Encouragement, Faith, Personal Growth, Redemption

All the Way, and then some.

A longer post.

moses in basket

In continuing with the idea that God often calls his children and people to go to extreme places in order to reveal himself, I want to look at the beginning of the life of Moses.

Moses was born into God’s chosen people who were enslaved by the Egyptians.  Not only were they enslaved, they were terribly oppressed.  Hard labor was forced upon them by harsh taskmasters.  The ruling pharaoh had succumbed to fear of the multitude of the Israelites living in his land.  Fearing that they might join forces with enemies of Egypt, he was determined to demoralize them with grueling work.  However, Exodus 1 tells us that the more he afflicted them, the more they multiplied and prospered.  Pharaoh’s strategy then took a cruel turn.  He would go to the source of Hebrew increase; he would eradicate the male population.  He first enlisted midwives to kill all the boy babies that they helped to birth.  Fearing God more than Pharaoh, they would not carry out his heinous instructions.  He then called upon the Egyptian general population to cast any male child of the Hebrews into the Nile.  It was during this reign of terror that Moses was born.  He was born under a death sentence.

His mother, like countless others, tried to hide him in her home.  When she could no longer muffle his cries or keep him sufficiently hidden, she resorted to a desperate plan. She covered a basket with tar and placed her tiny infant afloat among the reeds of the Nile.  This is my first point.  It was necessary for Moses to be placed all the way outside of the security of his home.  God is bigger than the safety of our homes.  Even if our children are taken away, given up, or leave on their accord, God is bigger than our homes!  God is bigger than the security we think we can provide.  What courage it took for his mother to place him there.  What courage it took to ask her daughter, Miriam, Moses’ older sister,  to stand watch at the river’s edge.  Crocodiles lurk there also and can potentially move faster than a girl who was still a child herself.  His mother’s courage and resourcefulness would bear much fruit in this story as we will see.

My second thought is that Moses was hidden in the very place that he should have been cast into!   The appointed place of execution had become his refuge.  More than refuge, the Nile became his place of rescue.

This brings me to my third point.   God can and does use anything and anyone to accomplish his purposes!  For the princess, the daughter of the very Pharaoh who issued the death decree, to discover Moses is not coincidence!  Oh I love how God writes surprising characters into his stories!  God put pity into her heart.  She recognized the baby as a Hebrew and pitied him.  She had him “drawn out” of the water and brought to her.  Some scholars have speculated that she was actually down at the river performing a fertility ritual and that Moses was seen as the fulfillment to her desire to have a child.  Fawning over the baby and declaring that she will take him as her own was overheard by Miriam.  As this scene unfolded before her Miriam, using the same resourcefulness and courage as her mother, and quickly approached the princess and arranges for a wet-nurse.  Who should it be but Moses’ own mother.  But that’s not all!  Not only did the princess consent for Moses to be taken back home and nursed by his own mother, she was going to PAY her to do it!  Only God can take our deepest point of fear, turn it around and make it a place of blessing!  To be paid to nurse your own son? Only God does things like this.

God has taken Moses and his entire family to the brink and saved him in a miraculous way.  No one in Moses’ family could imagine the grander story that God was weaving  or where this would end.  Each day with their son became precious and a time of preparation for his life in the palace.   We have the benefit of Scripture and know the entire story. However, his family was walking by faith with great uncertainty.  Each day brought them closer to saying goodbye to him again, but at least he was alive.  Each day provided another opportunity to tell him of his true lineage and heritage.  He was of God’s chosen people.

Rest assured, even when we cannot see, God is weaving a greater story.  Our darkest places of fear and doubt will become the place where God does mighty things!

Philippians 4:5-7 (NASB)

The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

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Encouragement, Happy Thought Indeed, Insights, Reflections

It’s all in the Bag!

Reusable-Bags

I recently had the honor of speaking at a conference in St. Louis.  The attendees received a nice book bag as part of their registration and utilized them as they toured the vendor shopping hall.  The bags were just the right size for books and flyers and had shoulder straps to make carrying easier.

As a bag-aholic, I admired these bags from the vendor booth that I was manning.  I struck up conversation with a visitor to my booth, who of course had a bag, and we laughed at the fact that as much as I loved bags, she actually hated them!  We were both astonished by the opposing passions we had regarding bags.

