You Are Invited to Celebrate

There is something about celebrating.

I mean, when we make it a priority and put it on the calendar.  Decided.

Even when there is nothing to celebrate… yet

My husband recently made the decision to change his employment.  He spent time in prayer.  A lot of time.  He’s loyal and tends toward being the ‘yes’ man, finding ‘no’ very difficult to say.  This was not an easy or quick decision on his part, because of who he worked for and his affection for his employer.  He sought the Lord for strategy and wisdom.

He heard the Lord’s advice.  It was not logical, practical or ‘natural’ to our senses. Standing strong on the words he’d listened to, against sound currents of practical advice flowing freely around him, he gave his notice.

Perspective: He’d been talking with recruiters for several months, and networking with local networking groups without any real leads.  It was a gigantic leap of faith that my husband took; resting on the words he heard in his prayer closet.

The next day his recruiter called to set up an interview.  My husband then proceeded to so impressed the person he interview with that the recruiter who’d connected them was speechless, having never seen this particular client of his as impressed with past prospects.  As events unfolded, my husband found favor with a new company. However, as his last days at his former job came close, he had to continue in the illogical choices, putting into writing his intentions to leave his then current job before any kind of formal offer came through.  It was nerve wracking.

Pause.  It was in this brief moment of time, in the midst of complete unknowns and letting go with both hands, that the Lord gently prodded; celebrate with Me!

Without sure and solid evidence to stand on, without any real tangible reason, we did just that.  We took our family out and celebrated!  We rejoiced in the goodness God has already shown us, and we thanked Him for His character that never changes.  We celebrated His trustworthy promises, and thanked Him for providing for us the things we hoped for and hadn’t yet seen.

Monday of the last week at work came, and no formal job offer had come through yet. Friday, the last day at his former job, loomed ahead full of all kinds of uncertainty.  We continued in hearts decided on celebrating God’s goodness.  Our kids had been asking us to take them to see Toby Mac in concert and he happened to be in our town the Sunday following my husband’s last day of work.  We bought the tickets, anticipating more celebration.  Hoping…

Thursday morning rose and I walked into my room where my phone was on it’s charger.  My husband had received a formal written proposal for a job offer, starting the beginning of the following month, one week away.  It was exactly what we needed and had hoped for.

We had been celebrating for a week, something we hadn’t yet seen come to pass and on the seventh day we saw it. 

There is something about celebrating… it aligns our minds with His heart.  It sets up the atmosphere for anticipation of miracles and wonders beyond what we can imagine or comprehend.  It places us under His grace, in perfect partnership with His nature, where all things come from Him ~ where our working meets His ability and what is accomplished is indeed the miraculous.  Celebration is a joyful display of complete reliance on His nearness and interest in us.  And it is so important to Him that He actually set it up in His ancient law, and decrees it for those He loves, who love Him.

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{the silence} In a Heartbeat

In the background are the faded noises of busy laughter, the business of getting dinner on the table, dishes unloaded, and the day’s events downloaded by each tiny muffled voice.

A heart beat thrums steadily in my ears.

Beautiful.  Life.  Steady.

A grounded, rhythmic lifeline to all that seems so incredibly important, and so indefinably fragile… a heartbeat thrums steadily in the silence… 

The flutter in my chest rises.  I should be with them.  Did I tell them I love them today?  Did I yell at them too much?  Do they know that I love them?  What memories have we made?  Will they remember that I love them? Does he know how grateful I am? Will he know how much I love him? Does he know how important he is to me? More muffled laughter and clinking plates…

Anxiety flitters around, searching for a place to land… NO.  I breath in.  I breath out.

A grounded, rhythmic lifeline to all that seems so incredibly important, and so indefinably fragile… a heartbeat thrums steadily in the silence… refusing a resting place for anxiety.

I breath in.  I breath out.  A heart beat thrums steadily in my ears.  But one persistent question looks for a spot to land…

Am I doing enough?

My Bible and three books that I long to read lay tossed around me.  My journal just a few inches away.  Tears roll down my cheeks as I realize how much I long to do more, to soak up more, to understand more and to live from a depth that draws my family in… to envelope them in the same love and life that has begun to consume me.  I long for my husband to know how truly head-over-heals in love with him I am; to show him every day the love that builds him up and pulls him closer, always closer. To shower my children with adoration in measure with the miracles that they are.

Longing.  Is it all just a longing?

A stream of scenes roll across my mind as this questions looms larger than life. Feelings… less than loving… rush like rapids over my lungs, and I am gasping and choking on the tears as I recall words, thoughts, attitudes, emotions, all proving me to be completely lacking.  Failing.

