Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gold 2013


This is my fourth year of accumulating Golden Nuggets: a succinct thought or scripture that grabs my heart on a given day. I thought about keeping a running tally here of nuggets I've held onto for the past few years, but decided to store each year's individual scroll as my last entry for that given year. You can find them under the label "Gold".

The path of a spiritual leader is almost always marked by rejection. Bob Hamp, podcast snippet, January 2

There's something magical about twinkle lights shining in dark and difficult places. Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, January 11

We often feel desperate for absolutes ... it's the human response to fear. Brene Brown, Daring Greatly, January 11

Because redemption, after all, is ugly made Beautiful... ~ Amber Louthan, January 13

How can we be connected if we are covered? ~ Bob Hamp, People of the Way podcast, January 15

No one ever entered into the full rest of God by giving Him only half of themselves. ~ Ann Voskamp, When You Are Weary, January 15

When you named Him your Lord, you gave Him right to your life on His time. ~ Ann Voskamp, January 20

There are many problems I cannot solve or fix, but I can take them to the one who can, Jesus. ~ Christine Caine, January 20

The walls you face in your life might not be literal or physical. They might be emotional or relational. And it's okay to feel frightened or intimidated by those walls. ... It would be unhealthy not to appreciate the significance of a major challenge. ~ Excerpt from a devotion telling the story of a competitive extreme climber, January 20

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. ~ Mark Twain, opening quote to Chapter 19 of Cross Roads by Wm. Paul Young, January 22

Hope allows us to leave our unanswered questions in God's hands; it empowers us to remain at peace, and it enables us to believe the best about the days to come. ~ Joyce Meyers, Hope Devotional Reading, January 30

She hasn't learned yet to try and be anything but who she is. ~ Sarah Mae, January 30

He showed me His heart as a Heavenly Father who watches His children go through difficult tests. We cry out in desperation and we ask God to deliver us from the trial. However, our Sovereign God knows what is best for us and allows the test to mold and shape us into stronger followers of Christ. ~ Amber Rhoads, February 13

Reaching a point where you say "enough" to a toxic environment is not cowardly--it is so very brave. ~ Jen Hatmaker, April 25

When you forgive, you are reclaiming your heart for your own. ~ Alan Smith, April 26

When we find a redemptive perspective on our suffering, it ceases to be suffering. ~ Viktor Frankl, Psychologist, April 29

God is using the "all is lost" season in your life for His purposes. And when we submit to His purposes, any death can be redeemed. He's living proof of that. ~ Donald Miller, April 29

Fear begets fear until Perfect Love interferes. ~ Bob Hamp, May 3

Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. Proverbs 16:3 ~ Crystal Lewis, May 6

Your rebellious child's real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or porn or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk band. The real problem is that your child doesn't see Jesus clearly. The best thing you can do for rebellious children--and the only reason to follow any of these suggestions--is to show them Christ. It won't be simple or immediate, but the sins in their life that distress you and destroy them will begin to disappear only when they see Jesus more as He actually is. ~ Abraham Piper, Let Them Come Home, May 9

That's the mystery of it, and the purpose--two whole people bumping into each other and learning (through a lot of patience and vulnerability) to keep choosing each other anyway. ~ Alex Hendrick, Knowing Your Boundaries, June 18

For the rest of your life, there are going to be windows, {Ellie}. Some are going to lead to places you shouldn't be, and some are going to lead to a more beautiful view. I can't open them for you and I can't tell you which ones you are supposed to open. But He can, and He will. Your job is to know Him well enough to hear Him, and to be constant in obeying Him. ~ Angie Smith, When Life is Big and You Can't Control It, June 26

In cooperating with God to bring {my husband's} heart back home I first had to pray for his heart to come back to the Lord. We wouldn't have made it if {he} wasn't first softened towards God. Then God softened {my husband's} heart towards me. Rebecca Gates, Facebook Post, July 6

It also reminded me that we have to love as big as we can even when people can't receive it. ~ Travis Gates, Facebook Post, July 8

And I wonder how many times I shake my head in disappointment because I'm frustrated that the Lord has given me the smaller portion, not realizing He has chosen the best based on a characteristic that I don't use to assess the options {quality over quantity}. Angie Smith, Portion, August 21

God hardwired us to remember. That's why photos affect us so deeply. They hang on our hearts as well as our walls. Jimmy Evans, October 13

You never know how much a small gesture can impact a person and alter their life. You just never know ... You might press a nickel into the hand of a little girl who doesn't know she's loved and alter the course of her family for generations. Kate Andre, The Legacy of Adoption and Grandma Clydella, October 18

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Aware of the Extraordinary

That first morning thought. Sometimes clear and concise, partnered with this feeling that you must have been mulling it over long before your REM pattern changed. Other times a blurred line between your dreaming and conscious states. Most of mine come into clarity after my first cup of coffee. But there's always a first morning thought. Right?

This morning mine was crystal clear, as if God wanted me to not forget it. Today is August 15 and it's our two month anniversary in our Dream Home. Being summer and without schedules and all, dates are nothing but an after thought or a question asked. But not today. It was as if God was celebrating this date with me before my eyes opened.

Two months. 60 days. 1,440 hours. 86,400 minutes. 5,184,000 seconds. When broken down, time seems much more significant. 2 months versus 5 million seconds. My mind pauses as I consider it all. Two months feel like a blip on a radar and forever all at the same time. Time has not stopped and waited for me to pay attention to its passing, but the contentment of here has caused me to forget where I came from.

And yet I still wake up, still meander into my kitchen, still light the gas stove and turn on the lawn sprinklers, still mosey up the stairs to where my no-so-littles hang out, and I smile. Smile because the goodness of God is in every wall, every window blind, and every blade of grass that paints our front and back yards. And it's in the aroma of our home created by the combination of paint and wood floors and ... us.  

Every home has its own fragrance. It's distinct and recognizable, like a name. You may become so familiar with it on a day-to-day basis that you stop paying attention to the comfort it brings. But just leave for a few days and it's almost automatic that the first words out of your mouth when you return will be, "Ahh, it smells like home."

Every address I've shared since becoming a transplanted Texan has held its own unique place in my heart. From being the first in Double Oak to representing new beginnings in Bedford; from starting over in Keller to down-sizing in NRH and re-imagining in Roanoke, memorable moments have been carved into my mind that I carry forward with each passing year. 

