Tag Archives: grace

A Heart to Hear Your Calling and See Your Purpose

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You have a calling and purpose in this life.

God has prepared good works for you to walk out.

If you don’t find out what they are, you will spend your life going ‘to and fro’ looking for ‘your place.’ You will be restless, frustrated, angry, joyless and without divine peace. You will try to be like those around you to fit in, and doing the good works God has prepared for others to walk out.

You will never feel that you are in the right place, and you will be filled with insecurity. You may begin to look at the lives of others and compare yourself to them, and your heart will turn green with envy because they are so peaceful and joyful and content and: You. Are. Not.

You will not walk out your calling and purpose in this life which includes the prepared ‘good works’ from God unless you have:

But you say, “where is God, I can’t see Him, I can’t hear Him? He must not exist.”

It is our sin that separates us from God. Sin is all the bad things we do and say, and we try to hide from God in the darkness ashamed because we know we do not deserve His love…not after all thing things we have done. The wages of sin is death, and that is what you feel like: the walking dead, physically alive but spiritually dead.

"And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
*Image Credit: Fullofeyes.com

We have a pulse-less heart unable to know and love God, we have deaf ears and blinded eyes.

Beloved, it doesn’t have to be this way. God is real, and He has forGIVEN us, and helps us to walk out the ‘good works’ by giving us:

  • His Word (the Bible): to teach, reprove and train us in righteousness
  • Jesus Christ: it is by His blood we can draw near to God the Father
  • His Spirit: guiding us and sanctifying us in truth sealing us until the day of redemption

How do you have divine peace? How do you have joy? How do you have the security that gives you rest?

You must be born again of the Spirit of God.

Confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved. Come to Jesus Christ, his cleansing blood will heal you. His love has covered all your sins and they are no more.

His Spirit will wash you and renew you, and you will be born again: given a new heart to love God, a pure heart so that you can see God, and you will hear a voice tell you the way to walk. You will have daily COMMUN{ion} with God resulting in deep fellowship and security. Then you will see the ‘prepared good works’ God has for you to walk in and others will see the divine peace, joy that rests on you and you will fulfill your calling and purpose: To. Glorify. God.

God is calling you…to give you a new heart for you to hear and see Him, He does this every day…is today your day of salvation? You can continue to survive in this world or be revived

I’m praying for you dear reader…God is real and He loves you!

Bread to strengthen the Brethren: Ezekiel 36:24-28; Matthew 11:28-30; Ephesians 2:1-10; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 50:15


Daily Holy COMMUN{ion}

This is a picture when I was eight years old. The day I made my first holy communion but it wasn't until I was 33 that I really had my 'First' holy communion with God!

“for through Him {Jesus Christ} we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:18

Do you prefer communication or communion with God?

Communication’ and ‘Communion’ have similar definitions. The first is the ‘imparting or exchanging of information or news’ and the latter is ‘the sharing of intimate thoughts and feelings…’

Communication can be cold and distant, while communion is intimate and relational and results in fellowship.

We were made to have unbroken communion, or fellowship with God.  Fellowship, or Koinōnia means: “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse.”

Spending time with God in Holy Communion is a privilege we can experience because of what Jesus Christ has done (Ephesians 2:13; Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12).

For years I tried in my own strength to communicate with God; I prayed, I wrote to Him in journals, I even ‘completed’ my ‘first holy communion’. However, it was not until I was still and stopped talking, and started listening that I heard God for myself and had my first Holy COMMUNion with Him.

My religion turned into a relationship.

It was no longer a one way cold communication giving God my wish list of things I wanted, but became an intimate communion and sweet fellowship with Him. I wanted to know God. The more I sought God, the more I saw He is Holy and I am not.

God’s holiness shone so brightly I couldn’t help but see my own sin and undeserving heart to speak with the Creator Himself. But grace. God immersed me with His grace, and I understood what it meant to say, “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” A phrase I memorized at eight to make my first holy communion.

In the Spring of 2009 my eyes were unveiled and I saw how the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ cleansed me from my past and current sins allowing me to draw near to God. I saw how the resurrection power of Jesus Christ gives me power to abstain from future sin.  That day I was taken out of darkness and put into God’s marvelous light, given a new heart and title of daughter–a privilege to call the Creator, My Abba…Father.

It was the blood of Jesus Christ that cleansed me and brought me near to God, and it is still the blood of Jesus that cleanses me and keeps me near God giving me the power to ‘master sin’.

No, I have not yet‘mastered’ sin perfectly but I know my role: I ‘practice’ righteousness and God ‘perfects. I am on a journey towards perfection called sanctification and my mind is catching up with how God sees me in Christ. I’m learning the faith, power and victory to master sin comes from God alone, He dispenses the seeds of faith, Bread of Life and anointing for each day, it is up to me whether I take it.

I have tasted the Bread of Life and seen for myself the Lord is good, faithful and righteous. I want this treasure of communion with God more than ANYTHING and I desire to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ so that I may have unbroken fellowship with God the Father through His Holy Spirit to be used as a vessel of mercy and grace for His kingdom purposes.

