Saturday, April 28, 2012

Joy and Peace

Lately that is what I have had. Joy and peace. If someone was to say, "why, do you feel such joy and peace now?" I would have to say, "surrender!"

Yes, I said surrender! I finally surrendered something to God. I was finally at a point where all I wanted to do was to get rid of it, so I let it go. That was about a month ago and each day has brought me more joy and peace. With the surrender comes a sense of anticipation for what He is doing. I could feel badly that I didn't surrender it earlier, but I have come to realize that His timing is His timing. His timing comes when He knows I am ready, when He has done enough heart work to make me ready. So there is no need to waste time feeling badly about timing.

Now I am in a phase of preparation. I can't tell you what I'm exactly being prepared for but I know I am. There have been other changes, ones I didn't expect, but they have come as well. I have some mixed feelings about some of the changes. Leaving a place that God used to bring such healing in my life, a place that helped me step out into new and even scary things. This is not a bad place and it is full of great, Godly people, but God has moved me and I have to move forward. I don't understand it, but knowing it is true continues to bring me joy and peace.

I have to admit that I find myself smiling almost all the time. The other day I thought, "I'm ready." It wasn't a I'm-ready-God-so-do-it-now-already kind of thing. It was more of a revelation. An I'm-ready-for-whatever-God-has-been-preparing-me-for kind of thing. It's excited, extremely exciting!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


A few days ago I made a decision. It wasn't a decision that changed anything on the outside, but it was a big decision for me. It was one of those decisions that resulted in peace and calm. I felt light and smiley afterwards.

The next day came and I was surprised at how easily I went through the day with the same sense of peace. It felt easy. I thanked God for His strength, because I knew it had to be His not mine.

The next day was the same and the day after that. And then the next day came and it was a day of significance and I had to cling to God to help me remain strong in the decision and not let the significance of the day affect that. With God, I made it through. It ended with more thankful praise for His strength and peace.

Today was a breeze in comparison, and then I saw it. A post on Facebook, an innocent enough one, but one that made my resolve crumble. I felt ready to cry and thought "Lord, I really, really need You right now!" I changed a setting on Facebook and the post disappeared from my wall. I sighed with relief, but still felt a tug on me.

So that tug drove me here to share. I am far from perfect and my strength is significantly weak. I struggle and need God's strength and direction each and every day. I don't have to go through any moment of my day alone. He is always ready and willing to show me the way. He's strength is more than enough for me. "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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9.

After writing this and even before I click "publish"  I feel the peace of His and I can smile. I know there will still be testing and trying times as I stay committed to this decision, but He will continue to be my all and all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Not About What I Must Do!

It's all about me! That is something I say jokingly. I hope people realize I am joking! I mean I know it is NOT all about me. I know that I am just one person in a world full of billions of people. I know that it isn't about me but about God. So why is it that I know it but sometimes act like I don't?

Read any books about how to become a better, you name it, person? man or woman? husband or wife? pray warrior? money manager? Christ Follower? I have! So many of these books focus on Me! They mention God, but focus on what I need to do. What I need to do. How I need to do it. How often I need to do it. Advice is good, nothing wrong with that. But is it really about me?

I was thinking about this today and looked up one of the classical verses of the Bible to make sure I was remembering it correctly. John 3:30 "He must increase, but I must decrease." KJV. In the King James Version Bible the words that were added are in italics to indicate that. So the word "must" was added. I am not sure why. But I think with it there is work for me to do and without it there isn't.

Now, I'm not saying we don't have work to do. 1Cornintians 3:6-7 seem to back that up. "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." (Other versions have less "eths" but I wanted to focus on the word "increase".) Paul goes on to say these are labor jobs and each receives reward based on the job he does. The point is we can do the work but if God is in there is an increase. Which means the opposite is also true. If God is NOT in it then there is no increase.

Which goes back to John 3:30, God MUST increase in order for me to decrease. If I try to decrease on my own I will have to become rule minded in order to do so. I will have to become religious in my approach. It will be all about what I MUST do and how I MUST do it and how often I MUST do it that makes me decrease. But will I really?

A sense of pride will increase within me. Oh, I might do all these things that look like decrease, but I will, deep down, take pride in the fact that I did it. I pulled myself up by my boot straps. God helps those who help themselves, right? Not that He can't, because He can, but who is the emphasis on in those statements? Me!

