Life Giver

My very first photo as a mom right after giving birth to my 1st in a tub.

I helped create a human- 6 humans to be exact; one just met our Maker in paradise sooner than the rest of us.

I try to remind myself of that fact as I look in the mirror picking apart every flaw I see staring back at me.

My newest little beauty is only 4 days old. 4 DAYS old. I’m 30 now. I haven’t slept probably more than an hour and a half straight since she was born. Her nights and days are reversed. My usual birth weight loss accompanied by water weight of about 20 pounds the first half a week just didn’t happen this time. It’s a good morning now when I’ve lost at least her birth weight in pounds. Instead, I’ve experienced more swelling- I didn’t even know that was possible without an IV & having an all-natural birth with no interventions. My usual dark circles under my eyes have grown darker, my puffy face paler. My once, the only thing I can usually count on eyes seem smaller, and my hair limp. My once small midsection with a visible 4 pack of abs has long been separated & what has taken its place is more like a deflated air balloon that sadly hangs over. While I was hoping my screwed up back that I had at least the last 3 months of pregnancy would magically heal when I birthed my baby, it realistically didn’t & still causes such pain that I can barely walk or get up at times. I gained more weight this pregnancy than any of my others, and I’ve always gained a lot no matter what I’ve done to prevent it. Frankly, I don’t want to be seen. I find my body and myself embarrassing. When I think about having to show up places, I just cry. I keep telling my husband that someday I won’t always look this way and find myself crying all over again. Talk about embarrassing.

However, when I look at the beautiful 8 pound, 7 ounce human being I brought into this world, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. She was worth it. She was worth every pound I’ve gained, every battle I’ve faced along the way, and the slow-motioned finish line crossing I envisioned as I tried to breathe through the ring of fire pain of her crowning so that I wouldn’t experience another pro-lapsed uterus like I did during the one forceful push I got her brother right before her out in.

You see, these human beings I birthed into this world have birthed a warrior out of me. They made me realize I’m stronger than I could ever imagine. That I could push through and cross those finish lines even with abs separated, a screwed up back, and all odds against me. They’ve made me realize that the best, most beautiful and worthy treasures come not only on the opposite side of the most laborious pains, but through them. That the rainbows wouldn’t come without the storms. That the closest I could ever come to relating to what Jesus felt and how much He loves us was when I allowed my body to be a living sacrifice through the pains of pregnancy and childbirth, and how worth it I’ve thought all my kids were even on their worst days.

I looked into the mirror again tonight and I saw that I’m not what I want to be yet. I won’t give up where I’m at and look this way forever. My body will heal, and I won’t give up. If I were looking at someone else in the same situation as me, I’d tell her to look at all she’s gone through and what she’s brought into the world because of it. I would tell her, “You are not to be pitied. You are fierce; and you’re a warrior. You just went through a tough battle, and you need to be gentle on yourself. The enemy wants you to feel defeated and pitiful because that’s the only thing he has to throw your way now, and his lies are only powerful when you agree with them. You’ve already won when you brought life into this world, and the enemy hates any bearer of His image. Now’s not the time to back down now. Someday, the circumstances will change, and the life bearers you brought into this world will bring forth life in so many different ways, and all this time will be but a mere shadow that was quickly passed in the grand scheme of things. For now, please be gentle with yourself. God gently leads those who are with young, little lamb. Hold your head high. You would never see others the way you see yourself now.  You, beautiful life giver, are an image bearer of the King who brought life into this world. Enjoy the lives you helped create, and embrace the life giver that you are.” 

Random Thoughts

625449134810a0c8ae7be761a0ed627dI had a very vivid dream this morning followed by some random thoughts that I can’t get out of my head so thought I’d share. It was just going to be the first paragraph or so on a status & kept growing so here it is on my site. 😉 This is to no one in particular-for real- just in general & to myself even.

If you feel like you HAVE (meaning you have absolutely no desire to, but feel the need to, not that you must because of a great desire) to share the gospel, maybe you still need to hear it yourself. The gospel by its very definition means GOOD NEWS. If what you have to share isn’t good news, then it’s not the gospel & could very well be intermixed with the shackles of a religious mindset. I don’t know about other people, but when I have good news, I have a really hard time holding it in. The people who were touched or healed by Jesus in the Bible did too- even when He told some to try to keep it to themselves or just share with their family. That’s just what good news does. It begs to be shared. The people who have it have a hard time keeping it in & the people receiving it usually want to hear it.

Jesus is the desire of the nations (Haggai 2:7). The nations DESIRE Him. If you’re a Christian; at one point, you did too. Remember the darkness you were in when you first heard of Him, & put yourself in other people’s shoes. We were comforted in order to comfort others. Share what He did for you, & in so doing, wants to do for somebody else. There is NO one too far gone-even yourself. If you have a hard time believing it over yourself, but would never tell that to anybody else, maybe you need to forgive yourself. I know I do & have had to many times.

“The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” In Revelation, the saints overcome the accuser of the brethren (Satan), by the blood of the Lamb & the word of their testimony. Nobody can take your testimony from you. That’s your personal experience. Many would love for it to be shared! As I’ve shared before, when I was around 6, I broke my collarbone so badly that the dr. told me he wasn’t sure if it would fully heal. I went to a church that night with my mom & people were sharing their testimonies how after being in a drought, their nation repented & God healed their land. They had vegetables bigger than people’s arms from what I remember. Nobody even prayed for me. I just thought while watching it that if God could do that for those people, surely He can heal my arm. As soon as I thought that, He did. I felt it & raised my arm with no pain & excitedly yelled without thought of where I was, “God healed me!” & remember the whole church gathering around me praising God for what He had done. That’s the power of the testimony of Jesus. If God did it for someone else, He can & wants to do it for you. Don’t be jealous over God’s blessings; receive them for yourself! God is no respecter of persons!

It’s not God’s will that ANY should perish. Jesus’ name means “God saves”. God doesn’t need us, but He WANTS us. God cared about us so much that He stooped down to our level & came in the form of a baby- Jesus, for the very reason to seek & save those who are lost. We’re ALL lost without Him. If you don’t believe that, then you’re believing a lie.

Also, if you’re wasting time accusing people who could be your brethren, you’re wasting your energy & might just be following the one you call your enemy as he is the accuser of the brethren. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” My pastor just spoke about sectarianism yesterday & it’s probably the best word I’ve ever heard on it & a little of what I’ve been talking to my husband about lately after seeing different Christians accuse others of being false teachers. He shares it so much better than I could so please listen (part 6 when it’s added- it is OH SOOO GOOD, everything I’ve heard has been though-so feel free to listen to others as well!).

C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Talk to me about the truth of religion and I’ll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I’ll listen submissively. But don’t come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don’t understand.”

John 13:35 says, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I’ve seen a hurtful, manipulative status shared that has accused others of not being Christians just for disagreeing with the way to deal with Syrian refugees. Honestly, I’m on the fence with that one. I see wisdom on both sides regarding the issue. I don’t believe it’s ever been the government’s job to take anyone in. It’s the government’s job to protect us. I can see why so many people don’t trust our leader (though I do believe that God calls us to respect him in his position) & seeing his reaction to different governors wanting to protect their states has felt really manipulative. I do feel it is our Christian duty to love others & do unto them what we want done to us & maybe God is calling different Christians to invite others into their homes & love on them. If God is calling you to do that, please do. I don’t think it’s okay to force that on others though or to say they’re not Christian if they don’t feel the same way as you do on that. God has called different people to do different things. The legs of a body aren’t called to do the same things as the hands. We as Christians are the body of Christ. To say someone isn’t being a part of the body because they don’t feel called to do the same thing as another part of the body is just silly. If you’ve seen “Inside Out”, you should know that all the feelings are an important part of the body. 😉 We all need to work together & love each other. When we pick apart each other, we’re doing exactly what Satan wants us to do & isolating each other so he can attack easier. We lose our strength. There is strength in love, strength in joy, & strength in number. Don’t isolate others just because they’re called differently than you.

Along the lines of what my pastor shared yesterday, God is so big, we can’t even comprehend Him fully. We’ve only seen glimpses of God. Surely He can give others a different experience than we’ve had. Surely He can speak to others different aspects of Himself than He has to us. That’s why we need each other & to hear others’ testimonies to see more of the whole picture. Honestly, I’ve had a hard time understanding how God can give different people so much love for the refugees but not their own brothers & sisters in Christ. Frankly, if I were others looking in at how we’re treating our family, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it. Maybe your brothers & sisters are being Pharisaical. Maybe you are. Maybe I am. Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Maybe we should stop wasting our energy trying to decide who’s being what & doing the job they’re supposed to do & just focus on what we are called to do. I feel like I have to tell my kids that on a minute by minute basis at times! “Stop focusing on whether or not others are doing what they’re supposed to be doing & just make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.” I know I struggle with that at times, but I’m trying to improve & maybe these thoughts are doing the same things I’m saying not to do. I don’t know. I just know I’m called to love God & love others & share the things I feel like God wants me to share. I couldn’t shake these thoughts this morning & thought maybe I should share them. Maybe we are supposed to allow refugees over here, & maybe we aren’t. I don’t think calling other people who don’t agree with us not Christian is going to change anybody’s mind, & even if it did, it would be in a controlling, manipulative, unhealthy way & nobody would enjoy being led that way. We’re better than that. We’re God’s children & Jesus’ brothers & sisters as He’s the firstborn among many brethren. Maybe we should just do our best to follow His example, & in so doing, people will want to follow us, just like they wanted to follow Him. We just need to be making sure WE are following the way, the truth, & the life & leading others to Him. All else is just meaningless, joyless, perverse (devoid of truth). The truth sets people free. We are supposed to set people free as Jesus did.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Who doesn’t want to be free? I know I do. I think others do too. 🙂

One Heck of a Mess

for love covers a multitude of sins.

for love covers a multitude of sins.

