God of the smalls

Colossians 1:15
No one can see God, but Jesus Christ is exactly like him. He ranks higher than everything that has been made.16 Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ.17 He was there before anything was made, and all things continue because of him.

Please watch the following video before reading the rest of the post (it's ten minutes long):

It's hard to say anything after watching the amazing video, however, this video has stuck in my mind over the last several weeks and two thoughts from it continue to roll around and around in my head.  As I watched this video I couldn't help but relate it to our spiritual lives. Our miraculous, miracle working God not only works in the "big" but He also works in the "small."

If the fetus continues to grow at this speed the entire 9 months it would be 1.5 tons at birth!

As we see in Colossians 1:15, Jesus is our visual of our invisible God, He is also our Creator.  Often times people can become discouraged because they can no longer see God's hand working in their lives.  There was a season and a time when they saw Him everywhere.  But suddenly He seemed to disappear.  When I heard Alexander Tsiaras say, "If the fetus continued to grow at that speed the baby would be 1.5 tons at birth" I related this fact with our growing faith.  Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, knows how to grow us perfectly.  There is a reason our visible spiritual growth at times slows down BUT that reason is NOT rooted in a lack of care from God. As a mother, I am extremely grateful that the rate of a growing baby decreases.  But as we see, there is still A LOT of vital and important things going on inside that we cannot see with our visible eyes.  The same is true for us spiritually:

Isaiah 40:13-14, 27-31
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
or showed him the path of understanding?
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Know that God is always working in the intimate details of your life, even if you feel stuck in the moment, even if it feels like nothing is happening - He is always there, working, moving, caring and loving you.


By 9 months you have 60,000 miles of vessels and only 1 mile is visible but they are all providing life and taking waste away.

Every once in a while I look back over my life and I can suddenly see one of the beautiful strands of our story-weaving God working in my life.  God is always moving  and sometimes we need to take time to look back and notice the little bits that we can see.  But even as we relish in those things we can also have confidence that there is even more going on then meets the eye.

One of my visible vessels:
My son woke up the other night with itchy feet.  At the time, we were staying overnight at a ministry we are a part of that works with single pregnant women.  We went for a little walk to try and distract him.  We began to walk the hall praying for the individuals we minister to. 

After praying, we started talking about prayer and I asked him if he knew that the Holy Spirit resided in him.  He said that he didn't know that.  I explained that He indeed does and one of our privileges as children of God is that we get to listen to the voice of God.  I said that when we pray, we can stop and listen to what God has to say over a situation and then declare it.  After this, I began to tell him a story that originated in the heart of God, and eternally affected our personal lives because two people stopped to listen to God. 

When my mom was pregnant with me, her life was out of sorts of many fronts and her pregnancy caused her to be overwhelmed, so she scheduled an abortion.  The morning the abortion was scheduled, she met with a pastor and he counseled and prayed with my mom.  She chose to keep me and not her appointment at the clinic.  After hearing this, my son, a little wide-eyed, realized that if I wasn't here then neither would he be here.  We then marveled at that fact that now our entire family gets to minister to other moms who easily could have had an abortion but have made the choice to parent.  We discussed how future generations will be positively affected by one small decision, on one small day all because someone stopped to pray and listen to God's heart.

I'm sure that pastor doesn't remember that day.  I'm sure my grandchildren or great-grandchildren may never know this piece of their story.  But this piece, that originated in the heart of God, still brings life to me, brings life to my children, brings life to women and children we are blessed to minister to and will bring life to future generations.  This stream of life originated in the heart of God and has trickled down from generation to generation.  Each generation, the profoundness of it all will seem smaller and smaller, but just like our tiny capillaries it still plays an important role.  I can only imagine how many more capillaries have fed and continue to feed into my life today.
I hope and pray that today you can pause and recognize a vessel in your own life.  And while reflecting on it, recognize that there is even more going on behind the scenes then you can even imagine.  Our God is a God of the smalls as well as the bigs and He loves every detail of your life.

