The Box

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Policeman. Firefighter. Princess. Teacher. Ninja Turtle. Veterinarian. Ballerina. Doctor. Batman.

One of these might have been your answer as a young child, when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question rings in our soul, from the moment we become aware of the world around us. The desire is within all children. They dream, fantasize, and wonder – maybe about being a strong and invincible superhero – maybe about being a beautiful princess with a golden dress.

Then children get a little older, entering in adolescence, and they start asking bigger questions. What difference will I make when I grow up? What is the purpose of my life? What impact will I make? What can I do to make my life important? Teenagers think about college and what future career to choose, as we bombard them with life-altering questions when they are just 16 years old. We expect this young adult to look at their strengths and weaknesses, and, as if they are deciphering some code God hid within them, they should be able to decide what career path to take.

And then we become adults. We look around us, at our home and family and occupation. Maybe some us feel like we missed the boat, or took the wrong boat, or paddled around in circles. Maybe we feel that we have arrived, or that we will never arrive. Whatever our answer, the question remains the same:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Am I where I am supposed to be?”
“Am I doing what God created me to do?”
“I just want to know I’m in the right place.”

We all fear the same thing: being on our deathbed with regrets or unfinished business. Why do you think we all want our life to count? Why do you think we all long to be a part of something great? Because the good Lord and Creator wove this desire into our very being. He put the need to answer this question within each of us…so that He may be the answer to our question!

During our high school years, before we met each other, my husband and I were both called by God into the ministry. And we both had the same conversation with the Lord…
Us —- “Okay God, you are telling me you want me to work in ministry. So what do you want me to do?”
God —- “Serve in My kingdom.”
Us —- “Ya, I got that. What do you want me to do?”
God —- “Lead my people and make disciples.”
Us —- “Ya, I got that. But, again, what should I do?”
God —- “Do whatever I tell you to do.”
Us —- “And what are you telling me to do?”
God —- “Go and make disciple.”
Us —- “Go where?”
God —- “Wherever I tell you.”

Well, this was just too broad for us. Too open to possibilities. Too scary. So, we looked within ourselves and saw what we were good at, what our strengths and weaknesses were, and drew our own conclusions. My husband loves to sing and play the guitar and he has a heart for youth ministry – so his box is worship and youth. I love to write and minister to women and young ladies – so my box is womens ministry. Now, before I continue, let me say this. The strengths and weaknesses and desires and preferences we all have are the parts of us, intentionally designed by God, to make us the unique masterpiece we are. And we have each been designed to play a specific and beautiful role in the kingdom of God. We are not all able to lead a children’s ministry at a church. Only some of us are able to study and learn and become a doctor. Only some of us have the strength and passion to be a firefighter. What I am NOT saying is that we can all be all things and we should not put ourselves in a box. Rather, what I AM saying is that we should not put God in a box.

1 Corinthians 12:1-39
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits…For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body…Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?…And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

When we are so desperate to name our calling, in order to give us more security and limit the scary, unknown possibilities, we actually end up limiting God. And we limit our vision and our perspective of what God can do in us and through us. We put God in a box. “No, God, I’m not supposed to pray with this woman, because you have called me to children. I’ll do whatever you ask me to do for children. But if you ask me to share your love and gospel with this woman, well that is outside of my calling.” Maybe while we are in children’s ministry, God is equipping us to work in women’s ministry. But we are not willing to submit to His leading, because it doesn’t fit our box. I have heard beautiful stories of people who retire from 30+ years in a career, and find new life and excitement doing something completely different. God is not limited to a boxed idea of possibilities!

My friend, if God is leading you do something, anything, then that is within your calling. He may tell you to do something that you never thought of, or planned for, or dreamed of. Will we say no because we believe, in our limited human view of life – that it is outside of our calling? Because saying “whatever You want, Lord,” is just too scary and too vague and too broad? How do we just go, without a plan? How do we provide for our family? How do we buy a home and create security and safety for our children? My friend, our promise is in the Word of God…

Matthew 19:29
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

Mark 10:29-30
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

Matthew 6:25-33
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

That is our promise. If our focus is set on obeying and following God, and not our earthly security, then He will be our security and we will have everything we need. What would our life look like if, instead of trying to label our calling, we said, “God, my calling is to do whatever You tell me to do.”?

Where are you supposed to be? Where God tells you to go.
What are you supposed to do? Whatever God tells you to do.
Where should you serve? Where God tells you to serve.
Who should you serve? Whoever God tells you to serve.

