Monday, October 29, 2012

Anchor in the Storm


[Time] Always gets to me…How often I waste…
Just throwing it away as if we know just how much we really have.

We have so little control. A storm raging on reminds us of how fragile all of this really is.

 Spending time with Jesus…always the right choice.
“Being with me is always doing something—the right thing.” –Ann Voskamp

Why do we wait? Why is it so hard to break away and to dive into the quality time with the Lord? When disaster strikes…when a storm comes…we kneel over in pain…fear takes over and we have no other choice but to grab hold of the LORD. Why wait until the rain thunders down?

It can be so frustrating…to be in a jam…stuck—suffocating…to be trapped in the everyday life drama…then trauma hits and we fight hard to get through the tangled mess we created to get back into the open-air presence of God

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11

Return to the passion. Do not lose sight of the awesome, powerful and Holy God we serve. The only way to fall more in love…is to devote this time to Him…

How much deeper could worship be if we stayed connected to the power source? How much farther could we dig if we remained consistent? The Holy Spirit is our worship leader, our guide, our comfort, our source of power and strength. We have this amazing gift of always having access to the one who can send us deeper into relationship with our Savior. One of my favorite lines from my Dad…You can’t just sit there. We can’t hesitate to dive in. You cannot sit & follow after Jesus..
1 Peter 1:3The Message

3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

Whatever happens in the next coming hours…as the hurricane storms toward us…He is keeping careful watch over us and the future…this is a Promise…Take action. Have faith.

Faith is a response and an action…not just what we believe but WHO we believe in. He is the rock. Everything worth living for…everything worth risking it all for…How faithful He is when we are so faithless.

Do not lose sight. Do not lose hope. Do not lose faith. Because fact: We cannot lose the ONE who is our HOPE.
Hebrews 11 The Message

11 1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living

With Hands lifted high…We are trusting in the ANCHOR of our SOULS…because NOTHING and NO PERSON or THING could ever separate us from the LOVING Reach of our Savior.

Fellow believers keep quoting, “Praise You in the Storm”…
What a great time to dive in, take action, have faith, and learn how to praise Him in a history-making hurricane…

Lift Your voices….All You have to do is speak this precious Holy powerful GREAT name.

Psalm 113 The Message

1-3 Hallelujah!
You who serve God, praise God!
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember God is a blessing—
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!

4-9 God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
Hallelujah!

“The praise of those who truly praise the Lord cannot rest until it fills all time—and space…”

Praise the Lord through the storm…always until it fills all time…and space…for always.

I am freaking out. I am so afraid of this storm, of the waiting, of the anticipation…Not knowing what tonight will bring.

But whatever it does bring…I know we won’t be alone. Whatever this life brings we have the promise that we do not have to travel it alone…His Perfect Love…Speaking His name…brings the peace beyond comprehension.

“Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I will never let you down, never walk off and leave you’, we can boldly quote, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6

He makes good...good…That which makes us more like Christ. Through the pain…through this storm…always the cry of our hearts…make us more like YOU. No matter what—You are worth it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Changing Seasons. He Remains.

 

Living in South Jersey…we don't always have the front row seat to watch seasons change. The weather has yet to feel consistently fall-like….but we know it is inching deeper into the year when towns start looking deserted…places shut down…no more summer traffic...Tourists return home…we remain.

The beach. Empty. People may disappear but the waves continue to crash and the beauty of the Lord’s creation continues...Every morning the sun continues to rise…and at night stars will continue to shine through...
Psalm 63:
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,

To see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
4 So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches,
7 For You have been my help,
And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to You;
Your right hand upholds me.


How many of us miss this. We leave for the season. We forget.

Summer ends. Energy starts to become a thing of the past, nights become colder, the couch looks more inviting, it gets darker—quicker, we lose sight of the lessons learned…we grow weary and tired.

I don’t want my soul to begin to look like the town…deserted.

