Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm giving you my heart, and all that is within.......I surrender....

For the past week I have had the words to the song "Surrender" rolling around in my head. And to be honest I thought about what it would mean when I truly surrender it all to Him. To give God my heart completely. To lay down my life my dreams, my pride and all my rights just to have the promise of a new life. A life filled with God's grace, love and indescribable peace and joy. I had a moment where I realized that, in order for me to have the love relationship that my king wants, I have to make some BIG changes. He doesn't want just my empty moments. He wants my every moment. He wants to share in ALL my joy and pain. And He wants to be there to laugh with me and cry with me. He desires to be my All in All, & my one and only. He wants me to run to Him when my world is turned upside down. He doesn't what to share the role of King of my heart. His desire is for me to want this for our relationship as well. And to let the true character of my light shine through. To allow myself to be vulnerable, completely exposed for all to see. The reality of this relationship seemed more than a bit uncomfortable. "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

I am attempting to define my relationship with God. And what it truly means to lay it all down and be a follower of Christ. That's right relationship not my religion. Webster's defines Relationship as : the state of being related or interrelated; the relation connecting or binding participants in a relationship: as a :kinship or specific instance or type of kinship; a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings (had a good relationship with his family); a romantic or passionate attachment. God wants to have an intimate relationship with me, a passionate attachment. But before I can even begin to define my relationship with this King of my heart, I need to understand where my faith is in Him. Is my faith more about honoring my heritage and family traditions than surrendering my heart and being interrelated with my God.

Am I a Sadducee, existing in an aristocratic state of mind and not fully understanding my role in this relationship with my King? Am I so puffed up that I cannot see or feel the true love of my Savior? Sadducees were more concerned with politics than religion/relationship. They tended to be wealthy and held powerful positions, including that of chief priests and high priest. They worked hard to keep the peace by agreeing with the decisions of Rome. The Sadducees goal was to preserve the authority of the written Word of God, especially the books of Moses. However, because of their wealth and power, they were extremely self-sufficient to the point of denying God's involvement in everyday life. There was no penalty or reward after their earthly life. How see.

Am I the Pharisee who spends hours committing to memory the rules and regulations, saying and doing all the right things because of these guidelines? When I am memorizing scripture it is a beautiful thing. But surely it is empty without gratitude in my heart for my Savior. Religiously, the Pharisees accepted the written Word as inspired by God. But they also gave equal authority to tradition. The pharisees defended this idea by saying it went all the way back to Moses, these traditions added to God's Word, which is forbidden ( "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you." Deuteronomy 4:2) They remained true to God's Word in reference to some doctrines. They believed that God controlled all things, yet our free will and our independent decisions contribute to the course of life. They believed in the resurrection of the dead. And they believed in an afterlife, with appropriate reward and/or punishment on an individual. The Pharisees sought to equally and strictly obey traditions along with the Old Testament. Trying to be fair... I see.

Am I able to categorize my relationship to be something outside of those two "boxes"? I want so much more than just a "religious" relationship. I believe that God is the creator of all things. I don't believe that I am just existing to exist. I know that God has set out a great purpose for my life. And I know that His love for me is greater than any love I could ever imagine. And it's more incredible than any love another individual could give to me. He is unconditional. He waits patiently for me every minute of every day. And His heart is filled with joy when I finally arrive. I pray that I grow more and more like Him. I want so much to be a reflection of Him amazing grace. I fall short. Majorly short. I want to be that follower that clings to the hem of His garment because I want to be just that close. Better yet a child, who has no fear of what people will say, do or think, that I just push through the crowd and run into his arms and allow Him to carry me.

I am so caught up in my own little world. Sometimes, I am so full of these "what about me?" moments, I forget why it is that I am here. "And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."(Romans 8 27-28). God knows my heart better than I know my own heart. I have a growing desire to know God's heart for me more than ever. I want so much more than just a one sided....His side....relationship. I pray for the courage to surrender it ALL and allow Him to rule in my heart, mind and actions. 

I'm giving you my heart, and all that is within
I lay it all down for the sake of you my King
I'm giving you my dreams, I'm laying down my rights
I'm giving up my pride for the promise of new life

And I surrender all to you, all to you
And I surrender all to you, all to you

I'm singing You this song, I'm waiting at the cross
And all the world holds dear, I count it all as loss
For the sake of knowing You for the glory of Your name
To know the lasting joy, even sharing in Your pain

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Your salt depends upon the character of your light"

What is my purpose in this life? What am I living for? Do I live from day to day just letting the seconds unfold without direction. Am I just surviving and looking out for me, myself and I. Or is there something more to this life. Am I here to make a difference in the lives of my family, friends, and others? God has a plan and a purpose for my life. "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

The wedding day is almost here.  In less than 24 hours, we will all be a family.  As Sarah and Duane become one through marriage tomorrow, our families become linked.  Last night for me was symbolic.  The families all coming together and laughing crying and preparing for this great day.  Each one has a purpose in this expanding family. But again I ask...what is my purpose?  Where is my place? Am I an arm, a hand, a finger or a finger nail? Each part has a purpose.  Even in those moments when I may feel insignificant, I am reminded that even the finger nail has a purpose. Just because I am a "step" parent doesn't mean my role is less important in this family.  Because I am not a biological parent doesn't meant I have to be on the outside looking in.  I am discovering a lot about who I am.  I know this for sure I am a kid of the Most High.  I know that as each day unfolds more of my purpose is revealed.  When I feel I lack purpose, it's because I am forgetting that I am not supposed to be doing this for me. That in everything I do I am to be giving all glory to God.  "Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.  Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.  Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,  and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,  while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,  so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.." 1 Corinthians 12-26

This family, is not only like a body with many parts, it's like a a big pot of slow cooking a stew.  There are many different ingredients.  We have savory, sweet, bitter, sour and salty.  And each ingredient has a specific time it needs to be added.  When my kids were little I would remind them every morning as they left the house, to go out into the world and be salt and be a light.  For the most part they have done their best.  I have seen the effects of salt and light in this new pot of stew, family, that is simmering.  I know that as each new day dawns, I may have a new purpose and be a different ingredient.  I am a servant.  And I pray that my heart stays lit and constantly glows. I praise God for each member of this expanding family.  I am overwhelmed with joy to see the light in each person's heart.  "Your salt depends upon the character of your light" ~Charles Swindoll.

God has given each person a gift. For some it's being a servant, or a teacher, or a talker,or a listener,or an artist,or a chef, etc.... We all have a purpose. And God has a plan. "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Sunday, October 9, 2011

True love is superglue

This morning I have been reflecting on marriage. And praising God for allowing me to have a second chance at being a wife. Scripture tells us that love is patient, kind , it isn't jealous and doesn't boast. In all honesty I often lack patients And sometimes my words aren't so kind. And yes, I have some puffed up moments now and then. But, God has blessed my life with a husband that is willing to accept me for the crazy me I am.

In just a few days my inherited daughter and soon to be son-in-law will be walking down the isle to say I do. And I have been praying for this precious couple. I know God sees their hearts for each other. And I pray that as they begin this journey as husband and wife they continue to grow in their love. I pray that they have the desire to have compassion for each other. To be humble and gentle in all circumstances. And that they both find courage to forgive whatever needs forgiving and wisdom to understand their differences. Just like the bands of gold they will place on each others fingers as they pledge their love, marriage is a forever circle of life's most important relationships. They will become and remain each other's best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And will discover that love is superglue.

