Wednesday, February 28, 2018


In Isaiah 55:11 God promises that His Word will accomplish the purpose for which He sent it. But in order for His Word to accomplish anything in our lives, we have to read it. If we don't know what it says, it can't do anything to change our hearts, minds, actions, decisions, choices, behaviors, or anything else.

But I wonder if there is a crucial part to this verse that we have been missing and getting frustrated in the process.

This verse says the Word will accomplish what He desires. Do you know what it doesn't say? That the Word will accomplish what you or I desire.

I wonder how many times I have read a verse, claimed it as truth, and attempted to make it produce soemthing in my life that might have been Biblical but not God's intent and thought it was falling flat or blaming myself for not trying hard enough.

In the past year I have read a lot of books. Each of those books has taught me something about God, His ways, and His character. And one over-arching theme has been this: He typically doesn't do what I expect or anticipate. Not suprisingly He does something much better.

So here's the million dollar question: 

Can we stop expecting His Word to produce the outcome we want to see 
and just wait on Him to bring about what He sent it for? 

My guess is that if we did, we would see Him moving in our lives more than ever before.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


Right now I have a friend who is experincing some memory problems. I use the word some generously. Spending time with her yesterday though, and continuing to read No More Faking Fine, I saw an unexpected connection. My hope is that you will find this just as interesting and empowering as I do.

For years my friend was involved with a group of women who would travel together. And while she has very little concept of time right now, she seems to recognize patterns of time. For instance, this is apparently around the time they would normally start planning their annual trip. Because of that, she is packed and ready to go. Unfortunately, the trip doesn't have a destination or dates yet. It's really very heartbreaking. But what's intriguing to me is that she remembers.

Throughout Scripture we are called to remember things, both good and bad. We are called to remember the faithfulness of God (good), but we are also called to remember His rescue because of what we did that required it (bad) so that we don't go down the same road again. The call is constant and consistent from Genesis to Revelation. Remembering matters a great deal.

However, our enemy knows this and uses every opportunity he can to make this work to his advantage.

Esther Fleece writes Long after our wounding has occurred, the enemy can still abuse us. He can take the same lies and patterns of behavior and keep us in a destructive cycle. (No More Faking Fine, p. 181) Our enemy has a memory as strong as the day is long. And believe me, he remembers everything we have ever done that we regret.

The problem with this scenario however is that if we don't go to God to get His perspective on the situation, our decisions, or what our circumstances were, we will only ever remember things from our limited perspective that will often end up intertwined with Satan's destructive perspective.

I have to admit, as much as I never want to meet Satan face to face, there is a part of me that may or may not fantasize about going Ashely Judd in Missing on his sorry self. (If you don't remember that show, don't worry, no one does. It wasn't picked up after it's 10 episode pilot and I still haven't let it go. It was really good and she was ex-CIA and a total, you know what.)

We know that before Jesus died, He promised that after His death and resurrection we would be given the gift of the Holy Spirit that would teach us and remind us of everything He has said to us. (John 14:26) But in order to have that happen, we have to do two things: ask and listen. If we don't ask for God's heavenly perspective and then listen for His response, we will always remember things from our vantage point and be prepared to go to an unknown destination with an unset departure time that may not even happen.

At this point I could give you tips on how to thwart this. My guess is that you know, or could reasonably assume, what I would say. Read, meditate, pray, journal. But like I insinuated yesterday, knowing what to do matters little if we don't actually do it.

But we can still be encouraged because our knowledge becomes power. If we know what we are facing, we can begin to make concentrated efforts on winning this fight. We aren't going to get it perfect. We will get lax, we will get overwhelmed, and sometimes we will just forget. But the goal is never perfection, it's always progress. Day by day we can make choices to remember, ask, and then listen. Over time it will add up. It might feel slow and daunting but one day we will look back and remember the journey we've been on and see just how far we've come. And the most beautiful part of our story will always be that God remembers everything in perfect detail and is working it all out for our good in the end.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Change of Address

When the Israelites were leaving Egypt they had a destination in mind: The Promised Land. Their was purpose to their exit and they wanted to go where things would be better than what they were experiencing. Unfortunately they never got there. Not because God isn't good, not because God changed His mind, and certainly not because God wasn't able, but because they were stubborn.

When the scouts were sent out, they were asked to report on a few factors: land, the encampments or fortifications, fertility, trees, strong/weak people, population. They were asked only to give a report. Sadly they also delivered a commentary. And the narrative of the story drastically changes because some influenced many.

And God lamented. The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people despise Me? How long will they not trust in Me despite all the signs I have performed among them?" (Numbers 14:11 CSB) I don't know about you, but I find it rather comforting that God Himself asks how long.

Because of their refusal to take the land promised land, God had to redirect them. Chapter 15 is about the way offerings are supposed to be made When you enter the land I am giving you to settle in. (Numbers 15:2 CSB ~ emphasis mine)

There was something about that thought that bothered me and so I looked up the Hebrew word for settle. The word is moshab which means dwelling place. But what's interesting is the root word and the first place it is used. The root word is yashab and its first mention is in Genesis 4:16 in relation to the place Cain went after he went out from the LORD's presence.

When I wrote my blog post on Friday about the wind and waves still obeying the voice of Jesus I left out an obvious truth. The wind and waves do not have free will, we do. But then the question that begs to be asked is why don't we obey as much as they do? Ouch, I know.