It is so easy to make a list of excuses. Changing seasons brings allergies—now I am sick. I am sick and I hurt. It hurts to swallow, I have a runny nose, itchy eyes...I can't talk. I can't sing—[which is possibly the worst thing in the world to me]. I am tired. I am tired of eating soup. I am tired of lying in bed but I am too tired to get out of bed.

Psalm 63 The Message

God—you’re my God!
I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.
2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.
5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
I’m free to run and play.

I hold on to you for dear life,
and you hold me steady as a post.

 
It is easy to come up with a list of excuses. But God never called us to easy. I read Psalm 63. I remember what Jesus has done. The good news of great joy. Seasons are changing…but I do not want to grow comfortable clinging to my list of excuses.

I am weary. I am hungry. I am thirsty. I sit on the deserted beach…”here in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory”…In His generous love we can find reason to live and love. God made us in such a way that the only way we can ever truly be satisfied is through and with Him. Let go…of the complaints…so I can “hold on to You for dear life”

Today...my words mumble out of my sore throat in whispers that no one can hear...and yet I have said much inside. I haven't stopped running my thoughts and the Lord knows, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” Psalm 62. We can trust. He knows our hearts and our desires.

He remains with the changing seasons. Like the crashing waves. Like the rising sun. Constant.


Help us not to grow stagnant Lord…when all around is life to be lived.

God, like a desert soul...I'm thirsty for more of you…and
You are exactly what we need.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Brokenness


[Some days I am plain exhausted.]
I wake up tired...wanting to go back to bed before I have even left the comfort of my covers. Oh but the routines and schedules force me up and out...before long—the hours pass...my eyelids remain droopy...Moon rises--Sun fades...

…finally adrenaline kicks in and at last I'm ready to start the day…The tick tocks rage on...I lay wide awake.

Tick tock...This is one of those nights…

My mind begins the process of analyzing the day, words said, those not, thoughts had. Big questions arise.

Tonight's thoughts: People. Why do people come and go? Why do some people come into your life for only a season and what causes them to move on? Do I push them away? Why do some leave? Why does God choose to intertwine your story with another's?

Disappointing people is unbearable to me. I do not seek out confrontation. I think about the different people who I have come across in my short lifetime of twenty one years and it amazes me how quickly some leave as swiftly as they came.
Could I have done something more to save the connection? To keep them close? Did I push too hard? Were my expectations too high? Was I too much? Or not enough? Was I a friend?

I will not pretend to understand the way God works because He is so much bigger than all of this. I trust and have faith in His power, control and stable hand in each and every moment and event in life. I believe He cares and has a plan and a purpose—always...These are truths I know.

But we do live on this earth that is full of instability and chaos. Full of goodbyes, hurts, disappointments...full of change.

I think about how many times I have had my heart "broken"…

The punk enemy tries to use lies against a girl's fragility. Heightens the insecurities. Never forget the battle that we are in. Those same reminders of times you failed people can creep in...please stay awake. As much as I have grown in the Lord and as much as I continue to fall head over heels I still find moments of frailty where panic attacks set in and lies overwhelm.

But...What if we were to never get hurt again? Would we learn the hard lessons…would we grow...could we connect with Christ in His suffering? Some of the hardest lessons come from the deepest pains? Part of me wants to lock up my heart and never fall again...stop myself from feeling or becoming connected…to put up walls. The Word says to guard your heart--does this mean to put it in a safe and never risk the chance of love? Always guard your heart from sin--from what isn't from above--but from caring too much? A locked up heart with no room to beat can be just as damaging. Our hearts cannot become recluses hiding away afraid to take the climb.

My wise friend once said, "I know one thing: it seems the more authentically I love, the deeper the pain...but also the deeper the joy…maybe that’s it...because without love, we are nothing...sacrificial love…that was what Jesus lived for…so why not we also?"

God always smacks me--right on...I awaken with this revelation.

God gave me a glimpse of the big picture.

I throw around the phrase "broke my heart" too loosely. People cannot be avoided and sometimes you are going to get hurt...But...

