The Road to Beautiful

…a journey of the heart

God’s love letter to you

You are the most beautiful woman to ever walk the face of the earth.

I delight in you.

You rock My world.

You make My heart go pitter patter.

I am completely smitten with you…

adore you…

am head over heels, crazy in love with you!

It makes My day every time you smile!

Hubba hubba ;)

For the Lord your God is living among you. I am a Mighty Savior. I take delight in you with gladness. With My love, I calm all your fears. I rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17

Place Me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for My love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench this love; neither can the floods drown it. Song of Songs 8:6-7

You are Daddy’s girl.

You are My princess.

You are My favorite.

For you are My masterpiece. I created you anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things I planned for you long ago.

Ephesians 2:10

I just stinkin’ love you!

enlarge my heart

For years now we’ve read and heard quoted the scripture found in 1 Chronicles 4:10, “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.’  So God granted him what he requested.”

It has been dubbed The Prayer of Jabez, and I have always heard teachings on this scripture in relation to blessings in the monetary sense.  Years ago I typed it in a pretty font, printed it on pretty paper, framed it and placed it on my mantle as if it’s very presence in my home would rain down pennies from heaven and result in good behavior.  It’s probably still sitting there today; I can’t remember.  I have in the past faithfully prayed and declared this prayer over my family and home.   After all, it’s a great prayer!  I want to be blessed in every area of my life.  I want to not do evil or cause pain.  I want God to grant me what I have requested.  And don’t we all?

But today has brought to my heart an entirely new and different view of that verse.  I watched a moving video about a couple, with kids already grown, who adopted twin baby girls.  (You can see it here – http://player.vimeo.com/video/83605785)  I saw the excitement and pure love on the faces of this once-again new mom and dad and on the faces of their grown children at the sight of these little ones.  It was beautiful, and yet I thought, Man, I wouldn’t want to start all over again!  Bottles, diapers, sleepless nights….. ugh.  Now that’s love!

Immediately Jabez and his prayer interrupted my moanings.  This thought, this new prayer, flooded my mind and heart - God, enlarge the TERRITORY OF MY HEART!  Expand the BORDERS OF MY SOUL that I may love as You love.  Increase the CAPACITY OF MY HEART to love others NO MATTER WHAT ACTION THAT LOVE MAY REQUIRE OF ME!  

And so He shall.  If, that is, I am truly willing to love.  Because to love like this - to love as God loves - requires death.  His love for us required the death of His one and only Son, and His love through us requires our death.  If we are to truly love as He loves, our self and our selfishness must die.  Pure, true, selfless love cannot coexist with the natural me.  I cannot live in myself and live in love unless I let His all-consuming fire consume me. 

I want to be love.  I want to be the love that is action, the verb even more than the noun.  I want to take love further than the ooey gooey, the wishy washy, the warm and fuzzy.  I want the deepest recesses of my heart to rise up in courage and act in love.

Jesus talks about our hearts in Luke 6:43-45, “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”  (By the way, this is exactly why Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts!) 

I love that Jesus used the word “treasury” because it gives my mind a picture.  A treasury is a place where valuables are received, kept, managed and disbursed; a place where great treasure is stored.  Imagine a lovely building.  Paint it red in your mind if you wish and decorate it however you like; that’s of no consequence.  The important thing is what lies inside, what fills this precious storehouse.  If the treasury of your heart is not filled with love, there is nothing of value to impart to others.  Even the best among us, from our own resources, cannot truly love our neighbor as ourselves the way Christ commanded (Mark 12:31) or esteem others higher as Paul instructed (Philippians 2:3). This kind of love takes much courage, strength, sacrifice, and obedience.  It is not for the weak!  

20131230_172155

But take heart, my friend, Jesus has us covered!  He assures us in John 16:33 that, despite the trials and sorrows of this world that try to pour into our treasury that which is not fit to give, He has overcome!  It is only by His power at work within us, enabling us, that we are able to love.  When we let God live through us, He will accomplish exceedingly more than we could ever ask or even think (Ephesians 3:20).  And, boy, do I need Him to do so in me!

I love this quote from Danny Silk (lovingonpurpose.com) – “Courage is being authentic and living the story from your heart daily.”  

Love has overcome, and because of this, the story our hearts live can be one of overwhelming love and selfless courage.  We can, indeed, love as God loves!

