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Have you ever become something or someone you thought you could never be?  Or how about becoming something/someone you said you’d just flat out never be?  Well, there’s this funny thing I’ve learned about never and it’s this:  it is one of those times that even though it can’t be found anywhere on our clocks or in our calendars, it can still come to pass – and in fact, it usually does.  At least that’s been my experience in life.

 It seems that every thing I’ve ever said never to, these were the very things that God had planned for me.  I said I’d never marry, and yet God led me to my husband.  I said I could never quit my job or would never be a stay at home wife, and yet, as I shared last week, God asked me to quit my job and I became just that.  I said I’d never have kids, and yet God gave me a daughter… I could go on and on, but instead let me just stop there and ask you this: do you find this all to be odd or find yourself wondering if this is all just mere coincidence?  I know I did, until I started learning about spiritual warfare and how the enemy operates and then it all started to became clear.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

#YestoGod

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

            My grip on the steering wheel tightened instinctively when the reality of what lie ahead of me on the highway sank in; the word “perfect” escaping my lips in aggravation just as I brought the car to a halt behind the long line of stopped cars ahead of me on the I-5N interchange.  “Just another lovely commute to work in the wonderful life of Katrina,” I thought to myself letting out a frustrated sigh while putting the car in park.  I knew I’d be here awhile.  I’d been here before…the day before…and the day before that…and the day before that…and yes, the day before that too – pretty much EVERY DAY before that for the Last. Six. Months.  Ugh!

            Since I knew I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I went ahead and shifted the car into neutral and engaged the emergency break so I could at least take advantage of this time to kick back and relax, but before I even finished pulling back the e-break I knew I was kidding myself.  Relax?  Ha!  Who could relax in this state of mind?  I reached over to turn the radio on in an attempt to distract my mind from wandering into all the thoughts and questions I’d been working so hard to avoid all these long months. The attempt was futile however, as the music quickly became inaudible – buried under the thick layers of negative chatter now building in my mind.

            “What was I thinking?  I can’t believe I actually chose this! Why have I devoted every second of my life for the last six years to this job when they don’t even care about me and I can’t stand it anymore?!   I know it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing with my life…I don’t even know who I am anymore.  Who is that in the mirror?  I despise that person staring blankly back at me.  Just look at that smug expression on her face - the pathetic scowl.  That is not a happy person.  That is an ugly person.  That person makes me sick…HOW DID I GET HERE?!”

            The thoughts and questions continued to mount up, threatening to overtake the towering walls around my heart I’d so carefully engineered all my life.  While they had held up to every attack/storm/encounter before, this time they didn’t stand a chance.  Bursting apart under the unbearable pressure of my thoughts, the shattered walls allowed my enclosed feelings to spew forth freely out of my heart for the first time.  Like lava erupting from a volcano, they barreled down on me, threatening to overtake me. 

Fighting just to get a breath of air, I knew I had to get out of the car and now!  But where would I go?  With every fiber of my being, I began to fight this very real urge to jump out and run, but not without a cost.  Feeling trapped in every sense of the word, my whole body began to quake and the tears I’d been holding back burst forth, burning my cheeks as they raced down my face.  Unable to maintain any sense of control now, I began to hit my fists violently on the steering wheel while letting out some pathetic cries in between clenched teeth, not caring by this point that there were people in the cars stacked up all around me, probably staring at me or worse, taking pics or video to upload on the internet of the crazy woman losing it in her car, plain as day for everyone to see.

            After the third pounding on the steering wheel, I sank down slowly into my seat, weeping and wishing that I could melt into it and cease to exist.  “If I can’t get out,” I think to myself, “maybe I could just disappear.”  Barely grasping on now to the last thread of the end of the rope I had been so desperately clinging to all these exhausting years, I finally gave in and decided to let go – let go and admit I can’t do this thing called life on my own.  I needed help...I needed rescue!  And in that moment of sheer desperation I finally turned my cries to God.  Literally, out loud, cried out to Him.  And just as all the negative chatter had mounted moments before, now all my thoughts and words spilled out to God. I laid it all down at his feet – my will, my way – everything, until ultimately, I came to one momentous question and promise: “Lord,” I whispered, head tilted back looking up at the ceiling of my car, “what would you have me do?  Whatever you say to do, I’ll do it.” 
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Then I sat in the quiet stillness of my car, tears still streaming down my face, waiting for what, I had no idea, but waiting none the less, when suddenly I became re-aware of the fact that the radio was on.  It had been programmed to K-love – a station that had been my one and only refuge from the invading darkness surrounding me all those intolerable previous months.  A voice was coming from it – not singing but talking – telling a story and reading the verse of the day, and amongst that voice I heard another voice.  Not an audible voice, but a clear one none-the-less – one I heard and felt in the depths of my soul – God’s voice saying: “It’s time.  Go and quit today.”