I am thankful that the experiences of the past haven't tainted the step of the future. Divorce is an ugly thing. And, unfortunately, my children, biological and inherited, are all a product of the big "D" word. When Greg and I got married it wasn't just the two becoming one. It was a whole crew. I had three precious gems to contribute from my first marriage. And Greg had two from his. I had been single and raising my three on my own for a few years. And the same with Greg. So we had to be very strong in our commitment to each other. And in the process we also had to define true love for our children. Which is hard to do when they are confused.

A second marriage, with children, takes a whole lot of love. I didn't realize that I would not only be a wife, mom, and step-monster but I would become a fireman too. Putting two families together is like putting a match box close to a fire. Eventually sparks are going to ignite. And throughout the course of our marriage there have been quite a few fires. To be honest, I often look back at those fires and praise God for His faithfulness. The family did a lot of growing. For Greg and I, our love for each other was and is constantly being tested. Our children know that not only do we love each other. But we love each one of them. They have been a part of our union since the very beginning with there hands on the pulse of our relationship. We wanted their input on our wedding and our future as a family . It wasn't easy for any of us. Greg and I did what we thought was best for the whole crew. There were and are moments when the stress and fear was and still is so great. But God is ever present. Two families becoming one. I love that our children know that, whether it be a financial need or emotional need, we will do anything for them. As each child grows and goes in their own direction I pray that the love they have witnessed in this crazy house will be branded on their hearts forever. We aren't even close to being the well adjusted and put together "Brady Bunch". But we have love. Yes, we still have "water and oil" moments. But, together with a pinch of love, sometimes that makes a good dressing.

Marriage is a lifetime commitment it is the willingness of two people to come together in search of the best. And the desire to bring it out in one another. It encourages and develops the newness of life. Marriage offers opportunities to share and grow in ways that no other relationship can compare. It is an emotional and physical connection that is a promise of a lifetime. This union deepens and enriches every life experience. Commitment to each other is stronger than ever before. Your memories are much more vivid. Happiness is more abounding. Even the level of anger seem more passionate, however forgiveness come more rapidly. Mistakes are unavoidable this is why communication is so important. "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." ~Ephesians 4:2-3 Understanding and forgiveness are virtues that are like glue. Together they create a bind that holds them closer than any spoken or written words. "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity."  ~ Colossians 3:14

Marriage is a promise before God, made in the hearts of two people who love each other. It is a covenant that takes a lifetime to fulfill. And I am thankful for the lifetime that has been provided.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

His purpose.....that's right His purpose not mine...there's order even in the disorder.

There is an order even in the disorder.  I know that when I put God first things seem to be a bit easier.  But in reality I only put him first when it works best for me.  You know what I am talking about.  In the morning when I wake up and there is that moment when everything is quiet.  No distraction.  Just silence.  That is when it is the most convenient for this brat of the King.  Yep, I don't even take into consideration how He longs for me to spend time just to get more acquainted.

God only requires that I love Love Him and accept the amazing gift He has given.  He waits patiently for me to discover how awesome a life of obedience in Him could be.  There is this instruction manual.  It's called the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth (bible). There are moments I feel myself holding my hands over my eyes because the instructions don't seem to fit my sinful life. So what if the instructions say to "Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed."  and wait there is still more, "now you must rid yourself of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.  You cannot lie to anyone not a single person."  I don't always want the truth to penetrate my heart.  I often get paper cuts, from trying to skim over the pages of this guide for daily living, so that I can get to the easy to follow instructions.  You know....the instructions that are comfortable and natural to this sin natured child. How safe it is to open up my beloved instruction manual and read only what I want to hear. 

This past Sunday morning God planted Romans 8:28 on my mind.  I love the book of Romans so I was excited to get up and come sit at His feet for a sweet cup of grace.  "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." His purpose.....that's right His purpose not mine.  Now, He had my attention.  And I began to pray that He would give me a greater understanding of that "purpose" He has for me. After reading Romans 8, I found myself flipping ahead a few pages and landed at the book of Colossians.In a few weeks my inherited daughter is getting married.  a portion of Colossians will be read at their ceremony.  So, I didn't think it was odd that this is where I landed. It is easy for me to look up a verse that gives that warm fuzzy feeling.  The first chapter starts off with God's desire for me to ask Him to fill me with  the knowledge of His will through all the spiritual wisdom and understanding. We need this wisdom and knowledge so that we are equipped with the tools we need to live a fruit bearing life. As I continued to sit at His feet (which isn't always an easy instruction for me to follow),   I heard Him say that I am one of His "chosen people, holy and dearly loved.  I am commanded to be virtuous, having compassion, kindness, humility, and to be graceful and patient.  But most importantly to love.  Because love binds these virtues together in perfect unity".  Colossians is a pretty powerful book.  Packed with instruction.  Rules help us to keep things in order. But I know that I must look at ALL the instructions and not just flip to the concordance/index and chose the easy to read version.

I call myself a follower of Christ a.k.a. kid of the King, wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin, friend, coworker, neighbor, acquaintance, and stranger.  And if I sat here long enough I could add a few more titles to my list.   I am realizing that I need to put my list/crazy life into some semblance of order. I will be the first to  tell you, I am not the easiest person when I am feeling overwhelmed. And in all reality I can't stand myself when I don't have order. 2 Corinthians 10:5  tells us to.... "take every though captive and make it obedient to Christ".  And in doing just that it will bring clarity and prevent frustration and that feeling of being overwhelmed. Obedience brings order.  And following God's instruction will bring me to a place of congruency between the head and the heart. Yes, there is order even in my disorder.....when I put my King first.

" Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing  psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him". 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What me worry?........Anxiety leads to stress and stress to anxiety....

I have to say that I don't normally consider myself a worrier or some one who is overwhelmed with anxiety.  But I recently discovered that deep within I have the ability to be one of the biggest culprits of this condition.  In Philippians 4 we are instructed to  "Be anxious about nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."  Okay, sounds pretty simple.  So why is it that I still worry about silly things like....."did I remember to feed the animals" (And by animals I do mean the cat and the dog.....not the kids) It is our human nature to second guess.  We are human after all.  And in being human we certainly aren't perfect.

Recently I was asked what I thought was God's definition of peaceful.  Well that seemed like an easy thing for me to answer.  I thought about when my kids were little.  We didn't have much money, so I tried to save energy by using candles instead of turning on the lights.  For a few years our living room didn't even have a lamp.  I called this room the "tranquility room".  I spent many nights reading His word by candle light and being "still".  So my initial answer to this question was the "tranquility room".  Those quiet moments when there is no ciaos around.

 I then read a story, which took the "tranquility room" to a new level, about two artists that were asked to paint a picture of peace as they perceived it.  One painted a quiet lake far back in the mountains.  The other, a picture of a raging waterfall which had a tree leaning over it with a bird resting in a nest on one of the extended branches.  The artist who depicted peace as the waterfall and the bird showed the true idea of peace in God.  You see there is no peace without opposition.

We often think that life as a believer should be simple and easy.  Well that my friend is wrong thinking.  If life was a walk on "Easy Street" there would be no purpose for God in our lives. I know that I tend to forget about my quiet devotion when life is going according to my plan.  You know what I am talking about.  You wake up in the morning and the birds are chirping.  The sun in shining. and the temperature outside has never been more perfect. You get out of bed and pretty much the whole day just goes better than expected. But once that road block comes into play it seems like my whole world gets turned upside down.  I realize that I made a wrong turn and ended up on "Arduous Avenue".

Funny thing is as I try to avoid the road blocks in my life it seems like more and more traffic appears. And by the time I get home I am looking forward to the "tranquility room". God wants me to lay it all down at His feet.  Those road blocks were placed there by Him.  He wants me to slow down and trust in Him.  He'll get me to my destination.  God is never early.  He is never late. He is always on time.   In Romans 8:28 God reveals that "All things work together for good to them that love God and are the called according to his purpose."  Now that is comforting to know that He has a plan and a purpose for my life.

Anxiety leads to stress and stress leads to anxiety.  Both of these emotions prevent us from " the peace of God, which passes all understanding"  Once we cast all of our cares, anxiety, stress and negative emotion on Him, We will discover the peace of God.  It is this peace that "shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6, 7

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I don't want to just click the "like" button on the Jesus fan page.

So, I have been on this journey of the heart over the past few week. It hasn't been an easy one either. I have gone through some really dark and scary places. And while on this journey I came to a spot where I began to question what I was. Who am I? Am I a fan or am I a follower? Difficult question. And the answers were quite complex.

For a majority of my life I have given myself the title of Christian. And here I sit today evaluating my heart. According to wikipedia, the greek word Χριστιανός (christianos)—meaning "follower of Christ"— comes from Χριστός (christos)—meaning "anointed one"— with an adjectival ending borrowed from the Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership.

Again, I ask myself if I am a fan or a follower. How much of myself have I truly surrendered? "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sister, yea, and his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26. The first time I read this verse I thought that these word seemed so contradictory to what Christ taught. He said that one of the two greatest commandments was,"Love your neighbor as yourself." And our family is the closest neighbor we have. I wake up every morning and straighten up my neighbors mess. I even make a pot of coffee for my neighbors. I wake them up and tell them I love them too. So, you can see why Luke 14:26 confused me.

I prayed for direction as I started to study this verse. I began to realize, that at the time Christ spoke these words, it wasn't the most popular thing to be a christian. Most people who followed Christ were disowned and outcasted. Even Nicodemus met with Christ in the dark because he was afraid of how the other members of the Sanhedrin would react to this friendship. And, most importantly, what they would say about him. And if they would have hatred in their hearts towards him and make him an outcast. Is this where my heart is? Am I only willing to meet Him in the dark? Am I afraid that my family, friends and the world will think I am strange because I want to lay it all down for my Savior? Who, by the way, laid it ALL down for me. He knows my heart. And He is still willing to acknowledge me before His Father. So, why is it often difficult to acknowledge Him before the world?

To be a follower is my hearts desire. But I am always getting side tracked. The world is flashy and full of exciting things. Sin seems to be so much fun (at least when you are in the moment). And there are times when I am so broken by my inability to be a faithful follower. In Lamentations 3: 22-24 we are told about one of God's precious gifts, GRACE. It is only because of this grace that I am able to get close to my Heavenly Father. "Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him." We live in a world where most "christians" live by the "sinner saved by grace" mentality. In Romans 6:1 Paul poses this question, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" As a follower I don't want to take this amazing gift for granted.

I don't want to just click the "like" button on the Jesus fan page. I want to be so much more than a fan. I want the whole world to see an individual that loves Jesus. To be a fan is okay. It is wonderful to have the scripture memorized. To know the stats of each book. To even know the play by play. But I want more than that. I don't want to hold back. I want to be His hands and His feet. A slave for Christ. I want to know His heart for me. I want to know Him more and more each day. I want to run into his arms when life is crazy and out of control. A fan leaves when the going gets tough but a follower will stay regardless of the reward.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who am I doing all this for anyway?

Sometimes I think that the people around me don't realize that I am human.  I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, inherited-mom, aunt, cousin, friend, employee, and co-worker.  But above all else I am, or should be, a servant and kid of the King.   

I have been doing a lot of thinking these days.  What does it mean to be a kid of the King, part of a royal family.  How can I, a princess, have this servants heart?  I wake up every morning and begin my day of serving.  And some days my heart is in the right place.  But let me tell you...... this princess sure can get an attitude.  I can bang cabinets while loudly put the clean dishes away and increase the volume doubly with the dirty.  Poor little servant princess. Who am I doing all this for anyway?  I wonder if this is how Martha responded to Mary's "lack" of help in the kitchen. Was Martha's heart beating harder and harder from holding her temper back as Mary sat calmly at Jesus' feet? Or did Martha's jaw hurt from grinding her teeth because she was so angry that she wasn't taken by the hand and led to sit at her Saviors feet too? 

Webster defines servant as one that serves others; especially : one that performs duties about the person or home of a master or personal employer.  And a sub definition of heart as: : the emotional or moral as distinguished from the intellectual nature: as generous disposition : compassion(a leader with heart): loveaffection (won her heart): courageardor (never lost heart) So, again I ask myself,how can I be calling myself a servant?  Pretty lame servant.  I know that I need to re-adjust my attitude.  Because, as soon as all the chores are completed, it will be very hard to sit and be calm.  Especially if I am still feeling bitter. I need to perform my duties with a generous disposition.  In other words have a true "servants heart". And STOP grumbling and slamming cabinets.

This past weekend I received the most amazing gift ever.  It really is the only gift I ever want.  They cleaned their rooms!  Yes, kids rooms are clean.  I thought about taking pictures.  This way I will remember this moment forever! I know that the rooms will probably begin to get cluttered again.  Because I have kids who have busy lives.  And they are, at times, Martha's that really enjoy relaxing like a Mary.  They have their moments when the reveal they too have a servants heart.  Who did they do this for? Well, initially it was to no longer hear me nag them.  But in the end their reward was the treasures they found.

I have been overwhelmed.  Just feeling rejected, excluded and distant from family.  I thought about what it means to me to be a family. Each member has their position.  A role that no one else can play.  To love each other at any cost. To talk to or write one another when the Martha in us pre-occupies our lives. I have been so overwhelmed by my perspective of what I thought family should be. What is my role?  And who and what am I doing all this worrying for?  I don't sit still long enough to be thankful for the members that accept and love me for me. I overlooked those who want to spend time and want to include me in their gatherings.  I spent too much time "in the kitchen" and allowed the hurt to overwhelm, fester  and distract me. Don't get me wrong. Martha had her heart for Christ in the right place.  She just wanted clean bedrooms. The finest of foods. And everything perfect.  She too, inadvertently, forgot to be still and see the blessing in her sister, her family.  In the words of my precious Savior, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."  It seemed much easier for me to sit at His feet today. He will never reject me, exclude me or be distant.  

I am beginning to realize that there is a time and purpose for everything.  A time to clean and a time to let the mess sit.  A time to enjoy my family and a time to be busy about the tasks ahead of me. A time to be a Mary and a time to be a Martha. 

I am a servant. When my heart is in the wrong place I become overwhelmed and feel rejected, excluded and forgotten "in the kitchen".  And, when my heart is in the right place, I do "this" with a smile on my face and joy in my heart to glorify Him!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Praying for the heart of the heartless

This has been a very sad and heart breaking weekend.