“Would you like me to cut you up an apple too?” The words slipped from my mouth as I could hardly even recall the last time I had taken the time to do to my husband what I would want him to do for me. I remembered a moment in time several Christmases ago when as I was getting myself something to eat, I asked he & his friends if they would like something too. As one of his friends looked shocked, my husband said, “That’s just the kind of person she is.” Or something along those lines. And I was. For many years.

Somewhere along the way, I’ve started acting like an entitled brat.

There was a hard 8 years my husband put me through what seemed like hell in many ways. It wasn’t all that way, there were some good times he likes to remind me of when he thinks I only remember the bad. However, through the roller coasters of dishonesty, pain, & extreme selfishness & manipulation at times, it was hard to think that the good times weren’t somehow just a rug put over the accumulating mess that needed swept up. Somewhere along the way, God got a hold of my husband’s heart, & I was left dealing with the mess left behind because I had let my heart grow too calloused to ever allow God to disrupt my self-sufficiency. But the thing is, being self-sufficient isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s making a god of myself because I forgot that God cared about me anymore. It was thinking that I could take the reigns & do a much better job than He did.

But I couldn’t. I can’t. Nobody can.

For years, I tried to act like I could overcome all the mess. Like I could clean it up on my own. I did all the wifely duties & then some. I thought if I just did this & this, then my husband would love me. If I just do a little more, then he would appreciate me. I started playing my own manipulative games unaware of the enemy’s hands I was playing into. Looking in from an outside perspective, my husband didn’t deserve the treatment he was getting. If I were a guy, he would have been told he was lucky to have me. Being the girl in the family I grew up in, I was just doing what was expected of me. Which really didn’t help. When I was told by those who didn’t know all I did for him & all he had put me through how lucky I was if he helped out in the least, it made me furious at times. I wanted to share with them my story, what I had gone through. What I was put through. As though I had no choice in the matter. And truth be told, in ways, I felt very stuck. Like I had no choice.

My husband was dishonest about a lot of things until we were engaged. When I found out, I didn’t want others to think badly of him, & kept it to myself. Originally, I felt awful & then furious at Satan that my husband would think I wouldn’t accept him completely as he was, that he felt the need to hide who he was from me. But after getting blamed for his dishonesty due to my lack of trust at a time I was completely vulnerable, I was just blindsided. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I bottled it up. I lacked any knowledge about boundaries. As my findings of more dishonest areas grew, so did my confidence in the fact that God brought us together. I tried to run away from the relationship. I gave him back the ring many times & was just told to put it back on, & I did. Part of me knew I was supposed to marry him, but I knew it shouldn’t have been under these circumstances. And my lack of boundaries & my growing insecurities didn’t help. The rockier things became and the more lies surfaced, the more I wanted God to come through, & when it didn’t feel like He did, the more I started building a wall around myself to protect myself from the hurt. I felt if I couldn’t physically separate myself from the pain without leaving him & ruining our marriage & in a way, our kids’ lives through divorce, the only way I could stay in it, was if I mentally separated myself from it with my imaginary walls. The problem is, when you build a wall around yourself to protect yourself from pain, you also trap yourself from ever feeling love too. Or any good thing.

And I didn’t. For many many years. My walls became my prison. When I didn’t feel hurt, I felt numb. Nothing could get in. Or go out. My dreams became tormenting. I could literally feel when another lie was about to surface from the tormenting dreams I would go through, & my walls would go higher. If that’s not hell on earth, I don’t know what is. When my walls cracked & let some of the pain get in, I would get controlling. I wanted to control our circumstances because I felt like I physically, emotionally, & spiritually couldn’t handle another hit. And truth be told, I couldn’t. I was already in survival mode & I was drowning. I read once that a person with my personality’s body often manifests on the outside what they’re going through on the inside. It didn’t matter how controlling I became with my food or how much I withheld from myself or how much discipline & hard work I put my body through, my physical body went into survival mode. There was a point in time, I didn’t know if I was going to make it. And it wasn’t even the time I tried not to.

That’s what bottling in pain & becoming a victim can do to a person. It’s not pretty. It often feels like hell on earth. It’s scary to even admit I allowed myself to get so deep that I couldn’t even see the surface.

And the even harder part was having tasted intimacy with God in the past. If I didn’t know what could be, I might not know I was missing out on so much. But I had. To know how good & great God is, & then to go through almost a decade of intense tongue lashing flames with no God in sight, is agonizingly painful. I was ashamed of who I had become. I felt He would no longer accept me. I didn’t want to be where I was. Who would? I cried out to Him. I just cried at times. I tried and tried. And tried harder. Hoping He would accept me. Playing the same manipulative games with God that I started playing with my husband. GOD, PLEEEASE ACCEPT ME. LOVE ME. FORGIVE ME. I CAN’T GO ON LIKE THIS! I NEEED YOU! The pain was unreal. I gave to Him, I gave to others, I obeyed all I knew how. I honestly wouldn’t wish what I was going through on my worst enemy, yet at times wished someone knew what I was going through so I could have someone who could relate. But all I felt was alone. And in a way I was. I was crying out to this wonderful amazing gentle lamb of a Father, yet all the while knowing He can seem like an untamed lion at times that could allow me to go through this dangerous “adventure” & I was too terrified to truly let my guard down. To let Someone so wild that didn’t have to answer my growing number of questions in. Knowing some questions might never be answered in this life. And I didn’t know if I could deal with that.

Yet despite my growing pharisaism, God completely ruined me one day in a good way. He burst right through my built up walls, and lavished His love on me in a way I can’t describe. I was literally trembling and a complete puddle of a mess for a whole day. He showed me the beauty He saw in me & what He imagined me to be despite the beast that was growing inside. He brought back this innocence and childlikeness I had long forgotten. I thought it was too wonderful to be true. Yet, it felt so real. More real than anything I had ever experienced. Too wonderful to experience on this earth that I thought He was going to take me to be with Him then. I wrote my family and some old friends just in case so they’d know what happened to me & what He had in mind for them as well. It might seem crazy, but nothing felt more real. When it happened, I knew that all I had gone through was for a reason & forgiving my husband & others seemed easy. I lost 14 pounds in the 2 days following just confirming what was going on spiritually & the burdens I was carrying so long were starting to be lifted after not being able to lose any weight for almost 2 years & going to doctor after doctor who couldn’t tell me why my body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients I was eating & one told me how I couldn’t fix all the problems I had physically even if I had all the money in the world.

But despite it being the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me & despite it giving my husband & I a second chance on our marriage, there was so much that happened after that made me afraid to ever let it happen again. I started realizing how much I cared about what others thought after all. I enabled a spirit of rejection to grow stronger than my love of God in my life, and the areas that I had swept up & cleaned, but not yet allowed to be filled with God’s love & His spirit, I only allowed something 7x more ugly to start growing in my life. And being put through a hard miscarriage, 2 cysts rupturing, being told by a dr. what I mentioned before, almost 11 weeks of bleeding & severe pain after my miscarriage worse than any of my natural full-term births, followed by a super busy reffing & athletic directing season on top of teaching my husband had, a super hard pregnancy I had, followed by all the changes mentioned in the last post, I have felt wiped. And while I’ve felt wiped, I haven’t given much thought to how any of this has affected my husband either. I’ve been too busy attending to my own wounds. Too busy trying to convince myself that none of the insecurities I feel have to do with my identity. Too busy trying to convince myself that while my security & stability seem to have been severely shaken, my husband’s a new person.

God got a hold of him.

My sister reminded me how all our lives we had a really nice grandpa. He made us feel so loved. He was married to our very bitter grandma who we never felt loved from. Apparently, he acted stupid early on in their marriage & the rest of their lives she could never forgive him. He grew up to be this amazing, loving family man, & the beauty she once possessed seemed long forgotten.

It’s kind of been passed on through the generations.

I don’t want to be like that.

My husband was stupid. Apparently, a lot of guys start out stupid. It takes a long time for some to grow up, even if they are 6 years older. But he has. He’s grown up. He’s become an amazing man. I don’t need to remind him how stupid he’s been. I don’t need to keep re-hashing all the negative years to make myself feel better about how far I’ve fallen or to allow myself to keep my victim mentality. If he’s allowed God to change him & I’ve seen him at his worst, then I can allow Him to change me too. You jump; I jump, hubby. 😉 I don’t need to be an entitled brat. Nobody should deserve what I went through, but in a way we’re blessed when we don’t get that. Only Jesus dying & paying our price has even made Heaven on earth & beyond attainable. My husband doesn’t owe me anything for all the years of selfishness & pain that affected me. And I don’t have to go the rest of my life acting like he does.

I want to love recklessly again. I want to break the chains of bitterness & unforgiveness of past generations. I don’t want to pass it onto my children. And boy, is it strong. But my God is stronger. 🙂 And God’s love can even pour through this dried up wasteland of a person I’ve become. He can make these dry bones live again. 🙂 And you know, giving is just the kind of person I am (as my husband once said)-the person God created me to be, that I’ve buried for so long. It’s time to let Love in-& you know, out too. 😉 And if He can do it through me, you better believe He can do it through you because I’ve been one heck of a mess.

 

~*Weathered Heart*~

You left your heart open
For far too long
Thought it was invincible
Couldn’t be more wrong

You didn’t use an umbrella
To shelter it from rain
You didn’t know storms
Could weather so much pain

Now you’re left
With a torn, weathered heart
You’ve tried to mend it some
But it’s easily torn apart

And your heart
Once thought to easily survive
Is just dying
Dying to stay alive

In an attempt to
Rescue itself from more pain
It closed itself up
To shelter floods of rain

And the door of your heart
Was shut to many-a helpful knock
And in order to survive
It would have to unlock

It would have to open up
To see blue skies again
And it would need to let the Son
Take the place of sin

It would have to risk dying
In order to survive
And it would have to open up
If it ever wanted to thrive

And with one last gasping
Breath of air
It cried out with strength
You never knew existed there

It cried out for mercy
It cried out for grace
It cried out for healing
To take place

It cried out for forgiveness
Of not opening up before
When the Helper chose
To knock on its door

And it opened up
Wider than ever
It chose to risk everything
If it was its last endeavor

And the floods came
And the rain
But it wasn’t like ones before
It washed away the pain

And the Son came
He helped your heart thrive
And with His help
Your heart will always survive

You leave your heart open now
Never to close
Sometimes storms may come
But they leave with rainbows

-R.A.D.