God, grant me the courage to love like this!  Let love penetrate my soul, not just on the good days, but every day, whether it feels good or not.  Let my actions, my words, and the motivations of my heart show the love that is You.  Watch over the coming in and the going out of my heart.  Let there be death to self and life to love.  Let the inside story of my heart reflect Your heart.  Enlarge my heart!  God, grant me what I have requested.

love is

Love is generous and matchless

It is abundant and alone, simple and complex

Love is a gentle whisper and a deafening roar

Love considers self but is not selfish

Love is me and us, but love is mostly you

Love is surrender and triumph

Love is speak up, and love is shut up

Love is a past forgotten and a future hoped for

It is memories made

Love is patient and urgent

Love is screaming in silence

It is a sunny day and a thunderstorm

A roaring inferno and a soft flame, fierce and gentle

Love is fighting for, not warring against

It is exclusive and inclusive

Love is a stream, muddy and clear

Love is a kiss and a touch, and sometimes love is distance

Love is holding on to this and letting go of that

Love is inner musings and spoken words

It is fantasy and reality

Love is a soft heart behind an iron gate

Love is trust hurled in the face of doubt

It is alive to hope and dead to fear

Love is heart and soul; desire

Love enters bringing fulfilment and leaves wanting more

Love is seeking and finding, again and again

Love is everything hoped for and nothing earned

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is you and me

Love just is

my story

Love is enough… Love conquers all…

My young heart took these statements into my marriage and lugged them around for 22 years. I knew before I ever said, “I do,” that God was saying, “Don’t.”  But I married anyway, and I paid a heavy price.

The first four years of marriage were blissful, and then it started. The cycle was always the same – he would accuse, I would cry, I would reason, we would talk, he would apologize – I’m so sorry. I know you’ve never cheated on me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me – and I would forgive. Over and over for 18 years my husband accused me of having multiple affairs. With every painful accusation, every cutting look, through each hellish argument I told myself, It will be okay because we love each other. I didn’t see that things weren’t even close to being okay.

I soon understood why God had said, “Don’t.”

I still remember the first accusation; I was shocked, blindsided, dumbfounded. I didn’t even know how to react. An affair?! Me?! I had never even had any offers or an inappropriate conversation with another man. I was never unfaithful, but that didn’t matter. My husband was my accuser. He was the source of my pain and my comfort. He was my best friend and my worst enemy. Bad was mingled with good, hurt intertwined with love.

Years went by, our children came and grew and life seemed normal. But normal in my marriage wasn’t normal at all. My husband never laid a hand on me, but I was terrified of him. His words and eyes cut me deeper and did more damage than his fists ever could have. Physical wounds would have healed much sooner than the gaping cuts my heart walked around with. Maybe if he could have seen that I was battered and bleeding inside, he wouldn’t have repeatedly demanded that I “just get over it.” Even when things were great between us, I was acutely aware that it all could go south in a heartbeat. I walked on egg shells all day, every day.  The ache in my heart was constant.  I cried more than I care to remember. All I had ever wanted out of life was to be married and have kids. I used to think, I guess I got my wish, but this is not what I had in mind.

On the outside, my marriage looked fine. My kids were happy, and I was smiling. I wanted to be okay, so I acted like I was okay. Only God knew I was going through hell. No one at church knew, not even my family. I was completely isolated. I was a genius at covering up my pain. Survival mode said, “Preserve the marriage; protect the kids,” and I did.

I was then and am now deeply in love with Jesus.  I love my kids dearly.  They’re so great, and I love being a mom. I loved being married in spite of the junk. I was happy in spite of living in fear every day. I was full of joy and yet hopelessly sad. I didn’t want a divorce, I only wanted my husband to stop treating me so terribly. I wanted him to trust me. I wanted him to believe in me. To see into my heart and know that I truly loved him. To know that all my heart was for my family. I was desperate for him to know, once and for all, that the affairs he imagined in his mind never happened, and that his suspicions were unwarranted. I wanted him to stop taking back his apology with the next accusation. I wanted him to be the good man that I knew he could be. I told myself the same things that I’m sure most women do in my situation, But we’re Christians. If I pray enough, hope enough, believe enough… I know God can fix this. Divorce is not the plan!

And divorce is never the plan.

