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.   

Let the Change Begin

“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Romans 12:2

“It’s an alligator!” she shouted in terror. As she grabbed my legs, I assured her there weren’t any alligators in our living room. She persisted, “Then it’s a snake!”

Clearly, my daughter had spotted something out of the ordinary. I reassured her there weren’t snakes in the house either, but I began to doubt myself. I cautiously walked toward a pile of toys, looking ever so closely for any creepy, crawly things. I picked up the stuffed black bear, nothing. Then I spied the culprit squirming on a pair of pants meant for Buttercup the Build-A-Bear Leopard.

I laughed as I proclaimed, “Oh, Lil. That’s just a caterpillar.” An ugly, brown caterpillar that stretched no more than an inch. I bravely picked up the caterpillar, ummm I mean, the pants and flung the caterpillar out the door to its proper home-outside.

Then guilt settled in. It has turned awful chilly outside. Would the ugly, brown caterpillar have any chance of transforming into the beautiful butterfly it was meant to become? How sad it may never wrap itself in a cocoon and transform from its current limited state of crawling to a butterfly, free to fly where it wills?

Sadly, I spent much of my twenties as an ugly, brown caterpillar. Emotions took reign and kept me from being transformed for Christ. My walk with Christ was based on how I “felt.” When life was going well and emotions ran high, I felt good. When life through blows and hit hard, I felt like I was crawling around getting nowhere only to be flung outside in the cold with no direction of where to go. This cycle continued much of my twenties.

To stop the cycle, I needed to encounter an authentic transformation from within- a metamorphosis. A Romans 12:2 kind of transformation, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

My emotions controlled my thinking. It was all about how I “felt.” I was constantly changing from feeling one way to another. Growth in my walk with Christ was limited.

Metamorphosis needed to occur. I needed the Holy Spirit’s power to work from within. But how? By the renewing of my mind.

Renewing my mind on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s is not enough. Meditating on God’s Word must be a daily occurrence. As we surrender our will to His through the renewing of our mind, we will experience growth unexplainable - much like a plain caterpillar transforming into a magnificent butterfly.

Will you join me in wrapping ourselves in the cocoon of God’s Word and be transformed? Once the metamorphosis takes place you will never want to be a caterpillar again. Can’t wait to see you flying in the freedom of God’s will!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

This journey began long before today.  Standing in the aisle at Lifeway with the book {One Thousand Gifts} in hand, I read the first chapter.  My tears revealed the inner terror the words provoked in my soul.  Having only read the first few paragraphs, I closed the book and put it back on the shelf.  

Thankfulness?  I think not. The words penned by the sweet Ann Voskamp caused fear to rise up in me.  Fear of the unthinkable happening.  If I am not cautious the same fear I felt in the aisle of Lifeway that day will grip me and hold me captive today. 

I have come full circle. The fear has been laid at the feet of my Father and in replaced by {thankfulness}.

It is my joy to begin my One Thousand Gifts journey.  As author Ann Voskamp encourages, to LIVE FULLY right where I am. 

Life is full of hurts, disappointments, and broken roads.  We have two choices.  We can choose to embrace the negative, bitter attitude with closed fists.  Or we can choose to embrace an attitude of thankfulness living fully with hands open wide.

I choose to live free with hands open wide. 

And begins my journey to naming my 1000 Gifts...

#1 - Truth

#2 - Freedom to choose

#3 - A loving, patient husband

#4 - The pure love of a child

#5 - Faithful sisters-in-Christ who encourage me to press on

Will you join me in choosing to live fully?

Read more about {One Thousand Gifts} by clicking here.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Little “i” meet “I AM”

 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  Exodus 3:14

Who am i to use a capital “i” when referring to myself? i am a person who fails miserably every day. On most days, my house needs more attention than i can give it. My attitude and mouth get the best of me. My futile attempts of being the person i should fall short. My walk with Christ and reading of His Word are far from where they should be.
Not long ago i was desperate. Something had to change. For years i tried to do it on my own. i vowed to use my words and actions to build up and not tear down. i swore to be diligent in my household duties and finances. i promised to read the Word and serve Christ like He deserves. After every pledge to do better, i found myself in the same position as before – defeated and bruised from failure. 
Each time i failed i wondered back to a familiar friend who was trusting, encouraging, and nonjudgmental. My friend welcomed me time and time again. There are not many who will genuinely love you right where you are, but my friend did.
i finally realized little “i” cannot make permanent changes on my own, but my friend, “I AM,” can.  The Self-Sufficient One willing came along beside me and gave me strength to carry on. One step at a time, we walk toward a changed me. i surrender myself daily, acknowledging i will never be sufficient on my own. Little “i” needs the great I AM.
When we try to be sufficient on our own, our attempts are powerless and will come to nothing. Only when we acknowledge and trust the ability of “I AM” will change occur. In a world where being a capital “I” is important it seems like a negative thing to be little.  But being little is a delightful feeling when resting in the arms of the All-Sufficient, All-Knowing I AM.