But this place. This Dream Home, my Ephesians 3:20 home as I've called it from first sight, is something extraordinary because it represents God's Above-And-Beyond-All-That-I-Could-Ask-For-Or-Imagine Kind of Goodness. It's extraordinary because it represents a tidal wave kind of miracle. It's extraordinary because He brought us out of the depths of loss and placed us in a palace of promise. It's extraordinary because it represents the blessing of God and His gracious generosity. And it's extraordinary because it came with a promise of God's faithful provision. 

Hebrews 10:23 - Let us hold fast the hope we confess without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Choosing Differently

Today. Today I read this and this and this as I carved out time to just enjoy the morning. Window shades pulled up to let light in. Coffee in a spill-proof cup because I still haven't found the night stands I really want and the coffee has to sit in my lap for now. Covers all messy around me and over me. Laptop waiting with words that will fill the emptiness created by not purposing to fill it. Instead I've just allowed myself to ache over emptiness and then ache some more. Boredom and emptiness beget boredom and emptiness. Yet in the low places where they both wait, it takes effort to not be lulled by them into complacency and then settle for them as companions.

So I chose differently. Today. I chose to sip at the drink that I've unwittingly abandoned, the one that ever satiates my thirsty soul. Words beautiful and words deep breathe life into me. Words written from the heart of God and placed in The Book that will never be out sold, and other words that He delivers, written from the same place but bound with a different cover, or none at all, with a different title, because that someone bowed in passionate obedience and listened and then set those words free.

I've neglected words, and I am well aware again of the price I pay when I do. Thirsty. Parched. Dry. Cracking. Apathetic. And then bored and empty.

But today I chose differently. That's all it really takes. Choosing Differently. Yet that choice can feel too hard and almost beyond my ability when I neglect it for too many days in a row. Or weeks. Or months.

And it's not that I've disregarded His Word for too long. Because they are there. Always there. It's in the choice to sip and walk away or linger and drink the entire cup that determines my level of saturation afterward.

No, it's not that I haven't chosen His Word, but instead the addition of words He chooses to write through attentive hearts. And I've neglected also allowing Him to write through mine.

And it's not that His Word isn't enough, it's always all and then some, but there's good reason that He also chooses to give words to others. Because His heart continues through those who sit with Him and then release to us. 

And it's not just words. It's every gift really.

But for me it's that written trifecta. That perfect storm that keeps my heart alive and fresh and inspired, and keeps boredom and emptiness at bay: His Words. Their Words. My Words. Really ALL His, but dealt out to different hands and hearts.

Words inspire me and feed me and drive me and love on me. And today I chose not to abandon them but to abandon myself to them.

What feeds you, drives you, loves on you and inspires you? Then choose it today. Remember, that's all it really takes: Choosing Differently.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Moving Day!

Trust (lean on, rely on and be confident) in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper and feed surely on his faithfulness, and surely you will be fed. Take delight (great pleasure or joy) also in the Lord, and he will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Psalm 37:3-4

He has given us the desires of our hearts in this home. Hometown is our new dwelling place, as of today. Great things are in our future here. Baseball. Job. Destinies. Family. A place of welcoming. A place of nourishing. A place of rest. A place to be fed. A place to gather and laugh and celebrate and praise. Our alter ... every morning a reminder of the goodness of God.

Our early morning moving crew. So thankful!

*Added Note*
August 9, 2013

I wrote the above on the morning of our move to our home in Hometown on June 15. The verse above it inspired my thoughts that I jotted down in my YouVersion app. As I was re-reading my thoughts and the verse I couldn't help but be drawn to the four words (that I have now put in bold font): Trust. Then. Also. And.

There's an order to this promise playing out. Trust first, Then you will receive the promise. And after trusting, Also take joy in the Lord, And {then} he will give you the desires of your heart. It reminded me that sometimes we can focus so much on the goodness of God's promises that we can lose sight of our part that precedes them.

I have to engage with him. Be a part of the two-way relationship. In this particular verse, it's simply a matter of choosing to trust him, to be confident in his promise and ... then. Additionally, I'm given the "instruction" -- if one can call it that -- to take joy in Him and ... then.

I love these little moments where Holy Spirit expands my understanding and gives me another level of insight to scripture. These thoughts may not be the deepest or grandest, but they are another step in unpacking the richness of scripture.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Let Them Come Home by Abraham Piper

The article below was written by Abraham Piper (John Piper's son). I actually copied it straight from another blog and am keeping it here because it's just so ridiculously powerful and practical.

The following is Abraham’s account written for Decision Magazine.
When I was 19, I decided I’d be honest and stop pretending I was a christian.  At first I pretended that my reasoning was high-minded and philosophical. But really I just wanted to drink gallons of cheap sangria and sleep around. Four years of this and I was strung out, stupefied and generally pretty low. Especially when I was sober or alone.
My parents, (John and Noel Piper) who are strong believers and who raised their kids as well as any parents I’ve ever seen, were brokenhearted and baffled. (See sidebar story below.) I’m sure they were wondering why the child they tried to raise right was such a ridiculous screw-up now. But God was in control.
One Tuesday morning, before 8 o’clock, I went to the library to check my e-mail. I had a message from a girl I’d met a few weeks before, and her e-mail mentioned a verse in Romans. I went down to the Circle K and bought a 40-ounce can of Miller High Life for $1.29. Then I went back to where I was staying, rolled a few cigarettes, cracked open my drink, and started reading Romans. I wanted to read the verse from the e-mail, but I couldn’t remember what it was, so I started at the beginning of the book. By the time I got to chapter 10, the beer was gone, the ashtray needed emptying and I was a Christian.
The best way I know to describe what happened to me that morning is that God made it possible for me to love Jesus. When He makes this possible and at the same time gives you a glimpse of the true wonder of Jesus, it is impossible to resist His call.
Looking back on my years of rejecting Christ, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child so that they, too, would wake up to Christ’s amazing power to save even the worst of us.

1. Point them to Christ.

Your rebellious child’s real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or porn or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk band. The real problem is that your child doesn’t see Jesus clearly. The best thing you can do for rebellious children—and the only reason to follow any of these suggestions—is to show them Christ. It won’t be simple or immediate, but the sins in their life that distress you and destroy them will begin to disappear only when they see Jesus more as He actually is.

