Monthly Archives: May 2014

Under His Wings

Eagle 1

I received a small plaque as a wedding shower gift with a picture of an eagle and a Bible verse on it.  The familiar Isaiah 40:31 “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” 

I hung it on a small nail right above the light switch in our bedroom in our old house. For 13 years I would see that plaque as I entered and exited the bedroom and that verse would eventually became one of great comfort to me.

I am not a very patient person by nature. Alright if we are being honest, I am not a patient person AT ALL. In fact when I would pray for patience God would give me plenty of opportunities to “practice” and I pretty much failed every time. I have since stopped praying for patience! 😉

So waiting on the Lord wasn’t something that came easily to me.

And because I also struggle with control, I often take life, and the lives of those around me in my own hands. If everyone would just listen to all my wisdom, things would be so much easier wouldn’t it? ahem…clearly God has had some tough work to do with the likes of me!

My husband and I married at a young age. Pregnant with a son at 21, we were ill equipped to be husband and wife, and even more so, parents. I had a “white picket fence” idea of of what marriage and motherhood should look like and when things started to get difficult I didn’t know what to do.

I had what I thought was a “relationship” with God, and a belief that Jesus had died for my sins, but the way that I invested in that relationship was by crying out to God when things were tough, and begging Him to fix the problem (aka my husband – because clearly I was a saint). I didn’t praise Him for the good things, I didn’t spend time in His Word…I just called on His 1-800-CRISIS line when it suited me.

Have you ever been there? So self-righteous and sure that you are in the right, so quick to point fingers and control? Hard headed and stubborn? No – it’s just me?

I am honored to be sharing this full post over at Katie’s blog today. She is doing a series on the Psalms and it was a blessing to study and reflect on Psalm 91.

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Photo Credit: Carl Chapman

You Are Brave

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This is a picture of Karlena with my 3rd son Elijah (who just recently turned 5). She was so excited about him when he was born…oh how I know she would have loved meeting our girl, her namesake as well.

Karlena has a son who is a couple of years younger than Isaac. So a teenager, which is tough enough, and then add that you are going through some of your most difficult years without your mom.

It makes my heart hurt.

I had a chance to talk to his dad for a little bit online a few days ago. I worry about them. I know how much Karlena wanted them both to be happy after she was gone. They deserve that.

But it is hard.

Grief is tough and it sneaks up on you at the strangest of times.

I say this from my experience, I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be if it was my mom.

They are making some big changes and moving to a new home, a new community soon.

The change will be tough I am sure – but necessary maybe?

I am sure their house holds so many memories. Karlena got progressively sick in that home, and passed away there as well. The last time that I saw her in person alive, I knew as I left that I probably wouldn’t be back there to visit her. I just had a feeling.

It is hard to leave, leave the memory of her…but time and time again she told me that she wanted to see her family happy and thriving after she was gone. They have so much life left to live. And sometimes change is tough, but necessary for growth!

I know that when we moved to Marshall, Isaac was the same age as Karlena’s son and it was hard. When I was thinking about it I was overcome by the thought that Kaleb was just so brave.

He has had a say in this move and those are big choices for a teenager to make. Ultimately I think he knows this will be good for him as well…a tough but so very brave choice.

If Karlena were here today, she would be so proud of you Kaleb. Even on those days that you feel like you have failed, or you question your choices. I believe it completely that she is just so proud of you.

Because you are brave.

Don’t forget that!

Embrace the new adventure that is in front of you and know that as you do I am praying for you. I will keep praying for you too. Karlena was an amazing prayer warrior on my behalf and now it is my time to return the favor.

Kaleb, you are brave. These changes won’t always come easy but I think they will continue to shape you in to a man of drive and purpose and I am excited to see where God leads you brave one!

Layers Unfolding

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I love the birch tree that is in our front yard. It has always been a thing of beauty to me. While I typically picture the birch as a tall straight trunk this one is different…unique in its own way.

In the mornings when I do my bible study I often just enjoy the view of this beautiful tree. A few days ago I was resting after lunch and noticed all of the different layers that were bending away from the main trunk.

