Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How much does He love you?


Yesterday morning I started reading Psalm 103.  I love the imagery in this Psalm for how much He loves us.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him; 

As high as the heavens are above the earth...."I love you to heaven and back."  Doesn't that make you smile?  Can't you hear a sweet child's voice say that?  Can you hear your heavenly Father say that?  "Beloved child, I love you so much - from heaven and back..."   Close your eyes for a moment and imagine just how far that is.... That's big love!
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 

Just how far is it from the east to the west?  Incomprehensible, really.  He has taken our sins and flung them as far as the east is from the west...he loves us that much!  One of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns says:


Jesus, You know just how far the east is from the west
I don't have to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other




See that?  Ever thought about that?  Jesus knows just how far the east is from the west....his outstretched arms...from one scarred hand....to the other.....  He LOVES so much that he allowed those nails to pierce his hands...so much...ponder that for a moment.... That's big, sacrificial love!


17 But from everlasting to everlasting
   the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,

How long will He love us?  From everlasting to everlasting....forever....no matter what...  That's big, forever love!

He loves YOU!  He LOVES you!  Big!  Remember the game you played as a child?  Or with your child?  When you threw your arms open wide and said, "I love you this much!"

That's just what God does...what Jesus did....He threw open His arms...allowed men to nail his hands to the cross...and from one scarred hand to the other....He said, He says, He will always say,  "I love you this much!"


Praise the LORD, my soul.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Letting go of lies...#3

2 Corinthians 12:9
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.
 
My Lenten practice this year is to let go of one lie I have believed about myself each week of Lent.  This week that lie is "I am not enough."  It's a hard one to let go of because I have believed it for so long...and the Teller of Lies likes to make sure I hear it...either from others or just over and over in my own head.
 
Once when I was young I received a letter from a young man...he told me many things in that letter.  But the one thing that stood out was when he told me that I couldn't possible satisfy him for the rest of his life.  That I wasn't enough.  And that stayed with me.  My marriage of 22 years has failed....and in my mind that has been yet another message to me....that I am not enough.
 
I've had a tendency toward perfectionism a good portion of my life.  I had to get straight A's in school, had to do as much as I could...get things done just right, the house clean just so (which it never was or is!)  And when I couldn't live up to my own, very high and sometimes impossible standards....I knew it....I wasn't enough. 
 
As a mom, I've made more mistakes than I want to admit.  I have often felt a failure.  When I've used words too harsh, imposed consequences too tough, held expectations too high...made tears fall from my children's eyes...oh, I have believed I am not a good enough mother.  When someone close to me said they didn't even like my children???  I believed I was not enough...  But a recent letter I got from my daughter who is 13,  assured me that she treasures me, that even though I believe in my own failure...my beautiful girl says I am not...letters from my boys at the same time told me of their love for me...so maybe....I am enough for them....

And what does God say?  "My grace is sufficient for you...."   God's grace falls over me, washing away the lie....telling me that through Him, because of His grace...I am enough.  I AM enough.  I might make mistakes....not everyone out there is going to like me (ack!)...I may still feel down on myself sometimes...but God loves me.  ME! And His love and grace make me whole.  Make me enough.  

Thank you, my Father God...for making me enough...for covering me in Your grace...I lay this lie at the foot of the cross.  I lift up my face and praise You.

Five Minute Friday - Brave (on Saturday)

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We finger paint with words. We try to remember what it was like to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Where your words are welcome, just as they are! (<–-Tweet this!)

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Meet & encourage someone who linked up before you.
OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:
::

Brave…


Brave...courageous. I don't use those words for myself very often. Nope...more like knee-knocking, hand-shaking chicken! My heart pounds, I sweat...just a mess. Not brave. Not courageous. Nope. Not me.

But today, I had an opportunity to practice. When I got up this morning...I fortified myself with a cup of coffee from my mug that has my favorite verse on it....Philippians 4:13...I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. Yes, Him....strenth. That's the key, you know. He gives me strength. He gives me courage. He makes me brave.

And so when the time came for me to be like David facing his Goliath....I prayed, I breathed, I straightened up my spine, and I prayed a little more. And yes...I was brave! And the situation turned out ok. God walked by my side, held my hand and gave me a gentle shove in the middle of the back when I needed it.

And afterwards, I felt His tender kiss on my forehead as He told me He was proud of me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Share a blessing today...

After reading this  blog post today, I am feeling compelled to challenge myself...and you....to bless someone else today.  It doesn't have to be with money, although that's definitely one way (I have been blessed with financial help many times, and always when I most need it...and it has always been MOST appreciated and I look forward to the day when I can do that for someone else), but something from your heart to someone else....

  • a smile to that weary soul standing across from you in the elevator
  • a hug for someone who looks sad
  • a simple touch on the shoulder can often lend an immense amount of strength
  • a note - left on a pillow, a desk, a favorite chair
  • a card in the mail to someone you haven't heard from in a while
  • a prayer on their behalf
  • a flower to brighten someone's day
  • hold a door open
  • pick up something someone has dropped
  • let someone else go in front of you at the grocery store - that always brings a grateful smile in return!!
  • pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you

There are so many different ways to bless others around us.  We have been so blessed...let's share it.  God says to love your neighbor....let's do it!  Let's go out there and shine some light!

And please, feel free to share with me one way someone has blessed you lately...or one way you have shared a blessing....

Monday, March 12, 2012

Counting thanks...

At the end of the day, when I'm so tired and the day seems to have been so long...so easy to just go to sleep and be done with it.  And yet, it's the right time to remember and focus on the blessings of the day...to say thanks...to breathe in gratitude...and so...counting graces....

115. unwrapping forgotten "treasures" to decorate for spring
116.  being asked for my ID when ordering a bottle of wine - 44 years young!  :)
117. a wonderful dinner and conversation with a beautiful friend and mentor, who is truly a gift from God
118.  inspiration to write - it's been a while and it felt good to share
119.  laughing with Kira while driving her to school today
120.  re-connecting with a friend
121.  gift of a "lucky" bamboo plant
122.  flowers from my sister on a rough day

3 gifts in the kitchen
123.  a new mug that reminds me of the love of a friend - and God's grace
124. not having to cook dinner tonight - a gift from another kitchen!
125. quiet moments just to stand and look out the window

3 gifts loud
126. lovely music from the EWU wind ensemble
127. the trombone choir - wow!!
128.  Christian music on the stereo to keep me awake driving home late at night

129.  an evening out to spend in fun and fellowship - fiesta!
130. hugs and snuggles with my godson, Cammie
131.  sitting next to my godson, Matthew, at dinner

132.  talking to my Daddy on his birthday

3 gifts in Christ
133. peace that passes all understanding
134.  His love that surrounds me and fills me daily
135.  redemption

136.  watching my son being blessed by his friends - Party at Kyle's!  :)
137. enjoying the noise and bustle of teenagers partying at my house - and the subsequent quiet afterwards!
138. a comfortable evening watching movies with Kyle.

139.  playing bells at church!

3 gifts read
140. the story of Esther in service today - I love her example
141. notes of encouragement from a friend
142. Psalm 77

143.  fellowship with friends for an hour today
144.  anticipation of a new Bible study - getting ready to start Beth Moore's Revelation study
145. a pleasant evening laughing and talking with the kids.
146. creating open space in my house - little spots of peace!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Faith Reaching Beyond the Present

So, back to Psalm 77...

We left Asaph wondering where God was...why He was so silent.  Asaph was feeling a little forgotten, alone, overwhelmed.  He was experiencing sleepless nights, lying mute in his bed, moaning to God, laying bare his heart.  How many nights, how many hours might it have been?  Perhaps in the wee morning hours when the dark is just beginning to let go of the world, Asaph lifts his eyes upward and remembers....


