Good Riddance

I could not believe it.  I had expected a certain number and it wasn’t there. The three digital numbers on the scale represented months of healthier choices, hours of cooking planned meals for myself and my family and hundreds of sweaty minutes of cardio workouts and weight lifting.  I was overcome with complete disappointment,  the direction I had been hearing for awhile interrupted my swirling thoughts and I knew what I had to do.

I showered and got dressed. The blow dryer muffled the sobs as I recognized I was in chains to this scale.  I reasoned with myself, “Just put it back up on the garage shelf, out of the house and away from your bathroom. It will be fine to keep weighing in just once a month. ” I told myself a firm no, agreeing with the Spirit as he nudged me on to do what he asked of me months ago.

I placed the white scale on the concrete floor of my husband’s garage. I worked my way eyeing  his tool shelves, looking for just the right one. I found a large red tool, it was so heavy duty weighing around 10 pounds. I stood over the scale one last time and spoke loudly as the Spirit’s energy inside began to stir. “Good Riddance” and I swung once. A few swings later and I had destroyed that health-o-meter scale.  When it was over, I felt the Lords peace flood my soul as I swept up the black and white pieces from the floor.

Nobody was witness to my act of obedience except the Lord. He knew the scale had become my idol a long time ago.  When my life seemed out of control, I had looked for something to control. And I found a subject worth dictating into submission: My weight.  The number it read to me day after day, would make me very happy or very sad. The lifeless white plastic gadget with flashing numbers operated by batteries had become a stumbling block for my own mind and soul. The Spirit had told me to get rid of it, to break it to pieces like some of the Kings in the Old Testament had broken down Asherah Poles and smashed down the alters to Baal. Yet I ignored that still small voice for a long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking down to those who are watching their weight for health consciousness or need to lose weight for medical reasons. Yet I am not on Doctors orders to lose weight, I took that position up myself. I let the scale and the number on it become an idol ever so slowly.   I definitely believe in eating healthy and working out these amazing temples we call our bodies.  Yet a certain diet, the number on the scale even the gym workouts can become an idol if our hearts allow it to be.Our God takes Idol worship seriously because it is so dangerous to our souls.  God himself is to be our number one. If we put any person, possession, activity, hobby or self image whether good or bad, in front of him- then we are worshiping idols.

“Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Then you will destroy all your silver idols and your precious gold images. You will throw them out like filthy rags, saying to them,” Good riddance!” Isaiah 30:22 NLT

This passage in Isaiah stood out to me because God is saying the Israelite’s would turn to him and destroy their idols, when the saw their Teacher (Jesus) with their own eyes and heard his Voice giving them direction (Holy Spirit). Friends, yesterday I broke my scale.  I shattered it to pieces because  I knew as long as the “idol of self image and weight measurement” was on the throne, it would block Jesus from being in his rightful place as the King in my heart. I heard him tell me to destroy it numerous times and I finally obeyed. Today my heart cries out in freedom:  I will not settle for an idol of self image, an idol of a scale number defining my worth or a jean size saying I am a victor or a failure.

Friends, today I pray that you too will see Jesus your Teacher with new eyes, be refreshed when your hear his voice through the Holy Spirit and you will break down whatever idol is keeping you from living your life in  freedom.   The Creator of the Universe, The Teacher of the Way, the Savior of the World calls you and me beautiful, perfect, loved, forgiven, redeemed, created in His image. The number on the scale, no matter how low it goes, will never love us like that.

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The Greatest Gift

As our annual tradition goes, we set up our Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We had a fun afternoon fluffing the branches of the boxed tree, adding some new tinsel  and going through the little ornaments the kids have hand crafted over the years.  Finally placing the shimmery Silver Star on top of the tree, that has been  with us since our first Christmas as a married couple when we majorly over spent on Christmas decorations.   After dinner we heard a few chuckles coming from under the tree. “You have some presents already” shouted one of the kids.  My husband and I walked over and what we found was so precious.