Newborn Sinners?

17967_533563951818_7237959_nWhen are we considered sinners? At what age after birth? Do people believe that newborns are capable of sin? Are we sinners at birth? Does being human and having human attributes qualify someone as a sinner?

I know my answers to these questions, but I honestly wonder what others are, especially among Christians. I get it. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And I’ve read the passage from Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”, but does it mean what so many of us have been taught for so long? I think this does an amazing job of sharing what I believe God has been showing me in the past year that is just one of the lies I’ve never understood. I always wonder how people can claim that newborns are born sinners, or that we’re sinners from birth when Ezekiel makes it pretty clear we don’t inherit our parents’ sin. Or the fact that if newborns are born sinners, would not Jesus be considered among them as He came in the flesh? Does temptation alone make someone a sinner? Does it not say that Jesus was tempted in every way, yet was without sin? Does sinning not require an act on our part or even entertaining sinful thoughts? Which sin has a newborn baby committed? Was it when he/she had to cry to communicate that he/she was hungry, tired, or went potty? Is that not how God created us? Did He not look on His creation and say it was good? Did He not make us in His image?

Or here’s another angle: when He talks about being born again or being a new creation, what would be so great if we truly believe that being born automatically means we’re sinners? I whole-heartedly believe that our goodness is nothing apart from God and that we are born with a selfish nature, but does that mean that by just being born the way God made us, we are sinners? There have been so many who have shared that we cannot know if a baby is going to hell or not because of this. Yet God said to Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you;” and through David: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.” Does the Bible not say that John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb? And after we have been forgiven of our sins and walking in the Spirit, is God/the Bible a liar when it says we can overcome sin?

I had a really intense spiritual war/dream that was going on in my head last year that I had to seriously pray through and ask for clarity for quite some time that night and I felt like God was saying how we will act out what we believe about ourselves. In essence, if after we have been born again, we believe the accuser of the brethren and believe that we’re not who God says we are, we will act out of those lies. If we believe that Christ’s blood wasn’t enough, that His forgiveness isn’t enough, that we’re still sinners, then we will act out of that lie. However, if every time we are tempted, we believe what Jesus says about us, in Christ, we can overcome that sin. Will we still be tempted to sin? Of course. Do we have to fall every time we’re tempted? No. And if we do fall, are we then defined by our sin or by His righteousness? That’s the problem we’ve been encountering. All it takes for someone to sin is believing a lie-about God and about ourselves, thinking we know better than God, rather than whole-heartedly trusting Him. Are we capable of that even after being filled with God’s Spirit? Yes. However, we are not defined by our weakness anymore. We are defined by His righteousness. And as we walk in the newness of His Spirit and are born of God, we cannot sin.

Faith Like a Child

One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. :)

One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. 🙂

Sometimes I wish upon everything to have the child-like faith I once possessed. I think sometimes it’s easier for kids to understand more about the Kingdom of God than we adults do. Sometimes I feel like I need to strip off all the things I’ve “learned” that have led to self-righteousness at times and go back to the foundation that caused me to hunger for God in the first place. I’ve shared some of my desire for God at a young age due to my mom’s hunger for Him and her constant prayers over my siblings and me, but God really made Himself and His love known to insignificant me when He healed my collarbone at a young age.

When I was a young kid-I’m guessing 6 or 7, the two neighborhood boys my age and I were taking turns on the slide. Of course, as it is with kids, they got so excited about going down that one of them started getting way too pushy. I wanted to go backwards that time and asked if he could scoot back, but instead he pushed me off. I still remember glimpses during that time (almost as if I had an out of body experience where I can still see my mom looking out at me through the kitchen window and almost as though I can see myself falling from her point of view). With the weird angle of being mid-trying to turn around, I fell on my collarbone. At the time, my dad thought I was just making a big deal out of nothing, and moved my collarbone that I told him I could not move on my own when he asked. Of course, I screamed like a baby. I remember them temporarily setting it and later wheeling me into St. Francis hospital since any movement was painful with all that the collarbone’s connected to, only to hear the dr. say that it was broken so badly, it may never fully heal. My mom had a habit of going to a Word of Life Church (or Word Alive?) occasionally in addition to the church I regularly went to and brought me with her that night. It was no accident-purely Spirit-led as they ended up having a video (yes, at the time, it truly was still called a video) they played with a TV and VCR they had wheeled in.

I still remember watching what the Holy Spirit was doing in the country that was being shown. After turning their country over to God, they had huge vegetables the size of people’s arms and bigger where there was once a famine and as I was watching it, my faith in God grew knowing that if He could do that for them then surely He could heal my arm; and when that happened, I remember getting feeling in my what-was-then-casted arm and lifted up my arm in the middle of the video, shouting, “God healed me!” I still remember the whole crowd of people at that church coming around me and praising God for healing me!

I had a huge desire to share how good God was after that. I told the neighborhood boys all about Him and invited them to church with me; but after a while, while I still had a huge desire for God, my experience and the things I saw around me didn’t seem to line up. While I learned more about God and the life He calls us to live in the Baptist school I went to, I had forgotten His great love for me and dwelt more on all the things I could or should be doing for Him. I grew insecure in His love and tried to earn it by living the best I knew how and when I still wasn’t confident in it, I lost my desire to live. Even at a young age, I struggled greatly with depression and sought to find purpose in life.

It wasn’t until I was 12 1/2, the youngest allowed to go to a church camp to Philly we called boot camp that I was reminded of God’s great love for me, was filled with the Holy Spirit and true Joy, and was given a reason for living. This was my first poem I wrote after being filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 12. I saw others who reminded me of my passion when I was younger, and it made me yearn for that again. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times God showed up on my behalf and made Himself known to me since then-sometimes even in the smallest answers to prayer. From healing me of a sudden-popped out jaw during boot camp that was hurting immensely, to ANY time I needed $5 for a meal at work & didn’t have cash for it (I used a debit card for everything)-sometimes I would just happen to get 5 different random people tipping me $1 each  when nobody usually liked paying more than the then $19 charge to park and was told nobody tips garage cashiers to a stranger handing me $5 just in time or even someone dropping off a meal & telling me I didn’t need to pay, to a reader of my old blog I didn’t know who was on the other side of the country saying she felt like God wanted her and her husband to give me their tithing money of $200 that week after my sister said THAT day she could come to my high school graduation if I could get half the plane ticket that would cost $400 & I never told her I needed that amount, but she had sent me a $200 cashier check just in time. I’ve mentioned before how my husband and I had a really rocky relationship for years, but I knew that God brought us together from Him answering some crazy prayers I had from years before I met my husband where I had asked God to specifically lead my husband to do different things in a time of confusion in past relationships and we had many prophecies as well from different churches and people that didn’t know our situation that only confirmed us being together. God knew I needed every singly one of those confirmations during the rough years and I can’t thank Him enough for giving them to me or for helping us get to the place we are now that I had lost all hope for. There were so many more that I could go on and on.

Life definitely wasn’t “easy” growing up-in fact God seemed to show up most in the most difficult times, but He made Himself so real to me and gave me a reason for being and true joy in the midst of some of the hardest times during my teen years. I never doubted that God answered prayers or that He was real because of how real He made Himself on my behalf, and I knew it was all due to Him and His goodness. I couldn’t take any of the credit. I wasn’t anyone special, and I knew He wanted to answer prayers and be that real for everyone and loved sharing Him with anyone I came across. I wrote Him almost daily in my journal-a continual reminder of His goodness in answering prayers, would dance in worship to Him in my room and even at a Spirit-led Tuesday night worship service at my church I often walked to, and read the Bible for fun as I loved hearing from Him and knowing all I could about Him.

Around that time, I prayed that God would do whatever it takes for me to become even closer to Him. I wanted all He had to offer, to grow closer to Him than ever before. I shared some of my struggles since then, but not all. Along the way, I lost a lot of my child-like faith in Him and saw a huge decrease in my prayers being answered. After almost a decade of feeling like I screwed up too much for God to accept me after being so close and turning my eyes more on my circumstances than on Him, God has been reaching out to me in ways only He could. For the past year, God has been revealing so many things I’ve allowed to get between us. Most Christians might say these things are good as outwardly I continued to try to do a lot for Him and others and didn’t rock the boat so to speak, but as I’ve shared, a lot of it has come from an insecurity in His love for me-almost as though I felt like I could earn His love if I just tried harder or did more. But I know better now-or at least I’m re-learning that NOTHING I can do can earn His love. I already have it. You already have it. We just need to accept it and walk in His love for us and walk out His love for others continually reminding ourselves of all He’s done for us and where we were without Him. Only then will our love not grow cold. Only then can we sustain a faith-filled walk seeing Him answer prayers on our behalf. Only when we fix our eyes on Him and His goodness and remember where we came from and share our stories/testimonies, knowing He wants to do for others what He’s done for us, and sharing what He’s laid on our hearts for others through seeing them through His eyes can we be effective in our walk towards Him. Everything else just leads to self-righteousness and makes us think that we’re better than others who are struggling in other areas than we do or makes us feel like we can earn His love by something we do because we aren’t already secure in His love. Trust me, I’ve been there for so long. I’m not entirely sure I’m completely out of that mindset yet as it seems to be a continual struggle for me, but I don’t plan on stopping here. I know there’s more out there- and He is so much more real and powerful and amazing and awesome than we could ever imagine because I’ve only seem glimpses and tasted samplings and it’s always enough to lead me to come back for more. 🙂

I read these verses this morning:

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Mark 16:14-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Great Commission

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[a] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Christ Ascends to God’s Right Hand
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

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A few things popped out at me that I put in bold. First off, Jesus rebuked the unbelief and hardness of heart of those who didn’t believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Then He told them to go into ALL the WORLD and preach the GOSPEL to every creature. Then, it says that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved and that these signs will follow those who believe- in Jesus’ name, we will cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, if we drink anything deadly, it will not hurt us, and we will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. A couple verses later, it shares that as they preached EVERYwhere, the Lord worked WITH them and CONFIRMED the Word (His Word will not return void) through the accompanying signs-all the signs He said would follow those who believe.