My Father and I AM,
Thank you for allowing me to see being a little “i” is exactly where i need to be.  You know my past, present, and future.  How can i not trust You to know what is best for me? It is in Your self-sufficiency i am protected, guided, and free to serve You, the great “I AM.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Oreo Cookie Kind of Day

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life
He who comes to Me shall never hunger,
          and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”         
                                                                         John 6:34-35 (NKJV)   

I am having an Oreo cookie kind of day.  
Nothing makes my daughter happy today.  She’s crying one minute and growling at me the next.  This mother does not take too kindly to being growled at by a two year old. Nor do I appreciate the ugliness in the tone of her voice. 
Her strong-willed temperament takes charge of my to-do list.  I am accomplishing nothing and my attitude is going downhill fast.  I am frustrated at her behavior and my response.  Just plain frustrated.  I’m already in tears and it’s only mid-morning.      
I tell myself, “You need a snack.  Oreo cookies dipped in ice cold milk sound perfect.”  Creamy, white filling sandwiched between two crunchy, chocolate cookies, MMMM, comfort to my soul.  Oreos don’t growl or talk back.  No, they provide relief from my stress.   Oreo cookies are just what I need.   

Then it hit me.  Is this what I really need?  My daughter isn’t the problem and Oreos are not the answer.   My reactions cause the tension.   The solution is to immerse myself in the Truth.
All too often I turn to food for comfort, only to realize it will never soothe my soul.  The only source of lasting satisfaction is God.  When life’s circumstances come against me, my first response should be to feast on prayer and God’s Word.  This morning I neglected to find nourishment from the Truth in God’s Word.  As the condition of the day deteriorates, my mind has no Truth on which to meditate. 
The lack of Truth causes me to respond very poorly to my child’s behavior.  In turn, her responses mirror my poor choices.  The more frustrated I become, the more the situation escalates until we both are in tears and growling.
My soul hungers for peace.  Food never satisfies, but Jesus does.  He says, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”  Turning to Oreos or other sources of comfort will only starve the soul.  Lasting nourishment comes from Jesus, the Bread of life.

Dear Heavenly Father,
My actions reveal the famine in my soul.  My soul is hungry for You.  May I feast on Your Word, the everlasting food that satisfies and nourishes. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blind And Deaf

“Seeing many things, but you do not observe;
Opening the ear, but he does not hear.”
                                                          Isaiah 42:20   

Dear Lord,
Do I see You, but not observe?  Are my ears open, yet I do not hear You?   Have I become insensitive to Your existence in my life and the lives of others? 
Open my eyes.  I no longer want to be casual and only glimpse at things.  I want to observe You and Your purposes in my life.  To discern opportunities to glorify You.  I pray You will take the blinders off of my eyes so I can be aware of Your presence all around me.  In the beauty of creation.  In the lives of those who are hurting.  In my role as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
My ears are open, but I want to hear You.  Make my hearing sensitive to Your voice.  Give me ears to hear Your direction and guidance in my life.  To hear You when You call my name.  May I be quite enough to hear Your whispers in my soul.  Give me wisdom to know Your voice.
Increase my faith so that when I observe and hear You I will be willing to obey.  What a shame it is to see and hear, but not act.
I pray for my friend who is reading these words, open their eyes and ears that they may observe and hear You today. 
The evidence of Your existence surrounds us daily.  Creation shouts of Your glory.  Our innermost desires cry out for Your comfort.  Consume our thoughts with You today.
Living with eyes and ears for You,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