The last thing I want is for God to look at me and ask Himself How long will she not trust Me despite all the signs I have performed? And I certainly don't want to end up in a place where I have to settle instead of my promised land.

The truth is God promises each of us the land of our inheritance. And if His word, the books we read, the sermons we hear, and the songs we sing are the field guides and maps to take it, why are we still wandering in the wilderness? We've scouted the land, we know it's good, we know people living in it that have told us how to get there. Call me crazy, but I think it's time to change our address.

My husband and I have been married for just over seventeen years now. And in the first six years of our marriage we moved from Erie to Boardman, Ohio, from Boardman to Columbus, once within Columbus, from Columbus to Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and from Coatesville to Pittsburgh. If I have learned anything it's that moving requires a lot of work, planning, and purging. And getting into our promised lands will be no different.

When we think about all the people that had to die in the wilderness because they refused to trust God, we certainly don't want to be counted among them. We have a good land that God wants to give each of us, a sweet spot we are meant to live out the full life Jesus died to give. I'm tired of being dizzy circling the hill country. Let's stop wandering and turn north and take up residence where God has been intending us to dwell, not settle.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Weekly Recap ~ February 19 thru February 23

Had a busy week? Enjoy the weekend and catch what you missed! All pictures are linked to that day's post. See you Monday!

Monday, February 19

Our heavenly Father knows so much more of what we need and what we don't. We know that He gives and takes away but I think quite often we forget that His blessed subtractions are quite possibly His provisions of protection.

Tuesday, February 20

Crown of beauty instead of ashes? Yes, please!

Wednesday, February 21

ICYMI, God is not okay with idolatry.

Thursday, February 22

God doesn't ask for a gift receipt to make an exchange even when He gets duplicate gifts. 

Friday, February 23

Forget Are you smarter than a fifth grader, are you smarter than the water?

Friday, February 23, 2018

So Will I

In the beginning, God spoke creation into existance. He commanded it, and then it happened. And God said, "Let there be....." 

In Matthew 8:23-27 we find Jesus in a boat with His disciples.....

As He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. Suddenly, a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves ~ but Jesus kept sleeping. So the disciples came and woke Him up, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to die!"

He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 

The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!"

And so here is our thought provoking question to ponder over the weekend:

Why does creation do a better job with obedience to the Lord than we do?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Acceptable Gifts

February 22, 2018. We are officially into the new year with 52 days under our belts and on the brink of day 53. How are your New Year's Resolutions going? And all the readers let out a collective sigh and immediately came up with why some of them have fallen by the wayside.

One of my resolutions this year was to accept a challenge called Word Before the World. The idea was to put my eyes on God's Word before checking anything else in print. So, no facebook, twitter, email, checkbook balancing, credit card checking to make sure it wasn't compromised, etc. And until this week I was doing really well. Actually until Tuesday, when I tweaked something small. Now before I read I do my steps with praise music blasting in my ear. I kind of think of it as the worship set before the sermon. I kind of like it because my head is on straight before I open my Bible. Which is critical for a day like today.

At the beginning of the year I shared that I was going to do a chronological plan through the Bible. Some days I've read a little ahead, but basically, I'm about where I should be. Today was Numbers 7. And again, all the readers let out a collective sigh. Numbers is not exactly the thrilling read of the Gospels, one of Paul's passionate letters, or the intriguing stupidity of the bad kings of the divided kingdom. And worse yet, chapter 7 in Numbers is a whopping 18 paragraphs and 12 of them basically repeat each other with the exception of a few words: the day and the names. Not exactly something that is apt to keep us on the edge of our seats.

But if God thought it was important enough to include, there must be something significant that we are supposed to see. Go ahead and read it.

Boring? Yeah, a little bit. But here's what I realized in reading it.

From the beginning, we see that this is going to be about gift giving. Some of the gifts were given to people and the rest were given to God.

As for the gifts given to people, they were the resources they needed to complete their assignments. But here's the thing: while the gifts for two of the groups were the same, the amounts were different. Why? Because they had different amounts of responsibility. And the third group didn't even get any gifts. Why? They didn't need them.

So the question is this....when we see someone else with a gift, are we happy for them or are we too focused on wanting the same thing for ourselves? And the next question is we realize that all the gifts we are given have an underlying purpose?

Sometimes I think we look at God's blessings as just because He can. And while I agree that there are things He gives just because He can, if we miss the fact that there is always meaning, intent, and purpose, we are missing a huge aspect of God's character. It occurred to me that some of those gifts that may be primarily for us are meant to build our faith, increase our trust, and/or display His glory. But if we just send a thank you note and don't acknowledge what it's done for our heart, we're short-changing ourselves big time.

Now the bulk of chapter 7 is about the dedication gifts given for the altar when it was annointed. And each of the twelve tribes gave the same things, one tribe per day, for twelve days. It's hard to imagine Moses not getting bored with this. But what's thrilling is that God didn't get bored with it.

See, each gift we give to God matters and He sees them individually ~ even when others give the same gift because they are representative of the giver and He knows the heart behind it and the sacrifices made to give it.

For example: let's say each of us does some volunteer work. What it costs you to do it and what it costs me to do it is not going to be the same. You might be giving up an hour of sleep in order to make the time, while I might be giving up an hour of TV. The gift of service is the same, but the sacrifice behind it isn't. And God saw that. All the silver bowls, all the incense, and all the animals were the same, but what it costs to give those gifts from the people would have meant something unique to each person and God was well aware of what it was.

We have to stop thinking that what might seem like small acts comparatively to others, are not small acts to God. To Him they are just as significant. He knows where we've been, how far we've come, and what is going on in our hearts. And the gifts, never get old to Him because we never get old to Him. He still sees us like He's looking at us for the first time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cracked Foundation

I had it in me to destroy myself. I did. But Jesus wouldn’t give up on me. He’s stronger than any stronghold you’ve got, than any demons you’ve fought. You’ve just got to keep walking with him for days, weeks, months, years til all the sudden you realize somewhere old you died.
A week ago this past Monday, I shared a post titled Anger, Comparison, and Joy  I talked a lot about being angry with God because someone I love is sick. It was good to get it all out because there is something incredibly freeing about acknowledging what is going on inside of you. Believe me, when James said that we are to confess our sins to one another to be healed, he knew full well what he was talking about.
But my story, or should I say God's story, didn't stop with that revelation. 
A lot of us whether we want to or are willing to admit it, trust God NOT to let certain things happen. We put a lot of time and effort into preventing the one thing we are certain will kill us. It probably manifests itself in the form of control or manipulation. And what's interesting is that control and manipulation can be really subtle so that no one else knows, particuarly the one you are controlling and manipulating.
There were things in my now distant past that led to some pretty unhealthy beliefs. Because those lies were deeply planted into my heart and mind, they were displayed in my outward actions. In my case, I would do everything I could to put the odds in my favor so that what I wanted to happen would happen and therefore I could prevent other things from happening. I did this for a very long time.
And then my world crashed right around me. Because for all of my controlling patterns, I found out it didn't actually work. Go figure.
The result? Complete and total shutdown. Walls up, borders reinforced, and nothing was getting in or out.
See, once I was able to grasp that my anger towards God existed over my sick loved one last week, I stopped there. Then two days ago it literally felt like the heavens opened, the angels were singing, and God opened my eyes to an ever deeper reality.
"God will go to great lengths to squash a false gospel and repair 
a cracked foundation in our faith." No More Faking Fine, p. 100
My cracked foundation was believing that God would never let that (what I was trying to prevent) happen. And when that did happen, it was all over for me. And so now I forced myself to ask the question I didn't really want the answer to....WHY?
So many of us truly believe that ignorance is bliss and that what we don't know can't hurt us. And in some cases that is true. What's faulty is our logic. Sometimes ignorance and not knowing is God's provision because it either isn't the right time to know or it's His grace because we actually don't need to know. And if/when He decides it's time to clue us in, we don't like it. 
Believe me, I was happy living in denial. Really happy. But with revelation over a L-O-N-G period of time, a lot of wrestling with information, a series of difficult and painful conversations, and the quote above I learned something. Drumroll please......God will smash every idol in our lives until only He sits on the throne. Shocking I know.
My false gospel was rooted in the knowledge that God knew my past and He would surely never crash it into my present. Except He did and I didn't know how to handle it. And for years I didn't. To be honest, I didn't get serious about getting better and really dealing with it until about 18 months ago. Sadly it all started in late 2010. I guess you could say I was dragging my feet. I was operating under the assumption that if God wouldn't stop it, there was no telling what was up next and I wanted no part of it.
So I masked, put band-aids on deep gashes, and told myself repeatedly that all was forgiven and everything was okay. And I believed it because I said it enough. But the truth is we could tell ourselves the sky is green enough times to believe it, but that still wouldn't make it true.
But God is good. And He doesn't just stop when we finally get it. Once He puts things back in proper order, He has this uncanny way of taking what was good and then with our new, corrected perspective, makes it even better than it was before when we were the ones supposedly controlling it. How 'bout that? 
But just like that Beth Moore tweet says, I too had it in me to destroy myself, but Jesus wouldn't let me. He has chased me down repeatedly over this entire ordeal. I mean, if we want evidence of the long-suffering nature of God, the past seven and a half years should be enough to declare Him patient.
I don't know what Why questions we might have for God today or in the future, but I can say this: if we take them to Him, when the time is right and He knows we are ready, He will answer them. He is stronger than any stronghold or demon and His goal is to get us to die to ourselves so that in Him we might truly live.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Exchange Rate

".....moving forward without lamenting masks itself as strong and together,
and while this is what I would have preferred over feeling like a mess,
I saw that sidestepping lament is not strength; it is settling."

We go to great lengths to mask our pain. We spiritualize by saying we know that God is in control, that our issues are nothing compared to what is going on in other parts of the world, and minimize the reality of what is happening in our hearts. And in the process, we are killing ourselves.

Last week I was at Target. As I was leaving there was a discussion happening between two women, one of whom was apparently parked either on the line or too close to it creating a difficulty for the other who was either ready to leave and couldn't get in her car or maybe felt she couldn't safely back out. Either way, the one doing the majority of the discussing was clearly upset.

I would hope that the majority of us would see this and realize that if someone is that upset about someone else's ability (or lack thereof) to park correctly that there is way more to what is going on in her heart and head than parking etiquette.

Now, say that woman went home and was on a rampage because of what happened. Now she's upset with her kids for not having homework done, she's upset with her husband because he's stuck in a meeting and will be late, and she's just gotten a bill in the mail for something she forgot about. 

Everything is compounding and her emotions are raging inside and out.

