The Trees and Me and Something Free for You

April 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

Sycamore trees fascinate me. We have several small ones in our front yard. Until about a week ago they held tight to their brown dead leaves – leaves that were once bright and green. Early last fall they turned a beautiful orange color and then they turned brown and drab. Those stubborn trees held tight to their dead leaves through fall, all of winter, and into spring. Finally last week during some unusually high winds, these trees finally let go of their dead leaves. It was at that point – when they had given up what they were comfortable with – that their spring buds for new leaves could form.


Those trees and I have a lot in common. I get used to the way I do things or how I do things. I get used to sin in my life and I cling to it. Even though it is brown and dead and nasty. I like it. Maybe it started as something I was doing for God, but it turned into something about me. Oh, but I cling to it. I cling to it because I remember what it once was. It was once beautiful and it even turned a glorious orange color for a short time. But God has other plans. In order for me to grow and change and stay healthy I have to be willing to let go. I like my trees have to give up what I am comfortable with so that God can grow me and change me.

Is that true in your life? Do you hang onto things God is calling you to let go so that He can do a work in your life? Would you share with me?

Here is what I am letting go of for God to do a work in me…It is also what begins my list of things I am thankful for:

381. God is tearing apart my little dreams that aren’t His and replacing them with buds of new dreams that are God-sized dreams.
383. My kids running and hollering together.
384. God is changing my heart
385. My supportive husband
386. God’s word (my breath of life)
387. Encouraging friends
388. God is making my heart teachable
389. Rejection that reminds me God has other plans
390. Nerf dart tag
391. Sound of laughter
392. Speaking truth into the lives of kids (mine and others)
393. Health
394. Water
395. My husband’s heart
396. Sweet friends who testify to my husband’s heart
397. Encouragement from others walking similar roads
398. That God would use even me
399. Forgiveness from my kids
400. Three blessings with their arms wrapped around their daddy.
401. I have an exciting free resource for you…Go to Resource page from the list on the left hand column. I pray it blesses you.

What are you thankful for? Leave a comment! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Grace-full Accountability…

February 11, 2011 § 2 Comments

We open our hearts to one another. Share the hard things. The stuff that we struggle with. The things that leave our souls raw. The things we know are not quite right, but are not sure how to change. Some of the raw places are of our own making and others are wounds caused by the clash of our soul against another. She wonders how? How can I change this? How can this stop being a repeated dissonant chord in her relationship?

Her story reminds me of a similar chord I have longed to stop hearing in my relationships. So I tell her my story of how the dissonant chord was partly of my own making. How changing my reaction to the note he played made the chord harmonious instead. I had a choice to trust God and play the note He called me to play or the note my heart longed to play. My story told of the wrestling in my spirit and working it out the raw painful choosing of His note over mine. Yet choosing His note, changed the melody completely. As I obediently and unwillingly played the note my Father called me to play, his notes began to change too. Suddenly the chaos than ugly tune we were playing through our own raw reactions was transformed by God. As if joined by the Holy trinity itself, the tune began to work, healing and redemption followed. It was how God showed me to stop repeating that dissonant chord.

My story finished, just a story of how God changed me – a hopeless, helpless, rebellious, and sin-diseased woman – and help me make beautiful music in my relationships. She listened to my story, but not sure if my story could work in her story. Uneasy and unready to accept that maybe God was ready to change her that way too. She said thank you and waited. Waited to meditate, pray over, and decide. Is this what God is calling me to do?

Later she called and thanked me. Not because I am some amazing example to follow, but because my story shed light on a way to make the chords in her relationships more harmonious. She was able to see a new way, a new choice that she was unable to see before.

Grace-full accountability. Filled with knowing we all need God’s grace and it is only by His grace any of us are able to choose to play His notes and not our own.

What are your thoughts about this kind of accountability? I would love to hear from you. Grace and Blessings to you all!

Submission: It’s Not for Sissies

October 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

“Submit woman,” booms a joking, but attempting an authoritative voice. Then laughter quickly follows. We all snicker at the idea of submission, especially in our culture of individual rights. Who would ever lay down their own rights and their own desires for someone else?

The problem is that we have submission and oppression confused. Oppression is “prolonged, cruel or unjust treatment or control.” We see it in domestic violence cases or in countries ruled by ruthless dictators. Submission however is “the action of yielding to the will or authority of another person.” In other words the one who submits must choose to submit and cannot be forced to submit. Just as you can force a child to sit down, you cannot force a child to willingly submit to y

Icon of Jesus Christ

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our authority. They are sitting on the outside, but on the inside they are still standing.

So it is with us whether we “submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21), “submit to the LORD” (2 Chronicles

30:8), or “submit to the authorities” (Romans 13:5). We are not made to submit, but we are to choose to submit. The very idea rubs us wrong. We have rights and we do not want to lay down our rights for anything. There is the rub. As Christ followers, we are  to trust God and submit.