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Then the song “Brave” by Nichole Nordeman came blasting through the speakers, and just like that the traffic suddenly broke, and I found myself cruising full speed down the freeway, belting out the words: “So long status quo, I think I just let go.  You make me want to be brave – brave.  The way it always was, is no longer good enough.  You make me want to be brave – brave.”  

I never felt so free in my life!


             As much as I like the idea of ending with that happy cliffhanger, I won’t leave you completely in the dark.  I will tell you this little bit – as impossible and utterly crazy as it seemed in comparison to the reality of my world at the time, I did in fact, after 6 compulsive years of pushing for the top of that ladder, go in and quit my job that very day, and as a result my life has radically changed for the better...my heart has radically changed for the better!  It didn’t happen over-night and it hasn’t all been one big easy cake walk for me either, but I have been radically blessed since then in so many ways. 

            If you would’ve told me back then that saying yes to God that day would ultimately lead me to where I am today, I would not have believed you because it was too far off from where I was to even have imagined it.  I simply didn’t believe it was possible to leave my job and live the life I now have as a stay at home mom with a heart in pursuit of God.  But like Lysa TerKeusrt says on pg. 13 of her book "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: if you are in the thick of living with all that life throws at you and you simply whisper yes, you are equipped.”  This was proven to me to be true that fateful day back in 2005 when I said #YestoGod.  

            Are you feeling trapped in some aspect of your life?  Is your soul longing for something more?  Does your heart need radical intervention?  If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, will you dare to be radically obedient with me right now by declaring out loud the following prayer by Lysa:
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“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” ~2 Corinthians 16:24

 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~2 Corinthians 3:17b
“We will never experience the radical blessings God has in store for us without radical obedience.” ~Lysa TerKeurst, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” pg. 16

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hearts of Flesh

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There have been so many things in this world that I’ve held on tightly to.  Things that inevitably held me back from all of the truly important things in this life.  Control, perfection, expectations – all things I would not let go of.  Joy, beauty, happiness – the things I could never seem to grasp.  My heart was immovable – heavy with burden…and yet it was also continually wandering...wandering continually further away from God.  It yearned for happiness, but only felt the sting of unmet expectations.  It searched for beauty, but only saw imperfection.  It longed for joy, but only felt a growing need to control.  Yes this was my heart - my heart apart from God - my heart that was stone.
Growing up in the world, I learned through multiple experiences that hurtful things can happen when you put your love and trust in people.   As a small child, I remember these hurtful situations in my life seeming so enormous…

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Teaching Tuesday

 
Five Things I learned WE 7-6-13:
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.”
~Proverbs 23:12

1.      That remaining in God and resting in God are two different things, and I need to work on the resting part.

2.      That being open and honest with our fears and struggles and with what we don’t know and where we’re at encourages others and promotes growth in all.

3.      That even in the messy, imperfect moments of our lives, joy and happiness can be found…blog post on this coming soon…

4.      That life’s blessings lay hidden in the worn out things of our lives…blog post on this to come in the near future…

5.      That not seeing the beauty God created in ourselves, limits the beauty we are able to see in the world…post in the works for this also…

Can you tell God’s been speaking abundantly to me lately?!  There’s not enough time in my days or ink in my pens to keep up…

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Deeper

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 Slowly drifting into consciousness, the sound of the birds gathering for their morning feast at the feeder outside my bedroom window reaches my ears – so serene.   The dawn, seeping through the slits of the blinds calls to my eyes, encouraging them to flutter open – so beautiful.  Morning has arrived.  With this realization reaching my slumbering brain, an eagerness to get up and meet with God begins to flow through me, awakening my heart and soul, along with my body. 

“What time is it anyway,” I wonder?  Propping myself up on my elbow, I turn my head to look across the room at the clock to find out, but instead of finding the time there, I am greeted with the most awful crunching noise.  Like fingernails on a chalk board awful.  The kind of noise that makes you cringe.  And this was followed by another noise – a scream – my scream, as I’m blinded by instant searing pain driving through my neck, into my right shoulder and arm.

In my mind a million thoughts begin to race: “No, no, no, no, no!  This can’t be happening…

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Teaching Tuesdays: The Beginning

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Hello everyone!  As mentioned in my last post, today I want to introduce something new to the blog that I am hoping to incorporate here every Tuesday.  I’m calling it “Teaching Tuesday’s” because the plan is to share with you a list of up to five things I was taught, and up to five links to people, blogs, ministries, web pages etc. from which I was taught from during the previous week.  Then you will be given the opportunity join in by sharing too. 