The Lord is the only one who can break my heart. He is the only one who has enough power and strength and love to break open my heart and let His grace-love pour in. A boy or people or situations can wound my heart. My heart can become offended by disappointments in life. But in the
big picture...what life is all about...my Lord is still pouring His love into those weak areas if I let Him take the brokenness...to make the ragged broken pieces into something beautiful.

A wounded heart shouldn't keep you from connecting with the source of healing…with God. In this big picture none of this "stuff" matters. What matters is am I still connected? Do I still believe He is good...despite failed expectations...despite constant disappointment...despite these rude awakenings? Truth: Looking up...sitting at His feet...the only thing that matters
is Him. Just to remember is a gift. Just to speak His name.

Why do we so easily give other things or people more control over the heart than the author of romance Himself...

Returning to my first love…I want to dance with my King to the song of all songs...to this love song He so sweetly sings over us.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours Father. Thank you for taking the brokenness and making it into something beautiful for You...Keep making me more like You...into the me you always intended for me to be...thank you for your unconditional and unceasing love...Let us dance away my Jesus into Sweet dreams.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Always a Yes to God


Something I’m thinking about today.

A disciple is a learning, active follower. What if we lived every moment…expecting…waiting to hear the LORD. Asking the Spirit to guide, lead, and fill us. Is it so radical to actually live the way the Lord has called us to live?

Lord…make us more like You. Teach us to be You. We want to know You more. We want to say Yes to You…

“… hear me say YES! Not ‘I’m worried.’ Not ‘ I’m stressed out.’ Not ‘I’m anxious.’ Not ‘I’m too afraid.’ Hear me say thank you. Hear me say YES! Watch me live a life of Yes. To all that was and is and is to come. The power of sin and death and fear-sent-from-the-enemy are forever ended because we can trust in the bridge even if it’s caving, in God even when it’s black, in manna-nourishment even when we don’t know what it is. The God whom we thank for fulfilling the promises of the past will fulfill His promises again. In Christ, the answer to the questions of every moment is always Yes…” 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp


Choosing to spend time with Him…always the best choice. Choosing to be Christ to others…to love the unlovable…to be His hands and feet…to seek Him…to go…to move…saying Yes to God…it doesn’t guarantee easy. It doesn’t mean perfect. It is so easy for life to become crowded with stress, anxieties, questions, confusion, business…But when You look at the big picture. We are here for Him. We are His. Always a Yes. He is Worth it.




“I’m saying yes to You, and no to my desires. I’ll leave myself behind and follow You. I’ll walk the narrow road, because it leads me to You. I’ll fall but grace will pick me up again.

I’ve counted up the cost, Oh I’ve counted up the cost…And You are worth it.

I do not need safety, as much as I need You. You’re dangerous but Lord You’re beautiful. I’ll chase You through the pain, I’ll carry my cross, because real love is not afraid to bleed.

Jesus take my all, take my everything. I’ve counted up the cost and You’re worth everything.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How do you live in the ordinary when you have an extraordinary love exploding within?


Today was the first day of school. So I find myself reflecting on the months that have just passed.

I could never have dreamed or imagined a summer like the one I just lived. To an outsider it may not seem like much. I didn’t go anywhere crazy, didn’t do anything extravagant, no wild summer parties, I didn’t even make a lot of money…

But I lived. I experienced my Savior. I tasted His love. I lost myself in worship. I had raw, vulnerable, heart conversations I will never forget. I spent quality time with genuine, amazing, true friends. I have seen prayers answered. My heart was embraced by truth. I felt the crashing waves of my God’s grace. I have lived and I have grown.

And it all began with a Kiss.

I started off this summer with a disappointment, a letter saying that I hadn’t been accepted into the nursing program at college. I was [beyond] confused. I knew having an almost perfect GPA and high level test scores should have guaranteed me a spot. While I wanted to throw a temper tantrum—inside I couldn’t justify it because I felt peace. I was aware that I had started to take control of my life plans and by closing this door—God reminded me who really was in control. He said no.

