Why is it So Hard?

March 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

If you have been reading my blog regularly, you know I am memorizing James and I am praying on my knees for at least 15 minutes a week. Are you joining me? Let me know by leaving a comment and telling me about where you are in James or what God has been doing in your prayer time.

Anyway, I have made it to James 3 and here came this verse:

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. James 3:2

First I am struck with we all stumble…Not only do we stumble, but we stumble in many ways. OUCH! That is pretty harsh. I don’t like to admit that I stumble at all and now James is telling me that we all stumble in many ways. Then he mentions our words. Yes our words…If we are never at fault in what we say, we are perfect. Seems simple right?

So why is it so hard? Why can’t we never be at fault in what we say? Why do words matter so much that if we could keep our tongue in check we would be perfect?

Words…I want to use life-giving words. I want to pass on wise words, words of grace, words of truth. But too often my words are harsh, they tear down, they convey irritation.

Words are that important. Jesus confirms this when He says, “For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45b)

We speak what is in our hearts. If our hearts are in check our words will be in check…So our words are a good indicator of the condition of our hearts. Are we speaking in love and with patience or are we irritated and grumpy? God is more interested in our hearts than our actions. We can fake a lot of things, but our words often give away where our hearts are…

Let’s do some heart checks. We need to think about what we have said, ask others if what we say is harsh or said in love. We need to measure our words carefully. They are important.

What do you think? Are words really something that can “never hurt me” unlike sticks and stones? Is it possible that words are important and that they show the condition of our hearts? Do you have a story about that? I can’t wait to hear it!

Here is another post I did on the Word…Click here to read it.


Wrestling with God…

March 9, 2011 § 4 Comments

I couldn’t understand what was happening.
None of it made sense.
It doesn’t happen this way.

Yet there I was, in less than six months my ability to conceive was stripped from me.
My tubes ruptured my womb empty, my heart grieving, my babies lost.

I had so many questions that didn’t have answers, at least not on this side of eternity.
I had to choose. I had to decide if I would cling to God despite the fact that He could have intervened, that He could have made my babies implant in the right place, He could have kept my tubes from rupturing. I had to choose to believe that either God was good and faithful all the time or He was bad and unfaithful.

So I chose. I chose to cling to my omnipotent, amazingly loving God. Oh, but I didn’t only cling. I wrestled. I brought to God my questions, my pain, my barren body. I asked why. I wrestled over how unfair it was that children were given to mothers and fathers who didn’t care or wouldn’t care or would abuse them. I wrestled with Him over whether fertility treatments were right for our family or not. I clung to Him as I begged for a miracle in my body.

In the wrestling, in the clinging I discovered something. When I wrestled with Him, I was close enough to hear Him speak. He spoke words of comfort, He spoke words of direction, He spoke words of healing. That healing often involved painful cleansings and death to myself, my desires, my way. Oh, but God is bigger than my doubts, bigger than my questions, bigger than my inability to conceive naturally. In the wrestling I grew closer to Him. In the wrestling God blessed me. In the wrestling I have been forever changed.

Are you facing a difficult time in your life? Have you decided to cling to God? If not what are you waiting for?

Are you wrestling with God? As you wrestle are you listening to Him? What is He telling you?

Consider reading Daniel 3:16-18 (Shadrach Meshach and Abednego had to choose whether to cling to God or not. Read their choice).

Then read Genesis 32:22-32 (Jacob wrestles with God and clings to Him until God blesses Him, but he walks away changed forever).

How do these passages shape your ideas of clinging to God and wrestling with Him?

I can’t wait to hear what you think.

Amazed by God

February 21, 2011 § 4 Comments

Don’t ask me why, but I am still amazed at God. I guess that is good, but it seems I should expect Him to do something unexpected. Yet I am forever amazed. What has so amazed me this time?

That He would use me.

Don’t get me wrong. I think I am pretty smart, I accepted Christ at a young age, I have gifts…I mean I can cook a great meal (not so great at the clean-up part), I can sing tolerably well, I LOVE to teach others stuff God has taught me, I adore writing. Here is where it gets sticky…I often get in the way

Yes I have gifts, but who gave them to me? GOD! Yes I can use my skills (in the kitchen, choir, microphone, or pen) to bring God glory. Oh, but I try to steal that glory. If I am not careful it becomes all about me, when deep down because God’s Spirit lives in me, I really what it to be for HIM!

Knowing that I try to steal God’s glory, being aware of my sinful, depraved nature, makes me amazed. Amazed that He would use me. Each door He has opened has driven me to my knees, face to the floor, in AWE of HIM! I don’t deserve it, but He does it anyway. Pretty amazing stuff!

