Archive for ‘Heart’

September 2, 2011

Faith Defined

Faith means…

Getting up tomorrow and doing it again

Faith means…

Saying goodbye to something that’s not good enough and trusting God to bring the right thing

Faith means…

Throwing off whatever grips your anxious heart at 3 am and knowing God is in control

Faith means…

Trusting an unknown future to an unseen God

Faith means…

Speaking the truth when you could risk losing something or someone

Faith means…

Believing God will do what he said he would do…even if it takes longer than I think it should

Faith means…

Not giving up

Faith means…

Believing that there is a purpose in today

Though we grow weary at times, faith will get us through. Faith will bring hope. Faith will bring joy.

Believe.

What does faith mean to you?

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August 15, 2011

Sweet Freedom

It’s been one year since this journey began.  With the exception of the past two months, I’ve surprised myself that I’ve been able to keep this blog up and running. I sat down multiple times over the past two months and tried to write but the blinking cursor just stared at me – almost mocking me. What did I have worth saying? Nothing.

Last year was riddled with the question, why? Why me? Why now? Why not? And why God?

But today, I’ve been able to look back at the past year and finally see some answers.

If my world had not fallen apart, I would not have come to trust God more fully. I saw my faith and it was weak.  I had to live what I had claimed as true and I’ll be honest friends…

 It. Was. Hard.

In fact, on three separate occasions I seriously considered turning and walking away.  (Does that make me Peter? – Kidding) I can’t tell you how scared that made me. Yikes. But PRAISE GOD He didn’t let me. Oh sweet Jesus thank you.

But this made me realize my depravity and then that I was living by works. (We know that doesn’t work well.) I was exhausted. I couldn’t do it anymore. I stepped out of ministry and out of a community I loved so deeply because I couldn’t separate “doing” from authentic faith. It hurt. I didn’t know who I was if I was not a “leader” or a “servant.” And without those things, I didn’t know how to see my faith or God.

How do good things get in the way of the best things? I had to return to the basics.

Why didn’t I understand that Christ’s blood was for me? How desperately I needed his grace! I had prided myself in being a Christian for twenty something years and serving in various capacities but how had I missed the fact that no matter how hard I tried to become perfect I would never be able to measure up and how much I needed Jesus’ precious blood to cover me.

So I gave in.

I’m letting His blood wash over me. Hallelujah!

I’m free.

I’m free.

I’m free.

Thank you dear Jesus for not giving up on us. I can’t wait to see what next year will hold.

Isaiah 41: 9-10 …”’You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

 

June 14, 2011

Just Today

I have a tendency to live in the future – not necessarily the past. I constantly wonder what tomorrow will bring and if I will have enough _______(you fill in the blank) to make it through my many tomorrows. I do this so much so that I forget to live in the present. I am then unable to enjoy the many blessings that today holds.

Just the other day it FINALLY hit me how wrong I have been.  (I’m kind of slow sometimes.) How much time have I wasted worrying? How many days have I not truly lived? How many opportunities have passed me by because I was inattentive or afraid of seizing them?

Simple it seems, but I know I’m not alone.

The future is out of our control. Let me say it again, the future is out of our control.  The only thing we can do is to make good choices today that will reap a harvest later – though we do not know how or what that harvest will look like.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”

We can plant the seeds of good decisions and choices today. They will be cultivated over time to grow into something greater in the future. Take a moment to break your life down. The emotional, physical, financial, relational, spiritual etc. What decisions can you make that will lead to a better tomorrow?

For example we know that if we eat right today we will age better.

If we save our money wisely, we could have a nice retirement fund. But we also know if we do not take the time to spend a little on a much needed vacation, we will wear ourselves ragged and deal with the consequences of an overworked self.

Are you making good decisions in all your relationships – friendships, business relationships, romantic relationship, in your family – that will lead to a healthiest future?

What decisions are you making in your spiritual life that will pay off tomorrow? Do you practice reading God’s Word and praying even when you don’t feel like you need it? All those hours of praying and reading will come handy when a crisis hits. The seeds you plant today will be there for you tomorrow.

All we can do is make good decisions today because the future is not ours to control. Faith says, God will do what He says and can do more than we can ask or imagine. Worry says, we do not trust Him and that we think we can do better.

So live in today.

Stop waiting for tomorrow to get started. Go. Enjoy. Love. Serve. Seize. Cultivate. Plant. Give God the glory!

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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June 12, 2011

One Word Project: A Six Month Review

Six months ago I wrote about the One Word Project – a yearlong commitment to live by one word of the person’s choosing. I chose the word, faith.

As I walked into 2011, I was determined it would be different from any other year. I was confident God would show up – though I had no idea how or had any indication He was near. I am not a person who naturally has strong faith or strong courage (often needed to face the unknown), but I have been convicted that faith is not a feeling, but a choice. This revelation has helped me step out in faith and begin to see God’s hand.

So far this year, God has shown up. Praise the Lord!

My passage for the year has encouraged me to continue on with this process. Every time I step out in faith, I am met with a conflict – fear or trust. I don’t always succeed but each time I choose to trust, my faith grows a little more.

My passage is Hebrews 11:8-12 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would rather receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.”

I’m looking forward to the next six months. If I can see how God has changed my heart through my faith in just six months, I can’t imagine what He can do in another six months. Often change is slow, but it produces great results. I don’t want to live by my fears and lack of trust in God – just the opposite. I want to step out in faith based in a decision to trust God. Faith and trust in the Lord now breeds excitement and anticipation over how He will choose to show up – not fear and anxiety. The Lord is faithful to produce growth in our lives!

 “Doubt sees obstacles, faith sees the opportunities.” – Lord, Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late by James MacDonald p. 178

What about you? Did you make a commitment to the One Word Project? How’s your year going? If not, did you set goals for yourself this year? How are they going? Take some time for a mid-year evaluation. 

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May 23, 2011

28 Lessons on My 28th Birthday

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings


Today, I’m celebrating my birthday and what a great chance to reflect on the past year. I often forget to remember what God has taught me or blessed me with over the past year so in preparation for my birthday, I decided to share a little bit of what I’ve learned this year.  Enjoy!

1)      You cannot live on a spiritual mountain top.

2)      You need friends and community when you are in the valley.

3)     Some of your greatest friends are your oldest friends or the ones willing to look you in the face and tell you you’re wrong and still love you anyways

4)      You cannot escape the Holy Spirit. (Praise God!)

5)      Love is great but can leave you with a whole mess of heartache. Guard your heart.

6)      Never be afraid to ask for help. This is actually a sign of strength.

7)      God provides. It may not look the way I thought it would or be abundant but He gives me just enough to prove I can trust Him.

8)      People notice when you follow Jesus. Even when you think you mess up.

9)      Community is important. No one can do the faith thing alone. Link arms and fight together.

10)   Text messages should not be responded to when you are half-asleep.

11)   Thermostats need batteries or your house will be very cold.

12)   I am capable of taking care of a home including a lawn.

13)   By learning more about myself – likes, dislikes, passions etc. I have discovered my uniqueness, found joy, and can fulfill a unique role in this world.

14)   Exercise is very important for my physical and mental health.

15)   God won’t let me escape him.

16)   Sometimes, you have to let the ones you love hit rock bottom. This may be the best thing for them.

17)   Children’s movies aren’t just for kids.

18)   I may be becoming a coffee snob. I can now pick up hints of butter, sweetness, and woody flavors. Yes, this is my passion.

19)   Life rarely goes as planned. Might as well throw my plan out the window and embrace what God has for me today.

20)   Black ice is the devil. A few moments of sliding can cause hundreds of dollars worth of damage.

21)   Music is a powerful way to touch my heart and change my mood. 

22)   Hope can be dangerous.

23)   Stepping out of formal ministry is difficult but sometimes needed. Seasons of rest produce growth and readiness for the future.

24)   God speaks using unexpected people or things. Look for them.

25)   Joy doesn’t always come easy. Fight for it.

26)   The unexpected can happen and God is capable of restoration.

27)   Realizing your own depravity is a scary thing. We are all just one hesitation away from sin. Mercy and grace have never looked so sweet.

28)   Clinging to Truth can give you strength you don’t have in you. God never leaves his throne my friends.

What about you? What has God taught you this year? Do you have any personal reflections or ways you celebrate your birthday?

February 16, 2011

You Are More

This song hit me today as I was driving into the office. How often do you and I know the right answers or deviate from the “right” path only to be faced with doubt, fear, and confusion on where we are going? There is hope. We have been remade. We are redeemed from our past choices, our intentional mistakes, rebellion, etc. We are more.

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?
I’m not who I once was.
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are,
What’s been done for you?
Yeah don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

Well she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,

You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done,
But what’s been done for you.
This is not about where you’ve been,
But where your brokenness brings you to

This is not about what you feel,
But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.
You’ve been remade.

February 13, 2011

Father’s Love Letter

My Child,

You may not know me,
but I know everything about you.

Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up.
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways.
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered.
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image.
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring.
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation.
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake,
for all your days are written in my book.

Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth
and where you would live.

Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born.
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented
by those who don’t know me.

John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry,
but am the complete expression of love.

1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you.
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child
and I am your Father.

1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could.
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father.
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand.
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs.
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless
as the sand on the seashore.

Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you.
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul.

Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things.
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart,
you will find me.

Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you
the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires.
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you
than you could possibly imagine.

Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you
in all your troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted,
I am close to you.

Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb,
I have carried you close to my heart.

Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away
every tear from your eyes.

Revelation 21:3-4

And I’ll take away all the pain
you have suffered on this earth.

Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you
even as I love my son, Jesus.

John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed.
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being.
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you,
not against you.

Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression
of my love for you.

1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love.

Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus,
you receive me.

1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you
from my love again.

Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party
heaven has ever seen.

Luke 15:7

I have always been Father,
and will always be Father.

Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child?

John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you.
Luke 15:11-32


Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Father’s Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications
©
1999-2010 http://www.FathersLoveLetter.com

February 6, 2011

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord.

With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!


What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises.

What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.

They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer. Listen, O God of Jacob.

O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield! Show favor to the one you have anointed.

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.

For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.

 

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January 19, 2011

29 Before 29

My commitment to intentional living and my One Word 2011 word of the year, “faith” (read more here), encapsulates all areas of my life. I want to live a well-balanced life because it allows me to live as God desires – working hard but also seeking to enjoy what he has given (read Choosing Joy and In Pursuit of Joy).

As a part of this new journey, I decided to create a “29 Before 29” list to guide me. I was initially inspired by my friend HopefulLeigh to complete a list of goals before my next birthday. She recently completed 31 Things Before Turning 31 and is now working on her next list. It’s been fun to see how she’s lived her life with intention, freedom, and challenge through her goals. I want the same for my life.

My next birthday is in just a few months so I’m giving myself until May 2012 to complete this list (though I may finish sooner).  I’m excited to see how my “29 Before 29” will challenge me and I’m looking forward to a fun-filled year plus. I expect to find that I will grow, live in faith, freedom and grace. Periodically, I will post on my progress. Hope you’re up for accompanying me on this journey!

Without further ado, here’s my “29 Before 29:”

1)      Take more risks (i.e. engage strangers in conversation, do things by myself, do something out-of-the-norm).

2)      Take an exercise class.

3)      Read 75 books.

4)      Get involved in a Bible study.

5)      Run a 5k.

6)      Develop blog (help me by commenting and spreading the word).

7)      Go on a vacation.

8)      Find an art project.

9)      Look for a new ministry opportunity.

10)   Go coffee tasting.

11)   Attend 3 concerts.

12)   Cook more (try 10 new recipes).

13)   Find a treasure at a thrift store.

14)   Attend a conference.

15)   Test out my GPS.

16)   Move.

17)   De-clutter my life (deep clean, minimize unnecessary time and money-zapping activities)

18)   Hike through a forest preserve.

19)   Host a dinner party (a REAL one, for grow-ups).

20)   Get health insurance and go see a doctor for a routine checkup.

21)   Be still and know that He is God.

22)   Be a mentor.

23)   Be mentored.

24)   Fast regularly.

25)   Bake a blueberry pie from scratch.

26)   Live as a missionary would – with intention, sacrifice, purpose, and seeking opportunities to share the gospel and be where God has called me now -not later.

27)   Spend more time with children.

28)   Dance.

29)   Be open to new adventures and lean into what God has in store for me!

Do you have a birthday bucket list? Let me know and I’d be happy to link to it.

December 15, 2010

Crooked Little People

I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s novel The Poisonwood Bible about a missionary and his family in the Belgium Congo in 1959 for my book club. The novel portrays a missionary so bent on his own way that he is insensitive to the culture and customs of the native people and ultimately devastates his entire family. The story is told from the perspectives of his wife and four daughters and how each of them copes with the weight of life in the Congo and tragedy. I borrowed my sister’s copy of this book. Lucky for me, she wrote her junior research paper on the book many years ago. Her tattered copy still has its highlights and numerous post-it notes. It’s always interesting to me to borrow a book and note what the previous reader thought was profound as made evident by the bent pages, underlined portions or highlighted passages. As I was nearing the end of the novel, I found the following quote:

“Tall and straight I may appear, but I will always be Ada inside. A crooked little person trying to tell the truth. The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.”

I loved this quote. But maybe what I loved more was that my sister wrote “Christian” below the passage. Aren’t we all just “crooked little people” trying to tell the truth? We may portray an image to the world but on the inside we are ourselves. God sees that. Truthfully, don’t we want Him to know us? At heart we are sinful and evil but it is the balance that Kingsolver wrote about that is the key. If we focus too much on our injuries or sins we neglect to rejoice in our successes which fuel us to continue to move forward with whatever God has called for each of us individually as well as corporately (sanctification and proclaiming the Gospel). We must keep trying to tell the truth and find power in the balance of all the injuries and successes – even if we are “crooked little people.”

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