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Friday, January 6, 2017

Year of Seeing

God has been posing a consistent theme in my life: Seeing. The blind man. He wanted to see. Through the difficult situations in my family, I need to see things through the lens of the word. I need to see things through God's perspective.

But here is another way of seeing. He allowed me to discover a new treasure today. In 2 Kings Elisha is surrounded on all sides by the enemy. His servant is very concerned. Elisha tells his servant not to be afraid. "For there are more on our side then on theirs! "
2 Kings 6:17 says "oh Lord, open his eyes and let him see!"

When the Lord opened the servant's eyes, he saw that the hillside was filled with the Lord armies, horses and chariots of fire on their side!

What if during our darkest hours, the same was true? What if the hillside around us filled with the Lords Armies, ready to fight on our behalf? 

When I feel alone, I need only remember, He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world.

Let's look at how God sees. At the moment of Creation, God looked at what He had made and He saw that it was good. So I, too, even in the midst of a broken world, can choose to look around and see the goodness in everyone and everything, only when I filter it through the lens of the Word. Only when I ask for His perspective. Jesus IN me, live THROUGH me.

God also calls me to see His grace in the midst of suffering. To see the beauty in each day. To see the blessings in the pain. This is hard seeing. But as we keep walking instead of giving up, He shows us what those blessings are. Look hard for God and wait on Him expectantly.

We can also see today with eternity in mind. What part of the things we are worried and anxious about are really going to matter for eternity? With the death of both my parents in 2 years, I have come to understand that the only thing that matters in this life is what we do with the truth of Jesus and how we love others. All else is fleeting and temporary.

Only by asking Jesus IN us to live THROUGH us, can we SEE the way forward. The way forward is always to give thanks.For more on forward living click here and HERE!

Whatever I see, my thoughts are fixed upon. Then my actions will follow. So Lord, help me to see with your Light. I'm asking the Lord to give me His vision. Illumine my vision that I would see without the veil.

Because we've turned to the Lord, the veil was removed. With unveiled faces, we contemplate the Lord's glory. We are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 2 Corinthians 3:18

I want to see with clarity, like a "man." Reveal to me the hidden things, the secrets, the mystery of Christ.

Now I see in part. Then I shall see fully. 1 Corinthians 13
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How Does Your Garden Grow?

First, building the garden.

Then, marking the garden with God's word. Asking for His blessings to provide growth.

The labeling.

brings new life into nothingness!

My Daily Bread ...From a Place of Darkness

I'm a note taker, a list maker, a box checker. I like to have everything I need to do written down, preferably on paper so I can physically cross it out. That gives me satisfaction. Inevitably, I put my quiet time on that list because I've been a Christian since I was 10. I know it's the thing to do. And then I could check the box. But that part of my list was often replaced with other things that were "more pressing." And sometimes that box didn't get checked. Or maybe I spent "just enough" time with God to allow me to check the box and move on. Other days, usually dark days, I would spend hours in the word, eating more than my fill.  As I think about my own poor habits, I am reminded of God's manna, His provision of bread from Heaven.

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But like God's command to the Israelites, take only what you can eat. (study only what you can internalize for that day - meditate on it day and night). In a word, my life was unbalanced. And my heart motives were all wrong. And I was so bewildered why my life was like a tornado on a roller coaster. I had good days. But the very next day, my circumstances-whatever they may have been-had me thrown into a whirlwind. And I had some circumstances that threw me - my health battle, my child's rebellion and anxiety, my Mom's suicide.

Highs and lows...isn't that life? I thought so. It was my normal. But these lows were enough to rock me, to keep me down and dysfunctional in the role God gave me. I begged for stability over and over through these seasons of pain and turmoil. I needed an anchor.

Finally my anxiety became crippling. I began to have thoughts that life was hopeless. Me - who has a husband who loves me and a beautiful healthy child. And it was just too hard. I felt I no longer wanted the responsibility of raising a child because I kept failing to do it right, do it perfectly. I couldn't bring myself to face that thought. And after all, my Mom was a righteous woman. She loved Jesus. And she lost the battle. So what does that mean for me?