It just makes my heart cry out, “Oh God, help my unbelief!” Like I said, the more I struggled and focused my eyes on my circumstances rather than on God, the less I saw my prayers answered. However, I know there’s more out there because not only does God say there is, but also because I’ve experienced it. I’ve been so blessed to visit a few churches this past year-a couple in Minnesota and 1 here and am always so blessed to read and hear what’s going on at Bethel Church in Redding, CA where God has been moving and confirming His Word with accompanying signs and my heart has been burning within me for that again and let’s just say, the tears have flown freely during those times causing a desire and passion for God that had been dormant for some time. I’ve heard from many and read articles saying that we should be happy with JUST the Word of God and how anyone who’s not satisfied with that is just looking to be entertained, yet Jesus Himself said the accompanying signs followed those who believed. Also, in Matthew He said how if the mighty works/miracles had been done in Tyre and Sidon and Sodom as they were done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes and remained ’til that day and their-Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom’s (very wicked places) judgment would be more tolerable than those cities He performed mighty works in that weren’t turning their hearts towards Him. There’s just something about God moving and confirming His Word with signs that shows people His realness and His heart towards them that they cannot deny is God and it makes them face their Maker. Without it, we’ve only reduced the gospel to mere words. God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth. He inhabits the praises of His people. He desires to make Himself known to us.

Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 5:

36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.

Sometimes I just wonder if we limit God because the circumstances of our lives have drawn us away from keeping our eyes on Him that we no longer truly believe He’s alive today and still wanting to make Himself known and is bigger than His Word. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten His love for us and go back to trying to earn His love by the things we do and no longer have the love of God in us just like the Pharisees lacked it. We always equate the scribes and Pharisees to hypocrites and horrid men-after all, Jesus called them hypocrites, but do we ever see ourselves in them? These guys, while we know what the Bible says about them, knew Scriptures-shoot, the scribes were the only ones who were taught to read and write, they loved money, and justified themselves before men, but God said He knew their hearts and what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God. Are we ever like that? Am I ever like that? Do I try to justify myself before men and reduce God to Scriptures instead of allowing Scriptures to point me to Him Who gives life? Do I forget all He’s done for me and lose sight of His love for me and others? Do I try to live and hold others to an impossible standard to earn His love rather than allowing His Spirit to take root in my heart and bear His fruit? Do I readily accept His Kingdom as a child does or do I look at those who are seeing the fruit of His Spirit and His mighty works with envy and turn it into skepticism all in the name of Christianity? If anything, as far as I can tell, skepticism and unbelief are the opposite of what Jesus taught and out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants He has ordained strength and perfected praise. May God give us the faith, strength, and praise of a child who readily acknowledges and accepts Him.

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If you want to be really challenged and encouraged, you should watch this:

Sunday Morning 1/25/15-Bethel sermon

Salt and Light

My youngest last year on our table when left to roam for a second. ;)

For the last year, God has really been shaking some false foundations of my spiritual life. It has been freeing in so many ways, but also painful in others and I’ve found I’ve been way more in need of His Comforter-the Holy Spirit. I’ve written some posts that have addressed some things God has shown me this year and might expand on some experiences I’ve had more later, but for now, I started a poem last night and finished this morning that shares a little more depth of what God’s been showing me. I do hope that no one reads any of this in a judgmental light, as me saying “we” includes me in it. I’ve just been realizing how much we as a church (and no, not just my church…I mean the body of Christ, including me) has been putting God in a box in so many ways. In the past year, let’s just say that God has broken my box down and taken me out of my comfort zone and I’ve realized I can let His Spirit consume me or I can keep trying to hold onto my false idols and comforts. I’m not going to lie, I’ve tried many times since to hold onto the luxuries I’ve enjoyed in the past, but deep down, I don’t find any of it enjoyable anymore. I don’t see the purpose in so many things that I put so much effort in and like I said, it’s been freeing and yet uncomfortable in so many ways that I don’t even know what to do with all of what God’s been showing me-so in this case at least, I’m resorting to writing poetry again that I pray is Spirit-led. As I’ve been doing, I put in as many links with verses and such that popped into my head so if any part doesn’t make sense to someone else, I hope the links help expand on those thoughts that drove me to write a lot of this. 🙂

Salt and Light

Desire of the nations
By Your flesh and blood You fed
Yet we feed only rations
Of our stale old bread

We eat just enough
Of our religiosity
That we’ve forgotten what it means
To be truly hungry

We try to stave off the desire
Of the forever starving
For their works are revealed through fire
Threatening our mediocrity

So afraid of heretical fakes
We dare not cross a line
Terrified of mistakes
Any risk we decline

So we tiptoe in shallow water
Forgetting You walked on the deep end
We’d lose our control if we went farther
And on You, we’d need to depend

Intimidated by darkness
We cover our eyes
We no longer love recklessly
To our own demise

We’re called to be the light of the world, a city on a hill,
The salt of the earth
Now, we’ve lost our flavor
We’ve lost our worth

We’ve forgotten Living Water
Won’t be contained in a box
And any attempt to put You in
Neglects to feed Your flock

We live in false luxury
Pushing away Your Comforter
Or choose false humility
Accusing many-a law breaker

We’ve forgotten our strength is our joy
And the gospel means good news
Our salvation never came by works
Yet that is the life we choose

We are to be known by our love
And love never fails
Yet we’re known by our rights
And all that entails

Or we take another route
And encourage any sin
Meant to walk in spotless purity
Of the world we’re in

We don’t question anymore
Playing know-it-alls
The gods we’ve built live in
Any of our four walls

We need to tear down religious idols
Our minds we need You to refresh
We are the circumcision meant to worship in Spirit
Having no confidence in our flesh 

We want to be salt to the earth
We long to be the light
Our playing small never served our world
Nor put up any fight

The safest place is in Your will
And that’s where we long to be
Led by Your Spirit
However daunting

-R.A.D. 12/13/14 (ha. Just realized the date. 😉 )

*Currently reading: How Heaven Invades Earth by Kris Vallotton and it is highly recommended!

Words of Life

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (One of my newest projects.)

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (One of my newest projects.)

When I was younger, my mom used to take me to not just our normal church building, but all kinds of churches with her. There was such an outpouring of God’s Spirit in so many different churches at the time, that people were not only getting healed but speaking in tongues they didn’t understand and people from other countries were being told the gospel through their native tongues that the people praying over them didn’t even understand, but God’s Spirit was doing the work and people were being saved and would just weep that God cared so much about them.

At most of these places, my mom would ask for people to pray for her eyesight so she could see without glasses. At the time, I used to be so embarrassed because she was never healed. I think I thought maybe God didn’t want to heal her or else He would have. However, the testimonies from these churches and even my mom’s persistence that God’s heart was so good that He wanted to heal her caused me to have a deep longing for God at such a young age. I remember knowing that God was present and still working and as a young girl sleeping in a bunk bed with my sister, I remember praying every night telling God how much I love Him and saying that since He’s here, I would love to give Him a hug and kiss good night and would often kiss and hug the air knowing He could feel it because I knew Him to be a loving Father and wanted so badly to show Him how much I loved Him in return. This poem was written years later from that memory.

Honestly, I didn’t even remember about my mom asking for prayer for her eyesight until this past week, and when it was brought to my memory, I was actually sad that as far as I know, she doesn’t do that anymore. It made me sad that we as a body have stopped the flow of the Spirit so much that people don’t think God wants to heal them. People aren’t leaving the church because people are so evil, but rather the church is only giving people a God that’s being proclaimed only by mere words, and God is so much bigger than that. The verse: “My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” popped into my head. I love that David said his expectation was from God. Do I believe that? That my expectation is from God?

I just finished the book Release the Power of Jesus by Bill Johnson and was so incredibly encouraged and moved in so many ways. At one point, he shared how it seems that people are always either building a case for God or against God. There are times that things happened that he didn’t understand like a leader’s wife’s baby dying in her womb even after they felt like God was going to heal her baby and spoke life over her child and a person close to them dying of cancer after they had prayed for healing and thought God was going to deliver him from cancer. He said they could keep dwelling over things they don’t understand and think that maybe God doesn’t want to heal people or they could dwell on things they do know, and what they did know was that God came to bring life and healing and deliverance and they were commanded to speak words of life. Since then, they have had multiple testimonies of babies who were proclaimed dead in the womb who were brought back to life as well as multiple testimonies of people being completely delivered from cancer. However, he doesn’t know that they would have had that breakthrough if they dwelt on the things they didn’t know or understand.

The world is full of things we don’t understand. There are so many things in my own life that I don’t necessarily understand why they happened. Reading that, I was so convicted because there are some things that I have been praying for and healing I have been desperately crying out for and realized I had let my heart grow cold to God. Bill Johnson shared how some people will come up to him and say how they’ve been prayed for up to 100x and prophesied healing over by so and so and still haven’t been healed, but would he please pray for them. He tells them he will only agree to it if they act as though it’s the first time because they’ve already started building a case against God and hardening their hearts to Him, that if healing doesn’t come, then God basically doesn’t want to heal. After agreeing to that, many have seen breakthrough.

