A thank you note to my God

 

Thank you God that I do not need to worry about the future because I am in the palm of your hands and you are a good God that I can trust. Thank you God that I can actually boast in my weakness because it is where I am broken that your strength and love is revealed. Thank you God that I do not have to be afraid because your perfect love surrounds me and casts out all fear. Thank you God that I do not have to compare myself with others because you have made me unique and created me for a purpose designed specifically for me. Thank you God that I do not have to doubt my abilities because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Thank you God that I do not have to judge myself for past mistakes because in you I am forgiven and made new. Thank you God that I do not have to run from you because your compassion never fails and your mercies are new every morning. Thank you God that I do not have to face my life or my death alone because you are always with me. Thank you God that I do not have to doubt whether I am good enough or I am loved because you made me, you knitted me in my mother’s womb and you know and love me like no other. This list certainly is not complete and you give me so much that I know … Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God.

 

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My friend that I can not see

I know it probably sounds strange , I know it probably sounds even crazy but I have a friend who I can not see. How do I know this friend exists, how do I know He is real? Well probably most simply I see Him all around me … I see Him in the bright pink painting of a sunrise, in the blue sky etched with white clouds , I see him in the changing of the seasons , and in the mountains that tower over me. I see him in the ripples of a lake, in the flowers that bloom, in the birds that sing and the wind that blows. The sun rises and sets each and every day and he introduces himself to me and tucks me away in His warm embrace. He promises to be with me always , close and dear to my heart. Sometimes I have to admit it is difficult for me sense He is always there … the noise of life sometimes gets in the way. My thoughts wander and my fears take over but I am always reminded again that He is real in the silence … in the quiet … this is where I feel Him the most. I long for His comfort around me, the peace He fills me up with , the song He sings to my heart is sweet music to the very fiber of my being. Someday I will be in His presence and my life will be no more … till then He has put me here for a purpose that often I do not know but when I rest in Him I find that He tells me I do not need to know … I just need to know Him. Lord, Lord you are my friend, my everlasting friend, my creator, my helper, my counselor, my strength, you are my everything. May my life be a song of praise to you dear Lord , my dear love of my life.

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ABC’S of prayer and building the alphabet of faith

The Lord’s prayer teaches us how to pray and begins ” Our father who art in heaven hallowed be your name”.  The prayer starts with acknowledging the holiness of God, with praising Him.

In times of doubt , which there will be because we do not walk by sight but by faith , praising God is hallmark to building up our faith.

Both prayer and faith begin with praising God.

Something that has become a part of my daily prayers and my daily faith is I start off with praising God using my ABC’s.  I go through the alphabet and praise God for who He is. Then I continue on by stating who I am in Christ through the ABC’s.  It changes and somethings I may say over and over and other days  I may find new praises and new promises … but it has become a part of my dialogue Him.  If I skip it for any reason, I actually miss it.  It takes me all of maybe 5 minutes to say this (the ABC’s) … maybe it took a little longer when I first began but it is surprising how quickly I can go through it.  

It looks something like this …  

Abba father you are an awesome God, you are my bountiful provider, your compassions never fail, Lord I take delight in you, you are everlasting, you are forgiving, all Glory belongs to you Lord, you are hope and health, you are my intercessor, my joy, my King, my Lord and my love, you are mighty and magnificent, you are near to me, you are overcoming – you have overcome death , you are passionate,purposeful,peaceful, and powerful, you are quintessentially the one and only true God, you are rest yet you are radical, you are reliable, you are savior, you are terrific, you are understanding- thank you God, you are victory God, you are wonderful, eXtraordinary in every way, your Yoke is light , and you are full of zest and zeal for you people and I , my family … we are your people dear Lord.

I am your adored, beautiful created daughter.  You have given me an eternal soul , you give me favor for I am your daughter, I am gorgeously made by you, I have your hope inside me, I am interceded for, the joy of Christ lives in me, I full of your kindness, your love, your might, you are near to me, I am an overcomer, I am obedient to my Lord, I have a purpose , I am passionate, I am quintessentially who God created me to be, I have your rest inside me, I am saved by grace, I am terrific, I am unique, I am victorious through Christ, I am wonderful – fearfully and wonderfully made , I am eXtraordinary, my Yoke is light in Christ, I am full of the Lord zest and zeal.