I know that God can fix a troubled marriage and that nothing is too hard for Him. I know He is the Great Physician and healer of all hurt. I know of His life-changing power. This knowledge kept me going, gave me hope and kept me sane. God will not, however, force someone to change. I remember the day this realization hit me like a truck. If a person isn’t willing to change, change will not happen. No matter how much I prayed for God to change my husband, to change me, or how much I tried to adapt to this ever-changing/always-the-same situation, it was never enough. I told myself, If my words, expressions and actions are just right, he won’t suspect me of having an affair. If I just try to be the perfect wife, maybe then he will see that I really do love him. But no matter what I did, nothing changed. It never dawned on me that I was in an abusive relationship. My every move was controlled, and I didn’t even realize it.

The abuse escalated during the last three years of the marriage. The accusations became more disgusting, more harsh and more frequent. His words and eyes grew more violent. No one has ever looked at me or spoken to me with more contempt than my husband. My husband – the one who promised before God to cherish and protect me. The one who should know me better than anyone. How could he hate me so much one minute and love me so much the next? I prayed repeatedly, How much of this do I have to take?! When will things change?! Each time I heard God softly tell me to stay. To this day I don’t know why, but I knew I couldn’t leave him. God didn’t remove me from the situation when I would have chosen, but He sustained me. He was so faithful to hold me and wipe my tears. Every. Time. Never. Failing.

And then one day, out of the blue, God said, “It’s time.” I didn’t have to ask, “Time for what?” He didn’t have to tell me twice. I knew exactly what He meant, and I ran. I ran and didn’t look back. Some may argue that God would never tell a person to leave a marriage, but I have no doubt that had I stayed, the abuse would have become physical. I believe God rescued me that day.

I literally felt like I had been let out of a cage.  I felt so free and yet so afraid!  The thought of being a single mom kind of terrified me, and I was so concerned about my kids.  Accusations continued to fly, and no matter what I did to protect my children and their ears, they were not to be immune from the lies. But a full year before the day of my escape, God had spoken to me very clearly. He said, “Don’t worry about your kids; I’ve got them. I love them more than you do.” Little did I know then how much those words would impact my life. I have clutched them so tightly, and they have brought me great peace.

I would love to tell you that my husband changed. I would love to tell you that we worked things out and my marriage was saved. But that is not the case. I learned some hard lessons when I disobeyed God all those years ago.

I learned that love does not conquer all. I learned that love is not enough.

I said earlier that no matter what I did, nothing changed. That’s not entirely true. I changed.

God took my disobedience and exchanged it for priceless truth. He taught me how to run to Him, and every time He met me with strength and wisdom that I did not possess on my own. I learned how to pray and trust on an entirely different level. I learned that real worship doesn’t just happen on a warm and fuzzy Sunday morning. Real worship happens when you remain faithful in the trenches day after day even though your life is falling apart around you. I learned what it means to be truly happy despite your circumstances. Real joy comes from God alone and cannot be taken from you when life gets hard. Little by little, year after year, through stubborn determination, I learned. I learned what real love is. You see, the truth is, I did have a love affair. I fell so desperately in love with God during those awful years, and that is how I survived. I had no one else to turn to. God was all I had, and I learned that He is all I need.

I learned that His love conquers all, and that His love is enough.

I disobeyed God and walked willingly into a situation with an outcome I could never have foreseen. But God, in His grace and mercy, didn’t abandon me. He followed me. He took my hand and walked with me on my journey, even though it was not His plan. He protected me and comforted me. He never once said, “I told you so.” He never once – not one time – left my side. He has never condemned me. He is gentle in His correction and passionate in His love for me.

I will be your God throughout your lifetime — until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4)

I am not advocating divorce. I hope that is not what you take from my story. I want to impress upon you the unconditional love of a God who passionately pursues us. A God who redeems all of our mistakes. A God who runs after us into our storm with an umbrella and an anchor. He is our refuge and our strength (Psalm 46:1). God is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer (Psalm 18:2). He will never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5) even in our disobedience.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

Three years have passed since God brought me out of that situation. He has taken me on a journey of healing that has been so amazing. I no longer live in fear or feel the incredible pain that was my constant companion for nearly my entire adult life. He has put my heart back together, replacing the missing pieces with pieces of His own heart. He has wiped away my regrets and my shame along with my tears. He is my perfect husband who knows me better than anyone. He cherishes me and protects me, and I am precious to Him.  He speaks only words of life, and if I could see His eyes, I know they would be filled, not with hatred or contempt, but with great love. He is the forever faithful love of my life. I know this today more than ever before.

