A Balloon Ride for Two . . . Safe in the Palm of Glory!

16 Dec

Brett and I have travelled across the country this past week not for a simple vacation but to witness a milestone moment in the life of our Sweet Florida Girl. We’ve come to see our Little One walk across the stage, receive her college diploma and symbolically step into the next stage of her 21 year old life.seugraduationbackground

Sisters, where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday she stepped up to the podium at her first “graduation” – the time passes so fast and, as cliché’brittspreschool graduation cropped as it sounds, you barely blink and it’s gone. And I don’t think that sentiment, the idea that time with those who have captured our hearts slips away too soon, is limited to our children. I think it’s that way with all the important people in our lives. The time always seems to go to quickly . . . with your Grandma, with your Mom, with your aunts, your sisters, your nieces, your daughters . . . it never seems like we have the time to fully embrace them and in the blink of an eye . . . it’s a memory.

That’s how these last 21 years feel to me and as I let my mind drift back to the beginning of her college years I clearly remember the absolute physical pain of watching her pull the car out of the garage to begin her adventure on the opposite end of the United States. I felt so anxious about what the future held for her and to be honest, for the empty nest she was leaving behind as well.

What was waiting for her at Southeastern University? She believed God had paved the way straight through those campus gates for her. So much so that she called it her “Promised Land” – but would it be? Would the adjustment, the being away from home, be difficult for her or would she make the move easily – and, if I was honest with myself, which one was I really hoping for?

All these questions and a thousand others pounded at my heart as I watched her turn the key, smile at me with such expectation on her face and drive away. I flew to the spot Brett was having his morning coffee, crawled up beside him, and let the thousand questions roll down my cheeks.

And now here I am at another monumental moment . . . watching as she takes her place with a smile full of expectation – she isn’t sitting behind the wheel with all her belongings in the seats behind her, but she is poised for another adventure. It’s so strange to me to see her in this place, where the past and future are meeting in such a real and tangible way. So surreal to open the commencement program listing the graduates, trace down through the list and land on the name we had given our Sweet Child 21 years ago.

Such a mix of remembering, experiencing and anticipating all tangled into these few brief moments. Remembering her as a little girl. Thinking about the health diagnosis she has received this year and the challenges they will present throughout her life. Anticipating her upcoming marriage in 2015.   Mulling her plan to move several states away from us . . . again. And there is that physical pain again and the thousand questions that batter at my Momma’s heart.

Does she remember home as a safe harbor? A place of love? The spot where grace lives? What is she thinking about the pain in her joints and all the medicine she has to take? How is she going to cope with the new limitations she has? Is she nervous about being a wife? Will she make friends in that new place? Will she leave us behind?

So much change in her young life and in this old one too. And all those questions welled up in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks as I spilled my heart out to Brett over coffee in our hotel the morning after graduation.

I’d love to write that he handled it so wonderfully but I know he will not mind me telling you that he sometimes forgets that I don’t really want the questions answered or the problem fixed. I just want someone to hear what’s on my heart. So he didn’t handle it badly, he just really wanted to make it better. To make certain I knew that Britt would be okay on the journey. To remind me that we have been praying for her for years with this specific time in mind. And to point out all the times God has been so obviously faithful to her over the years.

I looked over to explain to him that I didn’t want to hear logic or be reminded of all the things I know to be true and over his shoulder, right off the patio of our hotel room, I saw the most beautiful hot air balloon with the sun splashing across it. I said, “Honey, look at that! It’s so beautiful!” He turned to look from the place he was sitting and said, “Where?” He rolled forward in his wheelchair and said, “I can see it now. But there isn’t just one – the sky is full of them!” And he pushed out onto the patio. I got out of my chair and followed him and there they all were with the sun lighting them up. They were so beautiful. And calm. So peaceful.

The splendor of the single balloon had been obscured from Brett’s vision by a concrete post and the beauty filling the sky had been hidden from me by a curtain. We had to move, to get up close, get out from behind the post and pull back the curtain to see the bigger picture. And still, as we took in the details of the balloons, suspended in the sky, awash in the sun, poised for adventure, we didn’t know where the balloons had launched from – where they were going—or who they were carrying. For all the beauty in front of us, we only saw one brief moment, hanging in time, of the much larger journey.

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We were witnessing, Sweet Sisters, a glimpse of Glory . . . a small slice of the wonder of Him . . . in the sky above us and the life of our Sweet Girl.

And the message struck like a lightning bolt.  God is all about doing the beautiful thing – even when the post is obscuring our vision or we’re standing behind the curtain. What I can or can’t see has no bearing on what He is doing. I cannot contain Him and neither can you so we trust Him to always be about the business of filling our skies with love. And occasionally, when we heed the Spirit’s push to move closer and respond to His invitation to look up . . . we see the beauty of Him . . . and if we will raise our eyes toward heaven, even as the questions roll down our cheeks, Sister, what we behold will be absolutely glorious.

hotairballoon desktopfreehebrews

From “Nothing” to “Something” . . . Something Beautiful

2 Dec

I am beginning a personal study of the Book of Hebrews and as part of the adventure into these passages I want to get as much of the background story as I can. It’s not where everybody begins but I enjoy trying to piece together the surroundings the Almighty chose as the very place He would have the quill hit the parchment. I love the idea of leaning over the author’s shoulder as he receives Divine inspiration and trying to imagine how it all unfolded. What did he experience as the Spirit settled upon him? What kind of expressions crossed his face as he drank in the Word of God? How long did it take him to understand what was happening –did he know immediately or was it a process? Did he smile at the thought that the God of heaven and earth was chatting so loudly or was it more like a holy whisper that made his hands shake as he tried to get it all down? These are the kinds of things that I like to think on and wonder over when I start out on the quest of new treasure.

creation swap Elizabeth Spencer Hebrews glasses 24482 ribbetThis particular excavation of Truth –this specific seeking of treasure– has however, begun much differently than what I anticipated when I settled into my chair. To say that my expected beginning has taken a very unexpected turn would fall far short of describing my experience this morning as God confirmed for me again at least two things that He has been whispering in my ear since He and I began this journey.

First, He will – in all of His ExtraOrdinariness – speak loudly to the utterly ordinary among us. I believe this so completely that I’ve made the declaration of it a permanent part of the blog in the Message From a Fellow Sojourner:

Beloved, God has gone to great lengths to whisper to your heart and reveal His Nature to you in personal, unique ways. My own experience confirms for me that neither a righteous background nor an extraordinary intellect is a requirement for looking beyond what we can see and Glimpsing the Glory of the One we cannot. In fact, I am walking, talking assurance that the “Extraordinary of God” will be revealed to the most unrighteous and utterly ordinary among us. Never doubt that the Creator of communication is fluent in the language of your unique soul as well.

And isn’t it beautiful that He will keep repeating Himself, over and over again, until He’s certain the lesson He is teaching is etched on our souls. He’s so dedicated to engraving His image on us that He perseveres in stamping Himself on our hearts . . . all for our benefit. It doesn’t change Him in any way but Sister, it changes us.

See, what I expected when I grabbed my coffee and Bible this morning was to add some texture to the fabric of the message I was going to read after I poked around into the history of the human who was entrusted with the task of putting it all down for the generations to come. What I didn’t expect was to have God show up in all of His hugeness and stitch together such a beautiful backdrop before I even read Hebrews 1:1.  Full confession is . . . I still haven’t made it that far.

