Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Implanted Word

Last night while I was waiting for my man child to get done at the meeting he had to attend, I did my version of verse mapping. I don't know if I did it the way other people describe it or teach it, but essentially, I wrote a verse in the middle of a page, drew a lot of arrows to other verses, boxed in words I want to look up in the Greek, wrote a few comments, and looked for an overarching theme. Honestly, it was quite fun. And while my paper might look like a bunch of rabbit trails to most people, it makes perfect sense to me.

As I kept hopping along through the process, I ended up in James 1. Verse 21 says Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevelant, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

For the girl who's been writing about, thinking about, and starting to understand what her mind is about, this was a really big deal. Why? Because if we have the ability to work in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to cultivate the fruits, if we know that this happens by allowing the word of God to change our minds, then we must humbly receive the implanted word that God gives us through His living, active, perfect for teaching, encouraging, and correcting word, because it is able to save (y)our souls. 

Now this may seem pretty logical but what hit me in the gut came just a few seconds later.

One of the things I love about God's Word is that it can do whatever He wants it to. He can take any word that is written and use it to give us a message so personal it knocks our socks off. It doesn't negate what was originally intended, it just goes to prove how limitless He truly is. He can not be boxed in to one thing. He is entirely too creative for that.

So after I read verse 21 and understand how desperately I need the mind wipe C3PO got, I continued reading with fresh eyes. 

By this point, I have more verses whizzing around my brain than I can handle. The first three that came to mind were: 

In context, we read verse 22 and think about what we are called to do for others. Feeding, clothing, caring for, and rightfully so. But God isn't limited to just one thing and last night, He reminded me very clearly, that I do in fact know what I am supposed to do, but I am not super great at following through and doing it, particularly when it comes to getting my mind renewed INTENTIONALLY, setting my thoughts above ON PURPOSE, or taking my thoughts captive EVERY TIME.

I am convinced, more and more, that if we could do this, with the excellence that we are called to work with in the first place (Colossians 3:17, 3:23-24, 1 Corinthians 10:31), the overflow of our hearts and minds would impact everything we do, particularly what we do for others. If we would just humbly receive the word planted in us that is able to save our souls, we would infuse everything around us with the love of Christ. It would spill out and make one heck of a beautiful mess.

I don't know who else out there struggles with negative thoughts and the lies they have beleived for far too long, but as God as my witness, I can tell you that the process of dismantling them is hard, but so worth it. And telling someone about the lies you have believed so that they can speak truth over you is an important part of the process.

For far too long we have given our minds over. We might not have realized we were doing it, and we probably agreed with the enemy enough times that he knew his job was done and we'd just take over where he left off, but it's time to stop. God has given us His Word, His Spirit, and His peace for a reason. It's time to submit and let it all work together the way He intended, to give us victory.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Choose to Believe

Matthew 6:28-30

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the fields grow?
They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendor
was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, 
which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more
clothe you - you of little faith?

Matthew 11:20

Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of His miracles had
been performed because they did not repent.

John 2:11

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through
which He revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

If we were in a court of law and a case was being tried, we would see that evidence is a critical piece used to determine guilt or innocence. When it is overwhelmingly obvious in one direction or the other, a decision can be made with confidence and certainty.

Jesus performed miracles. Jesus died and rose from the dead. God sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide and we can hear His voice because of that Spirit that inside us. And yet we doubt.

This morning I was reading Exodus chapters 7-9. It's about a lot of plagues. Uncomfortable things like gnats, blood, flies, frogs, death, boils, and hail. None of those things are pleasant in isolation let alone in mass quantities. And despite the overwhelming evidence of God's power and abilities, we have a man in control that refuses to acknowledge, accept, and adapt his way of thinking. It's easy to pass judgment on his behavior in the sight of the overwhelming evidence that prooves the existance of what he insists on denying. Unfortunately we are more like him than we may realize.

Yesterday I had to journal my answers to a couple of questions in a book. And I know that more than once I have written about the fact that we act out of what we most believe to be true. However, in my responses I realized three key things:

* I don't believe what God says about me (pick a verse)
* I don't believe I have access to healing or that by His wounds I have been healed (Isaiah 53:5)
* I don't believe I've been rescued from this body of death (Romans 7:24)

So, regardless of whether I've seen flies, hail, gnats, dead livestock, boils, frogs, or blood, I have an entire book that I can open at any time and see undeniable proof of who God is and what He has done. I have also seen modern day miracles in my life and the lives of those I love. And yet I still doubt His words about me.

As I continued journaling, I wrote this to myself:

You keep waiting for the clouds to part and a thunderous voice from heaven to declare these things over you, essentially saying that the written word of truth is not enough; you seek audible proof that others can hear and will be forced to believe and accept rather than taking God at His word, in faith, believing it in your mind, and trusting He will grow it in your heart as you partner with His Spirit to intentionally cultivate it.

Writing this made me remember the words of Havilah Cunnington. I don't have an exact quote, but basically she said we keep waiting for an emotional experience when God wants us to have an intelligent encounter; He needs us to use the brain He gave us to analyze the facts in order to draw a proper conclusion.

As I sat thinking about what I read this morning and all God showed me yesterday, this is what I realized: Perfect love casts out fear, it does not remove problems.

I can look at what Jesus did on the cross, see His perfect love for me, and choose to believe that He loves me and will care for me, despite what's going on.

I can look at the miracles He's performed and choose to believe He is working another one and the water hasn't completely turned to wine yet, but that it will.

And I can wait to hear Him speak to me through His words and know that nothing He ever says falls flat, it just might take some time to bloom.

But all of this boils down to a choice. I can choose to beleive even when it's hard but can take the overwhelming evidence and know it's true OR I can choose to doubt in the face of overwhelming evidence of His grace, power, and compassion and be like Pharaoh.