After raiding the ornaments box that also houses my gift wrapping supplies, the three of them had wrapped themselves up like presents. “Our three little gifts,” they called themselves. Our girls were disguised as presents. One with present bows stuck all over  her and the other with red ribbon and string tied around her waist. Our son had used his favorite Star Wars blanket to wrap his tall self up to lay under the tree.  As we began opening our “presents”, the Lord whispered to me what I already know to be true: these three little souls are the beautiful gifts from Him that money could never buy.

Similarly over 2000 years ago there was a baby born to be the greatest gift of all.            Jesus Christ was born on a cold, starry night in the dead of winter in an animal barn to Mary and Joseph. Many  of us know the story by heart. Imagine the Savior of the world as a brand new babe, laying there in the manger in swaddling clothes- the most holy wrapping paper that ever existed.  His parents in awe and probably in tears of joy at the miracle cooing before them. Knowing he was born to them yet he was the true son of God.  He did not have a bow or ribbon or name tag declaring his Holy Name. He was the greatest Christmas gift there ever was . The bible tells us his more about him:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Isaiah wrote these names and attributes of God 700 years before the Christ was born. Talk about a description worthy of  millions of Hallmark cards. The four names given for Jesus are great examples to remember this Christmas season.

Wonderful Counselor: He hears us in our needs whether spoken out loud or silently in our hearts. When we are overwhelmed with the shopping lists or the budget is not allowing all the gifts we want to give. He also hears when we cry out for healing for a loved one who will likely spend the holidays in the hospital.

Mighty God: He is mighty in power and beyond comparison. No one is equal with God, he himself is both Creator and Sustainer of all life on earth. Maybe you’ve been praying for a Might Miracle in yours or a loved one’s  life. Keep seeking the Lord .. keep praying and waiting, He is faithful to save.

Everlasting Father: Maybe your waiting for some time with your dad this Christmas or for a  gift from him that may never come. You feel so very cold in your heart toward him even though it may be warm outside (75 degrees if your here in Texas).   God being a” Father to the Fatherless” Psalm 68:5,  is a title I know full well.  He has been there for me whether I acknowledged him or not,  while I lived my life away from knowing my biological father.  A wound that has been inflicted on so many children throughout the world.  Allow him to bring this healing to you through his gift of Jesus this Christmas.  He is not just a decent or good father.. He is the Perfect Father full of love, mercy and forgiveness which you will find through a relationship with Him.

Prince of Peace: For many Families the holidays are anything but peaceful. So I would like to remind all that Jesus himself is our Peace. We do not need to look to other people, gifts, status or money, to bring our peace and satisfaction during the holidays and year round.  Jesus himself  is our peace and we allow  his peace and love to reign in our hearts so we can share it with others around us.  I am sure a lot of us are doing these things already but it is still a great reminder.  Give this season:  gifts to the toy drive for  families  in need, out of the blessings that God has blessed you with.  Make some time to help a single parent  family hang up Christmas lights down the street, bake cookies for your unkind coworkers.

All of these outward actions bring glory to God because these actions point back to the grace we bear because of the peace He brings.

So Remember during the upcoming  holiday season and while you’re out shopping for presents  and attending Christmas parties  or packing those large suitcases in the minivan, make sure to not get overwhelmed!  Send up a prayer to help your heart remember the true reason for the Season:    Jesus, all of the Glory of God wrapped up in flesh sent to be the savior of the world. He was born on a cold, starry night into a broken world he would one day save.

The Deep Cut

“The Lump is a bone tumor” the Doctor said over the phone.    My heart dropped into my stomach as I  nearly dropped the mixing bowl full of cake batter I was whisking to the floor. The phone call from our Pediatrician confirmed the news we had been agonizing about for weeks.  The lump on the shoulder of our nine year old son  was a growth that shouldn’t exist in his young body.  The next few minutes following the bad news was a series of questions and answers; the conversation ending with the phrase ” should be benign” and a referral to a specialist.

What we’d originally thought was a sports injury turned out to be  a slow growing bone tumor. We have no idea when it started growing,  we found it when it was full grown and showed its hard presence by pushing  through his skin.