The God of More had planned to drench me in Himself before I even dipped my toes into the pages of the Scripture. The Extraordinary seemed to be reminding this ordinary woman that He would not be confined by her idea of when and where she would hear Him. No, He could and He would give voice to the message He had prepared anywhere, any time, and in any way He chose.

coffe and bible creation swap free 19147 Aaron Burden hebrews cup

I’m trying to think of a better way to describe all that God has shown me this morning but the one word that keeps entering my mind is “nothing.” I don’t have the space to detail it and the way it all unfolded because He chatted so fast and so loud but in its most scant outline it went something like this in my spirit . . .

I read a couple of resource books and thought:

Hmm . . . different scholars posit different possible authors – some of the arguments are good others—not so much. What does that mean for me as I start this study?

I typed the answer to the question I posed to myself and noted the Scripture that brought me to my response:

My response to the challenge of human authorship: All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16) and brought into existence to accomplish the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11) – while the debate to determine the human hand that held the quill may be of scholarly interest –the power of the Word lies with the Almighty Author (Hebrews 4:12).

I pondered on it:

That’s really true of the entire Bible. It doesn’t really matter who put the pen to paper in any of the 66 books. It adds depth and gives application, and God chose them to convey His message, but the story is God’s – the message always belongs to Him. I wonder what those verses that came to mind read like lined up –from the New to the Old and then back again. Guess I’ll check that out.

I copied and pasted into a word document from the Amplified Bible (AMP) and then I read:

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Isaiah 55:10-11 Hebrews 4:12 AMP

Read back through it again! It is absolutely seamless—the Message of God from both sides of the Covenant Line. The utter constancy of God clearly stating that it is His Word and His Authority and His Voice that brings power and life to the black words on those white pages. And isn’t it sweet that He brought the whole thing to a point with the very book I am preparing to splash down in? I love Him so for putting me in the exact place I need to be as I begin this study. He took the distractions away and gave me “nothing” so I could receive the message straight from Him – not in awe of the dedication of the mortal author – not marveling over the tenacity of the human writer – but with my eyes and my heart marveling at HIM, the Immortal One.

Beloved, those three Scriptures only scratch the surface of the Holy Script He let me visit this morning. It was one thunderbolt after another (read fast because that’s the way He brought it all to mind in rapid-fire fashion) –

Isn’t He wild?  What kind of King shows Himself to the servant that way?  It’s astounding that He would welcome us into His Presence with such generosity.  I am beside myself with glee at what lies ahead on this treasure hunt. Absolutely giddy at the possibilities He may lay out in front of me. And Girlfriend, Fellow God Seeker, this is just a small glimpse of Him, a little piece of His splendor. What will it be when we fully know as we are fully known?!?

Do you remember where all this began? It all began with finding nothing – no undebatable human author. He has brought us all this beauty, all this excitement, all the wonder from the discovery of “nothing” —but it strikes me as I type those words that I shouldn’t be surprised because isn’t that how He does? In Genesis 1:1 God speaks and “nothing” is transformed into the spectacular “something.” Just the sound of His Voice, giving form to the command of His Heart and “nothing” takes on a wild beauty that we can’t even comprehend.

“Nothing” is touched by the Breath and Heart of God and it becomes “something.”

Doesn’t that thought startle you just a little bit? The same Voice that spoke the world into existence . . . the same Heart that commanded beauty to be born . . . the Heavenly breath that turns “nothings” into “somethings” . . . Sweet Sister, He’s the One who speaks to you.

And that brings me to the second thing that I am certain He has confirmed for me again today and I hope He has spoken to your heart as well –our God, the One who loves you and the One who loves me, is always the God of More. creation swap coffee cup painting lori macmath 9079 surpasses dreamsHe’s always more thrilling, more exhilarating, and more exciting than we could possibly dream up. When He shows us glimpses of the Who of Him and empties us of our own small expectations, when we come to Him with our “nothing,” . . . well Sister, transforming it to something is His specialty and it will always be more beautiful than our finite minds can conjure. I’m going to be so bold as to say that His reality will always surpass our dreams. It will always go beyond our wildest expectations and exceed our aspirations.

That Girlfriend, is the “something from nothing” life – originating in His Heart, beginning with His Voice, taking form at His command – He created you to live. So you press in close, hold out your cup full of nothing, empty yourself of your small expectations, trust Him to be Who He is and then you watch your beautiful something overflow.

creation swap coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940 beautiful cup

(P.S.  And so I finished all the detail work on this post but wanted to check a reference one last time.  I went to Biblegateway and the verse staring back at me from their homepage . . .Hebrews 1:1-2!

[The Supremacy of God’s Son ] Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2

I couldn’t make this stuff up — He is always the God of More!  And I’m taking that gift from Him as the green light to actually jump into the Book of Hebrews!  Isn’t He too good for words! Oh, Believe Him to be More today!! Blessings to you!)

The Overwhelmed Life

11 Nov creation swap bible roses Gail Wall 11243 deut3247

It was put before me recently to explain what God’s Word means to me. Not in an apologetics, logical, reasoning, I’m going to try and convince you to see it the same kind of way but in a heart-all-out-there personal kind of way. I’m not certain I had ever contemplated anyone wanting to know that before and honestly, creation swap heart Stephen Ramkissoon 4959 graceI wasn’t prepared for the emotions, affection, and love that meditating on the personal meaning of God’s Word brought about in me. There was a sense of this “almost too much Lord” in trying to string together with some kind of clarity exactly what it means to me to sit so close to the Throne and be welcomed there.

One of my favorite songs right now is Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave. It came on the radio the other night as I was driving home by myself and I was so engulfed in the mercy of Jesus, the pure love of Him, that I was exactly what the title of the song said . . .Overwhelmed.

creation swap blue2 Joshua Lenon 5971 bigdaddyweaveThe most beautiful pictures slid through my mind. I saw myself running to the arms of the Father with Jesus – the very One who had made the way – right beside me whispering “Go child, go.” And He had tears in His eyes. I felt absolutely covered in Him. Even as I let my mind’s eye wander back and re-experience the moment, I feel the love for Him well up in my throat. See, I’ve been praying not only to love Jesus but to be in love with Jesus. For me, those pictures, being lost in the wonderment of Him, marveling at the All of Him, was confirmation that He hears our every prayer.

This challenge, to give shape and form to what the Word means to me, brought about that same overwhelming sense of affection and love. I didn’t worry about being able to offer the Scripture references that led me to write what I did or make certain there was a commentary written by someone smarter than me that confirmed what I thought, I just let myself see Him. Experience Him. Worship Him.

I let myself feel His embrace and the overwhelmed in me poured onto the page.

The Bible, the Word of God, the Voice of Heaven, the Breath of Love—is life to me. Nothing else stirs me, energizes me, moves me, thrills me or humbles me like He does. I am left slack-jawed and steeped in awe that He would stoop from Heaven to speak to me –the very worst one. But He does. Over and over again He does. And with every syllable I hear Him whisper, “I love you.” And my heart reaches back with, “I love you too.”

Girlfriend, isn’t He just too much? I always encourage women to take His promises as their own . . . to get up close with His Word and breathe It in – because I know that’s the only place we’ll find the tenacity and courage to really live and love with abundance on this temporal planet. Only when I inhale Love, when I meet Him in the pages of His Word, do I have even a slight chance of getting my flesh out of the way and exhaling any semblance of it. Breathe in “Capital L” Love. Breathe Out “little l” love. Watch God and do what He does. See His posture of love and try to stand the same way. Observe Christ and copy Him through the power of the Spirit. Look at the way He wears Love from head-to-toe and put on a matching outfit.

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Oh Sweet One, we cannot watch Him, we cannot keep company with Him, we cannot observe Him without falling in love with Him. We breathe Him in and then breathe Him out. The Bible is not black words on white paper. It is life!

On both sides of the Covenant Line –His Word is life!

They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. Deuteronomy 32:47

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 1 John 1:1

. . . so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:15-16

And Sister make no mistake that the Word of Life has a name . . .

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.

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Revelation 19:11-16

That, Beloved, is who is beckoning you to His side. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords wants to speak to you from the pages. The Word of Life wants to overwhelm you and me with “Capital L” Love. . . . to breathe life into our souls. Not spoon fed life – real, dig-into-it-myself and come up with my lungs and heart full of Him life. Because while we can certainly glean from the insights of others, we absolutely cannot breathe with the Spirit second hand.

And Sweet Friend, the beauty of it is we don’t have to. Pick up your Bible. Pull the app up on your phone. Listen to it on your headphones. Whatever choice sits before you– choose it! And Girlfriend, when you do, you can be confident that what you will find will be absolutely oxygen to your soul.  For you my Friend have chosen to sit before the Throne in the very Presence of Love, to inhale the Word made flesh, and to take in the All of Him.  You have chosen to live, you have chosen the overwhelmed LIFE!

creation swap bible roses Gail Wall 11243 deut3247

(Overwhelmed Music & Lyrics: Mike Weaver / Phil Wickham)

But God! . . .

4 Nov

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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1 Thessalonians 5:9

Sisters – Let the wind of the Spirit blow over those words and drive them deep into your heart this day. We have been rescued! Those who have believed in their hearts, confessed with their mouths, and this day are being transformed from one degree of glory to another have been ushered into safety by our Sweet Messiah.

Try not to get all caught up in the shades of the word appoint when you read the verse– some translations have it “destined” others use the word “intend” – there may be a time and place when you are called to pull the Sovereignty threads apart and seek out Scripture’s guidance on that particular word but for just the few moments that you will spend reading this post let’s keep to the Strong’s Concordance definition of “to decree one to be subject to” and throw our hats in with A.W. Tozer in the Pursuit of God . . .

God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination, and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, “O Lord, Thou knowest.” Those things belong to the deep and mysterious Profound of God’s omniscience. Prying into them may make theologians, but it will never make saints.

Let’s rejoice together that if we have claimed Christ as our Savior then God in His infinite grace has not decreed that we are subject to His wrath.

In Bible study this last week the class was challenged to ponder the word wrath and jot down the things that popped to mind.  I’m certain we came up with many of the same ideas and concepts your mind would conjure given the opportunity.

  • Punishment
  • Unrelenting Pain
  • Destruction
  • Unrestrained Anger

And maybe the most pointed term of all – DESERVED.

And yet, God did not decree those who believe to be subject to punishment, unrelenting pain, destruction, unrestrained anger – He chose not to subject us to exactly what our sins deserved. Rather, His appointment for we who believe is to obtain salvation. Beloved, the thing He has decreed for the Romans 10:9-10 believer is rescue.

  • Preservation
  • Deliverance
  • Safety
  • Grace

Unmerited favor placed squarely on your shoulders, squarely on my shoulders, because the Messiah chose to place the Beam across His.

Is His compassion not breathtaking? It’s unfathomable that He loves us so. What faithfulness He displays to we who by nature are children of wrath . . .

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesians 2:1-3

It’s our nature to be children of wrath, but here Sweet Sister is the entrance of Grace and Love . . .

BUT GOD . . .

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Ephesians 2:4-5

I don’t know what that does for your heart or how it quickens your spirit but for me it feels a superhero has swooped in from heaven and saved me from certain death at my own hands!   Do you see it?

BUT GOD . . .

And the Creator of the universe stoops from heaven to lift you . . .to lift me . . to the Rock of certainty. To hide us in the cleft . . . to hold us in the place of safety that we do not deserve. What so great of rescue is this that the Son would wear our death so that we might be dressed in life?

Every act of disobedience merits retribution. Every sin deserves punishment.

Retribution—Punishment—Wrath is exactly what I deserve . . . BUT GOD!

He has saved us, rescued those, who were by nature children of wrath, placed our punishment on the head of Christ and appointed to us the crown of life . . . BUT GOD!

Girlfriend, we cannot make too much of those two words — BUT GOD!  They are our lifeline.  It’s what we live on! Cling to! Trust in! It’s our firm foundation to know without a doubt that the mercy of God has sliced through the world timeline in the person of Jesus Christ and looked directly at us with the Face of Grace.

It’s what makes our walk confident when we should be anything but in this very dark world.  It’s what makes our faith unshakable when our circumstances quake around us. And it’s what makes us stand firm in the face of our enemy for greater is He who is in us than He who is the world.

So Sweet One, no matter where the pressure comes from today, rather the assault is from without or the attack is from within – you steady your heart in His love, stare that thing in the face, raise the hand of victory and you declare for all the heavenlies to hear. . . BUT GOD!

creation swap heart in bible Marian Trinidad 7896 eph245

Beauty Speaks . . .A Sister’s Story

15 Oct

Beauty . . . you are alive and well. The image of the Beautiful One is surrounding us and we are engulfed in its heartbeat. His grace, His love, His steadfastness . . . every single attribute He possesses has been placed inside of His most prized creation. Sister, that most favored status belongs to you.

Your life, if you have accepted Jesus Christ, is being renewed and transformed to reveal more and more of the beauty the Elohim, the “All of God”, created you to possess. And we, with unveiled faces, move about this life going through the trials, the tests, the difficult stuff and we come away with a greater confidence and certainty that He is with us, that He is good and we are precious in His sight.

We confront the questions to be sure . . . Is our God a Giver or a taker? Does the Delightful One truly delight in me? Has He forgotten His promise to work all things together for the good of those who love Him? It’s part of the process. We question, we pray, we cry . . . but we do not withdraw when “good” doesn’t look like we think it will and “beauty” gets messy.

And when He clears our vision, reaching down into the depths, pulling us to the top so we can breathe, opening our eyes to see just a slice of what He is doing . . . Beloved, we scarce can take it in.

That’s the place my Sweet Friend found herself in just a short time ago . . .the place where God peeled back the worries of this world and showed His splendor just for her. She gave me permission to share her story, but no matter how I tried I couldn’t bring the words together in a way that captured her heart and the way His love absolutely flowed over her in those moments. See I think that no matter how up close you have watched someone, walked with someone, or done life with someone – you can’t really tell their story quite like they can.

I so wish you could sit face to face with her, see the tears in the corners of her eyes as she spoke—because the tears would be there believe me—and hear her voice take on the hush of holiness as she poured her heart out and marveled at His goodness, but that’s just not possible.  So instead, she’s allowing me to share her story in her words. She wrote this originally as an encouragement to the Sisters she studies the Word with – a tangible way to put skin on 1 Thessalonians 2:8 sharing of our very selves—not anticipating the invitation to encourage a much larger audience.

creation swap glimpses1 Paul Snyder 10439 ribbetSo, being affectionately desirous of you,

we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God

but also our own selves,

because you had become very dear to us.

 1 Thessalonians 2:8

True to the image she was created in she has answered the call to come alongside us and let us glimpse God’s glory with her. May He bless her one-hundred fold for giving voice to His goodness and testifying to His love. My Sweet Friend, thank you for living and loving out loud in Jesus Name. You are tangible proof to me that beauty thrives in a fallen world. Blessings to you.

creation swap coffee cup painting beauty lori macmath 9079 ribbet

OUR SISTER’S STORY

You all know I was on a long journey with my Mom as she was dying. TammyandherMomma ribbetIt was one of the hardest journeys God has ever taken me on.  I lost her in December of last year.