I was reading some of Jesus’ words today in John 12:49-50 :

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Jesus said that He only speaks what the Father commanded and His command is everlasting life. I’ve been so convicted of that. Do my words bring forth life or death? God’s Word says death and life are in the power of the tongue. Are my words and thoughts building a case for God or are they causing me and others to doubt His goodness that leads others to repentance?

I shared in my last post how God’s been really challenging my faith this year and whether or not I believe what I say I believe and 3 different times being shared the verse about how much more our Father wants to give good things to those who ask of Him. This summer has been an even greater challenge as I’ve felt led to pray for people I honestly might not have had the courage to pray for, yet God had just given me a heart for them. Most people gladly receive prayer, and I’ve been thanked, blessed, hugged, and seen some crying and thanking God. It has been so encouraging at times, though it’s been also sad to see the only refusal I’ve had in a church building. To be honest though, I get it. Like I said, I had a hard heart towards God thinking that maybe He doesn’t want to heal and building a case against Him. I was afraid to pray for people for a while because I was afraid God might not answer their prayers like He wasn’t answering mine. I didn’t want others to grow hard towards God as I was growing hard towards Him. I don’t understand why God doesn’t answer all our prayers-there are some reasons given in the Bible, but I won’t stop praying. I know that He is good. I know that He is life and the giver of life. I know that He commands us to speak everlasting life just as He commanded Jesus to. I know that my expectation is from Him. I know that sometimes it takes praying multiple times to see breakthrough, and God is looking for people who are willing to recklessly abandon themselves and make a fool of themselves to show their love for Him. God’s Word will not return void even when we don’t always see the fruit right away, and I realized that even if my prayers aren’t answered over others, they know that I actually believe what I say I do and at least I can point them to Him.

Don’t give up on praying! You will see breakthrough as you remember His promises and dwell on His goodness and His testimonies! Someone shared this with me along with the verse I was reminded of a few times and as she did, it was so moving that as I watched this, it brought tears to my eyes again. Only God knows how many tears I’ve cried as I’ve prayed to Him, and while this doesn’t share it, there is a verse that shares how God keeps all our tears in His bottle that came to mind as she was sharing this analogy with me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqG9_acZbZA

Be blessed in the name of Jesus! 🙂

Me, faithless?

My youngest daughter looking skeptical...taken by her Aunt Laura. :)

My youngest daughter looking skeptical…taken by her Aunt Laura. 🙂

For the past year, I feel like God has been really challenging my faith. In essence, I’ve been challenged with questions such as “Do I really believe what I say I believe? Do I really believe God is who He says He is?” And not only that, but “Do I believe I am who God says I am?”

For so long, I have been faithless. Not faithless in a sense that I’m disloyal, but faithless in a sense that I’ve lost faith in God’s ability and my ability through Him. I lost faith in what He clearly says in His Word. I realized that everything I did, while they may have been “good” things, were really things that I could do on my own apart from Him-nothing I did really caused me to go beyond my ability into His ability. Yeah, I could work hard and maybe had talents that others might not have, but a lot of that can just come through hard work, practice, or might be said to be a hereditary trait. Anybody can come up with something to give to those in need, save their first kiss for their spouse, tithe, keep a nice house, etc. Although with young kids, the whole keeping a nice house is a little easier said than done. 😉 Anybody can even pray for the sick. Honestly, none of those things really require faith.

However, to speak healing over someone requires faith. To believe that I am the bride of Christ when I have been so faithless requires faith. To believe that I am dead to sin and alive to God requires faith. To believe that when Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for my sins, but all power over sickness and death was handed to Him and that He later handed all that authority to us requires faith. I could go on and on. I read today how He didn’t just say or rather, command us to pray for the sick, He told us to heal the sick. By the way, in those verses, He also tells us to raise the dead. Talk about requiring faith!

Like any good parent, God doesn’t do everything for His children, but rather equips us and gives us the tools we need to accomplish what He has commanded us to do. Yes, there are boundaries and rules just like in any loving household, because there are consequences when rules are broken. For instance, having a rule to not touch the stove top, is not to keep a kid from fun, but rather to protect them from being burned. A toddler might not understand that, but the older they get, the more understanding they’ll have. It would be unloving to just watch them do that without saying anything! However, it’s a sad state when the church speaks more about the rules and what not to do than about the loving Father behind those rules.

Colossians 2:20-23 says:

“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations  “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”  which all concern things which perish with the using–according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”

When I was younger, I was fairly dramatic-ok, so not much has changed. 😉 As with most kids, there were many times I questioned my parents’ love for me, yet was given a lot of chores. I did them and would later write in my diary how I felt like they only had kids to be their slaves (pretty humorous and yet humbling to read my old journal entries). My mom used to even boast that she didn’t have just one dishwasher, but five and then would state our names. I was taught to do different things because they were the right thing to do. Nothing wrong with that, but it definitely helps an attitude to know the love behind those commands. Many people aren’t able to realize that until they have kids of their own.

I remember when God first really made Himself known to me, I started asking my older sister to use the restroom and maybe bring a book in with her, then would try to surprise her with doing all of her dishes. My older brother used to pay me to clean his horrific room in the basement, yet after God touched my life (I’ll go into more detail in another post), I remember trying to give what little money I had to clean his room just to bless him. I know what you’re thinking, what a sister! 😉 I remember wanting to do everything unto God and I truly loved blessing people. I remember standing at the kitchen sink trying to envision Jesus coming into our house and wanting to clean and make things nice for Him. Talk about a major change in my life and attitude! What used to seem like slavery became a way of worship!

However, it wasn’t until I realized just how much God loved me-silly old me with my dramatic attitude, and that He cared about even the little things in my life! His love for me entirely melted my perception of Him and of life. Rules no longer seemed burdensome and I knew He gave me my parents and wanted what was best for me even when I didn’t always understand or feel it from my parents.

Like most people, I’ve had things happen in my life that has led me to question God’s goodness. I think it’s interesting that when the serpent spoke to Eve, he didn’t say that God didn’t say to eat of the fruit. That was an obvious lie. He knew the rule was there and he knew Eve knew the rule (though obviously she didn’t entirely know it as she said God said to not eat or touch of it, when he only said to not eat of it), but he knew he could get her to question the reason God gave her the rule. He knew he could get her to question God’s goodness. Breaking the command might have been the sin, but what led to her sinning was questioning God’s goodness and thinking He was holding out on her.

Recently, I was led to read Matthew 7:9-11 that says:

“Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Within less than a week, 2 other people shared that same verse with me! I knew then that God really wanted me to read it! It’s caused me to start hoping again when I pray. I know it may seem silly, but for a long time I had grown so disappointed with God and His answering of my prayers that while I may have asked at times, I wasn’t truly able to do it in faith. The Bible says that whatever is not done from faith is sin.  It saddens me that I had been sinning so long without even realizing it. I started building on a foundation that God maybe didn’t want to heal everybody, maybe He didn’t want to answer every prayer, yet when I read in the Bible, not once did Jesus turn anybody away who asked of Him in faith. Not once did He not heal someone who knew all He did was have to say a word or if they could just touch His garment, they would be healed. It was the Pharisees around Him who said that the people’s sickness or blindness was a result of their sin and that God was trying to punish them, not Jesus. He doesn’t teach people lessons by striking them with sickness, disease, or blindness. Obviously, those can sometimes be natural consequences for certain actions and He may allow them (and promises to redeem them for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose), but it’s Satan who came to steal, kill, and destroy and Jesus came to give life abundantly!

What I find even more mind-boggling is that Jesus told us that we would be able to do even greater things than that-even greater than someone touching His garment and being healed, even greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, even greater than calming the storm. Sometimes I think I’ve always pictured Jesus as a super human in a way-not in the sense that I thought He looked like what we perceive a superhero in movies, but in a sense that He could do anything He wanted to do. Yet, even He says that He had no power in Himself, and only does what He sees the Father doing.  I think sometimes we think it’s heresy to believe that. Yet, God says that those who are born of the Spirit of God, are not only children of God, but heirs, and that Jesus would be the first among many brethren. God’s word requires faith. He didn’t just come to save us from our sins, but to make us heirs and co-heirs with Christ. Christ in us is the hope of glory! When are we going to allow God to adopt us as His sons and daughters? When are we going to believe His Word? All of creation is longing for it!

Through Love

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“Through Love”- My hubby & youngest daughter 2 Christmases ago-absolutely melts me! 🙂

I actually wrote this in an old blog post on July 24th, 2006, but I recently came upon it and thought it was really fitting today as well. Kind of like the last post, no matter where I am in my journey, God keeps bringing me back to this:
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In the book of Job, Job and three of his friends started having an argument/discussion about who God is (sounds familiar in Christian circles, eh?). They all have their own thoughts and some seem pretty good in fact. However, none of them really knew who God was- not even Job- whom God proclaimed that there was none like him in all the earth, being a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil in chapter one. Job didn’t even know exactly who God was. So finally God spoke up for Himself and proclaimed who He is in Job chapter 38-40:2 (I originally had copied the verses, but in order to make this shorter, added the links-though it would be awesome if you wanted to look it up in your own Bible.)

Job responds in Job 40:3-5:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 4 “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

God’s response in Job 40:6-24; Job 41.

Job’s final response to God in the book in Job 42:1-6:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: 2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. 4 Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ 5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. 6Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.”

The end of the story from Job 42:7-17 (which I noticed something new tonight that I highlighted in bold print):

And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. 8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did as the Lord commanded them; for the Lord had accepted Job. 10 And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold. 12 Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first Jemimah, the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-Happuch. 15 In all the land were found no women so beautiful as the daughters of Job; and their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. 16 After this Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. 17 So Job died, old and full of days.

