Friday, December 25, 2015

"By George I Think I've Got It"

Have you ever had a moment when you just felt nothing?  I mean your thoughts are blank, you are alone and all is quiet.  Even deep within the core of who you are you feel nothing.  This morning was just that for me.  While most people woke up to the sounds of Christmas I woke up to quiet. Not a single sound surrounded me.  I attempted to try and fill the void by think about something other than nothing.  Initially I was a bit annoyed.  I found myself searching for a thought, any thought.  I wanted so desperately to have a "by George I think I've got it" moment. I picked up a few books and flipped through the pages in hopes of finding something.  When that failed  I went on to Facebook to see what was going on in the world on Christmas morning for some inspiration.  Made a few "Merry Christmas" calls but no one answered (with the exception of Alyssa. She answered).  And sent a couple of text messages.  I even cleaned a little.  

Instead of a loud thought God had a very precious gift for me on this quiet Christmas day. He needed me to be still in order to receive His gift.  And once I stopped trying to fill the void He placed this stocking on my lap. He had me just where He wanted me, in the stillness of this day. There were no distractions, no places to go and no one around to interrupt our time together. So, I decided to sit peacefully in the palm of my Savior hand.  I eventually pulled from my stocking the gift of peace and tranquility. And for a few hours I just enjoyed the silence and the sweetest time with Him.   But I was still kind of hoping that there was an "aha  moment" under the tree.  I just didn't find or feel it for that matter.  At least that's what I initially thought.   

One by one, as the morning progressed, thoughts began to fill my head.  And the Martha in me gradually returned. I made some coffee and breakfast.  And began gathering the ingredients for my contribution to Christmas dinner.  Finished up some touches on a gift to be delivered later today.  And now, here I sit. Blogging.  And to be honest I wasn't sure a thought was ever going to come to my head to blog about.  But here it goes.  My blog about how God turned my nothing into an abundance of something.  

The past few weeks have been full of running around and searching for the perfect gifts.  I had been under the weather for weeks and truly wasn't feeling in the Christmas spirit.  I went to the mall a handful of times and left empty handed a majority of those time because I couldn't come up with an idea.  I had absolutely no idea what I was going to get for the precious people in my life.  And, much like this morning, my thoughts were blank. I remember walking through Macy's and praying that the Holy Spirit would give me the strength to get through this spree without passing out.  And that I would be successful in purchasing at least something.  He came through.  I was able to get sweaters for all the men. And a few additional little treasures.  And I didn't pass out. There was still more to get done.  Even though I never did get a handle on gift giving ideas somehow I managed to get things done.  My husband was a great help!  He gave me some direction.  I am so blessed.  

Often we go through the holiday season feeling the need to give, give and give some more. We get sucked into the idea that the more things we give the more we show our love.  We spend more money than we should, frantically searching for that perfect gift that would or could reflect just how much we love our loves.  But wait!  We got it all wrong.  Year after year falling into the same trap as the year before.  We use things as a way to gage ones love for another.  You see as I walked from store to store to store I couldn't find a single thing that would or could reflect just how much I love any individual on my gift list.  Yes, there were items that might prompt a smile.  But there wasn't a single purchasable gift that would show the magnitude of my love.  

However, this morning, as I silently sat with my Lord and Savior there was a gentle whisper.  A faint little reminder of the best gift I could ever give to the ones I love. It was my "aha" gift that I was searching so desperately for.  I was so caught up in finding the perfect gift, the perfect words to share today, that I couldn't see or hear what was right in front of me.  God purposely blessed my morning with peace and tranquility because He knew I needed to be still.  And He also made me and knows stillness is often difficult for me.  In order for me to receive the perfect gift I needed to sit with peace in my heart first.  And then He whispered, "You've lost sight of what is needed.  Trust in Me.  For I have already given all of you the most precious gift of all, Salvation.  And in your stocking I have placed peace, tranquility, wisdom and faith.  Everyday for the rest of your life I will give you a fresh fill of grace.  These gifts you need to share on a continual basis.  They are tools to show the reflection of the greatest love.  Remember the best gift is free and will cost you nothing. I loved the world so much that I gave you my one and only Son. He came into this world to carry not just your sins but all mankind's sins and transgressions. He is Immanuel, the Prince of Peace.  And this day, Christmas Day, is the day that was designated for all to take a moment to reflect on this gift."  The Lord sweetly and gently reminded me that it's not the presents but His presence that is the greatest gift.    

I pray that you are all feeling the blessings of this day.  May your hearts be overflowing with peace, grace and love.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  ~Romans 15:13

Merry Christmas

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace" Isaiah 9:6

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Congested with His Grace and Love

Sometimes life goes the way we orchestrate it and sometimes it goes from being a sweet melody to a loud drum solo.  Do you remember Animal from The Muppets? Well these past two weeks were more like one of his drum solos. Out of control!

Two weeks ago, on Sunday, was the most normal day I can remember up until today.  I woke up had my coffee and began the day.  I knew that I would be going to work after church so I got a head start on dinner.  I love the crock pot.  Stew was on and I was on my way out the door.  Service was beautiful.  And work was nuts.  I got home well after 5pm and the family was already there hungry for the crock pot feast.  We ate and watched football and a little comedy on t.v..  I was tired early so once everyone was gone I settled down for the night.  Monday morning arrived and I woke up feeling a little "under the weather".  As the week progressed my head got more and more congested. And the drum solo began.

The first few days I woke up at my normal 3am every morning and prayed and feasted on God's word.  I always know when He has a message for me. He has a soft whisper as He gently awakens me and draws me to His feet. I found myself praying for wisdom, abundant grace and clarity.   As I began to prayed for wisdom God directed me to the book of Romans.  I felt my heart skip a beat.  There have been multiple times throughout my life that God has used this book as an instruction manual to guide me through a phase in my life.  He faithfully placed His word on my heart.  I grabbed my Kindle and dimmed the screen, pulled the covers over my head and read.  Feeling filled with grace I would start each new.  And by the end of the day I felt depleted and defeated.  I lost my temper on the phone with my west coast kid. Felt grumpy because my head was overwhelmed with nonsensical stuff.  And wasn't feeling all that joyful, wise or clear.

With each passing day I felt sicker than the day before.  As another work week was coming to and end I dreamed of on a quiet Saturday morning of sleeping in late. And I would eventually get up to start my cleaning, cooking and blogging.  Instead I woke up with a new symptom to add to the sore throat and headache. The stomach decided to join the band. So I laid on the couch.  And periodically got up and did a chore or two.  Greg worked in the morning and I knew I had to prepare for the sweet adventures of our day.  God has an amazing way of giving me just what when I need it.  And sometimes I think He thinks too much of me. Greg and I went out to seek an adventure.  We hadn't seen each other all week due to our conflicting work schedules. We tried to look for a Christmas Tree. I was a mess, grumpy and exhausted.  The "drums" were playing so loud in my head I couldn't even think.  I had been restless and coughing so much that I was getting on my own nerves.  So we headed to the pharmacy in search of a remedy for my illness and picked up every product that I could think of to clear my head.  And back to the couch we went.

Sunday morning arrived and I was feeling more horrible than ever.  I prayed for healing.  And felt compelled to go to urgent care.  I went got treated and headed back home to the couch.  Greg was working another 18 hour shift.  He called the kids and said, "No Sunday dinner tonight."  And I made myself chicken soup. And just rested.

 As I laid there on the couch I realized that I had been such a brat.  I asked to be filled with grace and God gave it to me.  And because I felt ill I neglected to share His overflowing grace with those around me.  I was short tempered all week and a bit self centered.  So, I knew where I needed to go.  It was time for me to sit in the palm of God's hand.  And for a little while I sat there comfortably and read some verses in Romans.  And as usual there He was. Comforting this brat.  Yes, God met me on the couch and comforted me.  You see He knew I need down time.  And I won't ever voluntarily take it.  So, there I was and He said, "Kathleen, you know that in all things I work for the good of those who love me.  And you may not fully understand why I have slowed you down.  But I do have a purpose." As I blew my nose and leaned over the sink, to administer the neti pot, I said, "Lord I will praise you in this "storm".  The "drums" have been so loud that my thought are hard to process.  I want to be congested with your grace and love.  I pray that you give me wisdom."  And once again I laid down for rest.