It turns out my desperation led me down a different path --straight to the cross. And that is where I met my Anchor. Only when my very life depended on it,  I could run to Jesus with my first breath of the morning, begging Him to show me His perspective on this world filled with more ugliness than I can bear. I put on my armor like I was really in a battle because I was. And this was the change. It wasn't just a box I checked. It was going to God to receive my daily Bread from Heaven. Each day, just enough to fill my weary soul.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Dwell - The Beginning


God has been doing a work in my life and He is leading me to share it. Through the ugliness, there is beauty. When I am feeling crushed beyond what I can stand -He rescues. I want victory but so often I find myself in defeat. He still calls me His delight. My hope is that this will 
encourage all who hear to                                                                                                 

                                                  Let the Redeemed Say so

What is DWELL?

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The Hebrew term for dwell, "Shakan," means "to sit, to remain, to abide, to stay, to rest, to continue."

To continue? To continue walking IN CHRIST. Living in Jesus' rest and fulfillment.

YES, to dwell is my goal. To remain connected with Him and to LIVE life that way

That is the goal of sanctification, to recognize that on our own strength, it is impossible. Seeking Him day after day, hour after hour. To fully rely on Christ in every moment. To implore Christ IN US to live THROUGH US. To continue walking along the path of holiness, even when we feel like giving up. To dwell in His shelter amidst the struggles, the pain, the brokenness.

 Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 

But until the day we are made complete in Christ, we will not do this perfectly. We will fail. When we do, we will remember, His mercies are new every morning.

Dwell. I think of a home, where we find comfort and rest.  REST is my heart's destination. But how do I dwell in His shelter, practically, when there is chronic illness and car accidents, broken marriages, co-dependent relationships, and crippling grief?

Over the last four years, God has illumined this word for me over and over in the Scriptures. Let's take a look at three Scriptures to help us apply His instructions.

First, through my study of Moses, I learned that God's plan from the beginning has always been to dwell among his people. He chose to dwell, or tabernacle, with his people at the center of camp.

 Exodus 25:8 Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.

2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."

God's plan has always been for His people to be at home with Him. His commitment to dwell among His people is His grand plan of redemption. This great promise runs through the whole Bible. God always planned to live among His children in perfect fellowship. The Lamb's triumphant sacrifice both secured and accomplished God's purpose for the people He loves --because one day, He will truly physically dwell among us. We will finally be completely satisfied, whole, content, and healed. And without sin. We were made for this!

Through studying Ephesians, we learn that through the new covenant, God's laws are written inside us and our lives are transformed by His eternally indwelling Spirit.  And what a difference that makes in daily life! We have access to and continually draw from the inexhaustible supply of Living Water that flows from the throne. When we receive this gift, our deepest needs are satisfied and we find true contentment.

Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. NIV

"Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong." NLT

Oh Lord, Do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine 
according to the power of Christ at work within us!

  And finally in Revelation, I am reminded that God's dwelling place is where we are meant to be forever, reigning over the Nations at the side of Jesus.

Revelation 21:3-6 (NIV)And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”  

What encouragement! What hope to look forward to!

So dwell is our destination. We get that, but in the meantime...
What if we could connect to God and experience His presence in the midst of a sin-scarred world. What if we could live with the victory and the fullness of life God promises to those who seek after Him? What if we could truly understand what it means to be God's dwelling place? What if we could experience His Power as we allow His dwelling within us to shape and control our actions? I believe we can - through sharing our stories honestly with other believers, through speaking out about our own redemption. Not only were we redeemed when we accepted Christ, God continues to redeem our broken parts. As we come alongside other believers and hear their struggles, something inside of us breathes relief. Our innate drive to compare ourselves to everyone else is silenced as we realize we are not alone in our hard places. We find hope. God made us to live in community with one another. Here, there is encouragement to continue along that path, and we spur one another onward toward the good works he has planned for us long ago. It is here we find rest, and I believe we will dwell in His presence-and we will be changed-like never before.

