Thursday, March 31, 2016



What hinders love?

Is it not truly knowing what love is?

When Christ rose from the grave, the victory was complete, His love had won.  Christ, He is Love, and He won - for all eternity.

What did He win?  What was His prize?  It was us - you and me.

Now the choice is ours.  We get to choose that love.  But why do we shy away?  Why don't we trust?  Why don't we believe?  I suppose the answer is simple - we live in a fallen world where the examples we see of love are incomplete, tainted by lack.  The examples we see typically fall short.

Maybe it's in the wanting.  Are we truly wanted? 
Christ died out of love, but does He truly want me? In our hearts we think, if He really knows who I am, how can He want me?

In our heart, do we really believe that He wants us, that He LOVES us? 
Or do we believe that He is going to allow us to slip into heaven on a technicality?  Others will get to be close - they get to sit in His lap with His arms wrapped about them.  They get the house being prepare, the full package.  Others have truly hit the mark, but we get to slip in.

Many times what we feel and truth are two very different things.

There are lines from a couple of songs that really stick with me, they speak to my heart and I hear them being whispered to me.
‘Cause I loved you before you knew what was love
I saw it all, and still I chose the cross
You were the one that I was thinking of
When I rose from the grave
-"Out of Hiding" by Stephanie Gretzinger and Amanda Cook
Then there is Misty Edwards', "I Knew What I was Getting Into"

I knew what I
was getting into when I called you.
I knew what I was getting into when I said your name, but I said it just the same. I knew what I was getting into and I still want you.

Being wanted. Being chosen. Singers sing about it. Writers write about it. But is it true? And more so, do we believe it?

Maybe that is the thing that hinders love in our lives, truly believing that we are not only loved, but wanted.

So I turn from song lyrics to God's Word.

2 Thessalonians 2:13 tells us that: "As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth."

1 Peter 2:9 tells us:  "But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light."

These are verses that talk about us - those that have chosen salvation.  It says that we are chosen.
The word chosen means -  to prefer or decide something (someone), to desire.

These verses tell us that we are wanted, desired, preferred.
There are so many times when we feel unworthy.  There are so many times when regret whispers in our ear.  So many times when we don't think we can hit the mark or even make it onto the board.  That is when we remember the Truth that is Love.  Remember that we have been chosen.  Remember that His desire is for us.

God's desire is for me.  I am wanted.

It's in the listening.  Listen to Love.  Listen to Truth.  Listen to the One who has saved your soul, the one who knows it all and has chosen you.  He wants me. He wants you.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Freely Given Life

On this Good Friday, I am posting a slightly edited version of a previous post.  It's still as poignant to me as ever, so I'm sharing again...

As we approach Resurrection Sunday, I have been pondering the work that Christ did in coming to the earth, dying for each of us, and rising from the dead.

In all of it, so many wanted Christ to take a place of position.  People wanted Him to take a crown as a sitting king.  But Christ chose a path meant to restore relationship, not to assume a position in man’s eyes.
Christ was fully human and fully God all at once.

 My mind can’t even comprehend that – but in that, how many times must He have been tempted to take the position that so many wanted him to take. In being fully God He had the ability,  He had the power.  People wanted Him to take the kingship of Israel, to show the world who He really was.   As humans, don’t we want to be proven right?  Don’t we want to be approved and placed in positions of authority?  Don’t we want others to view us as right and good and successful?

Yet Christ knew the route He was taking would cause others to view Him as a failure.  In man’s eyes, not only would He not be put in an earthly place of authority, but He would be treated as the lowest of the low and looked upon with scorn and disappointment.

Christ had a goal that man didn’t see.  He had a goal of restored relationship.  In reality, that’s what salvation is – it restores us to a place of right-standing with God.  The choice Christ made restored us to a place where we can have a personal relationship with God.  THE GOD, THE ONE AND ONLY.  Christ didn’t come to show us in human terms how powerful He is, He came to bring us back to a place of relationship.  This was a feat only He had the power and position to accomplish.

His view was on a higher plane.  He knew there was a spiritual component that we didn’t realize.  He knew that in taking what looked to be the dishonorable route, He was really positioning himself to win the ultimate prize.

Not only did He win the victory over death, but he made a way for He and I – you and God– to have an intimate relationship.

Max Lucado Quote (2).jpg 

All of this made me think about my choices.  Am I choosing Him?  Am I making choices that place relationships ahead of position?  Am I making choices that view relationship as the utmost of importance?  Christ did.  Restoring us to right relationship was his ultimate goal, and He sacrificed all to win that.

Relationship is that important to Him.  If I am His– if you are His – are we putting relationship in its rightful place?  Relationship with Him?  Relationship with each other?