My prayers continue with bringing him my cares , asking for forgiveness of any offenses that I know and then those I don’t know, and reciting scriptures that are relevant to my walk and my life.  Some of my favorites are ” This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it”, ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” , ” I shall not be consumed because of the Lord’s great love … your compassions never fail. Your mercies are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness”.  I generally recite scripture in the first person as it will pertain to me and often will use “your” for God as I am speaking with God at the time.

I usually end with what has become my personal goal and our family’s goal which is to be CLEAR.

C is to be Content and make the most with where God places us and with what He gives us.

L is be a light to each other and to others.  

E is to endure, to press in and on, to fight the good fight of faith.

A and R are to be authentic and real in our walk … with each other … with others …. and with God.

The most important thing in all this … is that it is intimate, it is real … I can’t say it happened over night but when I started doing this day in and day out no matter what … it became less of a chore or a discipline and now it simply is just part of who I am with God.

It is my time with Him … it truly is a treasure.  

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May the walls of YOUR Jericho come a tumbling down

 Joshua 6:10

  But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” 

The Israelite’s  have just been instructed by Joshua that they are going into Jericho.  The city of Jericho has a wall around it that they can not pass.  They are not going in such a way as we might expect.  There is no obvious  force or might , there are no type of explosives provided.   They are  just simply told to march around the city for six days then on the seventh day to march seven times then blow the trumpets .  This is their instruction .  They are merely told to march and blow trumpets.

Prior to going in they are also instructed to not say a word.  For seven days they are told to not give a war cry, to not raise their voices , to not say a word.

Can you imagine how the Israelites maybe felt given these odd instructions?  How some of them may have felt it might even be crazy, perhaps even thinking did Joshua lose his mind? Seriously  we are supposed to march for seven days and not say a word?  And then blow a trumpet?  I can just imagine how  it may have defied all common sense to them.

Perhaps Joshua knew in advance that any doubts they might have could give birth to fear and prevent them from doing the task at hand.  That God was performing a miracle here and they needed to be focused which meant they were not to speak until it was God’s word they were speaking on that 7th day.

There is a saying that a doubt is not birthed until it is spoken. We all have our walls of Jericho …  they come in different forms at different times in our lives.  The wall could be an illness, the loss of a job, financial uncertainty, divorce.  The doubts around these walls  usually come in questions like will I be healed?, will I find a job? , will our financial needs be met? , will I ever find someone to love that loves me back? , will I ever have a family , will I get accepted into college?, will I figure out my purpose in life? , does God really have a plan for me? , does God  really even love me? , is God really concerned about the details of my life?  And we can go on and on and on.

Often in looking for answers for these doubts we end  giving them so much life … we speak about them, talk about them , meditate on them, and sometimes to be honest practically worship them with all  the attention and time we give to them.   Then it almost seems as if they take on a life of their own because what we have done is carried them , nurtured them and ultimately birthed them into an existence of fear .

What would happen if  instead we chose to do what the Israelites did that day when Joshua instructed them not to say a word?  Not to say what God doesn’t say and say what He does say. (say that 3 times fast!)  This doesn’t mean that at times we don’t need to get with our best friend and have a good cry over a cup of coffee to express our fears and concerns.  It doesn’t mean that we don’t come to God on our hands and knees and bring to him our concerns, our doubts , our fears.  But we then have a choice what will we focus on?  Will we march and put our doubts to silence and when we speak it will be what God says not what our doubts say?

God’s word teaches us that  He loves us, He cares for us, His compassions never fail, His mercies are new every morning, He has a plan for us, He has a purpose for us, He takes care of the birds in the air how much more will he take care of us?  We are His creation , as you love your very own child , how much more He loves us who purposefully and uniquely created us to be.  There are thousands of promises in the bible about what God says about you and your life.  Press on and press into these truths not the lies of fear born out of doubts.

The bible teaches us as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.  Our words and what we speak into our lives has great power and becomes ingrained into our thoughts and ultimately into our hearts.  Harness your thoughts , harness what you say, what you speak .  This doesn’t mean you will have answers for your doubts but what it does mean is that you don’t need answers because you can take rest in God’s promises.  Faith after all doesn’t mean we walk with sight … on the contrary it is being sure and certain without seeing.  This isn’t a positive thinking hocus pocus trick either , God can’t be tricked or manipulated … it is nitty, gritty being in the trenches  purposeful faith no matter the outcome.  Trusting that God’s plan is the best plan.