A few spots were especially raw and the bark that was exposed underneath was a lighter color. The kids at one point this spring took to pulling on that bark and tearing it away when it wasn’t ready.

I find myself doing the same in my own life at times . Wanting so bad to find the new skin under the old, I tear away at the layers of who I am and find that it is too soon, too raw and I am not ready for the change.

Dominic and I will celebrate our 18 year anniversary in a little over a week. It just so happens that we have been asked by our pastor to share our testimony on that very Sunday in church. Sharing where we have been, what has changed, and where we still struggle today. Oh and all in the span of about 20 minutes. If you know my husband and I you know that we aren’t short on words so getting it all in will be just short of a miracle in itself! 😉

I have been thinking a lot about what best to share so that God gets the glory. There are so many miracles that have occurred in our relationship because of Gods intervention and yet, still so much change and growth that needs to occur inside of me.

I would like to say that I am not at all a reflection of the person I once was. Angry and bitter, resentful and vengeful and feeling oh so holy.

But the truth is that even though there have been so many changes, there are still areas of bondage that I struggle with.  Yes God has slowly peeled back layers to reveal a new creation because of His hand …. But I am not fully complete yet that is where I struggle the most.

Specifically, I am not good about taking responsibility for my poor behavior. I can point out the negatives in someone else real easy. Just ask Dominic he has had the unfortunate “opportunity” to experience it firsthand. I can justify my choices based on something that has no relevance to the situation. And make excuses for why it isn’t ever my “fault”.

It isn’t right and it is a repeating sin in my life that is becoming all too burdensome.

I want freedom.

I want to rip off the old layers and find the new underneath.

But am I ready for real change? Is my heart in the right place? Have I truly brought it to the alter, willing to do whatever it takes to find freedom once and for all?

I believe that God can deliver us from those things that keep us in bondage. Fears, addictions, anger and resentments. I have seen God work in amazing ways in the lives of people around me.

So why not me? Why after almost 18 are there still areas that haunt me?

I have to believe that I haven’t been fully ready to shed the old because it is comfortable. Sure my behavior gets me in trouble every once and awhile, but who is it hurting really and aren’t there so many worse things out there that I am not doing?

Is it really all that bad?

The answer is yes. Especially if it hurts the people closest to me that I love.

And you know what? I don’t have the easy answer on how to change. I know that with God all things are possible. So I am giving myself, my sins, my justifications, and my anger…giving it all to God.

I am praying that He will remove the layers that need to go in His time. I am asking that what is found underneath any bad be filled with the full knowledge of His grace. That I would be a reflection of Him through me so that I couldn’t take credit for the transformation.

Because I want you to see Him when you see me.

God is the reason I have the ability to pour into these pages here. He is the reason I find myself typing frantically on the notes page of my cell phone at 11:42pm because this message here is His not mine!

I believe that no matter what is holding you or I in bondage today can be loosed and set free by the power of the Almighty! We just need to be the least bit willing to let Him do the refining, no matter how long it takes.

I think we will find that what is underneath is strong and beautiful. And He does it all because of His great love for us.

Don’t be discouraged friend. Start praying over those areas you want freedom in and be ready to give Him the glory as the transformations occur!

Lessons I Learned from My Daughter

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My only daughter is a bit of a hoarder.

She is three and fiercely independent, and apparently has a problem sharing her things. She will make piles with all of her favorite toys in the middle of her room, add a bag of chips and her new beach towel and she is set and her room is off limits!

I will “encourage” her to go and clean her room. And since we are all friends here and I am sharing a bit of my reality…she doesn’t listen to a word that I say. She instead will “encourage” me to clean it for her. Ahem – it is a time of training for both of us.

She is holding tightly to those things that she thinks she can control, testing boundaries and seeking to find her place in our family.

And I realize that I am no different in my Father/Daughter relationship with God.

I did the whole “accepted Jesus in my heart” prayer when I was a pre-teen. I heard a woman’s story of redemption, and her call to pray a simple prayer. I said the prayer with expectation but didn’t feel a change.