There are so many voices that compete for space in our heads. And not all of them are alive and able to say things to our face. We still hear the nicknames from childhood, we still hear the rumors from highschool, we still hear the accusations from the enemy about our college years. And the only way to combat them is with the truth. But if we have a difficult time believing the truth, we must get to a point where we say it over and over and over again until it becomes louder and stronger than the voices of our past, the worries of our present, and the perceived problems of our future.

I said this yesterday, and I'll repeat it today, the enemy has been doing a lot to keep us distracted and occupied. We need to stop paying more attention to what he is saying than what the truth of God has declared. Jesus didn't die so that we could live in bondage and He has already declared us free. Let's choose to believe Him instead of continually waiting for the clouds to part and a declaration to be made. It's been decided; we just need to accept it.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Distracted and Occupied

There are loads of parallels that can be drawn from the narrative of Exodus. If we just read it and look at it as the enemy oppressing us, we can learn some pretty good lessons about his ways, our tendencies, and certainly God.

When Moses first confronts Pharaoh in chapter 5, Pharaoh responds with, "Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don't know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go." It would be possible to argue that our enemy does in fact 'know' God, but truthfully, he knows who he is, but he doesn't know Him like we desire to.

But in response to the request for freedom, Pharaoh imposes heavier work on the men so that they will be occupied with it and not pay attention to deceptive words. (Exodus 5:9) The deceptive words he is speaking of are the words of Moses and Aaron requesting that the people be allowed to hold a festival for God in the wilderness.

After reading this, I can't help but wonder if heavy labor attempts to keep us distracted and occupied as well? 

We must ask what heavy labor is being imposed upon us to make us believe that God's words are a deceptive lie. Personally, I think we are often told to do and to produce quite a bit. We have endless opportunities to serve placed before us. And it's not that those calls are bad or that we shouldn't heed them, but I think we are missing a fundamental truth in our responses. We can't do it all. And in the process of trying, we are getting distracted and occupied with heavy labor.

If Jesus has called us to come to Him to rest, we can not do that if we are so busy we can't see what's right in front of us. Last week I read a blog post by Sara Hagerty that illustrates this point way better than I can. But to summarize, her discussion essentially intimated that unless we allow ourselves to be filled with God and serve out of that overflow, we are going to continue to exhaust ourselves, forgetting our first love. That hit me hard. 

But how does this happen? How do we end up so wrapped up in heavy labor?

If I had to guess, I would say:

~ we hear what we are supposed to do from someone in authority and believe their words without consulting God on our participation

~ we give in to pride thinking we will look bad or uncompassionate if we don't

~ we neglect the fact that God has placed specific passions in our hearts for the areas we most desperately want to see change and will then submit to His leadership and allow His strength to propel us instead of getting exhausted and weary trying to do what isn't designed for us

And just like the voice of Pharaoh, our enemy creeps in and only needs to plant a seed because he knows we will water it with negative self-talk and end up hearing our own voice louder than God's about what we should be doing. Sounds a bit like Mary and Martha doesn't it.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus said  A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. He came to give us an abundant life, not one filled with tasks. Contrary to what we perceive, He's planned good things for us to do, not a checklist that needs to be kept up on so that the minute we're done we die without ever enjoying the life He died to give us.

Matthew 11:28-29 says Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Did you catch that? The burden Jesus wants to give us does not include putting the weight of the world on our shoulders, and the moment we feel like we are carrying it, we need to drop it like a hot potato. Why? Because we are trying to do something in our own strength for our own reasons. Will God inspire in us passions to do something? Absolutely, yes. We are called to serve and be His hands and feet in the world. But we were not meant to do the heavy lifting, ever. And if something is aiding gravity to keep our feet on the ground, we need to see that something is not God (most likely what has turned into an idol), and we need to go back to our first love.

A few years ago I memorized Ecclesiastes 3:11. It says He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end. What this says to me is that we can work for kingdom purposes with eternity and eternal value in mind, but we have to trust that God will do it in His time. It's not all up to us to get it done ASAP. 

You know, when I read that verse yesterday, I read verse 12 as well. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. What if, Jesus' idea of the abundant life is exactly what Mary was doing: sitting at His feet, letting Him fill her, and then going forward from there with a full cup to do what God places before her? What if we are meant to rejoice first in a communion type relationship with Jesus so that the good life is the ability to enjoy His presence every place He calls us because we know He took us there?

I don't know what the enemy has been doing to keep you distracted and occupied. But if you're like me and feeling like you are always trying to get just one step ahead so that you can rest when you are done, we're both missing the point. I think it's time we got off the crazy train that does nothing but go back and forth without stopping. God has a good life planned for us. We just need to stop long enough to let Him show us how to get there. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Weekly Recap

Need a reminder of what God showed us this week? Here's where we've been this week. All pictures are linked to the post.

On Monday we talked about God's ability to redeem anything from our past, regardless of the amount of time that has gone by.

On Tuesday we talked about cultivating the Fruits of the Spirit and how we might exchange them for unhealthy fruit without even realizing it.

On Wednesday we learned that God will often reveal things about the way He created us to help us better understand ourselves, our need for Him, and that He will always finish the good works He begins in us.

Thursday we learned that being offended is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it might be God's way of protecting our hearts and minds. 

Yesterday we saw that we have all the tools we need to address whatever is before us, we just have to be willing to get them out and use them. We also learned a powerful six word prayer for when we have moments of doubt. 

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Weather Predictions

Chances are if you live in Erie, Pennsylvania you own either a snowblower, a shovel, or both. Why? Because you know the reality of what can happen in a short period of time. 

I can't remember the exact timeframe between start to finish in these picutres, but I believe it was about thirty hours. Lake effect snowstorms, when they come, leave little room for error: you're going to get dumped on.

Let's say you have four people living in four houses in a row.