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I feel Him singing over me today, and it feels oh so good.

I hope that you feel the love of God today and every day no matter where you are in life or what you are going through.  In gain and lack, in peace and turmoil, in hope and despair, God is a good God.  He loves you unconditionally.  This is my prayer for you always.

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your heart as you trust in Him. That your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

this is how I roll

Want to eliminate anxiety from your life?  Me too.  Not possible, you say?  I beg to differ.

There is a secret that’s not really a secret.  Feel free to share with the class and your mom and your neighbors.  Maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you haven’t.  It’s so old, it’s new.  It’s so simple, it’s hard.

Drum roll, please.

When a fearful, hurtful or anxiety-ridden situation slaps you full-on in the face, here’s what you do -

Ask God these exact (or somewhat similar) questions:

God, what’s Your take on this situation?

Jesus, speak to me about this.

Open my eyes to see things from Your perspective.

God, here’s what I see. Now, show me what You see.

What do You want to say to me about this?

Here’s how I feel….. but how should I feel?

Help me to feel more connected to You than to my emotions.  (Ahhh… this is the hard one!)

There you have it. You’re welcome.  :)

There’s no need to wig out or unravel.  No need to breathe in an abnormally deep, long and rapid manner.  And you wanna know the best thing?  Not only do you not have to freak out about things, you don’t have to manage the not freaking out on your own. Hallelujah!  Not only will God show you His perspective on things (which, by the way, you couldn’t even imagine if you tried), He will help you to stop, drop and roll when the fires of anxiety are licking at your hiney.  Sorry if you just got a gross visual.  God will help you, empower you, and enable you to get into the habit of taking a self-prescribed, God-delivered chill pill at the first signs of angst.

I didn’t say it was easy, just possible.

Here’s what I suggest….. ask Him now, while you’re calm.  Don’t wait until you’re about to blow a gasket or rip someone’s head off, punch the wall or punch your kid.  Please don’t punch your kid.  Do it while your world is at peace, soothing music plays in the background, rainbows are scattered across your sky and unicorns dance at your feet.  Seriously, do it now.  Ask Him during your quiet time.  Decide that this is the kind of person you want to be (oh, come on, you know it is), and then leave the hard work up to Him.  He is a heavy lifter, a strong arm, a safe refuge, a strong tower, and (BONUS!) He cares about you, your emotions and even your tantrums. Ask Him over and over again until you start to get it.  I think it goes without saying that He gets it the first time.  We are the ones who take a while.  Ask God to take you on a journey of peace, love and a sound mind.  We have the mind of Christ already.  I don’t know about you, but I want to act like I do.

By the way….. I am still learning to live this way.  The patience you extend to me as I journey is appreciated and will be reciprocated….. lovingly, of course.  :)

praying scripture

I have been praying scripture over my kids since birth. And not only my kids, but their some-day spouses also. I have compiled a list of some of my favorite scriptures turned into prayers. I keep a printed list in my bible for quick reference.

Just thought I would share. :)

*****

I pray, Lord, that You will bless and protect us. That You will smile on us and be gracious to us. That You will show us Your favor and give us Your peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

I pray that we will choose life and not death, blessings and not curses, so that we and our descendants will live. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I pray that we will not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But that we will delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. That we will be like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. That our leaves will never wither, and we will prosper in all we do. (Psalm 1:1-3)

I pray that You will grant wisdom to us, and from Your mouth will come knowledge and understanding. That You will grant a treasure of common sense, and that we will be honest. Be a shield to us that we may walk with integrity. Guard our path that we may walk justly, and protect us as we are faithful to You. I pray that we will understand what is right, just, and fair, and that we will find the right way to go. That wisdom will enter our hearts, and knowledge will fill us with joy, wise choices will watch over us, and understanding will keep us safe. (Proverbs 2:6-11)

I pray that Your Spirit will not leave us, and neither will Your words that You have given us. May they be on our lips and on the lips of our children and our children’s children forever. (Isaiah 59:21)

I pray that You will plant seeds of peace and prosperity among us. That our grapevines will be heavy with fruit. The earth will produce its crops, and the heavens will release the dew. I pray that you will rescue us and make us both a symbol and a source of blessing. (Zechariah 8:12-13)