When we submit to authorities in our lives, we are not necessarily trusting in that authority to do right by us. Instead when we submit, we are trusting God. Here is where I typically knit my brow, put my hand on my hip, and say while I shake my finger, “It feels like I am trusting the one I am submitting to, not God. How is that possible?”

Romans 31:1 says, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Does this mean I submit to disobeying God’s law because an authority tells me to? No. Check out Daniel chapter one and see how four young men kept themselves pure before God, while submitting to Babylonian authority. What it does mean, is that we need to be like Christ Jesus, willing to lay down our rights for others.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”               Philipians 2:3-8

This kind of submission looks more like victory, this kind of submission takes guts.

Father God, thank You for loving me. Please give me the strength to lay down my rights, my way, and submit it You and thus submit to authorities in my life. Forgive me for my lack of submission. Thank You for Jesus, my example. In His Name I pray, Amen.

So are you a sissy?

Eye Twitching

September 22, 2010 § 5 Comments

Lately my left eye has been twitching. I trace the twitching back to the inordinate amount of screaming that has been occurring around my house lately. I am not sure why the trend has swung in this direction, but it is true. I have heard just general weeping and gnashing of teeth, to the more direct, “No Mommy,” and my personal favorite (not), “Stupid Mommy.” Twitch, twitch.

It seems as it is time to leave a public place, my house, a friend’s house that all three of my wonderful blessings must scream. As we have left some public places lately, I have gotten several stares. Twitch, twitch, twitch.

I took my youngest for a run yesterday, he in my jogging stroller, and me sweating behind him. He insisted that he needed to run too. So at the end of my run I oblige. I get him out of the stroller and let him run while I stay a few steps behind. Only I was “too close” to him at first, then he wanted to push the stroller that is bigger than him. When I tried to “help” him steer to keep him out of the street, he screamed. Finally he gutturally screamed, “Uppy MOMMY!” When I calmly explained that I couldn’t hold him and push the stroller, he flipped out. TWITCH, TWITCH, TWITCH, TWITCH.

Another eye-twitching moment

This is the same child who told me I looked beautiful in my t-shirt and running pants that morning.

Oh, but then in the middle of those eye twitching moments God’s word breaks through. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble myself. God isn’t going to force it on me. He isn’t standing over me requiring humility or desiring to humiliate me. No His hand is there, over my eye twitching situations waiting for me to humble myself to His will and plan. However He doesn’t just want me to humble myself in His sovereign plan for nothing. He has more for me. He wants to lift me up in due time. In His perfect timing He will lift me up. I do not have to “fight for my rights.” God in His perfect plan at His perfect time will lift me up! Praise Him. Then I have the honor and privilege of giving Him all my anxiety. Why, because the God of all the universe cares about me. A person made of dust, whose life is just a breath out of His, and yet He cares for me.

As I meditate on these verses my eye twitching slows. My anxiety flees to the heavens. I am humbly protected by God’s hand and I know He will raise me up at the right time.

Father God, I fling, I throw, I cast my anxieties on You because you care for me! I thank You for loving me through the eye twitching moments of life. I pray that in the midst of those moments I can humble myself under Your hand, trusting You to handle the situation correctly through me. Thank You that at the right time You will raise me up. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

How about you? Any eye twitching moments that you are ready to cast upon God? Tell me about them.

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.

Ratatouille

September 8, 2010 § 2 Comments

Call me crazy, but I love food and I love to try different things. My kids have watched the movie Ratatouille more times than I can count and I decided I wanted to try to make it. Mind you, I didn’t want to make the difficult gourmet version as Remi did on the movie. No I found a simple recipe for ratatouille in the crock-pot. Yes, I said crock-pot. Did you hear that? It was all the true foodies around the world are groaning that I would put fresh vegetables and spices in a pot that is bound to cook them until mushy. Was it mushy? Yes. Was it delicious? The answer is yes. Did my kids hate it? Well, I got mixed reviews, but the kindest response I received came from my seven year-old. “This isn’t my favorite, mom, but I am going to eat it anyway.” That is code for, “I don’t really like it, but I will swallow enough so that I can have dessert.” The dessert was a baked strawberry pie for those who wanted to know. It was a pretty good motivator for her, but my other two sweet children, well that is another story completely. Without including all the details (I would hate to incriminate anyone), I can find something better than ratatouilledaddy had to dole out some tough love. In the midst of the post tough love debriefing daddy said, “Who made this food? Right mom. Would mom or I make you eat food that wasn’t good for you?” The answer was given, “no.” The food was begrudgingly swallowed with the appropriate about of water to wash it down, and our meal continued.