Friday started off as an adventure.  My three biologicals prepared to fly into Tampa for their Dad and their "new Mom's" wedding.  They arrived at the airport hours prior to their departure time.  Within minutes of arriving my son received a very disturbing text from one of his best friends.  This text would change Christian's heart forever.  One of his best friends tragically died minutes prior to that very same text message.  He was broken.  Why would a God of love take not one but two of his best friends in less than a year? First, the man he admired most, his Grandpop.  And now, his sister-in-Christ, a sweet friend. He spent the next few hour being comforted by his sisters and his sister's boyfriend.  I felt my heart break for this sweet girls family, her friends, and of course my son.

I arrived in Florida, accompanied by my mom, the next morning.  It felt like an eternity.  I needed to wrap my arms around my kid.  I needed to see his eyes.  And when I did I felt his heart and saw his brokenness.  He and I spent time together by the pool at the hotel.  He said that he wanted to put on a smile and be happy for his dad and soon to be inherited mom.  He truly is on of the most selfless teens I know.  I expressed that it was important for him to not suppress his emotions.  And encouraged him to speak.  But still he remained silent.  He continued texting and viewing Facebook. Facebook was blowing up with posts from his friends and other well wishers.  And then there was the Facebook post about a very vile and disgusting man and his heartless and unfounded blog.  His words where evil. Christian and I read it together.  I was beyond angry.  And Christian too.  He was quiet for a bit.  Then I watched his fingers rapidly type away on his phone.  He was attempting to respond to this sick individual.  He shared his words, that he had  typed, with me and my eyes filled with tears.  He wanted this guy to know, that even though he had the audacity to write such horrible stuff about this tragic event, that he was praying that the same God who chose to call his sweet friend home would give him grace.

So here I sit.  I am praying for the heart of this heartless man.  This individual wants nothing more than to hurt the brokenhearted.  He spends his spare time seeking  tragic events in the media and twisting them into something terrible.  So, I pray that the same God that heals the sick, gives sight to the blind,  and forgives each one of us for our wrongs, gives this man grace.  I pray that Mr. Crook finds the love of Christ in his heart of stone.  And that one day his blog will glorify the name of God.  And that he will become a servant of the Lord.  And, that he will no longer make Satan smile at his pitiful perception of the human race.  

"I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.'  Ezekiel 11:19

The funeral for this beautiful princess of God is in a few days.  There will be a time of sadness and moments of celebrating this precious girls life.  It was short, too short.  But she touch so many lives in that period off time.  And I pray that friends,her brothers and sisters-in Christ, will use this heartbreaking tragedy to draw the saved and unsaved closer to God.

There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Friday, June 10, 2011

You are what you eat.....

I am a sinner. Yes, a sinner saved by God's grace. I am not perfect. I am probably the biggest sinner I know. Wait, I am the biggest sinner I know. And He loves me anyway. He promises that He has already paid in full for the portion that will be served to me at any given time. It's like I have been handed a prepaid, all inclusive, ticket to one of the greatest feasts known to mankind. Every delicious treat and tasty morsel I could imagine is laid out before me. I know that my stomach is only so big. But I certainly don't want to let any of these treats go untasted. After all they were prepared especially for this occasion. I just seem to forget that I don't have to consume it all or let it consume me. God provides what I need. I am the one who chooses to devour more than necessary. I find myself overwhelmed with what is at the other end of the table or better yet what is on the menu for tomorrow. There is this urge to keep going until I have tasted it all. I lack the ability to wait. And I think that if I know in advance I might be able to stretch my stomach to devour it all. If only I could have that crystal ball to look ahead and see what is brewing for tomorrow. How crazy is that mentality of thinking? I can't even handle all the stuff I piled on today's plate. So, I get sick and overwhelmed. My inability to digest the excess stuff just causes discomfort and pain.

God said He would never gives us more than we could handle. I am gluttonous. I make the decision to over do it. No one forces me into it. But the beauty in God's grace is this, He will be there help me digest. He stretches out His mighty hand to lead me to a place that is healthy. He allows me to sit humbly, with a stomach ache, at His feet. And He feeds me a portion of His healing word.

You know the saying, "You are what you eat." Those five words are packed with truth. Physically speaking I need food for energy. It is my fuel. I sometimes choose to pick through the "bad for you" foods and eat the "healthy" stuff. "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Yep, I am what I eat! So, it is becoming more and more evident to me that I need to partake in God's word, His daily bread. This world will crush me with all the fast food and garbage that is promoted as "delicious and nutritious". It isn't just what I consume by mouth. It is also what I allow to penetrate my thoughts. Mind, Body and Spirit. I watch t.v. shows that I think are ridiculous. There is absolutely no substance to that 30-60 minute time frame. The hard cold reality is that those are wasted minutes that I will never get back. I should have spent that time seeking to be filled with the good stuff. There are plenty of mind building and edifying things I could have chosen watch and/or read. I just have to make the effort to do the right thing. With the Spirit indwelling in me, every thought, and every deed is in His view. The Holy Spirit knows me. He knows my strengths and my weaknesses. That fact of the matter is that He knows me better than I know me. So how much greater my "diet" would be if I could just keep my focus on His daily provision.

Tomorrow will be here soon enough. And I know that God will give me a fresh fill of His amazing grace. I am not always sure what I am going to do with this grace. But I do know that, today, I will attempted to do my very best with the portion He has handed me.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You make me feel................

It amazes me that I can wake up in a really fantastic mood and in an instant my mood is changed by the behavior of one of my beloved family members.

This morning I woke up ready to start the day in quiet prayer.  Praising God for all that I have.  And thanking Him for the quiet time He and I were sharing.  I got up showered and came down stairs.  Straightened up the mess that was left behind from last night.  And got side tracked when I picked up my new netbook computer I opened it up and started to blog about a completely different topic.  When all of the sudden.......tension in the form of a silent man seeking a telephone that wasn't in it's place stung me like a bee.  I really wasn't expecting it at all.  If I had stopped at picking up the computer, and putting it away, I would have had that phone in its proper place.  But, no I got side tracked by the temptation of my new gadget.  I have to say I tried to make up the excuse...."Lord, I was doing it to glorify you."  But that was just a tall tale.  I was doing it because I was excited about blogging on my new toy.

Like I said earlier, I watched my mood change from quiet and feeling blessed to frantic and full of tension.  That duo, frantic and tension, seemed to go with me for a little while.  But God is so faithful and His word is planted in my heart.  I just had to go a pick thru the weeds to find the beauty that was growing.  I could hear my Dad's voice telling me, "Kathleen, take every thought captive."  Wise man!  He used that phrase a lot with me. So, I found myself attempting to take each thought and emotion and tie it all together with a lasso.  It isn't easy.  Those thoughts sure can get away from you.  And emotion is just as evil. But at the end of the day I know that if I do take every thought captive and seek God throught my day that things will be okay.  It's when I forget about who I am and where God has me that I allow others to alter my mood.  And I forget that I am supposed to count it all as JOY!

