Friday, June 24, 2016

The REST of the Story: I Danced #FMF

The REST of the Story: I danced! #FMF

This week I was hiking through some beautiful trails in Tennessee. As I explored the majesty of God’s creation, I began to share with my friend how much I miss dancing. 

I met my husband in a dance hall almost 22 years ago. I wasn’t there to meet a man or find a husband. I was there because I loved to dance.

As my friend listened, I openly grieved the reality that dancing would never again be a part of my life.

The story could have ended there… BUT GOD!

That evening as my friend and I entered the church where we are attending a ministry event, we had no idea what was about to happen.

The praise music began and we were enthralled with praising and worshiping. It was a beautiful and special time that God used to show me how much He cares about the details of our lives and the desires of our hearts. 

The music minister invited those who wanted to dance to come to the open area in front of the altar and do so.

My friend and I were in tears! God had seen my heart’s longing and invited me to be His dance partner. I am typically reserved as I worship God, but that night I danced before Him with full vigor and abandon much like I anticipate King David did.

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might.”, 2 Samuel 6:14, NLT 

The music slowed and I sensed His closeness. I submitted myself to His leading and guidance. I was surrounded by other people…but this moment was me dancing with my God.

He let me know that He hears, cares, and responds to our deep longings. There are thousands of people at this conference… and He opened the dance floor because MY HEART longed to dance.

It found out that the dancing was not planned or fabricated. It was not man’s doing. 

God wanted to dance with me just as badly as I wanted to dance.

My story could have ended on a mountain top, in the woods, with my heart longing not fulfilled. As I complained in the middle of a stat park hiking trail, I fully believed I would live the rest of my life trying to ignore my desire to dance.  BUT GOD said NO! 

“For You have given him his heart’s desire; You have withheld nothing he requested.” Psalm 21:2, NLT

In the famous words of the late and great Paul Harvey… “And that’s the REST of the story!”

What are some places of longing where He has shown up for you, or areas you would like for Him to show up?

I am joining with the #FMF crew writing on the word prompt #REST

Aside note:
When I think of it, by my natural bend, I am a control freak. The fact that my heart longs to dance makes no natural sense at all. As a woman, my role in dancing is to submit myself and be sensitive to the subtle guidance of another and to go where they want me to go. They lead… I follow. May I always be sensitive and submitted to the guidance of God as my leader and partner through this life!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lose Sleep In Marriage: #FMF

I’m typing this at 1am… because I can’t sleep. 

Early on in our marriage, I would lose sleep because we were trying to be as “close and connected” to one another as possible. (wink, wink)

During that time, I learned to lose myself in my husbands embrace. It was a blissful reason to lose sleep. 

Over the years we have revisited variations of the original “close and connected” season, sadly that is not where we are right now. 

This season is distant and disconnected. Its a season of feeling alone and abandoned…definitely not the blissful abandon we once experienced.

Currently, the largest distance in the world is the span from my side of the king sized bed to my husband’s. I want to cross it. You’d think after almost 20 years of marriage, I’d know instinctively how… but I don’t. 

I’m at a loss. All I can do is trust God to lead me in what I need to do.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”, Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT

So I retreat to my side of the bed and lie there silently weeping and praying that sleep is the only thing I lose during this season.

“Let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Mark 10:9, NLT

*I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday crowd at #FMF. The word for this week is LOSE.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Letting Go- A Graduation Revelation

This weekend is a time that we are honoring the class of 2016. My niece graduated from High School, so we became part of the sea of people sitting in football stadiums waiting for our special person’s name to be called.

I have to admit, watching people with bouquets of balloons and poster board signs made me a little disappointed in myself that I hadn’t thought to do something similar. (Make a mental note for next time) 

The National Anthem was sung, the obligatory speeches completed, and special staff were honored. Finally the time had arrived for the Graduates to be honored as they took their final High School walk.

An odd thing happened though as they called the names. I thought it was an accident at first, but when it happened a second and third time, I realized it was very intentional. 

Quite often, a name called coincided with a huge balloon bouquet being released into the air. Bouquet after bouquet was released. Then, a group of doves were released. More names, more balloons, and more doves. 

To be honest, at first, all I could think of was how much money they just released in to the air for no good reason and what the impact might have on our ecosystem and wild animals. I felt sorry for the poor doves that were thrust into the brightness of the stadium lights. They looked confused and struggled to find direction.

Then I realized that is what this graduation night is all about… letting go!

The parents releasing or letting go of the balloons and doves was symbolic of what they were doing with their children that night…Letting go.

As I looked at the balloons and doves, I had a new perspective. Some balloons were released in bundles and traveled high and far fairly quickly, seeming to keep a straight path.

Other balloons seemed to just stall out. Some didn’t
have enough helium in them to get lift and sluggishly hung low, eventually settling not too far from the person who launched them.

Other balloons were alone or in small groups and either floated around playfully as they slowing climbed in distance and height.

The doves, on the other hand were a disaster. They had no sense of direction and rose and fell, spinning one way then quickly changing course. I honestly thought they were going to injure themselves during their chaotic and erratic response as they were flung out of the security and comfort of their boxes.

Watching these multiple paths, directions, and courses of balloons and birds, I could see where they were a reflection of what the graduates paths would be. 

Some would set a straight course and travel far and high in life. Others would playfully meander and stay close to their launch place. Sadly others will flounder chaotically as they are thrust into a world that is confusing and overwhelming to them.

Its scary for a parent (and the child too)as we enter that season of letting go. God gives us a promise though.

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”, Proverbs 22:6, NLT

It doesn’t mean our children won’t waiver or struggle. They will undoubtedly flounder and make mistakes that alter their course causing them to adjust and regroup. 

If we have done our due diligence as parents and trained them in the ways of the Lord as well as taught them how to seek God’s plan and path for their life, they will not stay on wayward paths forever. That is a hope parents can cling to even though the child still has free will to participate with God’s plan or reject it.

For parents who may be looking back over the years of raising their children and wishing they would have (or could have) done things differently. God is a loving Father and has the ability to redeem our shortcomings as parents. 

Don't be discouraged. As we release our children into adulthood, we are not releasing them to a mean and cruel world to fend for themselves. We are releasing them into the hands of God to live out their own unique purpose and life. They cannot do that effectively if we hold on to them.

I'm praying for all the parents who are in a season of  letting go, and also  for our children who are being released to travel their own paths. (((HUGS)))

Thursday, June 9, 2016

What Do We WANT: Disaster or Hope- FMF

Let’s be gut wrenching honest. There are mountains of terrible things going on in the world around us.  As a Christian, there are times I feel like Jeremiah trying to warn the people around me what will happen if we do not do what is right in God's eyes…not our own.

“Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from you evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.”“But the people replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we WANT to, stubbornly following our own evil desires.”, Jeremiah 18:11-13, NLT

We live in an indulgent and self centered society that WANT to follow their own desires and proclaim evil good and good evil. The consequences for this stubbornness is disaster!

God in His immense love for us though, provides a promise and a blessing if we do what is right in His eyes.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”, Jeremiah 29:11, NLT

I anchor my hope to this promise, especially when the world around me seems to be “going to hell in a hand-basket”. 

Lord, turn our stubborn hearts away from our own desires and help us WANT YOU above anything else.

I am linking up with the #FMF group today with the word WANT feel free to check out some other great posts over there!

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Haven of Daddy's Arms: #FMF

I am a Daddy’s girl. The most difficult part about getting married (almost 20 years ago) was that there was a man in my life that was supposed to be more important to me than my daddy… Friends, that was hard!

My daddy has always been a strong man and a hard worker. He’s been a safe HAVEN for me to run to when the storms of life threatened to swallow me whole.

Today, he is still a hard worker, but at the age of 74 his body is betraying him. My mom has been like Chicken Little over the years, but instead of saying “The sky is falling, The sky is falling!”, her cry of 'Your dad isn’t doing good.' was heard as “Your dad is dying, Your dad is dying!” 

