Friday, April 26, 2013

Experiencing Life through Faith

Life…
One word defined by limitless experiences.
 
Merriam-Webster's dictionary definition of Life is “the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual”.
 
I’m thankful that it isn’t merely the physical and mental experiences that have made up my life, considering many of them were marred with pain, struggle and grief.
 
If I were to look back over my life focusing only on the physical and mental experiences, omitting the existence of faith, I would be left with little hope for my future.
 
It is the very existence of Faith and Hope in my life that pushes me towards Purpose.
 
There is purpose in the pain, the struggle and even in the grief.
 
It is through those experiences that our character is shaped and molded, our strength is forged and our need for a Savior is revealed.
 
Nothing we experience in this Life (good or bad) can compare to the eternal existence waiting for us, however when our faith is woven into those experiences we give others hope, not just to exist but to experience all this Life  has to offer. 
 
To someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer Life  has new meaning and, depending on the
presence of faith, hope for a future.
 
For some who face the heartache and rejection of divorce and the uncertainties that accompany it, Life seems to be all about the end of plans and dreams but through faith there is hope for new beginnings.
 
Those who struggle with addiction without faith and without hope may see Life  only as a prison but when faith and hope are found, chains are broken, prisoners are set free and lives are redeemed.
 
Our purpose is found in the experiences of Life  where our Faith is tested and our Hope is restored.

 
Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.







 
In this life there is so much suffering
In this life there is so much pain
But if we will only open our eyes
To see the bigger picture, see God’s design
In this life there is beauty all around
In this life so much more to be found
In a sunrise, a babies smile, a child’s embrace
A loving touch, a hand held high, God’s amazing grace
So when you’re tempted to give up because this life’s too much
Just remember to open your eyes and see more than this
Look for the bigger picture, God’s design, His gentle kiss.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Enough IS Enough

From the very beginning, if we were to be completely honest we would have to say that enough has never truly been enough.

Starting in the Garden of Eden, of all the things that God provided, of all the blessings He poured out over Adam and Eve, all it took was one forbidden tree, a deceitful thought and an appetite that would leave the rest of us wanting more.

A well known company has recently aired a commercial with the phrase "We want more, we want more, we want more."

A truer statement could not be made of the world that we’re living in today…

For some of us that’s all it takes, something just out of our reach, for our thoughts to be inundated with a burning desire for more… a better job, a nicer car, a bigger home, a better spouse.

It’s that thought process that can cause irreparable damage, driving some to steal, cheat, lie, even kill to obtain that one elusive thing.

The story of King David is a reminder of one who had everything and anything he wanted, including many wives and many concubines. As King he had it all, until one day He noticed another man’s wife bathing on a rooftop and he wanted her. While her husband was away at battle, David sent for Bathsheba and slept with her, resulting in an unplanned
pregnancy. David tried to cover his sin by ordering her husband, Uriah to come back from battle in hopes that he would sleep with her and assume the child was his but he refused because Uriah was a man of honor. So David sent him back into battle and ordered that he be put on the front lines while the rest of the men pulled back so he would be killed. David then took Bathsheba as his wife, attempting to cover his sin.

It began with a thought, then a desire and set into motion a series of events that included adultery, lies and murder.

David was confronted about what he did by Nathan, who told him the story of a rich man who had stolen from a poor man something precious and of great value to him. After David’s harsh response towards the rich man, these are the words that were recorded in 2 Samuel 12:7-9 Then Nathan said to David, "You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife."

Although we have a merciful God, David would have harsh consequences to face for his choice to satisfy his selfish desire for more.


Having ambition or drive to be successful isn’t necessarily bad or sinful, especially when we’re striving to be who God created us to be, but the inability to be satisfied, an insatiable appetite for more, that’s where we find ourselves in a world of trouble.

Some of us are searching for something that we will never find from anyone or anything on this earth. We all have certain needs and desires that can only be met by our Creator but until we realize that and seek Him we will always be looking for love in the wrong places, we’ll be attempting to fill our lives with material things and unfortunately we will only be left wanting more.
 
Hebrews 13:5
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

In other words, don’t want what you don’t have, because if you have the Lord then you have all you need and He will never leave you!
 
I love how the Message bible words this scripture:

Matthew 6:30-33
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers- most of which are never even seen- don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with the getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

 
So there you have it…
Don’t want for anything but God and He will give you everything you need!
 
 
 
 

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Thankful Heart

One month ago today I took a step of faith and began this blog.