But let's back up.......three days earlier she got a phone call from a childhood friend. Her friend is going through an unexpected divorce. She talks with her friend, acknowledges her pain, promises to be their for support, and they plan to meet for lunch. She feels incredible sadness for her friend but only processes her thoughts on a surface level because the divorce rate is high.

However.......the reality is her parents divorced when she was 16 and she never dealt with it because nobody wanted to talk about it. Everyone equated it with things happen and (my personal favorite) you can't let this get to you and dwell on it. OH MY NO!

Pain is such a relative thing. Just like we are ready to put on shorts and tanktops when it hits 50*F in the winter after sub-zero windchill factors and are prepared to pull out jeans and hooded sweatshirts in the summer when it hits 65*F after a week of upper 90's with high humidity, we can not continue to determine the pain of others based on our perception of the situation. AND, we have to realize that what we are feeling is valid. Minimizing what is going on inside of us also minimizes our ability to heal.

And the worst part of all of this, is that we actually believe that if we take it to God we should be able to leave it there, let it go, walk away, and trust He will deal with it and we just need to come back and pick up our shattered hearts once He's fixed it. NO, NO, NO! God will fix it and He will certainly heal it, but we have to realize that sometimes it takes time....lots of time.....and we are meant to be a part of the process. It's only when we participate that He can show us His perspective on the situation.

I am not sure when we decided that to feel pain and admit it makes us weak and vulnerable. I have no idea why we put ourselves on timetables to get back to normal. For some reason we honestly believe that what other people think really matters and the last thing we want is to be viewed as is a whiner or complainer. Going to God with our brokenness and allowing His timing to determine our healing does not make us a whiner or complainer. He just might be giving us time and space to deal with all the layers of it. We might think it's just what we see, but just like with the woman in the parking lot, He knows the whole story.

Clearly this is a soapbox issue for me. I believe the enemy has us so wrapped up in what other people think and hyper-spiritualizing our problems so that we don't deal with them, that we are functional but unhealthy. God wants so much more for us than what we believing Him for. Esther Fleece shared that, "moving forward without lamenting masks itself as strong and together, and while this is what I would have preferred over feeling like a mess, I saw that sidestepping lament is not strength; it is settling." That will preach right there.

At this point in my life, I am happy to say I am a hot mess. There are a lot of things I have brushed past that I didn't realize how deeply they affected me. Frankly it's time they lose their power. And if that means going back through them with God and asking all the hard questions, no matter how painful it might be, I know it will be worth it because He promises to bind up the brokenhearted and give a crown of beauty instead of ashes. And to be honest, I think I'll look good with a crown on my head. And I know for a fact He wants to give you a crown, too. The question is will we be brave enough to face all the things to get it.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Blessed Subtractions

One thing I have always strived to do for better or worse on this blog is to be completely and totally honest about where I am, what I am going through, and what God is showing me. I share the resources God has put before me on the off chance that you might find them beneficial as well. One such resource that I have mentioned before includes the Sara Hagerty monthly printable for Adoration.

I found Sara's website when I started reading her book Unseen, which I highly recommend. (And fyi, when I post links, they aren't affiliate links or anything like that. I'm just sharing what I have found helpful; I am not making money on clicks, purchases, or anything like that.)

Anyway, I started printing her monthly Adoration page in January, washi-taping it into a composition notebook, writing out the daily verse, and then journaling a prayer after it. Let me tell you, focusing on adoring God through His written word is a pretty powerful practice. I would have never guessed that this would be so good for me but it truly has been. It has allowed me to clear and process my thoughts more fully and given me insight to possibilities I don't think I would have otherwise considered.

Now, as you might suppose, a lot of what I write is filtered through what I am going through or dealing with and is influenced by what I am reading in my Bible or any other book(s) I might be reading. I fully believe that God puts things together in combination in my life to give me a fuller picture of what is happening from different angles.

All that said, this morning included a pretty big revelation.

First, I was in Numbers 1 and 2. I know, highly exciting reading right there. But what struck me is that the camp of the Israelite tribes wasn't haphazard. And if you start in the middle with The Tent of Meeting surrounded by the Levites and then go out directionally north, south, east, and west, you end up with the essential shape of a cross.

Second, I read in Nourish by Katie Farrell how prayer is essential for everything. I know, duh. But what I hadn't considered before was why. Simply put, Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Unfortunately I try to do a lot of things apart from Him because they are things I know I can do on my own. But not inviting Him into them has probably been working against me. I suppose that's why we are told to pray about everything. (Phil. 4:6)

Third, and this is where it got good, the Adoration verse for today is Romans 11:33 (CSB).

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge
of God! How unsearchable His judgements and untraceable His ways!

Now before I explain this, you need to understand that I am reading No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece. The last thing I read was about her gaining a new perspective on her childhood based on indisputable fact (court records), not just her recollection of events as they unfolded, or what she was told was reality as compared to what actually was.

Esther talks a lot about her suppression of emotions and just pulling up her bootstraps to keep going. This reasonates with me. And for seven years now I have not had a really good, gut wrenching, heart emptying cry. And I want one in the worst possible way. Like you just don't even know. I watch This Is Us sans tissues, people. The relationship problems bother me, but I remain completely emotionless.