Facebook Post from her Momma’s bedside–December 4, 2013

Sitting here with my Mom during the last hours of her journey here on earth. It’s strange how they usher us into this life and we get to usher them into eternity. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. What a blessing to hold her hand through it all.

tammy'sjacob ribbetSoon after that my son Jacob’s caregiver, (Jacob has Down’s Syndrome) that worked for us around 4 years, was engaged and got married in April.  So she left us too.  She is like a daughter to me so I was so happy for her but it was a big loss.tammymikejosh graduation ribbet

Then Jacob’s twin brother Josh graduated in June and left for college on September 1.  Honestly I wasn’t sure I would make it through all of these losses.

I had a few months where I didn’t leave the house much.  The massive amounts of snow were a good excuse to stay home.  I did pray and read my devotional and even sometimes my Bible during this time.  I had awesome sisters that kept praying, bringing coffee and checking on me.

As spring came and the sun….I felt God so close.  Just as I had in my Mom’s last days.  I slowly started moving again and getting involved in life.  It was a very long process but as I shared with my counselor and my girls, God had told me to be still when my Mom had died.  I was still but the pain was so overwhelming sometimes.

We had to help Josh decide on a college.  This was so hard.  To guide but not insist or pressure.  God gave us such wisdom and patience.  I knew where I felt he should go as soon as we hit the campus but Josh wasn’t sure.  It also cost way more than we could afford.  I kept praying Lord is this the place?  Show us, tell us, we want to obey.  By May, Josh had decided it would be Spring Arbor, my choice too.  Then God provided the money we needed.  It was amazing.  All that he did to show us his answer.

Anyway, as summer ended we packed Josh up.  We arrived on campus and were overwhelmed with God’s goodness. From each person we met to how smoothly things unfolded.  We had never met Josh’s roommate but quickly knew they were a match.  His mother and I stood in the hall listening to the RA and Spiritual advisor for the boys tell us their hearts for these boys and how they wanted to encourage and guide them.  Amazing.

After lunch we went back to the dorm.  Drew, Joshua’s roommate, was talking to someone and I heard him comment

“That can’t be true because I am adopted.”  I looked up and said “Drew, your adopted?”  “Yes”  he said.  I said “Wow, Josh is too.  Did you know that?”  “No, I didn’t”.

When I looked up at his Mom and Dad they were both smiling.  His Dad asked me when we had adopted the boys.  I told him August of 1996 from Christian Cradle.  They smiled bigger….

”I approved your adoption” he said.

“I was on the board of Christian Cradle at that time.”

tammy'sboysbaby ribbet

I couldn’t even speak.  I actually held my hands up to God and started talking.

‘You have planned this since the beginning of time…you knew these two boys would meet today and that we would find out this information.  Unbelievable!!!!”

I said to them “Can I just say thank you…”

What a confirmation!  God told me in no uncertain terms that Josh was supposed to be there at that very moment.

He is more than I can even put into words.  He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Savior of the World, the Lover of the Soul.  Every intricate detail…from greatest to least.  He has filled me with more hope and joy this Fall than I ever thought possible.  PRAISE HIS NAME!!!!

I don’t know about you but I can’t read the words of that Sweet Sister without the tears rolling down my cheeks. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it beautiful? It absolutely was. It might not have been our idea of what beauty looks like but when He peeled that curtain back and she got to see His tenderness, love, and care toward her – Beauty was speechless.

In all those years, God was storing up that moment and treasuring it in His heart until the very time she needed it most. That’s Who He is. Regardless of what our eyes see or how messy our lives may be –

the Beautiful One never ceases to work for the good of those who love Him.

What goodness, what treasure, do you suppose, Beautiful Sister, He is storing up for you? Where might you be, what storms might you have endured, when He peels back the curtain and reveals to you His splendor? I don’t know when that moment might come. We have no way of pinpointing the time when He will show His tenderness so plainly . . . the time when we will glimpse His glory and we will be left speechless. But we have heard this testimony and we know He is faithful so we can be certain Girlfriend –the time will come and His Glory will be seen!

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And we know that for those who love God

all things work together for good,

for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

You Make Your World More Beautiful . . . Just by Being You.

3 Oct

Tonight I was reading in 1 Corinthians 10 and my eyes slid across this passage. . . “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” It simultaneously brought tears to my eyes and made me smile because those few words were the answer to a prayer I had breathed only moments earlier asking for God to show Himself gentle to me. See those words are like an old friend taking my hand and leading my heart because of the spiritual mentor who helped me learn them. So as the words hit my brain the memories of her diligence toward me flooded over me, I thought to myself, “That’s from Psalm 24,” and sure enough when I glanced down at the footnote for confirmation, there it was . . “Psalm 24:1.”

That Psalm is the first Scripture I clearly remember memorizing and it was Nanny, my paternal grandmother, who went over and over every syllable with me—in the KJV no less . I’m certain there were other verses I memorized for the Sunday School classes she took me to but that Psalm – at least part of it—was different. Not only was it huge to my little person mind, but I recited it in front of the whole church at the Vacation Bible School program. Angela L. said the other half.

I was about eight or nine I think, but unlike the age that I have to work to recall, I have perfect clarity of how I felt . . . I was terrified. I don’t remember Angela L. looking at all nervous which must’ve made the ashen colored fear on my face stand out all the more to the parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who were there. I distinctly remember thinking that I could either look at all their expectant faces or I could recite the Psalm, but I couldn’t do both. So, rather than look at what seemed to me to be thousands upon thousands of people in the pews, I closed my eyes. . . .and I didn’t miss or stumble over a single word.

Now Nanny had worked with me on that Psalm all week long. She made certain I could say that thing forward and backward . . .not just my part but Angela L’s too. I was so afraid she would be disappointed or embarrassed because I hadn’t stood straight and tall, I hadn’t looked the congregation straight in the eyes with the steadfast confidence of someone whose Grandma had made certain she knew her part. I hadn’t done any of the things she had helped me prepare to do. I had closed my eyes and tilted my head down to speak but if she was disappointed in me, she didn’t let me know it.

Nanny My grandma and spiritual mentor,

Nanny
My grandma and spiritual mentor

Instead, she put her hand on my shoulder—the one with all the extra skin that I liked to press into big ridges and then smooth down before I went to sleep at night—and she said, “That was beautiful. Psalms are written to be prayed. Your eyes closed and head bowed was perfect.” I remember that evening and those words so clearly—not that it was good enough, not that it would do. . . .”it was perfect.”  The tears are sliding down my face right now and I can feel her perfect hand, the one with the extra skin, on my shoulder.

Oh how I am praising God for bringing those words of love and that touch of grace to my mind this very moment. See, when I opened up my Bible this evening, I was feeling a little overwhelmed by my own imperfections and shortcomings and I asked Him to lead me to a tender word from Him, to be salve to my heart because I felt so less-than. And this is where He took me . . .to this tender memory, to this gentle touch and the echo of my Nanny’s voice. . . “it was perfect.” Thank you Lord.

It fits so well with all that He has been showing me lately about the beauty that women of all ages, occupations, and personalities bring to their worlds. He’s just been putting them in front of me everywhere I go. . .pretty places and not-so-pretty places.

Momma full of grace

The Voice of Grace

I walked into a public restroom and bent down to scan the space between the bottom of the door and the floor to see what one might be empty. My eyes stopped and my heart took in a picture that spoke a thousand words. Now the photo isn’t too clear because it isn’t exactly the place where you take a lot of time to focus your camera but if you look close you’ll see three little pairs of feet engulfed in a sea of white toilet tissue facing one another sideways and . . . one pair of larger feet, toes touching the ground, facing forward. I expected to hear some harassed and helpless sounding shrieks come from behind that pink stall door, but instead the voice of grace poured over my ears, “I just need a minute and then we’ll be done.” Her tone was soft. She spoke tenderness to those babies. Not a harried response or a sharp retort within earshot and she had no idea anyone was listening. She was grace come to life. . . making her world a more beautiful, softer, grace-filled place. I never saw her face but I know she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever encountered.