a letter to my Father

Dear Heavenly Father,
How awkward it is for me to call you Father.  For so long I have only thought of you as “God”.  A being that resides in a realm that my humanness cannot fathom, sitting on your gold and jewel-encrusted throne.  Looking down on the earth as we mere humans go about our daily lives.  The All-Powerful God who can change the course of the day with the simple motion of turning Your raised Hands in the air.  The God who speaks a word and the weather obeys.   Always watching and leading from Your throne.
Oh, how wrong was my thinking.  You are not a God who solely dwells on Your Throne in Heaven.  Your are a God who wants to walk with me throughout my day.   You are a God who cares about the small things in my life as well as the big.  When my SD card won’t work in my camera and I try three times with no luck.  In my spirit You whisper, “Just ask me.  I want to help you.” 
“This is silly, Lord.  Can you really fix my SD card?  This is so small,” I question You. 
“Just ask and see,” You encourage.
“Dear Lord, Please help me.  I need this card to work.”  I pray not really expecting the result to be any different.
I hear You speak, “Oh, ye of little faith.”  Doubt turns to amazement as my camera actually comes on and is ready to take a picture.  No error message warning me to format the card, resulting in the loss of all my cherished pictures. 
You prove Your faithfulness to me.  I am so sorry for doubting.  For believing that my prayers as less than desirable in Your ears. 
The words of my mouth penetrate Your very presence.  They do not bounce off of the lining of the clouds and fall to the Earth.  My words of my heart are heard even when my mouth makes no utterances. 
Please forgive me for not trusting in You.  The longing of my heart is to follow you with everything I am.  Increase my faith and confidence that You are not a God who solely sits on His throne waiting for my words to travel through the Heavens and enter Your dwelling place.  You are my Father who hears the silent whispers of my heart because You are walking next to me.
Oh, to feel Your closeness.
Your daughter,

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Truth Will Set You Free

I have been hiding something painful.  It's time to get honest with everyone.  After the birth of my daughter in 2009, I went through a very dark time.  The postpartum blues lingered far beyond the typical time.  I went to the doctor when my daughter was 6 months old.  The doctor heard me say nothing that concerned her.  Her response was I just had life problems that I needed to get worked out.  Leaving the office that day I believed it must have been just that...normal life situations.  I knew deep down it was more. 

My typical outgoing self was lost to a person who wanted to stay hidden and protected in the comfort of her home.  I fortified my home with invisible barriers between others and myself.  It was easy to convince myself that I was happy.  I had everything I ever wanted.  I was a wife and mother.  My husband was allowing me to stay at home.  I was right where I wanted to be.

There was one problem.  The postpartum "blues."  Not the typical blues though.  I wasn't crying.  I loved my baby. It simply boiled down to how I interacted with those around me.  If you felt as though I was pushing you away, I probably did.  If you thought I was happy, my goal was accomplished.  If this is all a surprise to you, I deceived you well.    I quit singing in choir and only attended the Sunday morning service to make my social appearance.  All the while I was miserable and alone inside.  My distraction and excuse was being the best mother possible.  All my energy went to that purpose. 

In December 2010, my Heavenly Father stepped in to begin the healing process.  During the Christmas service at church, I had an anxiety attack.  Through that experience I knew I had to turn back to the One I had pushed away the most.  In His goodness, God has restored my relationship with Him.  The relationships with others are being restored one relationship at a time.

I have learned amazing things over the past 2 1/2 years.  Lessons that are molding me into becoming the woman I desire to be.  Lessons on finding beauty within.  Please join me on this journey.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Would You Still?

Would you still love me if you knew my insecurities?
 My faults?
My failures?

Would you still love me if you knew my thoughts?
My deepest desires?
My dreams?

Would you still love me if you knew the real me?  The one that is hidden from everyone, the one that I am afraid to reveal for fear of rejection? 

The real me, the one with flaws?

Would you still love me?

Total acceptance. No if’s, and’s, or but’s?

No trying to change me?

Loving me for who I am, nothing less and nothing more?

My Heavenly Father does just that.   He knows the real me, inside and out.  No hiding the truth about who I am.  Such a relief to find refuge in Him!  To know that although I do not have it all together, He loves me and accepts me.  Because I am a child of the King, there is no condemnation. 

Romans 8:1, “There is no condemnation to
those who are in Christ.”

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Most Beautiful and Life-Changing Words

I have often wondered how those who have been so wounded by life - much more than I myself could ever imagine - share their deepest, most vulnerable moments with the entire world to hear.

Laying it all out there for the world to see. 

Their stories, so foreign to many of us, seem too painful to bare time and time again. 

How do they get through their pain and tears enough to tell of the moments in their life where they seemed the lowest, the weakest, the most desperate?  My insecure flesh cannot imagine having to share the deepest, most tender places of my soul.  To expose my areas of weakness and greatest need causes feelings of sheer and utter vulnerability to well up in my soul.

Then I realize that my focus is on the wrong place, the wrong person.   I am looking at the mere human – flesh and bones.  There is a precious, most amazing part of their story that I fail to see. 

