Happy Thought Indeed, Living in Freedom, Personal Growth

God Remembers

poplar bloss

Today is the day God told me he remembered. For the past 20 years, God has shown me a Poplar Blossom to show me He is remembering the baby I lost in my first miscarriage. He is the faithful one. I forget; He remembers.

Some say there is no God. Some say there is a God but we can’t know him. Some deny what they have seen and heard and continue looking for another. But like Christ instructed John the Baptist to do….I am telling what I have seen and heard.

20 years ago, as I sat crying and mourning the loss of my baby, God allowed a Poplar Blossom to fall at my feet. As I looked at the beauty of the blossom, His Spirit, His Voice spoke to me. He assured me that my baby was no less beautiful or valuable just because it wasn’t with me. He assured me that my baby was beautiful, delicately and intricately formed, and valuable.

Every year for the past 20 years, He brings a Poplar Blossom to remind me of Him and his great love and care.  Today, as I was walking with a friend, He placed a blossom right in front of me!

There is a God. He can be known. He wants to be known. I have seen and heard!

Local Favorites, Whimsey

Inside Scoop

Cincinnati.jpgI had the unique experience of going to my husband’s hometown of Cincinnati last week without him.  As it was a work related trip, I actually had very little free time but tried to visit some local favorite restaurants when I did.  Made it to La Rosa’s and Skyline but also discovered a great new place, “Rock Bottom.”

My co workers and I ended up there at least 4 times during the trip and we had a great experience each time.  I am so glad our waitress on one visit explained that the Brownie Passion is a sharable dessert!  It was HUGE and oh so good.  3 large brownie wedges topped with vanilla icecream and drizzled with Rasberry Syrup!  Oh my!dessert

So if you ever make it to the home of the flying pigs, be sure to visit the old favorites but also try, “Rock Bottom.”  You won’t be disappointed!

Failure and Success, Living in Freedom, Personal Growth, Redemption

God is the Faithful One!

God is Faithful

I am telling you again, I have been in a 3 week slump.  I have not been able to pray, or read the Word or do anything that I would consider spiritually uplifting.  Sadly, I have been able to get angry, be selfish and manipulative, and lazy.  Ugh.  Guilt fests and emotional toilet flushes have abounded.

This week, I am faced with a scheduled trip to fulfill a speaking engagement on the subject of encouraging women!!  I awoke this morning, full of dread and fear realizing that I have not prepared at all!!  This is not false humility but harsh reality; I am not ready.  Lying in the hotel bed, I feebly eeked out a prayer of desperation….”God, you have brought me here but I am unprepared and need you.”  Then, my mind wandered away and UGH, again!  “God, help please!”

Mind wanders again and I find myself deleting emails from my phone.  As I am selecting which ones to delete, my eye catches the word, “Arise” in the subject line of an email that I am automatically sent from crosswalk.com.  Curiousity more than anything compelled me to open the email.  I began reading the writer’s telling of Jesus healing the young daughter of Jairus.  As I read, the tears began to flow.  God heard my cry and like the good shepherd He is, reached down and gathered me in His arms.  Here is the excerpt from the devotional:

…..And though she was already dead, Jesus went to the little girl and said one thing: “Get up.” (Mark 5:41)

And she did.                                                                                                                                       

Is He calling you to do the same today?

Hear this: it doesn’t matter who you were before He told you to get up. In fact, I love how little we know about the characters in this story because it speaks volumes about who our Savior is. There was only faith by the grace He supplied–everything else was Him bringing death to life.

The new basis of her identity was this: she was dead and Jesus brought her back to life. If you believe in Him, that’s your story too.

Last year, last week, even what you did last night does not define you. Your sin, your shame, your accolades, your family name–none of these details matter compared to the truth of who He is and who you are in Him. The fruit God produces after He raised you from the dead can be beautiful and glorifying to God, but you are everything you are because of the moment when He said: “Little girl, I say to you, get up.”

You are everything you are because he brought you back.

You are everything you are because you are loved.