Do you want to know what you were created for? I know…to glorify God, experience His love, and in response, love Him with your heart and soul and mind. Follow His leading, not your understanding. Be open to the scary, beautiful, wonderfully terrifying possibilities of God!

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

We are the workmanship of God. He has already laid out the path He wills for you. Just lock your eyes on Him, study His Word, daily cultivate a relationship with Him, and walk in His ways. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be willing to think outside the box. Be willing to say to God, “I WANT WHAT YOU WANT FOR ME TODAY. NOTHING MORE. NOTHING LESS.”

 

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Eucharisteo

Luke 22:17-19

And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

Eucharisteo. The art of living in thankfulness. Made possible by grace. Paving the way to joy. Thankfulness. The cure for the “common cold” of the mundane life, of bitterness and fear. The remedy for the discontented life, of self-hatred and relentless anxiety. Thankfulness. The result of our intentional effort to take off our blinders and look beyond ourselves. Thankfulness. The consequence of turning our eyes to the Mighty King Jesus, even in the midst of the worst of storms. Thankfulness. The by-product of a willing heart…willing to accept everything God gives us. EVERYTHING. Even the things that contradict our fleshly desires and our “this-is-not-what-I-planned” questions.

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we take a step onto the path of righteousness. And freedom. And joy. You know, that kind of joy that is a living testimony to the world. The kind of child-like faithful joy, which makes others stare in wonder at how we can go through such a storm and still proclaim, “I am not afraid! My Jesus has the power to tell this storm to cease! And He has the power to tell the winds to blow and the waters to jump!”

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we choose hope over weariness. Peace over doubt. Rest over striving. Life over death! Thankfulness says, “Lord, I don’t like what I see, but I believe Your Word and my life is in Your hands.” Thankfulness allows us to live. Fully live. To no longer be characterized as the “walking dead,” questioning if we will ever be enough, accomplish enough, find enough, gain enough.

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we deny our circumstances the right to define our God! We stomp the enemy under our feet! We stand in victory against the lies of the Serpent; the enemy’s lies tempting us to doubt the God who set the stars in the sky. Thankfulness believes that even when bad happens, God is still good. Even when my heart is broken, God still has an amazing plan for me. Even when I am lonely…I AM NEVER ALONE!

Look back at the verses above. Read them aloud. Let your heart and ears hear the living Word of God spoken through your lips (lips this God Himself formed), testified by your breath (breath that God Himself set into your lungs). It was the night of the greatest injustice ever committed in the history of the world. The perfect and sinless Jesus, our Lord and Savior, would be brutally and wrongfully beaten, humiliated, chastised, and murdered. Jesus knew what was to come. He knew that in just a few hours, He would feel the betrayal of those He loved and lived among. He knew that He would be standing naked and mocked in front of the crowd. He could feel the sting of every whip of glass against His back, the unbearable agony of every step He took with the weight of that cross pressing down on His shoulders, the struggle of fighting for every little breath as He hung on that hill. And He knew the worst pain of all was to come…the pain of His Father turning His back upon Him as He bore the sin of the world. And with all this in mind, what did Jesus do? HE GAVE THANKS. He gave thanks.

Jesus chose Eucharisteo. Because this night was also the most glorious night in the history of the world. It was the night the bridge between man and God would be mended. It was the night that would make possible for you and I to walk once again in communion with God, as Adam and Eve had done. This night rang forth a new dawn. Grace would now be the law. Blood would be shed once and for all. The perfect and ultimate sacrifice would finally come. Scripture and prophesies, from the first scratches of ink written by man and inspired by God, were to finally be fulfilled. In light of the impending storm, Heaven could now come down to earth. The love of God could now be poured upon His children as originally intended in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit could be unleashed within us and through us. The power of the Almighty that worked through Jesus could now run through the veins of those who love the Lord and accept His love, His death, His resurrection!

Yes, this night, there was much to be thankful for! And today, wherever you are. At work, at home, at the grocery store, at the park, in your car…Jesus sits next to you. He reaches His hands out. In one hand is His blood. In the other hand is His body. He looks into your eyes and His gaze pierces to the depths of your soul. He sees everything He died for. He sees every sin and mistake you have made, and will ever make. He sees every great and wonderful plan He has in store for you. He sees the eyes He formed with His hands. He sees the heart He commanded to beat. He sees your fears, your worries, your desires, your dreams. And in all this, His heart pounds with a love for you that is greater than anything you will ever be able to fathom. And He says, “Take My blood. Take My body. Give thanks in all things. Open your hands. Receive everything I have for you. Not just the things your flesh wants. Not just the things your limited mind can understand. Receive EVERYTHING I have for you. My Beloved, oh how I love you! And, what life I have for you! Do not be afraid (Isaiah 41:10). What loving father would give his daughter a serpent when she asks for fish? (Luke 11:11). I will withhold no good thing from you, My princess! (Psalm 84:11) You cannot imagine what I have planned for you! (1 Corinthians 2:9). My grace makes it possible for you to trust Me (Colossians 1:27). Trust Me. Take Me at My Word. Open your clenched hands. Receive everything I permit. And give thanks.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit.

“Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.” – Ann Voskamp

Nesting

John 14:2
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.

I will never forget how excited I was to find out that we were pregnant with our first son. I started wearing maternity clothes before I needed to…just because I could! Before a baby bump appeared on my tummy, a crib and bouncy seat had appeared in our second bedroom. I was so excited! This was what I had been waiting for! And we bought every toy/rider/glider a baby could possibly need…or not really need! We had the stroller, the bouncy seat, the bassinet, the vibrating bassinet, the bassinet that plays music, the rattler toys, the squeaking toys, the musical toys…so much we didn’t need and few of what we actually needed. Looking back, I should have spent all that money on diapers and formula! By the time I was only five months along, the closet was full of adorable little clothes and Winnie the Pooh had thrown up in the nursery!

They call this “nesting.” We have heard of it, and we are not the only creatures who do this. According to the American Pregnancy Association: “This urge to clean and organize is known as nesting. Nesting during pregnancy is the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby. The nesting instinct is strongest in the later weeks coming up on delivery. It is found in a variety of animals such as birds, fish, squirrels, mice and pigs as well as humans.”

When God was intricately and intentionally crafting the living creatures on this planet, He incorporated reminders of His own nature, like precious treasures found only by those who look with the eyes of God and not of man. As the bird builds a nest for his family, God whispers, “I prepare a place for you.” The weaver bird of India spends countless hours meticulously building a nest that will be just right for his mate. If the nest is not perfect, he will start all over.

And let’s not forget which living creature was crafted in the image of God! Why is it in our nature to prepare a place for our newborn child? Why do we instinctively look for a “home,” or a place of belonging? Why does the groom desire a safe and beautiful place to which he can take his bride after the wedding ceremony? Why does a woman build a home for her children, unpacking boxes in their new apartment or house? Why does a man long to provide shelter for his family, as if it is second-nature? Because we are created in the image of God!

Our desire within us to prepare a place for our children and families…that is God revealing through us His current work in preparing a place for His children. A place that is beyond this earth. A place so glorious we cannot begin to fathom.

Our longing for home and security…that is God calling out to us, as he allows a need of ours to come to the surface. A need that only He can FULLY fullfill.

We need to stop and realize that right now, in this very moment, our King Jesus is preparing a place for us. And if the Lord is preparing a place for us that is outside of this sinful world, then that must mean that we were created for something greater, and this world is not our home. Therefore, we need to start acting like we were meant for something greater and more than the pleasures of this world. We need to gain some godly perspective on our lives. We can survive the most terrible of pains on this earth, because we have the promise of something greater – a home of glory and peace and beauty we cannot fathom! God is preparing a place for us. He is awaiting the arrival of His children, once and for all!

Revelation 21:3-4
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

So, my friend, does this mean that we are to make it through this life on earth as best we can until we die, and are finally able to see this beautiful place God is so intentionally preparing?

NO. It is true that heaven is the promise we have as born-again children of God. BUT, through Jesus Christ, we don’t have to wait until our earthly bodies wear out to experience the presence of God. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked with God. How amazing it is to think about! They talked and walked with the Lord Almighty. Until sin entered the world. And the consequences of sin is death…death of living in the presence of the Lord. No more sharing walks with Him in the sunset. No more resting under a tree and and just “being” with Him. Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, facing a life of struggle and pain and work. But you see, God created us so that we would know His love for us, and love Him in response. He could not leave the story there.

Enter Jesus! Through the blood shed of the perfect Lamb, Jesus, the door was open once again for us to be in the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit would come upon those washed in the blood of Jesus. The Holy Spirit would be our comforter and our counselor, here on this earth.

So could it be that as God is preparing a place for us in Heaven, He has also prepared a way for us to know His presence on this earth? The great price Jesus paid on the cross was not simply to give us an open door to heaven. No, it was a price paid for something so much greater – for us to KNOW JESUS NOW! We can know the dwelling place of God RIGHT NOW. It may be in your car driving to work, at the coffee shop, at the prayer bench on Sunday morning, in the shower, resting on the couch late at night, or sitting in your chair by the window with your coffee in the morning. Through the great love and grace of our Savior, we don’t have to wait until our physical bodies decay to say…

Psalm 84:1
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Hosts.