2. Pray.

Only God can save your children, so keep on asking Him to display Himself to them in a way they can’t resist worshiping Him for.

3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.

When your daughter rejects Jesus, don’t pretend that everything is fine.
If you know she’s not a believer and you’re not reaching out to her, then start. And never stop. Don’t ignore her unbelief. Ignoring it might make holidays easier, but not eternity.

4. Don’t expect them to be Christlike.

If your son is not a Christian, he won’t act like one, and it’s hypocrisy if he does. If he has forsaken your faith, he has little motivation to live by your standards, and you have little reason to expect him to.
If he’s struggling to believe in Jesus, there is little significance in his admitting that it’s wrong to get wasted, for instance. You want to protect him, yes, but his most dangerous problem is unbelief—not partying. No matter how your child’s behavior proves his unbelief, always be sure to focus more on his heart’s sickness than its symptoms

5. Welcome them home.

Because your deepest concern is your son’s heart, not his actions, don’t create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, don’t make it hard for him. God may use your love to call him back to Christ. Obviously there are instances when parents must give ultimatums: “Don’t come to this house, if you are …” But these will be rare. Don’t lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by pushing him away with rules.
If your daughter stinks like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreeze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she’s pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her 20-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, don’t give him any more money—and let him come home. If he hasn’t been around for a week and a half because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s—or boyfriend’s—apartment, urge him not to go back, and let him come home.

6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.

Be gentle in your disappointment.
What concerns you most is that your child is destroying herself, not that she’s breaking rules. Treat her in a way that makes this clear. She probably knows—especially if she was raised as a Christian—that what she’s doing is wrong. And she definitely knows you think it is, so she doesn’t need this pointed out. She needs to see how you are going to react to her evil. Your gentle forbearance and sorrowful hope will show her that you really do trust Jesus.
Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Your role is to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that you want your child to return to.

7. Connect them to other believers.

Obviously, you are distant from your wayward child; otherwise you wouldn’t think they’re wayward. This is another reason why pleading is better than rebuking—your relationship with your rebellious child is tenuous and should be protected if at all possible.
But rebuke is still necessary. A lot of rebellious kids would do well to hear that they’re being fools, but you’re probably not the one to tell them. Try to keep other Christians in their lives and trust God to connect your son or daughter with a believer who can point out your child’s folly without getting the door slammed on them.

8. Respect their friends.

Of course your daughter’s relationships are founded on sin. And, yes, her friends are bad for her. But she’s bad for them, too. And nothing will be solved by making it evident that you don’t like who she’s hanging around with.
Be hospitable. Her friends are someone else’s wayward children, and they need Jesus, too.

9. E-mail them.

When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple of lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation—better than any correction—is for them to see Christ’s joy in your life
Don’t stress out when you’re composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child’s inbox. God’s Word is never useless.

10. Take them to lunch.

If possible, don’t let your only interaction with your child be electronic. Get together with him face to face if you can. You may think this is stressful and uncomfortable, but trust me that it’s far worse to be in the child’s shoes—he is experiencing all the same discomfort, but compounded by guilt. So if he is willing to get together with you for lunch, praise God, and use the opportunity.
It may almost feel hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but be sure to do it anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him. Then, before lunch is over, ask about his soul. You don’t know how he’ll respond. Will he roll his eyes like you’re a moron? Will he get mad and leave? Or has God been working in him since you talked last? You don’t know until you risk asking. God will give you the gumption.

11. Take an interest in their pursuits.

Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her. You went to her school plays and soccer games when she was 10; what can you do now that she’s 20 to show that you still really care about her interests?
Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and He wasn’t even related to them. Imitate Christ by being the kind of parent who will put some earplugs in your pocket and head downtown to where your daughter’s CD release show is. Encourage her and never stop praying that she will begin to use her gifts for Jesus’ glory instead of her own.

12. Point them to Christ.

This can’t be stressed enough. It’s the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn’t to help them know Jesus.
The goal is not that they will be good kids again. It’s not that they’ll get their hair cut and start taking showers; it’s not that they’ll like classical music instead of deathcore; it’s not that they’ll vote conservative again by the next election. The goal is not for you to stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study or even for you to be able to sleep at night, knowing they’re not going to hell.
The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Jesus Christ.
And not only is He the only point, but He’s the only hope. When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He Himself will replace the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the sex that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only His grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to Him—captive, but satisfied.
God will do this for many. Be faithful and don’t give up.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Little Girl Inside

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed (perfect) love banishes all fear. 
1 John 4:18 [MSG]

     An expanse of green grass and rolling hills touches a horizon of pale blue sky. A large hand reaches down out of the heavens. The little girl in her summer dress reaches upward, her hand so very small as it tucks inside His, wrapped in a sense of safety that is palpable.

     A concrete pathway winding through fields of brightly colored flowers, they are walking and holding hands—the little girl in her summer dress and her companion, Jesus. Every time she looks up at him he is looking down at her, his focus only on her. The sparkle in his eyes tells her that she captivates him, and his smile communicates his delight in her. Their laughter is limitless; their giggles the sweetest sound to her ears. This pathway is theirs alone, but even if throngs of other people surrounded them, she would only hear his words. His voice fascinates her—every word feels wrapped in tender confidence. There is no place she would rather be than here with him, anywhere with him.

     They sit together on a black, wrought iron park bench, the little girl in her summer dress and her Jesus. She is tucked into the crook of his arm looking up at his face as he tells her a story. He loves to tell her stories, and they always seem to make her laugh. She can tell that he loves when she laughs because when she does he always turns his eyes to look right into hers … and then he laughs right back. And, oh, how she loves to watch him when he laughs at his own stories. His cheeks turn the slightest shade of pink and his chuckle makes her want to snuggle in even deeper underneath his arm. He never tells her the same story twice.

     Hand in hand they skip along, the little girl in her summer dress and her best friend, Jesus. Their feet are bare in the tender, moss green grass and the breeze feels good on their cheeks. She loves when they skip because even though his legs are much longer than hers he always purposes to keep her stride.

     The morning air is cool but the sun’s rays are warm and comforting. He is carrying her piggyback style, the little girl in her summer dress, with feet dangling at his sides. Her head is turned sideways, cheek pressed against his back, listening to the steady rhythm of his heartbeat. On this walk they don’t speak; they don’t need words, just each other—quiet and peaceful. This is some of her favorite time with him, and she can feel her heart smile.