Another week passed by and the treatment that I had been prescribed at urgent care seemed to not be working.  After being prompted by some of the most caring and loving co-workers, I called my family doctor for an appointment.  I am not a fan of going to the doctor EVER.  But I know that my body is a temple.  And in order for me to faithfully be able to do what God has planned I need to get healthy.  God is merciful! And we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him. And once we are in the right frame of mind, body and health we are truly able to worship Him. I pray that when I get to this appointment that God will bless Dr. Paul with wisdom.  And that He would give me the grace I need to not be an impatient patient.

God has great plans.  And His promises are true.  My prayer for each of you this wee is that you will be filled abundantly with God's amazing grace.  And if you too are feeling "under the weather" that you feel God's healing hand upon you.  If your head is congested with the things of this world I suggest you take a journey on the Romans road.  Or perhaps you need to just take a moment and sit in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

His Grace is Delicious...

The first few months of us becoming a "family" proved to be one of the biggest tests I had ever taken in my life up until 2003.  I thought going through a long drawn out divorce was difficult.  But this was by far my biggest challenge.  The emotions and personalities were so intense, that there were moments, I wasn't sure my second marriage would pass the test. God had a plan.  And because of His steadfast love I knew that this challenge was worth it. In Isaiah 43:2 God tells us that He will be with us through the waters we pass through, the rivers that pass over us, and the fires that surrounds us.  We will not be burned or swept over.  And so the journey continued...

The walls at O court were bursting at the seems.  We were filled to the brim. And there was a clear case of us suffering with multi-personality disorder.  We were quite the dysfunctional family.  My inherited daughters were whisperers and my biologicals were loud and outspoken.  My husband was a man of few words and I had lots of things to say.  There was a lot of give and take.  And some days there was more taking than giving from everyone.  And on top of all these personalities was this thing called expectation.  Expectation almost broke the blender. We all had our own idea of what ingredients were needed or not needed to make our "family".  For some it was all seven ingredients  and for others the number to be added was much smaller in size.

 It was our first full week as a new blended family. Greg had his daughters every other week.  And my children were with me 26 or more days out of the month. Ashley( age 17) was still home from college for a few more weeks for summer break.  And she seemed to be a bit more accepting of the new situation. Sarah (age 15) was still a bit reluctant and very rarely did I hear her speak. I knew that she was not too happy about her father and I getting married.  But I prayed continuously that God would give me the words to speak to her and Ashley that would help them feel comfortable. Kath (age 15) was sad because she was leaving the neighborhood that she loved but excited for the future.  Alyssa (age 12) was not thrilled at all with the arrangements.  She had to leave friends that she loved and a school that meant the world to her. She was very vocal and made it known that this was not where she wanted to live.  And then there was Christian ( age 9).  Mr. easy going and not a care in the world.  He seemed to be the comic relief or the peace maker. He truly was a silver lining for me most days.

Greg and I desperately wanted all five of the children to bond. The bedroom situation was addressed prior to the wedding.  Christian would be moving into the room that was once Sarah's bedroom.  Ashley and Alyssa would share Ashley's room.  And, because they were very close in age, we put Sarah and Kath into the family room that was converted into a bedroom.  And I wasn't surprised at all to find out that two of the girls were not happy about the sleeping arrangements.  I'll give you three guesses.  Sarah wanted to stay with Ashley and Alyssa wanted to stay with Kath. But Greg and I felt we made the best choice by blending them.  Christian was still happy of course.  He got his own room

One day Greg and I decided to go out and leave the children home to blend on their own.  We were nervous and excited at the same time.  I told Kath, Alyssa and Christian that they were going to be home alone with their new sisters.  And Greg told Ashley and Sarah. The most promising reaction I received was from Kath.  She was excited for multiple reasons.  The top reason was she finally getting to see what it would be like to have an older sister.  She had always been a big sister but never a little sister.  The weeks leading up to the wedding she would often share how excited she was to now have an older sister that she could bond with.  And this particular day she looked forward to not having to be "in charge" of the two youngest.  We were gone for a few hours and when we arrived home things seemed quiet.  But clearly there was still separation.   Mine to the right.  Greg's to the left. Operation "blend" seemed to have failed.

I prayed continuously throughout the days, weeks and months that followed for something to change.  My heart desired for us to be a family.  Again, expectations were overloading the blender.  Ashley returned to school.  And Sarah was left alone with the wild ones a.k.a my three children.  The divide didn't seem to be getting any better.  It actually seemed like we were all growing more distant with each other.  Kath and Alyssa felt that I chose Greg over them.  And Sarah made a decision to not go on our family honeymoon.

My heart was overwhelmed. Satan started to whisper in my ear that I was a failure. Reminding me that I certainly wasn't living up to my Proverb 31 expectations.  "She is clothed with dignity; she can laugh at the days to come"  I was losing my cool.  I found myself being clothed in self pity; and crying because I dreaded the days to come.  The future wasn't looking anything like the picture that I had painted in my head when I said, "Yes!" to Greg's proposal.

I knew that God's promises were true.  I continued to pray that God would bring this family together.  And that I would daily grow to be the Proverbs 31 wife, mom, and daughter He created me to be.  As I prayed and searched the handbook on life (the Bible) God began to give me nuggets of wisdom to speak to the children.  I knew that what I was instructing them to do was with the parameters of God's plan.  I prayed so hard and so much that God would reveal to me the heart of my children.  All five of my children.  And my heart again was overwhelmed.  You see He gave me insight into what was going on in each of their lives.  And as I watched over the affairs of their daily lives I saw them walking in a direction that wasn't so good.  They were whispering about each other behind each others backs.  My two girls to each other, me and their friends and his two girls to each other, him and their friends.  We all began to feast on the bread of idleness.

After a few months of us not "blending" and eating bad bread we decided to try and have family meetings.  They didn't go so well.  It was just more opportunity for us to show off our apparent personalities.  The loud were loud and the silent remained silent.  Eventually the loud became bitter because nothing seemed to change. And the silent just grew more silent.  Greg and I seemed to be defending our biologicals. And there was a wedge forming.  It was becoming evident the we were not growing to be one team.  We needed to be united.  We were just like vinegar and oil. For a moment, the time we gathered as a family, we seemed to be blending.  But once the meeting adjourned again we separated and the divide was evident.  My heart seemed more and more overwhelmed after these meetings and Satan's lies were louder than my loudest child.  I came away feeling battered and torn. I knew that God had a plan.  It was just not that easy to see it in the beginning.

I prayed and prayed and prayed some more as the months pressed on.  And held on to the promise that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him who have been called according to His purpose. God is faithful!  I gradually began to see some changes. Yes, there was a light at the end of the tunnel!  Kath and Sarah were beginning to become "friends".  Every time I would see them interacting with each other it brought joy, great joy, to my heart.  Kath had accepted Sarah as her sister.  She introduced her as her sister to her friends and others.  They were no longer just room mates.  Eventually they became partners in crime.  She gained another younger, not by much, sister.  Although she wanted an older sister she was happy with gaining Sarah.  She was good at being a big sister.  So, it came naturally to her to be protective and caring.  Kath had been deeply hurt by words that were exchanged on that first day we left them all home together.  She never shared them with me at the time.  It wasn't until years later that she divulged this tidbit of information. And in retrospect I praise God for instilling forgiveness in Kath's heart.  And trust in Sarah's heart.  I believe it was because of their bond the blending became easier.

Even though there was progress, in the tasting kitchen,  I knew that we still had a long journey ahead of us.  But I also knew that God's would gently guide us into the blender every day that we shared as a family.  Our journey wasn't easy and the recipe was difficult to read. And yes we often had to improvise on the ingredients.  We still don't have the perfect family.  But our recipes that we created over the years are pretty delicious.

I pray that God would continue to bless and season our families every day.  And that we prayerfully wait for the outcome.  Nothing tastes good under cooked or over processed. And with God as the main ingredient how can it turn out wrong?  His grace is delicious and covers a multitude of wrong measurements.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

All Too Soon the Clock Will Strike Midnight

Today is the day!