I wasn’t sure if anything that I had to say was worthy of your time but I’ve been overwhelmed by the response that I’ve received.

You’ve blessed me with your encouragement and support and I’m so excited to say that I’ve had almost 1000 pageviews.

This is certainly a process and I’m learning as I go.
I anticipate changes and growth and I’m praying BOLD prayers believing, as Mark Batterson says, "God honors BOLD PRAYERS because BOLD PRAYERS honor God."

It is so exciting to pursue what you’re passionate about, knowing that the God of the Universe knitted in you unique qualities, talents and abilities that enable you to become what He planned for you to be before you were even born…

PURPOSE.

The moment you finally unveil what it is that you’ve been seeking for so long, you take a deep breath, with your eyes a little wider, your thoughts a little clearer, and your heart beating a little faster, and dive head first into an ocean of possibilities...that's the beginning of a new adventure as the person you were created to be!

I pray that you keep reading, keep believing and keep seeking the purpose and the plan that God carefully knit in each one of you!


Thank you from the bottom of my heart and God bless you!




Psalm 118:1
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Deep Intimacy



What if our most intimate moments with God happen to be during our greatest heartaches, the moments that we feel our deepest pain?
Throughout my life I’ve experienced great losses and so very many heartaches but it is in those moments that I can look back and clearly see the hand of God on my life and the lives of those around me.
Hearing news of the tragic loss of our beloved grandson brought about unfathomable grief, but as scene after scene played out, God’s mercy and grace washed over us, mixed with our tears and filled our hearts with His love and forgiveness. Lives were changed, hurts were healed. While it’s difficult to accurately describe the incredible love that God poured out over all of us who were grieving, anyone who has suffered that kind of tragedy and experienced that kind of intimacy with God, knows it all too well.
Psalms 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
 
They say that divorce is like a death and having experienced the pain that accompanies it I would have to agree. I would even add that the idea of dying from a broken heart seemed all too possible, and at times, welcomed. Feeling as if I was drowning in an ocean of despair, I desperately cried out to God asking why He was making me suffer. A few years later, standing at a church service and looking at a beautiful sunrise that filled the screen above me, God spoke to my heart, I wasn’t making you suffer I was saving you from a life you were never meant to live. In the midst of my great heartache God was with me, and He saved me.
 
As I scroll through a popular social networking site I see heartache after heartache, countless faces struggling through trial and tribulation.
Loved ones, friends, acquaintances and strangers facing cancer, all at different stages of a disease that doesn’t discriminate. No age, race or gender is excluded.
 
A beautiful young girl desperately fighting a disease that threatens to steal her away from her beloved parents whose world was turned upside down with a cancer diagnosis.
 
A wife, mom, and talented designer who tries treatment after treatment, holding desperately to her faith, hopeful that the next attempt will be it.
 
The stories may be different but the desperation and heartache is the same.
 
Psalms 55:22
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
 
At times this life that we hold so tightly to can be so harsh and still we pray for one more day, one more breath, one more chance.
 
Death
Divorce
Disease
 
Whatever heartache we’re facing we can be sure of God’s promises.
 
Psalm 34:18 (NLT)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
 
"Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be in your darkest days – when your heart is broken, when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone."
~ Rick Warren
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Voice of Truth



I never finish anything.

I can’t stay focused.

I’m not good enough.

I can’t do anything right.

I'm a failure.

 
Sound familiar? I think sometimes we're harder ourselves than anyone else ever could be. The negative self talk becomes a constant reminder of who we believe ourselves to always be.
For years I told myself and truly believed those lies. I attempted different things, tried different jobs but always ended up feeling like a failure and believed that I could never be who I really wanted to be, who God created me to be.

I worked in positions that went against my natural gifts and abilities, only to feel more frustrated and more inadequate than ever before.
 
God didn't choose for me to feel that way, that isn't who He called me to be and that is not what He says about me. His word says that He has a plan for me, to prosper me and not to harm me, a plan to give me hope and a future, Jeremiah 29:11.
 
And He has a plan for you too!
 
So why then do we continue to attempt to swim upstream, going against the natural current God has called us to navigate?
 
One word…FEAR

 
Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of change. Fear, fear, fear.
It’s what most often holds us back from doing what God has called us to do. And that fear comes from listening to voices that tell us something different than what the Voice of truth tells us.

It doesn't matter what we've been told or what we've believed, if we are in Christ then we are not the same.
 

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

And according to His word we don't have to be held captive by the negative thoughts we've had about our abilities or inabilities.