A few days after that, I worked out at a fitness center and the Mom, Daughter, Wife, on the elliptical beside me got interrupted not once but four separate times – twice by her daughter, once by her dad, and once by her husband in the span of about 15 minutes. And that beautiful woman, who had no idea anyone was watching, kept a posture of love the entire time. She never folded her arms once. Never shot a look that could kill. Never did the long exhale through her nose. Nope. She poured love out on every single one of those interruptions wearing skin . . .she made her world a more beautiful, kinder, love-filled place. She was drenched in sweat, wearing her heart on her sleeve, and she was radiant to me.

spine cancer beauty

The Stride of Devotion

The following morning I was walking on a flower-lined sidewalk with a friend and a woman about our age came up behind us. We invited her to pass through because we were more concerned with chatting than with keeping up a good pace and she was so pleasant as she walked between and eventually passed us.  She turned back as she made her way by with a smile and explained, “I’m not as quick as I used to be with this limp.  I have spine cancer and I’m afraid I overdid yesterday.  I just finished radiation but I wasn’t going to miss this vacation with my husband and kids.” No bitterness. No this-isn’t-fair cadence to her words or her stride. Just pure devotion . . . .selfless, heartfelt, devotion . . .she would not be brought to a stand still.  She was tenacity in motion and she made her world a more beautiful place.

And then there was Eloise and Yaya. Two complete strangers to me. Eloise, about 2 years old, and Yaya who was about 70 years her senior . . . granddaughter and grandmother playing in the pool. Eloise full of energy and spunk in her little retro bathing suit flitted from one thing to the next, chattering the entire time. Yaya never told her to quiet down or suggested they take a rest. She engaged fully in every toddler utterance that came from Eloise’s mouth. She was wise enough to soak in every moment that was passing between those generations and you could tell from the look on her face that she was treasuring that day up in her heart. She may not have had the zip her grandbaby did but as a friend who has many grandbabies of her own often tells me, “my speed might be gone but the stamina is still there!”

Yaya was in it for the long haul with Miss Eloise. She would not be deterred from loving all out and all in where Eloise was concerned. She was enthralled with the little girl before her and Eloise was enamored with her Yaya and they were beautiful .. . .they made their world a more beautiful, love-out-loud, treasure-the-day, live-this-moment place.

I don’t know if any of those women have confessed Christ as her personal Savior or not. I hope so, with everything that’s in me, I hope so.  But the truth is, God can display His glory and impact my life through whomever He chooses and for this moment in time He chose them. His plans don’t need our approval to move forward and for this season in life it appears that His plan is to increase my awareness of the beauty of women and tender my heart toward them in a way I’ve not experienced before – – not just the ones I’m blessed to know but the ones I may never meet.

Some I'm Blessed to Know

Some I’m Blessed to Know

These encounters changed me.   None of those ladies know how they impacted me. None of them know how they lived out loud, loved out loud, and brought beauty to my world. . . .but they did. And YOU, sweet, sweet Sister, YOU are those women.

You’re the daughter, you’re the mom, the grandma, the wife, the friend, you’re the sister making the world a more beautiful place. A softer place. A grace-filled, love-filled, life-filled place.

Your lives aren’t easy—the toilet paper tangle on the floor is sometimes as good as the day gets. But you do the messy stuff and you make even that crowded stall, with all those feet, a beautiful place to be. You reach out a hand with extra skin, lay it on the shoulder of one you love, and you make life better. Your tenacity for life, your pure devotion, they make your world beautiful.

I know it’s easy to feel as if we don’t bring much beauty to our circumstances. We get too caught up in the imperfections and the shortcomings, but I assure you Beloved . . .

YOU ARE BREATHTAKING IN HIS SIGHT

and He will display His glory and His love through you. . . . with or without your approval.

Every time you choose a posture of love over a posture of impatience. Every time you refuse to be deterred from being fully with the ones you love. Every time you do the daughter-mom-wife-grandmother-friend-sister pour out grace, love, and life stuff. . .every time you are YOU, you make the world a more beautiful place because you, my Sweet Friend, are a glimpse of His glory.

Praise Precedes the Battle!

5 Jul

 

Praise God for His faithfulness.

Praise Him for His invitation to take Him at His Word.

Praise the I AM that HE IS unfailing Love.

That is my call to arms this morning as I stand tall under the Banner of His Name preparing to march into another day. I did not begin my day with my head held high in His victory. brett coffeeNo Girlfriend, this morning, my feet hit the floor with an attitude – a bad attitude. I didn’t look any different from the outside but on the inside – it was ugly. Worse than bedhead by a long shot. It wasn’t just my hair that was a tangled mess . . .my mind was too. And my eyes weren’t the only things fighting the light of a new day . . .that perfectly described my heart as well.

It’s taking me a while to get my feet back under me since Brett’s hospitalization this time. Things don’t seem to be falling back into any kind of routine the way they normally do and it has me feeling off. “Feeling off” is really a very pretty term for what has not been a very pretty process. The truest words I “spoke” last week were in a text to a friend . . .

“I need Jesus so much.”

And I know she prayed that I would find Him because I’ve found myself in the one place that He is most tangible to me – His Word. Specifically, the New Testament and that’s not my usual way—the New Testament I mean. I most often like to start in the Old Testament and let it lead me to the feet of Christ in the New, then let my mind wonder what the ultimate fulfillment will look like in Glory when faith becomes sight.

But this week I started with the Christ in me. . . . Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I asked Him to fill me with the power of understanding . . .Ephesians 3:16-19

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

To bless me with a mind and a heart guarded by Him . . .Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And to set my heart on things above . . .Colossians 3:1

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (The NLT saysset my sights on the spiritual realities – I love that)

I went to the source of Life Powered by the Spirit – the General Electric Power Company*

– Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians—

It’s the manual for a life filled with His energy, fueled by His strength, and empowered by His Love.

And He did not disappoint me. His truth was there and it brought me much comfort and quieted my heart – but my spirit wouldn’t stay settled. It kept returning to the emotional turmoil in my mind and I kept surrendering to me instead of to the Spirit. I kept mulling things over until everything had become something. Every perceived or real hurt. Every circumstance beyond my control. Every anything that I could make something of, I did. And no matter what emotion it started out as it ended up at angry.

There’s a reason that the Psalmist says

“in your anger do not sin; when you are on your bed, search your hearts and be silent.”  Psalm 4:4

When I lay down at night, I’m more apt to be looking over somebody else’s heart and thinking of all the things they ought to be discovering in their search! My mind is anything but silent and if you let that go unchecked it will take you down some bad roads that dead end at bitterness, unforgiveness, and an unmerciful, judgmental heart.

I think it’s the same warning Paul gives us in Ephesians . . .

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

The ESV and the NASB both warn against giving the devil an opportunity. If I wallow around in all of that the enemy will certainly use my choice not to immerse my mind in Christ against me. I’m certain of it. And my own flesh will jump right on that train too and help me remember every infraction that has ever pierced my heart. I have to be active in fighting that off or the devil won’t get just one opportunity – he’ll get an avalanche of opportunities. See I don’t just mull in bed at night. I mull in the shower. I mull when I’m driving. I mull and I mull and I mull. . . .if I let myself.

