Friday, January 30, 2015

Foreigner or Tourist?

Usually, when I start a new book of the Bible, I breeze through the first couple verses in a rush to get to the "good stuff," the heart of the letter (in this case at least since I was going back to the beginning of 1 Peter).

This morning, however, I got stuck so to speak on the "greeting."  I had to camp out on those 2 verses because they really had so much to teach me.  Simple lessons you would think I would know by now, having been a Jesus follower for nearly two and a half decades (man, am I really that old?!).  Yet, Peter's words caught my attention in a new way today, so I slowed down and took time to digest what he was really saying as he began his letter to "God's chosen people who are living as foreigners in the lands of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocis, the province of Asia, and Bithynia."

I am not a geography buff and don't really know where all those places are, nor did I grab a map to find out. Instead, the word FOREIGNER hopped off the page.

Looking back at my scrawls and scribbles from this morning, the questions I jotted down have been swirling around in my head and heart for the past few months.  Perhaps that is why I connected so deeply with Peter's description of the believers receiving his letter - "God's chosen people who are living as FOREIGNERS..."  

Is this all there is?
More to life?
Something missing?
Longing for something more, something better?

Lately, I have felt God working in my heart, stirring up some pretty big dreams, arousing some pretty intense passions.  I have been "restless" - hence I thoroughly enjoyed Jennie Allen's book and was challenged and encouraged and inspired on so many levels as her words affirmed what I seemed to be hearing God whisper in my ear time and time again.  

As I noted this morning, this feeling, this longing is a GOOD thing.  Why?  Why is it good to feel unsettled, to sense a bigger purpose for life?  Because those questions lead to a yearning to make my life count, to make a difference, for my days to truly matter.  And those desires cause me to step out of my comfort zone, to live by faith, to do what's scary, to trust God, and ultimately to allow Him to use me in ways I never would have imagined to do things I never would have accomplished without giving Him the freedom to let the power and wisdom and grace and peace and hope and joy and strength of His Spirit flow freely though me.  

Peter's words this morning reminded me that I am on the right path, that I am indeed running the race marked out for me.  I may not have been one of the original receiptents of his letter, but too am one of "God's chosen people living as a FOREIGNER..."  

Before I was born, God had my days written in His book, good plans prepared in advance for me to do. (Psalm 139:13-16; Ephesians 2:10)

Before I was born, He called me by name (Isaiah 49:1) and set me apart for a specific purpose here on this earth (Jeremiah 1:5).

Yes, I am chosen.
I am a child of the King.
Adopted into God's family, ransomed and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus.

And as a daughter of God, I must remember that this world is NOT my permanent home (Hebrews 13:14).  Rather, I am only passing through, on my way to my Father's House, where I will live with Him, in His glorious presence forever and ever and ever and ever...

As such, then, I can't get distracted by all the bells and whistles, the glitter and glamor, the things this world has to offer that look oh so good but will one day all too soon pass away and mean nothing in light of eternity.  

THAT is what Peter was hitting on when he wrote his fellow believers, "God's chosen people living as FOREIGNERS..."  

It's as if he was reminding his brothers and sisters in Christ, "You're not home yet, so don't get too comfortable."  

This is much easier said than done, I fear.

You see, the things of this world draw us in.
Bilboards, commericals, magazine ads, facebook newsfeeds, tweets, and Instagram photos tell us we need this and that, to look a certain way, get more, have the newest, biggest, bestest stuff.  We fall prey to the lies that we are supposed to keep up with the Jones.  

And as we do, we forget we are FOREIGNERS.
We lose sight of the unseen.
We get caught up in the here and now, and the "realities of heaven" get put on the back burner.
We are blinded by all the neon lights.
The noise of this world deafens us to the call of our heavenly Father.

We get comfortable.
We settle in.
We make ourselves at home.
Forgetting we are FOREIGNERS.

As I was thinking about this concept this morning, I jotted down, "Foreinger vs. Tourist?"
I began to wonder if we see ourselves as tourists - trying to take in all the sights, experience all the thrills, buying souveniors, and taking selfies to capture the memories.

I wanted to know if this mindset of being tourists rather than FOREIGNERS affects the way we pursue Jesus, the way we look forward to His return, and thus the way we live day in and day out every single day we are still here on this earth.

But then, I had to ask myself, "What's the difference?  IS there a difference?"