I am learning we can’t have unbroken fellowship or commune with God if we are practicing sin; His Word says,

“If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;” Psalm 66:18

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. How blessed is the man who fears always, but he who hardens his heart will fall until calamity.” Proverbs 28:13-14

I am learning to come to boldly to God’s throne of grace and begin the day in a God morning.  This is a discipline turning into devotion for me. With the many fatal distractions and noise in this world I am making it a practice to wake up early in humble prayer asking God to help me set my mind on the things above not on the things of this earth.  I am learning to cast all my anxiety on God believing He cares for me. I am also learning to put my agenda, expectations and ‘to do’ lists on the altar remembering my life is no longer my own. I am beginning to delight myself in my crucifixion allowing my death to precede His living breath.

This is something I must do every morning and I’m learning to do it more throughout the day. I welcome and cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He reveals and convicts me of any sin in my life helping me to confess and repent and walk by faith in His righteous ways. I am learning transparency is transforming and God heals what we reveal. God does not finger point or condemn me for my sin, but rather He is there to save me from my sin…even the future sin.

In seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness first I am learning about the things I do which grieves the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit convicts me of what I am doing (or not doing) I confess my sins, repent (turn from that behavior and turn to God).  I call this daily devotion: Retreat, Repent, Restore, Revive.

  • I Retreat from all physical and spiritual distractions to be alone with God with the intent to be still and listen
  • God’s Holiness reveals and gently convicts me of any current sin and I confess and He grants me the sorrow to Repent
  • God Restores me keeping me from condemnation encouraging me I am to walk by the Spirit He put in me
  • God Revives me according to His Words of life and His Spirit; I am made alive and I am giddy to have personally heard from my Abba—not through someone else’s devotion to God or book, or blog but from Him directly. This intimacy and love I have for Him gives me a desire to obey Him.

In this daily practice I have been experiencing revival by His Word and I have been receiving His times of refreshing that comes from his cleansing forgiveness and grace. I am learning to walk in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

The more time I spend with God, the more I know Him. The more I know God the more I love and trust Him, that is how I am learning to abide in Him–I am learning to rest in His purposes, His ways and His timing.

Why am I sharing this stone of remembrance with you? It is as John said under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.” 1 John 1:3-4

I am praying for you beLoved reader:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen” 2 Corinthians 13:14


Reconciliation: A Mother/Daughter Story For God’s Glory

my mom and i

Mother’s Day was always an awkward ‘holiday’ for me since I was not raised by my Mother. For years I was bitter and angry allowing the circumstances of my life to determine my identity. I wallowed in self pity and brooded over my insecurities and the life I never had.  That was until I saw my Mother and myself the way God does…with grace and love. This is God’s story of reconciliation...

***
It was a breezy Spring day in 2010 when my Mother and I sat on the swinging bench of my front porch–there were no more awkward silences.  Instead we were giving thanks and rejoicing in the Truth of God’s Word, “how nothing is too difficult for Him” how He IS a God of reconciliation and we knew it from the depths of our souls…

Just weeks before I was at a Mother of Preschoolers (MOPS) event listening to a young Mom’s testimony of how she struggled with insecurities of being a Mom since she was not raised by her Mom.  I knew this story all too well, it was mine too. I wasn’t expecting her similar testimony to confront a wound I had pretended didn’t exist, but there it was. I sank low in my chair, while my body trembled from my attempt to hold back tears stored up in my heart. That day I  let it ALL out and allowed God to heal a hurt.  I unclenched my hands that were holding onto the ashes of my past and gave them to my Abba, believing He would turn them to beauty.

I was in the beginning days of being a stay-at-home Momma, and now I can see that God was doing His work of sanctification to prepare me for this ministry of Motherhood.  The LORD showed me, He would heal what I would reveal…After surrendering to the conviction of the Holy Spirit I confessed to God my bitterness, anger, and my sin of un-forgiveness I still had toward my Mother.

My Mother. The woman who carried me in her womb for 9 months after being told she couldn’t have any more kids. The woman who named me Arcelia, rocked me, and cared for me until I was three, then she was gone.

The circumstances and reasons she left were irrelevant to my rejected heart, and I built a impenetrable wall around it.  Five years later Jesus Christ found her and with godly sorrow she turned back to reconcile what was lost, but it seemed too late.  I was eight years old and I had moved on, and considered her a stranger, someone I kept further than an arms distance.  When I did see her occasionally I took advantage of her guilt and shame by manipulating her to get my way.  Still she never stopped loving me and never stopped praying.

Two of the most influential items of my life...my Mom gave me: God's Word and a Prayer journal.

Two of the most influential items of my life…my Mom gave me: God’s Word and a Prayer journal.

When I was eleven she gave me a prayer journal with our pictures in it, encouraging me to write my thoughts to the God she now knew.  For my twelfth birthday she gave me my very own Bible, I hated it because I didn’t like pink and I didn’t believe. But still she loved and never gave up.