What is the point of all of this, you might be wondering?  Well, here are a few reasons I felt this might be helpful:

1.      To  promote learning, which should be a continual life-long process.

2.      It’s difficult to teach anything, if you yourself are not continually being taught.

3.      Creating a list helps to recognize, summarize, and process what’s being learned.

4.      Sharing the list creates accountability to pursuing continual and consistent learning.

5.      Sharing the list teaches us to edify and praise those who are speaking into our lives.


Now that we’ve established the main what’s and why’s, let’s get started…

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Woven

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This morning, upon turning to July 4th in "A Mother's Prayer" mini daily calendar, I read:
 
"In the midst of the praying, it is comforting to remember that God considers families important.  Before he called a nation, he created a family." ~Quin Sherrer
 
Of course I was first drawn to the word "nation" with today being Independence Day, but then when the quote ended on "family," so did my thoughts rest there. 
 
My family is currently on hold so to speak...at least temporarily.  With my extended family this is true as we've all been scattered about the different states of the nation, each one taking a little needed space to just breathe while we all individually deal with the losses and struggles we've had to face over the past few years.  For my immediate family, we feel on hold as we wait in prayer for the Lord to move and open the door to adding more children to our midst. 
 
With my world seeming on hold for so long, life had begun to feel stagnant, like I was being cut off from the deepest desires of my heart - my dreams of writing, of having more children, and of needing those deeper and more meaningful relationships in my life.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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Hello everyone.  I’m coming to you a bit early this week because there are some things I’d like to share with you that go beyond my regular weekly posts.  I’ve been doing a lot of praying, seeking, searching, and reflection in regards to my blog page, my writing in general, and God’s plan and purpose for it all and it’s all been quite eye opening but also a bit mind boggling as well.  He has been speaking to me through so many little things lately that I can’t write fast enough.  My husband is absolutely astounded at the sheer number of pens I’ve ran out of ink over the past few months, as I’ve filled numerous notebooks full of the ideas that just keep flowing…I imagine this is only going to increase that much more when I attend She Speaks three weeks from now.  Wow!  Is it really only three weeks away already?  Scary!

When I first got started on this blogging journey, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing; especially on the technical side of things, but I didn’t want that to stop me from stepping out in faith, so I went ahead and got started anyway.  Now that I’m getting a bit more comfortable, I figured it’s high time to step out of my box again and start figuring out some of this techy stuff.  With that being said, while there are many changes that are continually being made to enhance the page and your experience when you visit here, there are a few changes that offer more to you the reader directly, so I want to share those with you directly.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shifted

As I’m sitting here sipping my morning cup of coffee, the rain pouring down outside and a cool breeze bristling through the branches of the trees, I’m feeling refreshed and peaceful.  Just like the rain is a reprieve from the hot, muggy days we’ve been experiencing, Jesus has been a reprieve to my soul.  I just finished reading the last pages of what has been an amazing book – "Stressed-Less Living," by Tracie Miles and I truly can’t believe that this life changing twelve week journey, with all the incredible woman of Melissa Taylor's Online Bible Studies and Proverbs 31 Ministries, is already coming to a close.  I’m not ready for it to end.

I remember, when considering going down this path, feeling like perhaps I should skip this study and rejoin for the next one because I was going to be so busy during those twelve set weeks…I almost have to laugh at myself now - knowing what I’ve learned since then; especially in reading the last chapter and when considering the reflection verse this week:
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." ~Luke 10:41-42 
Boy am I glad that the Lord kept me from that mistake – from being Martha!  I was going to choose the “many things” when what I needed most was “only one thing” – Jesus.  Praise the Lord he did not allow me to travel down that familiar sun parched road again!  Even though I am certain that he would not have abandoned me, I am equally sure that I would not have experienced the renewal and growth that I have spiritually and emotionally and I certainly would not have the peace in my heart that he has provided me with through this journey...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Who U R


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Who am I?  And why am I here?
The answers to those questions I’m beginning to fear.
Am I a rose blossoming in the light?
Or am I only a left over fragrance fading in the night?
What am I?  Could you tell me?  Or do I want to know?
Am I just another flower that belongs in a row?
Among the gardens of flowers do I want to be found?
People staring beneath my blossoms
At the thorns and roots by which I’ve been bound?
Those roots – they are sucking in the water too fast!
Drowning my future…overwatering my past!
Oh how they’ve held me, and those thorns how they’ve torn-
My thoughts into two, I’m becoming so worn.
But go on without them, do I dare?
Pull away from the comfort that I’ve planted there?
My thoughts, my feelings…how do I show that I care?
Someone, please, rid me of all my confusions!
Take the time to show me that happiness
Is not just another one of life’s delusions...
Could you at least attempt to answer me this -
Or do I want to know?
Am I a rose blossoming in the light?
Or just another flower in the garden
Whose fragrance is fading in the night?
~written by Katrina Wylie ‘98