The next week I spent four days on a mountaintop with incredible friends and thousands of others just worshipping. Nothing compares to unashamed worship…to lifting hands, nothing above you but stars, raising your voices with thousands of others just proclaiming that He is God. I started falling…deep…in love with my Savior. He is beautiful.

 I was undone when I came home from the trip to the mountaintop. I was so hungry for more worship…more of the word…more Jesus…I wanted to spend every waking moment learning.

The first truth I learned…He is enough.

We sing this. We say this. But when you truly start to understand and BELIEVE this? You will never be the same.

When I am lost in worship—in those moments—my heart completely becomes overwhelmed and it is easy to believe He is enough. When you grasp onto truth—your perspective, actions, thoughts—all change. To worship is to kiss God. When I heard this I sobbed for about four hours. There was nothing sad to these tears…

It makes me laugh sometimes to be around single people my age and to hear them over-spiritualize singleness saying things like, “Well I’m not looking because I know there are plenty of fish in the sea and God will bring the ‘right one’ along when I’m mature enough for a relationship”…really…let’s be real…it is hard…waiting is torture sometimes.  Who likes waiting? Who likes to be alone? For someone whose life dream is to be married and have a family…being single at this age can be really discouraging. P.s. I’m not doubting that some people really are content to be single [that is an incredible gift and I admire those people]…

But when I heard this…to worship is to kiss God…it hit...Jesus is my first kiss. We know He is enough in the big things…but to be enough in the small…in the details that are so intimate and close to the heart…ripped me open raw.

Worship has always been important to me. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t pick up my guitar and sing…but it has become so much more than just joyful noise…it is a sincere act of love between me and the One who holds my heart…We just had another night of praise and worship at our church this past weekend…singing…hands lifted high—surrendered—nothing else matters—undone…His love FOR me…it is beautiful…I lose sight of all around me…at His feet is where I belong…

I hate the moment I have to open my eyes and leave the stage. I don’t like when the lights come on and we all go to our cars and go home to the routines of life. I want to stay there.

“You are holy, great and mighty, the moon and the stars declare who You are. I’m so unworthy but still You love me…forever my heart will sing of how great You are!”—Phil Wickham Cannons

I’m so unworthy…but still He loves me. Another truth: He loves me

Growing up I saw life through a distorted lens which led to a negative view of others, me and a disappointing view of God. This heightened insecurities and anxieties…believing lies from the enemy (even though I had been taught the truth my whole life.) There was a disconnect until I really started to seek the Lord…to really dive into His word and circle His promises and His truth—all the ways that He truly does love you and me. Truth slams the door shut to the enemy.

James 4:7, The Message, “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time…”

“To You Oh Lord, I lift up my soul…none of those who wait for You will be ashamed…lead me in your TRUTH and teach me for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day…” Psalm 25:1, 3 &5

Truth: God relentlessly lavishes His love…singing countless love songs to my heart. It is impossible to escape His loving reach.

Zephaniah 3:17, “the Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing…”

“Whom have I in Heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth…My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength [rock] of my heart and my portion forever…” Psalm 73:25-26

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow [pursue; chase after] me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…” Psalm 23: 1&6

Truth: He thinks I am beautiful… Do something beautiful for God and become beautiful doing it (1 Timothy 2:11)…Again, the one time I feel truly beautiful is when I worship…[not because of anything I do]…not because of my clothes, voice, or actual appearance but because I am completely captivated by Jesus. I let go of the world around and lose myself. I feel like a little girl ready for her big date with her Dad and He makes me feel like I am truly beautiful.

Truth: He can use [even] me….He continues to pour new passions into my heart…fresh desire to love and live out His words…as my love for Him grows so does my compassion and love for people. During the camping trip with the youth group, God started opening my eyes to these new passions. I started letting go…letting go of my plans, my expectations, my goals, my fears…letting go and just truly opening up to Him. What did He want me to do with my life? I always saw helping out with the youth group as a chore...something that I had to do…but during that trip my eyes started changing and my heart started clinging onto these kids…it was the first time I actually believed that I could help in ministry for the rest of my life. I also knew God was expanding my love for song and worship.