I remember hearing her sing songs about Jesus Christ and some days she would spontaneously say, ‘Thank you Jesus‘ and it made me cringe. When I finally asked her why she said that ‘all the time’ she would say, “I’m just so thankful He saved me and He let me to have time with you.” I made fun of her and her faith…she suffered much and yet she never stopped loving me and never stopped praying.

When I turned 20 I decided I would forgive her but it was on my own terms and in my own strength so it never lasted.  It wasn’t until Jesus Christ found me and I was born again in 2009 that this sad story took a turn for God’s glory!

Swinging on the bench that Spring 2010 I shared with my Mother a testimony of when I heard God speak to me.  How in 2008 I finally read the Bible she gave me, and how God sent a vessel of mercy and grace to pray for our family and disciple me–the nanny that prayed herself out of a job! God used this loving praying nanny to open our eyes, ears and heart to the unseen.

I told my Mom before Jesus Christ, I never had the confidence to be a Mother since I was never raised by her.  I believed the lies that I was a better Mother working outside the home and it was best to sacrifice time with them to invest in their future.  I ran away from my role as a Mother and numbed myself to the calling—and I put my work before my family.

After my encounter with God in 2009, He gave me a new heart and put a new spirit within me and “removed my heart of stone from my flesh and gave me a heart of flesh” and I was no longer afraid to be a Mother.  She listened as I recounted how in just 12 months God transformed my husband and I from the inside out and we began to closely follow Jesus wherever He would lead us…the first move was from Washington D.C. to Alabama.

I told her about my prayer to God that day at the MOPS event when I vowed to God if He ever gave me another chance I would cut loose the noose of un-forgiveness I had around my Mother.  I told Him I would forgive and love her the way only He could and how He responded to that prayer by having her call me the very next day! After years of rejection from me I realized why she rarely called other than Birthdays and holidays but this day was a different kind of phone call.  She heard I was born again, a woman of prayer and she asked ME to pray for HER! I told her I knew her current trial had a specific kingdom purpose, and she was to come and spend a week with me.  She came!

As I drove to the airport I was excited and hopeful and thankful because this would be the first time in my life I would be alone with her.  I finally understood why my Mother used to say, “Thank You Jesus.

It was a glorious week of healing and redemption by the power of God’s Holy Spirit! Now, the day before she was leaving we sat on the swinging bench sharing our hearts and tears allowing God’s Holy Spirit to guide us to healing.  I asked for her forgiveness for the years of bitterness and anger I had toward her, and she quickly told me she had already forgiven me.  I was thankful for the opportunity to tell my Mom God gave me a new song and no longer am I singing the ‘woe is me, my Mother left me’ song because love keeps no records of wrong.  I told her I would never again hold her sins above her head.

She shared with me her past concerns of my life: when she heard I was first pregnant she thought it would be difficult for me because I didn’t have her growing up to show me how to be a Mother–how would I do it? She was also concerned because I was very ambitious and career oriented and thought the children would get lost in my achievements (she was right).

Then with tears she told me the most recent concern she had about me being a stay-at-home Mother…she said she thought it would be impossible to turn a once Air Force Captain and Business Consultant to a full time Mother…would it be too much for me? After all, I used to make fun of stay-at-home moms. But nothing is impossible with God.

She said after spending a week of shadowing me in my new life in Christ she saw for herself the testimony, “If anyone is in Christ they are a new creation, the old has passed away, behold the new has come...” She saw that God’s power is made perfect in weakness and He is glorified!

We swung in the bench of my Alabama home as the wind blew the butterfly chimes that Spring of 2010 and we joyfully laughed and lifted our voices with thanksgiving, praising God for His lovingkindness and faithfulness!

**
I used to lament over lost years with my Mother but by God’s grace, not anymore. I see even in our unfaithfulness God was still working, knitting our hearts together in love through her continual prayers and enduring love–it was all matter of time when I would awaken.

God healed our relationship! My relationship with her is so loving and we now communicate often and she even read this entry before I posted it.

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them.  And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

When I first told her I wanted to write about what God had done in our lives but was concerned about dishonoring her by bringing up the past she said, “Write it. Tell others. It’s not about me. It’s about God.”

She courageously and selflessly said she is secure in the grace and forgiveness of God and in the relationship  we have today.  She said “People need to hear what God has taught us to help those that may be in the same position right now.”

She’s right. People need to know how to reconcile relationships—it is through the power of Jesus Christ (John 15:5)!

God is not done with this story for His glory…In the near future my Mother is moving closer to my sisters and I so that she can spend more time with us and her grandchildren.

Do you see? If God can restore what the locusts have eaten, don’t you believe He can restore anything?

God is interested in reconciliation of relationships. God wants to be reconciled with everyone, and wants us to be reconciled to one another. Who do you need to be reconciled with today? Is it God or is it another? I have prayed for all who will read this…May the Holy Spirit guide you into all Truth and may you be set free!

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Sanctifying Second Chances

Pursue peace with all men

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”       1 Peter 4:8

I was giddy to have time alone with God, and was on my way out the door when my seven year old son asks if he could join me. I politely tell him, “Not this time.”

He pleads with me and I shamefully redirect his attention from investing time in our relationship to his inanimate toys.

