Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Do you feel beautiful?

We were working together to get the last load of laundry folded before bed and Mike asked, “Are these your jeans or Taylor’s?” My man, working on the day’s final task that kept him from sleeping, had no idea what a flattering question that was to me. I am MANY sizes larger than my beautiful daughter, so logically there is no room for such confusion. When my brain kicked in with these practical thoughts, I made myself push them away. “Just enjoy the moment,” I said to myself, and so I did.

Mike sees me as his wife, and while covered in dust from a hard day of work around our “farm,” my hair in a messy bun and lacking even the tiniest crumb of makeup, I am beautiful in his eyes. Oh, I doubted this for many years of our marriage but have come to believe it as truth. Michael makes me feel like a beautiful princess, even when I feel and look my worst.

Even better, my Lord sees me as His child, holy and blameless in His sight. Feeling scorned and cast out, covered with sin and regret, I have spent many years doubting this truth, too, but His Word is clear. Let’s take a little Scripture journey together. Will you join me?

• “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 NASB)
• “yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-” (Colossians 1:22 NASB)
• “all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22b)
• “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NASB)
• “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  (1 John 1:9 NASB)

This is the message of the cross! I am covered with sin and shame and in my flesh there is nothing good. Yet, because He caused the iniquity of all of us to fall on Him (Is 53:6), shed His blood on the cross, and conquered sin and death through His resurrection, I have been cleansed, forgiven and redeemed! The sin that separates me from My Lord is pardoned, removed as far as the east is from the west, and remembered no more! Praise His Holy Name!

May you enjoy your week, knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ cherishes YOU as His beloved child whom He set free from the bondage of sin! Even when you feel unworthy, God’s truth is still truth, and as His child, you have been washed and made whiter than snow!

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB).

Monday, April 18, 2011

His Yoke is Easy

Whew! What a busy week! Ministry opportunities abound and there are hurting hearts everywhere we look. Easter is fast approaching, as is our children’s Easter egg hunt, one of our biggest outreach programs of the year. Our church held a special baptism service on Sunday night with our largest group ever in attendance. (How exciting is that?) Our precious Amariah (who is six, I think, and is the daughter of our Children’s Ministry Coordinators), broke her tiny elbow on Sunday afternoon while our families were moving church storage locations. Our annual church business meeting is just 2 weeks away and I am having technical issues with some of the information files that must be distributed this week (please pray!). Our women’s ministry team met in preparation for our mother-daughter tea and this month’s fellowship event. Our income tax returns are filed thanks to the extremely generous help of a sister in Christ! In addition, I found myself the victim of identity theft this morning.

I was close to tears for most of the week, truth be told. Part of the reason was stress related, I won’t lie about that! Mostly, though, they were tears of gratitude for the blessing our Lord is pouring into my life. This week I saw specific prayers answered in mighty ways. I had the opportunity to wrap my arms around a struggling sister, I witnessed 7 people affirm their faith through baptism, shared coffee and laughter with an amazing group of women and, tax related, saw first-hand how God has woven the last few years together to guard our family. I can’t express to you the generosity of our friend who tirelessly researched some complicated tax issues. Thankfully, Mike noticed the identity theft within a few hours of the first fraudulent transaction and our credit union handled the situation beautifully.

I was running crazily behind schedule. Before church on Sunday morning, I had just a small slice of homework to complete and also had to find an important tax related document to discuss after service. As my alarm went off, I prayed, “Lord, should I look for the paper first?” He whispered to my spirit, “Just sit with me a while and I’ll show you where the document is.” You would understand the significance if you could see our lack of a filing system at home. Sure enough, after quiet time and homework I literally went straight to the exact box I needed and found the document within 30 seconds.

As I have grown in my faith and learned to lean on the Lord for my strength, trials and stress are much easier! The Lord tells us to take His yoke upon us for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I have never truly grasped this encouragement, but this week, it came to life. I suddenly understood that the yoke is fitted for two! Honestly, I feel a bit foolish for not figuring this out earlier! I finally envisioned a yoke that a team of oxen might wear. Jesus is wearing half of the yoke and inviting me to share His yoke with Him. As we are strapped together and moving as God the Father leads, Jesus carries the bulk of the load. Wow, did this ever mean something to me this week!

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Subscribe by E-Mail!

Hi there!  I would like to bring something to your attention.  I've added a new gadget on my blog that makes it VERY EASY to subscribe to posts by e-mail!  I hope you'll sign up!  You can do so on the right side of your screen - just type your e-mail address into the white box under "Follow by Email" and click SUBMIT.  You'll then be asked to type in a verification code.  When you receive a confirmation e-mail in your inbox, please open it and follow the links to verify that it is really you that made the request.  Blog posts will then be delivered right to your e-mail box!  How easy is that?

Please also consider becoming a traditional follower of this blog.  It would help me in a big way!  (That gadget is located on the right of your screen just below "Follow by Email.")  I have some work that I would love to have published.  It's a long process, of course, but one thing that agents and editors look for is some form of public following.  It seems silly, but the more followers I have, the more seriously I may be considered by publishers.    Following this way won't bring any junk e-mail or unwanted communication from me.  It's something similar to "like" on a Facebook page!  :)  If you already are a follower, please accept my thanks!

