Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gifts Are Meant To Be Returned

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans
for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Abandoning my daughter and husband were not part of my weekend plans, but time had come to let them go.

Nausea hit me like a ton of bricks. My body responded to my spirit. Sick to the core. Tears streaming I pleaded, “God, I want to say yes. But nothing is more important to me than my husband and daughter.”

“Exactly, my child,” He whispered. God knew my nothing included Him.

Panic set in. All the small steps of saying yes to God over the past several months led up to this extraordinary step of faith. With each surrender, the next area became easier to let go. This time it was different. What God was asking of me really didn’t have anything to do with me. Or did it? I knew God asked me to say yes to Him in a big way.

My soul ached. I sensed God’s nudge, “I want them both.” Tears flooded my vision as I struggled to hold on to the two most precious gifts God had given me. The wife and mother within me wanted to clutch them even tighter. To wrap them so tightly that nothing and no one could hurt them.

I dedicated everyday to see they were cared for. I didn’t want either of them to experience pain. If it were possible I think I would have wrapped them in bubble wrap and kept them from the world. “They need me to protect them. How can I let them go? Who will take care of them?” I questioned.

“I will.” God assured me.

“But they need me,” I pleaded.  God responded again with a sure and strong, “I will. I knew both of them before they were born. Do you think I do not want good things for them?”

Agony consumed me. I was sobbing and physically sick. This was it. All I had left to offer.  Fighting no longer, I surrendered.

In an instant of submission, they were out of my grip and in the arms of their Savior where they belonged.

Reality sank in. I had abandoned my two year old – alone with no protection. The intensity was more than I could bear. I wailed and cried out to Jesus. But in my soul I heard, “Emily, I’m with you. Trust Me. Just trust Me.” His tender words assured me I had not abandoned either of them, but provided them the greatest Protector possible. The weight of control lifted as each tear fell. 

Up to this point, I was living in fear and my trust in God was shallow. Releasing my husband and daughter allowed me to be empty of everything. Empty so God could fill me with Himself. His peace. His strength. His love.

God is an amazing gift giver. He loves to lavish us with His blessings. But if we hold on too tightly, we will not have room in our lives for the blessings He has waiting for us. I filled my life and heart with the two most precious gifts I had been given, leaving very little room for the Gift that should have overflowed out of my heart all along.

We fear the unknown. In panic we hold on even tighter, refusing to let anyone touch our gifts. God didn’t ask me to stop loving or caring for my husband and daughter. He simply asked me to let Him be in control of their lives.

With a heart and life overflowing with Christ, I now can love and care for my gifts like never before.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dare to Change

I am not naturally a got-it-all-together individual.  I lock myself out of the house, lose my keys, and forget things often.  Laundry is never finished.  This list could go on.

I think we will all agree we are rarely where we want to be in life. 

I want to be organized.  However, I do not embrace the discipline it takes to do so. It takes very little effort to hang my keys on the hook beside the refrigerator, but it is easier to throw them on the counter by the door or just leave them in my pocket.  

The same lack of discipline to stay organized bleeds into my spiritual life and hinders growth. I want to grow closer to the heart of God, but when He begins working in my life I seize up and refuse to make the changes needed. I find it much easier to stay where I am and just want to be different.

Change hurts. It is uncomfortable. However, anything of real worth takes time and effort. God doesn’t ask anything of us that is unreasonable. He sacrificed His one and only Son so that we may live. It is perfectly reasonable that God desires His children to live a life committed to Him.  

Growing in our relationship with God requires us to pursue Him. Though our first instinct may not be to turn to God in prayer or read His Word on a regular basis, as we make the choice to do these things they will become more natural for us. We must begin wherever we are and move forward.  There is always from for growth. From the person on the front pew to the person in the back God wants more of us.

Though growth and change is tough and uncomfortable at times, God only expects what is reasonable from us.

Embrace the self-discipline it takes to grow and enjoy the journey with Him. Dare to live different and take hold of the changes God is prompting. 

“ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, 
that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, 
acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” 
Romans 12:1

Sunday, January 4, 2015

In A Moment

My fingers have not moved across the keyboard for much too long. Much has changed in the last three years since the last post, yet much has remained the same. Life refused to slow down and somewhere along the way I was swept up and became lost in the whirlwind of it all. I went into survival mode, just trying to make it from day to day. My dreams and ambitions were pushed into the furthest corner. They seemed to disappear among life's demands.

Three years later, my fingers find their place on the keyboard once again and it feels good. It feels like life isn't in control so much. There is something peaceful about the clicking of the keys as I find myself gaining perspective on the happenings around me. The last few years have brought some of the toughest times in my life. My focus remained on the circumstances. Life continued to suck every bit of confidence, joy, and love I could muster up. That is until I had another But-God moment. This moment infiltrated my perspective and has allowed me to dig in the corner of my soul. This moment resulted in grace breathing life into my God-size dreams and ambitions once again. 

Life is messy and hard. That will not change. In the midst of it all, we must know there is a force much stronger than whirlwind of life that seems to carry us away.

If life's circumstances have you fighting to survive the day - stop. Stop fighting against life on your own - it will win every time. You must have something more within you to gain the joy, love, and confidence you once knew or the peace you long to know.   

I pray a But-God moment for you.      