I leave him. And I began to swat away convicting thoughts replacing them with a justifying one:

I’m home all day with the kids and they see me all the time. I deserve this time…”

I was five minutes out, and I could no longer ignore or numb the conviction of the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart gently showing me I did not choose what was best.  I repented of my selfishness and turned the car around to swoop up the son of my vow.

I felt as though I couldn’t get to my son fast enough and I was full of gratitude, thankful it wasn’t too late to undo my poor decision.

I ran to his room and see him tacking a note to the door.  I got on my knees to look into his hurt eyes and speak to his rejected heart:

I came back for you! God showed me I wasn’t choosing what was best…”

As I say these words I read the note he tacked to the door, which confirmed the urgency of my conviction and his bruised heart:

“I hate Mommy!”

My heart sinks and aches of this revelation and I see his embarrassed look of regret as he tries to tear off the note and I ‘cover‘ the note with one hand and gently place my other hand on his, and say:

Oh this. Yes. I understand my son, Mommy is not perfect, and I did not choose wisely, do you forgive me?”

He nods, and hugs me tightly.

I shove the note into my pocket as a stone of remembrance to remind me not to miss out on future opportunities to sow God’s unfailing love. Holding hands we race to the car as giddy children of God, excited for the opportunity for our reconciled hearts to communicate over coffee, milk and cookies. 

***
I tell my children about God every day. I tell them about His great love and how Jesus Christ laid down His life for the world, so that we can be reconciled to have an intimate relationship with God the Father.  I tell them about the conviction of the Holy Spirit, how He will guide us into all Truth helping us to trust and obey God’s Word. I tell them how Jesus Christ is alive in me.

Yes I SPEAK of God’s love often and God gives me ample opportunities to SHOW my children this type of love…of laying down of my own selfish desires to listen to their hearts.  If you could see more than a snapshot of my life you would see I have missed many opportunities.

For our flesh, to love is easier said than shown–but not for God, God IS love! The same Holy Spirit dwelling in Jesus Christ dwells in me so the Truth is I have what it takes to love the way God has called me to love.

I’m thankful for God’s grace and forgiveness and for His Holy Spirit guiding me into all Truth, and I’m thankful we ‘get to’ show the Lord Jesus Christ to others:

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

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A Friend Loves At All Times

“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16“Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17

If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.”  John 13:14-15

It was one of those days…dirty dishes and clothes piled high, filthy toilets and sinks, with a heart heavily burdened by the hurts in the world. I felt crushed and overwhelmed. The phone rings revealing my God given friend asking to stop by for a visit. I say yes!

My pride tempts me to rush around to tidy up the house and heart, and to forge a smile on my face…but I surrender to humility.  When she walks in, the Light is bright and the fire within her is intense for the love of Christ, and she shares Him with me, unknowing what was going on in my heart.  She’s never seen my hands ‘down’ before.

A simple request for a sandwich from my children brings a flow of anxiety and she ‘sees.’ She sees my brokenness and overwhelmed heart—the Holy Spirit in her takes over.  She makes my children lunch, washes my dishes, cleans my daughter’s room and even braids my daughter’s hair.  I share with her convictions in my heart and she listens.  She doesn’t try to ease those convictions or make me feel better but allows the Holy Spirit do His work in my heart.

She doesn’t try to say I’m a good person but washes my feet with God’s Word reminding me of Jesus Christ, what He has done, how we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  She lifts my weary arms to worship reminding me of the living hope we have in Christ and the joy that is ours. She takes me to the throne of grace and helps me to touch the robe I wear.  We pray, confessing and asking for godly sorrow and repentance knowing God’s grace is there for the taking. After we pray my Light is shining bright, and I am stirred to love and good deeds. I remember whose I am.

I see.  I ‘see’ brokenness is good.  Brokenness reveals and exposes my weaknesses and brokenness allowed me to see just how much love has been poured out in my friends’ heart. I’m thankful for this gift of friendship and for the love my friend has for Jesus Christ…and for me. Thank you my ‘pink friend who loves red letters‘ you are blessed indeed!

 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17


R.I.P ‘Today’!

“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen” Romans 15:33

Rest In Peace (RIP) is an acronym most often seen on tombstones at cemeteries.  The truth is we don’t have to wait until we are physically dead to rest in peace, we can have rest for our souls in God’s peace ‘Today’! Jesus Christ said:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28)

Rest is defined, “to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength; calm, refresh

If we come to Jesus Christ and walk and learn from Him, we will find rest for our souls! Jesus uses the word picture example of yoking ourselves to Him.  A yoke is “wooden beam used between pair of oxen to enable them to pull together on a load when working in a pair.” Jesus says;

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

This rest for our souls is not laziness or stagnation or free from burdens, but rather resting in the finish work of Jesus Christ.

We join Jesus in lovingly plowing and preparing the hearts of others to receive the seed (God’s Word) and working alongside Jesus in the plentiful harvest.