You are everything you are because you’ve been made alive.  No sin in your life is beyond the power of Christ’s forgiveness, and no brokenness is beyond the reach of His healing, restoring touch.  It’s time to get up. Arise.

(Excerpted from the She Reads Truth Bible. Published by Holman Bibles, Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams, general editors. copyright 2017)

 

Wow!!  My God heard me.  He answered me.  He reminded me again that He is the faithful one.  Because of who He is, I can get up.  Because of who He is, I can fulfill my calling.  Because of who He is, I am restored. 

“Oh God, thank you for the new mercies of today.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Use me if you will, but thank you for your love and mercy.  Thank you that YOU are the faithful one!”

Failure and Success, Living in Freedom, Personal Growth, Redemption

Will the Real Christian please stand up?

cross-sun-sky

Do you ever feel like you’re blowing it as a Christian?  I do.  Stand?  Some days I am just barely able to make a shift in my horizontal position, much less stand.  Currently, I am in a 3 week slump and feel very unsure of my footing.  In my own strength, I cannot stand to answer this call.

As I reflect on Easter and the incredible mystery of death bringing forth life, I am overwhelmed by God’s grace for those, like me, who are unable to stand.  The cross of Christ stood high on a hill, erect and firm.  It was immovable.  Christ allowed himself to be nailed there and was immovable also.  There it was finished.  There the call was answered.  Every sin I have ever committed in the past, will commit now or in the future, was laid upon him.  He who knew no sin, became sin for me!  He stood in my place.

Not only did he stand in my place, he died in my place.  He knew the depths of the separation from God so that I do not have to.  He laid in the darkness of the tomb so that I would not have to.  Then, in glorious form, He stood again!  He rose from the grave so that I might have eternal life also!

“God, how merciful and loving and powerful you are.  Thank you for standing for me today and on Calvary.  Thank you for standing again in life!  God, thank you for the promise that your strength is made perfect in weakness.  Lord, I am desperately weak. Please, by your strength and might, help me to stand for you today.”

Patience, Personal Growth, Redemption, Reflections

Weather Alert! Storm Approaching!

Storm_cloudsSevere thunderstorms have been rolling across our state the last few days.  With high winds, blinding rain and even hail, they have been treacherous to say the least.  Yesterday, as I drove to work, traffic crawled at a snail’s pace because visibility was only about 2 feet!  I clinched the steering wheel with white knuckles and was exhausted by the time I arrived at my job.  I collapsed in my desk chair, thankful that I had made it.

Honestly, these storms have mirrored my insides.  A few days ago, while I was out-of-town, an emotional storm started rolling in and ravaged me in very familiar ways.  Old triggers were being set off and I felt out of control and like a wounded animal.  My mind and emotions could not seem to settle or find any peaceful calm place.  After an entire day of being in inner turmoil, I prayed, cried, yelled, and finally retreated to my bed thankful that I had made it.

I don’t understand days like these and I wish with every fiber of my being not to have any more of them.  Sadly, I know that I probably will and I am trying to gain as much insight as possible.  Here’s what I have come up with so far:

  • Being in unfamiliar settings can put me off kilter
  • Fears are opportunistic
  • I do not think in reasonable ways when I am off kilter
  • It’s ok to retreat to my room!
  • As I get older, my body handles stress in different and lesser ways
  • Nothing can snatch me out of the Father’s hand!
  • God does not love a future version of me, He loves me NOW!
  • Feelings do not always reflect the truth
  • God, like the good father He is, pities my broken and weak state

I am going to try to remember these truths for the next time.  I also want to remember that times of dysregulation and being out of kilter are a normal part of living in a fallen world.  I will also remember the words of Corrie Ten Boom:

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

 

Living in Freedom, Personal Growth, Reflections, value

A Beast of Burden

jesus-on-donkey

Random thought today about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.  I am a FIRM believer in the fact that God does not waste the details.  Anything in scripture has meaning and I love the details that God gives us.