13 Your ways, God, are holy.
   What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
   you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
   the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. 

Do you feel that?  Do you feel those little rays of hope coming through Asaph's thoughts?  Our God is great, He performs miracles, He displays His power, He redeems his people.  He provided ways out for His people....and even when they grumbled and sinned, He still provided for them.  Always.  Without fail.  He never left them.  And He does the same for us....
 16 The waters saw you, God,
   the waters saw you and writhed;
   the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
   the heavens resounded with thunder;
   your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
   your lightning lit up the world;
   the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
   your way through the mighty waters,
   though your footprints were not seen. 

Read those words again.  Out loud.  Visualize the awesome power of the convulsing depths, the flashing lighting, the waters fighting against themselves as they separate...feel the trembling of the earth as the thunder rumbles, as a path appears between walls of writhing water....

Asaph remembers God's faithfulness.  He lets go of his present troubles and allows his faith to take hold, to see God's faithfulness in the past, to give him hope for his own future.  We can learn a lesson from Asaph.  When we are troubled, when life seems too overwhelming, when God seems silent...turn to His word.  Read of His faithfulness.  When our arms seem to heavy to hold out toward Him a minute more, when the ache seems too big to get past...think of how He provided for you in the past.  Remember His faithfulness.  And remember, that though His footprints aren't visible...He is there, walking beside you, holding you, keeping you.


******
Letting go of lies...
The evil one has convinced me over and over in his constantly whispering voice that I am worthless.  That I am a failure at so much.  That I am not worthy of a second look.  But I KNOW that I have worth in Christ...that I am a new creation in Him, beloved, whole, redeemed by His blood.  I don't need others to tell me of my worth or worthlessness....I need only to believe that Christ died for me because He loves me and I am worth more than any precious jewel to my Father in heaven.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Empty

round here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We lie down in our words and make snow angels.We try to remember what it was like to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Be brave, come & join #FiveMinuteFriday. Your words are necessary! (<—Tweet this!)

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Give us your best five minutes on:
::

Empty…


I will get back to Asaph tomorrow...and the lie I will let go of this week....


but first here's my five minutes on "empty" 

GO:





Can't take another thing...not another problem...not another hurt feeling...drained...exhausted...completely empty. What in the world could possibly happen next? 

Quiet, desperate prayer...."Ok God, I'm tired, I'm done.  I can't do any more.  My cup is empty."


And into that emptiness, that aching void, that "I can't do another thing"....steps my Jesus, my Savior, my friend, my healer.  And He holds out His hand, and He touches my cheek and He says to me...


"Beloved child...you can.  You can go on because I am here."


And as I choke back a quiet sob, and feel my eyes fill with those hot, prickly tears....I realize...I am no longer empty....but filled with His grace and love...and not just filled....but overflowing.


STOP

::

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Asaph remembers...

This week I am reading and studying Psalm 77, written by Asaph, who seems to be in great distress.  He starts out the Psalm in an anguish you can feel in his words that almost leap off the pages to strike you in the heart.  He cries out to God for help, he talks of sleepless nights reaching out, stretching his hands out to his God...he grew faint and couldn't speak.  Oh, I've had these nights...have you?

It seems that God is silent because Asaph feels rejected, that God is not by his side...these words make my heart ache:

My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
 7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
   Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
   Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
   Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” 

Asaph feels alone, forgotten...hopeless....aching...
But wait....

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
   the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
   yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
   and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” 

What is this, Asaph?  What is this turn around...this tiny little speck of light that shows in the darkness...a little bit of backbone that seems to straighten up??   

"I will remember the deeds of the LORD; 
...the miracles...all your works...all your mighty deeds."

Let's just think on this for a while...remember....

.....to be continued....

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Straight paths...

One of my favorite comics in the newspaper has always been Family Circle...especially the ones where the little boy goes somewhere, but he takes every possible detour along the way....

