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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Deep Revelation


"For my eyes have seen Your salvation...A Light of revelation...And the glory of Your people." (Luke 2:30 & 32)


Revelation of the Word

I was hungry...hungry for truth, hungry for Truth.

I wanted to feel the realness of the Word of God.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1

I was at a point of hurting, of loss. I had been sick...very sick...with morning sickness. I had been bedridden for two solid weeks, with three young children. I laid in bed all day long and all night long dreaming of the new baby I would hold come fall. The fourth, the perfect little baby growing inside of my womb...this mother was bonding with that unborn child.

I lost the baby at 11 weeks. I was more sick...I was in more pain. My body, my spirit and my hopes were crushed.

I felt dead. I wanted to feel life. I reasoned that my life was so good. I had three young, healthy, beautiful children. I wasn't planning on number four when I found out I was pregnant, so why was this loss so...hard?

Because my dreams died with that child. I loved that baby already. I wanted to hold that baby already. I had the baby nestled in my arms already. I've always dreamed of lots of children and my dreams were dying. I needed God to come, to speak, to hold me where it hurt.

God came...The Word...He spoke...

"Our friends, we want you to know the truth about those who have died, so that you will not be sad, as are those who have no hope." 1 Thessalonians 4:13 Good News Translation

I would grieve as one with hope...Hope...and my grief would look different. My grief would lead to ultimate healing.



The Loss

In the stillness
You are there
Loving Your child
Showing You care

In the darkness
You are the Light
Holding me close
Piercing the night

In the crying
You are there
Saying my name
Wiping each tear

In the sadness
You guide me each day
Holding my hand
Leading the way

In the confusion
You shine clear
Lifting me up
Calming my fear

In the questions
You exchange joy for pain
Releasing Your grace
Cleansing my stain

In the weakness
You are strong
Surrounding my pain
Singing my song

In the silence
You bring trust
Strength to move forward
Each day I must

In the heartache
You comfort my soul
Healing my heart
Making me whole

In the sorrow
You show Your heart
Making mine whole
Where it fell apart

In the solitude
You bring peace
Come by Your Spirit
Emotions release

In Your presence
You make me whole
You restore
What the enemy stole

In Your glory
You will show
Why we must suffer
To be made whole

In Your arms
My pain will flee
I will rejoice
Completely set free

In Your time
You'll come for me
Standing in radiance
With my baby


I was free to grieve...just to grieve as one with hope...Hope...hope that I would see my unborn child, hold my unborn child, be in relationship with my unborn child, to know and be fully known by that child one day.

The God who loved me, who created me, who created the world had made Himself known to me...once again.

Why do I doubt? I doubt He's there. (Yet, He's promised, God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5)

I doubt He cares. I doubt He's coming again. Why? I lose my focus. I lose my way. I lose The Way. (Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6)

If we are not familiar with God's Word, The Bible, we cannot combat the wrong thinking and false thoughts that attack us. We will be tossed in a sea of doubt. ("...for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." James 1:6)

I wanted to use the map of God's Word to mark my way on the pilgrimage of life. I wanted to know God's Word, to experience God's Word, the Living Word. I wanted to experience a passion for His Word. I wanted to obey His Word out of love. "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God." (John 1:1) If I love God...I love the Word of God...the Living Word of God. I began to seek for a new and clearer revelation of God's Word...the Living Word.

Revelation Leads to Repentance

I was seeking for a moment...a second of clarity...when the light goes on and deep revelation would occur changing my heart and my life. Have you had that kind of revelation? When a Bible verse you've known your whole life takes on a whole new meaning simply because the Living Word reveals it to you...reveals something deep in your soul?

I don't mean you just looked up the definition to a word...I'm talking about the Holy Spirit revealing hidden truth to you in a way that changes your whole make-up...your whole perspective...your whole life from here forward.

Author Jennifer Kennedy Dean says in her book Riches Stored in Secret Places that truth in Scripture is hidden for the sole purpose of being revealed. "Truth will be found only in God's Word...the wonderful, rich, consecrating truth is buried. It must be mined, like gold or silver...God has deliberately hidden deep truth so that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, can disclose it.
'For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open'"(Mark 4:22)

Have you asked God for that kind of revelation...wisdom...knowledge...understanding? He is longing to give it to you. "If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding."(Proverbs 2:3-6)


God promises to give us deep revelation by the power of His Spirit. "But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets." (1 Corinthians 2:10 NLT) All we have to do is search for it...long for it...desire it. "But if from there you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you [truly] seek Him with all your heart [and mind] and soul and life." (Deuteronomy 4:29 Amp)



It is a promise to us..."seek and you will find." "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness and all these thing will be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

"Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things which you have not known." (Jeremiah 33:3 Revised Standard Version)

The Amplified reads, "Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

After I had been seeking for quite some time, I found myself in a place where I knew God would answer my search. I received a challenge to dig deeper into God's Word at a ladies' conference...

The room was silent as she spoke...sharing her experience. She had come from a religion that used the Bible, but its own edited version of the Bible, not the inerrant version we know as Truth. She came to a saving knowledge and personal relationship with God simply by reading The Bible, which makes sense as it is "living and active." (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)


"For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are." (Hebrews 4:12 New Living Translation)

Truth pierced her heart. The more she read God's Word, the more she saw herself.