House A: owns a snowblower
House B: owns a shovel
House C: is good friends with House A
House D: is good friends with House B

How many people had their snow taken care of?

Trick one can say with absolute certainty.

House A owns the snowblower but didn't feel like getting it out and so they waited for the snow to melt.
House B didn't care because they had no where to go and were hunkering down in place.
House C didn't want to bother House A and assumed the blower was broken because House A didn't take care of their own snow.
And House D called their friends in House B and borrowed their shovel but only after the first six inches had fallen and never asked for it again after the other twenty-four inches fell.

Everyone had the ability and opportunity to take care of the snow. But only one person took any initiative to do something about it but felt defeated when the snow kept coming and so they just stopped.

What's the point?

Jesus apparently had a second job that I have failed to recognize. He was the ultimate weather man, predicting with 100% accuracy.

He told us, flat out, that we would encounter trouble. And not unlike preparing for a big snow storm where we can make sure the snowblower is gassed up, the shovel handle is strong and uncracked, and we have enough milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper for a month, we can prepare for the trouble that is bound to come. 

Yesterday after school my man child and I had a talk on the way home. While he attends Student Ministry large group and participates in a small group, he does little if any reading of his Bible outside of those two things. As he is getting ready for high school next year, I encouraged him not to keep waiting to add reading God's Word to his daily routine. The fact is, if he waits until something tragic or unexpected to happen, he is starting without a solid foundation built on what God has already taught and shown him. Plus, I told him, even if you don't feel like you hear God speaking to you, He promises that His Words will never fall flat, will always accomplish the purpose for which He sent them, and that the Holy Spirit will remind us of everything Jesus has said and taught us. Finally, I reminded him that having it in his heart will allow him to help others when the need arises.

But ultimately the choice is his. His dad and I can't force it because we don't want him to resent it. All we can do is encourage it and set an example. 

However, I am now seeing that even though I do spend time in God's Word, I don't often think to pull the snowblower out or get the shovel ready when the snow starts to fall. I tend to focus more on what I'm seeing than covering it with the truth and promises of what God ultimately says is true. And if that's the case, how can I expect my 14 year old to think it's worth it if all he sees is me fretting after all the effort he's watched me put in? Ouch.

As believers we have the joy and privelage of telling others about how accepting Jesus into our lives has been a blessing. But if our thoughts, attitudes, and actions don't reflect that beyond our point of conversion, we've also got gap in our belief system. Frankly, I think it's time to narrow the gap.

Mark 9 tells a story of a father desperately seeking healing for his son. That father prays the boldest 6 words we can add to our daily prayers: I do believe; help my unbelief.

If we are told we are free, let's pray to believe it.
If we are told we can approach God confidently, let's pray to believe it and then do it.
If we are told our old selves are gone, let's pray to believe it and act like it.
If we've been given any promise we think is too good to be true, let's pray to believe it and claim it.

Three times now in the past week, I have been told about doing a truth table. The idea is to write a lie on one side of the page and on the other what the truth of God's Word says. Three times it's been on my mind and once on my 'to-do' list. Still not done. And then this morning, I realized something. I don't have to make a list all at once. I can actually trust God to reveal what's stealing my joy and then write a truth over it. Sure by the end of the year the list may be extensive, but I don't have to write the equivalent of a doctoral dissertation in one morning. (Yes, I am Type-A. Combine that with INFJ and Enneagram Type 2 and you've got a big ole' hot mess.)

I realize I've given us a lot to think about all at once. But as much as I've shared, it's all related and dependent upon each aspect. We have what we need, we need to be willing to use it, and when we realize it's not working as it should, we need to ask for help. Thankfully we have a good and gracious Father and a Savior that can empathize with our weaknesses.

My prayer is that something within these words has made each of us realize something about ourselves. And that in turn, we'll get out the snowblower, shovel, or phone to ask for help. We aren't meant to live buried alive under fifty-three inches of snow. Maybe it's time to clear it out.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Life or Death

This is going to be quick and painless I promise.

There seems to be a continual outpouring of people 'poking fun' at how easily we as people can be offended these days. I mean, scroll your social media for a day and I'm sure you'll find at least one post related to the topic. (That is once you can see everyone's stuff since what we see is controlled by metrics few of us understand and the preferences we set up on our own.)

Anyway, we know that we will have to give an account for our words, that our words will produce either life or death, and that they are supposed to be used to encourage, uplift, build-up, edify, glorify, and magnify God.

We also know that we are being told that we should not be so easily offended, that we are too senstitive, and that anyone could take anything said as an offense. Now, that last part makes sense because what makes us take offense to ANYTHING is going to be significantly influenced by our past and experiences. You can make a lot of jokes with me that I won't find offensive, but if you touch a senstive spot, it will hurt.

And the reality is we can not identify each person's senstive spots. We'd all have to walk around with sandwhich boards that have lists of safe versus unsafe topics to make sure no one poked an area that was tender or scarred.

BUT what if we were accutely aware of our sensitive to the touch spots and looked at what was offending us as a reminder from the Spirit of God in us that we are hearing a lie straight from the pit of hell, we need to not accept it, and immediately refute it with the truth? What if our offendability is not infact a problem but a protection of God over our minds and hearts that the world is twisting into something ugly and making us think we are weak and too sensitive? What if it's actually a good thing? Because here's the reality, those who love to talk (even to themselves) will reap the consequences..... for better or worse.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


At the suggestion of a friend, I picked up a copy of The Road Back to You by Cron and Stabile. I have known for years that my Myers-Briggs letters are INFJ, but this whole enneagram thing was a place I hadn't ventured. I can tell you with unwavering certainty that as much as I know I am an INFJ, I am solid two. And reading the "What it's like to be a two" list had me myself.