If we look at John 3:30 without the italics "must" it reads, "He must increase, but I decrease." Do you see the difference. With the word "must" in there about me, it seems that we are both in this together, equally. But without the "must" He is doing the work, the increasing in my life, and because of it I decrease. The focus is on Him. Isn't that where it belongs.

Paul said that his work of planting was important. He says that we will be rewarded based on the labor we do. But the labor must be the work that God calls us to. Paul went traveled and spread the message of Jesus with the people, but he didn't stay. He moved on, and people like Apollos then had to water the seed. If Paul had stayed and watered too, I dare say he would not been as successful as he was at spreading the Word. He would have tried to rise up Christ Followers where he was, but that wasn't his job. God planned for him to take the Word to people. If he had tried to do it in his own strength, stay and water, then I think the increase would have been much less.

One thing I know I must do is open myself up to His increase in my life. As He increases the "musts" that so many of us do will become parts of our lives anyway. As He increases I will be drawn to spend more time with Him. As He increases in me I will be drawn to pray more, listen more, serve more. I will see more of His hand at work in my life as He increases. The idea of I must do this or that will change as I hear Him speak about what He wants me to do. Just like Paul and Apollos, we don't all do the same thing. Sometimes we fall into the "serving trap". The one that sees a place to serve, or even all the places to serve, and we rush in and try to do them. You may look like you are decreasing because you are serving so much, but in reality the "I" in you is increasing. You feel more drained than joyful. You feel more proud of yourself than humble.

I can try to ignore His increase in my life too. When that happens I am not open and He waits for me to be open. He won't force His increase on you. He will wait, He is very patient. Once I realize that I have started "musting" again He can start to increase in my life again.

I prayed this morning to become more like Him. That starts with the focus being on Him. As I focus on Him He gets bigger and bigger and I get smaller and smaller.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Used Fabric

Today I opened the right box in the shed to find the peddle to my sewing machine. I was very excited and look forward to getting back to some quilting projects that I have ignored for far too long. First I needed to take apart a quilt that was no longer usable. I recently washed it and when I opened the washer it had come apart. I decided to dry it and see what, if anything, was still usable.

I decided to take it apart because so much of it was still in good condition and I could use in projects. The entire backing is very usable and I hope it is the right size for a quilt cover I finished long ago. As I was taking it apart I found that quite a bit was usable, but unfortunately not all of it.

This particular quilt was the very first bed-size quilt I have ever made. I made it back before the days when I had a sewing machine so the entire thing was made by hand, so it was easy to rip out the seams. As I was ripping them out I had to smile with the thought that went through my mind.

"God uses old fabric." As we grow we change. We outgrow things. Some things we had were handmade, hand sewn, and they are old, there are rips and tears, and then it falls apart. Now "machine sewn" things in our lives get worn out, fall apart just like "hand sewn" ones. But some of those "hand sewn" things tend to fall apart more easily.

God sometimes needs to take those old things in our lives apart. They may not be usable anymore or just not good enough. Maybe He wants to replace our "hand sewn" things with His "machine sewn". The "hand sewn" may have been good, but His is better. Even so, He doesn't always throw away every piece of the old. He leaves part, the usable good parts, in the new thing.

It makes me think of a move, something I have done a lot. When you move you go to a new house, everything about the house is different than the old one, yet, you bring along old things from your last house. Maybe it's furniture, maybe it's photos or other decorations, regardless you bring them. They become a part of your new house.

I think God does that with the old, but usable, fabric pieces of our lives. He takes away the ripped and torn and removes them from our lives, but He uses the good pieces to make beautiful new things in our lives.

 I am a bit sad to throw away those torn pieces, but I know they need to go. I am sad about the old things in my life that He is removing, but I know they need to go. And I look forward to seeing how God will use the good fabric in my life in the new that He is making.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

3 Day Rule

A few years ago I was going through a heartache and got some great advice from my mom. She told me to give myself 3 days to grieve. Let myself feel the loss, the hurt, the pain, but then rise up. After those 3 days rise up out of it like Jesus rose from the dead.

It was great advice. I gave myself 3 days to just cry and grieve, and believe me I grieved like I have never before. After those 3 days I found that I didn't even have to try to rise up out of it. I went into it knowing I had 3 days to grieve and I guess that was enough for me to just rise out of it. Now there were days when the pain came back, not all pain is just gone in 3 days, but when it did I gave it 3 more days. After the 3 days it was even easier to rise out of than it was the previous time.