So with that in mind, I begin my list of things I am thanking God for…

226. (in)courage featured me as a daily guest!
227. warm showers
228. God is bigger than all the issues I wrestle Him over
229. the blessing I receive when I wrestle with God
230. my life forever changed by the wrestling
231. strength comes as I wait for the Lord…just wish I was better at the waiting
232. the sound of the washer and dryer
233. honest critiques that sharpen me
234. red and white tulips (my hubby brought me flowers again)
235. siblings showing love
236. new jeans
237. birthday gifts that come in the mail after my birthday (extending the celebration)
238. encouragement given from unexpected people
239. support of my sweet man
240. watching my husband play with the kids
241. patches of sunlight through skylights that move as the earth rotates
242. our amazing bodies, how the ward of sickness, fight disease, our Creator is amazing!
243. the quiet right before the sun rises you can almost feel it
244. at dusk when the world seems to glow golden
245. the privilege to speak to 5th and 6th graders about purity (pray for me Wed night)
246. discussing ideas with my sister on the phone
247. the stillness after my blessings go to bed
248. the crazy sounds of morning as we all get ready for the day
249. the sound of my kids singing worship songs
250. the sound of my husband’s laugh

Please share with me the amazing things God is doing for you. What are you thankful for? Often amazing things are things that we are thankful for! I can’t wait to hear what you have to share!

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Growth…The Painful Kind

January 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

Growth is my word for 2011. I felt God had stretched me in 2010 and now He needs to grow me into those stretched out places. Oh, but often growth is painful…

I remember being in the fourth grade and hitting a growth spurt (if you could call it that). I am vertically challenged. In fact my twin sister is nearly six inches taller than I am. Regardless, I still had growth spurts and for me they were quite painful. My knees and ankles in particular ached. It hurt to walk, run, jump, stand, sit, and even lay down. My parents took me to the doctor and I got a fancy name for my pain…Essentially the doctor said I just needed to grow. Once I grew the pain would be gone. My doctor was right, but those years were painful ones as I waited and grew.

Often we must endure pain to grow. A seed doesn’t grow into a plant without bulging and breaking through its skin to develop a root and then a plant. A tree doesn’t bear fruit without loosing its blossoms and allowing a bulging of fruit to burst forth. So it is true of our spiritual growth. We must endure pain to grow…

Let’s consider Job. He loves God. In fact, God and he are so tight that God has angels protecting him and his family. God is so pleased with Job that He points Job out to Satan. He says, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)

Arguably Job has arrived. God considers him blameless and upright. Yet, God still knows Job has growing to do. In fact God knows Job has misconceptions about who He is and He knows that in order to grow Job must endure pain. So God gives Satan permission to take everything Job has his possessions, his children, and his health. God loves Job enough that He doesn’t leave Job to rot, instead He shakes Job to the core so that he can grow.

What a God we have that isn’t afraid to let us go through hard things in this life so we can mature and grow in Him. He brings us to them and through them that we may grow in Him. He promises in Isaiah 41:2 that

“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Thank You God that You are mightier than the difficulties we face. Thank You that You do not leave us to rot or mold, but You desire us to grow to reflect You more and more. Father help us as we face difficulties in our lives. Help us to see You training, growing, and refining us. Give us strength as we endure these difficult times. Give us peace as we trust You through them. Help our unbelief as we wonder what You are up to. Father help us to know You more. In Jesus’ name we pray these things. Amen.

I would love to pray with you through your growing times. Let me know what I can pray for you…Leave a comment so I can pray for you.

Can you pray that I will allow God to use me to minister to others going through infertility? As God deals with me through my struggle, He is asking me to come alongside others too. It opens old wounds, but it is also growing me. I appreciate your prayers.

The Big Picture

September 17, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love to know and understand the big picture. Even my kids crave to know, “why do we have to pick up our toys?!” I try to paint the rosy picture of a house tidy and organized, so when you wanted your teeny-tiny Strawberry Shortcake and her itty-bitty less than a centimeter across plate of cupcakes, you would know where to find it. In my mind that huge picture is a thing of beauty, a goal to aspire, and yet often out of reach with three children. Not to mention that my twin sister stole my organizing gene. I seriously was born without one, but she has enough organizing mojo for three people. Big pictures give us a great goals to achieve. Most often the big picture, like an organized house, takes lots of smaller goals to accomplish. It is many times overwhelming and confusing to determine what the first step is. For me, the organizationally challenged mom, figuring out what the first step to making my dream a reality is a mystery. I cannot even fathom all the steps it would take to get me there.

Often that is how it is with God-size goals and dreams. Maybe you know He is calling you to write a book and speak to teach others His word. You can even see yourself signing books at a huge conference and later on stage speaking to hundreds of people. Your heart swells because you want this ministry to honor God. However you are not a well-known anybody. You are not even sure if your friends want to hear what God is teaching you much less a group of five or ten. Your dream maybe more humble, more like a tidy house, or a fulfilling preschool ministry where you direct kids to the heart of God. Maybe God is calling you to a prayer ministry that will lay the foundation for a nation-wide revival. If you are like me, you are wondering how do I get from where I am to the dream or goal or ministry I know God has for me to accomplish? What is next?

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Meaning that God may light the next step, He may even light a small passage or path to your destination. However He doesn’t show us every bend in the road. Every twist, every intersection He is orchestrating to get us to our big picture. Instead, He gives us a small short-term guide. We know that somehow the road, He is guiding us down, leads us to the main goal, the big picture. He lights our feet and our path, but not the complete road to our big picture.