Galatians 5:1 (MSG)
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

Still doubting?

God's word says in
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Isn’t it comforting to know that God has it all planned out, we just need to listen for HIS voice, trust HIM at his word and let HIM lead us?

 God’s word tells us in Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.


So when we find ourselves way off course in the middle of a storm we just need to remember what Jesus did and the words He spoke to those He loved in the middle of their storm…
 
Mark 4:39-40 (NKJV) Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace, be still!" And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, "Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?"
 
Do not fear! Instead, have faith in who God says you are and the plan that He has for you.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
 
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a love of writing and storytelling. I try to "paint a picture" in the listener or the reader’s mind. I want to share with them the beauty and colors of the story, just as any great writer or artist would.
 
Who does He say that I am?
 
He says I’m an artist and a writer, a storyteller….
 
Who does He say you are?

Stop listening to the negative voices around you, especially your own and listen carefully for His voice.
 
Listen to Him. Trust Him. Follow Him.
 
You may encounter a few storms but you have a Savior who walks on water…



 

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Passionate Pursuit


As I watch the wind blow through the trees, I wonder,
is this the life I was supposed to live?
Was this the path to my destiny?
Or somewhere along the way did I step too far off the path,
only to return to a course that had changed,
curving and turning away from the things that I thought I wanted.
Bringing me instead to places I never dreamed.
Step by step I follow this path.
Sometimes filled with joy, sometimes regret.
Where will it end? Where will I be?
The destiny of my own choosing or the one chosen for me?
 
 
 
 
The choices we make in life, good or bad, inevitably have an effect on the consequences we face.
Some of us have made choices that have caused us deep regret and while we may feel that we have altered God’s plan for us, nothing we have done or could do is a surprise to Him. His plan for us still exists and while His plan may be different than ours, His ways are always better.
 
 
Isaiah 55:8-9 "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."

 
The hardest part can be discovering what His plan is and how to get back on the right path if we've wandered a bit.
We can't go back and change what has already been done, but we can make different choices that are more in line with His will for our lives and we can choose to let go of our own agenda, our own plans.

 
"Sometimes our plans have to fail in order for God’s plans to succeed."
-Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase.
 

Even when we feel like we’ve blown it, God is not deterred in His purpose and plan for us by our mistakes or our failures. If you’ve ever wondered what God’s purpose is for your life then you have to believe that He has one and there is nothing we could do that could force God to change His mind or His plan.

 

A few years ago I began earnestly pursuing God’s plan and purpose for my life. I read every book on the subject that I could possibly find. One of my favorite books by Mark Batterson, called Wild Goose Chase, stirred a desire in me to find out what I was most passionate about, what made me happy, what broke my heart and encouraged me to find a way to make that my life’s work.
 

On numerous occasions, I prayed, asking God to reveal His purpose for my life. As I talked with my husband about the ways that God had gifted me and how I felt like I was wasting my talents, he told me "I think you’re an incredible artist but I don’t think that’s where you’re most gifted. I think it’s your openness and honesty. People are drawn to you, they come to you and share with you, they open up to you and I think that’s your greatest gift."  
While I felt blessed by my husbands words I still pleaded with God to give me a "sign" of His purpose, His plan for me.

 
 
One day while I was working at the front desk, a coworker walked by and said "Good morning." I responded with "Good morning. How are you?"  She stopped and began to pour out her heart, sharing the struggles she was facing then stopping herself said "I don’t know why I just told you all of that, you must have counselor written on your forehead."
I asked God for a sign and well, that was enough for me!
 
 
Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."
 
 
I’ve had many opportunities since then to be a "counselor" to other women through ministry, prayer and through writing and have been incredibly blessed by each experience and hope that others have been blessed as well.
 
Sometimes what we’re seeking is right in front of us and sometimes we’re looking for signs that are more obvious to others.

 

If you’ve asked God what your purpose is and you’re believing Him for a sign maybe you should also ask those closest to you what they believe your greatest gifts are, then compare those to what you’re most passionate about, what makes you happy or what breaks your heart.
Join a group, seeking encouragement from others with the same passions or start a group and encourage others in their pursuit of God’s purpose for their lives!

Above all else, be passionate in your pursuit of God, following Him on the path to your destiny and He will take you places you’ve never dreamed…



 

"Nothing is more unnerving or disorienting than passionately pursuing God. And the sooner we come to terms with that spiritual reality, the more we will enjoy the journey."

—Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase