Thursday, July 18, 2013


I haven't blogged for a long, long time. Maybe because it's so easy to just write what I'm thinking on Facebook at any given time. Or maybe I just haven't had anything to say. (But seriously, when does that ever happen?) Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about perspective lately and just wanted to get some thoughts down in hopes that it would help me dig a little deeper, maybe even gain a little MORE perspective.

I don't know if it's because I'm in my fifties now, or if it's because of the things God has been doing in our lives over the past 2-3 years. Maybe both. But I find myself changing perspective. God revealed Himself to me in a really powerful way when I was 21 years old, and it really did change my life forever. Not that I quit making mistakes (sometimes big ones). Not that I had everything (or anything) figured out. I just knew that He loved me, and I knew He was my hope. It was something to hold on to that I had never had before. And it meant everything to me.

But I think I spent the next almost 30 years trying to figure out how to live in the reality of His presence at the same time I lived in the reality of this world. They never seemed to match up. And from everything I ever read in scripture, they aren't supposed to.

I think it was three years ago, I finally read through the ENTIRE Bible without skipping anything. (Okay... true confession... I may have "skimmed" some of Leviticus.) This was the very beginning of my love for the Old Testament. I had always thought God seemed so mean and vindictive in the Old Testament. But for the first time, as I read through story after story, I was completely captivated by the great love He had for His people. Over and over and over again, his message was, "Believe that I am your God. Put all your trust in Me. I will take care of you. There is nothing I won't do for you."

Yet over and over and over again, His people turned away from Him. The people He created and loved so deeply turned to the things of the world, to other gods, to their own selfish desires. (Things haven't really changed that much, have they?) Even when I began wanting to live my life for God, it really wasn't as much about living for Him as it was about wanting what God would give me. I loved God, but I was still very self-centered. The thing that excited me the most about God was what I was going to get out of it. The scriptures I loved to read over and over again were the ones that promised things I would get. And I don't think I paid much attention to what I was supposed to give: nothing short of everything.

So now I'm 51 years old and finally I feel my perspective is changing. I find that I care less and less and less about anything in this world. I don't care what car I drive. I don't care if I have a lot of money. I don't care about status. My heart's desire... the thing I really want... is to hear His voice. I want to know that I'm doing what He wants me to be doing. I want to know that I'm making an impact in the lives of others. I want my focus to be on the things that are important to Him. And I want them to become the things that are important to me.

And so the past couple of years, I've been drawn to the scriptures that simply speak of His power and His glory and how worthy He is to be served. I'm drawn to scripture that talks about laying our lives down for Him, giving it all, holding nothing back. I finally understand it's not about Him doing what I want. It's about me doing what He wants.

Finally. Finally. Even though I'm somewhat of an old woman now, I finally get it. My perspective has finally changed.

This life is not about me. It's about Him.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do we really understand?

I've been reading in Exodus. In the past, as I read through all the animal sacrifices and pouring of blood that had to go on before anyone could stand in God's presence, I immediately thought, "I am SO glad we don't have to do that anymore!" But yesterday was different. Yesterday I thought, "What an understanding they must have had about God's holiness."

We are so far removed from all of that, I think sometimes we take it for granted. Can you imagine people going through all of this process for years and years and years.... then the news that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. A greater sacrifice than all these animals. A sacrifice for all time. And now they were free. They were free to step into His presence. No more sacrifices for atonement. No more going through priests. They  were free to approach God.

I'm guessing they really understood the magnitude of Jesus's sacrifice. They understood how huge that really was. They had never had this freedom to approach the Father before. And I'll bet they approached Him with the most humble of hearts. And grateful. Can you imagine how grateful they must have been?

Sometimes I wonder if we get it. On Sunday mornings when we gather corporately to worship... do we understand the magnitude of what we are able to do? Do we humbly come before Him with grateful hearts that we are able to stand in His Presence? As we begin to worship, are we swept away by His goodness? His love? His undeserved mercy?