Those are my thoughts this Easter season.  It’s introspective and there is no set answer.  Each of us has to do our own evaluation.  I can’t evaluate you and you can’t evaluate me.  I can’t evaluate my spouse, and he can’t evaluate me.  It’s about our heart’s focus.

As we celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, lets intentionally put that relationship first.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Strong Love

We live in a world where we are bombarded by messages of what life should be like, messages of what love should be like.  My husband and I have this running joke when commercials come on, which of us can be the first to recognize perfume ads.  They are AWFUL!  As if you will look like the models and have huge muscular guys surround you if you wear their fragrance.  And they are so ethereal!

This love the world portrays is weak.  It is a love based on temporal things, based on carnal sensibilities.  It's reflected as blingy glitz and glitter.  A Surface love without depth. We often think this is the kind of love we need to pursue.  Yet we often buy into what they are portraying, then feel the sting when disappointment hits.  When we are unfulfilled by the weak love. 

That love isn't Truth.

Red_telephone_box,_St_Paul's_Cathedral,_London,_England,_GB,_IMG_5182_edit.jpgLast night I was in a worship service and the presence of God was so sweet.  Sometimes it is difficult for me to worship because of distractions.  I am on staff at my church, so I notice things that need to be done, or things that aren't happening that I know should.  I'm around 'worship' a lot, allowing myself to be fully immersed and worshipping does not happen as often as it should.  Thankfully I remember song lyrics pretty well so I can close my eyes and still sing along.  Sometimes I have to do this little trick that that came to me many years ago - If I'm feeling distracted, I imagine that I'm in a phone booth.  The kind of booth you'd find in London, the red box where you shut the door.  I know it sounds silly, but it works for me.  My mind stops thinking about who is sitting around me, what may be going on, and focuses on worshipping the One who created me.  There is no top on my phone booth - communication can go two ways unhindered.
Back to last night's service, I had gone into my phone booth.  I was totally immersed in the presence of the Lord.   While worshipping, I had this image of the Lord holding me in His arms. He just came up behind me and wrapped these huge, loving arms around me. As I began dwelling on how strong His love is, I could feel His strength and the reassurance that brings.

Don't we all need that?  I know that I do.  To be reminded of that strong love, real love, God has given to us through Christ.  The strong love that Christ has for us.

Love like a hurricane.jpg

I hear the John Mark McMillan song in my head, "How He Loves Us" -

"He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.  When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me..... Oh, how He loves us so, Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us so..."
I know others have changed the lyrics to make them more palatable for the masses, but I like the rawness of John Mark's original lyrics to verse 2:
"We are His portion and He is our prize.  Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, if grace is an ocean we're all sinking.  So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside my chest, and I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way... He loves me..."
Christ loves me, He loves you, not with some weak far off kind of a love, but a strong, personal, intimate love.  A love that took Him to the point of death for me.  A love that, as it says in Song of Solomon, its jealousy unyielding as the grave, like a mighty flame.
How many people have been sold the weak love of the world?  How many people are settling for that weak love instead of the strong love available to us? 

Don't many people buy into the weak version of love because they don't realize the strong love can be a reality?  How many of us live out of that strong love we've been given?  Our relationships here on earth, our spouses, friendships, family relationships can and should reflect that strong love.  They don't have to be based in the weak, temporal love society tells us is so blingy.

That is my challenge to myself in this season.  To be immersed in that strong love to the point that I live like it.  I'm not completely sure what that looks like, but that's where the adventure comes in.  This is the love that lasts, the love that satisfies, the love that cannot be quenched.
Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. -1 Corinthians 13:7

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Getting Past the Arrows

Some weeks we are so busy living life that we don't stop to think about the big picture. We think about the fact that we are totally out of bread, and milk, and lunch meat and can not go home today without going to the store on the way.  We give attention to the many tasks at our job that, if given precedence, would keep us there until the evening hours.  However, leaving our child at school until then is totally unacceptable.  Oh the many plates that we spin in life!  Then there are the pressing details, like what am I going to get to fill the eggs needed for my daughter's Easter party?!?

No, that shouldn't be a pressing detail, but don't we feel like that sometimes? 

We allow the small things to become big and add pressure to our own inside pressure cooker.

Some weeks we are so consumed with the things required of us that we don't stop to think about who we are or the larger story we are a part of.  We have jobs that want our best.  We have family that need us present.  We have friends who like to spend time with us.  All things that we want, love, like, and desire.  All things that require of us - time, energy, emotion, thought.