I have used this advice whenever I get sad, hurt, or grieve. Like I said, sometimes it takes more than one 3 day period to deal with the sadness, but I always give myself 3 days at a time. There are even times when I don't need all 3 days.

Right now I am sad. I could put on the "brave face" and fake that everything is okay, but I don't want to be fake. So for the next couple of days I will allow myself to be sad, but in the end I will rise up!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I feel restless!

I feel like time is racing by and I am stuck in the same old same old. I hear about other people's news, you know, jobs, babies, ministries, etc., and I wonder if anything new is coming my way.

I try to think about what I can do to make a change. I like to cook and bake, but what do I do with that? I am not chief or baker material. I just like it. I love to quilt, and I can't even find the peddle to my sewing machine so I can't do that. Even if I did, so what?

I love to read, but so do lots of people. I love animals, as if a dog and four cats aren't proof of that. So?

I hear about people doing great things. New ministries. New ways of helping others. They talk about what God told them to do, and I am straining my ears to hear if God is speaking something like that to me. I don't hear anything.

I hear about others' babies, children, husbands. I see their pictures and read their stories. I think of holidays coming up and start dreading the next one right after the last one passes. Holidays are meant to be celebrated with family, with children. The next one coming is my absolute worst one of all. I won't go out that day, not even to the store. I don't want to hear the chipper, "Happy Mother's Day!" that everyone says to women regardless of whether they have an idea of they are mothers or not.

I just realized that all of these paragraphs start with "I". I don't usually share my pity parties, but somehow I just felt I had to. So, forgive me for dumping on you. It's not something I would ever normally do. I guess if I want to be more transparent than that means sharing even the pity party.

Monday, April 9, 2012


This year I turn forty. Yup, forty. Not the nineteen I tell me students that I am. (Some of them still can't figure out how old I am so I'm sticking with nineteen for now.) Forty. And I am looking forward to it.

Yes, you don't need to reread that. I really wrote that I am looking forward to it. Why? Well, let's look at forty. I opened up my Strong's Concordance and "forty" has about a column and a half of scriptural references.

Genesis 7:4 "In just seven days I will dump rain on Earth for forty days and forty nights. I'll make a clean sweep of everything that I've made." That seems bad, right? Forty days of rain and it will wipe out everything. The only ones saved where Noah and his family and the animals God brought to him. Everything else, the evil, the hurt, the grime and dirt of the world were gone.

Forty is one of the numbers Abraham asked God about when he was trying to get Lot saved from destruction. Of course there weren't forty righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah. I think it's interesting that Abraham kept asking God numbers of people, like He didn't know there weren't that many people. God keeps letting us ask and He patiently keeps answering, even when He knows we are hedging around the real question.

Isaac was forty when he married Rebekah. Esau was forty when he married. The Egyptian embalming of Israel even took forty days. And that's just Genesis!

Moses lived in Egypt forty years, lived in exile for forty years, and lead the Israelites around the wilderness for forty years. He spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai with God and in the end came down with the tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

The spies Moses sent into the Promised Land were there for forty days before returning with their report. Caleb was forty when Moses sent him into the Promised Land to spy it out. The judge, Othniel, went to war against Aram Naharaim and then the land was quiet for forty years. After Deborah and Jael defeat Canaan the land was quiet for forty years. The land was quiet for forty years after Gideon broke the hold of Midian.

There is more in the Old Testament, but on to the New.

Jesus was fasting in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. After His resurrection He showed Himself for forty days before ascending.

There are forty days, forty days and nights, being forty years-old, and forty years, and these are just some of the forties. Some seem negative, wondering and waiting, but during those times God removes what needs to be removed and He takes care of the needs at the same time. These times, I am sure were hard and challenging, but He takes them through.

There are also forty years of quiet in the land. Those were times when there was no attack from without and the people were following the laws of the Lord. That would be nice, right forty years of quiet in life. That said, those forty years were times of cleansing, of getting rid of the stuff that needs to go. I would rather those years of pruning and becoming more like Christ than forty quiet ones. Also those forty years came after years of being controlled by others and having to fight a war to gain the quiet. I would be okay with that.