I pray that we will grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)

I pray that the Word of God will be near to us- in our mouths and in our hearts. (Romans 10:8)

I pray that the Holy Spirit will produce this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources You will empower us with inner strength through Your Spirit. That Christ will make His home in our hearts as we trust in Him. That our roots will grow down into Your love and keep us strong. And may we have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is. May we experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then we will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

I pray that our love will overflow more and more, and that we will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. That we will understand what really matters, so that we may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May we always be filled with the fruit of Your salvation — the righteous character produced in our lives by Jesus Christ — for this will bring much glory and praise to God. (Philippians 1:9)

I ask You to give us complete knowledge of Your will and to give us spiritual wisdom and understanding, that the way we live will always honor and please the Lord, and our lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, we will grow as we learn to know God better and better. I pray that we will be strengthened with all Your glorious power so we will have all the endurance and patience we need. May we be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. (Colossians 1:9-12)

I pray that Your alive and active Word will penetrate our innermost desires and judge the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.  Cleanse us from hidden sin.  May the words of our mouths and the thoughts of our hearts be pleasing to You.  (Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 19:12, 14)

*****

I could go on and on….. and on and on.  There are so many great scriptures I want spoken and prayed over my life and the lives of my children.  Sometimes my quiet time consists of opening my bible, flipping through pages and praying scriptures I have underlined over the years.  It is something that feels very precious to me and has been a source of comfort on my most difficult days.

I hope you can put these scripture prayers into action for your family. Prayer works! It is invaluable in our lives. Just remember, prayer is a two-way communication. Take some time during your quiet time to listen to God. Remember what you learned in kindergarten – God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you talk! God has much to say! He wants to speak life to you today! :)

the big lie

John 8:44 says that the devil is a liar and the father of lies. There is NO truth in him. If his mouth is open, lies are coming out. He is incapable of telling the truth. Have you ever known someone who lies even when it would be easier to tell the truth? Satan is a bigger liar than that a gazillion times over. He sits on a throne of lies…. literally.  He is a thief; a twister of the truth. He may give you his version of a truth, but it is never the truth. He skews the facts. He fudges the numbers. He causes us to look at our experiences and exchange the truth for a lie. You can be sure Satan is lying to you. It is what he does. He doesn’t play favorites; he lies to everyone.

You have believed a lie.  Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger; we all do it. We accept what is whispered in our ear as truth. Sometimes it’s a new lie, and sometimes the same lie over and over. What is the Big Lie in your life?  Most of us have one or two…. or a hundred. It is important to identify it, bring it out into the light.  What deception have you swallowed? In what way has the deceiver yanked your chain? Do you think you’re not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough? Do you think no one loves you? Maybe you don’t think anything good will ever really happen for you, and that life is meaningless and your efforts are futile. These are lies. Satan knows how to hit you where it hurts. He knows exactly which buttons to push. He knows just what to say to get the most bang for his buck. His lies to you may be different from his lies to me, but lies are lies. And he is behind them all.

On the polar opposite side, Jesus speaks only truth. 1 John 1:5 says that God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.  None. Not even a shadow. Not one lie or even a half truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and will guide you into all truth (John 16:13). Not just some truth, all truth, in every situation, every time. There is no doubt, no worry, no confusion – only truth.

Our part in the story is to let ourselves be guided; to debunk the lies with the truth, or rather, listen as God’s Word debunks the lies. Think of the Holy Spirit as a lie detector, not unlike a metal detector, that will beep like crazy when it runs across a lie. We are the ones who have to pay attention to the beeping, realize the lie for what it is, and let God replace it with His truth. God is truth, so we can look to Him to find it. But we are the ones who have to do the looking, the listening, and then the believing. It is a choice we make in every situation. We can let the father of lies have free reign in our minds, or we can let the Holy Spirit take over. Ask God to show you what the truth really is, and then ask Him to help you believe that truth.

God, how do You see this situation? What do You think about me? What should I believe about this or that? Do You have a plan for me?

Satan will come, and he will speak. That we cannot control. What we can control, however, is who we listen to. God is also speaking in every situation you encounter. Which voice will you entertain? Whose words will you receive into your heart? The voice you choose to listen to is the voice that becomes the loudest.