Psalm 90:1
LORD, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

Psalm 95:2
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

The question is, my friend, are we preparing a place for our King? Have we prepared a place in our soul for Him? Have we prepared a place in our day for Him today? Do we squeeze Jesus in where we can, as an afterthought? Or do we PREPARE A PLACE for Him? This is an intentional act of preparation. Work done with anticipation of a great arrival. Do we come to God with anticipation and purpose, as He does when He is chasing us in passionate pursuit? This season of thanksgiving, I submit a challenge. Somewhere in the hustle and bustle, as you prepare your home and your dinner table for the Thanksgiving festivities…don’t forget about the One for whom we are to be most thankful. Don’t forget to prepare a place for the Lord this week, today, this hour, right now!

Psalm 100:2
Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into His presence with singing!

Magnum Opus

Genesis 1:26-31
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

I love talking to other moms who have “survived” the season of young children. It gives me hope to sit across the table from those who have walked the road before me, and SURVIVED! If you are a mother or parent of young children, can I please encourage you. You will survive! I know sometimes you doubt your survival, while you are consumed with trying to juggle a carrier, a marriage, relationships, and the beautiful task of trying not to terribly mess up your children. But, somewhere in the middle of “don’t lick that,” “please don’t fart on your brother’s face,” and “I’m not going to say it again,”…there is hope. And with that hope, a warning that this season will not last long and will be gone before you realize it!

The words I would use to describe my life right now would be…loud, abundant, and crazy. And beautifully full! My days are full of important tasks, my home is full of running and laughing children, my kitchen table is full of homeschool books, my marriage is full of ministry, and my heart is full of joy. Yet, sometimes, I am also full of exhaustion. And some nights I’m spent. I’m tired. I’m just done and I have nothing else to give. Some nights, I lay in bed and my “I should have’s” and my “why did I’s” outweigh my “I actually did it right’s”. More often than not, I feel like I am surviving this season of young children and homeschooling and full abundance, by the skin of my teeth.

Yet, even in the midst of the crazy, my King Jesus finds a way to romance me. He tends to my tired mother’s heart in a way only He can. A couple weeks ago, I was having one of THOSE days. I crawled into bed, and as the reel of the day began to play back to me and the enemy was right there, ready to release the shame monster…I heard my youngest son’s small voice:

“Daddy, why do you love me?”

How amazing is it when God chooses to display His grand love, in the whisper of a small child!

My ears perked up, as I heard my husband say, “Why do I love you? What do you mean?” Then my son replies: “Daddy, you tell me you love me every day. Why do you love me, even when I am not good?”

My heart melted as I watched (by now I had tip-toed to the door so I could see this precious moment with my own eyes). My husband got down on his knees and looked at our son eye to eye. He took his son’s little hand in his and said, “I love you because you are my son. Nothing you can do will ever change that or make me stop loving you. I will always love you and I will always be your daddy.” My son was satisfied. His tank was filled and his security was confirmed. He hugged his daddy around the neck with his little arms, and curled under his blanket. And he slept in his own bed all night long! Bonus for this momma!

Have you ever experienced a moment when it seemed as if God was slowing down time just for a little bit, to show you He loves you? When life is best described as “controlled chaos,” and God sends a gift specifically designed just for you, to remind you that He is right there? Maybe you are rushing through your lunch break and a stranger pays for your food. Maybe you are juggling a toddler and a shopping list at the grocery store, and the clerk offers help and a sweet smile. Maybe some unexpected financial support shows up in your mailbox, when you didn’t know how to pay your car payment. Maybe your sister finds out she is pregnant on the same week your grandfather has passed away. These moments are whispers of God’s love in the midst of pain. Opportunities for God’s light to shine through the darkness. Rays of beauty gleaming through a difficult situation. Only light can defy darkness! Only God can bring beauty from ashes and purpose from pain! Only God is willing to get down on His knees, get His hands dirty, and look us in the eye and say, “I love you because you are my child. I created you, and I breathed life into your lungs. Let me breath life into your soul!”

As I walked back to my bed, tears were flowing from my eyes. And I heard the words of the Lord, like healing balm to my blistered heart. When I question why God would love me, or wonder how long it will take for me to get the hang of this mother/wife/homeschool mom/woman thing – I receive His words of promise: “I love you because you are my daughter. Nothing you can do will ever change that or make me stop loving you. I will always love you and I will always be your daddy. Absolutely nothing will separate you from My love!”