Or are our minds wandering to places we'd rather be? Do we say, "Stand by, God... I don't like this song. But I'll catch you on the next one." Are we distracted, emotionally unattached? Are we thinking about ourselves.... or Him?

People used to have to go through a process unimaginable to us to be in His presence. But they did it. Because they desired Him that much. Now we can walk right into His presence. But don't think for a second it's because He's lowered His standards. If anything He raised them. No longer are animal sacrifices sufficient. It's only the blood of Christ. He gave Himself. He went through the pain, the humiliation, the torture. All so we could draw near to Him. He is still every bit as Holy as He has always been, and it's still every bit as big of a deal to be in His presence.

We've never had to experience the painstaking processes of animal sacrifice that those early people had to go through. And neither they nor we had to experience the excruciatingly painful process of sacrifice that Jesus went through. He did it for us. He did it for all of us. He made a way for us to stand in the very presence of The Most Holy God. God is every bit as Holy as He has always been. And Jesus paid a price that is far greater than anything we can imagine for us to approach Him.

Take time to really think about it. How can I stand before a God who is so Holy? Let the magnitude of what we're able to do really sink in.

With all creation I sing, "Praise to the King of Kings". You are my everything. And I WILL adore You.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dying to Self

As is often the case, the way things work in God's kingdom are quite contrary to how things work in the world.

Dying to self.... it doesn't sound as if it could possibly be a good thing. It sounds as if you have to cease to exist... or at the very least have a miserable existence because, frankly, you don't get to matter anymore. 

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In the realm of the Spirit, dying to self is the very path to real life. If you find yourself in a place where you are miserable, maybe feeling hurt all the time, maybe feeling like you don't matter... chances are you haven't learned of the freedom that comes from dying to self. 

We all have dreams, desires, hopes for our lives. But I have this theory that it's really not about the dream itself... it's about how we think we will FEEL after the dream comes true. Everything we hope for, everything we desire... it's all tied to the belief that if we get what we are wanting we will feel happy, satisfied, completely content with life. It's that feeling we are really longing for. We want to FEEL better.

But the truth is, as long as we are focused on ourselves and what we want, we can never truly be happy. God created us to love and trust Him. And because we love and trust Him, we LET GO of ourselves and spend our lives loving and helping others. If we really, truly love and trust God, we can tell Him, "These are the things I really feel like I want in my life. But I know I am only working with part of the information, and You are working with ALL of the information. I know and understand that you know me better than I even know myself. So I want to lay these dreams at your feet and trust you to lead me on the right path. I want to live out your will for my life, whether it's easy or hard. I want to live the life YOU want me to live."

The big question in all of this is do we really believe we can trust Him with our lives? It's easy to say yes. It's much harder to believe it... and to live it. Is it possible that deep down we have a gnawing feeling that he doesn't care about us as much as we do? 

Again, nothing could be farther from the truth. He knows us. He loves us. We can trust Him with our lives. There is no better place we could possibly be. There is such a peace that comes from knowing and trusting He will lead us down the path He has for us. And as we travel that path with Him, He will use absolutely everything that comes our way, both good and bad, to help us grow and mature and be closer to Him than we were before. We can relax... and live.

And once we know our lives are secure in Him, we find we no longer have to worry about finding happiness for ourselves. The pressure is gone. We are free to focus on others, helping them to succeed, putting their needs ahead of our own.

If you have never really gotten to the place before where you were able to lay down all your hopes & dreams, as well as your pain and suffering... I highly encourage you to take the step. It's such a freeing experience. A good test of where you are at? Are you miserable? worried? hurt? anxious? Chances are, your focus is on yourself. Turn your focus to Him and lay it all down. Choose to trust Him with your future. Choose to believe He knows what He is doing and let go. Determine in your heart that it no longer matters what you want. It only matters what He wants. Commit yourself to living the life He wants you to live. It's what Christianity is all about.