It is worth your time to take a look at what you believe about God, about yourself and your life. Ask God what lie you have believed. Ask Him what truth He wants to speak to you.  If the answer you hear is full of condemnation, guilt or shame, it is not from God. He speaks only life and love.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life more abundantly.  John 10:10

Satan is the father of lies. God is your Father. Look your Big Lie square in the eye and say, “My Daddy can beat up your daddy.”

Jesus Calling 07.13.2012

I love Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  The devo for today is just amazing.  It reads -

I want you to experience the riches of your salvation: the joy of being loved constantly and perfectly.  You make a practice of judging yourself, based on how you look or behave or feel.  If you like what you see in the mirror, you feel a bit more worthy of My love.  When things are going smoothly and your performance seems adequate, you find it easier to believe you are My beloved child.  When you feel discouraged, you tend to look inward so you can correct whatever is wrong.

Instead of trying to “fix” yourself, fix your gaze on Me, the Lover of your soul.  Rather than using your energy to judge yourself, redirect it to praising Me.  Remember that I see you clothed in My righteousness, radiant in My perfect love.

To think that the richest part of salvation is that we are loved constantly and perfectly!  Wow, what an amazing thought!  We don’t have to do anything or be anything.  We are made whole, complete, righteous, and more than “good enough” in Him when we accept Jesus as our Savior.  There is nothing more to be done, but to continue to run to Him, know Him more, love Him more.

So lighten up on yourself.  Let’s face it - we are not perfect, nor will we ever be.  But we are loved perfectly.   Instead of trying to fix ourselves and “make ourselves better” in our own eyes (or in the eyes of others), let’s fix our gaze on Him who loves us more than we can ever know!

The God of the Universe, the Almighty Creator of everything, is already completely smitten with us. :)

dare to dream

I am in a situation which holds a huge opportunity for learning and growth to happen in me.  Don’t you just love those?  Aren’t they just fun?  I am waiting on God for a number of things – direction, open doors…. more direction.  We women don’t always wait so well, but I am doing my best.  I am purposing to be patient.  I’ll have to let you know how that goes.

As a woman, I want to plow ahead.  I want to figure things out – what I should do, where I’m headed, what will ultimately happen, how I should handle things, make a plan, git-r-done. But in this situation, there are no plans to be made. There is nothing to do except to trust God and wait.  Sigh.  God has brought me here almost kicking and screaming. Willingly, yes, but also with some fight in me. I know the plan I would choose, and would really rather He just execute that strategy. Really, God, I’ve got it all figured out!  No such luck for me; or maybe no greater blessing for me.

Knowing what you want, what you believe God has for you, and knowing there is no way on His green earth you can make your dream a reality…. that is a place where there is such an enormous lesson in trust and obedience, in waiting with peace in the midst of anxiety, in overcoming fear, in learning how to not become bitter or jealous, in giving up control and truly surrendering daily (okay, hourly). There is nothing that I can do to bring about the end that I desire. Nothing. Just sit back and wait to see what God will do.  This is such a hard thing, and yet so easy.  So stressful, and so amazingly peaceful.

I have been on a journey for the last couple of years getting my mind wrapped around this loving God that I serve.  He loves me; this I know.  I have known my entire life that God is a God of love, and that He loves me.  I have never doubted it.  This recent journey, though, has engrained that truth so much deeper in my heart.  His love for me is so great.  No fear can live in my heart alongside God’s love; there is no room.  His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).  You can take that statement literally.  No anxiety can reside near His peace.  His grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor 12:9), and His peace passes all understanding (Phil 4:7) - mine included. The uncertainty feels thick in my mind at times, but God has reassured me that there really is no uncertainty. His plan is His plan, and it will happen in His time.  It is already in place and working in my life, whether I can see it or not.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  This is such a great verse, so reassuring and comforting.  But nowhere in this verse does God say He will share those plans with us ahead of His time.  Let’s face it, sometimes He doesn’t even give us a hint. Our job is to trust in His timing as much as we trust in His plan.  For me, that’s the more difficult part.  Come on, God, spill just a bit!  Let me in on the details!  Not happening.  Instead God is asking me a question.

Do you trust Me?

I trust you, God.

Do you really trust Me?

Yes, I really trust You.  But could You just….

No…. do you trust Me?

God is asking us for complete trust.  Not just surface, I’m-a-good-Christian, say-the-right-words trust.  He is looking for deep, down-to-our-bones, permeating-through-our-every-cell trust.  This does not come lightly, and He does not view it lightly.  It so greatly pleases Him.