It takes work, honest effort  to chose to zip our lips ,cleanse our minds and break these old habits and yes, old habits die hard.   Clinging to God’s promises , to God’s truth , to God’s word and not speaking in fear or doubt but remaining obediently faithful …  well that is when just as  the songs goes ” The walls of Jericho came tumbling down.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Walking through the muck

Colossians 3:2 teaches “Set your minds on things that are above, not things that are on earth”

I enjoy being outside and either walking or jogging in my neighborhood.  Even in winter, I find few things that bring more peace to my soul then getting bundled up and feeling the warm sun contrasting with the brisk air.  Especially after a snowfall … everything is covered in white and God’s beauty just seems to whisper and shout at me all at the same time.  I have one particular street that is my favorite … the quaint New England homes , the trees that line that road,  and just the sheer sense of quiet I feel.  It is a kind of special place that God and I share together.  On this particular day I was walking down that street and is was right after a snow. The roads were rather mucky, slushy, and just plain dirty.  I was looking down at my feet concentrating on the muddy snow and the brown puddles trying not to get my shoes too dirty when I realized I was not seeing what was in front of me.  I was focused on the the muck so much that I was missing the blue sky, the puffy white clouds that I could make into assorted creations in my mind , the chirping birds, the crazy squirrels running about and even more importantly … God’s voice.   I had to resist that urge to carefully walk through the muck and not dirty myself and instead choose to look upwards and just forget about getting my shoes dirty.  

It occurred to me what a metaphor this was for life.  If you are anything like me, sometimes I get wrapped up in the details of what is going on in my life (or not going on) and instead of looking upwards I am looking down … at my earthly problems.  It seems to be such a natural tendency to look at these problems … we have such an assortment to chose from … from events like divorce, loss of jobs, and death to what goes on in our mind like worry about our children and finances , self doubt, inner criticism and that voice that tells us we just don’t measure up.   Even in the midst of all this we simultaneously have God’s beauty all around us … His love, His creation, His promises.  We live in a world that is fallen, that is broken therefore we will at times (sometimes more often than we would like) … walk through the muck.

I love Kay Warren’s analogy of two train tracks.  Most of us think of the highs and lows in life , the mountains and the valleys … but often we are on two train tracks.  On one track are the struggles and the other track are the blessings … whatever is happening in our lives there is also good at the same time.  What we choose to focus on is what we will take center stage in our life.   It takes being purposeful to lift our heads up and look towards God but once we do that we release ourselves of the burden, the worry, and the heaviness that all that muck carries with it.  

Our shoes will get dirty that is for sure.  We can’t take away that fact.  But dirty shoes and all , God’s blessings surround us and if we make that choice to set our minds on His ways and His truth we begin by His grace to see the beauty through the muck.

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Submission – What a dirty little word.

Ephesians 5:22  “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

Candace Cameron Bure has gotten some attention from the media lately … in her book , “Balancing It All” , she writes of submitting to her husband.

In today’s culture the word submission often has a negative connotation.   After all, the woman of today is supposed to be “equal” to her male counterpart and the idea of submitting to a man often brings negative images of abuse to mind.  God does not give permission for men to abuse their wives in any way shape or form with this verse.

As all verses in the bible … this verse is just part of a whole.  Ephesians 5:22 is followed with: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ” (Ephesians 5:25)

The definition of submission according to Webster’s dictionary is “the condition of being submissive, humble, or compliant “.

Biblically speaking , as wives we are called to submit to our husbands in marriage.  Biblically speaking , husbands are called to love their wives as they would themselves , to give themselves up for her just as Christ did for the church.

In a healthy marriage (as it is in God’s plan for us) a woman is safe to submit to her husband as he is not ruled by his ego or by selfish desires but by his love for his wife and he ultimately gives himself up for her.

Submission does not mean you are weak … it means you let go of your own ego for the best of the team , that you humble yourself.