As she continued to share "her story," She launched into a reading of the
"The Woman with the Issue of the Blood." (Mark 5:24-34; Matthew 9:20-22)

The emotion was real...raw...moving...touching...healing...there was not a dry eye in the room when she finished. You could have heard a pin drop. Many were quietly weeping. All who were searching found.

It was there...the touch of Heaven...the place where this thing called Christianity becomes real...everyone wanted it...to simply know our own "story"...where we fit in...He touched us.

As the moment quickly passed...dinner was served...ladies began to visit...I realized I wanted it...He touched me.

That's when I knew...that's how I wanted to see the people in the Bible...I wanted identity in God's people...my people(...He predestined us to be called his sons through Christ Jesus.) ("because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.")... I wanted identity in Christ on a deeper level. (Ephesians 1:5 and Romans 8:14)

I wanted to see me...my life...relevant to the ancient writings and truths of people who lived righteously in a different time...a different world...I wanted an ageless God("Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Hebrews 13:8) to transcend the ages and mightily move in my life.

I wanted to feel Life when I read the Bible...receive wisdom to understand.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5)

The challenge was presented...she asked, "Find your story in God's Word. Who do you identify with?"

As I began the quest I read and reread stories of different characters Hannah...David... Elizabeth...Mary...Ruth...Esther...Jacob...and many more. I've always felt some identity with each of these Bible characters. People who rejoiced when God fulfilled the desires of their hearts...people who girded themselves up for the battle God had called them to fight...people who gave all they had to the Lord and He gave back...people who were chosen and blessed beyond what the could have imagined...people who pressed into the Lord when the suffering was unimaginable and then danced with joy once more. Through it all...grief...pain... heartache...triumph...they sought the Lord and He answered.

Somewhere along the journey I realized very suddenly, "He showed me all I ever did."
(John 4:29)

As Jennifer Kennedy Dean says, "...at an unexpected moment, God will shine a search light on a truth from a scripture you thought you had already mined."

It was a truth embedded in my heart with a hidden meaning which I needed Wisdom...the Spirit of Truth...to reveal to me. Suddenly, out of nowhere I got it..."He showed me all I ever did!"

I've heard the story of the woman at the well (John 4:7-29) since I was a little girl. That phrase, verse 29, "He showed me all I ever did" always stuck out to me.

I know all of my sins...I realize I am very far from perfect...I totally get that I turn to all sorts of other people and things before I turn to Jesus...I get it...Why, Why, Why would she REJOICE and TELL OTHERS that Jesus repeated to her all that she...especially she...who had had five husbands and a new live-in boyfriend in her never-ending quest for happiness and acceptance...ever did...why? That was always the question I asked when reading this story.

Then in an instant the meaning was revealed...my life was changed...I understood...He didn't repeat all she'd ever done...He revealed it. He uncovered her heart's motives...hidden meanings...wrong-thinking patterns...rote habits that were sinful...haven't you ever discovered you were doing something simply because it was familiar not necessarily knowing if there was a different...perhaps better...way?

Sin, ugly, sinful, dark behavior that was holding me back from wholeheartedly seeking my sweet, precious Lord was revealed to me in an instant. "He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him!" (Daniel 2:22)

"He uncovers deep things out of darkness and brings into light black gloom and the shadow of death." (Job 12:22) The deep, secret things in our hearts are the sins that bring us shame...the sins that hold us captive to the darkness...the deep things of God bring freedom, light and joy. Once the deep, secretive, sinful behavior is brought to the surface, to the light...into the Light, the very presence of God, it no longer possesses the power of darkness over our hearts. Deep revelation leads to repentance in our lives...it leads to change. Repentance means, "to turn from"...if we know what we are doing wrong, we can turn from it...and do it a better way!

What He revealed to me was simply a way that I had perceived my life incorrectly...misjudged my role...always...my life was laden with responsibility...trying to help my loved ones in an unhealthy way...taking responsibility for things that I could not correct...things I simply needed to accept...things that should have had no bearing on my decisions...they should have just been.

Trying to change a circumstance...to make right what I had not wronged...to fix what someone else had broken...becoming more and more frustrated with myself and all those around me...I realized...this is all I ever did. I saw my sin and it was incredibly sweet...effortless...healing...I was free to hate my sin and feel incredibly loved with an everlasting love. ("I have loved you with an everlasting love." Jeremiah 31:3)

I had never felt so loved...so free...so different! "In kindness He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change." (Romans 2:4)

Really, what God revealed to me that day in His goodness and mercy is something too deep for words that totally transformed me and freed me to live a more carefree life as the me I was created to be...giving praise to the Father.

Discovering that I never had to do things the same way again...wow, what freedom..."the truth shall set you free."(John 8:32) This is why the woman at the well went and shared...quickly and immediately. She had been forever changed in an instant...those that knew her would be astounded at the woman she had become...absolutely miraculous...she might struggle from time to time...but from today forward, she would be visibly, noticeably different!