This was the second major health concern we have encountered with our only son.             At the age of Eighteen months, before he could really understand and describe the pain in words, infection plagued his body and an auto immune disorder flared. The Doctors had no idea why this was happening to our boy. Our new normal was visiting the hospital three times a week for blood draws to monitor white blood cell counts. The team of Doctors had to rule out certain health conditions. His little body could not protect itself from the germs he was exposed to. Instead It would attack  itself instead of fighting the outside threats.  He was diagnosed with a blood disorder but thankfully, he outgrew that stage of illness.  Over  a period of weeks turning to months his health slowly returned.

As I studied scripture recently, the Lord showed me the similarities of our sons illness to how sin grows in a Christian’s life.  Like the  tumor, sin can wreak havoc  if allowed to grow.  Outward sin can be clearly evident such as cheating, stealing or filthy language.  Other times sin can be deeply  hidden, as in the lust of our eyes  or coveting deep in our hearts. It can spread fast like the rapid infections in the body, as the enemy turns up the heat of temptation and the wayward believer may give in.  Or slow growing deep inside just like our son’s bone tumor not recognizing it’s presence until the inward sin is full grown .

Yet the Bible is clear about what a believer is to do with sin. Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30: ” If your eye -even your good eye- causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body then your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand – even your stronger hand- causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than your whole body to be thrown into hell.

 When I first read this passage, I thought, ” Wow, now that is a drastic command’.             Yet when I had to deal with my own struggle recently, I saw firsthand how dangerous this sin could be.

I had to look at my struggle honestly and examine it by the Word and go into the Lord’s presence to and ask God to cut it away from me.  I knew the consequences of whatever action came from the struggle in the mind and I chose to openly confess the sin to God. I saw that it broke his heart and could hurt the ones immediately surrounding me.   He showed me the continued damage it could have done not only to me but to my family if left to grow.  The multiple x-rays and MRI looked deep into  my son’s arm to located the bone tumor’s growth along with the muscles, nerves and arteries the tumor touched.  I needed to allow the Lord to show me the internal growth of the sin in my heart and mind.

It wasn’t easy, and it was just plan hard to do. Yet the outcome of victory conquering the sin with Jesus’ redemptive grace  was such a relief.   Just like our son, who dreaded  his surgery to remove the bone tumor, we ultimately know the outcome of a better quality of life he will live after  the tumor was removed.  He endured the surgery this past June and it went very smoothly. He recovered so fast and was back to his normal silly self in no time. The only memories  left of the tumor are the pink scars of the stitches on his shoulder along with the hospital bill. We praise God because the tumor was Benign after all.

We all need to go to the “Specialist” our Lord Jesus, the Great Physician and allow him to examine our minds, hearts, eyes , motives and actions. Cutting away any sin that is holding us in bondage and keeping us from full communion with him.  We don’t have to beg for him to give us pure hearts and minds.  It is his nature to purify us and cut away the sin from our lives. His shed blood on the cross, winning victory over  sin is enough for all of us.  Just like the Surgeon cut the tumor off our sons shoulder bone, Jesus can cut away sins and bad habits from us if we allow him to.

His cut may be deep to rid us of sin but it is the only way to allow us to live a life of freedom and purity with him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In His Power – Not my own

 

Ministry is the person standing in front of you.

Hearing those words from Jill Savage at She Speaks 2016, was an eye opener for me.         The phrase resonated in my heart because I want to do big things for God and make his name famous. However if I am honest, I do not always minister in a godly way to my family 100 % of the time. My husband reminded me of this shortcoming just last week and I had to ask forgiveness of the Lord and my family. Life is sweetly challenging and add in ministry – whether it is worship leading, teaching,  writing or speaking and the enemy of our souls comes in full force to wear our resolve thin. He wants you and I to just throw in throw towel and say I am not cut out for this ministry thing. When we act or serve or mission in our own strength we get worn out and overwhelmed easily.

Jill’s Session on ” First Things First” was amazing.  Jill referenced Duet 30: 19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”   I want to be a life choosing wife, mama and writer.  I want to choose God over Goals, Mission over Money and Calling over Counting.  It was a breath of fresh air knowing God has designed both ministry and the family. He is pleased with me when I attend church, when I write of his work in my life and share the Gospel with others. Yet he also smiles when I go on date night with my husband, jump on the trampoline with my baby girl, bake cookies with my middle daughter and build Lego’s with my son.