As my passion for the Lord grows I become more and more restless. There have been moments where I’m so ready with crazy passion to go go go that I think I may explode. I have always been this way…longing to run, to make a difference, being dared to move, and yet I hear God as clear as day telling me to wait.

The words.

Hope. Wait. Patience. Faith. Trust. Be still. Long. Hunger. Commit. Obedience. Expect…Hope and wait…words that God has pounded into me daily this summer. Verses, books, devotionals, songs… all embraced these words. Everything that I have been reading…God keeps whispering the same lessons into my heart. Hope is symbolized in the Bible as an anchor. “Like an anchor holding a ship safely in position…our hope in Christ guarantees our safety…”

Hebrews 6:19-20, “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…”

In times of trial or doubt…TRUST in God because that ANCHOR holds. Hope means an assurance of God’s presence and faithfulness...a sure-confident-expectation that HE will fulfill His promises—with faith and patience—be still. Remain. Let God be the anchor and let go. Leave your hands open and trust that He is good. We are here for Him—created with a plan and purpose to bring honor and glory to His name alone.

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” Psalm 27:14

“Wait passionately for God, don’t leave the path…” Psalm 37:34 The Message

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my HOPE [expectation] is from Him” Psalm 62:5

“My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait [HOPE] for Your word. My eyes fail with longing for Your Word [Promise], while I say, ‘When will You comfort me?’…You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait [HOPE] for Your Word…” Psalm 119:81-82 & 114

“I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I HOPE. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning…hope in the Lord” Psalm 130:5-6

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let Your loving-kindness, O Lord, be upon us…as we have HOPED in You...“ Psalm 33:20-22

“Rest [Be still] in the Lord and wait patiently [longingly] for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes…” Psalm 37:7

“You are everything You promised…Your faithfulness is true…Waiting here for You” –Christy Nockels, Waiting Here for You

There are so many things I think I’m ready for, so many steps I want to take but I’m waiting…trusting in His timing and His hand. He has a plan and purpose for my life [Psalm 138:8]…

The Friends.

I heard someone say once that they were allergic to small talk. This is me. Part of it is a self-conscience thing because I’m not comfortable talking about the weather or your new pair of shoes. Surface talk has its time and place I suppose…but what I really love is having conversations that matter…the ones that you remember and replay in your head. I want to dive deep. Let’s get to the point…say what is really on your mind or heart. I’m confident when I talk about my heart or my walk with Jesus because you can’t be anything but honest…there are no wrong answers…God has placed some of the best people in my life. People to laugh with [people who pretend to enjoy my creative and hilarious jokes], eat with [lots of chips and salsa, buckets of French fries, burritos, milkshakes], play games with, have movie marathons with…and at the same time…this same group goes deep…we have raw, vulnerable, hard, heart conversations, we can cry, we can share the hard and ugly moments, we can be broken, we can be real. We can talk about the Lord and shout out worship together because Christ is in the center…and He brought us all together when we needed each other most. I'm beyond thankful for the friendships.

An Ocean of Grace

One of our last church services of the summer is on the beach. Even as a little girl this was my absolute favorite service of the year. We sing and have the sermon on the boardwalk…then as a congregation we all march down to the water for baptisms. I was baptized when I was 7 but I knew it didn’t mean anything to me. It was more of an act to please my earthly parents than for me to please my Heavenly Father. I had to get baptized. Out of nowhere God gave me courage…I knew it would be a huge leap in our relationship…and I was beyond ready to dive in…

Before getting baptized we are asked to share our story. This is something I was nervous about. It was the second time that God had asked me to share this summer. I was nervous that I would be so emotional, then break into tears and not be able to make any sense.

 The worship band, Jesus Culture has a song, Your Love Never Fails, both times that I have shared my testimony—this song has played through my mind. Through my life I can say that even when there has been hard, ugly, or pain—joy has come in the morning…Nothing can separate us from His love…He makes all things work together for our good…It comes from Romans 8. The Lord is such a friend…He pointed me back to Romans 8 from three different sources the day before I got baptized…

“The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus HAS SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and death…For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’…we are children of God…And we know that God causes all things to work together for good [that which makes us more like Christ] to those who are called according to his purpose…” Romans 8  

Nothing can separate us from His everlasting love or truth!! We are never out of His loving reach.