Today, I was contemplating anew the detail that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  A donkey has traditionally been a beast of burden.  They are a work animal.  Honestly, they have very little value beyond that.  Today I was struck that Jesus was the ultimate “beast” of burden.  He was to carry on the cross the weight of EVERY sin of all of humanity.  I cannot imagine that crushing weight.  He who knew no sin, became sin for us.

He still calls us to cast all our burdens on him.  He cares about what weighs us down and what becomes heavy for us.  He alone can bear the weight.  He alone can take the heaviness of heartache and worry and turn it into something good.  He wants to take these things from us!  My heart is overwhelmed that the King of the Universe became a beast of burden for me.

I am also struck that the next entry into the world will not be on the colt of a donkey, but on a white charger!  A very different entrance.  Not as a beast of burden but as a victorious KING!  What a day that will be.

“Lord, you are so good and kind; fill me with your love.  Help me to help others.  I long for your coming.  Thank  you that you are the victorious burden bearer.”

Failure and Success, Living in Freedom, Personal Growth, Redemption, Reflections

Me? Lord, Are You Sure?

Judges 6:6

So Israel was brought very low because of Midian, and the sons of Israel cried to the Lord.

Times were desperate and the people of Israel were in hiding.  Having been forced to leave their homes, they were barely surviving in caves and holes and animal dens .  With hardly enough food for themselves, their livestock was perishing also.  God’s people were, “brought very low.”

There is a pattern of the ancient Israelites and their interaction with God.  In times of plenty, comfort and ease, they tend to forget God and all that He has done for them.  They forget His past works, His present promises and His future plans for them.  Their attitude and posture becomes rather self-sufficient and seems to say, “Thanks God for all the blessings, we’ve got it now.  We’ll call you again if we need you, but we’re good for now.”  Treating God like a magician with a bag of tricks never ends well.  God is not a god among many or the best of the choices…..HE IS THE ONLY LIVING AND TRUE GOD!  He will not share His glory or our affections with any other!  Like the Israelites, I forget who He really is and the position He holds.  Often, God uses unpleasant and desperate circumstances to bring us back to our senses and the reality that HE IS GOD!

Oppression by the Midianites is where we find Israel in Judges chapter 6.  The Midianites were a cruel people who frequently teamed up with another enemy of Israel, the Amalekites.  Taking the harvest from the Israelites fields wasn’t enough.  The Midianites would utterly decimate the fields and leave nothing behind.  Killing and enslaving captives, stealing livestock and casting our their opponents from their homes, were all trademarks of the Midianites. Conquering was not the consummate goal; destruction and despair was the objective. This scenario is where we find God’s people;  totally defeated, hopeless, despairing with no champion among them.

A young Israelite named Gideon is among the defeated and cowering. We are introduced to him in a winepress but he is not, however, pressing out grapes.  He is threshing wheat instead.  I can almost imagine the scene: Him beating the sheaves, a few at a time, and peeking over the edge of the press to see if his enemies saw or heard anything.

wine press

Working as fast as he can, he tries to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Normally, you thresh wheat out in the open so that the wind carries away the unwanted parts but desperate times have called for desperate measures and Gideon is not only hiding, he is having to settle for a less than desirable end product.

I can imagine that while the sweat and dust and chaff cling to his face, he wonders how long will he and his people live like this. “God, where are you?  When will you deliver us?” I don’t know if he could even remember a time that was free of oppression, defeat and fear or when daily survival wasn’t literally a struggle between life and death.  A young man, in his prime, found himself living in fear among a family and nation who were crippled by fear. But God appears on the scene doing what He alone can do.  He greets Gideon with a salutation that is in direct contrast to Gideon’s self identity and circumstances.  He also reaffirms God’s relationship status for his people:

12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.”