One trait listed says: Sometimes it is hard for me to watch movies because I find it almost unbearable to see people suffer. Just so you know, I am the girl who thinks Star Wars, with the prequels, is a tragic love story. I actually posted this on Facebook a few days ago.

All I can see is a guy who wanted to do good, got duped by somebody evil, lost the
woman he loved, the best friend he created, doesn't recognize his own kids and dies 
without any sort of redemption or restoration. It's just heartbreaking and I can't see 
beyond his loss. I know that no one else probably sees it this way, but this is what 
it's like to live in my head. 

This is also why: Zack and Kelly's break-up on Saved by the Bell, Sheldon and Amy's season ending break-up on The Big Bang Theory, and Ross and Rachel's break-up on Friends nearly killed me. I can not deal with relational dysfunction when it is so clearly based on mis-understandings that were not properly communicated.

What's also interesting about this new information is that it has made me begin to wonder if this is why I do not confront things from my past ~ or express my feelings well in the present ~ if I was hurt by the words, thoughts, or actions of others. Do I avoid discussing it ~ because just like the suffering of people in a fictional movie or sitcom is too much ~ is it too much to think that my honesty could inflict any kind of pain on someone I love deeply?

I don't think it's a coincidence that this information is coming up as I am reading three books that are challenging me in numerous ways. What's noteworthy is that the common themes seem to be the lies of the enemy and the fact that I am in desperate need of a new mind and purified heart.

I don't know how much of what I've been sharing over the past couple of weeks has been sounding uncomfortably familiar, but what I do know is that none of this will be left unresolved because God sees through to completion what He begins.....even when there are parts of us that want to run and hide from the process.

My hope though is that through each of our journeys, we'll not only see a bit of ourselves in ways we maybe had not yet perceived, but also realize the riches of God's glorious grace to give us others to take this difficult walk with. We were never meant to face these things alone. Maybe it's time we quit isolating ourselves and be really honest about what's going on deep down inside.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Exchange Rate

Did you ever read something and have one of the AHA moments that really made you believe it should have been a DUH moment?

We know that Satan offers a poor counterfeit of every good and perfect gift that comes from God. We know that he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But have you ever thought about what exactly he is coming to steal, kill, and destroy or what counterfeit he is offering as a replacement? If you did, you are way ahead of me because this was so obvious, my eyes have missed it more times than I can count.

Last week we talked about intentionally cultivating the Fruits of the Spirit. Now, we can't make them grow ourselves, but we can foster an environment physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that will not hinder growth. So, if God gives us Fruits of the Spirit, does Satan have a counterpart? And if he does, wouldn't the Fruits of the Spirit God gives us be exactly what he would come after to steal, kill, and destroy?

On Day 23 of Devotions for a Healthier You, Katie Farrell writes, In order to find our way out of a tempting situation, we need to determine what is happening when we find ourselves giving in to temptation, and the first step is being able to recognize Satan's schemes. Satan works overtime to draw us away from the Fruits of the Spirt......he wants us to live with fear, doubt, stress, and anxiety.

As Gru would so aptly put it, LIGHTBULB!

Satan's prize: peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control
Satan's counterfeit offer: stress, worry, anxiety, fear, doubt, manipulation, anger, envy, etc.

Satan offers fruit for sure; I just don't know that I've ever seen it that way. And the fruit that God offers us through His Spirit is wearing a huge bullseye and is coming under direct assault.

I don't know why I've missed this, but it's important. Why? Because any time any ungodly fruit should pop up, we can automatically realize that we have made an unconscious exchange, determine what we gave up and what we took in, and then trade back. AND, as if that's not all, any time temptation comes our way, we can now look at it with a cost analysis perspective. If we do a and give into our flesh, it is going to cost us b. Substitute a with anything we know we shouldn't do and b  with any Fruit of the Spirit we are about to place on a cutting board and hack the life out of with a huge knife.

Is it just me or is anyone else irritated that Satan is just that tricky?!

Now, I'm not going to say that we should all go out and by those horrid neon stickers that you can get with prices listed on them for yard-sales, but maybe if we have a particular temptation or two or ten, we might want to consider it. I mean seriously, if we are struggling with a negative self image, maybe putting a monetary symbol as our screen saver might just remind us that social media is costing us something. Or, if we have a penchant for late night eating we can put a post-it with a dollar sign on the bag of chips to realize it will come with a cost. And if our mouths are the problem, maybe we need to find some washi tape with money printed on it and put it over our mouths as a reminder.

I think it's time we stop the automatic deductions that Satan has been withdrawing from our spiritual accounts because we didn't realize we forgot to cancel after the free-trial was up. He's been given access to our hearts and minds for far too long and he just needs to be cut off.

Lord, I thank You for such a simple, tangible understanding of the fact that we are constantly making choices we don't even realize. And I praise You for the realization that at least I have been exchanging Your good and perfect gifts for far too long for things that don't fit properly but I've been parading around in. Lord, help us to see every area that we have exchanged Your truth for a lie and graciously grant us the return we need to make. We love You and ask all this in the powerful, redeeming, restoring name of Jesus. Amen.

Monday, January 22, 2018


God's ability to redeem anything, included thoughts that have been a part of our lives for well over thirty years, is not beyond His capability. He can take any memory, correct it, redeem it, restore it, heal it, and remind you of what you should have known to be true all along but were never taught. And that is nothing short of incredible.

I am going to date myself significantly here so stick with me.

Growing up in the 80's, we had music that taught us a lot of lies about our worth and value and where it came from. And we also had a fashion trend that let us know if we belonged, if we were wanted, if we were worth pursuing. And if you had it, it was a badge of honor and a declaration of worth. And it meant everything.

Don't lie. You either just got really sentimental or extremely nauseated.

My first memory of this necklace comes from 6th grade and desperately wanting to get one with the person I was closest to at the time. Didn't happen.