She had learned to draw Living Water from a well so deep that it never runs dry. Now, that's water...deep, refreshing, unchanging. She would no longer depend upon what she had always known. She would look through eyes of wisdom at her hurts, her problems, her sufferings. She would take the things which brought her shame and examine them in the Light. As Beth Moore says, "Shame is a signature of the enemy." Jesus endured the cross by scorning its shame. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

By following the example of Christ, we can endure hard things, speaking the truth and facing the truth in love and we can scorn the shame...because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. "Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)

God's Word tells us there is nothing new under the sun. There is no bad deed that has not been done before; there is no ugly feeling or emotion that has not been felt before you felt it. "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) We are not alone in our pain! We have no reason to hide from it or to hide it from others. I believe the woman at the well realized this and was, subsequently, free to draw water with the other women of the town. The enemy will use shame to bring isolation...isolation to break our fellowship....isolation to take the power from our story...without sharing we do not have power to overcome from sharing our testimony. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Revelation 12:11) We have to be free to share...free from shame and judgment.

Imagine her joy when she realized she could draw water in the cool of the day with the other women without suffering their judgment...she was free to run through the town unashamedly declaring this man (the one who showed her all her sins) was the Messiah...we have to know what our sins are before we can stop repeating them...no condemnation...no judgment...no guilt...only freedom...and love...and acceptance...imagine.

The woman that was so ashamed she had to draw water at midday...alone...so she wouldn't have to talk to anyone...was now running through town telling all, "Come, meet the man who told me all I ever did!" (John 4:29)

Amazing...
Life-changing...
Liberating...
Loving...
I invite you to come, meet the One who showed me all I ever did...

My Story
"but whoever drinks this water will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)


I am the woman at the well

Past secrets too dark to ever tell

I draw water at midday

Hoping no one comes my way

Sin and shame a heavy weight

Loneliness and frustration, twins I hate
Lost in thought, eyes cast down
Who's this Stranger come to town?
He speaks of living without thirst
Could He heal the pain and hurt?
He asks my name; I reply smart

How could He know my very heart?
He speaks of how life has been
I see all my hidden sin

Motives, reasoning, thoughts...all lies
Truth lay bare before my eyes
Here I find Life that's true

As I begin to walk anew
Then I run...telling all to "Come,
Meet the One who showed all I've done!"

No one ever has to thirst
Just seek Living Water first

"Many...believed in Him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me everything I ever did.'" (John 4:39)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Presence

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." Matthew 1:23

This Christmas I have been telling myself, on a daily basis, that it is all about presence...not presents. I, naturally, want to bless all the people I love and who are important to me with gifts, lots and lots of gifts...especially my children. What parent doesn't want to bless their children abundantly? But due to the constraints of life...mainly, time and money...this is just not possible on as grand of a scale as I would love.

Don't get me wrong, my kids will get gifts and gifts and gifts...more gifts than they need. I'm not saying they won't get much. I'm saying I won't get to buy as much as I'd like. I love to shop and I love to give. It is a wonderful combination when the budget is large!

But, when it's not as large as I'd like I have to remind myself...Christmas is all about presence. Presence of family. Presence of friends. And, most importantly, Christmas is about Presence. Presence of the One I long to be with and can't go on living without...the One I love.

I have to constantly remind myself the presents are not as important as the presence when what I long to bless people with is not even close to the gift I end up actually giving. If money were no object, what fun I would have buying each loved one the perfect gift.

Unfortunately, I am restricted to spending only the money in my pocket, using only the time that comes in each day and happen to be very thankful that Christmas is about presence not presents.

I remind myself of this when I am busily crafting Christmas presents (presents that looked much cuter and craftier in my mind). I remind myself of this when I rush out at the last minute to get the one I forgot. I remind myself of this when I end up settling because I didn't leave enough time to figure out what the perfect gift would be.

Today, I did my Christmas shopping...virtually all of it except for the two errands I ran yesterday and the one last week. We went to place after place after place. The crowds were big, the traffic was slow, my heart was racing. In the hustle and bustle of one afternoon, the completing of just one list, I was pressed to forget about the presence of the One we celebrate this season.

As we ran from store to store to store to find the perfect little gifts for everyone, Julia and I had so much fun...yes, she helped to purchase one of her own gifts and she will look so fashionista fabuloso in her fun-fur scarf, hat and gloves on Christmas Eve because I couldn't resist it!

When we had to search three stores for the one certain play-doh-pick-up-stick-tool that Alyssa so desperately wanted and ended up at Super Walmart the evening of December 23rd in the pouring, freezing rain, we laughed. We couldn't even get our cart down the aisles it was so crowded, we lost our car in the parking lot and got separated no less than a hundred times! But, we were together. Rare, precious time for me to be with only one of my girls...we had presence.

I pray I will have the gift of presence with each of the ones I love this Christmas holiday. I pray you will have the gift of presence with each of the ones you love too.

I also pray we will all make time for the One whose presence we can't live without...Presence.

What a good lesson for my kids to learn, what a good reminder for me...Christmas is all about Presence.


Immanuel...God with us.