Anyway, after I wrote out Romans 11:33, I journaled this prayer:

Lord, Your wisdom and knowledge go beyond what I can comprehend. And for some reason, for many years now, either I have been intentionally suppressing my emotions, You have been holding them back for my good, or a combination of both. You know above all else what stress does to me and how anxiety plagues me. You above all know how I force my way through, refusing to quit, but at the same time refuse to deal with things. So whether it's my stubborn heart or your grace in protecting my body physically, I do believe You are slowly taking me back to the place I will be able to feel again. So whether that means going through a checklist with You or You revealing Your truth over time to uncover and expose lies, I believe You know exactly what You are doing and why You are doing it.

If you know nothing about auto-immune problems like lupus, you need to know this: stress is not good. And until this morning, I never once thought that it was possible that my dark night of the soul could be God's physical protection of my body. I never entertained the notion that the journey I have been on for over a year could be teaching me how to handle things in a healthy way, His way, before it would be safe again for me to feel.

Our Heavenly Father knows so much more of what we need and what we don't. We know that He gives and takes away but I think quite often we forget that His blessed subtractions are quite possibly His provisions of protection. 

So, my encouragement for us today is this: If God knows everything and sees the big picutre, if He is withholding something, He is doing it for a reason. As much as we might think what we want is to our advantage, He ultimately knows if it will cause harm. We have to realize that the depth of His wisdom and knowledge is too much for us to understand, and that while His judgements are good and His ways untraceable, they are always full of meaning, purpose, and intention.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Weekly Recap February 12 ~ February 16

Happy Saturday and hopefully long weekend! Here's where we've been since Monday. All pictures are linked to that day's post!

Monday, February 12

If God knows our every thought and word, He also knows our every emotion, even the ones we don't yet undersand.....including being angry with Him. And if we think He can't handle our big girl emotions, our view of Him is entirely too small. 

Tuesday, February 13

A question + A truth bomb + a statement of thankfulness = Short, sweet, and to the point. 

Wednesday, February 14

Love is......

Thursday, February 15

We never, ever cry alone. 

Friday, February 16

Unhealthy extremes are never good. Some are just downright dangerous. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Personal Conviction

I wholeheartedly believe we can not teach personal conviction as theology. What God whispers to each of us individually is not meant to be taught or preached corporately with the expectation that everyone will follow suit. However, I do believe we are to share the peronsal convictions we are given on the off chance that someone else needs that same word spoken over them. This is one of those posts.

There are so many Scriptures we read, hear, or have brought to the forefront of our minds on a semi-regular basis. They become so familiar that we often dismiss them until they fall on fresh eyes, alert ears, and an open heart.

Until now I had no idea I was using this verse as my ability to ignore reality. Just keep on moving while keeping my eyes fixed on the right stuff. But in doing so, I have pretty much eliminated God's perspective on what's happening. If I don't go to Him with what is weighing on my heart, He can't effectively lift the burden. And FYI, ignoring it doesn't make it go away. It lets it fester, untreated; and what is untreated with truth, will grow in lies.

As I am currently reading No More Faking Fine, I am beginning to see how I have lost my ability to hurt effectively. Yes, hurt can be effective. If I take it to God and allow Him to speak over it and to it, it can be wildly effective in having my perspective realigned with His. But if I don't, my tunnel vision will remain.

Oh and just because we take it to God once, does not mean we can not, or should not, continue to take it to God repeatedly. I guess I'd kind of liken it to an antibiotic regimen. If we stop taking the medicine after just a few days when we start to feel better, 9/10 times it comes back worse. Typically, it takes time to work stuff out and if we minimize the effect something has had on us and operate under the assumption that our feelings should magically change after one treatment, we are sadly misled. Some things are just really hard and take time. And the last I checked, a day was like a thousand years to God. So, if He writes a prescription for 7-10 days, we are in it for the long haul.

And if that analogy doesn't cut it, in western PA this ought to clear it up.....If all you do is a patch job on a pothole, that pothole reappears really fast. We have to quit doing patch jobs with our hearts and minds. Sometimes you need to dig up the entire road and start over from scratch and that kind of work takes time, effort, and intentionally rerouting traffic. Our hearts and minds are no different. We have to quit rushing God's healing process, or worse yet, ignoring it all together.

I don't know who among you that might speak to, but it has spoken loud and clear to me. We have taken thinking of only the good things, taking every thought captive, and renewing our minds to an unhealthy extreme by ignoring what God might be trying to teach us through our responses and emotions. And frankly, we are killing ourselves at a soul and spirit level in the process. And we have to stop it.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


"There is no attempt in Scripture to whitewash the anguish of God's people
when they undergo suffering. They argue with God, they complain to God,
they weep before God. Theirs is not a faith that leads to dry-eyed stoicism,
but to a faith so robust it wrestles with God." 
D. A. Carson

"Lament, he said, is simply expressing honest emotions to God when life is 
not going as planned. Whether we're hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed,
overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, lament is the language God has given us
to talk to Him right in the middle of life's messes. It's real talk with God when
you're hurting, when all you can do is cry out for His help."

from a conversation with her counselor

Lord, when we see things like we did yesterday unfolding before our very eyes, when we see children running in fear, breaking down in tears, parents terrified and horrified at the blatant evil their child has been exposed to, we honestly don't know how to react. We want answers, we want guarantees of safety, we expect solutions, we want accountability, we want promises that it will never, ever happen again. We want to find what we missed that could have stopped it from ever happening. And we want to retreat into our own little worlds and protect at all costs.

Lord, in the middle of this mess, in the depths of the broken hearts, in the cries of fear that are raging out of control in our minds, would You come? Will You hold us closer, speak healing, and help us to turn to you more than we demand answers from those who don't really have them?