For a fleeting moment I am trapped in this tug-of-war with anxiety…

The rhythm… steady… beautiful… life.  I breath in. I breath out.

Life steadily pounds in my ears.  I hear my name.  Just a whisper.  A life-line.

What do you want to say, Lord?

“Daughter, you measure up.  You do enough.  You are amazing in My eyes.  I am pleased.  So much more than you know, Child.  I love that you are here, with Me.  Waiting, listening.   Daughter, you are forever searching out My thoughts, seeking My heart.  I know your deepest desires and I love you for them.  Daughter, you treasure Me and what I think. You keep Me in the center of all you do, even when you forget, you are quick to remember.  I look at you and I see Perfection.  Thank you for coming away.  Thank you for valuing Me enough to step into the quiet places, to trust Me with the welfare of those babies I knit together.  Thank you for loving Me.  You are enough.”

In the quiet, steady, silence I can hear it.  His heart beating; beating steadily for me.

Beautiful life; His living in me, His power at work through me, on my behalf.

You Speak – Audry Assad

{choose to sit and} Listen

“Come, sit, listen, write. Hear My love for you.”

I know the voice well.  Though it is my own sound, the softness and insistence, the tenor, is Holy. It is the voice of my Lord. His Spirit within me. I love the sound of His presence;  The warmth and conviction of completion within.

But the laundry beckons. The floor covered in scattered living and the bathroom mirror flecked with reckless childishness, has my attention.  Relief of a baby sleeping and a toddler contented in play inspires a waft of energy to get something done.

“Come with Me. Sit.  Listen.  I love you.”  

Sigh.  Choices! I can either assemble some hint of order in my living space, or sit down in the midst of life as a mother of four, with a revolving list of to-do’s longer than I have years left to live. My phone buzzes.  A text. And another…

I walk past the piles, step over the toy cars, steer around the cast off school equipment trailing down the stairs and I sit.  Peace.

“Child, you have My heart.  You have captivated Me!  Get rid of your guilt.  It doesn’t bring Me any pleasure or honor.  I have cut you off from the life of sin and guilt.  You, darling daughter, are My joy!  Forgiveness flows freely between Me and you.  I have placed you securely within My grace and from this place I want you to live.”

And the toddler yells for “Mahhm!” and the dog barks and the baby wakes…

But the peace stays.

“God’s grace is unmerited supernatural divine empowerment.” 

{prayers} Of Intercession

With the children tucked into bed and the tea steeped and steaming, the house quiet and the heat filtering through vents, I peak out the window.  Frost is already visible, glinting silver on blades of dying grass and bare twigs in naked trees.

The moon is low and and full, as if the light it carries is a heavy weight tonight.

Below the fog is lifting up from the wetlands and the evergreens on the foothills across the fields appear black and dense, with the flickering train light dancing airily through the bends over the river’s bridge, into the open for a moment, then back into dense black.

These moments, alone in my room after hours of being surrounded by people, these moments are the most precious and the most daunting.  In the quiet I see the faces of those I’ve smiled at, loved on and been loved by, spoken to… I see their eyes… and I see so much more.

I see the weight of life, the struggling words within.

I see joy, I see futures and hope.

So much.

I hear words.  Words that they shared, these beautiful people.  Words accounting for things I’ve seen, and words hiding the things behind their eyes… words of secret pleading.  Words of truth and words of masked uncertainty.  Insecurity and expectation blend together as, in the silence, these words refill my ears.

Then the Lord invites me in.

It’s a place that inhabits my room, and opens up from within my mind; a peeling back of a veil and a stepping through in thought that I can feel in the air I sit in and draw breath from.  Into this place I carry all these wonderful people, their eyes and their words.  Everything that I have seen, I bring here.

Face to face and side by side, His arm around me, His presence pressing lightly down, surrounding me.  I know the sound of His voice so clearly and it brings a soothing calm.  I used to come here dressed in armor, ready to do battle in His name.  What silly girl I was!  Like going to bed with shoes on, is how I would enter this secret, intimate place.

Now, we sit in the quiet together.  He already knows everything that I come to Him with.  He knows each and every name, has seen each and every eye and heard each and every word.  It was at His invitation that I was able to see; and together we speak the necessary words back, the healing words, the cleansing words.  Words of comfort, of hope and of acceptance that each one needs.  At times He invites me to pick up pen and paper and write a note that He speaks to one or another.  At times I read His Word instead, and occasionally speak it out loud, back to Him.  And sometimes we simply weep together, for there are some things that no words can heal.

