This Is My Story

My pastor has encouraged us to write our story and share it, in 250 words or less. That’s not a lot of words! I was trying to keep it short and concise and ended up with 272. One paragraph was taken out completely and I ended up with 250, exactly. This is what I sent him.

I grew up spending the weekends with my grandparents, and attending church with my maternal grandparents. I didn’t know why I did it, I just did. I found out a few years ago that my dad was frequenting bars and my mom didn’t know if he would come home, or in what shape he would arrive if he did.

I was baptized at the age of 9, and fell away from God when I was in college. College is also where I met my husband.

We graduated, got jobs and were married. Almost two years later we expanded our family, and two years after that we grew again. Looking at things from a mothers eyes changed my perspective, and I knew I wanted our kids to grow up with Jesus.

It was around this time that my dad was in horrible pain from herniated discs in his back and on disability. He felt useless and picked up the gun to take his own life. Something made him cry out, Jesus help me, and at that moment my dad felt His presence so deeply that he was a changed man. He is now an Elder in his church.

My family began attending church and in 2003 my husband was baptized. He has struggled with depression and anxiety, and I know that God has carried me through those trials. Some days it felt like faith was all I had.

God is currently working miracles in my husbands heart and it makes me so happy.

Post Blissdom Spin

I’m still fighting post Blissdom exhaustion and haven’t had the time to wrap my head around all the wonderful things I heard and learned.

I’m still praying about the changes I’m going to make to this blog. I have to make the change to self hosting and that requires a domain name change. Last time I opened up the bible and landed on Proverbs 24:5-6. Simple, right? I’m open to suggestions if you have any!

I’m also trying to write my story, my testimony, and it’s changing so radically right now that my head is spinning. I sit back in awe and amazement at how quickly God is moving and changing hearts right now! Seriously, if you don’t know Jesus, I want to help you get to know Him. He heals all wounds.

What’s going on with you right now? Can I pray for you at all?

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Go with the Flow

I have a really bad tendency to try and control things. I want to be in control so that I know things will be done correctly, or at least the way I want them done. In reality, I know I’m not in control of anything. NOTHING. So you can see where this can cause some stress for me.

I’ve been going through Discipleship Training through my church, and my eyes are opening to some of the things I try to control. God is speaking to me about obedience in alot of areas right now, and one of them is my faith. Apparently when I take a situation out of God’s hands and place it in mine, that shows a huge lack of faith on my part. He is in control, and always will be. I could never compare.

Worry comes and goes with me, I never really dwell on it, but I do give in at times. God wants me to just go with the flow and trust Him. If I really trust Him, I don’t need a backup plan. So no need to worry. Even if I don’t have answwers to some tough questions.

There’s a strange peace in that. Trusting Him who made me, and everything else.

This morning was a little stressful for me. My daughter needed to be at school early but she didn’t tell me until the last minute, when she wanted to leave. It required juggling my sons and extra traffic, and tension between us. It could have been eliminated if she had just told me about it last night, and I could have responded differently by not becoming aggravated about the traffic.

Life is going to be stressful, especially if I try to control it. I’m not in control. Truthfully, I don’t want to be in control. I just want the peace that comes from knowing Jesus is in control and trusting in Him daily. Living in faith.

Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were

encouraged about you because of your faith. 1Thes 3:7

Be Still-Part 2

Last month I hinted around at something that I wanted and it didn’t happen. The opportunity presented itself again, and I didn’t know what to do. I wrestled with God, and I had questions. Was I doing the right thing, or using my free will to do the wrong thing? I finally decided that God would close the door again if it wasn’t supposed to be. The IT, was a job at a school. There were lots of pros and cons on the list, and I was just uncertain. When it didn’t happen the first time around, I will be totally honest, my heart was broken. I was upset and confused, but I came to the place that I understood, it wasn’t meant to be. God closed that door for a reason, and I might not ever know the reason, but I will go on. So, when the postings came up again, there was inner turmoil. Turmoil because of what happened the last time, and a few other reasons too. But, like I said previously, I prayed about it and went out on a limb.

I had inner turmoil, and that’s when I knew I needed to be still. I wanted to interfere, but I didn’t. That was hard for me, an admitted control freak, but I stayed strong.

Our schools are way, WAY over budget. They proposed a referendum, a property tax increase for 7 years to help ease the budgetary problems. Most people in our community are feeling the down turn of the economy, reigning in spending, and leary of increased taxes. The referendum did not pass, therefore, the teaching assistant position that I interviewed for back in August and didn’t get, will be cut. The person who did get the job, a teacher who didn’t get a teaching position, but a teachers assistant, will be losing her job. It’s hitting home. God closed the door, and now He’s revealing why. He always knows.