Some days just feel that way, don't they?  A long winding path that takes you twice as long to get there...sometimes finding good things along the way...and sometimes not.  Sometimes, there is just a lot of confusion and distraction that take your eyes off the goal...off of Jesus....and pretty soon you are wondering where in the world you are going....or if you are anywhere near God's will for your life.

Proverbs 3:5-6

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


Trust in the Lord....and see where His path leads....

Monday, March 5, 2012

Grace after grace...


Counting the reasons to say thanks....

81. feeling the mojo and creating cards.
82. Kira's last basketball game - they lost, but she played well and it was exciting.
83. blessed to be able to give flowers to the sweet team mom who provided snacks after games!
84. a stressful day, but an evening of fun ahead!
85. an extra night with the kids and didn't have to cook dinner!
86. a missed call, but a voicemail that made me smile.
87. long conversations and lots of laughter
88. creating little works of art
89. a clean kitchen because we all worked together
90. shoe shopping with Kira and a fun saleswoman
91. quiet time to relax and rest and reflect
92. dinner and pretty toes with Jenny
93. the start of my Walk with Christ weekend
94. communion with new friends
95. gifts galore
96. lessons on faith
97. the shedding of tears in the safety of friendship and love
98. forgiveness
99. making s'mores
100. experiencing agape over and over and knowing deep within my soul that Jesus loves ME, that I am a beloved daughter of God.
101. a wonderful, memorable awakening
102. the gift of a book from a new beloved and very special friend
103. more hugs than I could ever count
104. gift after gift after gift - with no expectations or strings attached
105. dinner with family and friends
106. a long, hot shower
107. a new birthday
108. a chance to serve the Lord
109. realizing I paid the bills and bought groceries...and there is still money left!
110. texts from a new friend
111. messages of love and encouragement
112. God provides financially - and not just for needs, but for the occasional special treat to brighten the day, too!
113. greetings that remind me of God's love
114. the sweet smell of flowers!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Singin' on Sunday - Mike's Chair - Keep Changing the World



Got a letter from my little Vishal this last week (See my Compassion Family page).  He received a gift from his financial sponsor and was able to buy blankets for himself and his family...his world is changing little by little and I'm so happy for him!!  :)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Security

Who doesn't want security?

Definition of SECURITY
1: the quality or state of being secure: as 
  a : freedom from danger : safety  
  b : freedom from fear or anxiety 

I'll be honest...for many years, I have wanted to feel secure.  Secure in myself, secure in my relationships, financially secure.  Safe, no anxiety, no fear.  Protected.  It has seemed so unobtainable.  Instead, I have felt insecurity in so many areas of my life that I sometimes wonder how I even manage to function.  

Definition of INSECURE
1: not confident or sure : uncertain <feeling somewhat insecure of his reception>
2: not adequately guarded or sustained : unsafe <an insecure investment>
3: not firmly fastened or fixed : shaky <the hinge is loose and insecure>
4a : not highly stable or well-adjusted <an insecure marriage> b : deficient in assurance : beset by fear and anxiety <always felt insecure in a group of strangers>

A couple nights ago when out to dinner with a lovely friend, and dare I say mentor, I was given a challenge.  And yes, it will be a challenge.  She suggested as I go through this Lenten season, as I work through the study on Psalms that I am currently doing with Hello Morning, that I pray about what lies I believe about myself, and to lay them at the foot of the cross.  Now, I admit that at first I thought, "YES, I can do that!"....and then I thought, "Um, I believe a lot of those lies...how can I let them go?"  You see, they have shaped a lot of my life. Yikes.  

For instance, I am not very self-confident...I have a horrible time speaking in front of people, I fear looking strangers in the eye, I tend to look at the ground when I walk rather than out at the world.  I've been told I'm a little unapproachable at times...because my insecurities tend to turn me inside of myself, I believe.

I have always wanted to feel financially secure.  Instead of being content with what I have...I have let a lack of money loom large in my mind to make me feel like I will never get ahead, will always struggle....