Romans 8:35-39
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As a wise spider once said, our children are our MAGNUM OPUS…

“Are you awake, Charlotte?” he said softly.
“Yes,” came the answer.
“What is that nifty little thing? Did you make it?”
“I did indeed,” replied Charlotte in a weak voice.
“Is it a plaything?”
“Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus.”
“I don’t know what a magnum opus is,” said Wilbur.
“That’s Latin,” explained Charlotte. “It means ‘great work.’ This egg sac is my great work — the finest thing I have ever made.”
“What’s inside it?” asked Wilbur. “Eggs?”
“Five hundred and fourteen of them,” she replied.
from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.


We are God’s MAGNUM OPUS. We are His greatest work. We are the crowning, finishing touch on creation. We are created in His image, as His children, crafted by His hands. So that He may pour out His love upon us, and that we may know and love Him. Let yourself believe you are the MAGNUM OPUS of the Creator of the Universe! We need to believe this! In God’s eyes, we are the most beautiful and greatest thing He created. Are you kidding me!?!?!? I have seen pictures of stars and galaxies and oceans and beautiful animals, which take my breath away. I have stood in a valley surrounded by the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. I have sat in awe of sunsets and rainbows of multiple colors. I have rested my feet along the rippling tide of the ocean, staring out into water that has no end. And yet, we are the most beautiful thing God created? Yes. Because we are made in His image. We are His MAGNUM OPUS. You are the MAGNUM OPUS of the Great I Am. Absolutely nothing will change that, and no lie of the enemy can take that identity away from you.

DIRTY HANDS by Rachael Smith
I cower in the corner of this room of shame,
Fear, doubt, anxiety, guilt – they all know my name.
I’m sinful, I’m broken, I’m crippled and torn,
Yet You tell me You knew me before I was born?
My hands are dirty, my heart unclean.
Lord, I’m unworthy. I’ve made too many mistakes,
When I should be living for Your name’s sake.
Turn your face from me, Lord, I don’t deserve Your love,
It takes all I am to believe in Your mercy from above.
My hands are dirty, my heart unclean.
This pure white bridal dress You gave me,
I’ve torn and muddied in my failed attempts to be free.
Doing things my way, in my plan, living by my own accord,
Every time falling on my face, loosing more than I can afford.
My hands are dirty, my heart unclean.
I hide in the corner here, I cannot stand,
The demons mock me, accuse me, imprison me in hellish land.
This is my curse, by punishment well deserved,
To live this life dead, defeated, and unnerved.
Bondage is my reality and death is my future,
I am cursed with sin, not to be given a cure.
But wait…Could it be? Is that a light I see?
Shining so intense,
Forgiveness to commence?
A hand reaches out…
Revealing what I’ve been without.
Love dirties His hands,
Victory before me stands,
Then kneels so we are eye to eye,
“My daughter, I made you to fly!
Take my hand and I’ll lead you out,
With Me, you will never be without.”
But, Lord, don’t you see my shame and guilt.
I have destroyed the beautiful creation You have built.
My hands are dirty and my heart is unclean,
I don’t deserve this great love I have seen.
“Exactly, my Dear! My love is not to be earned,
But freely given to you, to be yearned.
I loved you before you knew what was love,
I saw you on that cross from above.
I knew the sin and cost, but My love for you overflowed,
As my death on the cross and resurrection showed.
I have pursued you and dirtied My hands to bring you home.
You are Mine, safe, saved, no longer to roam.”
I take His hand, forgiven and never looking back,
With the power of Jesus Christ to stand against any attack.
He leads me out of the dark pit I once called mine,
Toward true freedom and purpose and joy divine.
My bridal gown made new, washed pure with the Lamb’s blood,
My chains broken and heart made clean with a purifying flood.
My King, My Jesus, how can I express my thanksgiving?
My gaze is locked on You, whose praises I sing!
“Your Response, My Daughter. That is your “thank you.”
Respond with a life honoring Me, living in what is True.
Don’t let go of My hand, don’t take your eyes off of Me,
Invite the power of My salvation and Spirit, and you will see.
Seek Me, believe Me, and find in Me your Rest…
And, oh! I surely will give you My very very best!!!!”

 

Who Do You Think You Are?

You are Beautiful.
You are Fearfully and Wonderfully made.
You are a Royal Heir to the King.
You are a Warrior.
You are Free!