And one day, you're going to sit down after a long day and think, "Hey... when did I get so happy?"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What does it take to shake my faith these days?

I am really fortunate in that I have felt tremendously close to and in-touch with God these past few months. I feel like He has been revealing amazing things to me in the area of fully trusting Him. I feel like He has been drawing me closer and closer to Him. And I feel like I am more aware of His Spirit than ever before. It has been a really awesome time of growth for me and I feel stronger in my faith than ever before.

So what does it take to shake that faith? Not as much as you may think.

I've told the roof story... $17,000+ later, we walked through that trial with our faith intact. And we've had a couple of similar big events (nothing to do with $, but still requiring great faith) that He led us in trusting Him through from start to finish. Amazing stories of His faithfulness that we will never forget. Those experiences will affect our lives forever.

But today? Today I'm dealing with things that really shake my faith. Broken Christmas decorations (why don't we take the time to pack them better??), lost Christmas stockings (that we just bought 3 weeks ago... who loses stuff that fast??), dog poo on the floor (Thanks, Mumford.), a few unkind words spoken to me, and thus a whole attitude of, "I  CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!!!"

I could feel myself getting more and more upset on the inside as the incidents continued to pile one on top of another, so I retreated to my room to try to stop the madness, maybe gain some perspective. And as I sat here, feeling like my very world was crumbling around me... perspective is exactly what I gained.

I could believe that God was on His throne and fully in control when faced with how we were going to pay for a $17,000 roof, but when I lost our Christmas stockings (total value... $12 plus tax) then suddenly He's fallen off His throne and Satan is running rampant in my life??!! The Christmas decorations can be glued... or even thrown out. It will not change the meaning of what Jesus has done for me. There will be times unkind words are spoken, both to me and unfortunately by me, for as long as I live on this earth. And I will have to work through the relationships in order to make them stronger rather than letting them be destroyed. It's what He's called us to do, and it actually helps us grow every time we work through one of those situations. Pretty sure He's still on His throne for all of that.

As I sat here pondering all of this it made me wonder how all this little stuff can wreak such havoc in my life. Will there be a certain age I hit when I can face one little thing after another all the day long with a smile, knowing that none of it really changes our quality of life? And, more importantly, none of it affects how close we are to God. Is there a certain level of faith I will reach when I will not only be able to trust Him to get our family through a devastating separation in which we are stuck in two different countries, but I will ALSO be able to trust Him to get us through the devastation of broken Christmas ornaments? It was sad for me to even type that question. Sad that I let this little stuff take such a big place in my life.

So, I know it's not time for New Year's Resolutions, but it's the season we celebrate the greatest miracle of all time, so I'm going to take the opportunity to publicly repent and trust God to help me walk a different road going forward. I want to be quick to stop and re-evaluate when I sense I am losing my joy. I want to always be mindful that I walk closely with Him, that He is powerful, loving, and kind, and that He is always paying attention. I want to be confident that I can take every situation to Him and He will listen, and guide me, and help me to grow through it.  Yes, even if we lose our Christmas stockings that are only three weeks old.

What a woman of faith I will be.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Does God Think About _______?? (fill in the blank)

I have found over the years that a lot of people try to understand the Christian faith by asking Christians where they stand on issues. This baffles me, because although the issues may indeed be an issue, they lean toward the non-issue side for me. Have I lost you yet?

Before you get the idea that I am an anything-goes, there's no such thing as right or wrong sort of person, let me explain. People ask me what I think God thinks about issues ranging from homosexuality to whether women should be allowed to speak in church. And believe me when I tell you there are a plethora of issues in between. I haven't always been as firm as I am now on my belief, but since this is my blog, I would like to use this platform to be very clear on where I stand now.

If you want to know what God thinks about an issue, ask Him.