I figured I must have done it wrong. So each time I had the opportunity to say that prayer, I did…I assumed that at some point it would “take.”

My teenage and early adult years weren’t easy – whose are really?! But I didn’t have a relationship with God because I didn’t feel worthy. My life was always such a mess.

God wants us right in the middle of our mess because it’s the perfect place for Him to shine through our imperfections.

I walked through life knowing I was a hypocrite.

So I worked really hard at trying to “get it together”. Instead of embracing the failures as opportunities for growth and thanking God for the grace He gives me, I tried to just be better, do better, act better…because maybe then I would earn the right to be one of His.

That merry-go-round is exhausting isn’t it?!

It has been an honor to be a part of the Rhinestone Jesus launch team and today I had the opportunity to share a “Yes in my mess” guest post! You can read the rest of this post over at Kristen Welch’s blog “We Are That Family“!

Between the White Lines and Beyond…Trust Without Borders

Highway

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders….” Oceans by Hillsong United

I have a hard time trusting in things that I can’t see.

I was driving home from a trip to my old hometown recently and it was dark. We joke that this particular area of Southwest Minnesota is called the “kill zone” because of the large number of dead deer you will see along the road.

The road was winding. I realized that I could see very clearly between the two white lines that border the 2-lane highway…but beyond that, into the ditch and farther into the empty corn fields next to me, was dark. At times, if there were no other cars around, I could shine my brights and see just a bit more into the ditch. But most of the drive was done not knowing if there were deer out in the shadows.

During drives like this I find myself in constant prayer for protection. I know that there is a good chance that danger is out beyond my sight line. I can see the evidence of it scattered along either side of the highway . I am afraid of the “what-ifs”, the deer unexpectedly coming across the road, the concern that I might hit something. This can make for a long and miserable drive.

I find the same to be true in my faith walk at times.

Comfortable with God in-between the two white lines, I put Him inside of my little box and trust Him in the spaces where I can see clearly and feel I have control.

But in the shadow, in the unknown….that can be harder for me.

What-ifs can weigh heavy and fear can be debilitating.

Fear has dominated many areas of my life – is it a struggle for you as well?

I trust God well when things are calm, when I know what to expect, even in hindsight when I can reflect on His faithfulness.

I struggle most with trust during those times when the future is unknown, when the danger feels real and present. I start to question God’s timing, His provision, even His love for me.

Why is it that this is my natural response? Haven’t I seen the many ways He has been a shelter for me, a refuge in times of a storm?

Then why does my trust only extend to the places that I can see and control?!

I’d love to have you join me over at God-sized Dreams to read the rest of this story!

A Mother’s Day Prayer

My dear friend Delonna is the new Prayer Team Leader for the God-sized Dreams website and since taking on that role in Houston has come up with some amazing ideas. One of those ideas was to start doing a Podcast series where she can pray over all that visit the site.

I just love her heart, and while she isn’t a mama to a biological child, she is a woman with a mother’s heart. Her love for orphans is amazing and I am just so blessed by her!

She recorded her first podcast so that it would be ready in time for Mother’s Day. So please take a few minutes and be blessed by her words and her prayer and share with a mother in your life!

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Happy Mother’s Day friends!

Five Minute Friday – Grateful

Elijah 2

Welcome to Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo! The day that writers gather in this online space to write for 5 minutes, no edits, with a single word prompt!

Today’s prompt: GRATEFUL

Oh this little man of mine, how can he be almost 5 already?! On the 18th we will celebrate his birthday, another year, and today I remember the miracle that he really is and I am grateful!

Dominic and I struggled to get pregnant with both Gabriel and Elijah. I was tired of the negative pregnancy tests, tired of the no’s and just wanted something to “fix” what was wrong with me.

We went to see our doctor after over a year of trying and got the same news that we had with Gabriel, for various reasons the likelihood of us getting pregnant on our own was very very small.

There were a couple of things that we thought we would try though and scheduled a “routine” and minor surgery to have some endometriosis removed and to check out the condition of everything inside of me.