That morning was amazing. Oh the beach—it is where I told God I first wanted to follow Him, spent hours upon hours digging in His word, seeking Him, the hardest conversations between me and God have been on the beach, my prayer spot, where I first shared my story with friends, some of the most intimate worship has been on the beach…and it is where I was baptized in the crashing waves…the line “If grace is an ocean we are all sinking” took on a whole new meaning that morning…completely overwhelmed with joy…and “peace beyond comprehension”

“The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds IN Christ Jesus…” Philippians 4:7

After the service, people all went their separate ways but I was ready to jump…run…scream from the mountain tops to all the masses that He is God!! I was dipped into the rough waves—dying to my old self—rising again with Christ—a new creation!—Ready to live.

How do you live in the ordinary when you have an extraordinary love exploding within?

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that He didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” –Francis Chan

I know God has me here [waiting] for this season. I pray that while I am here I wouldn’t lose this fire or passion that is rising up inside but that it would only continue to grow. There are lost, hurting, and broken people right here that need to know the love of our Savior. I pray we would all grasp, cling, and hunger for His word and tell the world the truth…of this love that never fails.

Thank you Lord…for an incredible summer of sweet memories all surrounded around You…for a group of heart friends who encourage…for grace pouring over me…I am blown away by Your love for me…for saving me…for breaking and ripping me open raw only to mold me back together—shaping me into the woman You always created me to be…I am a work in progress [for.sure]….but Lord You have my heart and I don’t want to just sit here. I want to be making a difference—loving You and others with all that I have and all that I am. I want to be running hard after You until I can no longer run…then I’ll walk…then I’ll crawl. I don’t ever want to get to a place where I am stuck—not growing—just going through the motions. More of You Lord...less of me. Help me to seek and choose You--daily.

Forever I want my life to sing…”My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord…for He has done great things for me…”“I will praise the name of God with song and magnify Him with thanksgiving” Psalm 69:30

 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Waiting Here for You...and Trusting.

My heart is so heavy. People all around are facing difficult trials, trying circumstances, having to bury loved ones, or standing in a hospital watching them fight for more life..


Sometimes it is so much more painful to watch others around you break and weep than to actually experience the pains yourself...I sit on the outside and watch as my heart is pulled and torn in so many different directions for so many people. I cry out on my knees that people would find comfort and joy among the pain...then getting up to hear another tragedy...back down to the knees I fall...

All of a sudden my personal heart aches do not feel as dramatic. 

My world may seem to be filled with stress and worry but the heart nagging anxiety that overwhelms a body, mind and soul when you helplessly watch families fall apart...a beloved grandparent passes...a boy--too young to be in bed fighting for his next breath...children out to play being hit by drunk drivers...All of this reminds you how fragile life is. Our lives are so short here on earth...

James 4:13 And now I have a word for you who brashly announce, "Today—at the latest, tomorrow—we're off to such and such a city for the year. We're going to start a business and make a lot of money." You don't know the first thing about tomorrow. You're nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that." 

Our lives are too small to live for ourselves...we have a greater purpose to fulfill...

God has been reminding me in so many countless ways the past couple of weeks how little I am in control...and just how great He is. When it comes to His timing...me and God have trust issues...I would love to see His agenda on several different items on my prayer list...but it does all come down to trust. Trusting that He has our best interest at heart. Trusting that even when we cannot feel or see construction signs--He is at work. Trusting that even when we are so unworthy He will mold, shape, and use us. Trusting that He is good...that He is God...no matter-whatever-whenever.

He is so powerful..the Lord of everything...He is ruler of it all..and even though He is so great and huge and amazing..do not let this intimidate you!