You are a Masterpiece
You are Crafted by the Creator Himself.
You are Fierce.
You are Strong.
You are a Victorious Conqueror.

Ephesians 6:10-18

He calls us “Beloved” – We are children of the King, created to live in victory and freedom!

 

Dear people, beloved and beautiful children, the Lord is inviting you to find rest at His feet. To give Him every burden that weighs you down, every pain that cripples you, every secret that shames you. He wants all of you, because He created you fearfully and wonderfully, and He loves you! He is at the edge of His seat, just waiting for you to accept His invitation. Just waiting for you to surrender to Him. He calls to us, “My Beloved, come to Me. Stop striving. Stop worrying. I am here to replace your fear with joy, your hate with love, your brokenness with healing. I am here to give you a beautiful headdress instead of ashes and a song of gladness instead of mourning.” The Lord is calling his people to come together, be vulnerable with each other and with the Lord, lift each other in prayer and love, and encourage each other to live victorious lives. May we become children of faith, children of promise, who every day choose to believe the truth of the Lord over the lies of the enemy. May we grow to find our joy in the love of our good good Father, our freedom in the salvation of Jesus Christ, and our victory in the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

If I could say one thing to the world, it would be this: A GREAT PRICE WAS PAID TO SET YOU FREE…BE FREE! A call to freedom! I want to lead you to the realization that we have freedom in the Lord available every day. By His unfailing faithfulness, He awakes us new every morning and offers us a life without the bondage that weighs us down. He calls us to live in victory and to lead others to victory. However, there is a war waging and the enemy is hard at work to stop us, with his lies and deception. The enemy wants us to believe that God can’t use us, that we are damaged goods, that we are not worthy of His love. The enemy wants us to believe the lies and live imprisoned. BUT! We know how the story ends…our God has victory! And that victory is ready for us now!

 
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, THAT THEY MAY BE CALLED OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, THE PLANTING OF THE LORD, THET HE MAY BE GLORIFIED. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they raise up the former devastations. They shall repair the ruined cities and the devastations of many generations. — Isaiah 60:1-4

 

I pray that we would encounter the Holy Father, by the reading and studying of His Word. As we get to know the Lord, we become overwhelmed with His love for us. We fall in love with Him and who He is. We believe that He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. And when we are at His feet, staring into His glory and majesty, our worries become smaller in comparison to Him. Our burdens no longer weigh us down. We may not know the when, where, how, why, or what in our lives – but we can know the WHO!

 
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. — Luke 1:45

 


What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. — 1 Corinthians 2:9

 

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. — Hebrews 11:6

 
I pray that we would encounter the salvation of Jesus Christ. We become overwhelmed by our sin and failures, and we realize the very real truth that we are destitute without Him…but then we realize the very real truth that our Lord denied Himself and suffered the ultimate torture and humiliation, so that our sin no longer stands between Him and us. Let that hit you…the creator of the universe hung on that cross so we could know Him intimately and so we would not be defined by our sin anymore, but by His forgiveness. When we come face to face with this overwhelming and undeserving truth, our only response is to love Him and serve Him. Not out of obligation or duty, for the Lord not want our religious acts, but out of sheer overflowing love for Him!

 
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of his power. — Hebrews 1:3

 

You are My witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.” — Isaiah 43:10

 

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. — Isaiah 43:18&19

 


For the Lord comforts Zion. He comforts all all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song. —Isaiah 51:3

 
I pray that we would realize the power of the Holy Spirt! See, so many of us stop at step two. But we are missing the key to unleashing victorious living. When Jesus Christ ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He told us that He was leaving a Helper for us. This Helper is the Holy Spirit. Jesus even went so far to say that it was “better” for us that He go into heaven to sit beside the Father and that we have the Holy Spirit here with us! We need to realize and BELIEVE that the very same power that worked through Jesus Christ is within us as children and heirs of the King. And that we have the power, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, provided by the love and forgiveness of the Father, to tread on the enemy and stomp him to the ground! We have been given all authority to proclaim victory over the enemy. When the Holy Spirit is unleashed and living and active in our lives, we can take back our families, our hearts, our homes, our children, our husbands – and we can tell the enemy to go!