Our youngest daughter is on her way to a pumpkin patch in Doylestown ( None-Such-Farm) and her prince charming plans to get down on one knee and ask her to spend the rest of her life with him as his wife.

In 2013 Alyssa's life seemed to be transforming. God was pulling all the debris that was hindering her in her path out of the way.  And He began to show her the desires of her heart. She was in nursing school was getting excited about her future.  She started weeding out the people in her life that were tearing her down. And in place God was filling her life with people that wanted the best for her.  People who she thought were important became less important.  And others became a rock for her.  

 In April of that year I saw something remarkable in her smile.  Something I hadn't seen on her face in a few years.  Joy! Her eyes were gleaming and when she walked into the room she was glowing.  If you looked into her eyes you could see something was different. The month prior a young man, by the name of Michael, entered the scene.  It was his smile and polite nature that captured the heart of our youngest daughter. I remember the morning after they had locked eyes for the first time.  She was trying to be cool, calm and collected.  She had been on the phone with her girlfriend and I popped my head into her room to hear about her latest adventure with her friends.  As I sat on her bed she began to share with me the events of the night before. She wasn't going to go out but her friend convinced her to meet up for at little.  So she reluctantly went.  She walked in and in an instant started having conversation with her friend's friend Michael.  She gleamed as she continued to share how they talked all night.  During their conversation she found out that he was a little reluctant to go out that night as well.  They exchanged numbers.  And now she laid on her bed waiting and hoping that this guy would call or text her.  And he did!

In the weeks that followed every time she would talk about him I could see her heart grow.  In my head, and sometimes out loud, I caught myself singing the song from Cinderella, "so this is love", every time she entered the room. There were times she would come home and lay to the floor and talk about how wonderful Michael was.  And that she could't even find the words to explain the feelings she was feeling.  I said, "This is love.".  She replied, "It's too soon to be in love."  Oh want a silly girl.

Over the past few years we have watched the two of them grow together as a couple.  And on Friday, September 18th, at a little restaurant in Manayunk, Michael asked Greg and me for our daughters hand in marriage.  His words brought tears to my eyes as he expressed his love for Alyssa and how he wanted to be a part of our family.  We expressed that we knew from the beginning that God's hand was in their meeting.  And emphatically we gave him our approval.  

And here I am now.  Sitting in the palm of God's hand once more.  But this time for a much different reason.  I am prayerfully sitting, or pacing, in a place where God gives me peace.  I know that this day is going to be one of the most wonderful days in Alyssa's life.  And that tomorrow she and Michael will begin to plan for their big debut as Mr. and Mrs.Visco.  And I pray that they will find comfort in knowing that they have a lot of support.  I also pray that God would give them wisdom as discernment as they have some big and some not so big decision making ahead of them.

 As this day has progressed a song keeps playing over and over in my head.  Steven Curtis Chapman's "Cinderella".  From the very first time I heard this song it made me think of my Dad and his great love for his children and grands. And I have to say that I am blessed to have married a man who has this same great love for his children and grands.  And I know that both of Alyssa's Dad's, Greg and Chris, and her Mom's, Denise and I, are all so proud of her. And we all love Michael too.  The last verse in the song is why it's been resounding in my head.  "But she came home today with a ring on her hand.  Just glowing and telling us all they had planned.  She says, "Dad, the weddings still six months away but I need to practice my dancing. Oh please Daddy please"  So, I'll dance with Cinderella while she is hear in my arm.  Cause I know something the prince never knew.  Oh I'll dance with Cinderella.  I don't want to miss even one song.  Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight.  And she'll be gone."  I am overjoyed, overwhelmed and filled with great anticipation because today is the day my Cinderella come home with a ring on her hand.  It's funny how Michael has so many qualities that remind me of my Dad, and also Greg and Chris.  Alyssa is truly going to be a blessed woman.

Still waiting with great anticipation for the call.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Out of The Blender. The Recipe of Our Life

In December of 2002 I was asked a very important question.  And I gave a life changing answer.  My life up until that point was much different. I was a single mom of three pretty spectacular children.  Two girls and one boy.  We were pretty comfortable being a quartet.  Life wasn't easy.  But we loved the silly adventures and lessons God blessed us with.  The four of us grew up together.  Daily we found ourselves seeking God's plan and provisions.  And my answer to the big question would turn this quartet into septet in June of 2003.

The months leading up to our big day were packed with emotions.  Some good and some not so good.  There were moments of excitement and moments of reluctance.  We were about to pour the ingredients of two very different meals into one blender and create a new recipe for our lives. My children and I started packing up our ingredients. While Greg's girls tried to make room.  We brought some boxes over to our future home a little at a time.  And it was becoming clear that some of our ingredients were leaving a bitter aroma in the home that was, up until now, occupied by a trio.  We hadn't even unpacked the boxes and there was a small chemical reaction.  It seemed that my future daughters and my youngest daughter were not to excited about the prospect of the blender. But this would take time.  And I prayed that God would give me the wisdom to know how much of each ingredient to add.  And the right time to add them.

All of the children were involved in the meal planning from the beginning.  My husband and I thought that it was important that they had a hand in preparing the feast.  On the surface they all seemed to want to be involved.  But initially, deep in their core, some of the kids had no desire to partake in the recipes end result.  And at times added a bit too much salt.  Making it a very difficult meal to eat.

The blending day arrived.  And when I look back at the pictures it is evident who had joyful savory ingredients and who had a brackish but bitter-sweet element in their hearts that first day. We celebrated our union with family and friends. We danced, ate and had a fun day.  Afterwards the kids went to stay with their other parents for a week while Greg and I went on our honeymoon.  And one week later the quartet moved into the trios home.  Greg and I tried our best to make the septet sing in harmony.  It wasn't very melodious.  Tension began to grow as we dumped ourselves and pushed the children (some needed a gentle push and others a bit of a heave ho) into the blender. We hit the button and hoped for the best.

Our initial recipe was awful.  There was a lot of crying and frustration.  It just had a very astringent flavor. And the ingredients began to separate the instant the blades stopped blending.   Something was wrong.  An ingredient was missing.  You see we forgot to add the most important ingredient of all.  God wasn't invited into the blender.  So, there we were.  Five very traumatized children. And two heartbroken parents.  We wanted so desperately for our children to want to be a part of this, the recipe of our life.  We knew it was going to take a lot to convince them to willfully go back into the blender. I remember praying every morning and night that my "family" would come together. I am still, to this very day, praying this very same prayer.  Being a family takes a lot of work and perseverance.  God has been faithful in bringing healing and restoration to my septet.  We have all been wounded by the blades and each other.  But one thing I know for sure is that we wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for some of our disastrous first experimental recipes.

Recently, the Lord placed on my heart that it was time for me to share the blender recipes from O. Court with my community.  In this day in age there seems to be a lot of blended or not so blended families out there.  And I pray that over the next few weeks/months.  That my septets recipes help you in your journey in becoming a well balanced blended family.  I am not sure exactly how God wants me to share.  But I know that He will provide the time and the place. Please pray for me as I will put my family and myself out there and invite you into our hearts.  I hope you enjoy the stories about the meals that came out of our blender. The recipes of our life.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Turn Left.....Turn Left....Recalculating

The road of life certainly has a lot of twists and turns.  I  have made a lot right turns and, more than I care to admit, wrong turns in my life.  But each time I eventually find myself getting back on track. I try to stay focused.  I know the destination.  It's the Mountains that I must climb, the valleys I must walk, the deserts that I crawl, and the forests that I wrestle through that cause me to get redirected.  But all of these elements create the story of my life.

In this day in age most people have a GPS.  I have three.  One in my car.  I have an application on my phone.  And then there is the one in my head.  Like most normal people I begin my journey with a plan.  I have a starting point and a destination.  I know where I am but I need to map out where I am headed to.  So, I plug the address into the three devices.  And about 50% of the time the car and the phone are congruent with the path.  My head has a slightly different perspective.  I gather the necessities for the trip and start the journey.  In the beginning the surroundings are quite familiar.  So, I trust the direction the GPS's are taking me.  But when I cross the boarder of knowledge into the land of the unknown my confidence is shaken. And the GPS that is in my head takes over.  And this is why a 3 hour trip takes me 7 hours.  I hear, "In 0.2 miles turn left.....turn left.....recalculating." quite often.  I try to look at the map and follow the turns but I then begin to doubt if I I am turning at the right spot. I think that doesn't look right. (Possibly, because I forgot my glasses.)  And I either turn too soon or pass the turning point. And the journey grows a few minute longer with each wrong turn.  Recalculating.