If your souls are not resting in peace there are many possible reasons; here are a few:

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you…”Acts 3:19-20

  • You have not turned from your ways and to God’s ways and rested in Him (Isaiah 30:15)
  • You are not waiting on the Lord, asking for His path and walking in it (Jeremiah 6:16)
  • You have hardened your heart to the voice of God going astray in your heart and do not know God’s ways (Hebrews 3:7-11)
  • You are being disobedient and unbelieving (Hebrews 3:18-19)
  • You are not being diligent to enter into the Sabbath rest for the people of God; For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath (Hebrews 4:9-11; Matthew 12:8)
  • You are not connected to Jesus Christ the One True Vine that brings the fruit of the Spirit (John 15:5 Galatians 5:22-23)
  • You have a proud heart, haughty eyes, are involved with great matters, or things too difficult for you, and have misplaced your hope–you have placed your hope in yourself, other things or people and not in The Lord (Psalm 131)

I can share these Scriptures because these are the ones God has used to slice me open to show me the thoughts and intentions of my heart, to show me when and why I am not resting in the ‘Guardian of my soul’. I am praying we rest in God’s perfect peace on the finished work of the Cross; Not what we do but what’s been done! I rejoice my name is written in the book of life, love has been poured into my heart and I can’t help but mourn for those that do not yet personally know the One True God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent.

By God’s grace I get to join my Savior in step with His Holy Spirit to be a worker in the harvest ~ that is a worker empowered by His Spirit knowing it is God who works in and through me for His pleasure for He also does not wish that any should perish but that all would come to repentance and enter into His rest.

Yoke yourself to the Lord of Sabbath and you will feel His presence inside and “By Your Side”.

“…the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” Isaiah 30:18

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end.” Hebrews 3:12-14

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you’. And when He had said this He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” John 20:21-22


Prideless Parenting

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

We were having an enjoyable time at the beach when my daughter became frustrated because the waves kept washing away her artwork on “God’s chalkboard” {the sand}.  She was tired, hungry and her patience was slim, therefore she did the only thing she could do to express her irritation: she cried. And cried, and cried.  I discovered the quickest way to clear a beach is having a child cry for ten minutes straight. Now was the test…

What was I going to do?

My flesh wanted to satisfy the captive audience around me, and discipline her in public, my flesh wanted to scream. Actually, my flesh did scream {inside}.  Then I held her close to me and I prayed.  I prayed for God’s Holy Spirit to help us both in this witnessing opportunity.  I prayed we would both look only at Jesus Christ and not at each other or our sins.  I prayed we would be still and remain in Jesus Christ remembering God is already pleased with us because of what Jesus Christ has done, not anything we have or haven’t done.  I prayed we would take full advantage of this opportunity to give thanks to God even in this sanctifying moment.  I rocked her in my arms and felt as though everything and everyone else melted away.  I sang softly to her, and I remember I can act the same way inside when something I’ve worked hard on is destroyed or taken.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3

I am on a journey of letting go. God is teaching me to let go of pride and perfection.  God is teaching me to deal gently with others, and to be compassionate as our High Priest Jesus Christ is able to sympathize with our weaknesses.  When these sanctifying moments occur I am learning to silently pray and look to God to comfort my children while restraining any temptation to use worldly things to threaten or console them.  I am learning to wait, be still…I’m learning to hide and abide in my Rock Jesus Christ. At one point my daughter disrespected me during her sorrow and I told her:

“you are not allowed to disrespect me, God says children must obey their parents for this is well-pleasing to Him.  I understand being upset for lost work but now you are crossing over to disobedience and that’s not the path you want to be on.”

She nodded her head. She understood.  Another five minutes of praying and allowing God to comfort her through me and the Hulk {in both of us} was gone.  I now had a calm lamb in my arms remembering the words of Jesus, feed my sheep and ‘tend to my lambs‘, reminding me we are all His sheep in His pasture and He is the one that restores our souls. When my children bicker, cry, fight instead of hearing a whining noise I am choosing to hear little lambs ‘baaaing’ because they are turned over and need help to be restored.  Before God can work in and through me I need to be abiding and hiding in Him so His Spirit can work in and through me for His purpose.

I am letting go of ‘striving’ to be a perfect parent and resting in His grace which is sufficient in all things, even a fit at the beach.  To God be the glory…again, His giving, His glory!


A Stone Of Remembrance Never Collected…Until Now

“Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.” John 8:32

 

This is a letter {stone of remembrance} to my 16-year old self:

Hey you, beautiful young lady—yes I called you beautiful.  I see you. I see you hiding in the family pantry contemplating death.  I see the wounds you cover up with anger, jealousy, hatred fueled by insecurities and perfectionism.  I see your sadness and perpetual feeling of loss from a broken home, not having your mama to raise you. I see your tear stained pillow. I weep with you right now.