I am waiting on God and trusting Him.  I have laid out before Him the desires of my heart.  Desires I believe He has placed in me.  I have prayed a very bold prayer.  This prayer is big.  Huge.  So much bigger than me.  When I was writing it down, I actually felt a little shaky.  It is something so outside of myself, there is no way I can accomplish it on my own.  I have had these desires in me for a while, but have never compiled a list and written it down before.  It is a big step toward a very big dream, but I serve a very big God.

This morning I was reading The Circle Maker, and in it Mark Batterson talks about Cornelius and Peter and the visions they each had (Acts 10).  Cornelius’ vision happened first, and Peter’s during his prayer time the following day.  It occurred to me that if Peter hadn’t been in prayer and focusing on God, he probably would not have been in a posture to receive the vision.  Jesus had previously told Peter that he would play a major part in the establishment of the church, and through the visions of these two strangers, Christianity came to the Gentiles.  It had already been spoken, promised, and the plan set in place.  Still, it required diligence, perseverance and faith on Peter’s part for the prophecy/vision/dream to become a reality.

As you wait on your dream, your desire, your future, I encourage you to trust God wholly.  Spend quiet time with Him each day.  Get to know Him intimately.  Focus on Him.   Therein lies your hope.  God’s plan for you will not be thwarted…. as long as you are trusting in and waiting on Him.  I know, for me, I don’t want to do anything to hinder, postpone or completely trip up what God intends for my life.  And you know how we can do that?  By running ahead with our plan, instead of waiting on His.

God is able to do infinitely more than I could ever ask or even imagine (Eph 3:20), and believe me, I can imagine big!

I dare you to dream today, and then I dare you to trust God with it.

 

50 things I love about God

O Lord my God, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them.  Psalm 40:5

What can I say about God?

1. He is perfect.
2. He loves me wholly and completely.
3. He knows the deepest parts of my heart and accepts me exactly as I am.
4. He is already beginning to answer my prayers, even before I pray.
5. He desires me, He pursues me, He honors me.
6. He is patient and kind.
7. He listens to my every rambling and doesn’t mind when I repeat myself over and over…… and over.
8. He speaks to me in the most gentle way….. even when I’m whiny or grouchy or demanding.
9. He never condemns.
10. He provides everything I need.
11. He laughs with me, but He never laughs at me.
12. He likes to be silly with me, but He doesn’t think I’m goofy.
13. He is not demanding of my time, but wants my time willingly surrendered to Him.
14. He is my healer.
15. He loves my kids even more than I do.
16. He loves time alone with me.
17. He makes everything beautiful.
18. He holds and guards my heart.
19. He is the light in my darkness.
20. He will never abandon me.
21. He is the best teacher.
22. He holds me when I cry.
23. His mercies are new every morning.
24. He keeps no record of my wrongs.
25. He keeps me safe.
26. He loves that I love Him.
27. He is fun to hang out with.
28. His thoughts toward me are precious.
29. He is a problem solver.
30. He is my best friend.
31. He is strong and mighty.
32. He died for me, defeated death and rose again.
33. He can kick Satan’s tail.
34. He gives His angels charge over me.
35. He is my peace.
36. He gives me rest.
37. He holds me up when I’m weak.
38. He gives me wisdom and common sense.
39. He uses my pain for His glory.
40. He is ALL truth.
41. He makes me free.
42. He chose me before I even knew of Him.
43. He is already in my tomorrow.
44. He has a plan for my life that is beyond anything I could ever hope for or imagine.
45. He forgives and forgets, but He remembers the important things.
46. He is as faithful as He is able.
47. His words bring only life.
48. He is a fair Judge, He is a righteous King, He is my Shepherd.
49. He is the guardian of my soul.
50. He knows me better than I know myself, and He loves me more than I love myself.

God is all this and more in my life.  He is my be-all, end-all, know-it-all, take-care-of-it-all, so-don’t-worry-about-nothin-ever, always amazing, incredibly loving, awesome filled, atonishment provoking, shockingly forgiving, incredibly faithful Father. 

He is my everything.  His love is perfect.  His plan is perfect.

This is my prayer for you today -

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.  Your roots will go down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever!  Amen.   Ephesians 3:14-21