We all have a journey. Or I like to think of it as a calling or a pilgrimage.  Some have a very clear idea of where they are going.  And others, me for example, have a hard time getting there because I am too busy trying to get there on my own.  God has a plan for each of us.  As we learn to trust in Him and follow Him He will then reveal to us the true nature of our design.  And He will "give us the desires of our heart" along the way.  If we focus(remember to wear our glasses) He will direct our path and reveal His beautiful intentions for our journey.  What we were created to do is deeply rooted in the desires of our heart.  Think about the things that you do right now that bring great joy to your heart.  That's right.  What gives you joy?  You may have a list of things.  Or perhaps you are feeling a bit perplexed.  Whatever state you are in just remember that God has a plan.  And He WILL give you the desires of your heart.  Even if it isn't clear yet, and you are making wrong turns, God has the journey mapped out.  "It is God who is producing in you the ability to do what pleases Him" ~Phil. 2:13  What we were designed to do or called to do is what brings us joy.

As I sit here this morning.  I am still praying that God will give me the desires of my heart. But to be honest I am not always certain what the desires of my heart truly are. Sometimes I am too caught up in where I am that I get complacent. I lose sight of what gives my heart joy.  When our hearts are in the right place God begins to create in us both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him. I have made five job changes over the course of my adult life.  And the one thing about each of those jobs, that seemed to be congruent, is that I was able to love and care for others.  This truly gives me great joy.  My heart is happy when I am put into situations where I can serve others.  Often I put others ahead of myself so much that I forget that I am on a journey too.  God has always made it very clear to me that I was either in the right place or that I made a wrong turn.  And there have been times that I stayed far too long in a place that I was just supposed to pass through because I was fearful of driving through a storm. As a result some jobs have robbed me of my joy. However, just like grace, God has continually replenished my joy, aka the desire of my heart, daily.  He wants us to have all the desires of our heart. And He will provide a way for us to have them. As long as they are fitting in His plan for your journey. We will pass through many places, seasons and situations.  Each of these is part of the journey to get to the final destination.

I pray the you all search your hearts this week.  And pray that our Relentless God will bless you abundantly with the desires of your heart.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ask, seek, knock.....

What an adventurous week this past one was.  A short work week that seemed unusually long.  Followed by a weekend spent with some of the most beautiful women in my life.  And now I am home sitting in my usual spot praying for the Holy Spirit to guide me in putting my thoughts from this week and weekend into this post.

I guess the best way to describe life is that it is an adventure.  Your adventure can either be a safe trip to the grocery store. Plotting out your purchases and traveling up and down each isle gathering the items on your list.  Each item has it's spot and each spot has it's item.  Occasionally an item may be found in a spot that it doesn't belong.  Perhaps it was left there by the misguided shopper before you.  Or your adventure might be more like a treasure hunt.  You have a list of items, a map and the hunt begins.

I like to think of my life as more like a treasure hunt.  In Matthew 7: 7-8 Jesus said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."  And if you have ever gone on a road trip with me you know that, even if the directions are supplied, I tend to turn when I am not supposed to.  And a trip that should have been 3 hours becomes a 7 hour tour.  Yes, I have a GPS.  But I have this horrible habit of doubting the directions it offers.  

This past Friday my cousin Jane and I drove together to OCNJ for our cousins weekend.  We got in the car with our "Thelma and Louise" scarves on and the wind blowing in our hair.  The journey had begun.  I set the GPS and made a plan to follow it's direction.  We made it to our destination 30 minutes later than the GPS had originally predicted.  My fault completely.  I kept saying, "Hmmmmm, this doesn't look familiar to me."  And a few times Jane had to use her charming smile to get another driver to let us into their lane.  I have to admit I am thankful she was my copilot.  Because if she wasn't there I might still be on the road trying to find my way to the beach.  I find that my life as a Christian woman is much like my road trips.  God supplies me with the map.  Gives me guidance. And I still manage to get off the path. It's called lack of faith.

I wish I had the faith of a child.  Usually on a Sunday I grab a basket and take my granddaughter out to our little garden in the back yard.  She loves to pick the vegetables and herbs. She gets most excited about the cherry tomatoes. Her smile and joy grow with each of these tasty treasures she finds.  She picks it and asks, "Grandma, can I eat this?"  Most of the time she has eaten her harvested veggies before we get back in the house.  She does things a little backwards.  She knocks on the door, seeks and then asks.  She is persistent in the search and is certain that she is going to find some delicious morsels. And she never lacks faith the there will be more tomatoes, herbs and veggies for her to pick week after week.  I praise God for her example of faith.  But sadly I have to admit that, as an adult, this faith and ability to ask, seek and knock often diminishes or becomes less and less frequent. I pray that my desire to seek Him first remains consistent.   And that I don't just ask, seek and knock when life becomes more like an obstacle course. Just like my little angel,  aka three year old granddaughter, God desires for me to be persistent with my wants need and desires. As a result He will show us the true desires of our heart.

I am not 100% sure of what my calling is in this thing called life.  But I know that He is faithful and that He has a plan for my life.  His promises are true.  So, like I said last week, I am not sure what direction I am going.  I pray that God will continue to guide me and that I will stop hesitating and turning down the wrong road.  I pray that we all become more persistent in asking Him to give us the desires of our heart; seeking His calling on our lives and knocking until the door of opportunity is wide open.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Where you invest your love.....

What next? What direction do I go now that the net has been dropped.  And how do I know for sure that this is God's calling on my life?

I spent the last few nights praying for direction.  Honestly I am feeling a little blank.  I am not very good at sitting still.  Perhaps this is the Martha in me.  However, the past few weeks have been a process of learning to sit still and bask in God's love and grace.  With that being said I will attempt to be still and patiently wait for His call. Not that is will be difficult this week as I blog from hotel room in Oceanside, Ca.  The sound of the waves, and not to mention the view, is captivating.   I am feeling very blessed and trying to be still

I feel almost as if the "honeymoon" has come to an abrupt end.  This is really the best way I can describe the thoughts that are running through my mind.  I remember the incredible overwhelming feeling of being filled with the knowledge of God's grace and forgiveness when I first accepted Jesus as Lord of my life.  I was like a newly wed bride.  I felt this amazing glow in my heart.  And butterflies in my stomach. I am pretty certain that people around me knew that there was something different about me.  I had been remade.  I was new. I spent any and all of my free and not so free time seeking to know God more.  So what happened over the past 22 years?  Did my love fade?  Or just morph into something different? Had I become complacent in my relationship with my Beloved? I would have to say a little of each. And I feel so blessed that, through the help of Frances Chan's book "Crazy Love", my love has been reignited.  I pray that being madly in love with my Creator, Bridegroom and Lord will never fade or be taken for granted again. As I prepare for the journey ahead I have this blessed assurance that He will be a constant.  No matter what lies ahead He will have it all under control.

Last week my husband, Greg, and I talked a lot about God's faithfulness and His provisions. Our Heavenly Father is consistently blessing our lives with grace and mercy.  Our conversation began, or should I say revisited, with this being the year of Jubilee, In Deuteronomy 15 we are told, "that at the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release".  Or in other words all debts are to be forgiven.  Wiped clean.  And looking back in history it is crazy what occurred on Elul 29 in 2001 and 2008, This date falls, on the Jewish calendar, the day before rosh hashanah.   The stock market took a devastating dive both times.  And here we are 2015 the "Year of Jubilee".  So, what do we do with this knowledge.  Live in fear of the"what next"?  Absolutely not!  God has it all under control.  He has my life in His hands.  God clearly wants us to be good stewards over our finances.  "Every good and perfect gift comes from God"~James 1:17. As our conversation continued we discussed our options and our discussion delayed our initial decision.  Within a few days the stock market took a hit and we lost a nice chunk of change.  Well this was exactly the push we needed to jump start our next move.  We sat down and prayerfully moved our remaining funds into more secure investments.  After all it would be foolish not to listen to God's direction.