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vacancy of the Heart

“And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7

Engaged to one, pregnant by another. This situation would make anyone anxious. It almost sounds like a title on a tabloid magazine or a storyline in a soap opera, but it is reality.
This is how the Christmas story begins. Mary, mother of the Savior of the world, found herself in a difficult situation, but not one of desperation. She humbled herself before the Lord and offered the one thing He wanted to use – a vacant room in the form of her womb for His Son to transform into flesh and bones being conceived of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t need Mary to be perfect. He only needed a willing heart and place to dwell.
Forty weeks later, God needed another place for His Son to stay. The inns at the city of Bethlehem had no place for Him. The Son of God went from the glory of Heaven to being formed in the womb of a lowly maidservant to sleeping in the only place available – a manger, the feeding trough of animals.
Jesus, King of Kings, could have been born anywhere, but He was born in Bethlehem where there was a vacancy. The same is true in our life. Christ is able to dwell anywhere, but He will rest wherever there is a place for Him. Many times our hearts are filled with the world, leaving no place for the King. We are filled with ourselves or perhaps with worry, doubt, or fear. We make no room for Him, leaving Him to watch from afar.
Perhaps you have already invited Christ to dwell in you, but have limited the space in which you allow Him to work. It is never too late to make more room in the inn of our hearts and give Him the suite He deserves. Jesus will work with whatever we give Him, whether it is a small portion or all of ourselves.
Maybe you have not yet made room for Him in your heart. It is quite simple. If we humble ourselves before the King and offer Him whatever we have available He is willing to fill the vacancy in our life.
Perfection is not necessary, only a space for Him to dwell.

Dear God,
Thank you for the gift of Your Son. I pray that those who have not accepted Your Gift will feel the vacancy in their heart and offer it to You. There is nothing greater than filling the empty space with You.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tardy Thursday...(aka Multitudes on Monday)

"We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see." ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Choosing to see the blessings in all things. 

18. Like-minded lives’ brought together for God’s purposes

19. Lunch with Mrs. DiAnne
20. ‘Mommy and me’ field trip to the pumpkin patch

(Picture blurred for privacy)

21. Sunday lunch at Dad’s
22. Accountability
23. A paint mistint returned to the store and on sale for $5 = perfect match for my now newly-painted kitchen
24. A swing-set
25. A little helper in the kitchen
26. Delicious new recipes

27. Open windows and a fall breeze
28. Decorating for Fall for first time

28. Second chances (and third, and fourth, and fifth chances)  

You can read about the beginning of my gratitude journey here.
To learn more about the reason behind Multitudes on Monday visit author of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

"We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see." ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Choosing to see the blessings in all things. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

"We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see." ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Choosing to see the blessings in all things. 

#6 Supper with grandparents

#7 Store sales and coupons helping make a Christmas wish come true

#8 Traditions passed from generation to generation

#9 [Humanly] Impossible prayers being answered

#10 New friendships 

#11 Seeing Praying Mantis x2  reminding me of God's unending blessings

#12 Making messes in the kitchen

#13 Laundry to wash, fold, and put away.

#14 Encouraging words from unexpected places

#15 Soap and water for dirty hands

#16 Pumpkins in the fall

#17 Hands for holding

Dear Father,
      I pray You open my eyes to see You in all things - big or small.  I do not want to miss seeing Your Hand in my life.    

You can read the beginning of my gratitude journey here.

Visit author of One Thousand Gifts here

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Sparrow and Me

I am a private person when it comes to personal matters. As a result, I suffered through a very difficult time on my own – even keeping the pain from my husband.  You can read about it here. Through the suffering I isolated myself from the people and places I loved the most.  I felt alone.
But the feelings of isolation and loneliness were lies.  I never suffered alone. 
The Word of God says in Matthew 10: 29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Sparrows were abundant when this passage was written that they held no significant value. Yet the passage tells us God, our Father, knows when a bird as insignificant as the sparrow falls to the ground.

I used to view God as an all-powerful Being sitting on His majestic throne in Heaven, looking down through the clouds at the happenings of the Earth.  Required to do nothing more than speak a word and raise His scepter to direct His creation. This idea of God caused a disconnect in my relationship with Him. I never “felt” as though He cared about the details of my life. 
Oh, how wrong I was! He not only cares about the life of a common sparrow, but He cares about every aspect of my life – big or small.  The Truth is He knows when a single hair on my head falls out. 
What do we have to fear?
Finances, a marriage that is falling to pieces, employment, family matters?  No, no, and no to all of these things.  We need not fear anything. God cares about the matters of our lives and is personally involved. He is not distant.  He is as close as we will draw near to Him. 
 At times I forget how much He truly cares.  Just yesterday, I became overwhelmed by the circumstances of my life. Stressed to the max and tears flowing, I stopped and did something out of the ordinary for me. I decided to ignore how I “felt” and trust God with the problem.  I prayed over it and within 30 minutes I received a phone call saying the problem was taken care of.  Gone.  No more.  It disappeared. The lady on the other end of the phone said she sensed God telling her to take care of it.
Not many times in life am I speechless, but this was one of them. I could barely stand as I listened to her tell me my debt was paid in full, requiring nothing from me.  My Father, who cares for a bird, heard my cries and in an instant took away the burden.
Friend, know He cares for you too.  Whatever your life’s circumstances, He knows.  You are not alone.

My Father,
You know all of our burdens even when we tell no one. You know their outcome. All you require of us is to trust You. I pray we have the faith to be dependent upon you and the confidence that You will take care of it all.  Thank you for loving and caring for Your children.