I also loved what Lysa TerKeurst said in Session two, ” God is good, God is good to me and God is good at being God”.    There is so much impact in those fifteen words.  It plays to the three levels where we doubt God. We doubt his goodness in general,   his love for us personally and his sovereignty over the details of our lives and the world around us. I know this to be true because in my past, I would get anxiety attacks from my worries and fears. Those fears and worries where often from circumstances beyond my control or when the enemy whispered lies into my head. I am very glad to have this phrase to remind myself of his goodness when those attacks come.

This was my first time attending She Speaks so I was thrilled to take the Bonus Session: Discovering God’s Power for your Life and Ministry with Micca Campbell and Wendy Blight.   Micca taught on the person of the Holy Spirit and I know there are some who may read this story and doubt the Holy Spirit.  But the truth is scripture talks about him from the very first chapter of the very first book of the bible. Genesis 1:2 says, ” the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters”.  It is so profound to me that the second verse of the whole Bible talks of the Holy Spirit. He was here since the beginning of all creation. She went on to teach of the imagery and characteristics and personality of the Holy Spirit. He is depicted through scripture as rain, wind, wine , oil and the dove descending on Jesus when he was baptized.  His character as our Teacher, Enabler, Comforter, Strength, he gives life to our gospel bearing messages. I learned so much and Acts 1:8 was very evident to me in this session” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”. My biggest takeaway from She Speaks was:              We receive our power from the Holy Spirit and not from ourselves to do this thing called Ministry.

 

I completely loved EVERYTHING at #SheSpeaks16, I can’t pick just one so here some favorites:

WORSHIP !!! – Truly gifted singers and musicians lead us to the Throne in amazing                                            worship to our King.

Fellowship – Making new friends from other states and hearing their God stories.

Anointing –  Micca and Wendy ended their session in praying on the armor of God, praying                          for our ministries and  anointing our heads with oil.

My Favorite Sessions for Writing Newbies:

Bloging with a Purpose – Cindy Bultema

Build an Enduring platform in 30 Minutes – Kathi Lipp

How to Write a Chapter  – Karen Ehman

 

 

 

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A Father to the Fatherless

As a culture a vast majority of us crave identity.    In our quest  for identity we can accomplish great tasks in our life but those accomplishments still don’t truly satisfy the deep longings in our soul. It is great to be known by relation to  who our family is,  a new last name,  a  college degree,  the ministry we head or business we own.  Yet our true identity is not in what we belong to but to “who” we belong to.  As a child, I can distinctly remember reminding myself that  I did not belong to anyone,  because I am a modern day Orphan.

The definition of an Orphan is a child whose mother and father have died or permanently abandoned them.   Well I fit those qualifications, as my mother died when I was six years old and my father permanently abandoned me before I was even born.   In my early childhood my mother remarried and welcomed my two younger sisters in to the world. She started taking us to a home church where the bible was taught, worship music sung and home- cooked meals where set out on tables for potlucks after the service. It was in the small children’s ministry at this home church, where the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord began to sing the sweet song of Salvation to me.

Surrounded by crayons and gospel coloring pages, I remember hearing the name of Jesus for the first time.  The gospel I heard produced what the bible calls a child like faith. I really liked this Jesus we were learning about.  He came to comfort my heart soon after while we sang “Amazing Grace ” and ” I have decided to follow Jesus” at my mother’s funeral service. There I sat in someone’s lap, struggling  to understand her death. The images of my mother in a coma and saying goodbye to her in the hospital  bed, where permanently burned into my mind.