In all the Word of God, there is a little phrase that changes all circumstance.  Two words that changes the course of time.  Two words that hold the authority to do miraculous things.

Two words that…

Cause blind men to see.  The lame to walk for the first time.

Give power for men to walk in the fire untouched.  Cause the lions’ mouths to be closed.

Two words that give life to the deceased.  Heal the broken hearted.

Two words that give hell-bound sinners a second chance to live eternity with God.

Two words!

Two words!

Two words!

But God!  Praise Jesus! 

But God!

But God!

Hallelujah! I have had “But God” moments in my life.  Moments where I wanted to dig a hole and hide until it was all over.   Moments where I could not see the light and the end of the tunnel.  Moments where I wondered where the Light was.

Moments of hatred, despair, sorrow, grief, selfishness, disappointment.  Moments of loneliness, anger, uncertainty, hesitation.
Moments in life where….where I…where I misplace my focus forgetting those two wonderful words.


Don’t you see.  Those two words change everything!  Every life circumstance.  Every hurt.  Every pain.

It is in those vulnerable moments, where I am the weakest, that God can show His mightiness.  Where the circumstances seem impossible, but God shows up on the scene!  How precious are those words. 


Comforting! Encouraging! Hopeful! Promising! Confident! 

Peace, sweet peace in God!

You see, in my life I haven’t faced any real devastation when compared to so many others.  But I have experienced the grace and mercy of God. 

There have been seasons in life where I was so gripped by hatred that I could have literally pushed someone off a cliff and walked away smiling.  Yeah, that’s ugly.  The ugliest part of me that I wouldn’t want others to see.  But God!  God delivered me from the hatred!  Not once, but had to learn the lesson twice!

A recent season of life left me distant from all the things that I once enjoyed.  I built walls isolating myself from the outside world, turning away from all but a few people who I felt the most secure with.   Distance grew and walls got higher brick by brick.  My heart become harder and harder to those around me.  But God!  After allowing me to lick my own wounds for two years, God has said “Long enough!  No more!”  He has reminded me that there is more to life than my circumstances.  There are people who need to hear “BUT GOD” 

So after being challenged today to write blog post that “reflects a bit of my heart,”  I hope that you can see that the moments in your life, the one you may be facing right now, is a “But God” moment.   Remember that when all else fails, you can rest assured that God will show Himself faithful and mighty.  
When you look at your life’s circumstances and you feel vulnerable and without hope, remember…


It changes everything!

But God! 
But God!
But God!

I would love for you to comment below and share a “But God” moment in your life. 

If you, like me, are ready for a “But God” experience, you should definitely check out the She Speaks Conference.  The She Speaks Conference is especially for woman who desire to serve God by serving others through speaking, writing, leading, and ministry.  She Speaks gives women with a common purpose the opportunity to connect with one another, and more than that, connect with God.  God has shown me through my most recent  “But God” moment that He desires obedience from me one step at a time.  My longing is that through my obedience I am able to serve Him and those around me.  She Speaks is an amazing opportunity that I am excited to share with you.  If you desire to serve Him and others through  speaking, writing, leading, and ministry please visit the She Speak website.  There are also a few chances to receive a scholarship!  You can visit Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience, to not only enter for a chance to receive a scholarship, but to read some of the most beautiful words that I have read.  This woman has been gifted with the power to use words in such a way that an exquisite word picture is painted before you.
There is also another opportunity at Next Step Speaker Services  to receive a scholarship.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Heart in God

Something beautiful caught my attention today. 

Something that summarizes the entire purpose of this blog in one sentence.


How beautiful is that? 

At the time that I began the blog, my heart was consumed with becoming the Proverbs 31 woman.  The verses of Proverbs 31 were and are who I want to become.  

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. 

                       Proverbs 31: 10-12

To be found as a virtuous and capable woman!  To be more precious than rubies!  To be such a woman that my husband can trust me!  That I may greatly enrich my husband's life!  To desire to bring him good ALL the days of my life, not some, ALL! 

This is but a small portion of the beauty that a Proverbs 31 woman possesses.  Not beauty that is seen on the outside, but the beauty that radiates from within.  Beauty that reflects God's very character.  Beauty that reflects the heart hidden in God, and God alone!    

I long to be that woman!  I pray that this desire to be a woman of God, to be a woman hidden in God, will never cease.  My heart’s longing is that when my husband looks at me he will find the beauty within. Thus this blog was born:

Finding the Beauty Within