“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.”

I’m glad that I was able to listen and be still. I didn’t take control and mess things up. It would have been a hassle, an inconvenience that we just don’t need right now. So, it was hard, but He saved me from the really hard. Thank you Jesus for loving me and my flaws. You forgive me when I’m controlling and mess things up. Please continue to grow and change me.

Blindness was comfortable


Wow! David Platt knows where to hit and exactly how hard to punch.

Chapter 6- HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? American wealth and a world of poverty

David talks about all of us having blind spots- areas that need to be discovered so we can fix them and live like Jesus calls us to. Most of the time, we don’t realize they exist, even when someone points them out to us. “Part of our sinful nature instinctively chooses to see what we want to see and to ignore what we want to ignore.” Pg 108

Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Jesus saw the rich mans blind spot, and that was his love of possessions. So He called him out on it.
So, then, what if he told you and me to sell everything we have? What if he told us to sell our houses for simpler living arrangements? What if he told us to sell our cars for more modest ones- or for no cars at all? What if he told us to give away all but a couple of sets of clothes? What if he told us to empty the savings account we have been building for years if not decades? What if he told us to change our lifestyles completely? Pg 121
What if??

I’m thinking. We have a nice house, but I’ve been longing for a nicer one. I tell myself we NEED another bedroom so the boys don’t have to share. What I’m blind to is the blessing of a roof over our heads, running water, and heat in the winter. I am blessed. As a family we have two vehicles to drive. I have excess, and wants, and months where we are stretched. What do I do with that? I go on, blind to much. Where do I go from here? I’m still wrestling with that, so I’ll just leave you with a few quotes that I highlighted from chapter 6.

“I wonder at some points if I’m being irresponsible or unwise. But then I realize there is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, `I wish you would have kept more for yourself.` I’m confident that God will take care of me.” Pg 123

“We sell them and give them away because Christ in us compels us to care for the needy around us.” Pg 126

“Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?” Pg 127

“The way we use our money is an indicator of our eternal destination.” Pg 138

This is me, still struggling. Wrestling with myself hopefully, and not Jesus. Trying to figure it all out.
For more insights on chapter 6, go visit Marla.

The Christian Atheist

Sunday’s sermon was so powerful and convicting. It was one of those fire and brimstone, digs down deep into the matters of your heart kind. I was moved, convicted, and repentant. I hardly wrote anything down on my outline, afraid to look down at the page for fear that I would miss something. Have you ever experienced that? It was GOOD! So good, that I have to share it. It won’t be as good, since I’m not Pastor Scott, but you’ll get the gist of it.

He starts out with this statement. I believe in God, but I don’t fear Him.

Yes, God is good, we have heard that. But God is also a just God, mighty, omniscient, omnipotent, fierce, jealous, terrifying, cunning God too. Do you fear Him? He holds your eternity in His hands. Fear Him now? Noah did. If God asked me to build an ark today, would I start the project or ask lots of questions? Abraham feared God, and was obedient. He was willing to sacrifice his son, and God stopped him when He saw that obedience. He later sacrificed His own Son. Do you fear Him?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV) Wow! What a powerful passage that clearly describes things we can relate to as seeing in ourselves or someone we know. You’re calling me out now, and I can feel the heat! I’ll just go through some of them that were screaming at me from the page.   Forgiveness is a big struggle for me, and I wrestle with God many times before I can finally let go and give Him control of it. So that one jumped out at me. I don’t really think of myself as an ungrateful person, but I know that at times I ask for His blessing and He never receives a Thank you. That is ungrateful! And here is the big one, the one monster in my closet if you will. A couple weeks ago at the race track, my son was getting some bad calls. In the grand scheme of life, I know that it’s no big deal. But that Friday night it was. I lacked self-control and acted in an unholy manner. I knew it at the time the words came out of my mouth, but I was so angry, and had let satan grab hold so tightly, that I could not stop. Physically, I could not stop. I was sorry that I yelled at that corner worker that way, and ashamed of my behavior. I apologized to the people around me, and deleted the video that I was recording. Yeah, I was that bad. I had my younger son right beside me, and apologized to him, saying that mommy should not have said those things. Over and over I apologized, but I never let go of it. I never felt released from it. It was ugly!