I’m praising God that in this instance I did not indulge myself as long as I have on past occasions. Not this time. This time I picked up my Bible, turned to the Power Manual and I dressed for combat . . .Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

And Sister, I felt every-inch-of-me protected but I did not feel powerful, like I could pick up the Sword, the holy utterance of God, and really wield the thing. Something was missing. I flipped the pages backward in my Bible and prayed the Ephesians 1:17-19 prayer in Bunny paraphrase. . .

Lord, I’m asking that you would bless me with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. Up-close and personal Lord. First hand experiential knowledge Father. Please, open the eyes of my heart. Enlighten me so that I may know the hope to which you have called me and your incomparably great power for all who believe. Show me you Lord.

And I waited. There were no lightning bolts. Nothing to fill in that uneasy, “something is missing” empty spot. I read to the end of Ephesians again. Flipped through some Psalms and read a little in Isaiah with an expectant heart. All good passages, but that surge of the Spirit didn’t fall on any of them.

So I closed my Bible and went to choose a graphic to post as encouragement on the Glimpsed Glory facebook page for the day. This is the image I am absolutely certain God placed in my path:

Worship-is-an-Act-of-War-by-Holley-Gerth-400x400
The statement itself was powerful to me but not as powerful as what happened next. My eyes landed on the Scripture reference in the corner – 2 Chronicles 20. I opened up my Bible and I began to read. . .
The enemies of God have united to form a vast army and they are advancing toward His people. The king brings all of Judah together to seek help from the Lord and petition Him for His protection. And the Lord answers them . . . 2 Chronicles 20:15

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

And He tells them what their part will be . . . 2 Chronicles 20:17

Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

So what did the people of Judah do next? Did they question Him? How is this going to happen? What are you going to do? Did they ask for a battle plan? No. They believed God and they bowed with their faces to the ground and fell down in worship . . . 2 Chronicles 20:19

Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

In a very loud voice. Not a teeth-clenched-jaw-locked “I praise you Lord in my circumstance” . . .oh no – a shout. I’m going to be so bold as to call it a battle cry. And the battle cry continued to ring out early the next morning when the king appointed men, not to wield the bow or spear– to wield the weapon of praise! . . . 2 Chronicles 20:21

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever.”

The praise was at the head–leading the way! Not in the middle as it looked like the battle might go their way. Not at the end when they had secured a victory and seen the hand of God defeat their enemies. The praise preceded the battle! Read that again –

PRAISE PRECEDED THE BATTLE!

And as they began to sing and praise, the Lord wiped the enemy out. He gave His people so much plunder in the victory that it took three days for them to carry it all away.

There was my missing piece and my answer to the Ephesians 1:17 prayer for wisdom.

creation swap sun praise kevin carden17054_22559_5 RIBBET2The wise know that they must seek the Lord for help, take up their positions and stand firm. The wise believe the promise of God to deliver them from every enemy . The wise trust God and they are not afraid or discouraged. The wise bow with their faces to the ground and then rise up to shout the praise of the One and Only in a very loud voice. The wise stand protected in the armor of God and give thanks that His love endures forever–even as the enemy advances. The wise shout the battle cry of PRAISE!

And the enemy of their hearts is defeated by the Lover of their souls.

Girlfriend, I will have – you will have—the power-filled life when we have the praise-filled life. One can’t exist without the other. That’s the spiritual reality we live in today—the General Electric Power Company uses the words “praise” and “thanks” over 20 times to confirm it. So raise your voice loud today Sweet Sister, hoist His banner high and proclaim that greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world. Let us take up our position in prayer, stand firm in His Love and let our praise precede our battle!

“Give thanks to the LORD,for his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 20:21

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(*Thanks for teaching me that acronym so many years ago Frannie. It’s stuck with me since those early days of faith and I’ve used it in almost every Bible study I’ve lead and every conference I’ve spoken at. Love to you Dear Friend.)

He Staggered Not!

29 Jun

Life on Biddinger Boulevard has taught me much. One of the life lessons I know to be true is that for every situation, for every circumstance, a time will come when I will be given the opportunity to let my talk and my walk come together. A favorite Bible teacher of mine describes this as “my theology becoming my reality.” I call these my “Kairos Moments.”

Karios

These moments in time are different from our chronos moments – the time that passes every day without much notice. Kairos moments from the Greek definitions above seem to me to be times that are appointed by God for things to come to a head in my life so I can take full advantage of all He has done — I can see the fruit of His labor manifested in my heart at this fixed, definite, right moment.

Henry Blackaby calls this a “crisis in belief.” Kay Arthur calls it a “crossroads moment.” No matter what title you and I choose to slap on the thing, no matter how differently we may describe them, the fact is every believer has them. Those moments when you come face-to-face with life and you choose:

Will you believe God to be God?

To be all that He has declared Himself to be –the One Who Does Not Change. The One who is always holy, always love, always compassionate, always trustworthy, always just, and always faithful. 

Will we believe Him to be Him every single moment of every single day?

Even the hard moments? The “crisis in belief” moments? The “crossroad” moments?  

Will we believe that He is there, unflinchingly involved in every circumstance, when our hearts won’t recognize it and our eyes cannot see it?

Don’t misunderstand. It’s my belief that for the one who has accepted Christ in their heart and confessed with their mouth that He is Savior and Lord of their life that there is a certain part of every moment that is a “Kairos Moment.” But if God took the time to describe certain points on our personal timeline and even the world timeline differently, then I’m going to follow suit.

Time in God's HandsFor myself, I think of chronos time as the time I am given to prepare for the Kairos Moments. How I invest my chronos will certainly influence the choice I make when “the opportune time, the favorable moment, the time when things are brought to crisis”—the Kiaros Moment—occurs but there is a definite difference between the training ground and the battlefield.

Another thing I want to be certain you hear in these words is that I am well aware that Kairos Moments are in no way limited to 60-second lifebursts. Kairos Moments for some, especially those who have been entrusted with suffering, seem to last for days, weeks, even months. It seems to me that those who live with the Kindgdom assignment to stand firm in a life that demands perseverance of choice – the choice to believe God is there, involved, and working all things for the good of those who love Him—those given that assignment . . . well from my perspective, they come close to living an endless string of Kairos Moments—uniquely poised, standing at the crossroads every day, several times a day . . . choosing.

I live with a Man who has been entrusted with that life and full confession is that I’m certain I would not live it as well as he does. He does not withdraw from God in His choice. Does he question? I’m sure he does. Does he wonder? He must. But he does not withdraw. He continues to stand at the crossroads and he continues to choose God every time.

The words “withdraw from” are translated “staggered” in Romans 4:20 (KJV) to describe Abraham standing firm and believing God at every turn. Abraham asked God questions but he did not withdraw from Him. He stood firm believing God would do all He announced He would do –

He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Romans 4:20-21 KJV

That’s the way Brett lives life . . .He staggers not through unbelief but is strong in his faith, giving glory to God and he is fully persuaded that God will not be dissuaded from being God.

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That’s a powerful life to be on the perimeter of. To see first-hand the warrior spirit God will develop in a willing heart. The Lord is a Warrior and He’s raising His boy up to look just like Him. I know there are times Brett finds himself weary from the fight and aches for rest—I’ve seen the weariness roll down his cheeks. I know there are days when he wants his time on the battlefield to be done because he whispers to me at the end of it “one day closer.”   But he perseveres and he chooses.

He’s just come through such a time – again.