It is standard that they run a pregnancy test before the surgery, just to make sure and like every month prior, it was negative. I was holding onto the littlest hope that I had that this procedure might just do the trick.

The surgery went well and I went home to recover. I had the normal after-symptoms from a procedure like that and felt confident that in the next few months we could start trying again…

And then several weeks later I got heartburn.

One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t ever get heartburn, except when I am pregnant. I was out in Colorado visiting Karlena and we had to stop at a Walgreens to buy some tums…she knew something was up but I was in denial – it was impossible.

But through God all things are possible and boy did He show off with this one! 🙂

I went home and took a pregnancy test and sure enough I saw the 2 pinks lines. I figured I must be like 2 weeks along based on when I had the surgery but I called my doctor and she had me come in for an ultrasound.

When the technician came in she started the scan and then said “Congratulations, here’s your baby and you are 6 1/2 weeks along!” 

I started crying, it didn’t make sense…that would mean that I would have been pregnant during my surgery. It wasn’t possible! I had taken a pregnancy test…they wouldn’t have done the surgery had they known I was pregnant because the likelihood of loosing the egg would have been too great.

But God…oh how grateful I am that He is bigger than any “likelihood” in my life!

The doctor believed that the egg must have implanted on the day of the surgery, my HCG levels would not have started to really increase yet, thus the negative pregnancy test…and somehow even with all they did inside of me, my Elijah hung on and now we celebrate another year with him in our family.

Life is a gift. Being a mother is hard, and my Elijah tests my patience on many days but he is a sweetheart and a gift and I won’t ever stop being grateful for the blessing that he is in our family.

Happy Birthday a few days early my son, I am so grateful for you.

**Disclaimer…this post took me an extra minute or two to finish, but I figured my Elijah was worth breaking the rules for this once** 😉

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How He Loves Us

Double Rainbow

I woke this morning with this song in my head – “How He Loves”. The chorus repeating over and over…”Oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves us, oh how He loves.”

I am a hot mess most days.

We all have our stressors don’t we? Parenting that feels like it is going to throw us over the edge,  stress at work, struggles in marriages and friendships. There isn’t a day that goes by that I think that I did things perfectly and for a Type A perfectionist like myself, this can be a tough pill to swallow!

I want to be an on fire woman for God. I want to raise my children without any serious issues that cause them to need therapy later in life. I want to offer unconditional love towards my husband.

But most days I am short-tempered, irritated with the littlest things, discontent and jealous of those that seem to have it easier than me.

Nice huh?!

But in comes grace. A gift I thank God for daily. A gift freely given to me, something that I don’t always comprehend, but something that is a balm to my weary and broken soul.

God never expected that we would get it right, that is exactly the reason He sent His Son for us.

Yesterday I participated in a fast. The last 6 hours or so were the worst. At this point I was “fruited” out and I would have given just about anything for a dry cracker. I craved grains, it was weird! 🙂  And then there was that time that my oldest son taunted me by eating a caramel filled cookie right in front of me with about 3 hours to go. Ahh yes the love…

I discovered in a real way how much I want what I want, when I want it.

Patience and surrender are apparently not virtues of mine.  But in the end I made it. I went a full 24 hours and didn’t cheat…only by God’s grace really because I wanted to and even thought at one point, who would even know really?!

But you know what I DO know? Even if I had “cheated” or been unable to finish the fast, God loves me anyways. It isn’t about me at all really. I don’t have to do anything to earn God’s favor. He loves me, in spite of me. THAT is the takeaway reminder for me again.

I am going to mess up, I am going to be short tempered and insensitive. I will let my husband, my friends down…it is inevitable. I am not perfect – but God doesn’t need me to be. (<====Click to Tweet)

But God with His unconditional love, reminds me every day that He loves us, oh how He loves us. Thank you God for loving me.

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I am joining the amazing Holley Gerth in her #2014EncouragementChallenge. Where writers come together each Wednesday to offer hope and encouragement to one another. We would love to have you come and join in!