Never be afraid to trust.jpg
Then, there are those days or weeks when the fatigue of busyness sets in and we think about the big picture.  We begin to evaluate the reality of how we are doing in the areas of our lives.  And many times the arrows from the world, those words that have been spoken against us, those things that have made us feel less than adequate in the past, can begin to bombard us.  Sometimes they have been intentional and sometimes not.

My heart is to live the life I was born to live.  To use my gifts and talents to the best of my ability.  To be the best wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister that I can.  I often fall short of that goal.  Sometimes due to my own shortcomings.  Sometimes because I dwell too much on my surroundings and how others are doing an their accomplishments in those areas.

So many others are such wonderful wives, mothers, friends...... They do such a great job.  I mean, where do they find the time?  How do they know how to parent so well?

Then I realize what I need to do to bring things back into perspective.  I need to remember that I was called to live a life different than anyone else.  The make-up of who I am is different than you, just as yours is different from anyone else.

I also need to take a breath and spend a few minutes with the one who created and put all of those details together.  It is amazing how turning my focus to Christ can change my perspective, how asking Holy Spirit into my current situation brings peace.  It's in this that those things that I've hidden away come flooding back.

Things like:
Hope Anchors.jpgFor I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord.  "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11

Praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power. -Ephesians 1:17-19

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  -Proverbs 3:5-6

It's passages like these that remind me that the influences of this world don't have to guide my life.  I make choices, but I also have someone to lean on.  If I need wisdom, I can ask for it, and get it. (James 1:5)

This world will try to batter our dreams and goals.  The influences of this culture will tell us that we aren't good enough or smart enough or have the right look to accomplish them.  That we don't have the right words or the right presentation.

But we have all that we need. (Hebrews 13:20-21)  We also know where to get all that we need.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
I many times think back on a phrase my pastor would tell us.  "Any area of your life that does not glisten with hope is a lie." (Bishop Paul Zink)  When I am feeling overwhelmed.  When the cares of all that I need to do are weighing me down.  It is at those times I need to look back to my source, where my hope comes from.  Spend some time with God.  Read His Word, worship, pray, be quiet.  In the quiet, all of the arrows of the world are deflected.  They are silenced and true forward motion can begin again.

Monday, March 14, 2016


Haley Scooter 5.JPGMy daughter LOVES to play outside.  This said, she is anxious for Spring and Summer to arrive.  She is ready for the water temps to warm so that she can go back in for a swim.  She has asked me many times lately when Spring would be here.  In my busyness I told her 'soon.'  I also told her that Spring really isn't really a date on the calendar, but a matter of the weather changing.  That wasn't enough though, in her 5-year old mind she needed a date.  Finally, yesterday, I looked it up and told her that on March 20th of this year it would finally be Spring.

Thus, the countdown has begun!  The first thing she informed me of in the car this morning was that there are only 13 days until Spring!!  This declaration was followed by the question, "can we go swimming then?"
If only our seasons in life were so clearly defined as the date on the calendar.  I've loved looking back at the Facebook memories the past month and being reminded of the excitement of finding out we were expecting a child, and the excitement of our family and friends.  When I think back over that time I am also reminded of the mixture of seasons over that year.

You see, this was an amazing time as we were expecting our baby girl, but in the midst of it was a time of deep sorrow.  My mom had been battling cancer for almost a year.  In June, we found out that it had metastasized and there was a tumor in her brain that burst.  So when I was 5 months pregnant with the child that she had been believing with me for, my mom passed away. In a matter of a couple of short days, she was gone from this earth.  My mom, who was supposed to be here to meet my little girl and to tell me all the things I needed to ask her as a new mom myself.  My mom, who was a rock of faith and understanding.  My mom, who loved myself and my family as no one else could.  The Grandmama that I wanted my daughter to know, to experience.

Prego Pic at Mom's Funeral June 2010.jpg
At Mom's Memorial Service
June is also my birthday month.  I don't really remember what I did that year.  I turned 40, but other than that I don't recall the birthday.  So many life events happened in the span of what many would consider one season of life.

We are told in Ecclesiastes 3 that:
For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance....
But this season I was in had so many of these things overlapping.  Grief, joy, death, birth, laughing, crying, grieving....  How does one process it all?  I found my answer to be wrapped in faith.  "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13)

Sometimes I think that I am still processing all that has happened over that year.  There are still seasons that I find myself missing my mom, sometimes to the point of tears.  Sometimes those seasons are mixed with a pride and joy I find as my daughter grows.  I think of the smile and laughter she would have brought to Mom's face.  Then I think about the fact that she is probably looking down from heaven seeing it all anyway, and laughing until she cries.  Because that's what we do in our family when we really laugh.