I feel His heart beat, He is that close, and I know His smile, the astounding love in His eyes that breaks with the gut wrenching pain of some whom we have seen and heard.  I have seen His jealousy, and know His patience well.  His compassion is endless, His kindness so immense.

Every moment we are together changes me.

Every moment spent in His presence within this secret space fills me with something I cannot explain. I carry it back with me.  Peace.  Grace.  Understanding?  Thanksgiving.  Humility.  Adoration…

And before drifting off to sleep I often hear, “Thank you, Child,” and I feel the gentle embrace of His presence enfolding me within His love.

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”      Mark 11:24

{the power of} Words

God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. ~Genesis 1:3 Have you considered the power of words? A word spoken, “light,” and something began to exist that hadn’t existed before.  That is power. What words have you been speaking?  Have they been positive, upbeat, … Continue reading

The Blessing in Lonliness

Completely surrounded by people, friends, family members, loved ones… yet completely alone.  That is how I can describe my life on several occasions.  It can be a miserable place to stand in.

I recently went through a few experiences that left me feeling this way again.  One really amazing experience, shared by only a few, propelled me into a season of experiences ranging from downright weird to totally refreshing.  In each case, I found myself without someone to process these with.  My husband kept probing, wanting to be my support, yet there were pieces that I just couldn’t put into words, key pieces that I couldn’t even grasp. I was alone in my altered perceptions after each experience. He couldn’t be my answer guy, and I felt both lonely and disappointed.

In the same way, my daughter will ask me a question over and over again. Something regarding a point of attitude, something within her heart – something I can’t answer for her.  It frustrates her a ton, and I see in her eyes that same loneliness that I experience when there is no one around who can answer my questions and help me make sense of what I am going through.

The only advice I can give her, and myself, is to ask her Heavenly Father and to wait for His response.

So much easier said than done!  However, enough time spent being lonely and without human ability to help, recently drove me to seek an answer from Him. To truly press in, pleading for understanding and relief, through a veil of tears.

I didn’t get my full answers, but what I did gain was worth every minute of loneliness.  In that quiet voice that forms through thought beyond my ability to think, I heard this;

It is in the midst of loneliness that you learn to turn to Me.  It is through the pressures of being kept alone that you begin to understand a desire to see My face.  It is in being held apart that you learn the feeling of being held by My hand.  For I alone AM the One who will set your heart at peace and your mind at rest, and I AM the One who provides everything you need. When you learn who I AM, you will never long for another.  I will fulfill all you require.  When I am in My rightful place, disappointment and loneliness will fade to nothingness and you will be a steadfast and abundant blessing.  

Though I still lack understanding of all that is going on in me and around me, I now consider these seasons of loneliness to be seasons of discovering blessing.  Learning to press in and desire the presence of His hand around me, an audience before His face, so that I learn even better who He is.  Discovering exactly how not alone I am.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6&7

A Measure Of Their Hearts

Saturday woke us up with brilliant sunshine.  It was the end of a long week.  A week we had struggled through, dealing with behavioral issues between children.  The constant bickering and arguing revealed how tired they were, and one event left me in complete shock at how sinful the human heart is, even in children.  The week had left me weary and drained and feeling defeated.  Truth be told, their behavior was an accurate reflection of the sate my heart was in. Fighting off whispers of how much of a failure I am, I cried out to God in desperation.

“I am no good at this! I am completely failing here,” I whispered through tears. His gentle response was so kind it broke my heart. “Child, parenting isn’t about how good you are at it, it is about what I am doing in and through you.

We had a birthday party to attend Saturday afternoon, a brother and sister who were born on the same day 3 years apart.  I keep a bin of new toys in my closet, things that I find on clearance when I have a little extra cash.  I intended to have the kids pick an item from this collection later in the morning.  But, as I still lay in bed my son came bounding in, all energy, waving a folded piece of paper in the air.  In the other hand he had a few items from his toy box.

“Mom! Look, read this!”  As I read the card he had written and drawn out in detail he excitedly chatted about the items he spread out on my covers, explaining that these were things he was sure Caelyb, the birthday boy, would love.

I was barely done reading and listening to my son’s excitement when my daughter came in, carying her little bundle.  “Mom, will you read my card and look at my spelling?  Do you think Ellawyn will like this?” She held up a beaded creation she had worked hard at making. She laid out the rest of her items, things she had been treasuring for years, and explained that she felt it was time to share them with the birthday girl.  Her card told Ellawyn that God loves her and that she is His little princess.