Over the past several years—during worship or prayer—I’ve had multiple visions play out of Jesus and me. Always I am a little girl about five in a yellow summer dress with white stripes and an eyelet ruffle that touches just above my knees. Always we are outdoors, and always he holds my hand. Sometimes we just walk together and talk; he never runs out of questions. Sometimes we run around and play tag until we can’t catch our breath. Sometimes he takes my hands and spins me around until I’m parallel to the ground, feet flying straight out behind me. Sometimes we just hold hands and skip, our arms swinging wildly back and forth. And sometimes we just listen—listen to the sounds around us; we can hear everything.

"When she was little she lived."

Bob Hamp wrote this line in an article for Destiny In Bloom titled Somewhere Inside You She Lives. (If you haven't already read it, please head there after you're done here. It's a MUST read.)

Those six words spoke to the softest, squishiest place inside my heart—that place untouched by harsh words, rejection, decisions against my will and decisions I made against myself as the enemy’s lies became my truth, time and time again. That place that Jesus has purposed to show me time and time again: the heart of that little girl, all of five, always wearing her yellow and white summer dress. A pure heart—unbroken and undamaged by years of life and choices that were sometimes hers, sometimes not. A heart that fully trusts, fully engages, fully delights, fully lives and fully loves.

In this current season, Jesus is stripping me of the layers of life that have become bricks I have used over the years to build a wall of protection around my heart. It’s both a little bit scary and also a little bit intimidating, but I decided to dive in because a few months ago Jesus showed me something else: he showed me 'me' and he showed me the word 'unchosen'.

In this vision I had a brick in one hand and a trowel in the other. With every word spoken or deed done that I could define as 'against me', I would pick up a brick already labeled unchosen and build my wall. On the other side of this wall was Jesus, and just as fast as I could place a new brick in its place he was taking one down. The fact that he showed me a brick wall was not surprising. I’ve spent years becoming familiar with this particular protection device. What shocked me was the additional understanding he revealed: my brick wall wasn’t only shielding my heart from people, it was also a personally erected barricade between Jesus' heart and mine.

A broken and fearful heart in constant process of building any type of barrier—in the name of protecting itself against the words or actions of others—will also insulate itself from the very thing that was sent to heal it: Perfect Love.

I’m pursuing the unguarded love known by the little girl in her summer dress. Who or what is Jesus asking you to pursue?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dream Home

"Dream a little BIG dream with me." 

There's a saying rolling around the 'churched' community that goes: If you're dreams don't scare you, they're not big enough. It's easy to read those words on a pretty Instagram post and think "Yah! Absolutely!", but then to actually step up to the plate and swing for the fences with your dreams? Well, that takes some moxie and a lot of faith in the God who can provide above and beyond all that we can ask or imagine.

I've often wondered if we somehow disappoint God because we don't dare to ask for or pursue that which seems--at initial glance--beyond our abilities or capacity. But God... (hear that one roll around too?) He's big, and when I use that word I know that it's not big enough.

We read in the Bible that we don't have because we do not ask ... so, in a time when we are feverishly scouring the Internet for our next home, today we are daring to do two things: Dream Big and Ask Big!

For the past couple weeks every home we've researched just hasn't felt like 'the one'. Now I know that where we live is just as much a matter of choice as it is God's will--what are our priorities in location, size and price--but I also believe that we often tend to settle, for fear that what matches our dreams is just asking for too much.

Hear me on this: when I speak of asking for too much, especially regarding our next living location, I'm not referring to a Westlake mansion with a pool cabana bigger than our current entire living space. That's 'Upper 1% Asking' and even I don't go there. But what about asking for 4 bedrooms instead of 3, or a house with a yard instead of an apartment? What about asking for something that matches your color theme or flooring preferences? Or how about looking at locations with a pool instead of just assuming that's beyond our price range? (Right, Plestie???)

I'm asking all of this as I post a photo of our 'Dream Home'--the newest home posted online just two days ago, in the dream area in which we are looking. She's so beautiful and full of character; reminds me of Old Town Orange in California. And she has the exact number of rooms we are praying for. And she has a front porch (swoon). And she is located in the exact neighborhood we verbally dreamt about last week and, again, just minutes before logging online to look at a different house I had found days prior--that's not in our dream neighborhood but definitely within the specific high school boundaries we are looking in.

For weeks there hasn't been a single rental bite in this neighborhood, but now ... there she is. Our Dream Home! Yes, technically it's a wee bit more than we need--in terms of the number of bathrooms, not bedrooms she contains--but everyone should dream, right? And while we may not end up being able to work out all the 'necessaries' for her, I am loving looking at her and ... dreaming.

And so I'm posting her picture here because I do serve a God who is capable of providing above and beyond, and I want to remember this day that He showed us what a Dream Home looks like. We're praying that God will make a way for us with this gem, and if right now it's not possible, then someday it will be. And I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This Little Light of Mine

In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. The light keeps shining in the dark, and darkness has never put it out. 
John 1:1-5

Dark or darkness in this passage is described as this: metaphor used of ignorance of divine things, and its associated wickedness.

The verse that I highlighted above stopped me in my reading tracks this morning. I read it over and over again and let it settle into my heart. "The light keeps shining" and "darkness has never put it out". Memories of the times I've allowed darkness to put out my light or even seep in and become the primary source began to roll across my mind.

There is one event--that is both past and present--that this verse touches and causes me to examine. While I'm going to protect those who haven't given permission to share their side of the story, I can refer to this event as 'the broken relationship', and this broken relationship is a very present source of emotional roller coaster rides for me. From confusion to anger to pain to apathy, since last November my heart hasn't settled, and more often that not, when I think of this relationship I feel anger--which I know from my Freedom journey with Gateway, that this really points to a wound.

I'm not writing now to mull over the details of this brokenness or its accompanying emotions, but to jot down what Holy Spirit impressed within me as I read the above words. If you back up just one verse we read that "his (Jesus) life gave light to everyone." Simply put, since our life comes from Jesus and that life is light, then darkness should never be able to put our lights, just like it couldn't with Jesus.