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Psalm 36:1-2 (NLT)

When you fear God, you will serve Him wholeheartedly without any conditions. I’ll serve You Lord, but don’t ask me to give anything up. I’ll take Your blessings, but don’t expect me to be thankful or use them the way You want me to. We make God into our image, and that’s not what Abraham did. We need to be fully committed. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the eart to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2Chron. 16:9 (NIV)

Fear of God is reverent Awe. Experience Divine Wow.

When you fear God, you will be forever ruined. You will never be the same again. Your priorities will change. He will bring you to the end of yourself. God will convict you, He will appear to you, and heal you. The power of God restores and renews us.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, hight and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:1-8 (NIV)

So at the end, there was an altar call while the worship band was playing. The prayer benches were up front, and we were encouraged to use them if we felt the need. Of course, I felt the need. The whole incident at the track had not left the forefront of my mind, I had unclean lips. Let me tell you that I knelt at that prayer bench and felt God’s love on me. It washed over me. I cried, I repented and asked for forgiveness, and received healing and love. My guilt was taken away and my sin atoned for. I don’t want to be a Christian Atheist. I don’t want to be one of those Christians that non Christ followers point to and call a hypocrite. I want to be a light. A good example to others, especially my kids.



Praying

Thank You, Father for the incredible privilege of partnering with Jesus in the work of intercession.  Help me to stay alert and consistent as I pray for my brothers and sisters  in Christ.  Help me to be clear minded and self controlled as I stand in the gap for others, especially during these times.  Remind me that prayerlessness for others is a sin against You.  Help me be instant in prayer so that it becomes a way of life for me, as continuous as breathing.  In Jesus’ name,  Amen

A tearful goodbye/celebration

I don’t know what else to call it, besides the best funeral I’ve ever been to.  It sounds crazy to say that, but that’s how I feel.  I was dreading this funeral so badly, but was blessed by attending it in so many ways.  My dad’s cousin Jimmy died on Saturday.  He was only 52 and it was totally unexpected.  Married with three beautiful boys, the oldest is a teen.  It’s so hard to think about sometimes, but I urge you to take the time to talk with someone about what you would like to happen when you’re gone.  Jimmy and his wife did that, and I want to do it too.  There were 3 songs sung by two women, and then we sang two hymns.  These were songs that he had wanted.  The pastor opened up the floor for people to talk, and I was amazed by the outpouring of love to the family.  Everyone spoke of how much he loved his family, and how much he loved the Lord.  He touched so many lives, and didn’t even realize it I’m sure.  That’s just the kind of person he was.  He cared.  People from his church, and people from his workplace all loved him, and were blessed by the Holy Spirit within him.  One woman was talking about how he always lifted them up if they were struggling at work, and then she broke out singing Wind beneath My Wings!  It was beautiful!  Another person spoke highly of Jim, and didn’t know his wife, but said he knew her potato salad, and to fed ex it to them every now and then if she had to.  That made her laugh!  There were tears and there was laughter, and I guess the difference that I felt in this funeral was this.  We were a room filled with more believers in Jesus Christ than not.  We know that his earthly presence will be missed, but that he is truly home with God right now.  We may not understand it, but God has a plan for Jim, and it includes him at His side.  The pastor then preached, because he said that’s what Jim wanted him to do.  He preached about salvation, and that doesn’t mean just doing good things.  We have to confess, repent, and ask for fogiveness of our sins, and He will forgive.  We need to ask Jesus into our hearts and lives, and commit to follow Him.  And it’s too late when we’re in the coffin.  I had some family members sitting right there with me that needed to hear that, but I’m not sure they did.  I don’t understand it, but I don’t need to.  I just need to continue to pray for them.  (Off on a tangent again!)  Anyway, even in his death, Jim was witnessing to others.  He  planned that all out, and he knew who needed to hear it!  One person that stood up said we might ask why?  We should turn that around and we get YHW.  That stands for Your Holy Will!  Isn’t that great?  WHY= Your Holy Will 

I could go on and on, that’s how amazing it was!  I’ll stop, but I ask for prayers for his family.  I know they have a great church family that will lift them up, but you can never have too many prayers! 

I have one more funeral to attend this week.  A friend who passed away on Sunday, unexpectedly at the age of 36.  He too has a wife and 2 kids, the oldest is 12.  I just ask that these families be lifted in prayer, and that God would wrap His loving arms around them and provide comfort to them, that only He knows how. 