At the same time He is so personal. "You're the LORD of all creation...yet still You know my heart..."- Christy Nockels Waiting Here For You

It doesn't cease to blow my mind how overwhelming His love is. I think about it every time I stare out into the ocean...the artist of this massive world and all that lives in it...He is the One holding my hand when all seems to be falling apart...

I want to remind people of His love...that these hard things in life do not come as a shock to God...He knows what is going to happen..He knows how it ends...and through this pain, hard, and difficult-to-understand life He does indeed have a plan and a purpose. 

I am the first to admit that I have dealt the unfair card...that life is not supposed to be this hard...I have wrestled God with the "why" questions...We do not know everything or the answers to all the questions and I believe that God is protecting us by not sharing this information with us...I just pray when disaster strikes we run to the Father and not away...

He is a pursuer and will chase after Your heart...Let Him catch you...

His love has no end. His love is never failing. His love is unconditional. He is more faithful than the morning. Run to Him.

This life I can guarantee will be more difficult than peaches and cream..hard, heavy, pain will come...we will face troubles...but rest in the fact that God has overcome the world. He took on the hard and ugly face first--and destroyed it into the ground...Our Savior knows the ending...Until the day He calls us home...while we are waiting here for Him...trust.




Friday, July 27, 2012

Gifts Among the Garbage

from the heart of abigail joy

There will always be garbage.

This is the reality that hit me hard in the face at work.

I am a member of the Custodial staff at Church. No…it is not the most glamorous of summer jobs…but let me remind you that one of the first female janitors was someone every girl longed to be at one point in her life...Cinderella. I scrub toilets, mop floors, stack chairs, wash windows…It usually isn't one of the jobs on my list...but this particular week was all about the trash.

You would be surprised how much trash one building can collect after one weekend of activities.

I started to recite a speech in my mind that I would give to my future husband...I will cook (or I would be willing to learn how to cook more than scrambled eggs), I will do the laundry, I will even mow the lawn...with scissors!...but please do not make me take out the trash.

I started throwing the bags out on the sidewalk to carry to the dumpster. Wasn't it Cinderella who sang, "One day my prince will come..."...when the bubbles rose as she scrubbed the dirt away from the floor...

I started singing my own version...

This is when the thought hit me...there will always be trash. My prince has already come. He is here. He rescued me. And there is still trash to take out...

I look for happily ever after...I always have...I long for romance, for ultimate joy, for the garden...Searching for perfection in the fallen world...gets me into trouble.

“Why did God curse Eve with loneliness and heartache, an emptiness that nothing would be able to fill? Wasn’t her life going to be hard enough out there in the world, banished from the Garden that was her true home, never able to return…He did it to save her. For as we all know personally, something in Eve’s heart shifted at the fall. Something sent its roots down deep into her soul—and ours—that mistrust of God’s heart, that resolution to find life on our own terms…In love, God has to block her attempts until, wounded and aching, she turns to Him and Him alone for her rescue…”
Captivating –John & Stasi Eldredge

Like most women...we all have our own insecurities to battle...I fight lies...fear is real. And when hard circumstances remain unchanged I think God needs my help…So I try to control my heart…

There are nights I spend wrestling with God...when the morning comes I realize how self-centered I truly am. I question God, I beg Him to bring about change...I cry to Him because when nothing changes...I think He hasn't heard me. It all comes down to me. I think God owes me something. I'm searching for other ways to fill my heart...isn't that sending God the message that He isn't enough? Am I praying for God to make my life more comfortable?

This is not home…We weren't created for this place. We weren’t created for comfort.

It only takes a moment to become overwhelmed with the memory of the cross…for what He did for me and you…I always end up back at His feet…realizing that He has my best interest at heart…Why do we always wait for the aching to become so raw and real till we turn back to our Savior? He is our life. He is why we are here.

“And love God, your God, listening obediently to Him, firmly embracing Him. Oh yes, He is life itself…” Deuteronomy 30:20 The Message

I believe that God has a bigger plan and purpose for me than being a trash-taker-outer for the rest of my days...I believe He is taking the pieces of me and molding me into the woman He wants me to be…I believe following Him...no matter what He has you doing...will always be an adventure of ups and downs...and I whole-heartedly believe that He gives me jobs like taking out the trash to teach me deep lessons...