Funny how songs have a way of creeping into our thoughts.  And once again  a song resounds in my head. Anyway the song is called "Awake my soul" by Mumford and Sons. The lyrics that keep playing over and over in my head are; "Where you invest your love, you invest your life." Where am I investing my love "stock"?  God requires me to be 100% invested in Him.  All or nothing.  No fear. No hesitation.  I cannot be invested in the things this world has to offer and invest in God at the same time.  They contradict each other. The world may have moments of high return but that market will inevitably crash.  It certainly is not a secure investment. Heaven, on the other hand, has a much better rate of return.

Why is it so difficult to "drop my net" and invest all of my love in Him and the calling on my life?  Greed, selfish desires, fear, etc...  I have seen His faithfulness in my life.  His hand of provision, even when I doubted Him, has always been abundant.  I know deep in my heart that I am safe in His company.  I pray that as my relationship continues to grow deeper and deeper with Him that my fear, greed and selfishness will take on new form. And that they will be transformed into generosity, selflessness, and assurance.  "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immorality, He will give eternal life.  But those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism." ~ Romans 2: 7-11.   There is a life of glory, honor and assurance of an eternity spent with God that He offers and calls us to seek. God promises eternal life to those who keep on doing good and seek after glory and honor. And through Him and the power of the Holy Spirit we will begin to find and live out the life we were created to live.

I am confident that if we continue to invest our love in His our live will become worthy of His glory.
"Now with God's help I shall become myself" ~ Soren Kierkegaard.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The bells are ringing

The past few mornings I woke up thinking, "Where do I begin this weeks blog?"  It all seems a bit bitter sweet to me.  The "Crazy Love" study has come to an end.   What now?

So much has changed over the past two and a half months.  I started off wanting to see, feel and know of God's crazy.  And in the process I discovered how much I depend upon His love.  And how little I do to earn His unending love and amazing grace.

Last night I was blessed by my sister-in-law, Lisa and her husband Mike.  They invited my husband and me out for a delicious meal. We had some really spectacular conversation.  We talked about our children, our jobs and much more. Life can be overwhelming.  And sometimes we just need an accolade or two to push us in the right direction.  I praise God for a sister-in-law that is direct, honest and willing to share her heart with me.  And, as a result of her words of encouragement, she helped give me direction for this weeks blog post.  Thank you Lisa!

In August of 1992, on the beach in OCMD, I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.  I was reading a book my Dad had lent me, "Letters from the oth
er side.  A man came up to me and started a conversation.  During that conversation he picked up some sand and started running it through his fingers.  He then took one grain of sand a placed it in the palm of my hand.  And proceeded to tell me that I was that grain of sand.  He then flecked the grain out of my hand and told me that God found me.  Out of all of the grains on that very beach God had his eye on that grain (me).  And no matter how the wind would shift these grains of sand God would always be able to pick me out.  I have to say that is some pretty crazy loving right there.  I love being on the beach.  There is where I have that anniversary feeling with God.  I am not just a grain of sand.  I am the grain. I have been tossed around, placed in a bucket, trampled on, used, and submerged in the ocean.  And all of this has been for His glory.  I am being refined daily.  Wherever the wind decides to that me,  I know He will find me there.

Sometimes God uses situations to reveal to us that He is pursuing us. As you all my know, or my not know, my oldest "inherited" daughter lives in Istanbul.  And in May of 2013 my main man and I visited her in her stomping grounds.  Everyday, five time a day, we would hear bells or "the call for prayer" resounding.  And then over a mega phone a prayer was chanted.  People all over the town would stop in their tracks and pray.  As I watched this occur throughout our visit it ultimately made me think about my faith and relationship with my God.  I remember thinking as I stood in the midst of this "call to prayer", "I call myself a Christian woman and I sever a living God that deserves to be honored and praised, by me, in this very way."  The emotions that poured over me were overwhelming at that time.  I was feeling a bit ashamed.  I claim to sever a God that is crazy in love with me and I didn't think to give Him the time of day.  As our days continued in Istanbul I found myself praying and seeking God's forgiveness for my nonchalant worship of the past. And felt an overwhelming sense of His presence.  Happy Anniversary!  And then we came home and the "bells" stopped ringing. Honeymoon over.

Have you ever made a commitment to someone or something with full intentions of making it work? I am going to use the "diet" analogy here.  There is a great song by Everybodyduck called, Suzie's diet.  If you haven't heard it I suggest you google it.  We wake up and say today is the day!  I am going to start off with cardio and then I am going drink my water.  And the I am going to eat healthy drink a protein shake or two.  Stay away from the pasta and sweets. Yada yada yada... We make a plan and stick to it all day.  We have our "mountain top" moment.  Then, somehow, by 8pm we are on the sofa with a bowl of ice cream or in my case cheese, full fat mind you, and trisciuts. And we beat ourselves up as we lay in bed.  And once again say, "tomorrow, yep I'll start tomorrow."  This pretty much sums up how I pursued God for most of my life.  I would make a plan to seek Him daily and faithfully be in the word. And then get distracted by the things around me. There were no bells to remind me to follow through. I went an entire 6 months not reading any other book, besides the bible, because of a "plan" I tried to commit to.  And after those six months I didn't reach my goal.  And I felt a bit deflated.  So, what's my point in all of this?  I don't want to lose this "mountain top" feeling I have after these ten beautiful weeks.

A few weeks ago I stated that I wanted to love God more faithfully.  And that it would flow naturally.  I don't want to require bells ringing 5 times a day to call me to my knees.  I have been praying that God would give me the heart to seek Him.  And that the Holy Spirit would be upon me as I humbly come before Him.  Psalm 37:4 tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart.  I find myself thinking more and more about God throughout my day more now than ever.  I wake up and look forward to seeking Him.  My heart is overjoyed.  I am madly in Love with the One who seeks me first.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Press On

Sorry for the delay this week.  We just spent our final weekend at the chateau.  God has some pretty spectacular plans.

Nine weeks!  Wow, Can you believe it has been nine weeks of us taking this faith journey, discovering God's crazy love for us, together?  I am so blessed to know that I am doing this with each of you.  I am not sure about you but I am finding myself reflecting on what it means to be loved by God. And also what is means to follow Jesus and call myself a Christian.  How and does my life reflect that I am a follower of Christ?  Am I honestly willing to "drop my net"  and faithfully seek God's perfect will in my life.  And do I trust in His provision?

There are a lot of people out the there who have the wrong idea of Christians.  Most people you ask will tell you that Christians think they are perfect.  And that we Christians think we have got it all together.  And I must admit that over the years I have come across a lot of brothers and sisters in Christ that seem quite judgmental (myself included). Instead of showing God's amazing grace, we are too busy striking the rock with our staff (Numbers 20:11).  And as a result, instead of drawing people closer to our relentless God, we push them in another direction.  We don't step back and realize that this is not what God means by fearing Him.  God wants us to show mercy and grace.

My life is the furthest thing from perfect.  I tend to forget that I am supposed to be slow to anger,  quick to listen, and slow to speak. Often I revert back to my selfishness and think, " It's my way or the highway."  I am a follower in the making.  I can fully relate to the Apostle Paul when he wrote to the Philippians," Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on." Even though I mess up in the delivery my ultimate goal is that I want everyone to know how crazy God is about them.