In Christ,

Book Review: Mondays with My Old Pastor

I am so glad that I read this book!!!!!!!  It is a must read.  It is a beautiful read.  It is a TREASURE!!!!!!!

Book Description:
Deep inside in some uncertain part of my soul persisted this strange exhaustion that was difficult to explain and hard to endure," writes pastor and author José Luis Navajo. Thinking of quitting the ministry, Navajo doesn't know where to turn until he begins meeting with a seasoned man of the cloth—his "old pastor"—who, through successive Monday visits, offers a legacy of wisdom in the form of 15 unique principles.

In lyrical prose, Navajo shares the personal anecdotes, fables, and deep spiritual insights offered by the old pastor and his wife. By turns funny, heartbreaking, and thought provoking, Mondays with My Old Pastor is a comfort to anyone who struggles in his or her walk with God. As readers follow Navajo's journey from desperation to rejuvenation, they will find themselves similarly transformed and inspired. This moving, beautifully written account is sure to reignite every soul's longing for renewal.

Titus 2:6 says,
6 In the same way, encourage young men to be wise.7 In every way be an example of doing good deeds. When you teach, do it with honesty and seriousness.8 Speak the truth so that you cannot be criticized. Then those who are against you will be ashamed because there is nothing bad to say about us.

The church today is often lacking in spiritual mentors.  This book captures the words as they spring forth from a man who ran the race, fought the good fight and clung even more to the cross as each day passed.  It is an invaluable treasure trove of truth on how to live a life of love to God.  My heart was awakened in love, comforted in peace and pushed forward in hope with each turn of the page.  The humility and truth exhibited in these pages are truly inspirational.  It made me want to sit at the feet of Jesus more and more each day of my life.

This book was an easy read (I read it within 3 days) but I have to go back through it again with my highlighter.  There were so many truths and principles that I want to meditate on, that it will be by my side for a while now.  Very few books make my must read list but this has currently edged itself into first place.  Please read it!

In Christ,


I received this book for free via the Booksneeze program.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

A Story to Embody: Day of Pentecost

Today is the day, the church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit.  I'm sure everyone reading this has a differing opinion on what exactly the Holy Spirit is and how He currently operates in believer's lives.  Unfortunately, history has shown that opinions about the Holy Spirit have divided us, instead of united us.  I would just encourage you to set aside "opinions" as you read this today and with fresh eyes reflect on the wonder of the Holy Spirit.

The coming of the Holy Spirit was NEW to them.  Reflect on  Acts 2:1-21 as if you are experiencing it as something totally new:

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn't for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, "Aren't these all Galileans? How come we're hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
"They're speaking our languages, describing God's mighty works!"

12Their heads were spinning; they couldn't make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: "What's going on here?"
13Others joked, "They're drunk on cheap wine."

14-21That's when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: "Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren't drunk as some of you suspect. They haven't had time to get drunk—it's only nine o'clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:
"In the Last Days," God says,
"I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I'll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they'll prophesy.
I'll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be saved."

This was REVOLUTIONARY!!!!!!!!!!  Every kind of people, men and women - ALL people would receive the Spirit of God.  If you know your OT there were many restrictions on who could come into the temple of God, some people never could enter, others were prohibited at certain times.  The Holy Spirit erased all that and provided proof that we are all united in the body of Christ!

Ezekiel 37:1-14
God grabbed me. God's Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.

3 He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
I said, "Master God, only you know that."
4 He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'"
5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life. I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!"
7-8 I prophesied just as I'd been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
9 He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, 'God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!'"

10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
11 Then God said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they're saying: 'Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there's nothing left of us.'
12-14 "Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, 'God, the Master, says: I'll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I'll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you'll realize that I am God. I'll breathe my life into you and you'll live. Then I'll lead you straight back to your land and you'll realize that I am God. I've said it and I'll do it. God's Decree.'"

Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
24-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!

You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
brimming with fish past counting,
sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
they'd die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life
the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

31-32 The glory of God—let it last forever!
Let God enjoy his creation!
He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.

33-35 Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,
sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
Oh, let my song please him;
I'm so pleased to be singing to God.
But clear the ground of sinners—
no more godless men and women!