Wouldn't you agree, Christmas Presence is the perfect Christmas present?

I long to experience Christmas Presence...God's presence all year long.

I pray you experience His presence all year long too.


Let's celebrate with Christmas Presence each day of the year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry CHRISTmas

"The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them...For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us...And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace...Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Isaiah 9:2,6 and Matthew 1:21b

Merry CHRISTmas from the Smiths

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Christmas Fairytale

'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house

Not a creature was stirring
Not even a mouse...




The children were nestled
All snug in their beds


While visions of sugarplums
Danced in their heads...



The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...



And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Another Attempt at Being Annual

2006

This is my latest try at an annual Christmas letter, one I don't have to print, fold or address...as one of my other bloggies said, "We're saving trees!"

Isn't this one of the reasons why I started this blog anyway?

This year has been characterized by incredibly busy and chaotic times...mostly. However, my lesson for 2006 has been that we live for the moments...the times that all is as it should be...the times my children are angels and take my breath away...the quiet, perfect times that happen so quickly we tend to forget about them in the mundane day-to-day of life...the times things are running smoothly and I can take a deep breath and know that all is worthwhile...this life is worth it! As I press on toward the Prize, I can run forward knowing that I will finish strong and it is, indeed, worth it.

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14


As Christmas draws near, take time to draw near to our Savior and celebrate His birth..."Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8

This time last year we were preparing for one of our favorite moments...Palmer's birth...looking for a larger car, rearranging bedrooms, and clearing out space. Our year started off with our little Valentine, Palmer Jett, making his debut on February 14. He is just as sweet now as he was then. A joy to us all, a real charmer. He's got a quick smile and loud but beautiful coo. He's cut six teeth and crawling around as fast as anyone else can run.

Hunter is three and a half now and loves playing with cars, leggos and anything Spiderman. He began Awana Cubbies this fall and is so happy that everyone else finally agrees that he's old enough to go to the big kid stuff. He also attends Friendship Connection, a ministry for international ladies and their preschool children, with me every week. He is all boy and still cuddly and wonderful, caught between baby and big boy for just a little while longer.



Alyssa turned five and started Kindergarten this fall. She is in the dual language program at her school and has learned the alphabet and days of the week...in Spanish. She is beginning to read and to write at turbo speed. She loves all her new friends. She loves all her animals. She loves to sing, dance, write stories, draw and talk. She loves life in general.

Julia is now seven and in first grade. She is also in the dual language program and beginning to speak Spanish very well with an authentic accent. She finds it easier to read in English but easier to spell in Spanish. She loves art and drawing. She continues to dance beautifully and has also developed an inerest in soccer and basketball (She sleeps with her soccer ball every night). She's reading like a real pro and excelling at math and science.


Andrew's office, The Real Estate Group, just celebrated its second birthday and is continually growing. He finds energy to train new real estate agents and motivate them to success. He enjoys a couple of men's groups at our church. He has also reconnected with some of his old college buddies this year. He continues to be a sports fanatic, cheering on his favorite teams.

I am trying, in futility, to hold onto as many of these moments as tightly as possible...the moments that take my breath away...the ones where I catch myself breathlessly breathing a prayer of praise for the family I have and the way it works...the years seem to be flying by way too quickly! Why can't they be little forever?


You can scroll down, take a look and click on the archives to see what the last few months have held. I am busy wearing the hats of wife, mother, homemaker, chauffeur, cook, secretary, personal shopper, referee, coach, domestic entrepreneur, friend, nurse, consultant, author, artist, photographer, teacher, helper...and any other role that is needed to this wonderful, beautiful, healthy, loving bunch God has blessed me with. There is absolutely no other way I would've wanted to spend this past year and no other way I want to spend this next one.


"So let's keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us." Philippians 3:14 The Message

Friday, December 15, 2006

My Elf Name

Your Elf Name Is...

Sassy Fruit Cake

Andrew...

Your Elf Name Is...

Furry Mc Flurry

Julia...
Your Elf Name Is...

Fuzzy Tinsel Toes

Alyssa...
Your Elf Name Is...

Sassy Twinkle Wink

Hunter...

Your Elf Name Is...

Freckles Twinkle Wink
Palmer...

Your Elf Name Is...

Happy Snow Bunny
Now, just for fun, share yours with me! Come on...don't be a party-pooper. Just click on the link and let me know!! It's really fun...I'll be waiting.

Some Year's Resolutions

Does anyone ever say, "I'm going to (fill in the blank) some day and mean it?

I would say depends on what it is and depends on who says it.

Those of you who know me, might believe me when I say this. Those of you who don't know me so well or haven't known me so long...you may not believe that I'll ever get around to it.

But, it's true. If I say I will do something "one day"...I mean it!

A few weeks ago, someone I hardly know asked me if I scrapbooked. My response was, "I used to and I will again...one day."

To which she replied, "Yeah, (chuckle, chuckle) you and me both."

That got me going. That was a direct challenge. So what if I was five years behind. I took this comment as an invitation to prove her wrong, to actively engage in what I someday want to resume.

When there are no noses to wipe, no bottles to fix, no diapers to change, no stories to read, no babies to rock, no leggos to build and no lessons to teach...I will have time!