I’d rearrange schedules and make the mad dash to their home only to see my dad still being the strong powerful man he has always been, but just not his best.

For a couple of weeks my mom has been touting “The sky is falling!” Because the last few weeks of school is a nightmare with finals, awards, tryouts, and regular life…I decided this time it could wait.

I arrived at their home last night…and the “Sky really is falling.”

My daddy isn’t strong…he’s incredibly weak and struggling for each breath. Tears creep in to his eyes as he thinks of the life mom will have if/when he dies. He chokes the tears back by spouting words of anger. He wants to be strong…but has no strength or control. He wants to fight, but can't find his enemy.

I long to share with him that its okay. When it is time, he has a HAVEN of rest that is waiting for him. I want to openly pray for him to experience God’s peace as we believe for healing…in which ever form. 

I DON'T WANT MY DAD TO DIE, but I pray that when he enters that God's HAVEN of rest, that I have the strength and courage to lean in to cling to Daddy God because His strength will never fail. He is my HAVEN of refuge, strength, and hope. 

Please pray for my dad and my family. 

I’m linking with #FMF today. Word is Haven.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why Aren't Christians Respected?

“Hey friend, do you have a moment?”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called or texted my sweet friend up to ask her this exact question. She is a woman who loves the Lord and wants to honor Him in and through her life. 

Even though I have known her for years, I haven’t always gone to her for Godly Wisdom. There were many years of our relationship where I had no desire to focus on being Godly. During those years she never “preached” or judged. 

She did something much more powerful.

She lived a Godly life. 

Over the years, I have come to respect her and the way she lives. I have seen the presence of God work in and through her life. When I look at her and her family, there is evidence of God.

As she focused on laboring to make her life a reflection of what God intends for it to be, she earned my respect and gained credibility in my eyes. I accept that her faith and relationship with God are real...not because she says it is, but because I have seen it with my own eyes.

I trust her to be a safe person who will give me wise and Godly advice. I respect her, and she has proven that she has no ulterior motives. Because of this, my heart can receive her correction during the times she speaks truths that are sometimes painful to hear. In those moments, I KNOW she is not judging or criticizing, she is loving me  with the love of Christ.

There are two key factors happening here: 

Respect and Love 

Through her loving me as I was, she earned my respect. Once I respected her, I became open to the Godly Wisdom I saw her as qualified to share.

My friend lives this scripture:

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”, I Thessalonians 4:11-12, NLT

This verse clearly states that if Christians focus on living a quiet life and mind their own business (and work to fix their own lives), then non-believers will respect the way they live. 

Oftentimes Christians spend their time judging and trying to correct the lives of others, while ignoring their own sins, shortcomings, and areas of their life that are less than "Godly". This does not foster respect or credibility towards the Christian who is supposed to be a reflection of God’s love and Godliness. If God is love, yet Christians do not live a life that reflects love or His Godliness, then Non-Believers will have no choice but to discredit the existence of God’s love or the value of living a Godly life. 

If God’s people don’t live Godly lives that reflect
His love, they have no more credibility in the eyes of a non-believer than a person whose home is in foreclosure giving financial advice or an obese person counseling on a healthy diet/ exercise lifestyle.

I am not saying that living a Godly life accepts and embraces the sinful things another person does. It is possible to embrace the person who is living outside of the precepts of the Christian faith while not condoning or encouraging sinful behavior… that, after all, is what God does.

I have seen it too many times where the intention of
the Believer may be pure and loving, but criticism and judgment out weigh the acts associated with love. When this happens, the efforts cannot be received as loving acts. It leaves the person on the receiving end feeling rejected and alone. 

Its much easier to have opinions of how other people should be living their lives than it is to focus on the things in our own lives that need to be “cleaned up” or “put in order”. 