The other day I was reading a favorite blog author and came across this golden nugget--among a multitude of nuggets: Reaching a point where you say "enough" to a toxic environment is not cowardly--it is so very brave. [Jen Hatmaker, When Is It Time to Walk Away?, April 21, 2103]

Read the post and you'll see that she's not giving permission to throw in the towel because a relationship is hard work. What she is stating is that there sometimes comes a point in the brokenness where it just may be the wisest decision to either remove yourself from within it or give permission for it to no longer be a part of your life. This line spoke right to the 'broken relationship' and that place in my heart that just keeps turning it over and again.

I have not thought of the decision that was made last November regarding this 'broken relationship' as brave, but cowardly--or just finally giving in and consequently ... giving up. Much has been deposited into my heart since that time, each golden nugget making sense and resonating, but not capping the well, so to speak. This particular sentence settled deeply within me, but was still missing the mark by 'thismuch'.

And then today... the revelation that the light keeps shining and is never put out by darkness, combined with the above golden nugget and the understanding I've received about blame and control with relationships, put a period at the end of this punctuationless (my made up word) sentence that's been hindering me since November.

"Enough" was both asked for and given almost six months ago. I understand now that it was not cowardly on our parts, but necessary to the health of the rest of our family, and to the party asking/demanding said release. I cannot control someone's feelings for or against me, but I do have control over what I do with mine. I also cannot walk another's journey to freedom and healing, but I have full control over the freedom and healing that I choose to pursue, or not. So I will choose to release the stranglehold of negative emotions and pursue true healing (from the hurt I hold) and freedom (from the negative emotions attached to it).

And this light? Well, I've let the darkness of this situation cast a shadow for too long over the light that is supposed to overcome darkness, and in that allowing of the presence of the shadow, the light in my life has been dimmed and has kept me from praying for a 'light revelation' for the other one.

Is there a situation or relationship in your life that God may be asking you to let go of? He may be telling you it's time to let it go for good, or He may be asking you to release it for a season so that there's room for Him to work in that space. That's for Him to speak to you, and no two situations are the same. Just because we label something broken doesn't mean it's immune from redemption or resurrection. Regardless of the permanency or temporal answer, what God doesn't desire is for a shadow of darkness to overcome the light of Jesus inside of us, and the light we are called to be to and for others.

Two weeks before the night of the 'broken relationship', God gave me a verse--a promise--that, unknown to me at that time, spoke right to the situation that was going to occur. He was laying down a red carpet of promise along the path of brokenness to keep our hearts steady and focused on and encouraged by the One who's word never returns void.

His Word keeps our light shining in the darkness.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Woman on the Right

i watch not knowing what's coming
the words foreshadow the end
but don't give it completely away
i'm curious
and yet i know somewhere inside me
where this is going

then it hits me
out of nowhere
reaches in and grabs the very deepest parts of me
tears are inevitable
mixed with understanding and relating
of knowing and sadness
they come from the very deepest parts of my soul
that sees like they do...
the ones on the left

i am moved to my core
the images and words speak right to that lie
that lie i've believed
that lie most of us have believed
i see myself as the woman on the left
don't most of us?
but they see us as we are
not as the parts we are conditioned to see

we are taught to see flaws
we are taught to see what needs fixing
we are taught that perfection is beauty
and that imperfection is just that ... imperfect
but not beautiful
the eyes that should be like hers
the lips that should be like hers
those cheekbones and perfect eyebrows
that nose
so perfectly proportioned
but look back to the childhood photo
most of the time it's just the nose someone else imagined
and then sculpted for a price

hair color, skin color, freckles or not
i wish i could be
like her
or her
maybe parts of her
definitely her skin color
my hair isn't straight enough
or curly enough
or long enough
or young enough ... anymore

i see every wrinkle
you see laugh lines
i see tired eyes
you see the sparkle within them
i see age spots
you see character
i see gray
you see wisdom
i see who i am not
but you see who i am...

the woman on the right

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's THAT Time Again...

(Teighlor at 17 months old: her first move)

I can't say that I'm excited to approach THIS particular season again, but I can say I know that we're moving again for the right reasons. Yep, I said it. MOVING AGAIN.

Honestly, typing those words at 4:45am (yep ... A.M.) when I have yet to go to bed (feeling icky), feels exhausting--not only because I know I need sleep but because the thought of enduring the moving process in just over six weeks seems daunting and overwhelming ... today. Just like the Texas weather: catch me tomorrow and I may feel differently.

This will be move #5 within the borders of this great state since our initial relocation to Texas in December 2006. Yep ... numero cinco. Each move has had its share of necessary reasons and each time I've approached the move with anticipation of the unknown. "It's exciting to start fresh. Be somewhere new. Pack and get rid of things unneeded. Unpack and see the familiar stuff take on a fresh look in a different environment."

But this time around, I'm not yet there--to that place where the anticipation of the unknown has bubbled up in me. All I can think about is the fact that while we know we are moving (June 15 to be exact) we have no idea what our new address will be. We believe we'll be moving back to the NRH area to be within the boundaries of Birdville High School, but even that isn't written in stone yet--it's just the most plausible outcome.

Our desire is to move from this "apartment home" into an actual house, with no neighbors sharing walls or walking above us or us needing to tread lightly for the neighbors below. We had to make the transition from house to apartment back in 2010 for the sake of the budget. And when we moved here (to Roanoke) in September 2011 for the sake of a commute for a job change we weren't anticipating, we came as close to moving into a house as we could without the expense. This place really does feel like a house (minus the aforementioned treading lightly issue, but we've become adjusted to that). With the attached garage and front door that opens into the outdoors and not a hallway, this place (minus the occasional neighbor issue) has felt more like home than any place we've lived in since Bedford (2007-2009).

And now, here we are again, in a place where a move is necessary for one main reason (school/baseball) confirmed by a secondary (high rent hike), but nonetheless important reason. God had already begun the process of untying our heartstrings to this place through conversations of "what ifs" surrounding baseball; then He untied some more when she made the decision to not hold onto that summer job as a "just in case" backup. Steps were being taken to loosen our grips on this place before the paperwork came that sealed the deal; information that would have been the initial deal breaker had the other situations not happened.

So, he we are again. No one really wants to leave here (this home) because, honestly, we like it here. It's the longest we've been at an address since Bedford and it's become home, not just in name but in our hearts. But God reminded me of truth he deposited years ago: home is anywhere your family is and it doesn't have to be owned in order to be home.