(I just love that God didn’t restore his losses until he prayed for his friends-you know, the ones who kept falsely accusing him of doing something wrong and saying that’s why he was being “punished” by God because of their poor misunderstanding of Him. I just think it’s such a picture of God’s love and how it works that I never really noticed until now!)

Onto my old post:

So, what was the point of all this? I realized something. I don’t know God. I may have heard or read a lot about Him. I might know parts of Him from spending time with Him, and I may have seen glimpses of His majesty, seen glimpses of His healing and saving power, seen glimpses of His beauty, but there’s SO much more that I have not yet even touched of Him.

If I can be enticed by sin and ever think of it as a good thing when it’s settling for less than God’s best and will for my life and is something that can hurt Him and hurt me, if I can be enticed by such a disgusting thing, I must not know Him or His greater plans for my life.

If I can purposely cause a child of God to stumble by the way I dress or act, I must not know that God cares so much about His children that it’d be better for me to have a millstone hung around my neck and me to be tossed into the sea than for me to cause a child of God to stumble.

If I can walk around with bitterness in my heart and unforgiveness towards another, I must not have experienced His complete forgiveness and will not until I forgive the other person just as Christ forgave me.

If I can go but a moment thinking only upon myself and not caring about others, if I cannot be absolutely disgusted with abortion and praying against it, I must not know His heart.

If I can ever look upon someone and think myself better than them and let a prideful look cover my face or enjoy and linger upon a proud thought, I must not know that it was not my hand or my righteousness that saved me, but His.

If I can go one whole day without being in awe of something He has done for me THAT day, I must have looked out to appreciate even a glimpse of His beauty. It’s EVERYwhere!

If I don’t believe He can heal someone or even me right then, right now, the moment I lay my hands upon that person or myself in His name, I must not believe in His healing powers.

If I can be more concerned with receiving love than giving love, His love must not be real in me, not all the time at least. If I can ever go a second without knowing I am completely and utterly loved, then I have not experienced His fathomless, unconditional love for me.

If I can judge someone before taking the plank out of my own eye or believe the worst about someone instead of believing the best, I must not love that person as He does because Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things and never fails.

If I can ever let fear overpower me, I must not know His perfect love for it casts out fear and I must not trust He has everything in His hands and that everything’s under control.

If I am afraid of death or do not know that I am going to Heaven after I’ve given my life to Him, I must not believe in His Word and what He says.

If I can ever doubt Him, I must have forgotten His uncompromising faithfulness.

If I cannot look upon the least of the least and see Jesus, I haven’t experienced the beauty of seeing through His eyes.

The fact is, we proclaim we know God. I say I know God. We get into little divisive arguments/discussions about who God is, and we maybe have seen a glimpse of Him. We may have seen a glimpse of His beauty and love through the eyes of a child, but we have yet to see all of Him. We have yet to show all of Him either, but that’s what we are called to do, and we do it through Love.

~*For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.*~

~1st Corinthians 13:9-13

This is Your Time

 

This is Your Time

This is Your Time

The other day, I was taking a quiz called Which Biblical Character Are You? I’m not going to lie; I enjoy most personality/character quizzes just to see who I can supposedly relate to. After all, according to the Myers Briggs Personality Type Test, only 1-2% of the population has my personality. Sometimes it’s nice to know I’m not the only one with all these crazy thoughts if you know what I mean. At least 1-2% of the population can relate to me, and I with them! Hallelujah! 😉

But onto the Biblical character quiz…(I got John the Baptist if you must know); after I took it, I had this strange thought, “I don’t want to be John the Baptist…or Esther, or David, or Joseph, or any other Biblical character. I want to be Rachel Dittmer because that’s who God wants me to be.”

Every time I put my kids to bed or pretty much every time I pray, I always end up praying something along the lines that God makes each of us in our family who He created us to be. He knows better than I do; and frankly, I’d much rather Him accomplish the work He’s started and envisioned than the one I have in mind because my vision is so limited sometimes. After all, His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts higher than my thoughts.

Yet, I started thinking about how often we in the church compare ourselves to those stories in the past; how often I do. And I just had this vision of when Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” I know; it seems so harsh. He had just told Peter that he was going to be the rock upon which Jesus built His church and then several verses later, after Jesus shared with Him what’s going to and needed to come to pass, Peter wants to stop it. I honestly think Peter thought he had Jesus’ best in mind. After all, He didn’t want Him to die. Isn’t that the right thing to not want your friend and the one you look up to so much to die? And yet, Jesus responds to him with, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

He wasn’t telling Peter he was Satan. He was saying that Peter was allowing Satan’s plans to be spoken through him. Satan didn’t want Jesus to die. He knew what it would lead to. He wanted to keep us his slaves forever. God’s plan was to set us free. Peter thought what He was saying was thoughtful, yet he didn’t have the vision God had. He was only seeing with man’s limited vision.

I feel like in a way, when we compare ourselves to those stories in the past, we’re only seeing with limited vision and in a way, I feel like God wants to say the same thing to us as He said to Peter. “Stop limiting Me! Stop only seeing through your eyes and pray that you can see through Mine! That’s not what I have in mind for you!” So often, I feel like we glorify those Biblical “heroes” in the past in the same way that we condemn the Catholic church for glorifying Mary. Of course, we would never admit to it, and maybe not everyone takes it to that extreme, but I just feel like God wants to say, “Wake up! The hero in those stories is ME! Why on earth are you glorifying these people when even they knew that what made their stories great is Me?” David even said, “O my soul, you have said unto the Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You.” Yet, how often do we put David on a pedestal because after all, he was a man after God’s own heart? I mean, we think God must have really loved him so we want to be like David so God will love us in the same way. Yet, that verse right there has David’s secret. He knew his greatness was nothing apart from God. That’s not false humility. That was why he was a man after God’s heart. He could see himself through God’s eyes and realize that God was the One and the only One who gave him his goodness, and he was going to allow God to do whatever He wished through him.

We forget that God already loves us so much. He said we’re worth His only Son’s blood and while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We don’t have to earn His love! We already have it! We just need to walk in it and believe in His love for us and realize that just like Esther, we’re all made for such a time as this! If we weren’t or if we were supposed to be in any other time, He would have made us someone else in some other time. He’s the only One who makes any of us great and when we are so focused on comparing ourselves to those in the past, we’re not being wise! He said that over and over again. The beginning of wisdom is to fear God and realize that all of this, everything is to glorify Him. And then, realizing His perfect love for us should cast out any fear of Him we might have when we want to return that love and glorify Him. That’s wisdom-not comparing ourselves to those who commend themselves. We need to stop making idols of mere people and put God on the pedestal in our lives and see how He wants our lives to glorify Him just as we are, in the story we’re in!

He wrote it after all. He put us here after all. We’re made for this time, in this place, and as 1st Corinthians 1:26-31 says:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,  that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—  that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

That’s the only reason He used the stories He did in the Bible. He wanted to say, “Look at this guy who stutters. I had him talk to Pharaoh on behalf of Me and made him a great leader of all My people. Look at the short, youngest brother of a bunch of taller, stronger men. He’s a man after My own heart and I’m going to not only use him to kill this giant that all of My people are afraid of, but I’m going to help him kill 100’s of thousands of men for Me and be the King of Israel. Look at this guy who speaks before he thinks. He’s going to be the rock upon which I build My church. Look at this kid I gave strange dreams to and who has a problem with pride. I’m going to allow his brothers to throw him into a pit because of jealousy and sell him and his dreams off into slavery and allow him to go into imprisonment for something he didn’t do, and still turn this story around and help him forgive his brothers and make him ruler of all Egypt and 2nd only to Pharaoh. Look what I can do!” You can do that with any story in the Bible because God is the One doing it! He makes possible what man thinks is impossible! His strength is made perfect in our weakness! He wants to show His strength through each one of us! Look to Him! See Him! Stop comparing yourself to those in the past!

Also lately in the same way, I’ve been convicted to let go of comparing myself to the Proverbs 31 woman. I’ve made such an idol of her at times in my life. I wanted to be her. She’s basically so many church women’s (and men’s- wanting their wives to be like her) idol. We want to be her because she’s the perfect woman to so many of our imaginations. Yet, I’ve been realizing lately that a lot of me wanting to be like her was out of an insecurity of mine that I’m not loved. (As a side note- recently, I’ve actually wondered if that’s why Bathsheba told Solomon to marry a girl like that too. After all, she’s his mom. I can’t even imagine how badly she must have felt after she committed adultery with King David-you know, the one we put on a pedestal- and the man she committed adultery with had her great, respectable husband killed in an awful, dishonorable way and then, the son she got pregnant with as a result of their sin ended up dying. So, she paints this picture of a woman that’s entirely different from her and who she thinks is this perfect woman and tells her son to marry a woman like that. Yet, so many of us base our worth on this perfect, unattainable woman-who had servants I might add. 😉 ) I have often thought that if I was just like her, maybe I would be loved-by God, by my husband, by whomever.

Yet, that’s not God’s heart towards us. Over and over again in scriptures, He reminds us that He loved us first. Before He formed us in the womb, He knew us and knit us together. He loves us. He envisioned us. When Jerusalem was left in an open field to die and saw her in her blood, He took her and cared for her and said to her, “Live!” When Adam and Eve sinned, He clothed them just as He clothes us with Himself and righteousness when we sin if only we accept Him and repent of our sins. If only we own up to who we are without Him, then He can do His work! He wants so badly to show us the vision He had in mind when He made us, yet we’re stuck on the mess we are instead of realizing we’re all messes without Him or maybe even we think we’re something apart from Him! He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called, and He’s calling us and yearning for our hearts to turn towards Him just as His heart is for us. It is His goodness that leads us to repentance! It is His goodness that is the only thing that makes ANY of us good! Apart from Him, we can do nothing! He’s waiting for us to allow Him to write His story through us! This is our time! We need to live like it and become the sons and daughters that all of creation is waiting and groaning for with birth pangs together until now to be revealed! When we become stuck in stories of the past, we don’t allow Him to write a new story through us. We make ourselves clones, when God makes new creations! This is the time to let Him shine and do His mighty works through us!

Embrace Your Mess

     ~*Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up.*~
                                                                          -El Anatsui (Artist)

As an artist, I normally have a vision in mind when I create something. It’s that vision that always gets me started, and it’s that vision that carries me through the tedious, monotonous, and often draining process that creating can often have. Sometimes I embrace those times and enjoy the process, but part of me gets so excited about my vision finally coming together that sometimes it can just seem so draining during the long process it might take to make the best masterpieces. Often, I get a vision and think, “I can do this. If it can be done, I can do it. God’s given me that gift.”

As with any piece of art, before it really starts coming together, it doesn’t look anything like the vision I had in mind. Sometimes it looks nothing short of a big mess. If anybody else sees my unfinished piece, I often find myself either feeling like I need to explain my vision or reassure them and myself, it won’t look like this in the end. Often, I start doubting myself and my abilities during that time and wonder what in the world I got myself into. Thankfully, the vision I had in mind and the passion God has given me or sometimes even just the fact that I have to get my artwork done helps push me to finish the final steps of my creation. I never regret it when I do.

There have been times that the piece might not be entirely what I had in mind, but I’ve grown to learn during those times that they can always be corrected and perfected. All artwork can be. Some of the greatest masterpieces in museums were done over an old piece of art due to the lack of money an artist might have had during their time- as the term “starving artist” didn’t come out of nowhere and most artists weren’t made famous until after their lifetime.

As a perfectionist, there have been times I’ve feared my mistakes or the messy part of art. There have even been times I’ve dreaded my gifts or hated that other people knew of them. I grew to resent them because when you create something great at a young age, then people just expect greatness all the time or expect you to get even greater. Sometimes it was myself and my own expectations- which can lead to a fear of mistakes and the process it takes to get better.

However, to become a great creator, you can’t fear the mistakes and the messy process. Often, as mentioned before, the greatest masterpieces come from the worst beginnings. I experienced this firsthand when I created my latest piece, “The Heavens Declare” when I decided to do acrylic underneath of oil. Paintings often require many layers and it was my first time using acrylic paint on canvas and I decided to use it originally because I knew that it dries faster and I had a quick-approaching time frame, but also grew to realize I could use it with the oil paint to create the effect I want for the angels. However, the first few layers looked like a huge mess and I was embarrassed when we had two different visiting families at our house during the unfinished process and kept reassuring them and myself that it wouldn’t look like that in the end. Thankfully, it doesn’t and ended up being better than I could fully envision. Here’s the final product:

THE HEAVENS DECLARE. Original is 36" x 36", 2013. Oil over acrylic on canvas.

THE HEAVENS DECLARE. Original is 36″ x 36″, 2013. Oil over acrylic on canvas.

 

My husband- who hasn’t always appreciated art- thinks it’s my best piece. *smile*

Sometimes I forget that God’s a Creator too. Obviously, He’s the Creator of the universe, but sometimes I think people forget that He’s not just the Creator of the universe, He functions as a Creator as well. Only He not only has a vision for each of our lives, He also has the whole picture in mind. Each of us are His masterpieces. Often, we go through messy times in our lives or we might go through a tiresome or draining season where we forget the vision of ourselves He has in mind. We forget that we are His creations and He has our best in mind and we get fearful of the messy process He’s leading us through or the fact that He has our whole picture laid out before Him and has the passion and vision to carry Him through our messy process. He will always finish a work He’s started in us.

Oftentimes, during these seasons, others who can’t see the vision over their own lives or who just have a hard time believing the visions God has spoken over them try to discourage others from believing God’s vision. Maybe it’s because He started a work in them in the past and the difficult seasons were too much that they couldn’t see the visions He had in mind for them anymore. Maybe their unbelief caused them to doubt the new creations God was starting as they were once new creations and they felt the need to speak their unbelief over the new creations. Maybe it was jealousy over another creation’s beauty after not seeing the beauty God had in mind for them. Maybe it was just not understanding God had to bring others through a messier season to create the work He had in mind for them. Maybe it was just hurt.

The messy seasons are HARD. So hard. It’s hard to keep the vision God has in mind for us sometimes when nothing in our lives looks like the vision He has spoken over us. It’s hard to see ourselves the way God sees us when not only do we have a hard time believing, but others are speaking their doubts over us and have a hard time envisioning the final picture as well. People often act out what they believe about themselves and it can be a very harmful thing to speak words of death over God’s creations no matter the reason. God wants us to trust Him with the process- even with the messy seasons…especially with the messy seasons.

suffering quote

It isn’t always other people though. Obviously, it normally comes off as an attack from a person, but we often forget that we’re fighting in a spiritual battle and we take what others say to heart not realizing they’re fighting their own battles. In case you haven’t noticed, Satan hates God’s creations and seems to especially hate new life/creations, creators, and life-givers (you can be a life-giver without being a physical mom. I believe that with all my heart.) It seems like during the messy seasons, he uses his army and others to try to take away the vision God has given us. Unfortunately, with how discouraging these seasons can be, many of us place our trust in what Satan or others speak over us rather than continuing to trust in God.

I know I did for a time. Like the prodigal son, I stopped believing in my Father’s love for me. There were a lot of people believing and speaking lies over me and I was in a really oppressive environment and I started believing them and acting out those lies spoken over me. I stopped hoping for the vision God had for me, and I know I had a hard time at times even being around other people who were already beautiful creations or who had the joy that new creations have, thinking that if only they experienced what I had gone through, they would understand. It was very dangerous and very harmful. I don’t know that I actually spoke those lies out loud, but I know I believed them over myself and others at times. I wanted so badly to believe what God had spoken over me during other seasons of my life, but I lacked the vision He had. I couldn’t see the whole picture.

When God started restoring my husband’s life, he said he was praying for me and he felt like God was saying how all these hard things I was going through were needed for me to become God’s beautiful bride He had in mind. At the time, I wanted so badly to hope for that and loved the thought, but was also so hurt by the messy seasons in my husband’s life, it was so hard to see. However, my husband’s extreme transformation started getting me to hope again. One of the greatest changes I saw and felt in his life was how much freer he was to be around. He didn’t feel the need to be controlling anymore and realized God can use anything. It was that freedom that I experienced that helped set me free.

While I wouldn’t wish upon anyone some of the things I’ve gone through (not just in my marriage)-and I know some others have gone through worse- and would have a hard time choosing to go through those times again with how hard it was to keep God’s vision, I’m so so thankful that nothing I did ever worked. While I know I’m a pretty good artist at times, God is the absolute best. I couldn’t have created the masterpieces He has given me with my husband and kids and I’m so thankful for them.

Sometimes, it seems that the more we do “for God”, rather than allowing God to do the work in and through us, we forget that He makes all things new. We limit Him to creations He’s already done, to books He’s already inspired, not realizing that He only included the testimonies and stories that are in the Bible to show us how vast His creations can be and how nothing’s impossible for Him. John 21:25 says:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

So, please allow Him to write a new story in and through you. Ask Him to give you His vision for yourself and others. Be a life-giver, not a life-taker. Be a visionary like Him, not an accuser of the brethren. God wants to free us and help us free others-not hold others captive by our fear of the messy He’s working in us or other people’s lives. He doesn’t fear it and neither should we. He makes all things new and some of the greatest masterpieces start out with the messiest lives.

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P.S.~ I just stumbled upon this video and it has so much that God’s been laying on my heart lately and went so well with this, that if you have 40 or so minutes, it is so worth it! *Not for those listening to a religious spirit, or maybe especially for those with a religious spirit.*

A Burdening Lie & the Power of a Testimony

Original is 24" x 48", oil on canvas.

GOD IS IN THE RAIN. Original is 24″ x 48″, oil on canvas.

My whole life I’ve felt like a burden. There isn’t any one thing that I can attribute to this, but rather a whole lot of little lies I’ve believed from different experiences I’ve had. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t want people to think badly about others because I know that even when people have hurt me & made me think those things from my experiences, it was really because they were going through different battles of their own & often believing the same lies they were saying out loud to me.

I caught myself not long ago telling my kids that I was embarrassed by how they were acting in front of others. They asked me what that even meant & when I basically explained in kids’ terms what it meant & realized it was because of me feeling ashamed of how others  might perceive them & ultimately me, I realized I was feeding into the same lie I’ve always believed over myself & putting that on them. It was a fear of man that I hadn’t really realized I had & right away, felt the need to apologize to my kids & tell them they are not an embarrassment to me, but rather a blessing.

My little blessings loving on each other November 1st, 2013. :)

My little blessings loving on each other November 1st, 2013. 🙂

Believing the lie that I’m a burden has led me to go down some very troubling places in my life-ones that are shameful to even admit sometimes because who knows what someone might do with that information? I try to be honest to a fault for the most part & I’ve lost friends from experiences I’ve had or had people-friends, I thought- literally put me down & say how ridiculous or disgusting I am for sharing different parts of my story with them. It’s caused me to shy away at times from who I share my story with or only disclose different parts to those I can really trust. And worst of all, it’s fed into the lie I’ve believed over myself that I’m just a burden.

And that’s just it. It’s a lie-a lie from my enemy who only came to steal, kill, & destroy my life. I realized that I walked right into his trap when I tried to take my own life over 6 years ago & had to spend over 10 hours in the ER just waiting for my aspirin level to start going down some. I experienced the after-effects physically for 3 days, but of course it hit me hard emotionally & spiritually for quite some time. But honestly, it was a wake up call for me- & my husband. Neither of us had fully realized just how low I had gotten, how enslaved I was to the lies I was believing until I hit rock bottom.