So, I would love to hear from YOU.
In terms of the spiritual walk, what - if any - is the difference between being a foreigner and a tourist?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Have a Dream

Earlier this week, we remembered Martin Luther King, Jr. and the profound impact he had and continues to have on our nation, and the world as a whole.

The movie Selma has received awards and much acclaim as it highlights the march to Montgomery and the eventual Voting Rights Act of 1965.

My husband teaches 3rd grade, and his class has been studying Martin Luther King, Jr.  They have been reading books about the Civil War, discussing how freedom and equal rights did not immediately follow Abraham Lincoln's Emanicpation Proclamation, and realizing how we are still fighting today to make Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream come true.

As I sat in church this morning, worshipping and listening to those around me sing, I was overcome with emotion.  I'm not sure what lyrics triggered a gust of passion sweeping over me, but I had to sit down and grab a pen to jot down everything that was flooding my brain.

My pen couldn't move fast enough.  Words kept coming.  God was speaking.  I was doing my best to listen.  And once again I was overwhelmed with the unbelievable truth that God sees me, that He hears me, that He KNOWS me, that He LOVES me, that He has specific plans for me, that He wants to use me to bring massive amounts of glory to His name...

One of the songs must have spoken of "heart abandoned" because that's what I scribbled in the top right corner of my paper.  Somehow that led me to think of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Hence, I wrote, "I Have a Dream."  And that opened the floodgates...

Before I share MY dream, take time to listen to the famous speech that truly has changed the world and will continue to do so until the end of time.

As I replayed his speech in my head, the portion about the dream for his children stood out.  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day life in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Yesterday, I was extremely thoughtful about what the dreams God is laying on my heart mean for my children, my 3 young girls.  A war is raging within me as I try to wrestle out the timing and implications of my dreams.  Am I supposed to pursue these dreams NOW or wait until my children are older?  Am I supposed to follow through on these stirrings within me NOW or are they hints of something to come once my children are in school, or out of the house completely?  Does my calling as a wife and mother mean I am to wait until my girls are grown to use the other gifts and abilities God has given me to serve and build up His Body?  I don't have all the answers, nor will I ever.  BUT, as I sat and worshipped this morning, my heart was bursting to overflowing and I simply couldn't contain what God was doing inside me.  Like a pop bottle shaken up and then the lid twisted off, everything within me was spewing out with a vengeance.  

Ironically enough, the message was titled, "Stirred Up."  
Concidence?  I think not.
I KNOW not.
God continues to blow my mind with the ways He is weaving together everything He is whispering to my heart in my alone times with Him, the sermons I am hearing at Women's Retreat and church, the books I am reading, Facebook posts I am engaging in, and conversations I am having with totally unconnected people all over the world.  

The message could not be more clear:
"I made you.  I created you with specific gifts and abilities.  I want to use those talents and skills and interests to do amazing things for My glory.  I want to work through you to change countless lives.  I am calling you out to live by faith, to pursue Me with passion, to make Me known, to be intentional with your relationships, to value what matters most, to live in light of eternity, to give it your all and lay it all on the line, to hold nothing back, to inspire others to do the same.  As you do, as you trust Me and surrender your life in My hands, I will do infinitely more than you could ever begin to imagine or dare to dream."

As I thought about Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking to those thousands upon thousands of people in the crowd that day, sharing his dream, I couldn't help but thank him for NOT waiting until his children were grown.  Had he waited, how different would things be today?  Had he not stood up to call out for change right then, for the sake of his children, how long would it have taken for someone else to rise up?  

Was it risky for him to pursue his dream?  
Most certainly.
Doing so cost him his life.
BUT, it also resulted in millions of lives being changed, not just in his own lifetime, but still today, and for many, many, many more generations to come.

THAT is the kind of legacy I want to have, to leave for my children.
Which means I can NOT wait for my girls to grow up before I begin to pursue the dreams God is stirring up within me right NOW.  

Rather, as King shared in his speech, "It would be overlook the URGENCY of the moment."

I don't know how it will all play out or when my dreams will come to fruition.
I don't know how to make sense of the passions and stirrings within my heart.
I simply know they are there.
For a reason.
For "such a time as this."

Just as Esther had to step out in faith, so must I.

I follow in the steps of Joshua and Caleb, choosing to believe God is bigger than anything I may encounter and that He will hold true to His Word and stand by His promises to guide me, provide for me, and satisfy me with His presence.