O my soul, bless God!

Romans 8:22-27
All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

26-28Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start."

I've told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I've told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you'll be well-warned and ready for them.

The Friend Will Come

4-7"I didn't tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, 'Where are you going?' Instead, the longer I've talked, the sadder you've become. So let me say it again, this truth: It's better for you that I leave. If I don't leave, the Friend won't come. But if I go, I'll send him to you.

8-11"When he comes, he'll expose the error of the godless world's view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He'll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.

12-15"I still have many things to tell you, but you can't handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I've said, 'He takes from me and delivers to you.'

In Christ,

Free fall - Caught!

A couple of months ago, I announced that I took a step to self-publish my first book.  To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing and it was kind of a blind leap!  It truly felt like a free-fall and I had no idea what would accompany my fall.

As usual, the Lord has been orchestrating my fall all along the way.  First of all, a parachute opened in the form of Cherie Hill.  I had sent my book to her requesting a review.  I had read samples of her other reviews, so I knew that she tells it like it is: the good, the bad and the ugly.  She was gracious enough to e-mail back her honest thoughts.  They included a need for a new cover and for a professional edit to take place.  So I followed her advice, pulled my book off for a month and gave it a makeover.  

Drum roll please:

I then forwarded my book to my mother for an edit.  She too was gracious and ended up paying for it to be professionally edited alongside her own laborious efforts.  To be honest, sending my book for the editing process was the "scariest" part of this whole thing for me.  But when I got my book back, I was amazed!  Here was my book, written with the clarity that exists in my mind.  It ended up being one of my favorite parts of this whole process (now if only someone would want to professionally edit each of my posts:)!

A third thing, that happened since last time is that my book is now available in PRINT form too!!!

If you were kind enough to download my book before all of these beautiful changes don't fret!  You can update your Kindle version without an additional charge.  You need to go to "Manage my Kindle" page on Amazon.  There should be a note that says "Update available."  Simply click on that and it should upload the new version to your Kindle.

So thank you for falling with me.  It's been slightly scary, but now I am extremely pleased with the final results of my book.  Thank you to Cherie, my Mom, my editor and as always my readers!

I am still falling - slowly though, awaiting several reviews from bloggers who don't know me personally:)!  So we shall see....

But in the meantime here are some comments and reviews I've received already:

  • From someone who doesn't have a mother-in-law who is alive: "Wow, this book is helpful for me in understanding my husband and his relationship with his brother."
  • "It is full of insight, that I need to stop, pause and chew on it for awhile."
  • Such an encouragement for any woman to read especially if you are married or plan on getting married!!
  • This book is a blessing in so many ways! Wonderfully written and backed up by scripture. I treasure it and I will read it many times over. Huge thank you to the author! She has made me think of things in a way I never had before and in a way that I won't soon forget!
If you've read my book and enjoyed it, please consider posting a review to Amazon!  I would greatly appreciate it.  Also, if you have a blog and you are interested in doing a review of my book, let me know.

Thank you for falling with me.

In Christ,

Would you rather walk in the dark with God or be in the "light?"

I read the following verses several weeks back and they have been haunting me ever since:

Isaiah 50:10-11
Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys his servant?
That person may walk in the dark
and have no light.
Then let him trust in the Lord
and yet depend on his God.
11 But instead, some of you want to light your own fires
and make your own light.
So, go, walk in the light of your fires,
and trust your own light to guide you.
But this is what you will receive from me:
You will lie down in a place of pain.

After reading these verses, I have been asking myself, "Would I rather walk in "light" or trust in the Lord to lead me in darkness?"  