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Photo Credit: LifeHouseDesign

A Call to Fast

Fruits of the Spirit 1

On Sunday our pastor preached about “Knowing our Enemy”. Whether we like to admit it or not, the reality of this world is that we live in constant attack of the enemy. He seeks to rob us of joy, to ruin our marriages and friendships…to steal all of the blessings that God has given us.

Friends THIS is a battle.

Ephesians 6:12:  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.

Our pastor told us that Lucifer’s name means light. He was originally described as the most beautiful angel and was created by God to bring light into the world. But he got selfish and prideful. He wanted to live independent of God not dependent on God.

Thus the fall. Lucifer and other angels that followed him were cast down to earth to rein here. Satan is our adversary,  opponent. He is powerful and wise, crafty and cunning.

He masquerades as the truth with just enough falsehood to get us to doubt. When I heard my pastor say that on Sunday it just hit home.

That is exactly what I have experienced and what I have seen my dearest friends experience recently.

10 of us came home from Houston and one by one have been under attack. There was some pretty powerful work for the Kingdom being done in Houston, so it shouldn’t surprise us that the attacks came.

But they did, and for many of us, they caught us off guard.

What I love more than anything about our website team is that while it may be easier to cave in and walk away defeated, we are standing with Christ, arming ourselves with Him, for battle.

Delonna posted this morning that she felt called to a fast. She invited us to all participate, to encourage one another, and to use this time to pray over one another.

I will be honest, I haven’t ever done a fast. I really like food, and chocolate, and snacking…all things that don’t really fit with a fast.

But I believe that when people of God unite for His glory, in His name, in His power and authority…well Satan better just run and hide. ahem and Amen!

Some of us will be starting at sundown tonight and others tomorrow morning….but we will be fasting and praying together. And let me clarify…we are doing the Daniel Fast so we can have fruits and vegetables but no meats, dairy, processed foods or chocolate. 🙂

Delonna sent us a copy of the printable above to have and reference during this time. Our prayer for one another will be to ask God to break any strongholds we have, prayers for protection over our families, our children and our marriages.

Through the power of prayer and this fast we have hope for the mighty things that God will accomplish through us.

1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

It isn’t about us and what we can do.

As my pastor said “The only way I stand is when I stand IN Him.”

So we stand, confident in the Christ that is in us, the One who gives us strength. The One who can break any stronghold. God will be fighting for us in the next 24 hours, we are standing willing and ready, armored in His Truth.

If anyone would like to join us over the next 24 hours, we would love to pray with you as well. And I’d love to hear if you have ever done a fast…what did God teach you through it all?!

Five Minute Friday – Mess

Broken heart

Today is the day the writers from all over the world come together for 5 minutes to write freely about one word. Then we link up over at Lisa Jo’s place to share in the fun – want to join us?!

Today’s prompt is MESS

Community can be a beautiful thing. God brings together people from different places and stages in life and amazing things can happen. I have seen it happen in my own life and marveled at how God made a way in all of it.

Sometimes community can hurt though. My heart is a bit of a mess right now over community that has hurt me. It stings when this kind of thing happens…when you feel betrayed.

But I have to remember that this is an attack.

The enemy wants nothing more than to steal and destroy those very things that bring us joy.  When we experience real community and God is given the glory, we shouldn’t be surprised when an attack comes out of the blue…unexpected.

It caught me a bit off guard really…thus the mess of a heart.

But a dear sister-friend reminded me that these kinds of things don’t define me. I can have what would be my normal reaction and run away from community…or I can have a God-reaction and find joy even in the mess of it all.

So I am seeking to find joy.

My heart hurts, but I am trusting God with this mess too. I am discovering that I can laugh because of Him. I can forgive because of Him, I can stop comparing and pointing fingers and just love because of Him.

In my broken but healing, mess of a heart, I say YES to God. Trusting that even in this He has a plan and a purpose. That this is a training ground for bigger things and it will all be ok. It won’t always be easy, but He has promised that He is with us even in the hurt.

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Yesterday Kristen Welch’s new book was released “Rhinestone Jesus“. It is an amazing book and tells of her journey of saying yes to God even in the thick of her messy life…you will be transformed by her story of what God did next!

Photo Credit: Free Grunge Textures

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