She asked me, with incredulity, what I used miscellaneous bags for.  I shared with her that I keep a few in my car to use at grocery stores that don’t provide bags.  I always have a bag on hand to fill with paper, pens, and coloring books for mini road trips with my daughter.  There is always a bag ready with a beach towel for when we go swimming or on a spontaneous picnic.  We parted ways with her chuckling at the “bag lady” she had just met!

Two days later, at this conference, I was to give the first of my speaking sessions.  I always experience the normal jitters, but that morning, I was overcome with dread, sadness, and fear due to a circumstance that had nothing to do with the conference.  I poured my heart out to God.  I agreed with him that I knew He had put me on this path, but that I felt like I wouldn’t be able to walk in that day.  I was completely broken before him.  God truly ministered to me during my quiet time.  He quieted my spirit, He lifted my downcast heart and gave me the courage to fulfill my calling.

I had to man the vendor booth before my first session and was very surprised to see the lady that I had conversed with about the bags approaching me.  Her arms were full and there was a huge smile on her face.  She said, “I am so glad you are here.  I brought you these!”  Spilling from her arms were bags!  Bags of all shapes, sizes, fabrics, and colors fell at my feet.  There were totes, backpacks, book bags and more!  Tears started flowing and I was so overcome that I could not even speak for several moments.

There was no way to communicate to her where my heart had been hours earlier.  There was no way to communicate to her how broken and downcast I had been upon waking.  There was no way to communicate to her how God had just given to me the biggest kiss ever!  I tried to regain composure and thanked her the best I could.  God didn’t have to give me anything tangible, but in his kind regard of my state, He did.  Only God would know how much bags would thrill my heart.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.

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

Crickets and Curriculum

Cricket isolatedbooks

As long as I have breath, I will declare that the Living God of all creation wants to be seen.  He himself said that his “eyes of the Lord roam the Earth looking for someone to show himself strong to.” (2 Chron. 16.9)  If you have eyes to see with and ears to hear with, He can be found!

Last March we became the recipients of an incredible gift, our entire curriculum for our rising 6th grade daughter.  We are a homeschool family and the estimated value of this gift is ~700.00.  When the box arrived in the mail, it was like Christmas!  My daughter and I fawned over each book and could not believe the blessing.  Just this past week, the same benefactor, the curriculum publishers, sent an additional new edition of the language arts program!  I am in awe of God’s goodness.  God sends every good and perfect gift from heaven and wants to be seen in the giving!

Now on to crickets.  I am currently Chameleon sitting for my one of my older sons.  What that entails is misting his tree twice a day, refilling is auto mister and water dish and feeding him crickets.  Yuck.  This has been a busy week and I didn’t realize we ran out of crickets.  I was concerned that Drake the chameleon was hungry and was searching frantically outside for a cricket last night.  I could hear plenty of them but none were in sight.  I stopped and prayed, “Lord, if Drake needs supper, can you help me find a cricket?”  When I opened my eyes, there was a cricket at my feet!  Only God!  He cares about chameleons.  Surely, He cares for us!

Ask him to give you new eyes and ears and a heart of child like faith to see Him everywhere.  God wants to be seen.

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

God calls us to go ALL the way.

dark-prison-cell

Part 1.

Looking at the saints of old, I see a mysterious and Holy pattern.  God doesn’t stop short of the miraculous.  He doesn’t go half way or do anything in a less than complete manner.  God takes his people to the very edge, He brings them to the last-minute rescue and the midnight hour desperation and then reveals himself with such power, glory and might that we are left speechless.  His plans are for his works to be displayed in such a way, so that there can be no other explanation for what has happened except that God has intervened.