So, now it is time for me to drop frantic and tension off.  And pick up quiet and blessed.  And I think I am going to carry them with me throughout today.  And no matter how the people around me are feeling Iam going to sit back and remember that...... no one can make me feel anyway. Don't get me wrong.  It still hurts when I say goodbye and I love you and the person on the other end doesn't say it back.  It feels like my heart dropped.  And I can often hear Satan whisper in my ear during those vunerable moments, "This person really doesn't care one bit about you.  They think so little of you.  They don't love you at all.  As a matter of fact they are mad at something you did or said and they blah blah blah blah blah............"  I can choose to listen to this or hold on to the truth.   I am in control of how I feel and I am blessed and honored to be a part of something spectacular. 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Renewed, refreshed and rejustified

Life sometimes gets in the way of life. Everyday holds a new adventure.  I wake up and start this unpredictable journey. There is great anticipation as each second begins to unfold.  There are days that I am filled with an abundance of joy.  I feel like my whole world is perfect. My husband is grinning from ear to ear. The kids love each other. The whole house is clean.  The sun is shining bright.  Everyone is happy. Including Me. And then there are those days that are filled with uncertainty.  And often the uncertainty brings with it pain and confusion which equals STRESS. 

I am learning that there is a hope that is so much bigger than my confusion, pain and stress.  And that is the hope I find in Christ.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

When I lean on the wisdom and knowledge of my Savior my foundation becomes unshakable.  And by studying His word and meditating on His promises I will be able to withstand the storms the come my way.  In Romans 5 we are told that God pours out His amazing love for us through the gift of the Holy Spirit  I often forget that I have been give such an awesome gift. But when I wake up I see the awesome power in allowing Him, the Holy Spirit, to penetrate my every move.  I have a strength that is unmovable, unstoppable, unshakable and often unexplainable.  

There are many occasions where the Lord is calling me to sit at His feet.  I have spent many hours listening and soaking in His most beautiful words.  God's most precious words have guided me through some of the most painful times in my life. And recently He has made it quite clear that I need to be at His feet once again.  His question that He put on my heart and most beautiful answer was found in the book of Romans. "Who shall separate you, Kathleen, from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake you, Kathleen, will face death all day long; You are considered as a sheep to be slaughtered."   No, in all these things you are more than a conqueror through him who loved you.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you, Kathleen, from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39.

Wow, nothing I do can keep Him from loving me.  I just need to be renewed, refreshed and rejustified.  And it is only through faith in Him that this will come into fruition. All of these trails, tribulations and glorious moments in my life are character building.  And without my faith I am certain that I would be crushed.  I know that God has amazing things planned for my life and my eternity. He gives me an everlasting hope.  The small amount of suffering and hardship I have experienced and will continue to experience is not without reward.  It results in my ability to understand the magnitude of the love and grace He has pour out for me.   "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5

Friday, May 20, 2011

Starts with a D and ends in pression.

I am overwhelmed.

God has a perfect plan.  I am trying to hold tight to that promise.  But my palms are quite slippery. And the darkness is so loud.  My head has been spinning.  The only words I was able to hear were the constant insults being flung my direction.  I am a failure at many things. And these failures seemed to echo in my head and heart a lot these past few days.  I am not successful enough to have tons of  extra money in the bank.  My parenting skills are in need of an overhaul.  And as a person I pretty much lack the potential of being great.

Last weekend I commented about how I am very tired and my body aches a lot.  I have been in so much physical and mental pain.  To the point that it hurts to walk, sleep, and enjoy life.  My youngest daughter replied with, "Yes Mom, it starts with a "D" and ends in pression."  Wow, I think she might be on to something.  You think?!?  That is exactly the state in which my mind has recently taken up residence. Forward all my mail please.

I had been praying and trying very hard to hear the voice of my Lord and King.  But darkness had been making it difficult to hear and to move.  I was exhausted.  I felt like I was in quicksand.  And the deeper I sank the more difficult it was to breathe.  My heart was tight.  And bitterness began to paralyze my every move.  I called out, "God, where are you?  I know you are here.  I need you.  I need your touch.  I need to feel the warmth of your embrace.  It is dark.  A darkness I have never experienced.  Please, Lord shine your light on me."  I faintly heard his voice.  It was difficult to understand.  I knew that He was there.  I just couldn't seem to get focused. He is faithful.  And I knew that He was calling for me.  "Kathleen", He lovingly responded, "cast ALL your anxiety and sadness on me.  I love you and care for you.(1 Peter 5:7)" "But Lord, I am in a really bad place And I don't know how to get out."  Calmly He placed His hand on my hardened heart and whispered, " I have gone before you and I will be with you; I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.(Deuteronomy 31:8)  Now take my hand.  And allow my yolk to be upon you.(Matthew 11:29)".

Well, yesterday I finally took Him up on the offer.  I humbly took His hand and decided to let Him gently pull me out of the quicksand James 4:10. God tells us in  Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.   For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."    God promises that if we allow Him to carry us; He will make our burdens lighter.

Today I can breathe a little better.  There is still darkness all around me.  And my ears are still a little clogged with sand.  But, I know that there will come a day that I will have no longer be surprised by these painful trials. But I will rejoice and be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13).  I know that the God of hope will fill me with joy and peace as I learn to trust in Him.  Every day there may be a new darkness that falls on my heart.  But I know that my God loves me and is totally capable of lighting up my life.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." 2 Corinthians 4: 8-18

God has a plan.  And I am overwhelmed!

"We have seen and heard the wonders of your hands. How you loved us first. Carried us to the promised land. Who is like you God? None that we know. We are overwhelmed, we are overwhelmed by You. Lord you came to our rescue.  Now we live to worship you.  You have seen and heard our desperate cries for mercy.  You became a curse so we could live in victory"~Jimmy Robeson

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Bubble Bath in Amazing Grace

I am not sure how many remember the advertisement for Calgon.  There is a woman who is being overwhelmed with the craziness of everyday life.  The dog tracks mud on the clean kitchen floor.  Kids running around making a mess.  She has dishes to clean, laundry to fold and floors to sweep.  And she shout out, "Calgon, take me away!" And the next scene is of her relaxed in a tub full of bubbles.

I often find myself feeling this same kind of "calgon" moment.  A.W. Tozer once wrote: " We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasure on earth and in eternity.  Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible.  It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude, where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again."

There are so many distractions throughout my day.  And I only wish I could identify and deactivate them before I get too overwhelmed. Last week I found my emotions were all over the place.  I think, for the first time since my Dad passed, I experienced depression.  It was very difficult to find joy in my heart.  And even more difficult to surrender my emotions.  I would pray in the morning that God would fill me with His grace.  And that His voice would echo in my head and heart.  But, my cup seemed so empty.  Nothing.  I couldn't hear his voice.  nor could I feel His presence.  My cup did not run over.  How could it?  I had turned it upside down.  I wasn't capable of letting anything in.  I let every negative emotion pour over me.  I had some really destructive pity parties.  I threw a few temper tantrums.  And allowed the sadness to build a very high, think and bitter wall.

The icing on my pity party cake was Mother's Day.  I wanted to be celebrated. Earlier in the week I envisioned a day that  was all about serving me.  "After all I am always putting myself on the back burner", I pitifully said to myself.  My kids are going to roll out the "red carpet" and bow to me all day.  They will serve me coffee.  And clean my entire house. They will honor and respect me   There will be flowers and cards. And they will prepare a great meal.  Or we could even order out.  I wouldn't have to lift a finger.  Oh this is going to be a glorious day!!