Lord help us see that You are also weeping. Remind us that You also cried out. Keep our hearts from becoming hard in a vain attempt to protect ourselves from pain. Help us to love one another well, deeply, and completely as we process all we have seen and heard.

Lord, make Yourself known in the middle of the chaos. Let Your love and comfort be a tangible presence in the midst of all the heartache. And allow Your Spirit to bring healing to all that are broken. Give us the words we need to cry out to You knowing full well that You will hear every last one and respond.

We ask all this in the mighty, redeeming, and healing name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Reckless Love

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 
is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, 
believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 CSB

Many of us have probably seen the suggestion to put our name in place of love, a friend's name in place of love, a potential love interests in place of love. When we consider that God is love, placing His name where love is gives us the clearest picture of who God is and what He does. 

So what does that mean when our emotions are running high, we don't know up from down, and everything feels out of control.

God is patient when we are excavating every emotion we have supressed for far too long because we (a) didn't know what we were feeling or (b) thought we weren't allowed to or shouldn't feel a certain way.

God is kind and will gently peel back all the layers to get to the bottom of it so that He can heal us and move us forward in the way He always intended us to be.

God does not envy what we did not know was holding us captive. If something was holding our hearts, He is fully aware of how much of it we understood. Instead, He pursues us steadily until He knows we are ready for the great reveal.

God is not boastful, arrogant, or rude. When He shows us where we have been believing a lie, He does not point out every 'I told you so' in Scripture to make us feel badly about ourselves. Instead, He leads us to the truth of His Word and reminds us that the things He has written down, He wrote for a reason.

God is not irritable and does not keep a record of wrongs. PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME for that one. His heart will break for the captivity we have put ourselves in through unbelief or lack of knowledge but He isn't cranky about it and He doesn't bring it up repeatedly by saying, "Oh, but remember the time you......" No. Just no.

God finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. We can go to Him and ask Him to reveal any unrighteousness in us so that He can put us back on the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24) As a result, He will rejoice with us when He sees we understand what He's been trying to tell us. It's why He leaves the ninety-nine to go get the one and why there is more rejoicing in heaven over one who repents.

God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. What God is willing to do in order to get us to the life He always planned for us is beyond anything we will ever comprehend. He never once gives up, abandons, or throws His hands up in the air deciding we aren't worth the effort. 

God never ends. He was, He is, and He always will be. Forever.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Free in Truth

After yesterday's super lengthy post, today will be short, sweet, and to the point. First, is a question I think we need to answer individually because it says a lot about our view of God. Second, is a truth bomb God showed me on Saturday. And for those of you that got through my words yesterday, please know this: I am happy to be in The Shack. The Shack is where Mack met the God who always was that he never knew or understood. I am just preferring to view mine as more of a she-shed. replete with full bookshelves, Sharpie pens, composition notebooks, an internet connection for an interlinear Bible, coffee, a bathroom, and most importantly, my Bible.

The Question

Why is it that if we know God designed us, created us, knows our strengths, limitations, preferences, talents and abilities, that we honestly think He will purposely pick or call us to what He knows we would hate?

The Truth Bomb

Satan will exploit our limitations and turn them into excuses.
God will explain our limitations and turn them into examples.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Anger, Comparison, and Joy

Last Friday when I came home from Bible study, I wrote the beginning part of this post. That entire post is in bold type. When I woke up Saturday morning, I read title alone of my devotional for the day and something clicked. That part is in italics. This is a little bit longer of a post because I believe there is a great divide between anger and joy and over it is the word comparison.

For a little while now I have known that I have had some unresolved anger issues. Not that I would violently or verbally lash out, but my fuse has been short for some time and I can snap pretty quickly. It mainly manifests as sarcasm and looking at others like they should know exactly what to do, what I mean, or what I expect.

After watching The Shack and listening to the sermon I posted last week, I realized something about my anger. But first, I need to establish some context.

In February of 2008, I had a minor accident involving a deer. It ended up totalling our car. I truly believe at that time the stress from the situation set off a chain reaction in my body that ultimately manifested itself physically in the form of joint pain, antibodies being created that were trying to destroy my liver, extreme exhaustion, hairloss, and outrageous amounts of fatigue.

I was seeing my regular doctor and a hematologist. I was being prepared for the possibility of a bone marrow biopsy when I was ultimately diagnosed with systemic lupus. After several months of medication, I started to get better. Like really better. And I stayed that way for a long time.

Then this past August my lupus activity number shot way up. No reason that I could think of caused this. It just happened. And so I had to restart the one medication I didn't particularly like. Except this time while I had no organ involvement, the number wasn't really going down and my symptoms have persisted. (exhaustion and joint pain, now including my jaw) But I still have to take the pill. And in my mind, if my organs do get involved and the pill isn't making the number go down as it is, then there is little reason to hope it will protect my organs at all.

I know some of you are thinking you can't think like that. But let me say this: you don't swallow all the pills, you don't feel the pain, and you don't live knowing the potential reality.

Enter The Shack. The place where everything that was good was stripped away without your consent and without warning.

But see my shack has two rooms. I don't live there alone.

A few years ago, someone I love very much also got sick unexpectedly. And no doctor, no medicine, no nothing has been able to help her. She was fine just like I was fine. And then she wasn't, and still isn't. I got better for a while, but she never has.