God teaches us that often the ways of the world will not line up with His ways.  God calls us to be submissive not only to our husbands, but more often the Bible speaks of the importance of us submitting to Him.  The world teaches us that submission is to be weak and to give up your rights.

Unfortunately I think this verse (along with many others) gets twisted and taken out of context and we infer another meaning into it not designed by God at all.  Such a great example of why it is so important to read and really know what God’s word says about such things.  We serve a God that loves us … His instructions are to teach us and to help us not to hurt us or harm us.

The word submission has perhaps gotten a bad wrap and maybe we need to change the way we look it.  It is not the act of submission that is so wrong … but more a question of what or whom we submit ourselves to.  I think God knows ultimately that we all ending up submitting to something … so He teaches us what healthy, Godly submission looks like.

The greatest example we have of submission is that of Christ who sacrificed himself in submission to the will of God … the single most powerful and loving act committed in our history was one of humility, surrender,  and meekness.

Food for thought:  What or Whom do you submit yourself to?

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When it’s not polite to say His name

Today I am going to be a guest reader in my son’s classroom.  Originally I was scheduled to read at Thanksgiving time but I had got rescheduled to read in December instead (Christmas time).  I did not think too much about it as schedules change all the time but now I see that God had something to show me.

The book I picked out is “The Gift of the Magi”.  If you have not read this book … you must … it is an incredibly beautiful and touching story.  We have had this book ever since Kaden was a baby … it was our older daughter’s book before that .  I have read it to Kaden every year.  The story is not only beautiful but for my family has a sense of tradition so this is the book Kaden and I wanted to share with his class.

As I was looking through the book the day before (because this is what an A type personality does the day before she reads to a group of children … she prepares! ) I found references to God in the book.  At one point the main character says a prayer to God and at the end of the book the story is tied into the Three Wise Men who gave gifts to Jesus.  Now , we have read this book ,like I said ,every year .  In our home we openly talk about God and I suppose I just overlooked it … I don’t know … I had to of known and maybe just did not think about it.

So I got this whisper in my ear that maybe this book might not be a good book to read … maybe not everyone was Christian in Kaden’s class … maybe it would be considered offensive … maybe it was not appropriate or polite to read a story that mentions God and more specifically mentions Jesus.

So I kind of started to “freak out ” a bit.  I sent the teacher a note explaining the story and basically asked her permission if it was ok that I read this book.  The teacher assured me that this was not about teaching religion but ” a good story” and that I did not have to omit anything from my story-telling.

After this experience … I felt sad.  I felt grieved that I somehow was worried about saying God’s name and worried if it might offend anyone.  I asked my husband about it .  He told me that I probably did not need to ask permission and if someone was offended that was about them and had nothing to do with me and the story I was telling.  It is not like  you are going in there banging bibles over peoples heads or anything … you are telling a beautiful story that gives reference to Christ … in a very soft and beautiful way.

I awoke this morning and still had a pain about it in my chest.  I know it probably seems like no big deal … but to me it felt like I was more worried about doing what was right, polite, and respectful and as my husband pointed out , maybe worried about people’s opinions.  So I cried, I told God I was so sorry.  He gave me a picture in my head … He was telling a story and in that story my name was mentioned .  He would never not say my name outloud because someone might be offended by the sound of my name …  no,  He loves me He would say my name outloud with all the love in His heart.   I took that to heart.

Fortunately … my God is a God of love , mercy, and grace.   In a not so coincidental way, this morning I came upon Psalm 103 which reads

1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

I knew immediately that God gave me this verse to let me know … He knows and He is quick to forgive and love so I did not need to feel guilty.

This may seem like such a “small thing” but I really believe it was such a big spiritual moment for me.  I learned something.  There are many that suffer and are persecuted in severe ways for Christ’s name … we are very lucky here in the States since we have the freedom to worship openly.  There is however a social persecution of sorts that tells us that we are supposed to be polite and respectful of others and that when we say God’s name that this is offensive to those that don’t believe or who believe differently.  If we come from a place of love  just like God does for us … the mention of His name is just that … it illuminates love.  Putting God in a shadow or taking Him out of a story so He can’t be seen or heard …. I can’t do it … I hurts my relationship with Him and if I offend someone that is not my intent , but I will live it … God matters first.

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