The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.  I can almost see Gideon turn and look behind him to see who God might be talking to.  “Um…Are you talking to me?”  God is addressing the right person and the man of his choosing,  a fearful, oppressed young man hiding in a winepress.  Gideon’s response goes straight to the heart of the matter:

Then Gideon said to him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

God answers him with a calling.  The calling was that Gideon would deliver his people from the Midianites.  Again, I am sure Gideon looked over his shoulder.  His response backs me up in this:

“O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.”

gideon hiding

The least among the least, what a moniker!  Proving once again that God’s ways are not our ways, He chooses the least among the least to accomplish mighty things.  God is not a respecter of a person’s status, age, lineage, wealth, or social standing.  God chooses the base and weak things to confound the wise and strong.  God uses the Gideons of the world. There is great hope in that!  God did indeed work thru Gideon to defeat the Midianites.  Be encouraged if you feel like the least among the least in desperate circumstances.  God can use you!

God, let me remember that you are with me!  Even when I find myself fearful and despairing and hiding, you desire to accomplish great things thru me.  Lord, your power is perfected in my weakness.  Thank you for renaming me and being with me always, even to the end of the age!

 

 

Happy Thought Indeed, Living in Freedom, Personal Growth, Reflections

You will call me, “Ishi”

isaiah-scroll.l

I love words in all forms.  Written, spoken, or sung, they are fascinating to me.  I love the sounds of languages that are not my native tongue and I find myself listening for patterns and similarities in the words.  I enjoy roots and derivations and anything hidden in words and discovering their meanings.  For Jesus to have been referred to as, “The Word” makes my mind wild with excitement.  There is so much to discover about Him, thru Him and for Him!

My mind and studies frequently bring me back to Hosea 2:16 and the word, Ishi.  I love this little word, its sound and its meaning.

“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,
“That you will call Me Ishi
And will no longer call Me Baali.

Some time ago, my study of this word revealed its translated meaning to be “Husband.” Husband is in contrast to the word, Baali, which means “Master”.  There is a HUGE difference in being in a relationship based on servitude versus spousal intimacy.  I laugh with my husband.  We share secrets and have private jokes.  We share hurts and forgiveness.  Our life is made up of a past, a present and a future.  We have reached that place in life where we not only finish each other’s sentences, we finish each other’s actions.  The intimate knowledge we have of each other is thrilling, comforting, and incredibly fulfilling.

God longs to have this kind of intimacy with us.  In fact, He will settle for nothing less. He will not let us settle for less.  Earlier in this passage, his people are described as having settled for harlots, parties, clothes, food and the like and have forgotten Him.  Desiring to show His people the vanity and emptiness of earthly pursuits, His plan is to take Israel into a wilderness and show Himself to them.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her.”

I , too, have had times of pursuing money, houses, parties, etc. trying to fill my deep desire for intimacy and fulfillment but came up even emptier than before.  I have also had the sweet pleasure of being spoken kindly to be the Lord.  His words are like honey to my soul.  With everything else stripped away, His words are true and life giving.  Intimacy with Ishi can also be thrilling, comforting and fulfilling.  Rest assured that if God has allured you into a wilderness, His intention is to speak kindly to you.

He longs for intimacy and for us to call Him, “Ishi”.

heartache, Patience, Reflections, value

The Value of Tears

do not weep

Psalm 56:8 (NASB)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

What do you keep a record of?  The birth of babies, holiday memories, special trips, good friends?  How about your sorrows or the crushing blows to your soul?  Do you chronicle the hours you spend being heart-broken and crying out to the Lord?   What about the endless nights where you cry until you have no more tears?  God keeps a record of not only our tears, but the anguish that caused them to flow.  He has given tears a holy status.

Be careful in not allowing yourself or others to cry when in extreme pain.  Tears are valuable.  They are the inexpressible words being spoken by our soul.  Tears are how are heart speaks when the pain is too great for our lips to describe.  God has seen every wound. Every heartache has been recorded in His book and our tears have been kept in a bottle. Even when we forget why we cry, he does not.  When we hurt, God is near; He is gathering our tears.

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Personal Growth, Redemption, Reflections

Redemption

sunrise

Redemption is not simply being fixed or all wrongs righted or the erasing of mistakes.  It is far more glorious than that.  God’s redeeming of a life is taking the brokenness, the mess, the wrong of it all, and making it beautiful.  He does not replace; He transforms. As miraculous as changing water into wine,  He gives beauty for ashes.

Isaiah 61:3

(I have come) To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.