Sometimes I think about the seasons in my life and how I would have ordered them differently.  I would have moved some earlier in life and some later.  Trusting that there is someone who has the full picture, that my finite understanding would not necessarily bring about the best results, isn't always easy.

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" (Psalm 27:14)
He will turn our mourning into joyful dancing and take away our mourning, clothing us with joy. (Psalm 30:11)  He will do it.  He will cause the seasons to change because even if we are unfaithful, He remains faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13)
So when the season is hard and I feel like Winter will never end, I look for the laughter even in the cold.  I look for the beauty even in the sparseness.  I have to let the seasons change in my life, because Spring is coming.  The warm sun will wash over me and I will be able to feel the sand between my toes.  The laughter will come, sometimes to the point of tears.  And until that happens, we have to rest in His love. We have to wait on the Lord
I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!  Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.
(Psalm 89:1)
Rest in the knowing that there is One who is faithful in this life, even when the season seems tough and raw.  Rest in knowing that He will keep the song alive in your heart, and He will even sing a new song over you.  When we allow the seasons to change, we see the goodness of the Lord in our lives.  When we get stuck, when we don't let go of the season we are in, we can't embrace the new life, the new growth, the new season that is there for us.
Haley Summer Days.jpgFor the Lord your God is living among you.  He is a mighty savior.  He will take delight in you with gladness.  With His love, He will calm all your fears.  He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)
So get out your picnic blanket.  Get your shorts and flips out.  Get ready for that new season with expectation.  We can rest in the fact that we have a good, good Father who loves us with an everlasting love.  Just as my girl is planning for every day to be filled with shorts, tank tops, and swim days - we can look forward to what is ahead with anticipation as simply as a child.  Rest in the season you are in, but know that a new one is coming.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Remembering the Amazing

I went online to check my Facebook page a little over a week ago, and one of my notifications was that I had some 'memories' with some friends.  So, naturally I clicked the link to see what those were. 
Apparently, 6 years ago on that day we shared with our friends at work that my husband and I were expecting a baby.  It was such a fun day!  My friends made me go office by office sharing the news, and everyone we shared it with had to come with us to the next stop.
You may think it a bit crazy that this made such a disruption in the work day, but you see,
this baby is our miracle. 
A few months before, and a few years before, this wasn't such a happy subject for me.  It was one where I had hope, but it was still the substance of a promise hoped for without any evidence to yet hold onto.  My husband and I hadn't been able to conceive a child.  We tried everything, even fertility doctors. 
In November / December of 2009 we had gone through the IVF process, and a couple of weeks into December I received a call that the process hadn't been a success.  I was not pregnant.  Needless to say, I was heartbroken.  I remember vividly having to go the very next day on a day long trip to IKEA with a team from work because we were redesigning the foyer at our church and were going down to purchase the items.  It was so difficult to simply act normal and not cry the entire day. 
I had many discussions with God over the next few weeks.  He had given me a promise.  I had a desire in my heart that I truly believe was from Him. There were specific words I held onto with that:
Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart's desires.  - Psalm 37:4
The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. - Proverbs 10:22
December went by and the New Year came.  Toward the end of January there were signs that maybe I should take a pregnancy test.  I approached that with very mixed emotions.  I can't tell you the number of negative tests I had dealt with at that point.  When I took the test my husband was just in the other room and asked me how long it would take to know.  In amazement, I said I guess right away!  It was positive!!! 

We were cautiously overjoyed!  We wanted to tell the world, but wanted to make sure we were right before we did.  So finally toward the end of February 2010, 6 years ago, things were confirmed.  I was indeed pregnant.  It was no less than a miracle of God.  It was an amazing pregnancy and God's faithfulness was evident throughout all of it.  Even our daughter's birth was amazing!

I will sing of the Lord's unfailing love forever!  Young and old will hear of YOUR faithfulness.
-Psalm 89:1
The Lord is so faithful.  He is so good.  Don't ever doubt it, He is a good, good Father.  In Matthew 7:11 it says, "So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."
Whatever you are believing for or standing for today, know that your Heavenly Father loves you and is working on your behalf.  I can tell you of the amazing things He has done for me, and our God is no respecter of people. (Acts 10:34)
Today is March 1, 2016.  Exactly 6 years ago today I heard Haley Elizabeth's heartbeat for the very first time!  Little did we know how much life that heartbeat would bring into this world!!  God is amazing, and He gives us amazing gifts!  You can trust Him with your heart and with your deepest desires.  He is faithful even when it seems in the natural that all hope is gone.  He is faithful! 
Below are a few pictures of our beautiful daughter, and a video of a our story.