Well, the prospect of owning isn't even on our radar, but the thought of leaving where we've become comfortable is not really exciting ... yet. Probably because we just don't know where we're going to end up, and the one place we've looked (because it's necessary to consider) makes one half of this family unit unhappy, to say the least.

But this I know: God was already orchestrating a plan before we understood how the plan would unfold, so I am confident in my knowing that God will also provide a place that will become home ... again. I am not setting my heart for or against anything. I am simply choosing to leaving it open so that disappointment doesn't become my companion. I will still be praying for what my heart desires, but not locking in my expectations. I cannot see yet what home will look like come June 15, but I trust that God does, and whether it's familiar from before or new again, I will choose now to see it as a blessing and not dare curse what my soul could label 'not enough'. (Nod to Christine Caine's message from Pink Impact last week.)

"God, I know that you see what we cannot. And I know, because I know You, that your heart is for us and not against us. I also know that in times where many are struggling, my heart wants nothing more than to be grateful for a place to call home and for the blessings that come with that. But I know too, God, that you tell us You can do more than we can ask or imagine, so I'm daring to ask. Father, expand our tents and open a house for us. Expand our boxed imaginations and show us where to look, or who to ask or call. You've shown your goodness and faithfulness just days ago through a family who lost their home and were already provided another within days of their initial notice. You are good. You are faithful. And I know that wherever you lead us, I will still call you good and faithful. Help our hearts to be open and excited. To embrace the unknown and let go of what no longer is part of this next season. To store the treasured memories of what we've lived and tuck them away without regret of what's to come. God, may my only expectation be of your best for us and not a laundry list of what I think I can't live without. I look forward to you answering our prayers and to looking back on this blog and seeing your faithfulness played out. In Jesus' Mighty Name that's filled with power and grace and mercy and goodness. Amen!"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

21 Days Revealed

If you read the blog I posted on April 2nd, 21 Days to Renewal, I wrote about the fast I was just entering. I was planning on writing about what I'd learned, but another blog I read early this morning (from Rebecca) led to a comment that unexpectedly became my processed thought ... so I'm simply including it here as my blog.

These are my 21 Days Revealed:

But this one blog ... I couldn't just read and walk away. I was so captured by the way you unveiled the lie of the "perfect man" shown to us through idealistic script writing. Do I watch afternoon soaps now? No, but I used to when my kids were really young. That doesn't mean I scoff at those who do today--far it for me to judge a path I've walked--but because I once was ensnared by the characters and the love stories that never looked like my life, I can see now, with hindsight, how that daily hour fed an unnatural perspective of what my marriage and my (then) husband should look like. Talk about the perfect set up for expectations unmet!

Oh, but wait, because I'm going to fast forward to my life today. Although daytime drama no longer exists in my world, that doesn't mean that my heart can't find an escape when trials are hard and difficult seasons extend beyond their anticipated time frames.

I just came out of a 21-day fast of both food and TV. I actually wrote about it on my blog, so I won't go into the details here, except to note that through time with God I realized I had been escaping the hard times through some TV shows and through some unhealthy eating.

God, in His graciousness, didn't point a finger and say, "You bad, bad Christ follower. How dare you!" Instead He asked me a question, "What's become your source?" He didn't stand before me all indignant and bothered and accuse me of not spending enough quality time with Him, instead He tenderly said to me, "Can I ask you a question?"

And as I dared to get real with Him and myself, His question didn't make me feel condemned, but aware. He showed me how one simple decision had lead to another, and how one choice 'here' had led to another choice 'there'. He helped me to see that each of these choices led me to where I was now: feeling dependent on the characters in some TV shows to feed my desire for a life I wasn't able to live, and receiving comfort through food and drink. I was on a hamster wheel leading to nowhere and I just didn't want to see it.

So, after a week of examining my life with God right next to me, I made a decision to do what I knew was best for me in this season: I fasted the very things that had become my source.

Now, I'm not saying that God is going to come to anyone who recognizes that there source has veered off His path and ask them to enter into a fast such as I did, I'm just telling my story.

Here's what I discovered during these 21 days: while I really do still love a good meal and a good glass of wine, my body was made for balance, and not excess. God didn't remove my desire to ever eat again--I am still human and need calories to exist--He allowed me to see how I had used sugar and wine to numb the pain of a hard day (or week or month or months) and how that craving was never going to end because my body had become dependent on how that brownie or glass of wine made it feel. In these 21 days God didn't call me to give up all sugar and alcohol forever but to become and stay aware of how or why I receive it into my body. Dessert and wine are not evil, but when I use them to comfort or numb a hard day, I am replacing the source of who Jesus died to be in my life with a counterfeit.

And you know what else? I realized that my body functioned so very differently once it had detoxed from all the crap I had been putting in it, and I'm actually going to incorporate fasting on a regular basis in my life now. I know there a plenty of books on this and that my revelation of how the body functions is not new to others, but this understanding is new to me ... so I'm excited! I have fasted like this before, but it was purely for spiritual reasons so I didn't really pay attention to the physical side of it ... I just persevered through it. But now that I'm eating again, I am looking forward to fasting again -- to allowing my body the routine opportunity to utilize the tools God built into us to rid ourselves of toxins and junk.

The same thing was revealed to me about TV. TV is not the devil--well, there are plenty of shows that I would definitely label 'evil', but that's not for this comment thread--but if I'm using TV as a form of escapism, then it's time to check my heart and my source.

And TV? Not that I've thrown ours away, because I don't intend on never watching again, but I see it differently now. Those shows that I "couldn't miss or I would just die!"? I realized, by walking away from them for 3 weeks, that I really wasn't as dependent on them as I had thought. That when I filled my life with other things because I "had to"--and that was the biggest benefit of fasting, in a non-legalistic sense--I discovered how much I had been neglecting the other things I did enjoy or needed (more time reading, writing, researching, projects, people, conversations, Bible, prayer, etc.).

In the end, God's question was not to condemn me, but to get to me look up from my daily life and see something different so that I could gain perspective from what I had become ensnared in. The things He gives us to enjoy are not evil--it's in the excess consumption of these things that they become dangerous to our souls and shift our Source.

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (ESV)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

So This Is Love

So this is love, Mmmmmm
So this is love
So this is what makes life divine
I'm all aglow, Mmmmmm
And now I know
The key to all heaven is mine
My heart has wings, Mmmmm
And I can fly
I'll touch every star in the sky
So this is the miracle that I've been dreaming of
So. This. Is. Love.