There are a lot of reasons for this strongly held belief of mine, the most obvious of which is..... I'm not God. I try to follow God with all of my heart. I study His word, and I love when He speaks directly to my heart. But it doesn't mean I know everything. He's got the corner on that market. My opinion is, for lack of a better description, a crap shoot. It may be true. It may be somewhat true, limited by my understanding up to that point. It may be true for me, but not for you. (If you read your Bible you will know this can happen) OR I could just be wrong. That sucks, but unfortunately, after 28 years of walking closely with God, I'm still wrong more than I'd like to admit in this blog. (But if you really want to know, ask my daughters... I think they keep a running tally)

Another important reason that I hold to that belief is that even if I'm right about what God thinks, it won't mean anything to you unless you have taken the time to talk to Him yourself. Why would His opinion even matter to you if you haven't really gotten know Him? How could anything He thinks impact your life if you don't realize how deeply He loves you? The reason I follow after Him, and the reason I care what He thinks, is that my relationship with Him has deeply impacted my life. He has changed everything for me. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

So, some of my more zealous Christian friends may ask, "How are you supposed to be the light of the world if you don't speak up? We are supposed to be the light of the world!"

Well, setting aside the fact that I don't believe condemnation lights up the world, and also setting aside the fact that every Christian has a list of the things the Bible is clear on that still apply today as well as a list of things the Bible is clear on that do not still apply today (and those lists often don't match), I have not said I won't speak up. There are plenty of things I will speak up about.

Do you want to know how deep and how amazing God's love for you is? I may not be able to express it fully, but there's nothing I'd love more than to try! I have stories, lots of wonderful stories, of ways He has touched my life. I can tell you how he rescued me at times I didn't deserve to be rescued. I can tell you how He showed Himself to me at times when I desperately needed to know He was there. I can tell you how, at a time when I felt completely alone in this world, He showed me that I would never, ever, ever be alone... because He wasn't going anywhere.

Do you want to know the lengths God would go to just so you have a way to be near Him? I can tell you about that. Do you want to know about how He listens when you talk to Him? How He lays out a path that's just for you and then leads you along that path, patiently and lovingly bringing you back even when you get sidetracked? Do you want to know how He can take even the worst of situations and use it for your good? I have stories I can share about ALL of those things!

It's not that I don't believe you need answers to the other questions. You do. But you need to hear it from Him, and I strongly encourage you to ask Him. He is not hiding Himself from you. In fact, He is always pursuing you. He loves you. He wants you to come to Him and ask.

And the most important thing about Him answering your questions instead of me? When He answers you, it will change your life forever.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I should have known.

For those of you who are on the edge of your seats wondering whatever became of our "roof" situation, here is an update.

Just to get everyone up to speed, about three months ago we received a letter from our insurance company informing us they were going to have someone do an "outdoor visual inspection" to see if there were any issues with our house that would cause them to decide to discontinue our coverage. My heart immediately began racing because I knew they would say we needed a new roof. We had checked into a new roof, but came to find out it was going to cost $10,000+ to redo it because of the height and because we have asbestos shingles.

Needless to say, that project quickly went to the back of line. That is, until we received the letter.

I didn't know what we would do. We HAVE to have insurance, but we didn't have $10,000 to fix our roof. So, we did what we always do..... we prayed. Now, some people pray for God to work everything out just the way they want it to work out. But we learned a LONG time ago, that's not the wisest prayer. We learned that we are working with very limited information, while He is working with the COMPLETE picture. We prayed for everything to work out the way HE wanted it to work out, and determined in our hearts to trust Him in whatever He decided.

You see, we have found over the course of our lives that God really does take care of us. He always has. Our lives are not always easy. Everything isn't always smooth-sailing. But He is always with us. He always takes care of us. And when we have to face tough things, He always sees us through and teaches us valuable lessons along the way. So when we prayed for everything to work out the way He wanted it to work out, we prayed knowing we were in the best hands we could possibly be in.