 
And He CALLED the twelve together and GAVE them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and He SENT them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. — Luke 9:1

 

But now says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, she who formed you, O Israel. Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned; and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. — Isaiah 43:2

 

Rules

1 Samuel 8:4-9

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

I have always lived my life by a certain set of rules. At a young age, I established my own set of standards, against which I measured myself. And I made sure my bar was set high, often so high that it was unattainable. If I was careful to be my very best, then I would never get in trouble, I would keep happy those I care about, and my teachers and coaches would be proud of me. Attaining my standards, following my rules, and meeting the expectations I believed others had of me, gave me acceptance, compliments, and sometimes even love. Even today, I look in the mirror, and I am overwhelmingly unsatisfied with what I see in my reflection. I am not pretty enough, smart enough, thin enough, eloquent enough. I am too heavy, too tired, too worried, too insecure. How can we be too much and not enough at the same time? What do I accomplish by my straining to achieve my high set of standards, or by following my set of rules? Depression. Anxiety. A strong sense of failing.

As human beings, we need rules. We learn in early childhood education that the young child finds security in consistent rules and expectations. A child thrives in an environment in which they are loved, they know what they should do, what they should not do, and the consequences of either path. This need to live by rules in ingrained in us by God Himself, and it remains in us as adults. Street signs, speed limits, legal documents, state laws, handbooks, bylaws, code of ethics…we need rules to govern our behavior, in order to live healthy, abundant, and thriving lives. When we follow rules and succeed, we have a sense of security, peace and accomplishment. When we break the rules, we are overcome with guilt and shame. The moment Adam and Eve realized they had acted against the command of God, the hid. They were ashamed. They knew they were in trouble.

So, if we all need rules, and we are not living by the rules of the Lord and His Living Word, then we are living by our own rules – the rules of the flesh – the ways of this sinful world. Follow me as we compare the economy of God (the guidelines of the Living Word) and the economy of man (our set of standards we establish in a desperate effort to obtain security). Man’s rules bring forth condemnation and shame; God’s rules bring forth conviction and an invitation for repentance. Man’s rules invite guilt and bondage; God’s rules invite freedom and newness of life. Man’s rules facilitate insecurity and depression; God’s rules facilitate healthy confidence and peace. Picture Samuel gathered in a room with the elders of Israel, the chosen people of God. Believing they knew better, the elders submitted a request to Samuel. They wanted a king, and God was not good enough. They don’t want some higher deity to govern them. No, they wanted a tangible person called from among them, to be their king and govern them. Samuel’s heart broke, for he knew what these elders were asking for. They were willing to trade the security of following the Lord, with the bondage of following man. Samuel pled with the Lord, but the Lord granted permission to Samuel to appoint a king to judge the people of Israel. After God rescued these people from slavery of Egypt, called them His own, guided them through the wilderness with a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night, poured water from rocks and manna from heaven…His chosen people sadly say, “Thanks, but no thanks. We want to do things our way. This just makes more sense to us. We want a man on this earth to rule over us and judge us as king.”

This is appalling to us, and we easily read this passage and see the error of their ways. However, do we not say the same thing to the Lord every day of our lives! We look at the rules of God, and we say, “Thanks but no thanks. I will do things my way. I know better.”

“God, I know you died on the cross for all our sins, but this sin is just too much for you to forgive.”

“God, you say that I need to forgive, but what they did to me is unforgivable.”

“God, Psalms says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, but I am convinced that I am just a failure and should not be living.”

“God, I know I can’t earn your love, but if I read my Bible every day and attend church every Sunday I’ll be a better Christian, right?”

“God, you say to abstain from sexual immorality and adultery, but its just the way society is now. Everybody does this.”

“God, you are telling me to go. But I will loose everybody and everything I care about. I just can’t be obedient this time. The cost is too great.”

My friend, do you not realize the great cost our Lord Jesus paid to set us free from the rules of man, and provide a way for us to live by His rules? Yet, we look at God and say, “thanks, but not thanks, I know better.” There is a profound detriment to our lives when we try to make God operate by our set of rules; when we refuse to believe the truth of His Word, and we accept the far-less-than-comparable standards of our own. If we cannot see it, touch it, feel it, taste it, understand it, explain it, or approve of it – then we toss it away. We don’t believe stories of the Bible because we can’t believe something that awesome actually could happen. We don’t hold truth as truth, because we don’t want to offend our friends. We compromise our faith, to better align with the current standards of society.

This is a great warning to us all. When we force God to live by our rules, we terribly limit what He can and will do in us and through us. We don’t take Him at Him Word, and yet we wonder why we still have bondage! We refuse to forgive our friend, and yet we hate God for not freeing us from our shame! We knowingly live in sin, and yet we question the existence of God because we do not see miracles happen in our life! When we choose to live by our rules, we are choosing lives of bondage, wandering, emptiness, fear, and a lack of miracles and blessings.