My reading of these verses intersected with God taking me back through the book of Judges and giving me a different perspective as I read through two familiar stories there: the stories of Gideon and the story of Jephthah.
One of the featured Sunday School  talking points of Gideon are about his fleeces; how he asked God for a sign and how God answered.  But as I re-read the story from beginning to end other aspects of the story began to stand out to me.  It was the LORD who first came to Gideon. He found Gideon, showed Himself clearly to Gideon and promised to be with Gideon. Before the fleeces, Gideon even stepped out in a small step of faith and was successful in his task. But after all these things Gideon asked for the fleeces. Not once but actually three times Gideon asked for more signs. As I read this I began to ask myself, "Why did Gideon need these fleeces? Hadn't God started this whole thing off and shown Gideon that He would be with Gideon throughout the process?"  I then came to the end of his story and noticed a part that is often left out of  Sunday School lessons.

Judges 8:26-27
They said, "We will gladly give you what you want." So they spread out a coat, and everyone threw down an earring from what he had taken.26 The gold earrings weighed about forty-three pounds. This did not count the decorations, necklaces, and purple robes worn by the kings of Midian, nor the chains from the camels' necks.27 Gideon used the gold to make a holy vest, which he put in his hometown of Ophrah. But all the Israelites were unfaithful to God and worshiped it, so it became a trap for Gideon and his family.

Yikes! Gideon, the one who fought to set the people of Israel free from worshipping false gods in the end creates an idol himself, which Israel begins to worship... 

The next day, I read the story of Jephthah (Judges 11) a Bible story I often like to skip.  As Jephthah is starting out to battle and on his way he makes a promise to sacrifice to the Lord the first thing that comes out of the door if the LORD gives him success in battle. At the end of the story, we find out that it is his daughter who comes out.  However, as I read the story again, something jumped out at me:

Judges 11:29
29 Then the Spirit of the Lord entered Jephthah.

This phrase occurs BEFORE Jephthah makes his promise that results in tragedy. The LORD had already planned and was going to give Jephthah victory BEFORE Jephthah made his foolish promise.

It was as I walked away from these two stories that I ran into the verse from Isaiah 50 and processing it has kind of taken my breath away.  Here are some of the thoughts I've been processing: I've had seasons where I've modeled myself after Gideon and Jephthah. I remember Sunday School lessons about the fleeces and I thought, "that is what I need to do to know the LORD is with me."  Then I've taken miniscule steps of faith because I'm always throwing out a fleece before me and turning around tapping my foot at God, asking Him to prove that He is coming along with me.  Other times, I am like Jephthah, I want God to give me something so I try and think up some great sacrifice I can give so that God will give me success. But the focus of both of these methods have been on ME and what I can do to get the LORD to move. What I've never noticed before as I've read these stories is their beginnings and endings: the Lord started the stories, they had success but in the end it wasn't very beautiful. Gideon, put his trust in an idol of his own making and not in the LORD. Jephthah's daughter was sacrificed "to the LORD" because of a promise that was never needed in the first place.  Something fell apart along the way.

As I looked back, I saw where self-reliance began to get in the way of what the Lord was doing.  I could also understand why Gideon and Jephthah wanted to help the process.  When a great adventure starts, there is fear that God is going to leave us in a lurch and we want to make sure He's coming along.  So we ask for "proofs" He's coming, other times we try to harness God in by offering some great "sacrifice" so He'll want to stick around.

But then the LORD opened my eyes to the way He leads!  There is an element of "darkness" to it, but look at where it comes from:

Psalm 36:7:
God, your love is so precious!
You protect people in the shadow of your wings.

When you are close to God, you're not going to be able to see what is happening around you, you won't be able to control every little event, BUT what you will be is safe

I've walked away from these reflections a little wide-eyed: "God, you are really inviting me to trust your character FIRST without proof  of the next step?  You are saying that you go with me without me needing to come up with "a sacrifice" for success.  Your character, your goodness and your faithfulness are big enough to go before me?"  Perhaps this seems obvious, but when I take it into the reality of my everyday life, it gets a little freaky - and then I see the gap between what I think in my mind and how I act with my heart.

We are soon approaching Pentecost and will be reflecting on the gift of the Holy Spirit, our Counselor.  There is promise, after promise, after promise that God is our Good Shepherd, who has promised to walk before us leading the way, that He is never going to leave us or forsake us, that His faithfulness is new every morning...  God is the author of our story, He loves us and has given us everything we need for life and godliness. I want to stop chasing after the need for "signs and proofs" that God is going to be faithful to His promises and instead hunker in close to His heart, in the shadow of His wing and trust Him and His leading and guidance, even in the dark. 

In Christ,

A Story to Embody: Ascension of the Lord & Seventh Sunday of Easter

I'm taking a little liberty this week and combining verses from two different Lectionary readings, one being the celebration of the Ascension of our Lord and the others are verses from the seventh Sunday of Easter.

This week, the Lord opened the door for me to share these readings in a different capacity of my life.  I am very excited and I humbly ask you to join with me in prayer that these words would rest on "good soil" in the hearts of the readers.  Thank you for journeying with me on these readings.  Your love, support and kindness keep me going and I always get excited when I see a new door the Lord has opened.

As we walk away from remembering the cross and all Easter has for us, we are soon reminded of what Jesus had for us next.  It didn't just end there, and it doesn't just start in some future date.  These verses capture the essence, the joy and the mission that Christ has for us - today - as we walk on this earth!

Acts 1:1-11

-5Dear Theophilus, in the first volume of this book I wrote on everything that Jesus began to do and teach until the day he said good-bye to the apostles, the ones he had chosen through the Holy Spirit, and was taken up to heaven. After his death, he presented himself alive to them in many different settings over a period of forty days. In face-to-face meetings, he talked to them about things concerning the kingdom of God. As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but "must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon."
 6When they were together for the last time they asked, "Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?"

 7-8He told them, "You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world."

 9-11These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud. They stood there, staring into the empty sky. Suddenly two men appeared—in white robes! They said, "You Galileans!—why do you just stand here looking up at an empty sky? This very Jesus who was taken up from among you to heaven will come as certainly—and mysteriously—as he left."

Psalm 47

1 Clap your hands, all you people. 
       Shout to God with joy. 
 2 The Lord Most High is wonderful. 
       He is the great King over all the earth!
 3 He defeated nations for us 
       and put them under our control. 
 4 He chose the land we would inherit. 
       We are the children of Jacob, whom he loved.

 5 God has risen with a shout of joy; 
       the Lord has risen as the trumpets sounded. 
 6 Sing praises to God. Sing praises. 
       Sing praises to our King. Sing praises.
 7 God is King of all the earth, 
       so sing a song of praise to him.
 8 God is King over the nations. 
       God sits on his holy throne.
 9 The leaders of the nations meet 
       with the people of the God of Abraham, 
    because the leaders of the earth belong to God. 
       He is supreme.

I John 5:9-13

9 We believe people when they say something is true. But what God says is more important, and he has told us the truth about his own Son.10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has the truth that God told us. Anyone who does not believe makes God a liar, because that person does not believe what God told us about his Son.11 This is what God told us: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life, but whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
We Have Eternal Life Now

 13 I write this letter to you who believe in the Son of God so you will know you have eternal life.

John 17:6-19

6 "I showed what you are like to those you gave me from the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your teaching. 7 Now they know that everything you gave me comes from you.8 I gave them the teachings you gave me, and they accepted them. They knew that I truly came from you, and they believed that you sent me.9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for people in the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours.10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And my glory is shown through them.11 I am coming to you; I will not stay in the world any longer. But they are still in the world. Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they will be one, just as you and I are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me. I protected them, and only one of them, the one worthy of destruction, was lost so that the Scripture would come true.
    13 "I am coming to you now. But I pray these things while I am still in the world so that these followers can have all of my joy in them. 14 I have given them your teaching. And the world has hated them, because they don't belong to the world, just as I don't belong to the world.15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world but to keep them safe from the Evil One.16 They don't belong to the world, just as I don't belong to the world.17 Make them ready for your service through your truth; your teaching is truth.18 I have sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world. 19 For their sake, I am making myself ready to serve so that they can be ready for their service of the truth.