My second memory comes from 7th grade when she got it with someone else. 
Person A bought it to give to Person B. Person B already had a set with Person C. Person B kept the 'new opposite half' to wear with Person A while Person C thought Person B was wearing the other half from 'their' set. Oh the drama.....and psychological damage. And me, being the typical hurt middle school know what I did. I told Person C. Why? Out of the goodness of my heart? Heavens no! My insecurity ran so deep, I thought my honesty would create a bond between us. Desperate to belong, be wanted, and be valued, much?

And then came high school with the boyfriend/girlfriend version of these horrid things. It's like the trauma was never going to end!

Here's where things get interesting. I don't know if the 'best friend' necklaces were created with the original intent of the boyfriend/girlfriend version or not, but, in case you forgot or like me didn't know, these necklaces have Biblical roots.

Originally a mound of stones set in place to serve as witness between Jacob and Laban, the place was called Galeed and also Mizpah, for he said, "May the Lord watch between you and me when we are out of each other's sight." Genesis 31:49 CSB

So this is what I realized.

First, I had no idea that these necklaces had any Biblical roots. 

Second, I can say without a doubt that in no way, shape, or form, was there any type of Biblical foundation in wanting to give or have them.

Third, these things have probably created more insecurity than anything else in young girl's lives since they were first created than anything else in the history of time and it crosses over from friendships to relationships.

Fourth, knowing the actual meaning of the word and the intent of the first declaration and usage of it, gives a much better perspective on the fact that this was an idol that had great value and has been determining my perception of my worth for a lot longer than it should have ever been given authority to do so.

Fifth, it proves that my deepest longing is still to feel valued, cherished, and like I belong. Maybe I'm not alone and this has struck a nerve.

I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of believing ridiculous lies. Lies that I didn't even know were still running around rampantly in my heart and mind creating havoc. I mean seriously, at 43 I have still been determined to be labeled as somebody's BFF. I am 43. FORTY-THREE. If the madness hasn't stopped yet, and I don't acknowledge this reality now, I'll die this way for sure.

But there is hope for all of us that maybe didn't realize how much this has impacted us from a tender young age. And if we can see the truth behind it, maybe just maybe, we can save our daughters from this insanity.

If Jesus considered Himself our friend, and willingly laid down His life for us, there isn't a necklace that can be given or a public declaration made by anyone else, that can trump that kind of friendship. And personally, I think it's time we placed our highest priority on developing this relationship that will influence and impact every other relationship we have for the better.

Honestly, I don't know if any of this means anything to anyone but me. And maybe the necklaces weren't your thing, but there is something else from your past that represents the same concept. But what we need to know is that while God designed us for relationships, He did not design us to idolize relationships or let earthly relationships determine our value. It will only ever be our relationship with Him that does that. And the last I checked, He still thinks that we are to die for.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Weekly Recap January 15th ~ 19th

In case you missed it, or those glorious two hour delays put you behind this week, you can click on the image to access the blog post from that day.

Monday ~ we talked about fear, what it means, what it's the root of, and why we must examine our thought life and surrender it to the Lord.

On Tuesday we learned that perspective is everything when it comes to what we are asked to do and the results of that work. 

On Wednesday we learned that just discovering where something started, a pattern or a behavior, can't be our ending point. We need to get to the bottom of our beliefs if God is going to comfort us with the truth.

Thursday was all about determing what's enough, what's more than enough, and what's excessive. We also discussed how our motives behind these answers will produce either joy or frustration.

Yesterday we talked about the Parable of the Sower, who is responsible for the growth, the effects of our environment, how we can intentionally position our hearts and minds to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit, and how our preparation allows the rain God will send in His time to water the ground we've prepared.

Friday, January 19, 2018


Cultivate: to foster the growth of

Matthew 13 tells the Parable of the Sower. Essentially, we find seed scatterd on four different places: 

* the path where the birds come and eat it

* rocky soil where it springs up quickly but is scorched and withers because the sun comes up and it has no roots

* among the thorns which chokes it 

* good soil where it produces a crop

My personal belief is that at any point in time, our hearts where God plants His Word with the intent of bringing forth a harvest, has all four. I believe this because some things sprout beautifully, some start but lose their steam, some are received quickly (like at church) but die on the way home because of any number of reasons, and some go in one ear and out the other before they are even given a chance.

Now, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. I don't know how many times I have read that verse. The first time I do remember that it gave me great comfort to realize that I could not control how much growth I saw because I can't control it. However yesterday, because I am always late to the party, I realized that not being able to control the growth is not cause to abdicate my responsibility to plant and water.

We have a choice about the environment we put ourself in. We can choose to focus on social media for 17 hours a day and remind ourselves of how short we fall comparitively to everyone else's highlight reel. We can stand in the grocery checkout line and search every magazine headline that claims we can have the perfect body, the most enviable relationships, and the glamorous career and satisfying home life, and then feel horrible about ourselves when we follow said plan and come up short. We could do those things. I wouldn't suggest them, but we could.

Or we can make much better use of our time.

For as much as I've reminded us about Romans 12:2 and the renewing of our minds, it never once crossed my mind that we can intentionally cultivate our minds. We can choose to focus on the truths we know we most need. If we are feeling unloved, we can focus on Scripture references that are evidence of God's love. The same could be said if we are feeling defeated. We can focus on Scripture that reminds us that we are overcomers and conquerors in Christ. But maybe you knew that.

Yet, I now see there is more we can do. Yesterday I was challenged with a question to write out Galatians 5:22-23. You know, the fruit verse. And then the challenge was given: meditate on what it looks like to cultivate this fruit in your personal life. (FYI, if you have not checked out She is Free by Andi Andrew, just do it. It's challenging, but boy is it good.)

So I thought about the Parable of the Sower, the fact that I have abdicated my responsibility to encourage growth, and realized, I can cultivate the environment where fruit would grow by focusing on Scripture that reminds me personally of what the fruit means to me.