God Speaks

I forgot to mention this earlier, and He reminded me of it just now.  It’s important because God is sharing it with me again.  This morning in church, the thought came into my head (God breathed it into my heart!) that I should read the bible like a book I’ve never read.  Read it as if you don’t know what the next page says, much less the ending.  Wow!  That brings a whole new perspective to things.  I was thankful that we no longer have to sacrifice!  If I look at it as it is, a true living story, and don’t know the ending, it’s pretty frightening.  I think we are blessed that our God is a patient and loving God, because He has put up with a lot of garbage from people along the way.  If I didn’t already know how to receive salvation, or saving grace, I’d really be worried. 

Christmas Eve

The following is a communion meditation written by my dad, for the Christmas Eve service at his church tonight.  I got the chance to read it on Saturday and it gave me goosebumps.  I just had to share it. 

THE SCENE IS A SPARSE HILL IN ANCIENT JUDEA, NOT FAR FORM JERUSALEM.  NEARBY IS A CAVE.  JESUS WEARS ONE MEAGER GARMENT.  MARY IS WATCHING, WONDERING WHAT IT ALL MEANS.  A MAN IS STANDING BESIDE HER, NOT THE FATHER OF JESUS, BUT THE ONE WHO WILL CARE FOR HER.  BENEATH JESUS ARE BEAMS OF ROUGH WOOD.  ABOVE, THE HEAVENS SPARKLE WITH SUPERNATURAL SPLENDOR.  IN THE CITY SITS HEROD PONDERING JESUS DEATH.  JEWISH LEADERS DISCUSS HIS COMING.  NEARBY ARE OUTCASTS, GIVING THEIR OWN CRUDE TESTIMONY.  SOON RICH MEN ARRIVE WITH GIFTS JUST AS SUITED FOR A BURIAL AS A BIRTH.  ARE WE REMEMBERING A BIRTH OR A DEATH?  A MANGER OR A CROSS.  THE HILL COULD BE A SHEEP STUDDED HILL NEAR BETHLEHEM, OR IT COULD BE THE HILL CALLED GOLGATHA.  THE CAVE COULD BE A STABLE CRUDELY CUT INTO ONE OF BETHLEHEMS HILLS, OR IT COULD BE A BURIAL VAULT RECENTLY CARVED IN A NEARBY CEMETARY.  THE MEAGER GARMENT COULD BE SWADDLING CLOTHES OR A BLOODY, RAGGED LOINCLOTH.  IT IS JESUS OF COURSE, BUT IS HE A NEWBORN BABY OR A DYING MAN?  IT IS MARY, BUT IS SHE SITTING AT A CRADLE COMFORTING HER BABY OR CROUCHING, CRYING, HERSELF IN NEED OF COMFORT?  IS THE MAN JOSEPH THE CARPENTER, OR JOHN, WHO WILL MAKE HER A HOME?  ARE THE ROUGH WOODEN BEAMS BENEATH JESUS A MANGER OR A CROSS?  ARE THEY SEEING THE HEAVENS SPARKLE, OR AN ECLIPSED SUN AND A BLOOD RED MOON?  THE HEROD COULD BE THE GREAT WHO TRIED TO KILL THE BABY, OR HIS SON WHO IN A SENSE SUCCEEDED.  THE OUTCASTS COULD BE SHEPHERDS, KNEELING AT THE MANGER, OR THIEVES HANGING ON EITHER SIDE OF JESUS.  THE RICH MEN COULD BE MAGI WHO OFFER EXPENSIVE GIFTS, OR NICODEMUS AND JOSEPH WHO OFFER ONLY AN EMPTY TOMB.  IT’S AS THOUGH THERE WAS A MIRROR IN THE MANGER, A BIRTH REFLECTING A DEATH.  WE COME TONIGHT TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF OUR SAVIOUR, WE COME TO CELEBRATE THE LIFE OF JESUS, BUT WE COME TO THIS TIME OF COMMUNION TO REMEMBER THE SACRIFICE THAT HE MADE WHEN HE WENT TO THE CROSS AND WILLINGLY GAVE HIS LIFE, THAT YOU AND I, AND ALL MANKIND COULD BE FORGIVEN AND HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN WITH JESUS WHO WAS BORN TO DIE FOR OUR SINS. 

God’s Positive Answers

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it.

We say-It’s impossible

God says-All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

We say-I’m too tired

God says-I will give you rest (Matthew 11:18-20)

We say-Nobody really loves me

God says-I love you (John 3:16)

We say-I can’t go on

God says-My grace is sufficient(2 Corinthians 12:9, Psalm 91:15)

We say-I can’t figure this out

God says-I will direct your steps(Proverbs 3:5-6)

We say-I can’t do it!