My problem is that God often has to wrestle with me to join Him on His road. The one road that will lead to the big picture, the goal, in His way. I sometimes think I can get there by my planning, my own decisions, my power. Oh, but let us not forget the road is often filled with twists and turns we cannot anticipate. Your husband gets relocated out-of-state or country, you get an unexpected diagnosis, your wife is pregnant and the doctors said it would never happen. Perhaps your parents are divorcing or you got laid-off. God’s symphony of life allows many twists and turns, many hardships and painful things, as well as unexpected joys, to come so that you will be ready when it is time for you to reach your big picture.

Father God give us all a picture for our lives. Let us all have dreams and goals that we can only attain through You and Your power. As we work to attain those big goals that are beyond our abilities, may we take the next step you are placing before us. Forgive us for trying to do it our own way LORD. We know You have perfect plans. Help us to rest in them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

So what big goal, dream or picture are you waiting to see God fulfill in your life? Share your thoughts and I will pray that the next step will be clear for you.

Christ’s Strength

September 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

“I can do all things through Him [Christ] who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 This verse has become cliché in Christian circles. We spout it when someone complains, “it is hard,” or “I can’t do it.” We glibly rattle it off to our friend who is struggling with pain and loss. We think it is GREAT verse for them. Oh, but we do not even read it in context.

Perhaps it is ironic that as I write this I am sipping a coke and eating a Spicy Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries from Chick-fil-a. Do I really get this verse? I live in the land of plenty. I have never known true want. I have never wondered IF I will have another meal, I have only wondered IF it would come soon enough. I have worn hand-me-downs, but I have never wondered if I could squeeze myself into a thread-bare dress that is two sizes too small because we have no money for a new one. So what does this have to do with Philippians 4:13? Well, if you check out Philippians 4:10-13, you will understand.

Paul is talking about how he has, “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…” He describes contentment while well-fed and contentment while hungry. Then he says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you see it? He can do all things because he is content in Christ. When he is content in His savior, Paul has contentment with an empty stomach or a full stomach. Let us be real here. I rarely have an empty stomach, but am I content? If I am not content with the blessings God has given me today, how can I be content when one or more are taken from me? If I haven’t learned contentment with the house, car, kids, husband, friends, job, gifts He has given me, how can I do all things through His strength?

Do not get me wrong, God’s strength is available to those who have accepted Jesus as their personal savior. However we often disconnect ourselves from our power source by not finding contentment in the place He has us. God has given us the houses, cars, friends, family we have for His purpose. We need to learn to find contentment, not in the people, money, things that He has given, but in Him alone. When our contentment is in Christ, we find strength to make it through every trial. We find joy to cling to during great times and terrible times. We have hope that this world is not all there is for us. True contentment is found in Christ. Through contentment we can do “all things through Christ who strengthens [us].”

What are you not content about in your life? Lets pray that we find contentment in Christ our Savior regardless of the things that seem to be falling apart around us. Then let us stay connected to the source of our strength Christ to see us through the good times and the bad.

Share with me you thoughts!

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Faith and Fear

August 9, 2010 § 3 Comments

Someone much smarter than me, but I can’t figure out who that someone is, said or wrote, “Steps of faith often begin with seeds of fear.” Fear and faith. Together. Fear. Fear of God, fear of failure, fear of appearing crazy, fear of being a hypocrite. God often calls me to do something that is beyond me. Something that I cannot do in my own power. I do not know how to step out without a sense of fear. Do not get me wrong, I am stepping out believing God has called me to step out. I am treading new waters because God is pointing me in that direction.  I have faith that God will sustain me, that God will guide me, that God will empower me. Oh but fear is also my companion. Fear that drives me to my knees, and closer to my Lord. Fear that does not paralyze me, but that draws me outside myself. Fear that clearly delineates whether I will say, “no” to my plans and dreams, or “no” to God.

Other brilliant people say that faith removes fear. I admit that Jesus did rebuke the disciples, when they were afraid their ship would sink due to a storm. Jesus told them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26) Some translations say, “why are you so cowardly?” When I am considering stepping out in faith, am I cowardly? No, I am stepping out. Am I sometimes fearful, you bet. So what is the difference?

Fear drives me closer to God, it reminds me that my step of faith isn’t about me, but about God. This type of fear is courageous. It moves ahead regardless of what circumstances are saying and it trusts God with the outcome. Cowardly fear may cry out to God, but misses the point of the storm or the step of faith. It looks at circumstances, not our Heavenly Father. It makes excuses, and refuses to move forward. It paralyzes rather than energizes.

So I am stepping out in faith. I am trusting God with the results. Am I fearful? A little. Am I clinging to God and counting on Him not myself? Yes. Oh that I would allow a bit of courageous fear to draw me to Him and into His service. Is there any room for cowardly fear? No way! When it tries to sneak up on me, I pray. O Jesus, increase my faith! I pray that I will not fear because I know God is with me. I pray that I can push past the fear and serve God.

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