Well, the insurance guy came and guess what? He said we needed a new roof, and we got a letter saying they were going to discontinue our insurance. Our insurance agent called us and said if we could get it fixed before October (when our insurance expires) they would continue coverage. We decided to file an insurance claim and see what happened. We can't really see that high, but we hoped maybe they would find some hail damage and cover at least a portion of the roof. At this point, anything would help.

Yesterday some guys came out to make the decision. I found my heart being anxious, so Leonard and I sat down to pray again. We told God it didn't matter to us what kind of numbers this guy came back to us with because our trust was in Him, not them. We have entrusted our lives to Him, not the insurance company. And we decided a long time ago that no matter what this world throws at us, we would live with grateful hearts because we serve a God who deeply loves us, and that's all that really matters. What we have or don't have in this world is not the most important thing.

The guy finally knocked on the door and came in to discuss his findings. There was a little bit of hail damage on our roof. But because they no longer make asbestos shingles, the insurance company is going to cover replacing the entire roof. They will be paying for ALMOST ALL OF IT! More than we ever dared hope for or dream of. My heart was flooded with gratitude.

About 3 months ago, we were informed the insurance company would be doing a visual inspection and I thought it was terrible, terrible news. But if they hadn't done that, we would have never discovered the insurance company would pay for replacing our roof. We wouldn't have known, we wouldn't have asked. We would have just struggled to try to find a way to pay for it ourselves.

Once again, God drove the point home. We are working with so little information. What seems like the worst possible situation can be the beginning of the best thing that could happen. Trust. Trust that He knows what He is doing. Trust that He loves you. Trust that He will see you through, whether it's easy or it's hard. Certainly we are grateful the insurance company is covering our roof. But we know in our hearts if it had gone the other way, He still would have made a way. We still would have trusted Him to see us through, because that's what He does. He is a kind and loving and merciful God.

And He makes it so easy to live with a grateful heart.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Putting this world in its place

It often feels like this world has a lot more control over me than I would like it to. Of course, it will always have some measure of control, i.e. I have to work, pay taxes, etc. But it should NOT have the power to control how I feel and who I am on the inside. Even with paying taxes... I have to do it, but I don't have to lose my joy over it.

There are so many different things trying to suck me in, what with all the political stuff that's going on, the every day financial stuff, the lure of "things" I think I want.... the Bible calls it the "cares of this world".

I love the moments of clarity...when I realize on such a deep level what is really important. It's almost like I'm swept back into the garden of Eden, walking and talking with God. Just me and him.....

Mark 4:19    But all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things....

When He created the world, life was so simple. A great deal of what we worry about these days didn't even exist. We created it, and WE decided it was important. But the Bible tells us what the world honors is not the same as what God honors. And I find myself being drawn back to God over and over again, longing to dwell on the things HE deems important, and to free myself from this hold the world has on me.

Colossians 3:2  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

1 Corinthians 1:20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.

1 John 2:15-16   Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. Those are not from the Father, but are from this world.

I long to live my life fully aware of the presence of God. Not sometimes aware....FULLY aware. I long to be so close to him that hearing the news that our roof needs to be replaced and it's going to cost $10,000 doesn't throw me for a loop. I want my joy to remain intact, because the world doesn't have access to my joy. The stuff that happens in the world does not need to affect what goes on on the inside of me. Will the roof still need to be replaced? Maybe so, maybe not. But we will get through it. We ALWAYS do. He has ALWAYS made a way for us. Why would he stop now? We have vowed to trust Him with our lives. There was no disclaimer that we would trust Him with everything except the roof.

Matthew 6:33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

We will have everything we need. And we will get through everything the world throws at us. It may not be easy, but one thing I know for sure .... God will remain near us, no matter what. He will teach us important things along the way that have to do with our character, our trust in Him, our love for others.... the things He deems important.

And as for the things of this world? They will have to take their place as a distant second.