However the question was still ringing in my ears. As if God Himself was looking at me saying, “Angela, who brought you to this point in your life? Who gave you air to breathe; who makes your heart beat; who has provided food, shelter, clothes for you?”

Gulping I look up into His eyes. His eyes are tender, loving, but also full of sadness. “You,” quivers my tiny voice.

“Will I allow you to go somewhere I do not go with you? Do I not deliver you from trials, do I not hem you in? Then why do you struggle against what I am bringing into your life? Why do you seek your way, when My way is better?”

Yes, why must I have it my way? Maybe it is possible that I am high-strung a bit…Ok, I was on the debate team in High School. I like being right, to have it all together, to orchestrate my day, week, month, year, life. Admittedly I can be self-centered and God doesn’t really go for that. In fact the last time I checked the universe doesn’t exactly revolve around me. Nope, it is God who has it all spinning in the right direction. If I were to drop dead tomorrow, the sun would still shine. All my scheming and planning are exercises in futility. So why am I compelled to continue? I am a sinful selfish creature and I often do not trust God. Oh, I say I trust Him. I sing songs about His faithfulness, but then I get angry and bitter and frustrated when He makes ratatouille instead of pizza. Am I the only one?

Here is the amazing thing: God loves me anyway. God tells me in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” So God is there before I am. He is ahead of me, He knows what will happen and He is there. He isn’t only two steps or more in front of me, He is also with me. Always. He won’t desert me or forget me or leave me hanging in the wind. No, He is there. So I don’t have to be afraid or discouraged. I also don’t have to try to keep all the plates spinning in my perfectly choreographed life. God already knows where I am going, He is there. He is also with me now and He will never leave, even if I don’t want ratatouille.

My WAY!

June 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love to get my way. I always have. Once when I was in elementary school, I brought home a paper with a word misspelled on it. My mom tried to help me learn and pointed out my mistake.  However, I insisted that I spelled it right, that I copied it straight from the board and my teacher certainly spelled it right. So my mom tried again to teach me with a different tactic. She grabbed the dictionary to show me that I was mistaken. Oh, but my stubborn unteachable heart wouldn’t listen and even with the truth of my error in black and white in front of me, I stated, “Well, the dictionary MUST be wrong.”

Have you ever wanted something your way so badly that you have ignored all the signals that it wasn’t right? I really WANT to date this guy.  It isn’t that big of a deal that he doesn’t know Jesus.  I’ll take him to church and lead him to Christ. I really WANT to take this job because it means more money and prestige.  It isn’t that big of a deal if I won’t see my family much. They will appreciate my hard work and sacrifice.  I really WANT my children to like me. It isn’t that big of a deal if I don’t say no to them.  They will enjoy the freedom I am giving them.

Jeroboam did the same thing.  He was the first king of the divided Israel.  God told Jeroboam that he would rule over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel.  God told him that if he would walk in God’s ways like David that God would be with him and build a dynasty for him as enduring as the one God built for David.  1Kings 11:38  So when Jeroboam does become king of Israel and its ten tribes, Jeroboam remembers God’s plans right?  He obeys God and stays strong.  I mean God told him the kingdom would be his.  Jeroboam clearly didn’t obtain the kingdom himself.  It was clearly and act of God.  So Jeroboam relied on God to maintain that kingdom.  Right?  Unfortunately no.  (1Kings 12:25-31) Jeroboam like me, wanted to keep the kingdom his way.  So when he came to power instead of following God’s commands and heading to Jerusalem to worship God, he made idols.  Not just any idols, he made golden calves.  Remind you of something earlier in Israelite history?  When Moses went to the mountain top to talk to God and Israel grew impatient so Aaron formed golden calves for the people to worship.  Not only did Jeroboam make golden calves for the ten tribes of Israel to worship, but he told them these were the “gods” who brought them out of Egypt.  His words must have struck a chord some how in someone.  These are the exact words of Aaron (Ex 32:4) when he made the golden calf.  Don’t you think the people were ignoring the red flag of RUN from this idolatry that was clearly waving in their face?

So how many red flags have you had waving in your face?  How many blessings have you lost for your disobedience?  Just like Jeroboam lost the chance for a dynasty that would honor God, we often miss out on God’s blessings because we insist to do it our way.  If this is true of you today will you pray with me:

Father God, I am tired of doing it MY WAY.  I am grieved that I have offended You.  I have been wrong and I have blatantly ignored Your warning flags.  I have sought to secure Your blessings my way.  Forgive me Father.  Forgive me and help empower me with Your Spirit to say no to myself and yes to you.  Thank You that I do not have to live in the bonds of sin, but that I am free and victorious through Your Son Jesus.  In His powerful holy and awesome name I pray.  The name of Jesus.  Amen.

So my brothers and sisters, I challenge you to say with me no to self and yes to God.  So long MY WAY!  Hello GOD’S WAY!

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