 
One of the things I’ve been struggling with the last few years is losing weight and getting back into shape after first: a car accident that resulted in a neck injury, and second: the pregnancy and birth of my daughter which also resulted in more physical injury and limitations.  Though getting healthy is definitely on my “need” list, it seems every renewed attempt I’ve made has ended the same way – giving into temptations due to a perceived lack of results.  Every time I’d get dressed, and every time I’d look in the mirror, I’d see the me that I didn’t want to be anymore…the extra me, if you know what I mean!  Then, out of discouragement, whenever a craving would present itself or when it became time to do a work out and I had a million other things to do, the attitude I found myself adopting was: “What’s the point?” I think this same thing can happen to us in our Christian walks...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Breaking Point

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This week in Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Studies we studied chapter 10: “Broken for Breakthrough,” in the book “Stressed-Less Living by Tracie Miles.  As one of our blog hop topics, we were asked to write about a breaking point in our life.  For mine, I’m going to share with you all a previous post of mine that I had written last August, just a few months before discovering Proverbs 31 and the online Bible studies.  I think that through it you will see that it was no coincidence that I “stumbled across” these studies just as they were getting ready to begin the “Let. It. Go.” book.  At that time, I was definitely at a breaking point in my life – struggling with physical health problems, fear, lingering post-partum depression, stress-eating, relational and family stress, and on top of all of that, I had fallen away from my close, daily relationship with our Lord.  It was also only a couple months after my Mom had open-heart surgery to repair a birth defect that had gone undiagnosed and as a result had almost killed her…just one month after I originally wrote this post, she died…God turned me back to him knowing how much I was going to need him just a few short weeks later.  God is good. 

 

(from August ’12)

I spent much of my life struggling to hide and stuff down the pain that I felt, so that on the outside, I'd look strong and unbreakable; but it was all a front. Truth was, inside, my pain and sorrow continually cut like a knife, destroying me slowly one tiny piece at a time. I did not always know the Lord, nor have I always understood that my daily struggles in the world could be healed through His Word. While sometimes I find myself briefly falling back into my old habits, the Lord is always there to pick me up and remind me of His truths...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Matter of the Heart




"He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds." ~Psalm 147:3 
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The matter of the heart – it matters to God.  How do we know that? - Because it’s a topic that can be found all throughout the Bible.  In just the last three days I’ve spent digging deeper into Psalm 147:3, I counted the word “heart,” and its many variations, used 75 times in God’s Word.  That’s a lot and I’m sure there are many more still.  This “matter of the heart” has also been an important subject threaded throughout the book “Stressed-Less Living” by Tracie Miles.  Like I shared in a previous post of mine, "A Gift From Above," the lesson that has impacted me the most so far through this book is that God cares more about changing our hearts than he does about changing our circumstances.  This has been affirmed to me again this week, through Psalm 147:3.
When I looked up “broken hearted” in my dictionary, which read: “overcome by grief or despair,” I couldn’t help but also notice a few of the related words and their definitions. 

“Hearten” – encourage, energize, enliven, arouse, rally, rouse, stir
“Heartfelt” – sincere, genuine, honest, true, unfeigned, deep, profound
“Heartless” – unfeeling

What caught my attention in reading these, and maybe perhaps it drew yours too, is that the descriptions of the first two sounds like they’re describing God himself and what he does.  So much so that we could just erase the words “hearten” and “heartfelt” and replace them with “God” in the dictionary.  But then there’s the third one.  Is it just me, or could “unbeliever” possibly be substituted here for “heartless?”  I know that the word “unfeeling” described me before I came to know Christ as my personal savior and it is also how I can start to become again when I wander from him...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spiritual Vitamins


 
It seems that lately I’ve had so many questionable feelings, to the point where I can feel no more; only numbness.  The conflicting emotions have slowed my brain like a drug, taking over the realization that it is my turn to lead this dance.  Instead, I find myself waltzing around in a circle of confusion, battling myself every step of the way.  It’s as though a civil war has erupted inside of me and I’m frozen right in the crossfire of my own thoughts.  I sit here lost in the whirlwind of arrows buzzing by, not knowing which one is pointing in the right direction.  I try to find my way, but the smoke from the bombardment of mixed feelings has stolen my sense of direction and is slowly smothering me.  I run this way and that, finding myself advanced to the front line, where there are no more trenches to shelter me from the battle, only an open field of illusional freedom staring me in the face.

I wrote that sixteen years ago, as a senior in high school who was facing graduation and the prospect of going out into the world on my own for the first time.  I share it with you today because, to me, it illustrates what life looks like when facing it without God…or at least a life without leaning on His strength, power, and wisdom for help and guidance.   It is a painting of a battle met in confusion and ending in defeat because it is one that we can only recognize and win in Him.  It is the battle that is raging all around us for our hearts, our minds, and our souls - the spiritual warfare that the Bible speaks of and warns us about...