I will have time as soon as I dust my cobwebs, mop my floors, clean my closets and drawers, rearrange my furniture, scrub my baseboards, weed my garden and scrub my oven. As soon as I update my home, wardrobe and reading list I will make time. Right?

Is it true that you make time for what you want? When I said I would scrapbook, I meant that I will scrapbook again, one day. I mean it, I really mean it!

Well...
One day was today!

The last time (until today) I scrapped was five years, four months, two weeks and one day ago! (The night I went to the hospital to be induced with Alyssa!)

My pictures are in chronological order...my tools are accessible...I knew I would do it one day...One day was today!

I made a gift for a friend. I then copied the pages on my printer for myself!

I have a current scrapbook...a scrapbook with the pictures of all four of my children in it...not just the oldest!

Why was I able to scrapbook?

I am not pregnant.

I feel great.

I take pictures again.

I wanted a unique and sentimental gift to give.

I am not pregnant and because I am not pregnant...I care! I love that I care. (When I am pregnant, I care only about growing a baby and not throwing up!)

I scrapbook again.

I have reached a monumental achievement today.

I got a head start on my Some Year's Resolutions.

I scrapbooked.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tag...You're It

I've been tagged .

I'm it.

I've been it for several days.

When I was in elementary school, I played tag. I wasn't the fastest runner, but I was certainly one of the smartest!

I would get tagged it and I would just chase kids around until the bell rang to go in from recess. I would be it when the game continued, supposedly, the next day at recess.

Then we would go inside, go back to class and do spelling or something.

I would raise my hand, ask to go the bathroom, walk across the room, tag that cool, athletic somebody I never could have caught on the playground and silently mouth, "You're it!"

I thought I was so clever!

You see, I will do just about anything to win. I am so highly competitive.

Wish that was why it's taken me so long to respond to this fun game...The real reason I haven't responded is...

1. I am a neurotic, spastic, overthinker. I am a calculated risk-taker. I have to think of every single reason not to do something and reason it out in my head before I take any action.

First of all, there are not five things about me Fly Kathryn does not know. She told me she didn't care. These five things are for all other readers of this blog.

Secondly, I don't think there are more than five readers of this blog. Who could I tag? Look to the right, click away, they've all been tagged! Then Jiffy Judy showed me they don't have to have blogs to play!

And, if I tag them, how will I post links to their pages? I'm going to have to call Kathryn to post links and publish for me...the mind is a scary thing! Anyway, you can all give me a hand. I learned how to post a link last night!!! Hooray and Yippy do the post-a-link dance...

Thirdly, I don't have time...but I started thinking; lots goes on in this head while sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and folding clothes.

Fourthly, I didn't know what to say..."keep thinking," I told myself. I waited and thought and now I know exactly what I am going to say. That's how neurotic I am. I have to have a complete plan for writing, every word exactly how it will be, in my head before I start to write.

I'm a neurotic, spastic overthinker.

I have to talk myself into everything I do. This drives Andrew crazy. He sets a goal and mows down every obstacle in its path. There's no talking him out of it! That's one reason we make a perfect combination!

2. Andrew and I met in photojournalism class at A&M. We were previously acquainted...we each knew who the other one was but didn't ever talk until photography.

That's where I put him to the test. It was a class high on projects and I was a student low on ideas. He bought my film, developed my film and took notes when I was too busy working on a tan and de-stressing by the pool to come to class. Needless to say, he passed this test and many others with flying colors.

The funny thing is, I now take most of the family photos and have the cool, professional-looking, big-lensed camera (thanks to a very fitting and appropriate Christmas gift from him).

3. Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson (yes, the pop stars) were in our wedding. Jessica sang an amazing "How Beautiful" by Twila Paris. Ashlee read a poem, "Dear Bride to Be," by Beth Moore...Who knew she was such a talented singer?

Remember, it was ten years ago. Andrew didn't even remember they were the same ones until I told him. I had to get the wedding pictures out to make my point. They always said they would be famous!

4. I get so involved in fiction, especially historical novels, I forget the characters are not real people. When I'm reading a book, I can't do anything else. I pray for the characters night and day until I can get back in the book. When the book (and sometimes movies) end I cry for days and obsess about what actually happened to those people for the rest of their lives.

Weird, I know. After I saw "When a Man Loves a Woman" with Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia, I cried for, like, a week. I was touched profoundly by this movie experience!

I do the same things with books. I love to read!

5. I got stuck here but then once more (bright lights, loud music, please), Jiffy Judy came to the rescue...we have the same weird dream! No one knows that!

It's a tooth dream.

A recurring dream about my teeth falling out. They become loose and are just hanging there by a thread and I have to rush to the dentist before they fall out. I started having this dream about two years ago and have gone to the dentist faithfully ever since.

I actually wake up wiggling my teeth. I keep asking my dentist if this is possible.
I have been reassured I am not losing my teeth nor am I genetically predispositioned to any tooth-rotting diseases...but I still think I am when I have this dream.

I have it at least once a week.

I have no idea what it means.

I've asked people. No one knows.