In Christ,

Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You: Conclusion

This is the conclusion to a six-part series entitled "Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You."  I know everyone's marriage is different and there may have been spots in our story that had you nodding your head, "Yes, I understand," and at other times perhaps you couldn't relate at all, which is just fine.  The purpose in writing this series has not been to give "5 steps" to a better marriage but instead to show the beauty of turning our mistakes, anger and errors over to God's grace.  All of our marriages are different, but the Designer of marriage is the same, and He has promised to  faithfully lead us.  My understanding of what that looks like, truly changed, stretched and grew over that season, but I can say that it is so very true.

God created marriage to be a beautiful, life-giving gift; not only to ourselves but also to our children.  Marriage was created to be a safe place where love and joy can flourish and grow.  But just like anything in life, the enemy and our brokenness can take the beauty that God created and turn it into a thing of pain, harm and destruction.  I pray that I have at least pointed you to the "better way," our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ who moves through the Holy Spirit in the dailiness of life.  He loves you, He loves your spouse and He is The Way for the two of you to move together in grace and beauty.  He understands the dirtiness and the dankness of it all, but that doesn't prevent Him from desiring to redeem it all; He doesn't do it without us though and that is the mystery of His ways.

So as I said at the start, I have come to realize that I have married the perfect man for me.  He completes me, strengthens me and challenges me everyday.  When I got out of the way, the Lord managed to recapture his heart - largely through the ministry of Todd Hunter (which is why I keep sharing about his ministry).  Not only that but I learned to let my husband lead, even when he wasn't where I thought he should be.  The results have been phenomenal.  I never considered my husband a "leader" but now I realize that perhaps my big personality was getting in the way.  He sees things that I don't see, he desires to protect me, and he is often wise beyond my current understanding of a situation.  He has "stepped up" or maybe I finally cleared out of the way.  There were many times on this journey where I would cry and cry and be angry at God.  "Didn't He see what was happening to me?  Didn't He know what a big mistake He had allowed me to make marrying this man?"  But when I finally quieted down and listened to His plan, I had my eyes opened to the biggest surprise of my life: I had indeed married the perfect man.  He knows how to lead and he has done a phenomenal job.  He loves me well and he loves our children well.  I almost stomped out one of the most precious gifts I have ever been given because I had chosen to live under lies, fear, disillusionment and disappointment.  I thank my husband and my God for fighting for my heart and opening my eyes to all that I have been given.  I have been blessed beyond measure.

Finally, I want to leave you with two thoughts:

Titus 2:4 says,
Teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.

Our society often makes us believe that love is based on emotions and feelings and when those things disappear you should leave.  Scripture presents a different view and in fact teaches us that we need to be taught to love our husbands and our children.  If you are struggling in your marriage, I pray that you will have the humility to ask for help and look to God and others to teach you how to love your husband.

Song of Songs 2:15 says,
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

Even though I realize that I have married the perfect man for me, it by no means we have a conflict-free marriage.  However, we've both come to the point where we choose to trust each others' hearts instead of the hurt and pain from a moment.  When conflict does arrive we deal with it until we can understand each other.  We no longer let pain, unforgiveness, bitterness and disappointment have opportunity to take root in our hearts.  As I've reflected on our journey I've realized how so many little things began to grow into much bigger problems and before I knew it, I was standing at a gap looking at my husband and realizing I no longer knew how to love him nor allow him to love me.  But I also realize that the path back to each others' hearts was full of just as many seemingly small and insignificant decisions.  My conclusion is that the best way back to your spouse's heart is to hook into the Holy Spirit and follow His leading in the dailiness of life; He is the One who knows the way back and He will lead you there.

In Christ,

P.S.  Did you enjoy this series?  If yes, please share it with friends and family (e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, Pintrest...).  The entire series is available at this link: Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You.  Thank you!

Photos by Melanie Guest Photography

A Story to Embody: The Sixth Sunday of Eastertide

Identity check: As you read through these Scriptures see how God views you.  Do you walk confidently in these identities?

Acts 10:44-48
No sooner were these words out of Peter's mouth than the Holy Spirit came on the listeners. The believing Jews who had come with Peter couldn't believe it, couldn't believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on "outsider" non-Jews, but there it was—they heard them speaking in tongues, heard them praising God.