My heart groans for your sadness and hurt and how you numb yourself and put on masks trying to be all you can be for everyone. There are so many truths I want to share with you but I only have time for a few:

  • Stop comparing yourself to others. You know that one girl that you have compared yourself since sixth grade? You know who I’m talking about—you say, ‘she’s everything I am not.’ Stop comparing…you will find out later at graduation day she signs your yearbook saying how much she admires you! Run your own race sweetheart—one day you will learn to keep your eyes fixed on Someone else.
  • Stop letting your insecurities keep you from loving others. See yourself and others as God sees you; God has gifted each of us differently, celebrate the differences don’t envy others or wish yourself away—someday you will be free to enjoy the Butterflies!
  • Stop trying to please others and force friendships. Don’t you feel like you’re trying too hard? It only makes you feel rejected and lost when they don’t respond to your friendly smile or notes.  God wants you to have friendships too—one day you will learn ‘The Gift and Purpose of Friendship’!
  • Stop being distracted by the things of this world. Yes, it’s difficult to be a United States Marine Corps  ‘base kid’ in a school full of students with wealthy two parent homes. That is one of the reasons you end up throwing yourself into making money…and you do make over $100K before you turn 34 but one day you fall in love and follow Someone very special exchanging worldly rags for glorious riches!
  • Keep Writing! You have written journals and stories since you were eight years old—don’t stop I enjoy reading them and seeing how God has transformed and made a redeemed life beautiful—I call them stones of remembrances.
  • Don’t live in fear. I know the near fatal accident of your Daddy when you were five left you living in fear of losing someone you love.  I know how you keep a distance from people because you know they will someday leave but sweetie, just let go and love without fear because God will give you the grace to go through any loss.
  • It is not OK. You learn some hard lessons at an early age. You are trapped by lies and insecurities and allow the first boy that showed attention to you take sacredness from you.  He berates and hits you eliminating any confidence you have. My heart hurts to remember this. He has hurt you real bad and you are like a worn timid puppy thinking there is nothing better than this—he tells you that but don’t believe his lies. It will hurt to leave but you must, and you do. You will see God helps you, though you don’t see it that way…at first. You do end up marrying a wonderful man and learn the true purpose of marriage.
  • Forgive. There is a lot you are holding in your fragile heart poisoning your heart, darkening it, you must forgive. In time, and with Someone’s help, you will.
  • God is real and He still speaks! You have heard about God and it is evident all around you. You finished your catechism, made your first holy communion when you were eight but this moment you are unsure.  You don’t believe there is a God–though inside you wonder if you could be wrong, especially after meeting several ‘different’ teenagers that seem to radiate a Light. But, right now your heart is so hardened and you think if God does exist He really wouldn’t want a worn out sinful teen as yourself—you’ve already messed up in so many ways.  But God does want you.  He’s drawing you right now.  All those people He’s sent into your life telling you the greatness of Who He is—but  you run the other way.  You make fun of these Christians. But He’s still with you. He’s with you right now. In three years you begin to seek Him hesitantly and in your own terms.
  • Don’t just wear the cross around your neck bear your own.

The ultimate Truth is you can’t do anything of these things on your own.  In fact it’s not what you know but Who you know that will heal you.

You need a Savior, you need Jesus Christ. Bring your brokenness to Jesus Christ. Sweetie, I know you make fun of Jesus lovers right now but you become one in seventeen years, and it’s the best decision you ever make. You will learn apart from Jesus Christ you can do nothing.  You will learn to know God the Father and Jesus Christ IS eternal life.  You will learn God’s Spirit must come BEFORE you can produce eternal fruit. You only need to believe on the Lord Jesus, turn from your sins and turn to Him and you will be saved. You cannot earn this GIFT of salvation, it is grace.

I know you are still reeling from receiving that Scholarship from Horatio Alger Association.  I also know deep down inside you feel they made a mistake.  You feel unworthy.  Especially after they flew you to Washington D.C. and you met all of those beautiful intelligent students from across the States—I hear your words, ‘Surely, they made a mistake.’ But they did not. “The lot may be cast into the lap but EVERY DECISION IS FROM THE LORD.” This was another gift of grace from the One that created you.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” 2 Corinthians 3:17

But still you will spend many years trying to prove to others you deserved that scholarship.  Just like you will spend so many years trying to clean up and ‘be good’ to prove you deserve salvation—but the truth is, you don’t deserve the gift of salvation, none of us do.  We all deserve death, but Love came down—God incarnate, Jesus Christ came down and walked among us and died on the cross making the final sacrifice for the sins of everyone—the FINAL sacrifice. It is finished.

Aren’t you tired of trying? Draw near to God through Jesus Christ and you will taste and see the Lord is good and you will see how all this time God has been with you.  I know you want to do great things and before you were encouraged to make an ‘investment in America’s future’ but you will do even greater things…you will make an investment in God’s kingdom as you teach your children and sow God’s Word to those around you through your life of worship.

*One more thing…do you remember when your English teacher Mrs. Judi Conroy said, ‘Arcelia, you are beautiful, you are like an enclosed flower that is having a hard time growing but one day Someone would lift it and you will blossom.” Well, that Someone is Jesus Christ! You are free sweet one, your faith has healed you—now go and tell others!

**

This letter was inspired by Emily P.Freeman’s invitation to write a letter to my teenage self, in celebration of the release of her new book, Graceful, for teenage girls.

What would you say to yourself, as a teenager? This was very revealing and encouraging for me to write. I encourage you to do the same–even if you don’t share it with anyone else 😉


Wearing Or Bearing A Cross?