Jiffy Judy has this dream too!

Weird!

Here they are. Five things you never knew.

Hope you're enlightened. Hope you're entertained.

Hope you're not gettin' any ideas if you've known me a long time and come up with five more!

That's it...

Which brings me back to number one...Cha Cha Chandra, Livin' it up Tra, PC for JC Nancy, Cindy (because I miss you and you've got access to Sydni's blog), and Andrew (because this is my favorite date question I ask you that you sometimes:) find annoying) tag...you're it!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deep Redemption


"Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12)


A sick heart...

That's where it started. I was heartbroken, hopeless, rolling in self-pity and sin. My thoughts read something like this: "This is as good as it gets. I made my own bed, I guess I'm lying in it. I deserve this life. God doesn't have better for me." You get the idea.

I was so focused on my circumstances, I lost sight of my God. I lost sight of who He is and what He promises He has for me. "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future." (Jeremiah 29:11) "No eye has seen, no ear has heard what God has in store for those who love Him...`" (I Corinthians 2:9)

The ongoing work of the Christian life is for us to made perfect, to live out the work Christ completed on the cross. "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion to the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

I just forgot that my deepest desire was for God to continue His good work inside of me, to mold my character to become more like His...at any cost. I became focused on my circumstances over the work of my character. I lost sight of my God for the intensity of my pain. Which is so wrong because we are promised trials. I had forgotten the words of my precious Jesus, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have (Jesus) have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Reminding myself these simple promises can be a full time job! When we lose sight of God and all we can see is our own misery, we lose sight of who we really are because all we see is who we appear to be and "hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?" (Romans 8:24b)

Quite simply put, I lost hope. I lost my Hope, "Christ Jesus our hope" (I Timothy 1:1)

Because God's word says that Jesus is our hope and we have hope, "You will be secure, because there is hope;" (Job 11:18) I realized hopelessness in any situation, area or circumstance of life is a sin.

I was hopeless that my life would get better. I was sinning out of control and I could not stop myself. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me." (Romans 7:15 & 17)

Realizing that in the power of the Holy Spirit, I had the power to stop and to overcome my sin. "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then...I...am serving God" (Romans 7:25 NASB)

I began to fight to overcome this terrible sin of hopelessness. I began to silence the lies in my life by taking every thought captive. "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (II Corinthians 10:5)


I also began to actively guard my heart from allowing these untruths to steal hope from my very soul. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)


Without hope the battle for a better character is lost. Without hope we cannot persevere throught the tribulations we are told to expect in life. Jesus promises us troubles but also promises us a way out. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (I Corinthians 10:13)

We are also told that troubles and persecution lead to good results, Godly results, in our character. "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us," (Romans 5:3-5a)


If we only hope with a Godly hope, we will not be disappointed. By not losing our hope, we can experience great joy!


The Apostle Paul tells us that trials and tribulation are essential to character building. Yet, we are to endure them for the joy we have in Christ. We also have Jesus as the ultimate example of enduring trials for the joy set before Him. "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)



This is the only way He could endure death on the cross is to set joy continually before Him. He could always see the better purpose, the higher purpose, the purpose of His Father, the hope that we would reconciled to a right relationship with God.


I began to ask God to change my character instead of focusing only on my circumstances. He not only changed my character, He also began to change my circumstances. These same trials were no longer useful to molding my character and all that I was praying for was taking place! My character was changed and I had become free of the prison of that particular circumstance. Essentially, God had taught me the lesson He wanted me to learn and we were free to move on, together. Now, I still face the same trials from time to time. I, however, do not make the same mistakes. I am free from becoming hopeless. I recognize the downward spiral of thinking, the selfish focus of prayer and I ask God to overcome my weaknesses in the power of His Holy Spirit.



When I am weak He is strong in me. "but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.' So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong." (I Corinthians 12:9-10)



My hope is alive and well. It is firmly rooted and established in Jesus Christ. God has brought me friends in whom I can openly and honestly confide my struggles and confess my sins. "Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective." (James 5:16)


Don't you long to be effective in battle? Then start being healed from your sins. Start overcoming sin.


Dare to overcome, to hope, to live fully. "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." (John 10:10 NLT)


A life fully lived is one full of hope.





The Tree...


When God restored my hope, I became intrigued with the tree of life. Why does the Bible call fulfilled longings a tree of life? Why does the Bible call so many things a tree of life?


In Proverbs, wisdom , a tongue that brings healing, the fruit of the righteousness and she who wins souls are all called trees of life.


As I meditated on the tree of life, God began to show me the redemptive theme of the tree of life.


In the Garden of Eden, two trees are specifically mentioned in the Bible, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. God commanded Adam and Eve to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They couldn't say no to the enemy. They couldn't resist their own couriosity. They chose worldly wisdom over Godly wisdom. They were tempted, they ate, they lost paradise bringing sin into the world for all time.


We still choose to eat from that same bad tree each day. We make the choice to sin knowing fully what the cost will be. We also know the riches of living a life restored. We still choose to sin over and over again, thus having to choose to be redeemed, to be restored to a right relationshiop with God over and over again.