After my mother’s death, I grew up with the lie planted in my heart that I had no identity. Whispers in from inside said that I had no full blood relative, no proper  place in the adoptive family I was being raised in and no true home of my own.  I felt like the little identity I had was buried with my mother.   In my teen years I would struggle with depressive thoughts and longing for love and acceptance.  Half my heart was in heaven with my mom and the other half of my aching heart here on earth. The rejection of knowing my father had never wanted anything to do with me often felt like someone was slowly slicing through my heart with a knife. The Lord knew what I was going through and he intervened.   I attended a bible teaching private school during my freshman year of high school. It was there that the Lord met me the broken girl I was. He reignited the flame he placed in my heart as a child in that home church.  I continued to learn the truth about gospel and God began to heal me slowly on the inside.

I learned that I did have a blood relative his name is Jesus, he shed his blood for the covering of my sins.

Matthew 26:28: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

I did have a place in the family of God according to Romans 8:15 ” We have received God’s spirit when he adopted us  as his own children.

I did have a place- for Psalm 23:6 says “I will live in the House of the Lord Forever!”

His words of freedom where so soothing and healing, like a cup of hot tea on a cold winters day.  I realized I needed a relationship with the Living God more then I needed a relationship with my biological father.  I had the chance to met my Father once while in high school and though it was an emotional experience it was also a closure for me. I saw that he was a broken man not the possible perfect daddy I longed for and he too was in need of a savior.

Fourteen years have passed since the day I last saw my father.   Very recently God began to speak to me on forgiveness.  I had this small wall up in my heart where his Spirit wouldn’t go in  uninvited. The Lord gently reminded me that I needed to forgive my father. He has showed me the root rot in my heart of the unforgiveness and feelings of rejection I thought I  had let go years ago.  I could not move forward in my true identity as a freed, forgiven woman of God without releasing those feelings. So one day I humbly got before the Lord and let them go… every one of the lies and the anger, frustration, feelings of abandonment and rejection. I handed them over in prayer to Christ. Like a master gardener he got right to work. He started at the roots of my heart pulling  out the weeds of the lies that where choking the truth of who I was. Slowly the truth began to grow internally, and like a nurtured  plant, my frame became stronger and the colors bloomed in me again.   He revealed himself in a special way, showing me that He indeed is my heavenly Father, and I am his blood bought daughter. I didn’t have to work to be worthy of his love… for he reconciled me to himself the day he went to the cross on my behalf.

Will you let the Lord’s words wash over you today:

My heart has heard you say, ” Come and talk with me”

and my heart responds, ” Lord, I am coming.”

Don’t leave me now, do not abandon me,

O God of my salvation!

Even if my father and mother abandon me,

the LORD will hold me close.

Psalm 27:8,9-10

Kickoff Day!

When you hear “Kickoff Day” you may tend to think of a game involving an odd-shaped brown leather ball, a fall weekend surrounded with friends and eating some really good food.

My Kick off day is a little bit different. Today I am lunching my blog. I have spent the last few hours studying and soaking up my Lord’s words, delighting in my spiritual food.    Along with my physical food, two cups of hot comforting coffee with a couple sweet cookies dunked in for good measure.

It has been a dream of mine for many years, to share my story of what God has done in my life. Last fall the Lord embarked on a journey with me to reveal my deepest need. To fully understand and truly accept his great love for me and strengthen the one relationship that is most important. Our Father – Daughter relationship. Yes I’ve been saved for over half of my life on this earth. Yet there was still a small block wall way down deep covering a portion of my heart. Some big hurts had stayed in the core of my heart  so deep inside and so rooted, I could barely sense their existence. My Lord saw them clear as a day, my Abba, the gentleman that he is, started to do some gardening in my heart and exposed the root rot that was there.

Among some other pains, the largest issue was unforgiveness toward my biological Father, who had abandoned my mother and I, while she was still pregnant with me. I will be posting about that story, how God’s love and his spiritual adoption of me – transformed those feelings of rejection into forgiveness,  next week so please stay tuned.

I am excited to share my new blog, daughter reconciled, with all of you.

This blog is mostly dedicated to share stories of God’s transforming power of Love, Forgiveness, Redemption and Healing. I am humbled to share of how God reconciled me – a lost orphaned daughter to himself, in hopes that you too sweet sisters, will allow God deep in your hearts to begin the work of reconciliation of your hearts to His.

” Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The Old is gone, the new has here! All this is from God, who reconciled 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 5:17-19 NIV