Wow.  I set myself up for total disappointment.  I got up in the morning.  Got ready for church.  And prepared a veggie tray for the mother's day/ baby's dedication brunch at my nieces.  And proceeded to prepped a few things for my inherited daughter's birthday dinner that we were hosting that evening.  I went upstairs to grab my beloved bible and saw that my husband had placed a card, from him, on my dresser.  And, I got a "happy mother's day"  from my oldest biological. I opened up my "facebook" account to find a beautiful letter from my oldest inherited daughter.   We went to church and then to the brunch.  My niece and her husband did an amazing job.  And it was such a beautiful day.  I came home and washed, sliced, diced, cooked and baked.  Kids arrived home at 5pm.  We ate sang Happy Birthday and chilled.  The Birthday girl and I exchanged gifts.  The words she wrote in the card for me I will hold in my heart. And, right before heading up the steps for bed, my oldest and youngest biologicals handed me a silly card.

What a day.  I went to bed and cried.  I was disappointed. And I am a brat.  As I laid there praying  I realized that I was truly blessed. There wasn't any special treatment,  no "red carpet", no flowers, and my house still as it was the day before. I wanted so much to be showered with gifts and praises that I was too blind to see the blessings in that beautiful day.  My depression and self absorption had robbed me of all joy and blessings.
Matthew 6: 19-21  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also."

Even though He doesn't require deeds  I am guilty of neglecting to roll out the "red carpet" for my God every day.    He waits for me to surrender it all to Him.  To praise Him, and glorify Him in all that I do.  And I fail on a daily basis.  He wants to fill my heart with His love and mercy. But, I still keep looking for the world to fill my heart with warm fuzzy things. And in turn I am frequently disappointed.  And I become a victim of my emotions.  I created this crazy "calgon' moment all on my own.  The world requires me to do, run, make, and busy myself.  All God requires of me is to come, be still and sit at His feet.  It's time to turn the glass over and get filled. He wants me to have faith in His daily provision.  Matthew 6:25 " take no thought for your life"

To have the ability to rest in God's bubble bath of amazing grace would be, well, AMAZING.  This world is not going to be my permanent residence. I look forward to each day that He gives me.  And I pray that He will continue to fill me with new grace each new day.  And as I get caught up in the craziness of this world I am thankful He is waiting for me to shout, "God, take me away!"

Matthew 6:33-34 " 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."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gift of Grace

God's love is unconditional.  He sent Jesus as the greatest gift of grace.  And it is by this grace that I have been saved.  Nothing I can do is greater than this amazing gift.  No actions that I take make me more worthy of this grace. God knows my heart.  He knows that there are times that I am extremely prideful.  I do thing often with the expectation of receiving a thank you.  Or at least some gesture of gratitude.  I know that my action are often selfish.  I am so thankful for the love God has lavished on me.  After reading a few verses on God's grace for me.  I see how much He knows my heart.  He knew me even before I came into existence.  I  know that I should glorify God in all that I do.  But I fail a lot.  I am a sinner saved by grace! "For it is by GRACE you have been SAVED, through FAITH - and this is not from yourselves, it it the GIFT of GOD - not by works, so that no one can boast."  Ephesians 2: 8-9.

This past week was very emotional for me.  I found that I was easily angered.  Very irritable and cried over silly stuff.  Early on in the week I came home from work and lost my mind.  I was feeling pulled in a thousand directions.  And all I wanted to do was come home to a clean house with a house full of smiling happy people.  Yes, I have a bad habit of great expectations.  Instead I came home to a messy house (Kids all had off from school, work, etc....) and my outburst caused chaos to errupt.  I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  I felt so alone and so sad.  I work so hard all day and I came home and felt so disrespected.
I woke up the next morning.  I was still carrying a little sadness with me from the night before.  I began to pray.  And thought a lot about what it meant for me to begin to travel lightly.  How can I surrender it and surrender it ALL? Jesus laid down His life so that I could have a glorious eternity.  And I am being such a brat. It isn't about me.  Scripture tells us that we are to put off our old self, which is corrupted by deceitful desires. So that we could be made new in the attitude of our minds. And then we will put on a new self, one that is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. God loves me for me! If I surrender my selfish needs and speak from my heart I will begin to travel lighter.  God's grace is amazing.  and when I walk with His grace upon me life is brighter.  My heart begins to soften. And I can begin to hear Him more clearly.

This weekend I attended a seminar.  The theme was John 3:16.  "For God SO love the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  When I first heard about the seminar I wasn't going to attend. I thought I had heard this verse so many times.  I didn't need to hear it again.  Can you say "BRAT!"  God knew that my heart wasn't as soft as it needed to be for Him to penetrate and saturate my life.  So He continued to push me until I wrote the check and signed up for the weekend.  I still thought that I might be backing out of it.  My husband had tickets to the Phillies game and wouldn't have a car.  He sold the tickets.  I thought about being home with my husband because he had to work the whole weekend.  But God made it clear.  I had to go.  He had a message that my heart need to hear.  I needed to know that God SO loves me.  His heart for me is so full of grace.  He looks at me and His heart jumps for joy.  He watches over me.  And longs for me to be completely His.  He sees me as pure beauty.  There is no flaw.  I am His perfect princess.  I am blessed and highly favored.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Christ in me

Christ living in me.......So I am sitting here once again.  I am thinking about the events of the morning.  I went to Calvary Chapel today to celebrate the life of a very dear man.  I listen to his children speak about their earthly father's life. Each person had a different memory.  A unique relationship.  And there were some characteristic in every persons relationship with Mr Paolini that were similar. Each person there had at one time or another been touched by Tony's love and crazy personality.   As I sat there I began to wonder and think about the legacy Christ has left for me/us.

Christ walked here on this earth in the flesh.  Today He still walks with me and in me through the Holy Spirit.  His love has blanketed the universe.  I have taken for granted that He is present and in my heart.  All I need to do is call on Him with faith and love.  And His response is instantaneous. I know that when my heart is at peace, it is a direct result of His love for me.

There is often a whisper that reminds me that I am unconditionally loved by God. This unconditional gift IS His legacy. How often I forget that this gift is for me.  There a sweater that is sitting in a gift box on the top shelf.  I know it is there. I like it so much I am afraid that if I wear it too much I may wear it out.  It might become tattered and torn.  This fear prevents me from even taking it out of the box.  But God's gift is not going to wear out. He wants me to share this gift with everyone.  Even those that reject it.  He still wants me to show everyone how it fits. This is what everlasting, amazing, infinite love is all about.  Christ tore the wrapping so that I could share in His inheritance. He loves me so much that He protects me.  He whispers to me when my heart is burdened.  He gives my heart peace. He is the perfect gift and this gift is one size fits all.   