I join Joseph in dreaming big and never giving up no matter how dire my circumstances, knowing that God has a plan and will work out all things for His glory.

I do my best to run with Paul, forgetting what lies behind and focusing all my energies on what is to come, striving with every fiber of my being to live a life worthy of my calling, until I cross the finish line and fall spent into the arms of Jesus to hear Him whisper in my ear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

For you see, I too have a dream.
As I scrawled on my paper this morning:

"NOT a dream house, 
rather that more families have a place to call home...

water to drink
the opportunity to go to school, to receive a quality education, to experience the joy of learning, to use their knowledge and skills to make their community a better place, to change the world

NO human trafficking
Hope for every man, woman, and child
That they can lay down on a bed, head on a pillow and have sweet dreams at night

No nightmares
No fears or worries of what terrors might come the next day
No pangs of hunger
No empty bellies
No bruises or cuts or scrapes caused by abuse
No internal wounds invisible to the human eye but festering inside a broken heart

FREEDOM for all who live on this earth

I have a dream of helping others live out their dreams, fulfilling their divine, glorious destinies."

A mess of dreams really.
Tangled threads.
Oh, but God is the Master Weaver.

I may not be able to see how He is bringing everything together right now at this very moment, but I assure you He is creating the most beautiful of masterpieces.  And when it is revealed, our minds will be blown.  We will look back and amuse, "Oh, that's what He was doing," and remark, "Now I get it," and nod our heads, "Okay, I understand why that had to happen like that."  The pieces will come together perfectly.  The puzzle will be completed.  In the meantime, we have to trust the process.

As my pastor reminded me yet again this morning, we must live with intention and purpose.  We must keep our eyes and ears open.  We must be mindful so that we can discover God's divine appointments.  And we must certainly NOT hold back.  Remember, we ARE God's workmanship - His masterpiece - and He has prepared good works for us to do.  Indeed, He laid them all out before He even spoke the stars into existence.  Now that I am here on earth, He has invited me to join in the story He is writing, to come along on the adventure He has prepared for me.

The invitation is NOW.
The journey has already begun.
The dreams are ready to be awakened and turned to reality.

Thus, as I scribbled out earlier today:

"This can't wait until my girls are in school, grown up.
Too many will perish before then.
NOW is the time..."

As I mentioned before, though, a war is raginng within me.
How do I pursue these passions God has given me without forgoing my high calling of wife and mother?  Do the two have to negate each other?  I wondered quietly, yet fervently, on my paper:

"Yet, I am called to my family first,
but I can't neglect my bigger family either - the Body of Christ"

This morning didn't answer all my questions, but I shared with my husband on the way home from church how strongly I feel about what God is doing in our hearts (for God is doing some shaking up of things in my husband's soul as well).  We both agree:

"As a faimly we will dream TOGETHER

How better to teach and train our daughters 
What better way to invest in their lives than to invite them on this adventure with us"

After all, I tell them daily that God can use them NOW, they don't have to wait to grow up to do big things for God.  I have made it a point to get down on their level, hands on their shoulders, looking them square in the eye and speaking this truth with passion and resolve, "God has a plan for you.  He created you for a reason.  Live out the dreams He puts in your heart.  Follow hard after Him.  Even when it's hard or scary, you do what's right.  Stand up for Jesus.  Be strong.  Be bold.  Have courage.  God is with you every step of the way.  He will never let you go.  And as you live for Him, He will do remarkable things in and through you.  So dream big, my precious child.  Dream big."

What better way to solidify my words than to live them out for my girls to see.
I've been told children learn by watching, that they remember what we DO far better than what we say, no matter how eloquent our words or how many times we repeat them.  Our children will be impacted much more by the way we LIVE day in and day out.

So, can I wait for my girls to grow up, to be in school, before I begin to pursue these passions He is stirring up inside of me right now?  Should I put my dreams on hold so that I can focus on being a wife and mother?

I have come to realize these two are not in opposition to one another, but rather compliment each other.  They go hand in hand.  Indeed, they must.

The dreams I have are first and foremost for my own children.
Wouldn't I then want to invite them to dream with me?
That's what God, my heavenly Father has done, isn't it?
He has shared His passion with me and asked me to join Him on an incredible journey.
Shouldn't I then be grabbing my girls as fast as I can and carrying them with me as I follow hard, running full speed after my Jesus?!!!