Even in our many sins and our needy state, God gives us opportunity after opportunity to receive the blessing that was lost in the garden. We still get to know what life would have tasted like had Adam and Eve eaten from the tree of life instead.


God instructs us over and over in His Word on how to receive this blessing of the tree of life. If we keep our hearts full of hope ("Hope deferred makes the heart sick but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12) we get it. If we seek for and embrace wisdom (Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her...Proverbs 3:18) we get it. If we speak healing words and truth with our tongue ("The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:4) we get it. And, if we lead a righteous life full of wisdom that leads others to the Lord (The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. Proverbs 11:30) we get it.


So, all we have to do is obey to receive this special blessing of life. Yet, we continually fall short. We make the same miserable choice Adam and Eve did so long ago every single day we live. The only way God could redeem us, purify us and ultimately give us the tree of life was to give us Jesus. His son came to us, all God, all man. He says, "I am the...Life," (John 14:6) and He hung on a tree for our sins.


"He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed." (I Peter 2:24)


The cross...the death of Christ...the ultimate redemption...the tree of Life.

Have you eaten from this tree of Life?

There's More...

I recently attended a dance conference called dance revolution with Julia. I had been studying the tree of life for quite some time before that weekend. The dance faculty performed a very moving dance drama called "The Tree." It reenacted these very principles through dance. It was very powerful. The dancers carried around these large apples, representing different sins. The apples were very burdensome as the dancers tried to live their lives in their sin. God's Word tell us we are dead in our sin. We are living like mummies...going through life dead!

When we are dead to life, we cannot respond to Life!

"When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive - right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ's Cross." (Colossians 2:13-14 The Message)





We need to receive the free gift of eternal life to pass from death to life, to wipe the slate of our lives clean. Have you done that?


God's Word tells us once we've passed from death to life in Christ all the blessings in Christ are "yes and amen."



"Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God's Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident." (II Corinthians 1:20 The Message)


When we are alive with Christ and living in line with His will for our life, all of the promises of God can flow freely in our life. What a beautiful picture of the love we experience "because He first loved us." ("We love because He first loved us." I John 4:19)


Wouldn't you rather be living a life full of promise and blessing than be stuck in a dead-end life?



These promises and blessings include not only experiencing the blessings of the tree of life but actually eating from it. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Revelation 2:7)


We get to fully experience Life in Heaven. We get to eat from the tree of life even though we don't deserve to. We get to eat, to experience life as we were meant to experience it in the garden, earthly paradise, because we have been redeemed and we have overcome sin and death.


"And they overcame...because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony..." (Revelation 13:11 NASB)


Webster's defines testimony as "a statement made under oath to establish a fact; any declaration; or any form of evidence; proof."


I want to declare and prove how we can overcome a life of sin and death and eat from the tree of life. I want to establish the fact that although the privilege of eating from the tree of life was lost in The Garden of Eden, we can eat from the tree of life in Paradise, Heaven, through the blood of the Lamb. I want a declaration, a statement.


What's yours?


How often do you use your testimony to overcome your problems, your battles, your sin? The key to overcoming is to share your story.


Be victorious, eat from the tree of life, share your testimony, tell your story.



More Deep Callings

Monday, November 27, 2006

Deep Callings


"Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and Your breakers have swept over me." (Psalm 42:7)


Deep Longings vs. Deep Callings

We all experience deep longings. We long to be loved deeply, accepted completely and understood totally. We long to be validated, valued, pursued and cherished with never ending and unconditional love.

There is a place deep within us that feels a void so large only God, True Love, can fill it. "God is love." (1 John 4:16)

One of the most awesome things about God is that when we turn to Him to fill our need to be loved, He not only fulfills our desire for love; He satisfies every longing if we let Him. "For He satisfies the longing soul...And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Psalm 107:9 and Philippians 4:19 NASB)
This is the point that some Christians can lose sight of abundant living and settle for a mediocre life where there is assurance of salvation but very little peace, joy and contentment. I found myself at this point some years ago...
I had already allowed God to come and fill my heart by receiving grace to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from Christ. Because I trusted Christ for the forgiveness of my sins when I was a young child, I still had a relationship much like I had with Jesus when I was young. I still had a childlike relationship with Jesus Christ. I was still an immature believer after having trusted in Christ for many years. I was living my life, narrowly escaping fire.
"Each one's work will become clear...because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer great loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13 and 15) I knew I would go to Heaven to be with Him when I died, I just didn't know why I had to endure such a miserable life until then. I still longed to feel God's love, to feel validated, valued, pursued and cherished by God. The fact is I didn't feel it. If I was supposed to be alive in Christ, ("...even so in Christ all shall be made alive." 1 Corinthians 15:22), why did I feel so dead?
This is where I began to recognize I was unsatisfied, but in a different way. I knew from all of the other mature Christians in my life, including relatives, Sunday School teachers and friends, that my relationship with God was lacking, I just didn't know what. I began my quest for that missing thing, I had always been taught there was more to this life. I just didn't know what that thing was.