God uses imperfect people to do extraordinary things. I have encountered so many of these extraordinary people.  Some of them family members and some friends.  And even a stranger.  For many years I worked in the wellness field.  And during that time I met a chiropractor who, in my eyes, exemplified what it means to "drop your net".  I had seen him, at the church I had attended, a few times.  And would watch him take notes in his black binder every week.  It was as if he was in a class room.  He gathered his notes week after week.  And a few months later I went to a seminar for work in Princeton NJ.  And guess who was the lead speaker?  The guy who took notes at church.  And after the first session it became evident to me why he was always taking those notes.  This man dropped his net and found the most eloquent way of telling people about the Fruit of the Spirit.  There were little poster boards around the room with each fruit listed.  And here is the kicker.  The room was filled with non-believers that were captivated by his teachings. This disciple didn't strike a rock.  He spoke God's word with love and passion.  I remember coming home after that weekend and telling my husband that I felt like I was at a Christian conference and not a work seminar. I had gone to his office a few times. And blessed to say I went to a few more of these seminars.  One thing I could honestly say he was consistent in his delivery.  And his message was always clear.  Integrity and love.  God gave him a message, in the form of a rotator cuff injury, and said, "drop your net and follow me.  I have great plans."  And that's just what he did.  As a direct result of his obedience many people, in the wellness industry, are learning to show an agape love to a broken world. 

Like I said earlier I have seen many people in my life "drop their nets". Some have even picked them up again out of fear or derailed faith.  Old habits are hard to break. Even though we have the knowledge that God's will is perfect, and when in His will things turn out perfectly, we often hold on to the comfort of the here and now.  Imagine if you knew exactly what He had planned for your future.  And he handed you a guide that laid out, in detail, exactly what, where, and when his will would look like. Scary.  Yep, just plain horrifying.  If He gave me the story of my life, in advance, I might not have stepped out of my room.  I probably would have been a hermit.  God faithfully lays out His plan. And gives me a heart to follow.  It's my faith that determines whether or not I am going in this direction or that direction. I pray that as I seek Him first that my faith will keep me pressing on.

 I often wonder who is watching me from a distance.  And would my walk make them trip up?  When God says, "Kathleen, drop your net and follow me!" Do I run in another direction?  Or do I stand there and play stupid.  "Huh?!?, Are you talking to me? I am sure you meant someone else.  You must be mistaking me for someone more faithful."  God's has a purpose for each of us.  And one day I will no longer be here.  What legacy will I leave?  Will my children remember me as a faithful follower?  Or will they think of me as a derailed woman? I hope they remember me as a woman who loved and trusted in God's plan.  And one who dropped her net and followed Him out of obedience.  

I pray that as we press on this week that our faith will be made stronger.  And that God will continue to be our first priority.  May you feel His crazy love for you in a crazy amazing way.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

You fill up my senses

Have you ever felt obsessed about someone or something? Do you find yourself every minute of the day thinking about that one thing or someone?  Are there moments that you would do anything, yes anything and everything, just to be with that person or to have your hands wrapped around that one thing.  Well that is exactly what our relationship with God should be like.  I find myself throughout the day trying to make a conscious effort to seek Him first.  But, I want to get to a place in my heart where I am truly obsessed with God.

God is so generous with His love for me.  He never hesitates to shower me with love.  And has already given me the ultimate gift. Life! And here I am putting my personal safety and comfort above what God may have in-store for my life. The past few months the Lord has been putting something on my heart to do.  And I have been dragging my feet.  There is this fear of "what will people think?" that is swimming around my head.  And at times that is a little crippling.  You see, blogging is a bit of a cop out.  I don't have to see peoples faces or hear what is being said after it is received.  But to have to stand in front of a group of tell them about how God is working in and through my life.  Now that is scary. I know that if I am obedient in His will I will be blessed.  By now you all know that I am part of a "blended" family.  And this is what has been placed on my heart to share with the world.  Or my community.  We live in a world of broken homes, broken lives, and just plain brokenness. And I have been hesitating to share my story.  What a brat.  God gave His one and only Son for my salvation.  And I am hedging on sharing how He blessed my life while putting it in a blender.

Many days I hear this voice inside my head that causes me to think that I am just not good enough or that my story isn't captivating.  Why would God want me to share the craziness of "blending" two very different sets of kids together.  And the more I think the more paralyzed I feel.  Fear grips me.  What will my husband think? And the children.  How will they feel about me sharing our story?  Who will listen to me?  Where will I speak?  How do I begin?  Where do I end?  All these thing prevent me from moving in the direction He is calling me to go.  So now what?  

Faith.  I need to stop in my tracks and hold on to my faith.  You see as long as I continue to seek me and what "I" am afraid of.  I will never be able to glorify God in my life.  He wants me to share His story of how He placed two families into a blender and hit the pulse button.  And He wants to be magnified in and through the story of us.  

Imagine if we did all things to glorify God.  Everything that we did we put Him first. And in turn we begin to be filled with His grace and love.  It reminds me of a song from my childhood.  My mom is a huge John Denver fan and I heard this song daily for many of my childhood years.  And I would always think of my parents and how they conquered their tribulations only to be filled with a deeper love.  But this week as I thought about what it would be like to glorify God these lyrics came to mind. "You fill up my senses, Like a night in a forest. Like the mountains in springtime. Like a walk in the rain. Like a storm in the desert. Like a sleepy blue ocean. You fill up my senses. Come fill me again. Come let me love you. Let me give my life to you. Let me drown in your laughter. Let me die in your arms. Let me lay down beside you. Let me always be with you. Come let me love you. Come love me again."  In order for me to be capable of glorifying God.  I need to be filled with His glory.  I have prayed that He would fill my senses with the fragrance of His love.  And that I would feel His abounding love for me as I walk through the valleys and deep forests of this life. To be able to feel His amazing grace to wash over me like rain.  To know deep in my heart that His love for me and forgiveness for me is deeper than any ocean. To be filled so much that His love is overflowing from me on to others.  To give all glory, honor and praise to the One who provides. After-all, it is because of His great love that my "blended" family is what it is today.

I am blessed that I can come before my creator and say, "I love you.  And I want to always be near you."  But what is even more spectacular is that He sings this to my heart every day.  He sings this to all of us.  He desires for us to freely love others the same way that He loves us.  If we are to glorify Him we need to love on everyone.  Not just those people in our lives that are easy to love.  We are called to love the people in our lives that can be difficult to be around.  In Luke 14: 12-14 the Lord calls upon us to open our hearts to those who won't give back or cannot give back.  It is easy to love those who reciprocate with love.  But imagine trying to love someone who couldn't or didn't want to love you in return.  I can share with you that in the very beginning of my marriage, to Greg, my precious inherited daughters had no room in their hearts for me. And more often than not, throughout the first few years of "blending" together, I found myself tearfully on my knees praying for God to give me the grace to show them love.  Unconditional love.  And God would remind me how, in the beginning, I wasn't so worthy of His love.  But He walked beside me through each storm.  And eventually we began to dance in the puddles.

One of the most precious gifts God has given me is a heart that is soft.  I normally want to serve, give and forgive. However, there have been moments in my life that I have lost my cool and allowed resentment to build into multiple layers.  One of those days being yesterday.  I have been the one on the receiving end of forgiveness many times due to my heart growing hard.  It is a very humbling and overwhelming experience.  I praise God for giving me a fresh fill of grace each day. I have learned that forgiving without hearing the offender say, "I am sorry." is freeing.  And as the mom of a "blended" crew I had to daily show love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.  If it wasn't for God's gift I am certain things would be much different today.  We have grown so much over the years.  We have gone from being complete strangers to being a family.

Earlier I stated that I want to to be in a place where my heart is truly obsessed with God.  I believe that I am not far off.  I have a love for my God that causes my heart to skip a beat.  I look forward to my quiet moments with Him.  I long to see His face.  I have great joy in my heart when I come home from work and I see that my dad's bible is sitting on the counter.  I get excited to see what God has for my to feast my eyes and heart on.  And I pray daily that my children, all five of them, and there spouses, friends, children and the generations to follow, will seek to glorify God in this precious gift of life that He has graced them with.  I pray that we as a family will be increasingly filled with a true obsession for God.  I know that we are blessed to have each other. And I pray that as we continue to grow we realize that all the passion, love and gifts we have come from Him. I know that He is continuously working on our hearts.  And that He is doing amazing things through each of us in such a way that He is receiving ALL of the glory.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

I pray that this week you were blessed abundantly by God's provisions.  And that you were able to inJOY each moment that you dedicated to the One who relentlessly loves you.