For the sake of time, I'm not going to share all nine, but I will highlight a few as examples.

Joy: Nehemiah 8:10 the joy of the Lord is my strength; I chose this because right now, nothing will cultivate joy in my life more than knowing I am following God's direction. Additionally, knowing that He loves me regardless but honestly is rejoicing over me with singing as I follow His lead, is going to give me strength to keep going when it's hard and put me back on track when I'm tempted to or actually do fall off.

Patience: Joshua 21:45 not one of all the Lord's good promises to Israel failed; talk about a lesson in patience. Focusing on the truth that what He promises comes to pass, even if it takes a long time, will certainly help cultivate patience.

Self Control: Ephesians 5:16 making the most of every opportunity; let's be honest, it's easy to not do anything when you only have 10 minutes and can't finish. But 10 minutes is more than enough time to pray, read something encouraging, or do something to encourage someone else. As much as I have loved Freeflow (don't look at that app, just don't) and Angry Birds (long time ago), they did nothing for me except take my time.

I might not be able to determine how much yield I will get, but I can absolute take ownership of the fact that I can encourage growth by planting and watering what I know is God's will. And ultimately He will be the one to make it grow, but I can either cooperate or stand in His way. Guess which one I'm going to choose.

Until yesterday I truly never thought I had a choice in the matter. But that's a lie. I do. I may not have the authority to make it be what I want, but I do not have to sit on the sidelines and wait for something to miraculously appear either. And aside from three I listed, there are six other pretty significant fruits that I realized I can do something to foster their growth. 

One of my favorite parts of the movie Facing the Giants is when Mr. Bridges goes to see Grant Taylor and tells him the story of two farmers who desperately needed rain but only one prepared his fields. He then asked Grant which one he thought believed the Lord would send the rain. Of course he answered the one who prepared his fields. And then Mr. Bridges asked him which one he was. We might not be able to predict when the rain will come, but we can certainly prepare our fields to receive it. And if we do, a harvest is sure to follow. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Enough is Enough

A little while ago I heard our pastor say that he had to determine what was enough. He asked himself this question as he was at the beginning of a journey towards a healthier body. The idea is to decide what is enough so that you can know what is either more than enough or too much. For example: is it enough to have ice cream an average of once a week? If the answer is yes, then you know if you choose to eat it everyday, it's either more than enough or too much. The same could be said about eating out. Is it enough to eat out once a month? If the answer is yes, then you know if you are picking up lunch a couple times and dinner a few more that it's either more than enough or too much.

The difference between more than enough and too much is subtle. More than enough implies excess while too much implies flat out gluttony. Take the ice cream example....twice a week might be more than enough, but eating the entire carton at once is too much. Still only had it once, but it was definitely too much.

Now those examples are tangible and pretty concrete. So, let's take this up a notch.

When it comes to God's direction for our lives, how do we know the difference between what's enough, what's more than enough, and what's too much? A little harder.

In my understanding it would look like this:

Enough: doing what God has called us to do to the absolute best of our ability

More than enough: doing more than what God called us to do to the absolute best of our ability in order to earn His favor because we are prooving our love to Him

Too much: doing more than what God has called us to do to the absolute best of our ability in order to earn His favor because we are prooving our love to Him AND putting it on display for everyone else to see.

Once we can distinguish between these variations, we have to figure out how we might be able to tell where we fall. The answer: results.

Enough will always produce joy. Always. Why? Because we know we are in step with God and that should be our highest priority. Simply stated, we can not control results. If we do exactly what we are told (or understand to have been told) to the absolute best of our ability, then results ~ good or bad ~ should have no impact on our disposition or countenance. (Think Cain and Abel)

However, if we are going above and beyond and our hearts are motivated out of anything selfish, the results are going to matter signficantly more and our emotions and reactions will be clearly indicative of what's going on internally.

Think about it. Gideon could have gone into battle with all the men he originally had on his side. He could have seen that huge number as still not enough and been frustrated because he wanted more to ensure a victory for God. He could have been disappointed that not more people showed up to join the cause. BUT GOD. God decided He could do more with what He was giving Gideon than what Gideon might have wanted to give himself. Meaning, God can do more with our obedience than He will likely do with our unhealthy, selfish excess, regardless of motive.

When God starts us on a jouney of any kind, I think there is a part of us somewhere hidden that hopes and prays that it will be the missing link to what we've been waiting for all along. We have this drive  that secretly and desperately wants what we've been trying to achieve on our own that we figure our submission to His leading is taking us where we've been attempting to get. And the reality is, that might not be the case. It will always take us somewhere better than we've planned because that's just who God is, but until we surrender the dream aspect, not just our outward actions in trying to achieve it, obedience won't be enough for us. We'll keep looking for the results we want.

Surrender to God isn't an easy thing to do. Our eyes continually get in the way by showing us the prize we picked out for ourselves. But if we've learned anything about God in our lives, I hope it's that He always does immeasurably more than what we can ask or imagine. And so, if there's any part of us that's been striving towards what we want and driving ourselves crazy in the process because we've been working harder and forgetting to rest in God, let's make a conscious effort to stop that now. It won't be easy, but we know it will be worth it, because Jesus always is.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


Several years ago I was helping a friend through a difficult season. I would send a daily email and do everything I could to encourage her in what were pretty awful circumstances. It wasn't always easy because there were days I had to write things that were pretty uncomfortable. But knowing my heart was in the right place, I did it anyway. Don't be fooled though, it was scary.

Now I know I have shared my favorite Parker Palmer quote a few times. And honestly, if it weren't so good, I probably wouldn't keep repeating it. But just in case you need to be reminded of this nugget of wisdom as well, here it is again.

"The words we speak often contain the counsel we are trying to give ourselves."