This beautiful prayer necklace was given to me by my husband seven years before I "pressed on to maturity" in my relationship with God 

This beautiful prayer wheel cross necklace was given to me by my husband seven years before I “pressed on to maturity” in my relationship with God and began to bear my cross

For over 30 years I would wear a cross around my neck but I would not ‘bear’ my own cross.

All those years the cross was just a piece of jewelry to me. I had said I believed in Jesus Christ but when my faith was tested through trials, it was evident in my actions I trusted in my own self sufficiency and not in God.

I had a shallow superficial faith because I never read the Bible for myself. Even when I did hear God’s Word from others I used His Word as band-aids to my ailments, an emergency self-help kit I took out whenever I was hurting or needed something.

Then one day I met a woman radiating the love of Jesus Christ and she didn’t even wear a cross around her neck! She bears her cross…For weeks I quietly watched her intently as she would deny herself daily and yet be so full of love, joy and thanksgiving even in the midst of hard trials.

I wanted what she had more than any jewelry could offer. I asked God how I can get my own flame and love Him as she did. He told me, and I have never been the same since–that was the day I breathed my last the day I “committed to the cost of following Jesus“, that was the day I BEGAN to bear my own cross.

The Bible teaches us intentional disciples of Jesus Christ are to bear our own crosses not just wear one:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”(Matthew 16:24)

The word ‘deny’ (aparneomai) means: “to affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone; to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests”

The word ‘take up’ in Greek (airō) means: “to take upon one’s self and carry what has been raised up, to BEAR; to BEAR away what has been raised, carry off”

If we wish to come after Jesus Christ we must ‘lose sight’ of ourselves and BEAR our cross and follow Him.

The day I committed to follow Jesus Christ I put myself on His altar and told Him I would go wherever He would send me, do whatever He would ask of me, and talk to whoever He wanted me to talk to. I began to let go of everything that is of myself and prayed He would increase and I would decrease.

My adventure of walking closely with Jesus Christ is a novel in itself but let me share the very first radical transformation in my life.

Through His Word, God told me to stay home and raise my children. You would have to know me personally to understand why this was a huge test of faith for me.

*I was raised by a single parent Marine Daddy

*I was paralyzed with fear and insecurities to be a mom since I wasn’t raised by mine

*I saw my children less than 15 hours a week and didn’t know what to do with them on the weekends

*I believed the lies that I made a better mom working outside the home especially since my high paying job would help pay for their future tuition

*I was the mom that dropped her children off first and was the last to pick them up {it hurts to admit this but He wants me to}

*I was the biggest persecutor and made fun of stay-at-home moms {and I said I would NEVER stay home}

*I had finished my Masters degree and was making a six-figure salary and absolutely ENJOYED my job

This was a test of my husband’s faith too. When I told Him about my encounter with God and that I felt God calling me to stay home full time my husband’s response was,

“It will never happen. It is impossible.”

It was impossible for us because we had a half-million dollar home, a Harley Davidson, Mini-Van, Truck and over $100K debt. We were the rich young rulers.

To get over my own insecurities, fears and desires was one thing, having the reality of the golden handcuffs of debt was quite another. I started to sink into an area of doubt and asked God why would He change my heart but not my husbands’? I then stopped asking questions and began to be still and serve God while I waited.

I would not forget the deep conviction God gave me. I knew He had asked me to stay home but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I stood on His Word and chose to trust God.

I look back now and see God was teaching me submissiveness to Him and my husband. I did not nag my husband. I didn’t not bully to get my way {as I used to} but I submitted to God by submitting to my husband.

Instead, I would pray Deuteronmy 6:5 over my husband’s head while he was sleeping. I would pray with my spiritual mentor that my husband would love God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. Then it happened!!!!

It just took five months from the time I encountered God for my husband to hear from God too! God told my husband through His Word:

…the righteous will live by faith

Five months from when my husband heard from God we were moved from the VA/DC area to Alabama and I began my full time ministry of motherhood.

I am empowered by God's Holy Spirit to be a momma to my children for God's glory!

I am empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to be a momma to my children for God’s glory!

I am filled with humility and gratitude when I think of the day I breathed my last breath and was filled with His Spirit. I am humbled when I think about how God was drawing me for so many years even when I had been pushing Him away and denying Him. I smile when I think of my husband’s words when I told him I wanted to leave my job and stay home with the children, “it is impossible”. I smile because I remember what Jesus Christ said of the rich young ruler who wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven:

“…with people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

By God’s grace my husband and I have gone from rags to riches…from our filthy rags to God’s glorious riches!

By God’s grace I am growing in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I am learning, we bear our crosses when we genuinely say Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

And do you know what else I’m learning? We CAN NOT deny ourselves in our strength, we can not believe we have been crucified with Christ in our own strength and we can NOT press on to spiritual maturity unless God permits (Hebrews 6:3), we NEED His help, apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5)! My hope is in Jesus Christ alone, I know I can not hope to change myself or others, He is my all in all!

Yes, for 30 years I just wore a cross.