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So I say to my Lord, show me how to dwell. And He answers.

John 15:10-11 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Remain in me. Remain in my love. 

 'Dwell' was the word I chose in 2012-to be the focus of my year. To keep me abiding in Him. It is the word God continually places on my heart to shape this endeavor. This year-2016-was different. I've been seeking hard after God and desperate to find Him. So many losses wrecked my heart. I asked Him to use them. Don't let them be in vain, Lord. God kept saying, share my story. In years past, I might have ignored Him, justifying with, "It's too hard. Ask someone else." But this year I had a taste of victory. I learned that life is too short to stay inside where it's comfortable. With so much death close to me, I learned that the only thing that matters is what we do with the truth Jesus offers and how we love others. All else is temporary and fleeting. So I risked it all for Him. I invited you. I shared my testimony and gave glory to God's grace in my life. And it was hard. My family experienced much persecution from the enemy. But we kept doing what God called us to do.   

"Dwell" is a ministry of Grace, a monthly home gathering where all women can come together and share the glorious things God has done in our lives. The hope is this will become a safe place for others to share and encourage one another along our journeys. Simply put, it is sisters-- called to be still for a moment- in the midst of busyness, in the midst of the weary. I feel the heaviness of the world. Let's come together and declare the Kingdom of Light has already achieved victory. Let's claim that victory back in our lives- daily. It's time to step on the snake and crush the lie that our stories should be kept in the secret places.  It's time to live in freedom, freedom from fear and comparison. Let's not keep it to ourselves where the pain can steal and destroy. Instead-we can share what God has done in our lives to encourage each other to keep walking-to keep standing firm. What will He call you to share about His greatness? My story is not grand, nor is it complete, but it is beautiful. Because redemption always is.We all have a story to tell. We can find our purpose and our joy together as we dwell in His presence. We can spread hope. Let the redeemed say so!

I asked, "Lord, why must I suffer so?"

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kindergarten- It's Official

Well, it's official. Our family homeschool is up and running. The first days were no different or more exciting than the past year, when we would periodically pull out the learning tools and homeschool, although we weren't officially a homeschool family yet. Now, a few days underway, it's starting to sink in. It is exciting. There are new school supplies, new learning toys, and special priveledges only known to the student in our family. Then came the bumps, the resistance, the whining and complaining. The doubts, too. "He won't listen to me. Why?? He's so obedient for his teachers at church and last year at preschool." But I knew I had to stand firm and persevere. But I have to try something new, because what used to work isn't working. We play games.

 I let him teach me. He loves it when I get the answer wrong and he has to correct me. He teaches his stuffed animals. 

He learns while he plays, moves, and experiences his world. He needs lots of breaks, and gummies, they make all the difference. 

Oh, and did I mention he's got the strength of an ox for a will? He's intense and spirited, just like me. His heart spills over when he's loving. When things don't go so well, it's World War III. So we play Opposites. I make up a situation and I let him show me the "undesired" behavior (complaining, whining, having a fit) and THEN show me the right way to act. He's learning from this. 

I'm praising him over-the-top when I "catch" him demonstrating something, ANYthing I am looking for, whether it be a miniscule of self-control, sharing, a good attitude, diligence. I'm telling everyone, bragging on him! 

We're studying Scripture about how God wants us to listen to our parents and grow in knowledge.

 Our purpose is to Know Him and to Make Him Known. And we're memorizing the verses. We're praying together as a family every night after our devotion. It's God's moving!
We learned about creation, each day and then observed God's creation for ourselves. The majesty, the beauty. Stand still and know that I am God. On that note, we instituted daily "Jesus Time." We both go to the den and he lies on the floor for 5 minutes. We ask Jesus what He wants us to learn today. He is faithful to answer!
We learn we must stay connected to God. Remain in me, and I in you. John 15:5
We study my verse, the one I need as much as he does. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." James 1:19. 

We learn how to connect with Jesus: to obey Him (Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love. John 15:9-10.