Then God brought me to a place where I met Christians I could relate to, who could listen to my questions, to my hurts, and could encourage me. When I read my Bible it made sense and I could apply God's Word to my life. When I prayed I began to feel the peace of God. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ)

I began to recognize that what I felt were not necessarily the same old deep longings, but what I began to refer to as "deep callings." The calling of God on my life, to go deeper with Him, to explore the Bible more deeply, to examine my heart more closely and to live a life radically different than the one I had been used to living.

I was beginning to live enveloped in God's love, fully aware of His great love toward me at all times by "keeping myself in God." (Jude 21)
I started to live by knowing truth instead of believing truth as relative to my feelings. God's Word tells us our feelings are deceptive. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) We are to hold fast to what we believe. We are not believe only the things we see. "Now faith is...the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)

I began to tell myself how much God loved me each day by reading His promises in the Bible and meditating on these verses. Jeremiah 3:16 "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you." and Zephaniah 3:17 "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."

As I heard His song, I longed for my life to become a prayer, a gift, a love letter to my God. I discovered that when I answered the deep callings in my life, my life was transformed; my life began to look like the love song to my Savior I was longing to sing.

Psalm 42 says that after deep calls to deep, His lovingkindness and song are with me and become a prayer to Him. "Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life." (Psalm 42:7-8)

The deep callings, the songs God sings to us, become our prayers to Him. We must learn to hear and recognize His voice in the depths.

Rushing Waters...
This deep place within me is where Christ lives...and I die. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)
The word deep in this verse means the depths, abyss or grave. Rolled over means to cover with grave stones. We hear God's voice when we put ourselves, our fleshly desires, to death. It is in this death of our own flesh and selfish desires that we begin to experience life, True Life. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galations 2:20)


There are many paradoxes in the Christian life. We must experience death to have life, face fear to embrace freedom, walk through darkness to see light, and lose everything to possess everything to name a few. We must die to live and we must hear silence to hear God's voice.

What do you think of when you think of deep waters? When I think of deep waters, I think of silence, stillness and coldness. My daughter loves to spend time under water. One thing she wanted me to do all summer was go into the deep water with her and call out her name while she was under water so she could see if she could hear me. She could never hear me. The water was too deep. This fascinated her. It also fascinated me. I believe one reason we must journey to the deep sometimes to hear God's voice is that it is in silence and stillness that we hear God. "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)

When I am giving my children directions, for any reason, I ask them to be quiet and listen to me. I tell them to learn the rules and follow them because when they stop following the rules, we cease to have fun. For example, if we go to the zoo, they are to hold someone's hand and stay where they can see me at all times. If one child runs off, the other children can't enjoy the zoo because we are all searching for the lost child. That is no fun! God tells us to be quiet and listen closely so that we can go about our lives and enjoy living rather than doing unnecessary work. If we aren't paying complete attention to His directions, we may forget to follow some of them and have to pay a pretty big price. This is why He tell us to, "Be still and know that I am God."

In the movies when someone is underwater, it is silent, the outside world is muffled. Deep water scenes are mysterious. When the actors come up from being underwater, things are suddenly loud, quick and confusing. This is how our lives are. Until we can go to the depths, the quietness, the stillness and the mysteriousness of God remain hidden. Great things are promised to us when we call out in the depths. "Call to me and I will answer you, and tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." (Jeremiah 33:3 NRSV)

Now, if there are two people underwater trying to communicate, they usually can. If I were to put my face in the water and try to scream my daughter's name, she could hear something. Two divers remain attuned to each other, paying attention and watching for signals from each other. Could that be one reason God calls us to the depths? So we can become attuned to His voice?

Revelation 1:15 says, "...and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters." Rushing water is powerful, forceful, alive. I once went tubing down the Guadalupe River. Everyone warns passengers to keep their hands and feet in the raft and hang on tight during the rapids. The rushing water can take you under the current and hold you there drowning you. When we passed through the rushing waters, I was swept out of the raft and under the water very swiftly. The other five girls in our raft had to all struggle to pull me back on board. Rushing waters are very powerful! To be swept up in rushing waters can be very terrifying!
Deep water, rushing water gets our attention. Waterfalls however lovely, are also electrifying. Crashing waves and walls of water have power, life and even terror in them. Standing in their presence can be as fearful as it is awe-inspiring.

As you soak yourself in deep water and let it wash over you, listen for the quiet, still voice calling out to you from the deep. Habakkuk 3:10b says, "The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice." We have to remember that even when we feel swept away, lost at sea, God is directing the living water. God is the Living Water.

The quiet, still voice that sounds like rushing waters is calling out to you. Answer His call. "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts..." (Hebrews 3:15)

"Deep calls to deep..."

Deep water is also very distinctive. It is deep and remains deep when water is removed from it. When we take a cup of water, no one can tell. If we add a cup of water, it makes no difference. The depths of God are also unchanging. There is enough for everyone. God revealed Himself to Moses as "I AM that I AM." (Exodus 3:14) That is why one of the names of God is I AM. God was all that Moses needed to deliver the Israelites from Egypt and He is all that we need today. Every facet of our God remains the same forever. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

Come, drink deeply! Enjoy the never-changing, always abundant Living Water as you experience the depths.

More Deep Callings