I share these two things because I was reminded of the words I gave her several years ago when I realized something about myself yesterday. In a nutshell, what I said to her was that only God could heal the wounds that the person who'd hurt her left. What I realized yesterday was that I have been waiting for somone to fix all the wounds in my life.

As I have been reading She is Free, I just got to the chapter on anger. Now, it should be said that I wasn't always an angry person. And reading this chapter I knew I had to really think about when my anger started to emerge. However, I also realized that my anger was only a symptom and that I'd have to go deeper to find the actual root of the problem. Let me tell you, this was about as fun as cleaning up the finger painting wall murals after your 18 month old woke up from a nap and you didn't know. Yes, I went there.

It should also be noted that my 'anger' has never really been released as verbal tirades. Typically, it's always looked more like obvious frustration and extreme sarcasm married to high expectations and assumed abilities. Insert any situation where you didn't know/understand exactly what I meant. Because of the lack of understanding/comprehension of others, I would turn immediately inward, shut everyone out from the possibility of helping, become completely self-reliant, and move on without ever looking back. That's healthy for relationships. 

So, as I realized what it looked like, I worked backwards to when I could remember not being angry all the time to when I got angry. Bingo, I found the starting point. Now I had to figure out why it happened. 

Remember that advice I gave my friend.....that only God could heal her wounds. Yeah.

At the point my anger really started to manifest, I desperately wanted someone, anyone to rescue me. I needed an intervention in the worst possible way. Of course I would have never admitted it, but I did. And no one was showing up. So, I did what any normal person would do. Notice I said normal because I think it is a normal response; I didn't say it was healthy. I searched in every wrong spot known to man. And when that failed, I turned completely inward. Which seemingly worked, except of course it didn't because I've been carrying that with me for a long time.

It occurred to me yesterday as I read this lovely chapter on anger, that Andi Andrew is right when she says that marriage will refine you like nothing else. I mean, if you have unresolved issues, marriage will bring them to the surface faster than anything else. And while my husband is incredible, I had no idea that I was waiting on him to fix all of my internal problems, fight for me to the death, and never let anything hurt me ever again. Talk about unrealistic expectations, particularly because I never voiced them. And as if that weren't enough, I'm assuming you can see that this has idolatry written all over it.

So I wrote these questions in my journal:

1. Am I still waiting for my heart to be fought for and won in a bloody battle that makes me feel worth it?

2. Isn't that exactly what Jesus did?

3. Why do I keep expecting it from others?

When you realize things like this about your life and your personality, it would be very easy to feel ashamed. But I didn't. Not because I think I'm in the right by any stretch, but because I didn't realize what I had been doing, how harmful it was, or that it started when it did. It was all so subtle until it recently became very obvious that there was a problem and it was growing by leaps and bounds. Something felt off and God has been going to great lengths to reveal it slowly so that my eyes would see it. That whole see if there is any offensive way in me prayer is being answered for sure.

None of this is easy to share. But as difficult as it is to put this out there, I have to believe I'm not the only one. I might be the one writing about it for public consumption, but I know my heart isn't the only one that has been waiting for someone else to step in and save the day. And if God can use what He is showing me to help someone else, then, by all means, I'll dump it all out. Why? Because the enemy wants nothing more than to make us feel alone, isolated, and like there's something wrong with us. But if we see we aren't the only one and we use our stories to help each other, his power lessens and we get back our stolen ground in the process.

The more I start to look at my behaviors and emotions, and listen to the words coming out of my mouth, the more I see God trying to teach me, reach me, rescue me, and heal me. And I know because it's in His nature, that He's doing the same for you. Let's start to slow down and listen to the voice He gave us. We just might realize He's been trying to answer the questions we didn't know we had all along.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The way we look at and do things is often, if not always, a matter of the perspective we have adopted. We can experience something unpleasant but go through it with great joy if we understand even just a portion of the purpose behind it. And we can look at others going through trials we hope never to endure and see that they appear unshaken simply because they know deep within that it is meaningful.

I don't know how much of what God said to Abram was passed on to future generations. What I do know is that God told Abram your offspring will be resident aliens for four hundred years in a land that does not belong to them and will be eslaved and oppressed. However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many posesssions. (Genesis 15:13-14)

If we know the story at all, we know that the harder the Egyptians pushed the Hebrew people, the more they prospered. Why? Because they didn't confuse who they saw as forcing their labor as the One they were working for. The question then becomes do we do that?

Psalm 30:11 reads:

You turned my lament into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness

Reading things like that, I consider what I am going through, and can't help but think that just like the case with the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt, it's all about perspective.

Only the Lord can fix what our eyes see, what our ears hear, what our mind thinks, and what our heart believes. He does this through a revelation in His word ~ a promise given, a truth uncovered, a lie righted, or a calling understood. And in the process of adjusting our perspective to His, whatever was heavy is suddenly light and whatever caused pain somehow manages to produce joy. He alone is able to lift our eyes back to the truth of His Word, the knowledge of His goodness, and the promise of His faithfulness.

I may not know what you are going through right now. I am however aware of my circumstances. And I can tell you that while this truth may not change anything about my situation, it certainly modifies the way I will choose to move forward in it until it reaches completion. 

I can say without a doubt that I am not a good dancer. But I suppose that if God above can take what I've been lamenting and make my soul dance to the music He's written for my life, then the only logical conclusion is that it must be a thing of beauty to witness. Let's let God take off what is weighing us down and clothe us with gladness instead and stop letting what we see to make us weary. Afterall, we have a promise to reap a harvest waiting for us at the end.