What really helped me get out of that place was being able to share my story with a friend I could really trust who wasn’t shocked by the ugly places of my heart & how low I had gotten with the lies I was believing- feeling like a burden was just one of many. Before, I felt like I had to keep all those ugly places-all my ugly sin & all the ugly sin others had committed against God (that I felt like were against me)-hidden because of the experiences I had been through in the past which only led me to being more enslaved to my sin & my enemy than I ever thought I could get-which was pride for me. Somehow I felt like all my past experiences & my seeking whole-heartedly after God made me exempt from falling so hard, but it didn’t. 

You might think that this story is sad, hopeless, or depressing, but it doesn’t end that way. Because I fell so hard, I was able to realize that my goodness could never save me. It didn’t matter how much I sought whole-heartedly after God in the past. it didn’t matter that the only guy I ever kissed was my husband. It didn’t matter that I tried to give cheerfully & really wanted to bless others with my life. Nothing I did could ever save me & it was only by falling so hard, that I was able to fully realize that. I could never ever get myself out of the mess I was in, but God could. Only Him sending His blameless Son on earth to take my punishment of sin was able to defeat death & the power of sin over my life. But you know what? He already did that! He did it for all of us to free us from the power of sin over our lives! THAT’s the good news! We no longer have to be enslaved to our sin & walking the path to eternal damnation-hell! How can we not be joyous over that?! Our joy is our strength! Because ONLY God & what He has done for us in this hard life gives us true joy that can overcome & last through the hardest trials of this life! That joy that was set before Jesus, helped Him endure the cross!

If you don’t have joy, it might mean you’re carrying burdens you weren’t meant to carry. While God has given me true joy & saved me from so much, I know that I’ve taken up burdens I wasn’t meant to carry at times. God’s been helping me realize that I have taken up a lot of burdens I was never meant to carry & has recently been helping set me free from them.

Any time I feel “embarrassed” by how my kids are behaving, I’m taking up the burden of other people’s feelings/opinions. Any time I believe what other people might be saying about me, I’m taking up the burden of the fear of man, rather than only fearing God- the only One I’m meant to fear. Any time I’m worried about weight gain from pregnancies or being able to take care of one more child, I’m taking up a burden that’s preventing me from allowing God to bless us with a gift of life that’s so precious to Him & that can be used for His Kingdom & His work on earth! And to think, almost a month after I tried to take my own life & follow the path Satan had for me, God put another life inside of ME-someone Satan was trying to get rid of! My 3 little blessings wouldn’t be here if Satan had his way with my life! Honestly, we could probably do this about pretty much any subject. The only thing I’m called to do is the work that God sent me here to do, just like Jesus. No more. As long as I follow His lead, I’m doing exactly what He wants me to do & it’s so freeing!

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I know this may seem a little unrelated & honestly, I was thinking about this last night before I ever read this article or watched the video with it, but I was about to share it on facebook & started to write this as a little commentary on the video, but instead decided to just share it on this post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=7ZVWIELHQQY

“Really good video. I wish more people realized this, especially in the church. I know whenever I’ve put someone down in my life, I felt awful afterward just realizing that those people are human & I’m no better than them. We ALL have different issues we deal with. You never know where you’d be if you were in their story dealing with their issues. You can’t say that you’d be better than them ’cause you haven’t walked in their shoes. Nobody can argue with your testimony & while I can’t say Craig Ferguson is a Christian as I don’t know him personally, his personal story he shared can only be seen with respect from me. Hidden sin always grows. When you’re willing to share your story & come into the light, you’re either looking for help & a way out or you’re finally free & looking to help others who aren’t. THIS is what the church needs more of- personal testimonies. It makes my heart hurt every time people bash others trying to make themselves look better. “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” -Anais Nin”

And I felt these were both a little related. So, that’s all. I’m always open to hear others’ stories & thoroughly enjoy people who share them. I think God uses our stories in powerful ways & wish more people shared them!

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~*When you realize your story was never about you but all about God, you lose your leading role as the hero or the victim.*~

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Wisdom

 

My 4 year old daughter's "school work" the other day. My favorite part is the "m" below "wisdom". I had told her the day before when she was copying her alphabet that it looks better if she stops at the red line/margin & she took my advice even when writing part of her verse. :)

My 4 year old daughter’s “school work” the other day. My favorite part is the “m” below “wisdom”. I had told her the day before when she was copying her alphabet that it looks better if she stops at the red line/margin & she took my advice even when writing part of her verse. 🙂

If you were to ask me what I would like to impart most to my kids, it would be wisdom. It wouldn’t be for an easy life or that they would become famous or rich or well-educated or a fit, healthy athlete. Some of those might be nice bonuses, but more than anything, I want them to become wise. I want them to fear God, but then to grow so in love with Him, that they have nothing to fear (1st Peter 4:17-19).

       God has really been impressing upon my heart to teach them wisdom more than anything. This summer, I read both Duggar books & “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” (along with others) that both shared that they read a Proverbs a day to their kids. I thought that was a great idea and this month decided to give it a go and I hope to continue to until it’s no longer just in their heads but deep in their hearts. It’s been amazing to see what they’ve already picked up on and to hear what God has put on their hearts at such an early age. And really, what could be more important to pass onto your kids?

        “My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you,  So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;  Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,  If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;  Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;  He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.  Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.”
                                                                            -Proverbs 2:1-9

 

~*THE WAY IS YOU*~

What am I supposed to do?
Where am I supposed to go?
Are there really “supposed to’s?”
I’d really like to know

I’m hidden in a crowd
And I’d like to know my way
I’m going around in circles
That I walked just yesterday

But I saw all the same people
They took the same route as i
Am I the only one lost?
Are we all following blind?

I stopped to ask the woman
Who was next to me
If she could go anywhere
Where would it be?

She looked confused
All battered and bruised
The scars I saw upon her soul
She wondered if you
Could even choose
Which way you would go

We’re not stuck in quicksand
We’re not even blind
We don’t have a dictator
Only limited time
And the experiences we encounter
Always consume our mind
And we’ve closed off truth
To listen to Satan’s lies

And if only one person
Could find that Jesus is the way
Wouldn’t be consumed
With religious play

If only one person
Gave up his rights
Gave up self attempts
Let God shine His light

We would all be led
To live a life beyond ourselves
With purpose, direction
Lives without question
Of whether we lived in vain
Because if people opened their eyes to see
They’d find the truth lies in Jesus
Not you and me

But we all keep following the crowd
Of pointing to ourselves
Our self-attempts at religiosity
And I wonder if we
Ever stopped to think
We’re leading others to our own personal hell

Where would we all be?
If we ever stopped to love Jesus
And others more than ourselves
If we stopped to let Jesus in us
To work through us
And let Him be the light

Instead of dimming His truth
And following blindly in the dark
Or showing half-truths
Because we’re afraid of the stark contrast
We might be among the crowd

When all we want is the light
The purpose, the Truth
To stop hiding because of shame
And we all want to know His name
But we’re to afraid
To say it

Jesus, Jesus, be our light
Be our Guide
Through this thick darkness
That covers the night
Help us find our way back to You
Uncover the truth
That the way is You

~RaCHeL aNN

P.S.~I have no idea why my posts are cut off in the middle of a word & why the format is continually messed up. I don’t write it that way & no matter how many times I try to fix it, it messes back up when I publish it.

My Request

I once was so full of passion, strength, & determination for God that I asked Him to do whatever it would take to break me & bring me ever so close to Him. I already was close to Him, I already loved Him more than anything in my life at that point. I wanted to do what He asked of me whatever it cost. I could feel Him in everything, everywhere. He was my everything.

I don’t know if my asking Him that was wise or the worst question I’ve ever asked at times. Nowadays I’m too afraid to ask anything like that again. Because after asking that, I was hit with some of the hardest battles I’ve ever faced for YEARS.

Not that I hadn’t faced some extremely hard battles before; but at some point, I was able to see a clearing, a place I could rest & enjoy the battles I had just endured. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know exactly when I lost sight of Him. I don’t know what caused me to think I had a better chance conquering the battles alone. I don’t know when I stopped trusting that He knew better than me & knew what was best for me. But I reached that point. I reached the point where I made an idol of myself & placed myself before God. I reached a point where I didn’t think He had my best in mind anymore. I mean, how could He let me go through all this? Didn’t He know how much I was hurting? Where was He when I called for Him?

I think all of us have to endure some extremely hard battles in this life. It may look different for each of us. We all have a different story & we all have different struggles based on what we’ve gone through in this life. And we each have a choice as to what & whom we are going to look to when we go through those battles. We can either look to ourselves & our situation & lose sight of the hope God has given us or we can look to God through it all & overcome those battles. Some of us may experience clearings where we can rest after those battles & some of us may not reach those clearings until our lives on this earth are over. But there’s hope. HE is hope.

Sometimes the battles we go through are a result of our sin or someone else’s sin, sometimes they’re just a result of sin in this world, period. Sometimes God allows us to go through things to teach us & sometimes He just allows us to go through things to draw us ever so close to Him. I think it’s our choice whether or not we allow those battles to draw us closer to God or further from Him. Unfortunately, I could have gotten closer to God through all I faced; but instead, after a while, I lost sight of Him & lost sight of hope. I let the hurt & struggles I faced harden my heart towards Him & others. And hurting people ALWAYS hurt others, whether intentionally or not- just by not being who we were created to be, by not reaching those we were created to reach.

I have yet to reach the point where I’ve allowed Him to completely answer my request of Him. But I have hope that He’s going to answer it someday. Slowly, but surely each battle I’ve faced has allowed me to reach the place where I’ve realized I can’t do this on my own. Nobody can. We need Him. I need Him. More than anything. I can’t do this alone. As I allow Him to break me, to soften my heart, He can finally start molding me again into the woman He created me to be.

Who/what do you look to when you go through different battles? What gives you hope?