We learn, "Don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says." James 1:22-25

We study the sun and how Jesus is the Light of the World in John 8:12. . We draw shadows on the hour in the morning and afternoon, we learn planets, we have sun snacks. We play Math Seeds and squish our hands through moon dough. He shares his creation book with Mrs. Martha at Brain Trek. And during our Jesus time that day, God reminds me that He does not change or cast a shifting shadow (James 1:17), and that in Him there is no darkness at all. (I John 1:5)
He decides to make a book about God's creation, cutting pictures from an old Ranger Rick magazine. We play "Armor of God" where I get to be the enemy and make up lies. He has to refute the lies with Scripture or Praise! I feel the training must start now! Because we really are in a real live battle with the enemy! 

We read Dr. Seuss's Bartholomew and the OObleck, and we try out the green goo ourselves. We make exploding moon rocks, which were less than impressive. Daddy constructs a rocket ship to the moon and we take a trip there to walk on the moon (aka neighbor's trampoline). We measure how far Daddy and Jacob can jump, then we multiply times 5 to determine the distance we could jump on the moon! We learn beginning-sound phonics, memory verses for CC, and construct a paper meche moon lamp.
At CC we learned the bones of the Axial Skeleton, so we came home and constructed our own skeleton! He loves Science, expecially experiments. We made herbal play doh from chai latte (mmmmm) and used it to help us skip count our 3's.  We started our new unit, APPLE, and I'm really excited because we get to study the Fruit of the Spirit. I made apple sandwiches (cheese, peanut butter/raisin) for a snack. We played "Guess the Fruit" by reaching into a bag without looking. We used a banana for "JOY" since it's naturally smile-y. The Joy of the Lord is my Strength. Nehemiah 8:10. I love our little caterpillar. Now that he's laminated we can add a new badge for every unit and he can even wiggle now that my friend Ashley told me about using brads to connect the badges!

Time to study Peace. We love Psalm 34:14, Look for peace and go after it, as sung by "Seeds Family Worship." We went on a hide-and-seek trip for peaches all over the den. Look for peace! Seek Peace! We read about how Jesus calmed the storm and we got to make our own little boat to sail and act out the story in the bathtub (with bubbles of course!) 

Then we read "How to make an apple pie and see the world." We decided to act it out, so I had to persuade Jacob to lay an egg, to milk him when he was the charming English cow, and since the cow had good manners, we decided to learn all about proper table manners. Since the cinammon came from the special tree in Sri Lanka, we decided to make our own cinammon drink (apple cider). It smelled wonderful! And we drank it from a cup and saucer (a first for my man). We made a peach pit craft necklace for Jacob and his bear. "When life's the pits, have peace." 

Patience. We read about Abraham and how he had patience to wait for God's promise. When he looked up at all the stars in the sky, He was reminded that God would keep His promise. We made a constellation project and read "How Big is a Million" with Pipkin. When we pulled out the poster with a million stars, we taped it between 2 chairs and laid down to look up at the stars.

Kindness was especially meaningful. He put on his "Kindness Crown" and had to be kind to everyone while wearing it. He quickly traded that out for his army vest and hat (he wants to be a soldier one day). We went upstairs to find some animals that needed help. Sure enough, there was a hurt turtle, raccoon, and tiger. Then animals started being mean to each other, one by one, and hurting each other's feelings. One after the other, the ugly words and acts were passed along the line. Until one apologized. Then, like a wonder, hearts were softened and each animal apologized and was kind to another, one by one, until they were all playing together again. He really enjoyed this part. Then we looked through magazines and cut out clothing to paste to our "KIND" sign. Lastly, we dressed up a pear. Put on kindness, asifitwereyourclothes. Colossians 3:12 (the cadence of the last 6 words are all together). He called him "Super Pear" and played with him in the castle for a long time! We threw some math flash cards and bears in the mix, but mostly we just learned Kindness today.
Today was Saturday, the perfect day for a lemonade treat. I let him squeeze a lemon and paint a secret message with it. I held it over a flame to make secret message appear, but my paper caught on fire and I had to plunge it into the sink! He licked the lemon and liked it at first, but then, the awful sour taste was realized! I let him pour in the sugar and water, and voila, it was wonderful lemonade!
We took our first field trip as a homeschool family yesterday, to Helen Keller's birthplace. We didn't check the DVD out in time, so we read the book on the way over. Jacob kept saying, "This is the best book ever!" We all loved learning about her. We went on a picnic to Spring Park and then to visit Aunt Mary. A full day. Oh, Jacob is hiding behind all the children in the group photo. He was very shy when we first got there.