However, I realize I just ‘wore’ a cross and never bore my cross because the truth is I can’t bear my cross without the grace of God’s Holy Spirit.

It is by God’s Holy Spirit I am equipped to deny myself daily…whether it is leaving a job I enjoy, canceling ‘alone’ time because a friend is in need or pause my writing even at the climax of completion because a child wants a drink of water–His Spirit empowers me to do what He’s asked of me. I have learned the Spirit must come before the fruit.

Let God’s Word examine your hearts, are you bearing the cross or are you just wearing one around your neck? May we press on to maturity!

“For I am confident of this very thing, that HE who began a good work in you will PERFECT it until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6

I am sharing my ‘Hazardous Faith Story’ as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. To discover more about the book and to read other Hazardous stories, click here.

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For Love, Not Legalism: Casting Down An iDol

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9

 The other day my son and I watched a video clip of several intentional disciples and lovers of Jesus Christ casting their self proclaimed ‘idols’ into a consuming fire. My son immediately cried out:

“I don’t want to throw my Legos into the fire!”

I asked him, “well, do you love your Legos more than God?”

He looked at me strangely and answered flatly, “Of course not!”

I told him, “Well then it doesn’t seem to be an idol. An idol is anything that you love more than God or distracts or keeps you from your fellowship with Him. It is something that becomes a false god and you worship it instead of the One True God.”

I went on to share with my son if he ever does come across an idol in his life he can go to God’s throne of grace to help him get rid of it.

The Hebrew word for idol ‘eliyl  means, “of naught, good for nothing, worthless, false god.”

It is worthless because it can’t do anything, it does not bring true peace, joy or comfort that only God can fulfill.

The second commandment tells us we ‘shall not’ make idols and worship them reminding us nothing deserves our worship other than God.  I must admit casting down idols does not always come easy for me, but since I have placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ I am empowered by Him. John 1:16-17 says:

“For of His (Jesus) fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

It is true, I am no longer under the law but grace and  I am not condemned in what I eat, drink or do that is not ‘harmful’ to others–I am free in Jesus Christ.

However, I search and destroy idols in my life because I view them as encumbrances in the race of faith I am running. I’m on a journey with Jesus Christ, and as I walk closely with Him, and abide in Him, I love Him more and the things of this world seem to fade away. The times I struggle to unclench the worthless, He gives me the grace to let go. He also teaches me through the convictions of the Holy Spirit what potential encumbrances are in my life threatening to distract me from my first love: Jesus Christ; and my purpose: to glorify God.

I cast down idols not for legalism but for Love.

“Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways.” Psalm 119:37

This is one such confession I want to keep as a stone of remembrance so I won’t forget:

Along the way I got caught up in high tech communications like the iPhone leaving me feeling disconnected from the One in whom all good fruit flow from. This confusion and lack of peace had to stop!

My husband would jokingly say there must be a button on my car seat that lifts my phone to my ear the moment I sit down.  He was right.  I was distracted and hardly ever present and instead of prayerfully parenting with grace I saw my children as distractions to conversations I wanted to have. Then by God’s grace, I was convicted and I remembered why I’m here, and the assignment God gave me: to teach His statues diligently to my children all the time and the commission I have been given: to make disciples of all nations as I am going along.

In order to teach God’s statues they need to be on my heart and I need to be present. The Greek word for ‘abide’ menō is explained as, “to remain, not to depart, to continue to be present.” This is the same word Jesus used in John 15:5 when He said,

I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

I am a conduit, not the source.

To teach my children I must be connected to the One who helps me to do ‘something’ of eternal value. Being present means to rest in Jesus Christ, wait on Him, and be content in the moment, not striving for the next moment to come, but seizing every opportunity to speak life into my children and those around me.

In terms of being a ‘present’ parent, that means being available to listen to the hearts of my children and to sow God’s Word into their hearts as He leads.  As He leads…this requires to be prayerfully connected to God in order to know the Words and right moment to speak into their hearts; after all, only He knows the hearts of all men.  He knows the words that will sustain my weary ones.

I have spent four years of my sons life and two years of my daughter’s life disconnected from God and from training them in His ways…I do not want to waste another moment, I want to bear much fruit, I want to be a worker in God’s harvest.  So one month ago I said:

Good-bye iPhone, it’s not you, it’s me.  I have already replaced you with a ‘track phone’ I nicked named ‘wise phone’ as it helps me count the cost, measuring the minutes, and words bringing to my attention any idle word I make. I desire to be a purposeful, present, prayerful, parent and I cannot do this unless I remain connected to my power source Jesus Christ. I want to live an intentional life of a disciple of Jesus Christ.  I must not forget why I am here and iPhone, you distracted me too much…A Dios!”

I lay aside this idol and weight not for legalism but for Love. I desire to be continually connected and present abiding in God’s love through Jesus Christ seeking Him with all my heart.  I desire a deeper love with God, enabling me to pour out His love to those around me in the power of His Holy Spirit, all for His glory and honor.

I’m on my knees for us…

**After this stone of remembrance was written in my heart a fellow blogger shared this song “Clear the Stage” and it is one of my favorite songs this moment**


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