Thanks for reading, and for encouraging me through your e-mails.  I love and appreciate you all!


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Truth

I feel a little “soap box” coming on this morning. I apologize for what may seem preachy, but from the heart, the mouth (or typing fingers) speaks! My recent personal devotions have focused on finding God’s truth. Hang on, friends, and remember that this rant is directed toward me!

We are subject to lies that we believe about God, ourselves, the way we think our lives should be, relationships, our eternity, etc. In addition, we have an enemy who desires to deceive and keep us in a perpetual state of confusion. Yet, many of us refuse to arm ourselves with the only weapon we have. WHY is it so hard to spend time in God’s Word equipping our hearts and minds with everything He wants us to know? WHY, if there is full truth recorded just for us, do we refuse to take the time to learn it? God’s Word is fully available to us in written form, on the Internet, smart phone apps, e-book downloads and even audio for our I-pods! WHY is it so unimportant, even to Christians?

Remember, there is an enemy who prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). How can we fight such a battle without the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17)? How can we rely solely on our experiences and our faulty, human emotions to be our guide?

OK – that is enough yelling and I believe it is time for some grace. Each of us is in a different season of life. God knows that perfectly. I am preparing to become an empty nester. My friend, Carmen, just adopted infant twins and a month ago had no idea that motherhood was in her immediate future! Our lives and schedules are completely different but we must each take steps to be purposeful and diligent in carving out time for Him. Jesus did.

Empty nester – stop relying on your old excuses! Turn off the television, step away from the Internet, and dig deep in to the truth of the Word!

New, sleep deprived Mom – during naptime, ask the Lord to show you one verse that you can write on a note card each week. Post that card in a highly visible place and meditate on that one verse as you’re nursing.

Career Woman – purchase an audio version of the Bible and listen to the truth as you drive to work. It doesn’t have to consume your entire commute – just a few minutes of focused listening to His Word can completely change your day!

Soccer Mom – a pocket-sized Bible is perfect for reading for a few minutes on the bleachers. Think of the witness you will provide to those around you!

All of us – how about reading the Word to close our day? How sweet would our sleep be if God’s Word were the last thing our eyes saw before sleep?

You get the picture. If you can, dive in and dive deep. If you simply can’t at this season in your life, take a purposeful step to get the Word of God in you somehow, some way. You won’t be sorry. Knowing Him through His Word will bless and equip you for the battles of life.

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth (NAS).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Beautiful Transformation

We had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate Taylor’s final high school spring break with a girl’s trip to Disneyland. My good friend, Sherry, and her family happened to be there at the same time and we spent an afternoon together in the park. Her youngest, Carlie, was not excited about our intrusion but agreed to let Mom and Dad enjoy a tall people’s ride while the rest of us flew with Dumbo. Big sister, Cacie, had much to share about her Disney experience but Carlie said barely two words as we waited in line. She kept an apprehensive eye on Taylor and me.

Once awarded a magic feather and allowed to choose which Dumbo to ride, Carlie decided to ride with “Her,” pointing at Taylor. There wasn’t much of a smile as she boarded, but they slipped into a green Dumbo and flew up into the sky! Cacie and I had a grand time flying higher than the buildings.

Carlie was a new girl when the ride ended. She chattered to Mom and Dad about the fun she’d just had and over lunch told Taylor every detail about falling out of her bed at home the week before. She told us all about her pets and her friends and before lunch was over, said she wanted to ride the next ride with “Taylor.” Suddenly, my daughter had a name!

Soon, Taylor was no longer “Taylor,” but “friend.” They played hard and while belly laughing, Carlie looked at me and said, “She’s funny!” When it was time to depart, Carlie hugged Taylor and said, “Goodbye, best friend.” It was a heartwarming transformation and one I won’t soon forget.

It made me think of how it must thrill the Lord’s heart when we stop keeping him at arm’s length and start considering him “friend” or even “best friend.” Perhaps you’ve always known Christ as a friend, but maybe you’re like me and had to learn to trust Him first. I once referred to Him as “The man upstairs.” Over time, I became bold enough to use His name, “Jesus.” Now, He is “Lord,” “Master,” “Friend.” Yes, He has become my best friend, the One with Whom I share everything and hold nothing back.

God has moved no closer to me. He has always been close enough to wrap my arms around and stood still, solid as a rock, drawing me nearer to Himself. As I accepted His invitation, I believe it warmed His heart. He does not need a relationship with me, but He desires one. I add nothing to His perfection and when he holds me close, dressed in the filthy rags of my stained righteousness, he remains holy and blameless. My sins don’t rub off on Him; rather, His glory rubs off on me. Miraculous. The fact that he would desire relationship with the likes of me remains a great mystery, but I am blessed beyond measure that He, indeed, does.

John 15:15 NIV

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.