Granted, my gait might look strange as I carry a baby and hold onto the toddler's hand and make sure the oldest is right by my side.  I might go a bit more slowly and stop more often for potty breaks than if I were a single college girl or a mother with her children all grown.  But that is okay.  Indeed, it is the race I am called to run at this very moment.  So run I will -- er, WE will.  Together, as a family.

And we'll dream togther too.
Dreams that very well could take my husband and I to Ethiopia this summer.
Dreams that might then lead to adoption.
Dreams that could possibly result in a book sharing our story.
Dreams that people will see God at work in our lives and believe He can do the same in them.
Dreams that our brothers and sisters around the globe will step up and live by faith - bold, courageous, passionate faith that won't back down no matter what and won't rest until God's work has been completed.

Dreams that the lost will be found, that many will come to KNOW Jesus and experience the ultimate FREEDOM that He purchased for them through His death on the cross.

Dreams that all will be made right, that there will be no more pain or suffering, no more tears - just JOY and peace and hope and everything else good available to us because Jesus rose from the grave and has conquered sin and death so that we might live with Him forever.

As I said before, a mess of dreams.
Tangled threads.
Slowly but surely being woven together to create the most beautiful of masterpieces.

So, as I dream and my husband dreams and we invite our girls to dream with us, we stand before God, hearts abandoned to whatever He wants to do in and through us to accomplish His good and perfect plans.

In living out the dreams God is placing on our hearts, I know I might sleep less (as I type it's almost midnight).  My days will be filled with changing diapers and cleaning up messes and preparing meals and folding laundry.  I will clean toilets and read books and play princess and put away groceries and kiss owies by day, then blog and write and send messages and make connections with people who will be able to help us fulfill our dreams and live out our passions and carry out the good works God has created us to do by night.

But, I will gladly give up sleep now so others can sleep peacefully, soundly, FREE, filled with hope and joy.

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of freedom in his speech.

I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
I too dream of freedom, freedom to live the abundant life God desires for us and sent His Son to purchase for us, freedom to experience His power at work in my life and the lives of all those around me, freedom to be all that I was created to be, freedom to help others become who they are called to be.

If I am to see my dreams come true, I can't lose sight of the BIG picture.

I must choose to live for eternity, not for today.

And thus, I must live all out today, and EVERY day, to make sure others have an eternity.

I have a dream.
One that can NOT wait.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I Spy

Recently, my daughters have become fascinated with the game I Spy and insist we play almost every time we are in the car.  If we're not searching for water towers, fire trucks, school buses, stop lights, or a random bird sitting on a telephone wire, we're singing silly songs at the top of our lungs.

Today, as we drove to the library for story time, those two games collided.  And as they did, God shook my world, whispering in my ear yet again.  Though I must say, He seems to be speaking the same message over and over again, through different people in different settings, totally unrelated to each other.  Yet, each person seems to be connecting one dot to another, building on what the other has said, until the light bulb really goes off in my head as the words finally start to penetrate down to my heart!

This morning, my oldest girl - Coralyn (age 5) - wanted to sing a solo, showing me a song she had learned on her own.  I was expecting something new that I had never heard before, so when she broke out in "Who's the King of the Jungle?" I was somewhat surprised, seeing as how I sing this particular song regularly with them in the car and at home as well.  BUT, apparently, she is just now memorizing the lyrics and able to sing them on her own, in her own rendition, leaving out a few phrases but still getting the point across - JESUS is King.  In deed, after finishing, she informed me with pride and excitement, "It's like Jesus is even the King of all the other kings!"

I smiled and explained there was a song about that, then proceeded to try to teach her, "King of kings and Lord of lords, Glory, Halleujah!  Jesus, Prince of peace, Glory, Halleujah!"  

After listening to several rounds, Coralyn interrupted me to inform me that it was too long and hard for her to sing and burst into "Zaccheus was a wee little man..."

When she was done, I told her we should learn another new song, one of my favorites from camp.  I began, "12 went out to spy on Canaan.  10 were bad and 2 were good..."  We have sung this one before, so Coralyn and Kellah (3 years old) somewhat joined in,

"What did they see when they got to Canaan?  
10 were bad, and 2 were good.  
Some saw giants big and tall.  
Some saw grapes and clusters faaaaaallll.  
Some saw God was overall.  
10 were bad and 2 were good."

We went through the song several times, attempting to go faster each time like we do at camp.  As we turned to pull into the library parking lot, I asked the girls if they knew what the song was talking about in the Bible.  Coralyn proceeded to share that she thought it was about David.  Guessing the whole giant thing was why she put the story with his name.  I told them it was rather about the people of Israel getting ready to go into the Promised Land after they had left Egypt and been freed from slavery under Pharaoh.  I went on to say how Moses sent 12 men into the land to see what they would need to do to take over the Promised Land God was giving them.  As the song goes, 10 men were "bad," reporting that the people of the land were big and strong and couldn't possibly be defeated, there was no way to enter Canaan.  Only 2 men, Joshua and Caleb, saw that "God was overall" and remembered His promise to give them the land and encouraged the people to go in with confidence and fight and trust God to grant them victory.  I asked the girls who they thought the people listened to and what they decided to do.  They were sure the Israelites sided with Joshua and Caleb!!!  How sad they didn't.  I explained how the people instead chose to be afraid of the people and didn't believe God could beat them, and because of their lack of faith, they had to wander around in the wilderness.  Devastated, Coralyn immediately wanted to know if they eventually got to go into the Promised Land.  I assured her that ONLY Joshua and Caleb did, because they were the only ones who had trusted God.  Everyone else ended up dying in the desert.  

As we parked the car and got ready to head into the library for story time, God was working on my heart BIG time.  

You see, this past weekend in Florida at the It Works Conference, my husband and I were challenged about our purpose and calling in life.  One would think we went there to learn more about the health and wellness products we offer, how to run a successful business, and all those type of things, BUT instead we left inspired to live out our faith, to follow hard after Jesus, to pursue the dreams He has placed in our hearts, and give it our all to make Him known and bring massive amounts of glory to His name.  

One of the speakers, John-Erik Moseler, was there to educate us on using social media more effectively, but as he shared about Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, he talked about inviting people to go on an ADVENTURE with you.  He got all spiritual, referencing the Israelites and their time as slaves in Egypt.  He shared how God had freed them and ushered them to the Promised Land, but they weren't ready for that.  They were stuck in the past, making bricks for Pharaoh, when they should have freely entered Canaan and enjoyed the land flowing with milk and honey.  

What was holding them back, preventing them from living the life they were offered?

As Moseler gave this illustration, my husband leaned over to me and asked if our pastor had talked about this recenlty in a sermon.  Nope.  BUT, we have been going to a Jewish Roots Class called Hayesod on Tuesday nights, and guess what was mentioned in the DVD that very week?  Buidling bricks for Pharoah!!!  

Um, you think maybe God is trying to tell us something?!!!

Oh wait, there's more...
Remember, back in November, when I went on that Women's Retreat and was greatly impacted by one of the speakers we heard via DVD?  

Christine Caine's words were laying a foundation for a mighty work God is preparing to do in our lives.  I wrote down in my journal, "Wilderness did NOT deny freedom.  It spoke of DELIVERANCE.  Freedom was in Canaan."  There's the story of the Israelites again.  Being freed from slavery in Egypt and led to the Promised Land.  She went on, and I scribbled, "Don't settle for deliverence when you have been offered freedom."  

Moseler's words from the Conference stage, 2 months later, echoed Caine's message, "If you're in the wilderness, KEEP GOING.  The Promised Land is just ahead!!!"  Almost as if he was confirming the question she posed to the audience at the IF Gathering, "Why live in the wilderness delievered when you can enjoy the Promised Land FREE?!"  

I ask again, You think maybe God is trying to tell us something?!

And so this morning, as I finished singing a fun childhood song, the words hit me like a ton of bricks (pun intended).  The entire time I was explaining the meaning of the lyrics and the story behind them, God was nudging me, speaking the same truths to MY adult heart.

Don't be like the 10 spies.
Don't let the fear of men keep you from doing what I have called you to do.
Don't let the big, scary, humanly impossible tasks in front of you overwhelm you.
Don't forget that I have DELIVERED you, purchasing you with the very blood of my One and Only Son.  Don't lose sight of the fact that I have LED you out of slavery, that I have BROUGHT you to the Promised Land, that nothing is too difficult for Me to overcome, that I ALWAYS keep My Word, and that I have invited you to ENJOY the FREEDOM I bought for you at such a great price.

Don't keep building bricks for Pharaoh when you have been set free.

Don't stay in the wilderness, wandering around lost, when God has shown you the way to the Promised Land AND assured you free passage inside to enjoy all the blessings He has to offer.