And so I question.

For years I went to my Bible and pulled out the verse I needed to get through the day. I claimed promises that I wanted to be true not the specific ones given to me. And while it's easy to say God works things out for good, she is still sick. That's what I see.

And yes, I know He sees more than me. But that's all I have right now is knowledge. Knowledge and anger. What I know to be true is in no way lining up with what I see and frankly it makes it hard to believe.

And when I see her pain, and when I hear her pain, I am left with Mack's question:

How can I believe you will take care of me when you aren't taking care of her?

What I didn't know until now is that my deep rooted anger, anger that I thought had a root I unearthed and treated with the truth, was not where it all stemmed. Not by far. My anger is rooted in the pain she still feels, the healing she has not received, and the fear that it won't ever get better.

It's hard to believe, it's harder to type, but it's hardest to share that I am angry with God. Just like Mack. Because if God isn't protecting the ones I love, then it's hard to believe He is good and will protect me.

But that's okay. Because even though it's hard to believe, that doesn't make it in any way less true.

Right now I have a battle to fight. I have to pray for my unbelief to turn into belief. And I can't make that happen. Only God can.

I can fuel it with His Word and I can listen for His voice, but He has to work this out in my heart and mind. I simply can not fix this by myself.

When you don't know what you are fighting, it's easy to grab the wrong weapon. When you don't know what illness is taking a toll on your heart and mind, it's easy to take the wrong medicine. But when you know, you can lawyer up. You can call on the advocate and ask Him to help. When you know, you can call the right doctor. And when you start to fight the proper way, you know you will win. It might get bloody, it will probably cause some brusing, and there will likely be scars that remain. But when the victory is won, it all ends up worth it.

I would have never guessed in a million years that my anger was rooted in not trusting God. I think I told myself so many times I did, not realizing that the words were falling flat because there was no faith in them.

But God is, above all things, patient. And He is more than willing to let us realize what is wrong when He knows we are ready to see it and work through it.

I shared last Friday that my brave prayer has been I beleive, help me overcome my unbelief. I don't know how long I will have to pray those words. Maybe until the day I see Jesus face to face and my faith really does become sight. But even if that's the case, every time I say them, I know He will be listening. And for right now, that's the first thing I am choosing to believe.


This morning I woke up and read the title of my devotional for the day: Stop the Comparison Game.

I know what you're thinking. The same thing we always think. Don't compare kids, marriages, jobs, callings, friendships, money, assets, blah, blah, blah because if you do, you will never be content with what you have always envying what you wish you for. 

Oh. But. No. There is so much more.

When Moses was given the commandments one of them, number 10, said, "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbors wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." And Jesus told us that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. Why are those related? From my perspective, if we have to 'live' with ourselves, we are our own neighbor.

Ya know, the Bible doesn't say 'comparison is the thief of joy,' Teddy Roosevelt said that. But the Bible does say that we will be tempted when our own evil desires lead us to a place we don't want to go (James 1:14) and that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10)

Confused? You won't be.

I did not realize until I could see, acknowledge, and own my anger towards God that it was rooted in what was taken health and the health of someone I love dearly. It wasn't until I read the title of the devotional that I could understand that the poison that has been slowly killing me is comparison. What our lives were as opposed to what they are now.

The enemy is so damn subtle. Comparison can not just be about what 'others' have, which is typically how we see it. It also has to include what we did have, that we thought was either good or better, and wanting it back. Comparing our health, our job, our abilities, our friendships, whatever 'was' that no longer 'is.' 

But once we see this, that the issue itself is self-comparison, we can also hear and understand the words of Jesus in John 15. You know, the ones about God pruning, because He also prunes the branch that does produce fruit so that it will produce more fruit. And that means even sometimes the 'good' has to go so that the 'best' can come.

So here's the thing. If we are looking forward to the day our kids are grown so we can.........(whatever), we are also comparing our current life with the life we did have when we could do whatever, pre-kids. If we are looking forward to the new job, the new assignment, the new car, the new house, because what we did have had to change temporarily because our circumstances changed, we are still comparing our current life with our old life. Or as is my case, when you are living in The Shack (which should probably read shackles) because you want the health you did have back instead of the one that needs to be sustained by God and maintained by meds, you are comparing your current life with your old life.

As much as it surprises me to say this.....I wouldn't want to go back to the time before I got sick if it meant I had to give up all that God has shown me and grown in me through this process. Yes, I would like my strength back. I would love to not have the thin spots in my hair, and it would be nice to run again. But if it meant sacrificing all the ways I've clung to my Bible, even as an idol because I still learned a thing or two, it simply wouldn't be worth it.

So how about that.....even when we use what God has given us, His Word, in an unholy fashion, He still manages to show us grace in that it still accomplishes the purposes for which He sent it. I suppose if nothing else, that does make Him really, really good, and gives me the strength to say .even if not, I still will. I've got a long road to walk on dealing with the anger that I've been holding on to for so long, but I'm not walking alone and I won't be in the fire alone either.

Picture is linked to Even If by MercyMe

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Weekly Recap February 5 - February 9

Hope you've had a great week! Here's where we've been if you need to catch up.

Monday, February 5

Being carried involves more work on our part than we think. #EaglesWings

Tuesday, February 6

Decision making at its finest: don't be wise in your own eyes.

Wednesday, February 7

Even when our responses are justifiable, they still come with a cost.