46-48Then Peter said, "Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They've received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did." Hearing no objections, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Then they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.

A container the Holy Spirit resides in?

Psalm 98
Sing to God a brand-new song. He's made a world of wonders!
He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.

2 God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.

3 He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God's work of salvation!

4 Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

5 Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.

6 Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

7 Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.

8 Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!"
And mountains harmonize the finale—
9 A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.

He'll straighten out the whole world,
He'll put the world right, and everyone in it.

One who is able to receive and celebrate the wonderful saving power of our Creator God?

I John 5:1-6
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is God's child, and whoever loves the Father also loves the Father's children.2 This is how we know we love God's children: when we love God and obey his commands.3 Loving God means obeying his commands. And God's commands are not too hard for us,4 because everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world—our faith. 5 So the one who conquers the world is the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

6 Jesus Christ is the One who came by water and blood. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit says that this is true, because the Spirit is the truth.

A Child of God, who can walk in this identity without it being burdensome?

John 15:9-17
I loved you as the Father loved me. Now remain in my love.10 I have obeyed my Father's commands, and I remain in his love. In the same way, if you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. 11 I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy.

12 "This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heard from my Father.16 You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

No longer a servant but a FRIEND.

In Christ,

For more on why I include these weekly readings, read A Story to Embody.

Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography.

Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You: Running Barefoot

This is part 5 in my series: Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You.  This post is entitled: Running Barefoot.  If you've been around awhile it will seem familiar to you because it is a yearly post.  It reminds us of the importance of protecting our marriages for the sake of our children.

Last night Josh and I watched The Thing about My Folks with Paul Reiser and Peter Falk. The story is about a husband finding a note, from his wife of 47 years, that she has left him. Paul Reiser and Peter Falk spend the week together as father and son discussing the marriage while they wait to find out where the mother went. One thing that intrigued me about the movie was how a parents' marriage and its health has effects even on adult children.

The movie reminded me of Malachai 2:15:
"Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth."

I am becoming more aware of the importance of marriage because of its relation to our children. This verse points out that God made us one flesh with our spouse because He desires godly offspring. Our marriages provide a foundation for our kids, and it doesn't matter how young, or old they are, your marriage still provides a stability for their identity.

Spring is trying to come to Wisconsin and I have already noticed those awful prickly weeds starting to grow in our backyard. Our backyard has been notorious for having those weeds that are extremely prickly and if you step on them those pricklies get embedded in your feet.  My desire for my backyard is that my kids would be able to run through the backyard barefoot. They should be able to enjoy the summer without a care in the world. And kids, especially Mercea, loves to be barefoot but with those weeds it makes it difficult.

In our marriages, it is very easy for weeds to grow in our yards.  Our yards is where our kids romp, play and learn about life. We need to weed our yards on a regular basis so that our kids can run through life, enjoy and not worry about getting hurt in their own yards.

Hebrews 12:14-16
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

One thing that can begin to sneak into marriages is a root of bitterness. Bitterness starts out small and seems like no big deal, just like those weeds. If the bitterness is not dealt with, it will get deeply rooted and begin to spread. It might not seem to effect your kids because it is so small but as days and weeks go by it will continue to grow and spread and there will be a day your kids will stumble upon it and it will hurt them. When Mercea was 2 she was running in our backyard and her whole foot got filled with those pricklies. It was not a pretty moment.

I don't know where you are in your marriage and whether you have younger or older kids but no matter what I would just like to encourage you to do some spring weeding in your marriage yards.  If you need motivation, do it for the sake of your kids. None of us would purposely send our kids out in a yard full of prickly weeds to run around barefoot and get hurt. However, we often allow the weeds in our marriage to get out of control and we end up hurting our kids more than if they stepped on a real weeds.

Here are some verses that deal with uprooting weeds in the spirit realm:

James 3:13-16
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Ephesians 4:30-32
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
My prayer for you and your marriage is that you, your children and your spouse can run barefoot through your yards this summer.

Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You: The Power of Words

     As this series has come out, I've been asked why I'm willing to share such private things. The reason we (yes, my husband has read and helped polish all that I've written here:) are willing to share this hard part of our journey is because we've personally seen the power of God to redeem and restore that which was lost. The beauty and profound joy that I now experience in my marriage far OUTSHINES the darkest of the dark moments. As I've talked with other women over the years, I know that I'm not alone in some of the choices that I made along the way; but I also know that the freedom and joy my marriage now experiences isn't for me alone, it has always been a part of the original design and purpose for all marriages. My prayer is that through my sharing others will have the hope and desire for more.

     This is part four in a series entitled: "Draw Me a Map that Leads Me Back to You."  You can read the first 3 parts to get an idea of what was going on during a difficult season in my marriage.

     As my husband struggled with his Christianity and other life stresses, his character often became unpleasant to be around.  Many times, I did not look forward to him coming home from work, because his attitude often brought down the whole mood of the house.  I also let his behavior  negatively affect my thoughts about him. 

     One day, God jolted me awake and changed the way I was handling my thoughts about my husband.  One of my close friends, whom I confided in, had come to pray with me.  She said that as she was praying for my husband she got the picture of a "treasure hunter."  My mouth just about dropped open.  She did not know it but "treasure hunter" is part of my husband's Ebay seller name.  I knew right then that God was speaking through her to get my attention.  This word truly gave me His perspective on my husband.  Treasure hunter ended up having a two-fold meaning for me: 

  • First: God saw my husband as a valuable treasure that He was on the hunt for.  God didn't define him according to all the junk that I saw, but rather God defined him as the treasure that He had redeemed.
  • Second:  He saw my husband as valuable to the kingdom of God and that my husband is a treasure hunter for the kingdom. 
     I walked away from that time with a righteous jealousy for my husband and to experience the treasure of who he is.  If my friend could recognize and believe in the value of my husband then surely I, as his wife, could begin seeing the treasure inside of him.  After this prayer time, when conflict arose, I no longer made agreements that these negative moods reflected who he truly was.  I knew that a better man existed inside.  As I would walk away from a difficult time, I no longer sat and dwelt on how frustrated I was with him, but rather I would ask for and then declare God's perspective on the situation.  Also, when I did see the treasures in my husband's personality I began to verbally affirm  him and internally affirm my thoughts about him.  As this happened, I began to see changes in my husband.  The changes did not happen overnight, nor was there "one day" when everything was "better." However, over time, the negative patterns decreased and the positive behaviors substantially increased.  I still stand amazed and in joyful wonder of the man I married.  Just the other day, we left church with both of us laughing about something my husband "out of character" that he did.  I just shook my head and said, "Are you sure you're my husband?!  You have made me a believer in the love of God."  The changes in my husband still leave me dumbfounded and in awe of our mysteriously, sneaky working God.

     After all that I have been through, I truly believe in the power of words, whether spoken aloud or just held in our minds.  Scripture says that Jesus is the Word (John 1:1).    We have the ability to speak LIFE over situations or death.  There is power, because of Jesus the Word, when we begin to see our spouses with God's eyes.  God does not define us according to all of our junk.  He truly sees the treasure held within each one of us; we are invited to see, know and declare His truth over people's lives.  If you are in a situation, where the definition of your spouse is mostly negative, surrender your thoughts and words to Jesus the Word, and get His perspective on your spouse.  Then partner within Him in declaring the truth.

     After reading the ideas in this post, there is a temptation to think I'm just talking about wishful thinking or that I'm encouraging you to be blind to what is "really going on."  However, I have learned and am still learning that taking God's perspective on things is where true life and freedom exists, even when I can't immediately see it with my physical eyes.  I conclude with the following quote from a sermon by Bill Johnson:

The Gospel empowers you to take what's of the enemy and put it under your feet and take what's of people around you and you come under them to empower them.  You rule over the spirit world so that darkness doesn't rule and then you come under and empower people.

In Christ,

Photo courtesy Melanie Guest Photography

Daily Prayer

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