Don't settle for the desert when you have been delivered for the sake of entering the Promised Land.

Don't miss out on the dreams and destinies God has for you because you are scared of what people might think as you pursue those passions God is stirring up inside you.

Don't miss out on who you are created and designed to be because you worry what might happen if you fail or mess up or make a mistake or stumble and fall.  Remember, God's power is best displayed through our weaknesses.  And if you recall, He's quite good at making masterpieces out of our messes.  Furthermore, He seems to take great delight in showcasing His ability to do the impossible, to shame the wise and humble the proud, to work in unconventional ways, to use the least likely people to fulfill the greatest of tasks.  Finally, camp out on the reality that our God is pleased to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever begin to dare to imagine.

Time and time again, God has proven Himself faithful.
He never lies or leads us astray.
He always does just as He says.
And yet, all too often we tend to bail and join the 10 spies who doubted God's ability to defeat their enemies and give them the Promised Land.

We fear.
We worry.
We fret.
We doubt.
We hesitate.
We wander.
We give up.
We hang our heads in despair.

When what we need to be doing is "fixing our eyes on Jesus" and "running with endurance the race set before us."

We need to "fight the good fight of the faith," battling for our freedom and "holding tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise."

We MUST remember that victory is already ours.
And thus, we MUST be willing to leave the wilderness, to stop making bricks for Pharaoh, and to enter the Promised Land.

Only then can we truly live the abundant life God has called us to live, to carry out the plans and purposes prepared in advance for us to do, to see our God-given, divinely inspired dreams come true, to become the men and women God created us to be.

I don't know about you, but I spy "giants big and tall" all around me.

BUT, I am not focused on that.  
I will NOT let fear hold me back.  
Instead, I look past them to the "grapes and clusters," all the GOOD things God has to offer.  
I CHOOSE to remember "God is over all."  
And I side with Joshua and Caleb.  
I say, "Let's enter the Promised Land today!"

I'm done making bricks for Pharaoh.
Who's with me?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

No Loitering

As a mother of 3 small children, I feel like I am constantly asking someone to, "Come on!" or "Hurry up!" or "Let's go...NOW!"  Somehow my young daughters don't seem to understand my urgency to get out the door, to get in and out of the car, to get our errands run, to get things done period.  They have no concept of time.  They have no worries, no real responsibilites.  They don't wake up to an alarm clock.  Their days are filled with fun and play, as they should be.  Except when I, their very busy, task-driven, time-oriented, no dilly-dally mother, need to get something done and have to take them along with me.  Then, their world collides with mine.  Usually, the result is more chaos than I would like, but we are all learning to work together to accomplish our tasks effeciently while remaining cool, calm, and collected.  If you have figured out the magic formual for getting your children to move quickly, put their shoes on the FIRST time asked, pick up their toys without whining and falling to the floor in a heap as if you wanted them to eat cow brains, or get out of the bathtub without splashing water all over the floor and leaving their towels in the middle of the hallway, or go to the bathroom BEFORE getting them buckled in their carseat, please let me know...

I wonder if God feels the same way as our Heavenly Father.
Does He ever get tired of telling us to "Come on!" or does He ever want to bang His head against the wall as He urges us to "Hurry up!" yet one more time?  Does He wonder if we are even listening as He begs us, "Let's go....NOW!"

Today, as I was reading in Jennie Allen's book Restless, her words struck me profoundly.  She might as well have posted this sign:

Instead, she chose her words more carefully, but is still just as urgent in her message:

"So every moment we are together we make the most of it.

Every one of has people in our lives whom we need and people who need us.  Are we INTENTIONALLY spending our time in those two categories? Or are we casually bumping into each other with no real purpose to receive or give love?"

She doesn't mince words.  She doesn't beat about the bush.  She is serious.  Becuase this is a serious issue.  People's lives are on the line.

Allen goes on, "If we are honest, it is costly to love people.  So you know what we do instead of the difficult work of loving them?  We PIDDLE.  We WASTE the precious time we have."

As I read the definition of PIDDLE (in case we weren't sure what exactly it means or implies) - to WASTE TIME or spend one's time idly or INEFFICIENTLY - I realized no one has to teach us to act this way.  My 3 young girls are a perfect example of how we seem to naturally EXCEL at piddling.  From birth, we are masters at dilly dallying.  We instinctively know how to waste time, to delay what needs to be done, to put off until tomorrow what can be done today, to get distracted by other more fun things instead of focusing on what really needs to be done, to loiter, to PIDDLE.