Thursday, February 8

In order for a color by number to turn out the way its meant to, 
we have to read and follow the directions.

Friday, February 9

Looking for something to do outside the box for Lent? 
Maybe this is exactly what we need.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Come to Me

A couple of days ago, I watched The Shack with a friend. I'd seen the movie before and loved it and thought she might like it as well. There is a scene that struck a chord with me the first time that was just as difficult the second time.

In the beginning of the movie, the Holy Spirit collects a few of Mack's tears in a bottle telling him that we all collect things we value. For those of you who know I haven't a good cry since February of 2011, you know about how well this went over.

Towards the end of the movie, all the tears that had been collected from Mack over his lifetime were used to water a certain plot of ground. Flowers begin to grow, a beautiful tree sprouts, and God says it does a body good to let the healing waters flow. Yeah.

Because I wanted to show this to my husband, I found the clip on youtube. As youtube often does, it had 'suggestions' down the side for other related videos. #DivineSetup

I saw a video of a sermon preached at East Side Baptist Church in Missouri about The Shack. Of course I watched it. For your viewing pleasure......

If you are willing, fast forward to about minute 24 and watch until just before minute 27. What he says might sound familiar.....I've written about it a few times. Why? Because this is something I still struggle with, and while it might sound arrogant to believe, I know I am not the only one.


The point is this: Jesus says, "Come to Me." 

As we are on the brink of Lent, I am issuing a challenge for those of us who feel led to participate. This will probably be uncomfortable at best, down right difficult at worst. I would highly recommend getting a journal or tiny notebook or something to help because this is not going to be a simple exercise.

Throughout Lent, every time something happens that shakes us.....a news story, a friend's story, a personal struggle, we are not going to quote Scripture to ourselves. We are not going to run to our Bibles or google to find the address of the verse that is coming to mind. We are going to go to Jesus directly. Talk to Him. And let Him talk to us until HE calms us back down, until HE gives us the word HE wants us to know, until HE lifts us out of the slimy pit and puts our feet back on the rock.

I am not saying we aren't going to read our Bibles at all. That would be crazy talk. I am saying we are not going to run to them and keep them elevated to the special place we have given them as the unspoken fourth part of the trinity.

For those of us who might be thinking, I don't do that. Fantastic. If that's not your thing, run to Jesus anyway instead of the fridge, the phone, or facebook. All three of those are subtle substitutes we use when something rocks us and we don't want to deal with it.

I'd like to share with you the prayer I have been continually praying. It doesn't even come from the words of Jesus but it's about the most powerful prayer I have ever prayed. 

I believe, help me overcome my unbelief.
Mark 9:24

I truly fear that we have given ourselves so much head knowledge that we have forgotten to believe what we know to be true. And every single time we run to the answer key, we reinforce this habit. Granted it might be just me. Maybe I am the only woman who does this. Maybe my faith is just that weak. But something tells me I'm not. If I wrote about over a year ago, and this pastor preached it in the middle of the US, I don't think I'm the only one. Maybe it's time to talk about it, own it, and let Jesus change it. But in order to change it, we have to do what He says and take it all to Him. Who knows, mabye in the process we will begin to discover the abundance of God we've been limiting without even realizing it.

This picture is linked to one of my very favorite songs.
Come to Me by Bethel Music

Thursday, February 8, 2018

In the Making

If we went to a museum and were able to secure a headset to do a guided audio tour, we would find that as we followed along, we would be given information about the works we are viewing and the artists who created them.

If we were in a foreign country visiting, we would need to be sure to secure an audio tour speaking our native language to be sure we would understand the informaiton we are being given.

If in either case we either turned the wrong way or were listening to the tour in a language we neither speak nor understand, what we would be listeing to would make no sense. We have to follow the directions and they have to be in a language we understand.

The same is true with our walk with the LORD. The Spirit deposited inside us speaks what it hears from God. (John 16:13) But in order for us to recognize the language, we have to be familiar with the words the Spirit will be saying. If we aren't, we will probably miss the message.

The Holy Spirit was given to us as a gift. A gift that is meant to be appreciated and used. 

In John 14:26, depending upon the translation we are reading, the Holy Spirit is described as the advocate, helper, comforter, or the counselor. The Greek word used is parakletos and means:

in the widest sense, a helper, succorer, aider, assistant; so of the Holy Spirit destined
to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after His ascension to the Father), to lead
them to a deeper knowledge of gospel truth, and to give them the divine strength needed
to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.

Now, if you are stubborn like me and someone offers you help, you might insist you can do it on your own. In the case of refusing the Holy Spirit's help by not acknowledging (a) its availability, (b) its desire to do its job, or (c) the need to read the word to understand it, we are setting ourselves up for a less than stellar performance.

And I can't help but wonder how many times I have been given the exact help, comfort, and wisdom I needed and didn't even realize or recognize it. I wonder if the same has happened to you.

But here's the hope: knowledge is power. If we can learn from this, we can move forward in it. We can make different decisions and actively choose to listen for that still small voice to speak words that sound familiar. 

Ya know, Moses understood this. He said in Exodus he didn't want to lead the people if the presence of God would not go with them. (Exodus 33:15) We have been given the presence of God through His Spirit. He truly is with us at all times. Not sure? Read Psalm 139. But the most beautiful part is that if we follow that Spirit closely, we might just see a masterpiece or two in the making. And anyone who witnesses the process in us will be given a guided tour of God's ability to create beauty.