However, these gripping stories are also to build our faith.  Our lives are not so unlike the people of old.  Sometimes our trials bring us to very edge of disaster and if God does not work, we are done for.   If God does not part the Red Sea, we will be destroyed.  If he does not dry up the Jordan, we will drown.  God calls us to go all the way to see the miraculous.  It is necessary to go the distance. Consider this example:

Genesis 37 relates a tale of a very dysfunctional family where sibling rivalry and hatred peaked with a brother being sold into human trafficking by his older brothers.  Let’s look closer at the pattern. It was necessary for Joseph to go ALL the way down into the pit that his brothers cast him into.  There he learned that God had a plan to preserve his life.  Thru the long dark night, with each passing hour, he survived.  As dawn broke over the wilderness, he realized that his body was whole and preserved and that he had lived to see the sun’s rays pierce the darkness.  It was then necessary for Joseph to be sold into slavery and taken hundreds of miles away from his home and family ALL the way in Egypt.  On an auction block, his favored son status was stripped away and he became the property of someone else.  He had no say, no input, no nothing.  His elevated status in an affluent family was cruelly ripped away as he was inspected and chosen solely for his physical build.  His father, his family, his lineage meant nothing.  It was then necessary for him to be accused falsely and sent ALL the way to prison.  Ultimate humiliation and unfairness became his daily bread.  It was in prison, however, that he learned to trust the God of the dark.  Totally constricted and unable to dictate the terms of his life, he was helpless before God.  How easy to lose faith and hope in such a circumstance.  Who would have blamed him if he had.  The evidence, however,  tells a different story.  The evidence speaks of a young man who continued to work with excellence not to please men but God.  The way he ordered his cell, his habits, his time was of such a nature that it captured the attention of his guard.  He was then placed over other prisoners so that he could teach them the same order and habits.  But still his case and cause were overlooked.  Year after year he remained in his confinement and was able to contribute nothing to change the outcome.

What did he dream the outcome to be?  To be set free at some point and make his way back home?  To be free so that he could take revenge on his brothers?  While we are not privy to Joseph’s private thoughts and agonies of soul, we are privy to God taking him to the limit and then some.  Just when it seemed it could not get any worse, it did.  God had set an against all odds scenario so that if God doesn’t act and save, Joseph is toast.  I am sure that no matter what Joseph longed and dreamed for, he could not have imagined the outcome that God  accomplished.  He went from the prison cell to the right hand of pharaoh.  Who but God could bring such a conclusion?  Revenge to his brothers?  Joseph ended up not only saving his immediate family from starvation but the entire known world at the time.  It was necessary for God to take Joseph ALL the way so that the work accomplished was so incredible, no one could deny God.

Yes, God often calls his children to go to the brink of disaster.  But no matter where God takes us and calls us to go, we are not alone.  We have His promise never to leave us or forsake us.  If He takes us to the very edge, He is there.  We are not alone.

If you find yourself in a prison cell of unfair life’s circumstances, falsely accused and forgotten….Wait and watch.  You are primed to see a miracle.

To be continued.

 

Happy Thought Indeed, Living in Freedom, Reflections, value

“Arise my Darling…and Come Along”

garden path

Can you imagine any more intimate invitation than for your beloved to say, “Arise my darling, there’s something that I want to show you; come along with me.”?  This beckoning suggests that there is a hidden delight to be shared.  Perhaps it’s a surprise just for these two affectionate lovers planned by the one for the other.  As a woman who LOVES surprises, my mind imagines all sorts of treasures to be revealed.

In the Song of Solomon 2:13 (NASB), this adoring secretive call is found:

‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’

There is something to be shown and shared.  There is something delightful to behold that will be so sweet to encounter together.  There is something that the one lover has discovered and cannot wait for the other to experience.  I imagine myself placing a trembling hand with an anticipating heart into a strong waiting hand and being led to a place of utter joy.

As with most words, I want to know the depths and shades of their meanings.  So it is with this verse and I studied out a few words that captivated me.

  • Ripened – to embalm, as in the air, with a sweet aroma; to make spicy; to ease harvesting.

This actually led me to look the meaning of embalm.

  • Embalm – to fill the air with a sweet fragrance.  To preserve from decay.
  • Fragrance – a savoury smell; a soothing odor; the technical term for a sacrifice to God.
  • Blossom – a tender state; the peak period of development; the flower of a seed plant.
  • Given – to assign; to bestow, to cause, to permit. To stretch out. To deliver up. To assign.
  • Darling – attendant maiden, companion. An endeared person.  A particular favorite.
  • Come Along – to walk, to travel, to run, to go up and out.  To move in a constant direction or path.  To be in the company of another.