Six days in ICU with a body that would not cooperate. Six days with painful tubes, iv’s, blood draws. Six days with no food and little rest. Six days spent in the war zone fighting the good fight. Six days spent startling the enemy every time he stood at the crossroad and staggered not. Six days . . . . one kairos moment after another. Six days standing firm . . .convinced that God had not and would not abandon him. Fully persuaded that God is able.

And . . . I watched. As the chronos moments ticked by, I watched the kairos moments, one after the other, be lived out in vivid color right before me. And I faced my own choices. I came to my own crossroads. And I chose. Did my mind shout to God to come quickly and heal? Did I wonder why the delay? Did I remind Him that His Word says that He is moved by prayer and hears the plea of His people? Absolutely. And He held me there, in the throne room, and did not let me withdraw. He allowed me to question, to remind in humility and to petition for a different path– but He never let the doubt of His goodness or of His Kingdom purpose find its way into my heart or my mind.

In fact God did the opposite. He showed me the strength He has developed in Brett, in me, and in us. He called us into battle together and we came out stronger than ever. Jars of clay filled with Light convinced of His goodness and His love. Unwavering, staggering not, in the belief that what the evil one meant to harm us God has used to accomplish the good thing. We may be hard pressed on every side but we are not crushed. We may be perplexed but we do not despair for we are not abandoned and we are not struck down.

The very thing the enemy tried to use for our downfall – the unfairness of the situation, the enough-is-enough mentality, the isolation and exhaustion of it all – was beaten back by the very Hand of God and we emerged with the plunder of increased faith and a heightened awareness of His Love. He is today Who He has always been . . . The Able One . . .The God of More.

I wanted to escape this trial with Brett’s physical life. God wanted more for Brett and more for me than simply making it through to the other side. He wanted hearts refined and faith proved genuine in the kairos moment. He wanted us to come from the battlefield knowing that in every situation we are more than overcomers because greater is He who is in us than He who is in the world . He wanted us to know that He has been preparing and pruning us in all the chronos moments of life to emerge as the victors in this “most favorable, most suitable, most opportune” kairos moment.

He sent us into the war zone protected by His full armor, dressed in Jesus head-to-toe . . belt of truth around our waists, breastplate of righteousness firmly in place, feet fitted with the unchanging good news of the gospel, shields of faith in His faithfulness to Himself lifted high extinguishing every flaming arrow no matter how hot, head protected by the saving grace of the full redemption work of Jesus Christ, and the Sword of the Spirit in our hands. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

And at our backs . . .a battalion of soldiers—some close friends we know, others complete strangers from churches we’ve never visited, but each one was storming the heavenlies on our behalf. The saints of God, praying us through and beating on the doors of heaven, moving the very heart of God. And I have to wonder if this sweet picture that I am conjuring of God’s saints gathered together declaring that no weapon forged against us will prevail might be a small piece of what God meant when He told us that His glory would be our rear guard?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  Isaiah 58:8 (NIV, 1984)

I can’t help but think it is. They are beautiful! The tears fill my eyes when I think of them—

As the for the saints who live in the land, they ARE THE GLORIOUS ONES in whom is all my delight. Psalm 16:3 (NIV, 1984).

Someone jokingly said this past week that we had to be descended from the line of Job and we’ve made the joke ourselves on more than one occasion. But as I contemplate that statement, I’ll take that ancestry and that heritage any day. Because just like Job, who questioned but did not withdraw, we’ve seen God more clearly than we ever would have and we’re closer to being able to say in a holy hush . . .

“Oh Lord, my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5

That’s what the Kairos moments do for me. They open my heart so I can see God. They expose my faith and lay it bare. They strengthen my spirit and heighten my love for Him.

Girlfriend, if you’re living your faith out, the Kairos moments will come—the “favorable moment, the appointed time, when it all comes to a head” and “things are brought to crisis.” Do not shrink back. Do not withdraw – be fully persuaded that God will be God.  

Stand firm, sword in hand, battalion at your back declaring for all the heavenlies to hear that your God is able and then Sweet One, you rise up for battle in the Name of Jesus, you believe your God to be Who He has declared Himself to be, and you STAGGER NOT.

Romans 4:20-21

 

Enjoy Life — till it Overflows!

24 May

I spent last weekend with some beautiful women.  Each one dressed in Jesus Christ from the inside out and doing their best to wear Him well.  The conversations shared around tables, over coffee, and in tucked away corners ran the gamut – raucous laughter and poking fun at ourselves to tears shed and hearts laid bare.

My Cup Overflows

My Cup Overflows

To me, that’s true beauty, uncontainable radiance in action.  Sisters doing life together, bonded by heart and bound by soul to other daughters of the King.  Some meeting one another for the first time—not a thing in common but their love for their Jesus.

  • All denominations.
  • All age groups.
  • All manner of occupations.

Each one stretching outside of themselves to connect with His people.  The blessed sisterhood hand-picked for them by the lover of their souls.

This particular conference was called a “Women’s Refresher” rather than a retreat and my mind really enjoyed that change of title.  It gave my heart a sense of expectation and hope.  Hope that we all might walk away with souls renewed, spirits refreshed, and hearts at rest.  With a rejuvenated resolve to stand firm in the face of whatever might lay on the other side of the weekend.  See, I think that

“rest of the soul — refreshed heart” living is the mental expression of our spiritual reality.

Christ came so that we could have life and have it the full.  Not do just a little bit of living, but really go after the thing with all He has created us to be.  The Amplified Bible translates John 10:10 in such a way that I can’t keep the smile from creeping across my face and my heart simultaneously . . .

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have and enjoy life,

and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 

John 10:10 AMP

Isn’t that wonderful – enjoyment of life with the Life Giver.  Abundance that does not change with the ebb and flow of our circumstances.  Life to overflowing that isn’t subject to our limited human vision.

He is the Door to Life.Oh that’s some good news to me.  It means that regardless of how hot the flaming arrow the enemy sends my way may be or what kind of a mess I may walk myself into, God will not change His mind concerning the life His Son purchased for me.  The same is true for you Sweet One and here’s more good news –no matter how many translations I looked at I couldn’t find a single one that said “ I came that they may dig in with their fingernails, grit their teeth, and worry their way into glory.”  Nor could find a translation of John 10:10 with an asterisk indicating that there were exceptions to this verse so you cannot possibly be the one person in all the ages that this passage does not apply to.  See,

we cannot mess it up so badly that God changes His mind about His love for us or about the way He wants to raise us up for Kingdom purposes.

The same God who brought you through fire and water – a wall of despair on the right and a wall of destruction on the left – kept your feet from slipping and delivered you to a place of abundance is alive and well within you this very moment.  And the Spirit of God has not come so you might simply survive—He has come so that you may thrive.

He has crushed the head of your enemy with the heel of Jesus Christ so not one obstacle stands between you and the Father.  Jesus Christ has overcome them all so that you and I, those who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, can not only approach the throne of grace with confidence – we are welcome to live there!

Do we get that?  I’m not certain I do.  I hope you’re further along in the process than I am because too often I find myself unaware of being in the Presence of God.  I too often confine Him to my “quiet time” or to Sunday mornings and leave behind the all-encompassing knowledge that He is always with me.  And that’s when it begins – hanging on by my fingernails, gritting my teeth, fretting and stewing about life from one day into the next.  I forget God and I remember me and when I’m at the center of me – well, suffice to say nothing goes well.

I put my own slant on life and quickly become consumed by myself—beleaguered by insecurity, embittered by rejection, and eaten alive by someone else’s blessings.  But even then, God does not change His mind concerning me and the Blood of Jesus still flows for me.

Isn’t that something?  Standing before Him, in all my “me”, and He doesn’t change His mind.

Maybe you have those less-than moments too, when you stand before Him in all that is “you” and He doesn’t change His mind.