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”, Matthew 7:1-6, NLT

As a believer in Christ, I want the to share His hope and love with others so they have the opportunity to experience it for themselves. If I spend my energies working to make my life what God wants it to be, then the “outsiders” (as the NIV refers to those who are not believers)will respect the way I live. Once that respect is there, the doorway opens for me to share the hope of Jesus with them. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Response Over Reaction: Allowing God in the Battle

In today’s society it seems as if everyone is allowed to be offended except those who openly live for Christ. Whether Christians proclaim the hope, truth, and good news of the Bible in all aspects of their life, or simply allow the doctrines of the Christian faith to dictate the decisions they make in their own lives, they are attacked on all sides by those who rebel against a faith based approach to life. 

These attacks are rooted in a lie about the definition of love and use this new definition to label Christians as bigots who are intolerant and unloving.

At one time, it was considered a loving act to warn
people when they were headed in a direction that would cause them or the people around them harm. (We would never allow a toddler to touch an open flame) True love protects and corrects.

When political correctness was birthed it dictated that we were not to offend anyone for any reason. An indoctrination began to redefine love as accepting and endorsing all forms of evil and immoral behavior and calling them good, while at the same time creating an population who dictates that all good is actually evil. This path has led to much sorrow.

“What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.”, Isaiah 5:20, NLT

After years of passive silence, Christians are realizing the things they never dreamed could happen have now become legalized, endorsed and acceptable behavior. Those things considered evil and sinful now carry the label of good and encouraged and have all been put in place to make sure certain demographics were not offended. 

These actions are offensive to the deepest parts of a Christian’s being and leave believers with no idea how to respond after years of passive silence.

When we have the courage to finally draw a ‘line in the sand’ and say, “This is wrong.”, (Don’t touch the fire because it will burn you.) we are brutally attacked.

Since the majority of Christians have been silent for so many years, these attacks leave us uncertain of what to do as the pressures build. Unless we are grounded in the Word of God, we can easily find ourselves REACTING to the attacks instead of RESPONDING.

Reacting is done on impulse, without thought to consequences or outcome. It is a defensive act that that is typically emotional in nature. Oftentimes it leads us to behave poorly and recklessly. Regret often follows a reaction.

Responding is a planned, thought out decisive act. It is an offensive act that weighs long term effect over immediate concerns and emotions. It is a position of power and leads to a stance of credibility that can create effective change.

As Christians, we must learn to be people of response instead of reaction.

Responding allows time for prayer, and seeking God on how He wants us to move forward. It also allows you to recognize who the enemy is and how best to defeat them.

David was under attack (as people of the Christian faith are today) and instead of reacting to the attacks, he went to the Lord and asked Him; “Should I attack them back?” 

“So David asked God, Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” 1 Chronicles 14:10a, NLT

This pause and pray response, allowed David to gain
the direction that he needed to gain victory over the ones attacking him. During one attack God said go directly and meet them head on and the victory would be his…another time, God instructed him to go fight, but to attack from the rear and the victory would be his.

This example of David responding to the attack after seeking the Lord was key in his victory. 

The beautiful thing about our seeking God in our response to the attacks instead of reacting…

When I react, I and operating on my own power and trying to fight in my own limited abilities. When I wait and respond, I am recognizing the true enemy and allowing God’s power its place in the battle. 

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”, Ephesians 6:12, NLT

We do not have to fight in our own strength and power because the Lord will fight for us.

“For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!”, Deuteronomy 20:4, NLT

The Lord will tell us how we are to fight

“So David asked God, Should I go out to fight the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” The Lord replied, “Yes, go ahead. I will hand then over to you.”, ! Chronicles 14:10, NLT

He wont always lead us to fight in the same way we have won in the past.

“But after a while the Philistines returned and raided the valley again. And once again David asked God what to do. “Do not attack them straight on,” God replied. “Instead, circle around behind and attack them neat the poplar trees. When you hear a sound like marching feet in the tops of the poplar trees, go out and attack! That will be the signal that God is moving ahead of you to strike down the Philistine army.”, 1 Chronicles 14:13-15, NLT

The Lord will Respond on our behalf as we move past reaction and ask for His help.

“The Lord says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.”, Isaiah 65:1, NLT