When I was a little girl playing with my Barbie's, my Ken and Barbie were almost always Cinderella and Prince Charming, in terms of the shaping and unfolding of their love story in my active imagination ... and with the help of my 3-story Barbie Dreamhouse.

As I grew older and laid my Barbie's aside--although not until I was 12, or so--I transitioned to daydreaming about my 'one day' Prince Charming. I was, after all, raised on Disney films and my favorite was, of course, Cinderella. Thoughts of my prince riding up the sandy beach on his white steed and scooping me up with one arm--me all barefoot and long hair flowing in the summer breeze, as the sun was beginning to set across the ocean's horizon--would lull me to sleep many a night. (I was raised a southern California beach girl. My dreams always included the ocean and sandy beaches.)

Ah, the dreaming heart of a young girl and her visions of love shaped by fairytales and the hand-drawn imagineering's of Disney and his crew. Now girls daydream of their Romeos with Taylor Swift's Love Story the background music to their romantic imaginations.

What's the saying? "Young love. Ain't it grand!"

Actually, it is sweet and filled with all kinds of idealistic views of enchantment and princes and glorious rescues from the mundane world of homework or chores and grand adventures of conquering the world together through a love much deeper and stronger than anyone who ever lived before, or will ever live again.

But how come there's only side to that coined phrased? Why can't I recall one about old love just as easily? You know ... the time and trial tested kind of love? Surely that deserves a catchphrase all it's own. Right? Maybe when we get a few more Hollywood writers to capture our hearts with stories like Carl and Ellie's from UP (I could watch that opening scene a billion times over and never grow tired of it), the tide of a culture hypnotized by youth and the backwards notion that passion is reserved for young love will be begin to turn. Maybe.

I digress. All of this really came pouring out of me as I opened my blog to write about this week's Marriage Builder, an email blast from Marriage Today written by Jimmy Evans (one of my absolute favorites!). Today's email really got me thinking, and there were a few golden nuggets I just had to keep, while adding my thoughts--not to improve upon, but make personal.

Jimmy writes:
"In the eyes of God, our story was far more significant than two kids who fell in love and decided to get hitched."
Story. I love that word because I adore reading a well-written story. I've often thought of my life as a story unfolding--just take a look a the sub-header of my blog--but I've given far less thought to the fact that my life with Anthony, our marriage, tells a story just as well. Why have I restricted 'story' to an individual? For that matter, doesn't our family tell it's own story?
"God brought Karen into my life for ... purpose. God envisioned us as a couple long before we ever met. He knew exactly what I needed in a life partner. He created Karen with the gifts, talents, and attributes I most needed in a wife. He created me to meet her needs as well." [Jimmy Evans]
Most love stories we watch on film or read in books never touch this concept: that of finding a spouse that meets your needs instead of your wants. We speak in terms of the hair color we're attracted to, the build, those eyes. We even list out character traits such as sense of humor or fun or intelligent or handy. I wonder how my thoughts for my future husband would have been affected had I turned my prayers for him towards God's perspective instead of being so me-focused: "Can I please have someone who likes baseball and loves the outdoors and taking long walks on the beach?"

Thinking about it now, with lots of years of marriage under my belt, He probably would have said, "If he loves you, he will spend his time doing things with you that you love (and vice versa), but that's not how I look at partnership."

I never thought to pray for someone that would sharpen me and challenge me and encourage me to become a rockin woman of God. Someone who would have talents and skills and attributes that not only complimented me but were also different (gasp!) from mine. And maybe to pray for my future husband to have eyes like God, to see like He does, and have a heart always seeking to be more like Jesus.

Do you see the difference? I know that God created us visual creatures, men more so, and that part of the love connection equation includes attraction and chemistry. God has to draw us to someone initially, doesn't He? But what if our prayers were so focused on the heart of our future spouse--the way God sees (1 Samuel 16:7)--that we trusted God for the rest of our 'wants'? How much different might we enter the convenant of marriage?
"We understood little about what we were getting into. We barely survived those early years." [Jimmy Evans]
I deeply resonate with this in my marriage to Anthony. I was no more prepared the second time around than I was the first, I simply brought in years of mothering experience, lots of wounds and no greater perspective on the real purpose for marriage. I owe our survival to nothing more than God's massive covering of grace and a handful of godly people speaking into our lives at just the right moments.
"But here's what I know: If I had seen [Karen] as someone God created especially for me, I never would have disrespected her as often as I did in our first years together. I never would have taken her for granted. I would have loved her more, treated her better, and been more patient, thoughtful and tender. I would have listened better and worked harder to meet her needs. I would have cherished her, nurtured her, encouraged her, treasured her, and helped her become what God intended her to be." [Jimmy Evans]
Oh, I would have too with Anthony. I would have too. But here's what I know: God is our Redeemer (Isaiah 47:4) and is capable of taking any number of years we feel we may have survived and turning them into beauty (Isaiah 61:3). The story He wants to write with our marriages began with His heart for Adam and Eve:
"God formed Adam and eve to build a lifelong love affair with each other, to walk hand-in-hand in the Garden, to keep each other warm at night, to work out problems when they disagreed--to grow in love and learn how to navigate life together as a married couple." [Jimmy Evans]
I know that Cinderella will forever enchant the hearts of little girls because it's meant to--it's a fairytale. But for me now, I'd much rather have my {love} story look like Carl and Ellies.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

21 Days of Renewal

If God gives such attention to the wildflowers...

Last week the thought, the desire, began stirring ... 21 days. I asked questions--of myself and God. And He asked one very intentional question of me, "What has become your source of comfort?"

The honest answers brought to light the heart behind His question dripping with the love of a good, good Father. And so I answered: food (baking and consuming sweets to kill boredom and soothe a weary soul), wine (a glass was no longer just something I enjoyed--because I do love wine--but it was becoming my blankie at the end of a hard day), and TV (the shows were moving from entertainment to my place of escaping a hard season and losing myself in someone else's story).

It was glaringly obvious: my sources of comfort--in a long, drawn out season of financial struggle--have turned outward, external. No, I haven't outgrown my clothes, but they are definitely snug in all the wrong places. No, I don't need Alcoholics Anonymous. And I'm not disconnecting cable because it's the 'bad guy'.