And we’re left in awe and wondering over and over again, “Oh Lord, why do you love me so?”

When I was beleaguered and bitter,     

totally consumed by envy,

I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox     

in your very presence.

I’m still in your presence,     

but you’ve taken my hand.

You wisely and tenderly lead me,     

and then you bless me.

You’re all I want in heaven!     

You’re all I want on earth!

When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,     

God is rock-firm and faithful.

Look! Those who left you are falling apart!     

Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.

But I’m in the very presence of God—     

oh, how refreshing it is!

I’ve made Lord God my home.     

Psalm 73:23-28 MSG

I want off the merry-go-round that constantly spins me back to the place where I begin and God is forgotten.  I want the life my Pastor calls “present-time-Christ-conscious living.”  Centered on my God, revolving around my Jesus, and led by the Spirit.  Not hit-and-miss, but all day every day—standing so close that the shadow of refreshment falls over me day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

Girlfriend, that’s what we were made for, life in His Presence—His overflowing, to the full, abundant Presence.  So you leave yourself behind, tuck yourself inside the refuge of His wing and make your home there.  Don’t forget where you live for one single moment.  The place of heart refreshment, soul renewal, and spirit rest will not be found apart from Him.  Move through this life so closely connected to Him that His shadow covers you from head-to-toe and in that shade Sister, I promise, based on the authority of His Word, you will find what your heart is longing for.

He who dwells in the shelter

of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of

the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1Picture of Refreshment

This post is part of the #mywritingprocess blog tour. I was invited to participate by the most encouraging young woman I have the privilege of doing cyber life with. You can find her, Spirit-filled and heart full of Jesus, at http://igivegodalltheglory.wordpress.com/. I cannot tell you how amazed I am that God has seen fit to take Glimpsed Glory around the world to more than 70 countries at this point. Oh, how I pray it is encouraging every Sister that visits to stand strong in the faith and to live well in His Name. I’d love it if you would join the journey by following the blog and having new post notifications sent straight to your email. You can also find Glimpsed Glory on facebook with daily encouragement and @glimpsedglory at twitter. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to I give God all the Glory for the opportunity – Keep shouting His praise from the mountaintops Miss Jennifer!

Blessed is She . . . Really?

7 May

Do you notice that the times “Why God?” forms in our hearts and dances in our brains are most often the times when we are not thrilled with the path life might be taking at the moment?  If you and I were to glance back over our shoulders at the last blessing we noticed, would we find the “Why God?” poised in our souls or on the tip of our tongues?

I chose the word “noticed” in conjunction with blessing because I truly believe that His good works are our constant companions.  And I take Him at His Word when He says that He came to give us life, not a less-than, grit your teeth, hang on by your fingernail kind of life, no Sweet One our Savior blesses with life to the FULL . . .

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Whether we have eyes that desire to see the good gifts or hearts that ache to acknowledge the blessing, is a different question all together.

So, when might be the last time you, when might be the last time I, had eyes to see the blessings, the good gifts of God, and said

“Why God? . . . Why have you blessed me so?”

The Wonder of Blessing

When was the last occasion we just shook our heads in wonder that the God of the universe would stoop down from heaven specifically for us?  To show such kindness toward us?  To dote on us the way He does?  To flat out declare His heart for us in real and tangible ways?

The last post I wrote about the idea of being “forgiven much” and I asked you to consider that the concept of being forgiven much or being forgiven little—originates in the mind of man – not in the mind of God.  It’s a human perspective based on the human penchant to size things up according to our own standards.  We crawl up on the throne of our lives, look around us, measure life, and then we decide – we make ourselves the judges.

And it seems to me, that this inclination to view life from a temporal, human vantage point invades all of our thinking – including our perception of blessings.  There are songs written about the “blessings in disguise” and “the picture we can’t see” that really bring home the notion, and dare I say the truth, that blessings often don’t look the way our human minds think they should and they certainly do not feel to our hearts the way we expect them to.

Who would think that a blessing would be painful?  Who would think that good gifts would make our hearts ache?  Who would think that blessing is present when God says “No” to our prayers?  We want Him to bless a certain way, to choose only those good gifts for us that feel a certain way—

  • We want our blessings to behave!  And might it be, we want our God to behave as well?

This particular thing is a blessing because it turned out how I wanted it to turn out.  That particular thing has a beautiful red bow on it—it looks exactly like I think a blessing should look.  Everything unfolded just the way I wanted it to and it feels sweet to my soul –what a blessing!  I look.  I measure.  I judge.  Either forgetting or ignoring that my God has a view from outside space and time that I couldn’t comprehend even if I could see it.  Either forgetting or ignoring that my God, in His Sovereignty, thinks with a heart and mind that I can’t fathom.   I forget and I ignore that my God cannot be unfaithful to His nature and I fail to remember that His nature is LOVE.  And I look, I measure, I judge.

It’s been a week on Biddinger Boulevard.  Brett’s wound, the one he has been struggling with since November 2012 – yes, 2012 – has taken another step backward.  I was at the hospital this week for x-rays on the lung that collapsed because of pain and breathing issues.  Britt is still enduring the side effects of the six month course of treatment for the endometriosis and I think wondering if the cure is worse than the disease.  We watched good friends go through the agony of saying goodbye to a loved one.  We sat with folks who cried over the choices of their children.  Our souls were rocked when a family member rejected the truth of the Savior.

I bet your week was similar.  Life – messy life – was active all around you.  It pressed in on every side and maybe it just didn’t wear the face of blessing you or I expected it to wear.    Maybe the Apostle Paul was experiencing those same kind of feelings and trying to focus his eyes and his heart with some godly vision when he wrote 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 . . .

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

  • He knew what the situation looked like to his human eyes but more importantly . . . .HE KNEW HIS GOD.

He chose not to look, measure, and judge from his finite human mind.  He surrendered his heart and his vision to the Heart and the Vision of the One He knew to be LOVE.

And a few verses later that same pen, full of the Holy Spirit, –living life to the full — with the breath of God in every stroke wrote . . . 2 Corinthians 4:15-18

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 

Therefore we do not lose heart.

Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  • The blessing did not wear the face he expected it to, but he looked past the face and into the Heart of the Great I AM.

See the adjustment of his vision.  See the surrender of his own limited heart.  See him grab a hold of what he knows to be true, fall to his knees and declare that he trusts the One who holds eternity in His hand. And Girlfriend, the Heart of the Great I AM beats to bless you today. Lives to bless you today. Loves to bless you today.

Sweet One, the I AM IS!

The I AM IS  

2 Samuel 22:17-18 . . . . 

  • He is the One who reaches into the deep waters and rescues you.                    

Psalm 66:12 . . . .

  • He is One who brings you through fire and water to the place of abundance.

Psalm 116:7 . . . .

  • He is the One who has been good to your soul.

Hebrew 6:19 . . . .

  • He is the One who anchors you firm and secure in any storm.

1 Peter 5:7 . . . .

  • He is the One who wants your troubles because He cares for you.

Romans 8:28 . . . .

  • He is the One who works all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Oh Beloved, the I AM is just IT!

And blessed is she who believes that what the Lord has said to her – read that list again, verses from the Old and verses from the New—will be accomplished.

Romans 8:28

 

Sweet One, it is done. You believe and you cling to every true and accurate word of God.  The blessing has been given to you and He has come to make His home with you.  Resist the temptation to look, measure and judge with your own eyes.  Look past the face of your circumstance and trust the Heart that beats to bless you.  Fix your eyes on Glory, lift your heart toward heaven and KNOW the Heart of the One who knows you.

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