By His grace He uses, teaches and loves the least of us.

Praying God gives me eyes…daily…to find the lessons...eyes that search for His never-ending-grace…amidst the trash we have to continue to take to the curb...

Thanking God True Love has come and rescued our Hearts

“Here we stand…our hearts are Yours...Not our will…but Yours be done.” -All Sons & Daughters


 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Faint-heart, What got into You?"


From the Heart of Abigail Joy

I just got back from an awesome trip to the Creation Music Festival. It was an incredible time of worship, learning, loving, and laughter. Creation is a “Tribute to our Creator”…Christian artists and speakers come from all over to rock out for Jesus. It is a four night camping experience in the middle of nowhere in PA. I was beyond excited to go and to hang out with friends and experience one of my greatest passions…worshiping my Savior!

But inside was a fear. The weather. Storms. I am terrified of thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail…one of the many fears that I have had since I was a little girl…

The morning of the trip I had a conversation with my dear Mother…with childlike innocence I explained to her how crazy it was that I was afraid of storms…who is the author and creator of the weather? My God. So why was I giving the storm more power and strength than the awesome God I serve?

I understand this in my mind...but my heart has trouble fighting the anxiety that grows like a monster inside of my intestines.

The first day we were there was beyond anything I expected…Hands lifted high, dancing and singing along with thousands of others...celebrating the love of our God.

It was the next night when my troubles began… Midnight had come and gone as I dove into my quiet time with my Jesus and clung to these words.

Matthew 14 The Message
22-23As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.
24-26Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror.
27But Jesus was quick to comfort them. "Courage, it's me. Don't be afraid."
28Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."
29-30He said, "Come ahead." Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"
31Jesus didn't hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"
32-33The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, "This is it! You are God's Son for sure!"

This is one of those passages that we learn in Sunday school...just like the story of Noah and the ark we can recite and act out the words. But each time I dive in, new questions arise and this night I found myself lost in questions…Would I have enough courage to jump out of the boat? Have enough faith to take the step out into the rushing sea? My mind continued to wander.

Eventually I fell into a half sleep…only to be woken up an hour later. I was so restless. Anxiety started to take over. I was sharing a tent with five other girls and all of them lay sleeping…unaware of the pain that I was experiencing…tears began to form, I lost control of my breaths and I curled over…praying God would send me into a deep sleep…this is when the lightning began.

Time passed by painfully…longing for the sound of morning…the thunder began…I couldn’t sit any longer I went out into the rain to the main tent I needed air…needed to hear a voice…I wanted to run but had no where to go…my greatest fear was overtaking my heart and I had no one to cling to…I grabbed my cell phone and quickly turned it on…it was close to four in the morning…“At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. "A ghost!" they said, crying out in terror.”

God is incredible…in the storms of life…there is always a lesson!
It is all about perspective. So desperately I want to jump...I want to go out into the water to be with my Jesus. I look at His Love hands. I trust. I walk on water...fears disappear. Then the thunder gets a little louder...the lightning a little brighter and I lose sight of my Savior. I look down at the crashing waves around me and suddenly I have lost sight of the One who is holding on tight. Fears overwhelm me and I cry out, "Master, save me!"

As morning dawns and the night begins to fall...the rain song disappears and the birds begin the morning symphony. I made it through the storm. Jesus didn't hesitate to reach down and hold me. He calmed my anxious heart. But I heard Him whisper, "Faint-heart, what got into you?" The question sends me to my Father's feet. Sorry for not trusting...for not believing...for not keeping my eyes on His Love. He always has a plan. I will never be without my Lord. When I leave this earth...I will still be with my Savior...why did I lose faith?
One speaker shared, "Even when the light starts fading...hope should not..." Cling to hope...

Storms will continue to rage on...I can only pray God would give us eyes for the storms...to see through them...to find grace, love...His strong hands He extends through it all...