No, it's not about those things--my love to bake or to enjoy a glass of wine or a certain TV program--it's about my heart and my source. When I realized I was filling my time (or desires) with these things, I also realized I was neglecting prayer, Bible reading, writing and worship. And trust me when I say that it's not about replacing one thing with another; it's about recognizing my choice to [re]source my affections and desires--to fill time and a sense of emptiness and boredom with substitutes. I was growing apathetic. I was struggling with too many days of just not caring what I did that day. It felt like work to just simply desire what I had loved doing previously, let alone do them.

Write? Not in the mood.
Spend an hour in praise and worship? Not in the mood. Plus, I forgot to charge my iPod.
GO to church? Not in the mood. I'd rather watch from home so I don't have to get dressed.
Read? Not in the mood. That requires my brain to engage.
Eat healthy? Not in the mood to plan the meals and shop well. Plus, it requires more than my budget can handle right now, so why even bother?

It's not that every day was or is a struggle or that I sat or sit on my couch from sunrise to sunset. No, this past week God began stirring in me the awareness to look at where I am today--to recognize the "slow fade" now--so that I don't wake up tomorrow and find myself lost in an every day struggle.

And so I did...

An outline of what these 21 days would look like started to form in my heart. And on Easter Sunday I read a thought that further set what was brewing in my spirit: a time to reset, to renew.

[Renew: to make like new; restore to freshness, vigor or perfection.]

Yesterday morning I woke up with these 21 days first thing on my mind. It had been cemented in. My commitment switch had been flipped 'on' while I had slept. And so I began my 21 Days of Renewal.

TO RENEW MY MIND: no TV and no DVR'ing to catch up.

TO RENEW MY SPIRIT: feasting on the Word of God and two books I've committed to reading through (Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships and Fathered by God).

TO RENEW MY BODY: no food, only liquids--mostly water, some fresh juice on specific occasion, and my morning cup of coffee (cuz God's not religious or legalistic).

TO RENEW MY HEART: putting to memory the scripture passage below, for now and for always. I've also put a few prayer requests before God, some needing some pretty quick answers and others needing direction.

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthew 6:30-34 [The Message}

It's not that I plan on forever giving up food (well, that's kind of obvious) or wine or TV. I know God has called me on this 21 day journey to not only renew my source, but to also reset the way I think about the external things. He's calling me to sacrifice temporarily in order to reprioritize eternally.

Sunday, February 17, 2013



That is the very word Holy Spirit spoke to me last night in church--the word God highlighted as my area of needed breakthrough from the message shared by Pastor Robert.

I believed he was going to speak finances, and then maybe even marriage or restoration of broken relationships on the side, but he spoke trust. Honestly, I was a bit surprised when the word popped up before I could even finish the question, and I just as quickly asked God "why that word?"

You see, anyone who has walked this past year with us knows that it's been a season of both financial struggle and also of unexpected provision, of pressing into God to hear his plan and obeying even when it sounded contrary to popular opinion. We've been united on this path to something new almost every step of the way, and I only use 'almost' because a year of wandering requires a lot of steps to be taken, and along the way we've both tripped and fallen--stumbled over faith and reason. We've sat down on the side of the road to question if we'd heard clearly and sometimes we cried out when silence was all we could hear. There have been days when his faith was strong and mine was lacking and vice versa, and days when we both borrowed faith from others. Days when what or how or even why was used for more prevalently than promise, trust or believe.

Here we sit on the precipice of our future. Tomorrow marks the first day of our something new that I wrote about here. And yet the promise "to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future" (Jer 29:11) is still just that ... our future. Tomorrow's work will not pay yesterday's responsibilities or the ones that come today or the ones that are already on the horizon before our future meets up with our present. And it's daunting, to say the least. A bit scary, to be totally honest. Our future holds such promise, but today's needs overshadow our future promise like a monstrous obstacle. And when sat side-by-side next to someone else's need, ours may seem like a drop in a bucket, but they're still ours ... and they must be met before our something new can fully provide for our future.

And so we sat in church yesterday. And when I asked God at the end of the message what area he wanted me most to focus on for immediate breakthrough, I fully expected to hear him say "finances". It is, after all, the most glaringly obvious choice. But he surprised me, as he so often does, and spoke trust. And so I asked him why. And he answered:

I spoke trust because if I have breakthrough with you in this area then you will fully trust me for all of the other areas (both known and unknown) where breakthrough is also needed ... and they will be taken care of.

Hand in hand we walked to the altar for prayer and were met by the smile of a man he knows better than I, but one I trust because he did first. And he prayed for us; and thanked God for our something new with us; and cried out for supernatural provision over our yesterday and today needs; and called out for our mailbox to be a place of miracles; and for God to be given glory for the testimony he was going to write in our lives as we stand in the gap between our year-long journey that's about to end and our future that is just within arms reach.

And I'm choosing to trust. Trust that God will provide in ways that I can't even begin to ask for. Not because he considers us his charity case, but His children.

In the blog I linked to above, I opened it with this passage of scripture:

Now that the worst is over, we're pleased we can report that we've come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world--and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn't by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. 2 Corinthians 1:12 [MSG]

When God speaks to us from His Word, it IS a promise that we are to hold onto. By choosing trust, I am choosing to also hold onto this promise when we will say "now that the worst is over...". While we cannot say that just yet, it's coming. This gap is all that stands between us and our future.

Last night, before we stood to go up for prayer, a woman sitting next to me handed me four notecards with handwritten Bible verses on them. She told me that one of them was for me but she didn't know which one. I didn't look at them until we were walking out of the sanctuary. The one that (I knew when I read it) was for me was the last card, and the tears rolled down as I read His reminder to me:

But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes time to do everything right--everything. Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones. Isaiah 30:18

The wait between here and our future seems long and heavy. But God was very purposeful last night to remind me that He's in that wait. That grace and mercy are in that wait. And my heart melted right there in those words because he didn't condemn me for needing to be reminded, he simply loved me in the reminding.

Will you stand with us in prayer for this miracle? Will you believe with us that God will provide in the gap? And that the enemy will be defeated by the blood of the Lamb and the word our future testimony (Rev 12:11)?

I don't know how God's going to do it. But today I'm standing firm, like I did when he spoke to me about our future, and I'm both asking for and trusting in a miracle.

Trust in the Lord will all your heart; lean not on your own understanding. (Prov 3:5)