John 14:23-27
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.“All this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

1 Corinthians 1:30
 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

1John 4:13-16
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

Knowing that Christ has taken residence in my heart and in my life is profound.  I have seen Him working in and through me many times in my life.  I have gone through a quite a few storms in my life too.  And while I was in the down pour it was often difficult to see and feel His presence.  But I knew He was there to carry me through.  I needed to get a little wet.  Sometime I needed to get soaked. I would call out in the name of Jesus.  I knew I needed His presence in order for the storm to come to a drizzle. There have also been times where God has allowed me to be caught up in the eye of the storm.  I have a calmness that is unexplainable.  There is chaos all around me.  But my heart is calm. Today I thought back to the day my Dad went home to be with His creator and Lord.  I had this "eye of the storm" feeling.  Jesus was guiding my every step.  I felt Him there with me.  Don't misunderstand me.  My heart was breaking right along side of my whole family.  But, I felt like my heart was prepped for this day. The power and presence of the Holy Spirit was evident.  God promises that, if we say the Jesus is Lord of all and we believe in our hearts that Jesus is the one who was, who is, and who is to come, that we will be co-heirs in the inheritance of Heaven. I am still learning to let Jesus be Lord of everything in my life.  But, I know that He is a permanent part of my heart.

Romans 10:9
 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Friday, April 15, 2011

To gracefully walk with His yoke upon me.

 “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Isaiah 30

  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew11: 28-30

I often think about how God tells us that His yoke is easy.  Recently I learned that farmers use the yokes to harness their cattle together to work, easing the load for each beast.  And often they will have the younger cattle paired with the older more experienced cattle.  The thought process is to establish the pace.  The older cattle knows how to please the farmer.  And as the newer, less refined beast attempts to fall behind or push faster ahead, the more experienced and mature cattle pulls forward or pulls back.  God sent His son to show us, that if we stopped trying so hard to please the world, He has so much more to offer.  Our God is gentle and humble.  I am being refined. Still learning to be still. There are days when Jesus is gently pushing me ahead because I am too weak, burdened and or weary to move at the best pace.  And often He is pulling me back because I have become so distracted with the tasks ahead of me that I neglect to see clearly the task at hand.  And then there are moments in my life that I find I am walking with easy. Gracefully strolling along being together with my Savior and feeling that I too am pleasing God.     

 I wish I could honestly say that I totally get the single-minded pursuit of the Lord.  But, I can't tell you that.  At least not at this very minute. I know that I am not the only person who has pleaded with God for an extra second, minute, hour, day , week, month or better yet a year.  If I only had that extra time.....blahh blahh blah blah blahhhhh.  He IS God!!!  He knew what was needed.  This is why I only have 24hrs in a day. I am just a very poor manager of my time.

  I know in my heart that He needs to be the every in every second.  But the world has distracted me. My senses become dull and it becomes harder and harder to hear His still, small voice.  I wake up every morning thinking today is the day. I pray for my husband, each of the kids, my family, friends and all those I am about to encounter.  I say to myself. " I am going to keep my eyes focused on Him".  Then the alarm goes off.  Time to get the lunches made.  Who wants coffee?  Hurry up we are running behind.  Where is my phone?  Has anyone seen my little brown purse?  Come on lets go lets go......Breathe.......Ahhh.  Drop Christian off at school.  And now, after all that, I devote a few extra minutes to Him. I pray that He will direct my day.  I pull up to the office.  Who left all the lights on?  Open the door.  Phone is ringing.  Computers are down.  And I am swimming in a sea of distractions.

There is a burden on my heart.  I faintly hear Him whisper my name.  And I am drawn to His feet.  The day has come to an end.  I know that even in the midst of all the distractions His yoke was upon me.  It was God who carried me through each trial of the day.  And, this is when I am thankful for the blessing of only 24hrs in a day.  I need rest.  And He comforts my heart with His precious words.  Tomorrow is a new day.  And as morning comes so will  His fresh fill of grace. I close my eyes and rest in His amazing love.  I imagine what it will be like to live a day in that single-minded pursuit of my Lord. And I have faith that one day I will be refined enough to label distractions and gracefully walk with His yoke upon me.

You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.

 ~St. Augustine of Hippo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Lord IS my shepherd

  The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Psalm 23

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—John 10:14

God is so faithful.  When I feel like I am alone and can't do it anymore, He provides strength.  There are moments when I wonder if I am in the wrong place.  And after a long conversation with my creator, He shows me that I am right where He wants me to be.  And then there are times when He is very clear about me moving on.  And it is then that He begins to direct me to the right path. Sometime that path seems dark and not so promising.  But, I know that I must have faith in His plan.  Leaning not on my own understanding...........

 I rejoice in this amazing plan that God has laid out before me.  I love when He whispers in my ear in the middle of the night.  Wake up Kathleen. I have your plan for this day.  My heart jumps for joy!  Lord I am listening.  It is quiet.  There are no distractions.  The household is still.  My heart is pure, for the moment.  And I can hear Him.  He spends time with me.  Directing me through each prayer as if we were walking through a forest.  With each new prayer He guides me down another path.  And then, when we are done, we arrive at the beach.  The sand is warm.  And it is time for me to be still, digest the bread and bask in the warmth of His tender love.  His AMAZING love for me.

I know that I need to carry this stillness with me throughout the day.  But, as I said earlier, sometime it last only for the moment.  Time to wake up and start the day.  To live a life of single-minded devotion sound easy. Right? Well, I find that I am in a constant "tug-of-war".  The day is filled with stuff, stuff and more stuff.  Overwhelming at times.  And sometimes it is really loud.  I want so much to hear His voice.  I struggle.  My focus is off and I know that if I could just get back to that place of devotion I will be fabulous.  My life would be....well, not mine.  It would be His and His alone.  And, as a result, life would be less crazy.  And this is how I know that it is His goodness and mercy will carry me through each day.

Psalm 127

 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early
 and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Sticks, stones and words........

The past few days I have had that childhood verse, " sticks and stones may break my bones.  But names can never hurt me.", in my head.  I began each day praying that God would give me a clearer picture as to why He placed this on my heart.

I thought back to when I was a child.  I fell and got hurt all the time.  I think the nurses at the hospital were expecting me on a regular basis.  I have many scars from stitches and deep cuts and scrapes.  But the funny thing is I don't recall the pain.  Later in life I gave birth, had a few operations, and other injuries.  And, again, I don't recall the pain.

Broken bones and cuts eventually get better.  There may be a scar or a crooked bone.  And then, God willing,  they heal.  And most times we forget the pain that the injury my have caused.  But, when words penetrate our heart, OUCH!!  I still to this day carry in my heart the pain of words.  Words can really crush your spirit.  And when you are feeling really low they hit you like a ton of bricks.  I have been told I was stupid, ugly, and other harsh things.  And the crazy thing is there are times I actually believe it.  When life is really difficult.  And I begin to look at making a change, the enemy comes in and whispers all those harsh words into my head.  And then I begin to feel worthless.  And then I feel like I am a failure in the eyes of everyone.  The tension grows deep inside.

Psalm 19:14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

God is faithful.  And in the words of a very wise man (my Dad), "God doesn't make junk." So, I pray that the Lord restores my heart.  And that He allows me to see myself as He sees me.  And this isn't easy for a sinner like me.  I know how bad it hurts when people use harsh words to communicate their feelings.  I am guilty of this myself. So, if you are reading this and have been victimized by my poor communication skills.  I am truly sorry.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You are my Sunshine.......

I woke up this morning singing, "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.  You make me happy when skies are grey.............".  I miss my Dad so much.  I wish I could physically feel his warm embrace.  God has been faithful.  And He daily restores my heart.  Losing my Dad was the most difficult thing I have ever been through to date. The comfort I get from hearing God speak to me, through His word, is unexplainable.  God has me right where He wants me to be.