God says-You can do all things (Phillippians 4:13)

We say-I’m not able

God says-I am able (2Corinthians 9:8)

We say-It’s not worth it

God says-It will be worth it (Romans 8:28)

We say-I can’t forgive myself

God says-I forgive you (1 John 1:9, Romans 8:1)

We say-I can’t manage

God says-I will supply all your needs (Phillippians 4:19)

We say-I’m afraid

God says-I’ve not given you a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)

We say-I’m always worried and frustrated

God says-Cast all your cares on me (1 Peter 5:7)

We say-I don’t have enough faith

God says-I’ve given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)

We say-I’m not smart enough

God says-I give you wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30)

We say- I feel so alone

God says-I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)

I was dreaming?

I saw my hand and a rope.  I was trying to hold onto the rope, but my hand was at the end.  I could see the rope separating and starting to fray.  I was slipping, and the rope was giving away.  Then another hand envelops mine.  A worn and calloused hand.  A tanned and tattered hand.  A nail scarred hand.  It came from nowhere and covered my hand with a mighty strength, so powerful I could feel it.  Feel the flesh on mine.  And I knew it was going to be OK.  When I can no longer hold on, He, Jesus, is here to help me.  He will carry the load, and let me hang freely while He nourishes my soul with His peace and love.  He will carry me until I regain the strength to hold on and fight for myself again.  Because He loves me so much.  Thank You Lord, for answering my prayers.  Thank You for showing me this, and sending me this security.  I will follow You.  I will praise You in the storm, because You are worth it.  Thank You for grabbing my hand, and teaching me. 

GRACE

My pastor has a great definition for grace– God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.  Dictionary.com has 20 listed definitions for grace.  A few of the first seven are, elegance or beauty of form, favor or good will, mercy, clemency, or pardon.  Number eight begins with Theology, and contains the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God, the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them, a virtue of excellence or divine origin, or the state of grace is the condition of being in God’s favor, or one of the elect.  I like the unmerited favor and love of God, because it reminds me that I do not deserve it, but He gives it because He loves me, even when I don’t deserve it.  That’s unconditional love, and we don’t often see that in our lives. 

That all leads up to a story about perfume.  A few weeks ago when Brooke and I were shopping, we came across inner grace.  I loved the name of it, so picked it up to try it.  It smells beautiful as well.  On the packaging it has philosophy, and I’m not sure if that is part of the name, but we found it in JCPenney, in the Sephora section.  I keep meaning to check it out online, and haven’t yet.  Anyway…  the perfume box says” philosophy:  to know peace is to know God.  within the context of peace we can know joy, love, and happiness.  in the absence of peace, we own nothing but the turmoil of our minds that jump from one thought to the next.  to find peace you must shut off your mind and open your heart to the only thing that matters; the gift of the present moment, it is peace personified.”  The body spray says “philosophy: top achieve inner grace you must practice acceptance.  surrender to a power that is greater and more loving than your own.  inner grace is eternal.  inner grace is immortal.  inner grace has no beginning and no end.”  Finally, the lotion says “philosophy:  God is love.  God is peace.  God is trust.  God is joy.  God is family.  God is friendship.  God is fearless.  God is breath.  God is life.  God is wisdom.  God is eternal.  God speaks in whispers.”  It gives me something to ponder every morning, and strive for each moment. 

FYI on FBI

I have a late night confession for you.  I have seen people wearing shirts with FBI emblazoned on the back and wondered what it meant.  I knew it was not the Federal Bureau of Investigations, but couldn’t quite figure it out until this weekend.  I was shopping at our local christian book store and spotted a card with FBI on the front.  It stands for Firm Believer In Christ.  I’ll share with you what the card says, because I love it so much.  This is on the off chance that one of you out there is as slow as I am in picking up on some of these things! 

The decision has been made, the die has been cast, and I have stepped over the line.  As a disciple of Christ, I will no longer look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.  My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure.  I’m finished with low living, sight walking, worldly talking, cheap giving, and tamed visions.  I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, power or popularity.  I don’t have to be right, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded.  I now live by faith, walk in VICTORY, and labor in love.  The road before me is narrow and rough, but His commission is undeniable, thus my mission is clear.  I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed.  I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.  I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have prayed up, praised up, paid up, and spoke up for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I am a Christian, an Unashamed Firm Believer In Christ! 

Wow!  Let’s all go out with that attitude tomorrow!