My weekend was packed full of blessings.  We celebrated the birthday of our a 3 year old granddaughter and princess.  And then a farewell gathering for our oldest daughter who is heading back to Istanbul later this week.  So my blog post is coming to you a day late and a dollar short.  Well maybe not a dollar short.  But nonetheless I am behind the self inflicted deadline. 

I just wanted to start off this week by saying that God's crazy love for us is absolute.  He lavishes us with love, treasures and so much more.  All that we have belongs to Him.  But when He says, "Drop your net and follow Me." we hesitate.  Our human nature causes us to hold tightly to the "net" and all the treasures we have gathered throughout the years.  We often give little but gather lots.  Neglecting to focus on the reality that we would have nothing of value if it wasn't for His provision.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to give it all up to follow Him?  It's a bit like marriage.  The groom provides a home for his bride. All she is required to do is "drop her net" and say, "I do".  She leaves the comfort of her parents and family and starts filling her new "net" along side of her groom.  This is basically what Jesus, the groom, is calling us to do.  We can't take our things with us.  He promises us that there will be a bridal shower.  And a wedding feast that is better than any feast we have ever set our eyes and forks on.  His promise is even greater.  Life everlasting.  An eternity filled with endless joy. I have days where I am really looking forward to that feast and that everlasting life.  However, my lack of faith sometime causes me to doubt that the groom, gifts and food will be good enough. And I question the realness of Heaven.  So, I, like a nervous bride, get cold feet.  And I grab hold of the treasures of this world and feast on the mundane offerings and stay in my comfort zone.  But then I begin to question myself once again.  What if the things of this life are really not the important?  What if there is something greater? This is where faith comes in.  In order for me to have a piece in my heart and have no fear.  I have to have faith.  I would rather live a life filled with faith than live with doubt.

What am I doing right now that requires faith?  Well that is a loaded question.  Daily I know that I have to walk in faith.  I have days that I would much rather stay in bed and not have to be concerned with the world around me.  You know what I mean.  Just to be the girl in the bubble.  Nothing going out nothing coming in.  But this is not reality.  I am consistently learning to lean on God.  Each step throughout the course of my day in a step in faith.  Over my lifetime I have learned that once I surrender it all to Him is get easier.  And probably the greatest faith moments were the storms.  Some were sun showers and others devastating hurricanes. Falling off a bike, stitches, broken bones, pregnancies, loss of pregnancies marriage, divorce, moving, remarriage, blending families, loss of a parent, loss of a sibling, children moving away, children cutting you off, loss of a friend, etc....  In all of these storms I felt God's presence grow deeper and deeper in my life.  And when the clouds started to part a rainbow appeared.  A beautiful sign of God promise, "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sigh of the covenant between me and the earth.". Because of my faith he has restored my life.  He has blessed me with a growing family, and an abundance of friends, and a life that I am not worthy of.  And I know, because of faith, that there are even greater things to come.

God has absolutely blessed my life.  And I think how do I magnify Him in all these blessings? The treasure of people that He has placed before me is outstanding.  Last week at church the visiting pastor talked about the triangle of God, us and others.  And as I reflected on this concept over the past week. It lead me to ask myself, "When I interact with the people around me would I be able to characterize my love as sacrificial love?".   How does my life reflect that God is in control?  When we allow ourselves to be filled with God's love it should be natural for us to blanket others with that love.  And in turn we lead other to a life of faith and understand of God's amazing grace and crazy love.  And then in turn they too will pay it forward so to speak.  And hallelujah He is exalted. I have to tell you that I am not always the perfect reflection of His love.  I am working on that whole, "Love your neighbor as yourself" concept.  Normally I don't have a problem.  But when someone come along that is just really difficult to love, well, let's just say I trip over the difficulty.  We have a neighbor at the beach that fit's this "difficult the love" profile.  Last year my husband and I arrived for a nice weekend away.  We pulled up to our chateau and there was a car parked on our lot.  Well we stepped out of the car.  And I was the lucky one who stepped into dog poop.  And it wasn't from our dog.  I was, to say the least, ticked.  I held my tongue.  That time.  The following week we went down again and this time his dog was tied to our deck and the dog's bowls were on the deck.  And more poop.  I flipped my lid.  I went in the trailer and grabbed a few paper plated and did the passive aggressive thing.  I started flicking the poop onto his yard.  My husband shook his head.  And told me to go inside.  Well, every single time we go, still to this day, our neighbor still continues in his rudeness.  He has taken rude to a whole other level.  I may be laughing at the paper plate event.  But I am really feeling a bit embarrassed. I failed to show this guy God's love.  God never flicks my mess back in my yard.  He sent His one and only Son to be my personal pooper scooper.  Christ keeps my yard looking pretty sweet.  And here I am neglecting to do the one thing required.  "Love my neighbor".  I know that I have to change my heart toward my neighbor.  Through pray and practice I know it will happen.  I just need to keep my eyes on Christ and learn by His example.

Over this next week let's practice letting our love for and from God overflow to others.  So, when we feel like flinging the poop back on their yard, let's instead grab a bag and help clean it up.  And I pray that if our neighbor needs our help we are willing to loosen our grip on our net and give them what they need.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Before I bring my need I will bring my heart

Hope you are having a blessed day!  And I pray that this past week you found yourself drawing closer to our relentless God.

I don't know about you but I found myself looking deep into my own eyes and my heart.  I questioned myself and my love for God a lot this past week.  I don't want to feel like I have to love God.  Or that I am supposed the do things for Him.  I have to be honest.  I have moments that I really just want to do what I want to do without worrying that I am "in the wrong".  I find myself back peddling to make up for my inadequacies in loving a perfect God.  And sometime I fear that I am really not that in love with Him.  So, I start trying harder.

God doesn't want to see me frustrated and overwhelmed with fear. He doesn't want loving Him to be a chore.  He just wants to love us. A few months ago I had a conversation with my west coast child.  I occasionally ask my children how they are doing with their faith walk.  And are they seeking a relationship with God.  So naturally I asked Kath how she was doing and where she was in her faith walk.  She shared with me that she had gone to church with a friend and she was a little disturbed with a statement that the pastor had made.  She proceeded to tell me that he said, "The more you love God; the more God will love you." To her this was twisted.  And as a result she didn't return to that church.  Unfortunately, that is not what I think the pastor intended on doing.  And maybe his wording was a little off and slightly offensive to Kath.  But the truth of the matter is that when we draw near to God we feel His presence at a deeper level.  God's love for us doesn't deepen.  He loves us the same today, tomorrow and yesterday.  It's how we love that changes.  So when we are loving God at a deeper level we are able to feel His crazy love in return.

In a letter to the Galatians, Paul writes that we were called to be free.  But that our freedom wasn't intended for us to indulge in the things that this world has to offer. Or that we should live in the flesh.  But that this freedom should encourage us to do for one another.  And to humbly serve.  And he reminds us that the entire law can be summed up in one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." How do love and freedom keep us away from sin?  The deeper our love grows for God through a genuine love, and not from obligation, the more willing we find ourselves to obey God.  And then we have a growing desire to serve our "neighbor" Imagine if you loved your neighbor as much as you loved you. I believe a mighty change would occur. Amazing love would certainly have a domino effect.

So, how do we begin to distinguish serving God out of love as opposed to serving out of obligation. As a young child I was often told that I need to do this and I need to do that.  And when I asked, "why?'" the answer was normally, "Because I said so!".  Well, God doesn't want us to love Him out of obligation.  Being a Christian doesn't mean we are obligated to follow a bunch of rules and regulations.  At least it shouldn't be that way.  These "rules and regulations" should be more like guidelines.  You know those basic instructions before leaving earth. As an adult and a parent I now see why my parents gave me the "because I said so".  They weren't trying to be dictators.  They just wanted me to lead a life that was good for me.  And in the process I learned to do the right thing.  And if my parents, and me now, know how to give good instruction and gifts to our children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give us! (Matthew 7:11)  He wants us to love Him because He first loved us.  He is so crazy in love with us that He waits for us to fall in love with Him.  He lavishes us with treasures.  Most of them we are too selfish to see.  And He just loves our expression when we find delight in His creation.