Each morning I pray that He will bless me with the most sunny, beautiful and majestic sky.  Most days I am overwhelmed with how amazing the sky looks.  Today, I am trying hard to see the beauty in this grey, rain filled sky that God hand painted for me.  My Dad always told me, "God doesn't create junk."  So, I suppose someone out there really needed a grey sky today.  The beauty, I am spending a little extra quality time with some of the most important men in my life. And I will be seeking for the beauty God has planned for this day.  I will lift my eyes up toward the heavens. I pray that the Holy Spirit glides me through this wonderful day.

"Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God,  the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isiah 40:26-31

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God has blessed me with gems! Happy Friend's Day!

So I decided that today would be the perfect day to celebrate my friends.  It doesn't matter if you have been my friend since birth or if you just became a friend this day.  You are all a gift from God.  Proverbs 18:24 "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

Life has been a crazy ride.  And with each new adventure, God has placed some beautiful gems in my path.  I often describe my friends this way.  You see there is this big beautiful boulder in which I am aiming to get to at the end of my journey.  And I have to step on a lot of rocks to get there.  Some of these rocks are smooth and large enough for me to sit for a while and enjoy the majestic sky above me.  But I know I can't stay there forever.  I learn my lesson and move on to the next stepping stone.  Often times I find myself on some slippery and unstable rocks. I do my best to keep my balance and stay focused on that beautiful boulder ahead. As I jump from stone to rock to stone to rock I never know what I will find.  But I do know that God is with me every step of the way.  Throughout my journey He has shown me so many amazing things.  And given me the most precious of pebbles.  Some have captivated me more that others.  Those are the rare precious gems.  I place each one delicately in my pocket forever.  And when I need to see the beauty in my life I pull them out and praise God for His blessing. Don't get me wrong.  I love every one of  those pebbles.  And I carry the lessons and  memory of them in my heart.  However, when and if  they begin to settle in my shoe and prevent me from reaching my destiny, I must lovingly remove it and continue on the path.  Proverbs 12:26 "The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray"

I have often been called "the pit bull" by some of my closest of friends.  Once I have let you into my heart, I feel the need to protect you from harsh words or actions. So when I am standing on those slippery rocks I hold on tight to my gems.  Sometimes my knuckles turn white from gripping so hard.  And often there is a little pain involved.  My heart hurts and I just want to see each gem sparkle and shine. I know that it is God who protects protect.  But, He created  "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13.  And I have to tell you, I praise God for giving me freinds who allow me to stand with them at all times. Good, bad, beautiful and ugly!

Each one of us is a gem in God's eyes. I don't know when I will reach my destination. Or how many more gems I will pick up along the way.  But I do know that each gem has played a part in who I am and what I will be.  I look forward to the day that I can display each one of my gems in a crown upon my head.  You see, I am one of God's princesses.  And, when I finally arrive at that big beautiful boulder, I will cast my crown filled with amazing gems at His most wonderful feet! Because it is all for His glory that I have become who I am.

1John 3:1-3 " See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  All who have this hope in Him purify themselves, just as He is pure."

Happy Friend's Day!!! To all my pebbles, gems and future treasures.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interviewed by Kate on my faith..........

1.) In the beginning, what made you so close to Jesus and faith itself?
I had a great example of God's love for me. My Dad. But there was a specific time in my life that made me draw even closer to Jesus. I was sick and prayed for courage and strength every day. I realized that the pain of my illness was nothing in comparison to the pain my Lord and Savior took for me and my sins on the cross. And it was at that point in my life that I realized that God loved me so much that He allowed me to feel just a fraction of the pain His Son took for me.

2.) What religion were you raised to practice while growing up? 
I was raised as a "Non-Traditional Roman Catholic". I went to Catholic Schools and for church we mostly attended Roman Catholic services. My Dad wanted us to look outside of tradition and be a berean. So we attended bible studies and went to a multitude of different churches. I even attended Synagogue for a few months while in high school. But we were raised under the traditions of the Roman Catholic Faith.

3.) Were you always headstrong about pushing to follow your religion? Did you ever question your faith?

I don't consider what I have now a "religion". I would say I now have a beaautiful relationship with my God, King and Heavenly Father. There was a time in my life I neglected this relationship. My own agenda seemed so much more important. But He was always faithful. It took a lot for me to realize that my life was empty without Him. So to answer part "A" of your question....No, I wasn't always headstrong. But I have always loved Him.

Hmmmm have I ever questioned my faith? Of course. I am 100% human. LOL. I think there are moments I wonder if this thing I call faith is truth. But then I come back to reality and say to myself. Would I rather exist believing in something greater and in turn be a better person. Or believe in nothing and in turn be a selfish person. I want God to be glorified in the the actions of this woman He created. 

4.) What advice would you give to anyone who is struggling with religion? 
Seek the truth! Get out your bible and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through God's most precious words. And pray constantly. Even when you aren't sure that you are being heard. PRAY! God will give you the clarification you need. And surround yourself with people who are heading in the right direction. 

5.) Do you think going to church is a must in order to be close with God?

No. I think you need to be in the word more ofter than once or twice a week. It's like this. We all have best friends in our lives. Right? What if the only time we took time for our friend was at 9:45 every Sunday. And when the 90 minutes where up we left and that was it until next week. Pretty shallow relationship. 

I don't go to church every week. But I call upon God every day! Don't get me wrong. We are commanded by God to be in fellowship. This is how we hold each other accountable. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another ~ Proverbs 27:17 So it is really important that we find a place to fellowship and grow.

6.) When your father was in the hospital for the first time, what was running through your head periodically?
I knew that God was in control. But I was scared. God had been preparing me for this day for a few months. I knew that everything was going to be as it should. My Dad always told me to take every thought and emotion captive. And during those last days he still reminded me of this. My Dad also told each of us that God was in total control of his life. 

7.) What is the biggest miracle you have ever received or seen anyone receive?

Eight years ago my dad almost died. We got eight more years. Now that is a miracle.

I lost three babies between Kathleen Ann and Alyssa. And I almost died with the third. God had a different plan. I was told that I would most likely never be able to have another baby. Well, I have Alyssa and Christian. God is so faithful.

Every day is a miracle!

8.) What kind of prayers did you, your father, and all your other family say while he was on his death bed?

We prayed prayers from the heart. And read scripture to him. We all sang songs of praise and some silly songs from our childhood. I will cherish that time forever. It was such a blessing.

9.) If you’re so strong about your faith, why do you think bad things happen to good people in this world?

Bad things happen because there is sin. And unfortunately we are all in the line of fire. I can't explain why. But, I know that God has always been a strong tower for me in the midst of tragedy.

10.) Can anyone receive a miracle in your opinion?


11.) When it’s your time to go to heaven, what message would to give and what actions would you like to do before it happens (like your father did)?
 I would want to let everyone know that God is in control of my destiny. And that we will all be together again. Life is but a vapor. And eternity is going to be beautiful!

12.) Has this hard experience made you stronger? Closer to god Jesus as well? 

I am so much stronger. "It is by the grace of God that I am what I am" ~1 corinthian 15:10 I praise God for everything. Success or failure. All Glory goes to Him. My life is now forever changed. My heart hurts every day. But it is in this weakness that I turn to my Heavenly Father for comfort and strength.