And through all of this learning and sensory play, something happens. I feel a change, a softening. My husband has noticed too. I see God's hand most definitely working in my child's life and blessing our family through this precious opportunity we've been given to homeschool. And I still have folks who don't agree and think I'm crazy and he's going to be "weird" or "limited." But what I see is absolutely amazing. The depth of his love for me and for his Father is growing, as is his ability to express it. And it's melting my heart. His prayers are becoming more mature, more sincere. We answered God's call and it's hard. And it's a lot of work, and there aren't many pats on the back. And when my Mom took her life 5 months ago, I didn't think I could go on with this path. But God said "Go, Walk in the Land I have given you." I am fulfilled. By Him.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Healing: My Journey Through the Fear of Anxiety and Living with anAutoimmune Disease

When I first began seeing my holistic doctor, I unknowingly developed several strongholds on what I could eat (which led to depression) and what my child could eat (which led to crippling fear and anxiety). I was trying to follow the letter of the law, according to him, being his intense dietary restrictions. I found myself unable to do so, which resulted in guilt and hopelessness ( if I can't follow them all, what's the point in trying). I was making him my authority.

Only through intervention from the Holy Spirit through prayer work, have I been able to break some of these strongholds that held such a grip on my life. (At one time I emailed a friend, genuinely stressed about suckers from bank tellers.) I have come to realize that no doctor can be my authority. The ALMIGHTY is. Thanks to Dr. X and my own research (and my good friend Libby!), I  now have extended knowledge about what is healthy for my body and what is inflammatory and potentially problem-causing. I can make decisions based on that and feel good about them (most of the time). I allow myself a healthy treat on occasion and I enjoy it. I am saying YES to my child as often as I can because for me, the NO was out of panic & fear (If I let him have a sucker he is going to be sick like me.--That thought is crushing, hopeless, unbearable.)
 Our God is a God of YES.

For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for his glory.
(2 Corinthians 1:20)

I am still very health-minded and trying to get my child to enjoy veggies and green smoothies (it will happen one day!) and I let him eat candy very sparingly, but I do let him have it. And it gives me pleasure to say yes to him. Most importantly, it has brought peace to my soul and I can truly rest in Him during the middle of my chaos and panic (which comes often!)

The most important tool I have learned through prayer work is when I am feeling depressed, panicked, or other strong STOP before I take immediately close my eyes and hold out my hands, palms to the heavens and say, LORD I am feeling out of control. Help me to realize what is really going on....for example, is it stemming from fear? Is it guilt? Is it my extreme need for CONTROL, controlling every detail, or Putting my self-worth in my performance? (If I don't eat right all the time, if I don't serve in every capacity, if I don't take part in this ministry, I am worthless). I say "LORD, I am out of control with ____(fear, guilt, etc) and it makes me completely dependent on you. Let your Spirit wash over me." (There are not magic prayer words, just a connection with HIM). The peace comes almost immediately. This is something I'm just learning to do, and it takes time to incorporate into a crazy busy household. But I am feeling more peaceful and letting go of some of the crippling anxiety that was controlling my life.

When I am living in fear and trying to control everything, my hands are clenched tightly. I  say, "no God, I will not accept this lot. I am going to do everything I can, everything in my power to change this." But "in my power" leads to failure. When I open my hands to Him, I say, "Yes, God. I will accept this, knowing you are good (Psalm136:1), your ways are higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and you will only allow this suffering for my good. (Romans 8:28)" When we open our hands to HIM, we can expect something beautiful to come.

God says, See I am doing a new thing! I am making a way through the wilderness. Isaiah 43:19