BUT…

When we let go of our own expectations – what we think our life should look like – how we think things should go – the pain we didn’t want – our inability to understand what God is doing – the things that just don’t make sense to us…then we get to see the miraculous works of the Lord in us and through us; then we are healed; then we are overwhelmed with blessings not of this world; then we get to be apart of something far greater than anything we could possibly imagine or expect.

My friend, allow your rules to be shattered, broken. Get to know the Creator of the Universe and His rules. For He loves you dearly. And as you draw near to Him, your shame will become forgiveness, your fear will transform to peace, your brokenness will be healed, and the dead parts inside of you will come to LIFE!

The Inadequate Woman

Today is Mother’s Day. This is the day to honor the overworked, underpaid, sleep deprived, tired, strong, beautiful woman. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 31, “her lamp does not go out at night.” The to-do list is never completed, the laundry is never truly done, and the floor can always be swept or vacuumed! Today I pray for the Lord to send peace and endurance to the woman who has children running around her home, ensuring there is always work for her to do. Today I pray for the Lord to bring miraculous healing to the heart of the woman who has prayed for children of her womb to dirty her home…but remains in waiting. Today I pray for the Lord to provide understanding and joy to the woman who is the mother of one amazing child, and to free her of her guilt from desiring more children. And I also pray for blessing to reign down on the woman who has been a mother to children she did not know as seeds within them. Women who were brave enough to be a mother to the motherless.

My husband told me he had one rule for me today…I was to rest. He wanted me to relax, and rest from the daily grind of maintaining the home. The weekends are usually my time to catch up on the house work, but this was probably one of the best gifts he could have given me…that, and a coupon book of back rubs that I can redeem at my choosing! While my husband was sweeping the kitchen (and looking very handsome while do it, I might add!), he asked our older son to help him with the dust pan. As he was sweeping away the dirt into the dust pan, he looked at our son and said, “you can never get it all into the pan.” Can anybody relate? No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be a line of dust that is reluctant to follow suit into the dust pan. If you are a sinful creature like me, you may sweep that little line away so it disappears across the floor. Nobody will ever know…

There will always be a line of dirt you cannot sweep into the dust pan. There will always be a reason to feel like an inadequate woman. There will always be something nagging you at night, keeping you awake. There will always be a reason to feel that you are failing as a mom. We could have cleaned more – loved more – accomplished more. We could have yelled less – worried less – scolded less. How do we balance work and home? How do we honor God in our jobs and our careers, and still have the 1,000 gallons of energy our children and husbands require of us to give? How do we ever have peace when we never feel at rest? How do we take care of ourselves, so we can be better for our families, when we feel guilty every time we choose “me”?

Hello, my name is “the adequate woman.”

My sister, my friend, my fellow mother…you are not alone. You are beautiful, because you are made by a perfect God who only makes masterpieces. Give yourself permission to rest today. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Give yourself permission to not have the cleanest home on the block. Give yourself permission to love more and worry less. Give yourself permission to accept a compliment. Give yourself permission to play with your kid and tackle your to-do list later (because eventually your child will stop asking you to play with them). Give yourself permission to care more about the intangible moments of childhood, for they are all too fleeting. Give yourself permission to stop comparing yourself to the other moms around you.

And give yourself permission to believe that no matter where you fall on the “mother spectrum” today, you can turn to Jesus. Waiting to be a mom…dreaming of motherhood one day…right smack dab in the middle of the glorious adventure…looking back at your days as a mother and wondering where your place is now…soaking up every moment with those who call your granny. Whether your name is mama, mommy, mom, mother, or friend…today is your day. Don’t let today pass you by without finding rest at the feet of Jesus. Allow our Heavenly Father to fill every inadequacy within you, with His grace and mercy. Invite the Lord to heal your longing, bring peace to your pain or loss, and speak truth to your feelings of always missing the mark.

The love of Jesus is not available to you when you are a “better” mom, have a cleaner home, have better behaving children, spend more time with your kids, or have children at all. The love of Jesus is not conditional upon how we rate on the “perfect mom” scale. Hear the Lord speak to you today, “My Beloved. I meet you right where you are. Right now, with your career on your mind, and children on your heart, and dirt on your floor, and inadequacies in your fears. I am here. Rest in Me. Invite Me in to make you the mother – the woman – who would honor me in whatever season you are in. Every time you feel inadequate, come to Me. Every time you feel like you failed, come to Me. Every time you are overwhelmed, come to Me. I can handle your tears, your cries, your shouts of joy, and your whispers of worry. Let Me do the work. Take My peace. Let Me be your strength. Take My rest.”