Then there are those examples of people being forty when... So I guess that is one reason I am glad to turn forty. I would love for my forty to be one of those examples. I am looking forward to being forty. I can't even believe that I can actually saw that.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

When All Hope Seems Lost

I am not a Bible plan reader. I know that seems to be the new push in how to do Bible reading. You must follow a plan. I have read the entire Bible, many times. I have read the entire Old Testament all the books in a row. I have read the entire New Testament book by book. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, but it seems to be the push of late. When I finish a book of the Bible I pray. I don't open it up randomly and just start reading. Well, okay sometimes I do when I am hurting badly and 99% of the time the flip to is a profound verse or verses. God can do that, you know. Anyway, like I said I pray. I ask God what to read next. Sometimes His answer is a book; sometimes a set of books, like the Gospels; and sometimes it is an entire Testament of the Bible. This week I finished Amos, yup He told me to read Amos, and asked Him what I should read. I was glad when He told me Esther.

I love the book of Esther. We women get two books about hero women of faith, Ruth and Esther, and I love both books. I know there are other women mentioned throughout the Bible, women of great faith, but I love these two the most. They have so much in common if you really take time to notice and yet are so different as well. So, I gladly flipped the pages to Esther.

I have seen some new things, have had new revelations since reading the book again. That is one thing that I love about the Bible. If you read the same book, passage, or verse again you can get new revelation each time. Disclaimer - Reading the Bible helps you know about the Author, just like reading an autobiography helps you know about its author. But it takes more than just reading the Bible to know the Author.

I just read chapter 6. This is the chapter where the king can't sleep and asks to have scrolls of daily records read to him. He hears the story of Mordecai warning him of the plot to kill him. He asks what was done for this man and finds out nothing. He asks who is in the court so he can get advice. Side note - this guy doesn't seem to have any mind of his own. He is constantly asking for advice, offering up half his kingdom, and quickly signing on to murder plots. Just an observation. Anyway, it is none other than Haman, the guy who hates Mordecai and has hatched the plan of the annihilation of the entire Jewish race. He's so vain he thinks the king is talking about him when he asks how he should honor a man.

Meanwhile, Mordecai is in deep mourning because of the impending destruction of his people. He is waiting for Esther, to hopefully, save her people. He is in the "when all hope seems lost" stage of his life. Then out of the palace comes the guy who hates him and plans to kill him himself. Instead he puts a royal robe and crown on Mordecai, both worn previously by the king, and puts him on a horse, previously ridden by the king, and proclaims for all to hear, "this is what is done for whom the king especially wants to honor!"

When this is all over and he is back to waiting for word from Esther I wonder what he thought. "Thanks, that was nice, but I'm still going to die and so are all my people." Or "About time king, that was years ago. But how about instead of a robe, crown, and horsey ride you spare my life and while your at it, all the lives of my people." Or "But God, what was the point of that?" I am sure that I would have thought all of those and probably much more. Little did Mordecai know but that very day Esther told the king of the plot, Haman was to be killed on the gallows he erected for him to die on, and the king would issue proclamation that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against the attack and to confiscate anything owned by their enemies.

Now I've never had a wearing the king's robe or crown and be paraded around on his horse kind of day. And I have not been lead around by my enemy while he proclaimed that the king was honoring me. But this story makes me think of the verse that says that all things work together for those that love God. It makes me think about how satan wishes to destroy me, but I am a daughter of the Most High King. He rejoices over me with singing, it says so in His Word.

Even when it seems like all hope is lost, God can use anyone, even your enemy, to proclaim His love and pleasure in you. He can give you your own parade of sorts. I am sure it would look different for each of us. But just like Mordecai, the parade and proclamation didn't change the circumstance. Esther's intervention changed it. They still had to fight. People still had to die. Blood was still spilt.

In the midst of your difficulties, God may show you off, He may have a parade just for you. You may not understand, it may seem pointless but He has a day, maybe even that very day, planned to rescue you in the situation. He may remove it, but He may not. He may just give you the tools to fight back. He will give you the victory and He may even give you the territory that your enemy had.

Ultimately, Jesus intervened for us on the cross. He died and rose again so satan's plan to destroy God's people couldn't succeed. Did that make the enemy go away? No. Did it mean the enemy wouldn't still attack? No, we still have to fight. But just like the Jews had the king's proclamation to back them up we have our King's proclamation, His salvation.

When all hope seems lost  know God has a time planned when you will be able to look back and see how His hand was at work. You'll be able to see that He intervened, and maybe He will even used a certain person or people to accomplish that. You will see that even though you had to battle through, He gave you the tools to defeat your enemy. You will even see that parade He gave you and see it as His show of love and affection for you. His reminder that it is you He loves and no circumstance, no difficulty, no sin will ever change that!