Monday, January 15, 2018

False Evidence Appearing Real

If you had asked me last week if I had fear in my life, I would have said no. When I think of fear, I think of being afraid and somehow differentiate it from other emotions. And then I read this:

"Fear is the root of anxiety, worry, control, anger, paranoia, shame, insecurity,
manipulation, intimidation, unbelief, isolation, inadequacy, apathy, addiction,
and people pleasing. Fear is rooted in self-preservation......Fear is a tool that
the devil custom designs for each of our lives because it is void of the love of
God. God is love (1 John 4:16), and when we fear, at our core, whether con-
sciously or subconsciously, we're partnering with a lie that we are cut off 
from God's love." She is Free by Andi Andrew p.97-98

I can say without a doubt, now knowing that fear manifests itself in those ways, I live a great deal of my life in fear.

Now, at the end of the chapter, she asks you to write out your list of fears. That was fun. Not. But as I wrote them out, mostly simple phrases and key words, I realized very quickly that most of them centered around one concept and that my fears are evidence of extreme self-preservation which clearly indicates a lack of trust in God to sustain and care for me. 

As depressing as this might all sound, I am actually thrilled that this happened. First, knowledge is power. When you realize you are doing something that was slipping under your radar (like believing a lie), you can then begin to combat it with the truth. Second, it coincides with the book that showed up in the mail last week that I wasn't expecting.

So what is the truth?

1 John 4:18 tells us There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. This truth, held in comparison to my list, showed me something significant. My fears are rooted in the belief that my choices are in direct proportion to consequences that are a punishment for doing things I feel guilty about. Consequences that have not even happened and that I have no evidence supporting that they will happen. Could they? Yes. But are they currently happening? No.

As the merry-go-round in my mind started spinning, I soon saw the beauty of this verse. Perfect love was demonstrated in the cross where Jesus took the punishment I deserve which is why there should be no fear in love. Furthermore, when I looked at my list again and realized what actions were behind this fear, I realized that I was reducing God to being punitive, judgemental, and full of vengence over things that are ridiculous and make Him out to be a tyrant.

Now, as the ride in my head was about to end, all I could hear were Paul's words echoing that nothing can separate us from the love of God. And that includes what I might see as less than stellar choices but in my heart know were God's direction because of the way He made me. But here's the real killer. If Paul who persecuted the early church and oversaw the murder of many, can say that nothing can separate us from the love of God, how can I even entertain the thought that I could manage to do the one thing that could separate me from His love? That is a level of pride and arrogance I did not know I was capable of.

I once read an acronym for fear that described it as False Evidence Appearing Real. The abilities God gave our minds were meant to think His thoughts, about things in heaven where our life is now hidden in Christ, and about His goodness and all the reasons He is worthy of our praise, not how our lives might become a call to endure what we fear the most and why we'll be to blame for it.

As this week is just beginning, let's make a decision to intentionally examine our thought life and surrender it to Christ. Let's be bold enough to ask ourselves the tough questions about any lies we might believe. And then let's confidently go to the throne of grace to seek God's wisdom and strength on the battle for our minds. He didn't give us a spirit of fear, He gave us His Spirit which has the power to overcome the thoughts that are leading us to death.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekly Recap

Good Morning! It's the weekend which means it's a chance to rest, relax, and remember all that happened this week.

On Monday, we discussed how the words of God will bring us back from wherever our minds have taken us that might not be the best place to reside. You can find that post HERE.

On Tuesday, we talked about the call on our lives to be compassionate not critical and the ways a critical spirit might manifest itself in our lives. You can find that post HERE.

On Wednesday we learned that the things that have hurt us are rarely done with malicious intent. You can find that post HERE.

On Thursday we were reminded that while change is not always welcome, despite what might be shifting in our circumstances, God remains the same. You can find that post HERE.

Finally, yesterday we saw that sometimes God speaks to us in ways we might not anticipate or expect and that it's important to make sure we are listening for His voice and looking for Him to move. You can find that post HERE.

Have a fantastic weekend and stay warm!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Awake and Aware

A little while ago, I saw a sponsored ad on facebook for a book. I know, shocking. I decided to apply for the book launch but didn't get a reply. Needless to say, I thought the book was worth purchasing anyway so I ordered it. Just before it came, I had seen another book on a similar topic that seemed much more relevant and determined that I would not keep the first book. Once it came, I returned it and thought that was the end of that. But God.......

Appparently, God had already decided that this was a book I need to read because the book launch copy arrived from UPS yesterday. Almost fell over because I was not expecting it at all. Believe me, if I know there is a book on its way, I am worse than a kid staring out the window waiting for the thunder and lightning to stop to get back in the pool.

When I started opening the envelope, I had no idea what was inside. When I saw the cover, my heart soared. I couldn't believe my eyes.

Now two things happened immediately. First, I told my kids exactly what had happened. Teachable moments must be siezed. Second, I acknowledged to them and myself that God clearly had a reason behind this and that it must be important for Him to go to this kind of trouble.

I share this because I read something in Job this morning that really caught my attention.

For God speaks time and again but a person may not notice it.
In a dream, a vision in the night, when deep sleep comes over
people as they slumber in their beds, He uncovers their ears
and terrifies them with warnings, in order to turn a person from
his actions and suppress the pride of a person. God spares his soul
from the Pit, his life from crossing the river of death.
Job 33:14-17

I know, a pretty ominous reading and certainly not as upbeat as all the things we can do through Christ who gives us strength.

But the point is, I have been given a choice. God clearly put this in my hands for a reason and I either take it seriously or dismiss it as just a random blessing. I am assuming you know which I am going to choose.

What frightens me though is the possibility, although more likely probability, that things like this have happened before and I have either missed them or dismissed them. The God who formed me and knows my needs, and I have the potential to ignore what He's trying to show and tell me.

As we get ready to head into our day, let's be intentional about watching for God's hand and anything He might be trying to tell us. Afterall, if He loves us enough to wow us with simple things like a book, I'm willing to bet He's wowing us way more than we realize the whole time.