As you can see, this verse begins to explode with depth and richness.  This is just like God.  The first glance is breathtaking and sweet.  However, the longer you look, the more you study Him out, there are unsearchable riches to be found.

Look and listen for his invitation today.  See what delights He wants to show you.  Take His hand and breathe deeply the sweet fragrance of His being.

You are His darling.

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

“I Your Teacher”

classroom

Isaiah 30:20-21…..”I your teacher will no longer hide myself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher and your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it” whenever you turn to the right or left.

What does it look like to be in the Holy classroom of God?  I am sure it looks differently for different people but here is what it looks like for me.  I might be listening to a sermon, a friend, or even a stranger when a truth gem is exposed.  Its beauty begins to resonate deep within my soul and I know God has spoken.  I usually journal these nuggets of gold and meditate on them for days and weeks.  I find that over the course of those next days and weeks, I will hear the same truth in varying ways.  God will keep instructing me and reminding me of what He has said.

Like all good teachers, an opportunity to practice the truth ALWAYS follows the instruction.  What good is anything learned if you cannot use it in everyday life?  So it is with God, he does not waste His words, instruction or his time.  If He has been so intentional as to instruct, He has a purpose in it.

Several weeks ago I heard a message that contained more truth nuggets than I could write down.  I jotted down what I could and have actively thought on what I couldn’t.  Here’s the gist of what I was instructed in:

  • The fear of the future is often worse than the future.

Anytime God gives the command, “Do not fear”, it is ALWAYS coupled with a why not to.  For example:

Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

When we face our fears because of the realization that the God of the Universe is beside us, then we can take steps forward in faith and courage.  Personal victory has the potential to unleash corporate blessings. Consider the personal victory of David against Goliath.  The outcome had actually been dictated by the giant; whoever was victorious, their nation would enslave the losers.  David’s victory was applied to the entire nation of Israel!  He declared that he had come in the name of the Lord; he was living in faith and gained a courageous victory!

  • Do not entertain any thought reduces God or your position in Him.

1 John 4:1 (NASB)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…
Our loving Father does NOT use discouraging or despairing language with his children.  If you hear any “head talk” that is hopeless, filled with failure and fear, rest assured it is from our enemy and NOT our Father.  Years ago, our pastor at the time, gave me some very good practical advice for when the enemy was on the attack in my mind.  He encouraged me to say aloud,
“My Father said I am not to talk to strangers.  You are a stranger and if you want to talk about me, go see my Father!”
We are the sheep of our Father’s pasture.  We hear and know His voice.  Make truthful declarations to yourself and others about His character, His love, His power, His faithfulness and His glory.  What God has revealed to us in His written Word is for our instruction.  His past works declare who He is, not who He was!  Read and be encouraged and declare who our God is.
So, true to form, God gave me these nuggets and has also given me a test.  From where I am standing, the bay has emptied and a tsunami has formed and is poised to come crashing down.  However, by God’s grace, I will look beyond the wave to the creator of the wave.  The wind and waves still know His voice.  I know His voice.
Friend, if you also find yourself in God’s Holy Classroom, you are not alone.  He is right there with you as well as countless other saints who are in similar trials.  Remember that God is for you and me and has purpose in our tests:

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
God desires that we lack in nothing and be perfect and complete!  What a good, good Father He is.
Living in Freedom, Reflections, Uncategorized

The Wonder of Being Small

HALF DOME

I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Yosemite National Park this past week.  There is an inadequacy of words to describe the beauty, the vastness, and the grandeur of it all.  The most surprising element that I experienced, was the wonder of being small.

From any view, either down in the valley or atop Glacier Point, I realized my smallness and the infinite bigness of God.  His handiwork truly declared His glory!  I breathed deeply and was struck by His greatness.  He is so much bigger than that which He has created.

Trees, birds, squirrels, lizards, rushing waters, roaring water falls, placid lakes, jagged peaks; all spoke of him and not of me.  What a cleansing place.

Job 12:7-10New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
“Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
And let the fish of the sea declare to you.
“Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the Lord has done this,
10 In whose hand is the life of every living thing,
And the breath of all mankind?

I fully agree with John Muir:

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
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!”