In awe, I complimented the kids creations and asked them, “would you rather pick a present from the toy bin in my closet, instead of giving away your things?”

“No!” they responded together. “Mom, I think giving her my things is more special and I want her to know that she is very special,” continued my daughter.  “And, I know Caelyb really likes these things.  I want him to have them,” finished my son.

That moment revealed to me just how God is at work, despite my flaws and failures.  His grace covering over my sinful nature, flowing into the lives of these precious little people and displaying itself in generosity, kindness, and a desire for their friends to know they are loved.

It was a glimpse, as if taking a measure of His work in their hearts, of just how faithful He is to fulfill His promises, regardless of our abilities or lacking.

When I am unable, He is more than able.  In my weakness His strength radiates in power, His grace covering over my feeble strivings, completely surrounding my awkward attempts, gently humbling my proud desire to offer what I will never possess.  It is not what I have that pleases Him, it is not how I live that brings Him glory.  It is His will and His work in me which accomplishes His purposes and brings Him pleasure.  It is in full surrender to His compassionate love that I discover complete acceptance in His embrace.  Not by my might, nor by my strength, but only in His Spirit will anything of value ever be displayed.  “And only by His grace will the fruit of His Spirit be revealed when He takes a measure of their hearts.”

Healthy Rest

“When things get hard, spend more time with Him, lean more on Him and receive more grace from Him.” (Hebrews 4:16) ~Joyce Meyer

Amazing how ministry so quickly blurs the lines of healthy boundaries, isn’t it?  How a lot of good so easily becomes the alter on which we sacrifice what is best?  And when we find ourselves depleted, drained, weary and even burnt out, we wonder how we’ve gotten to that point, doing what we’ve thought to be the work of the Lord.

The enemy is hard at work to keep us in this state. This cycle of doing lots of good, of ministering in Jesus name, to the point of so completely depleting ourselves that we crumble.  The enemy even has a lot of us believing that it is our lack of faith that has caused us to become weary of doing good.

Two questions I’ve been taught to ask.  How often are you in His Word during the day?  How disciplined are you about your times of rest and sleep?

Why these two questions?

If you are only reading your Bible once or twice a day it is like taking one or two breaths, eating once or twice or taking a couple sips of water for the day and calling it good.  Even if it’s only a few verses here and there, getting the Word into your head continuously while you’re awake will sync up your thoughts, which direct your emotions, which influence your choices, which dictate your relationships, which determine your ministry’s effectiveness.  (Romans 12:2/ 2 Corinthians 4:16/Ephesians 4:22-24 & 5:15-17)

If you are not getting rest or enough sleep, you are not unplugging your mind & emotions, which will decrease your productivity.  If you don’t unplug your head and heart from daily life, you cannot replug it into the Source of your life – you’ll be too tired, you probably won’t even realize there is a difference.  Also, if you are getting enough of the Word throughout the day, then sleep is crucial time for the Holy Spirit to work the Truth of the Word through your head, heart and soul without you questioning Him with your perspectives and smarts.  Rest and sleep are His gifts of grace to us for effortless transformation from the inside out if we are filling our minds with His Word while awake.  (Psalm 23:1-3/Psalm 61:4/Matt. 11:28-30)

Only when we are in sync with His Word are any of us truly effective in any form of ministry.

Do you define your life with boundaries that set you up for health and keep what is best from being sacrificed to all the good there is to do?

“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desires.” ~ Psalm 37:4

Miraculous Strain

Miracles need room to grow.

When you receive a miracle there is a kind of stretching and straining as it develops within your life.   The stretching expands and the straining grows, to increases you, so that you acquire the capacity to maintain life within your miracle.  And, miracles make way for more miracles… if you learn to increase and allow yourself to grow, until pretty soon you no longer see the constraints of the life you used to live.

The life you had before you got your first miracle.

If you are still waiting for your miracle, hang in there and keep believing – it’s coming.

If you wonder how to receive a miracle, check your belief…

Are you preparing to receive what you are believing for?  Do you take active steps toward the miraculous?  Are the words you speak breathing life into your beliefs or shackling you to a life of wishful longing?   And, are your expectations of the miraculous in line with the One who establishes all miracles?

If you think you are exempt from miracles, I challenge you to rethink that thought ;)!

What Forgiveness Is And Is Not

http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons

This is a wonderful view on forgiveness and on what it is and isn’t.  In light of all I have grown up believing, and still hear preached regarding forgiveness, I love the freedom and truth that this message enlightens that word with.

Truly life-breathing words spoken at Elevation, I hope you are able to take the time to hear them.