So, as I read Psalm 63 this week, here is what I find:

Psalm 63

    A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.
 1 You, God, are my God,
   earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
   my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
   where there is no water.
 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
   and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
   my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
   and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
   with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
 6 On my bed I remember you;
   I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
   I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
   your right hand upholds me.
 9 Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
   they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
   and become food for jackals.
 11 But the king will rejoice in God;
   all who swear by God will glory in him,

   while the mouths of liars will be silenced. 


My God loves me - His love is better than life.  My God will satisfy me - He provides all I need (and I have seen proof of this over and over in my life...shame on me for forgetting in the stressful times!)  My God is my help, He protects me and upholds me.  My God gives joy.

And security.  All that adds up to security.  I don't need to look for security in other people.  I don't need to look for security in money.  I don't need to look for security...God's grace is all I need.  I am not insecure.  I am fully secure...in Him alone.  And so this lie that I have believed about myself for most of my life...now goes in a little purple box to lay at the foot of the cross.  I give it up to Him.  And from now on, I will remind myself that I live a life SECURE in my Savior.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Five Minute Friday....Ache

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays.
We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. So we take five minutes on Friday and write like we used to finger paint. For joy in the process. No matter how messy the result.
Got five minutes? Come and write with us, we promise to tell you we loved it! (<—Tweet this!)

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:
::

Ache…

Ready, set, write....


I was in a room this last weekend with a whole lot of women who could fill pages and pages with their ache...the pain was clearly felt by each of us as we shared the things that made us ache, hurt, cry, feel vulnerable, feel worthless, feel....

And yet, overwhelmingly, over all that ache, all those tears, all that pain...every woman in that room found it possible to stand. To stand on the ROCK...the One who holds us all in His strong arms and keeps us moving forward. The One who knows us inside and out....the good, the bag, the ugly, the beautiful....and keeps on loving us no matter what. The One who will not disappoint. The One who will not leave. The One who will take our broken, aching, tired lives and make us whole. The One who promises hope and a future.

And slowly, as we dried the tears, hugged each other, and started to smile...we realized that He also takes that ache...maybe not away, but takes it and endures it with us.

Stop. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Uncertainty

Today's BlogHer writing prompt is this:  How do you feel about uncertainty? Is it exciting or scary?

ACK! Scary!  I don't like surprises.  I don't like not knowing what's coming next.  I don't like wondering.  Don't tell me you have a secret or a surprise, because by golly, I want to know NOW!

There are so many things in life that are uncertain...will I wake in the morning?  How many more breaths will I take?  What will happen to my children, my family, my friends?  What if something goes wrong.  Oh my goodness....so many things to worry about.  So many things to be anxious over....uncertainty = worry....

So many things to lay at the foot of the cross and know with CERTAINTY that GOD is in CONTROL!

Matthew 6:27
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

I love this question in Matthew...wow, if worrying could add hours to my life...I could almost live forever!!  Seriously.  Come on now....it doesn't work.  In fact, really?  It does the opposite.  How many hours have you wasted worrying?  I know I've lost a whole lot of them.  Hours that could have been much better used by trusting God to be as faithful as He has always been.  Hours I will never get back.

Yes, life is uncertain in so many ways.  But I am CERTAIN that God is bigger than all those things.  God is more powerful than all those things.  God is in CONTROL of all those things.  Yes, we hurt.  Yes, we wonder why bad things happen to us.  Yes, we cry, we rant, we rage.  But when we stop....lift our eyes to behold the cross and the Savior who sacrificed Himself for us...when we remember His faithfulness in all things...we can be CERTAIN that He loves us, that He holds us up... that one day we will feel His very finger wipe away the last tear from our faces.

I learned something about surprises this past weekend.  I learned that it's ok to be uncertain about what's going to happen next...to just take hold of God's hand and let Him lead the way.  I learned that maybe I could learn to like surprises, to go with the uncertainty and see what He has in store for me....because after all....

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."

Yep, that's for certain!