Over this past week I reflected on a question I read.  Would I be able to exist in a Heaven without Christ? Initially me answer was "NO Way!!".  And each morning, as I reflected on that question, my answer changed.  I found myself realizing that I often go a whole day without Him in it.  And with that being said I became honest with myself.  And the truth be told,  sadly I could see myself existing in a heaven without Christ.  Crazy because He is the only reason we gained direct entry.  I know that He needs to be more prevalent in my life.  And that I cannot exist without His perfect love.

On Friday morning, as I drove to work, I was reflecting once again on that question.  And GOd gave me a beautiful gift.  A song came on the radio and the words, "Before I bring my need I will bring my heart. Before I lift my cares, I will lift my arms.  I wanna know you. I wanna find you.  In every season. In every moment, before I bring my need I will bring my heart. And seek you first I want to keep you first..."  This just penetrated my heart.  And I want and desire this to be evident in my life.  I want to have a love so deeply rooted in Him that it is just my nature to seek, find and put Him first.

It's time to stop talking about loving God and start spending time with Him.  I encourage you to seek Him with your whole heart this week.  Be honest with Him.  And if a loving relationship is what you desire you need to give it your all.  Ask Him to give you a heart to love Him greater.

First~Lauren Daigle

Before I bring my need I will bring my heart. Before I lift my cares, I will lift my arms. 
I wanna know You. I wanna find You. In every season. In every moment. Before I bring my need
I will bring my heart. And seek You First. I want to seek You. I want to seek You First. I want to keep You. I want to keep You First.  More than anything I want, I want You First

Before I speak a word Let me hear Your voice. And in the midst of pain Let me feel Your joy.
I wanna know You. I wanna find You In every season, In every moment, Before I speak a word
I will bring my heart And seek You First. I want to seek You. I want to seek You First. I want to keep You. I want to keep You First. More than anything I want, I want You First

You are my treasure and my reward. Let nothing ever come before. You are my treasure and my reward. Let nothing ever come before I seek You First. First I want to seek You I want to seek You
First I want to keep You. I want to keep You First. More than anything I want, I want You First. First

Saturday, July 25, 2015

We took the long way home

Five weeks ago, together, we started our pursuit in discovering God's relentless, amazing, and crazy love for us.  It is often difficult to comprehend such an awesome love.  Especially when we spend most of our lives humanizing God.  This past week was full of challenges and obstacles. And I found myself doing exactly what this weeks study was directing me not to do.  But I realized half way through the week that I needed to stop in my tracks, sit at His feet and get a fresh fill of His crazy love and amazing grace.

We were directed to read the Gospels through the eyes and mind of a 12 year old.  I found that to be a little challenging.  However, as I continued reading I began to feel God's presence.  Initially I was reading the Gospels like an ordinary book or homework.  Counting the chapters, dividing them by seven days and tackling the assignment.  On Tuesday morning I prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide me in my daily portion of the assignment and give me the mind and heart of a child.  And the word of God began to penetrate my heart in a beautiful way.  God revealed to me, in multiple ways throughout the rest of the week, that He truly is a living God

I have read the parable of the sower multiple time in my life.  But I have never read it in the fashion I did this week.  I started off on Sunday morning asking myself. What soil, as a seed, are you landing on, Kathleen? Am I devoured by the birds of the air before I even land?  Am I a seed that lands on rocky soil and never takes root?  Or did I land in a patch of weed infested soil?  Maybe, just maybe, could I have landed in the most well fertilized, organic and prosperous soil? What a lot to think about.  I have to be honest. After a lot of soul seeking I came to the reality of what type of seed I am. I believe that I have landed in the weed infested soil.  I find that I am often being choked by the things of this world.  And I get so caught up that I am physically and mentally unable to produce fruit that is of substance.  But on the other hand.  I know that I am planted on soil that is being fertilized.  And the Gardener is daily plucking the weeds around my base and pruning me.  He watches me and delights in my progress.  He protects me from the mouth of the beast by putting a hedge around me.  Occasionally, the beast gets a nibble of the fruit.  However, the Gardener prevents that critter from pulling me completely out of the soil.

It amazes me that God is so faithful and watches over me the way He does.  All He wants is for me to glorify Him in all that I do.  He watches me produce some of the most delicious and eye appealing fruit.  He waits patiently for my fruit to ripen.  And too often I allow that prize piece of fruit to be devoured by someone or something other that the One who I should have offered it to.  And out of pure disrespect I give the Gardener fruit that isn't ripe enough for the salad. You might find yourself asking, "What's the big deal? What am I doing wrong? At least I produced fruit. Right?"  As we read in Malachi 1: 6-14 (if you haven't read it I would encourage you to go and read it now.....I copied and pasted it below)  God wants our best not our leftovers.  After-all, it's only because of His relentless love and nurturing that we produced such delicious fruit.  He deserves the prize tomato and not the rotten one.

It amazes me that I am so similar to the Israelites.  God has brought me into the promise land and I am still not satisfied.  He sent His son and fulfilled His promise.  And yet I am such a brat.  I pray and ask Him to give me this and give me that. And I give Him the minimum...the second best and often the rotten tomato. All that I have is from Him.  And I can't even see past my own greed.  My fear that I won't have enough, if I give Him my all, is crippling.

Yesterday my family and I went into the city for the day.  We walked around the streets of Philadelphia and I felt my heart aching.  I wanted to buy the world a cup of coffee.  I looked at some of the people on the street asking for money.  And on more than one occasion I opened up my purse and pulled out the cash.  Only to have someone say, "put that back in your purse."  or "what are you doing?  You don't give them money."  I felt sick to my stomach.  And I heard Matthew 25:40 resounding in my head.  "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do for Me."  But still I listened to my family members and either put it back in my wallet or had one of them pluck it from my hand before I could pass it on to one of the least of these.  I walked away feeling heartbroken.

The night ended and my son and I took the long way home by taking the train back to the suburbs.  He has a tendency of being very philosophical.  We talked about the events of the day.  And he started asking me some pretty deep questions.  He asked me a question while we were eating dinner earlier that evening.  And on the train he asked me again.  "Mom, how do you think we are supposed to pray?  And did you know that God requires only one prayer from us?" God had directed Christian to read the book of Matthew this past week.  Yes, the living, almighty and relentless God directed this 21 year old young man to read the same Gospel message that He directed me to read.  As we discussed God's direction for our lives, and how He requires us to come to Him with our requests, we eventually agreed that only one thing is needed.  Jesus gave us the perfect words that we need to come to our Heavenly Father.  "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." God wants us to pray with an honest heart.  He knows our thoughts and words before we even formulate them.  Our discussion continued.  And we talked about how difficult it is to live out a life of faith when you are rooted in the things of this world.  He told me that every time he attempts to tell of God's love the world turns around and points out the imperfections in his life.  And that due to his lukewarm lifestyle it seems meaningless to share the gospel.  I encouraged him to continue to do what he is doing.  Because God's word does not return void.

We arrived home around 11pm.  And both headed straight to bed.  I laid in bed and thought about our conversation.  And the LORD put Romans 12:2 on my heart. "Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve that God's will is His good, pleasing and perfect will."  I sent a text to Christian, "Romans 12:2" And this morning I woke up to the perfect reply.  He sent me Matthew 6: 7-13.  God is truly faithful.  And I know that we all need to honestly evaluate ourselves.

 What is it going to take for us to pursue God as though nothing else matters. How can we STOP conforming to the patterns of this world?  Nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God.   He cannot just be tacked on to our lives.  He needs to be the foundation.  Jesus said, "Follow me." He faithfully points us to our Heavenly Father. Jesus gave us His all.  And we, in return, should be willing to give God our very best. True faith shows the world that we no longer have a fear of holding back.  We realize that it's okay to give God our everything because we have a blessed assurance in the hope of eternity.  And as we continue grow bold in our faith we learn that the only cure for lukewarmness is love.

I pray that this week we faithfully seek to give God our very best.  And that as we continue to learn more about His relentless, amazing, and crazy love we develop a more passionate and real love towards Him. May you feel the heat of the furnace taking that lukewarm desire to a love that is boiling over.  Have a blessed week!

Malachi 1: 6-14

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’“By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.  “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.  “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.  My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.  “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’  And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.