Allen explains why we are prone to piddle, "It is easier to survive this life on the surface, brushing up against people gently, rather than doing the mess of intentionally loving them.  Love takes risk.  Love takes forgiveness and grace.  Love takes effort, time, and commitment (all things we are scared of it would seem).  You commit not to bolt when it gets hard, because it will get hard.  All of this is the cost of deep relationship, we just don't have capacity and space to go deep with everyone.  So we have to become INTENTIONAL."

She reminds us we are in a RACE, and that we need to run with purpose, eyes on the finish line, pushing through the pain for the glory we know awaits us when we stand before Jesus and receive the ultimate prize - the crown of life.

Running is important.  We can't finish the race unless we run.
BUT, we must also keep in mind that HOW we run matters too.

I couldn't help but think of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.  Ironically enough, we were highlighting the letter T in our homeschool curriculum last week and learned about turtles in the process.  We read numerous versions of Aesop's famous fable.

As you recall, the tortoise wins the race.
Why? Because the hare didn't run with intention.  He didn't take things seriously.  He dilly dallied.  He took his sweet time.  He rested.  He got distracted.  He loitered.  He PIDDLED.

Let us learn from this humbled hare.
Let us also take note of Joseph in the Bible.  He could have chosen to give up when he was sold into slavery by his own brothers.  He could have despaired when we was wrongly accused and thrown into prison by Potiphar.  He could have crawled up in the corner and had a pity party.  But he didn't.  Instead, he made the most of the time he was given, even in the hardest and worst of times.  Especially in those times.

Allen commends Joseph, "He could not control his circumstances, but he intentionally leveraged EVERY relationship in his path for the glory of God.  He NEVER wasted opportunity to serve, even those who wronged him."

PIDDLE was not in Joseph's vocabulary.
Nor should it be in ours today.

Allen reminds us of our need for people and people's need for us.  However, it's not random or haphazard.  "We just don't need people; we need the RIGHT people.  Sometimes finding the right people takes discipline and effort.  And then when we find them, we have to FIGHT for them. We have to PRIORITIZE time and issue grace OVER AND OVER, because even the best human on this earth will disappoint us.  And when that happens, you love and fight for that person even HARDER."

Surely you are familiar with the popular TV series Friends.  The show was such a success, I believe, because we wanted what Phoebe, Monica, Joey, Chandler, Ross, and Rachel had - a rare closeness among friends, depth, meaning, love, loyalty.

Relationships, friendships, like that don't just happen on accident.
They don't have to be "as seen on TV" only though.  They can be a reality in our lives today.
However, as Allen writes, "Close friends and mentors don't fall in our laps.  You search and invest, and then you allow them to be imperfect versions of what you were hoping for in your head.  Most of us are waiting to be invited, waiting to be pursued, waiting for friends to come to us.  But that's NOT the way it happens..."

So, STOP waiting.
Stop loitering.

Allen urges us, "Love is an active process, and we are fairly lazy.  So INITIATE.  Then, when you come together, initiate DEPTH.  Great conversations come from great questions and honest answers...It takes INITIATIVE to ask deeper questions and sheer BRAVERY to give sincere answers.  Pray and find ways to take your friendships to a deeper level."

This paragraph reminded me of my college days.  My junior year was by far the best year because of the CLOSE friendships I formed, friendships that are still strong today nearly 11 years later!  What made these friendships different, strong, able to stand the test of time?  We went DEEP with each other.  When we sat down to eat lunch or supper, we asked the harder questions.  We even made a point of NOT having "shallow talk" with anyone.  Rather than asking someone, "So, what's your major?" we would dig a bit more, "What do you want to do with your major?  What's your goal after Moody?  What's your dream?"  And that was usually within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone!  Often times, people were taken off guard, not expecting us to delve into their life purpose so soon.  I tell you what, though, we knew each other well.  We CARED for each other deeply.  We prayed with each other on a regular basis.  We pushed each other.  We challenged each other.  We encouraged and supported each other.  And when we went our separate ways upon graduation, thanks to Facebook and modern technology, we have stayed in touch and still do all those things for each other despite the thousands of miles that separate us (we are now on 5 different continents)!

Was that easy to do?
No.  It was messy.  Painful at times.
But, oh so worth it!!!!
I look back as that year as one of the BEST times of my entire life thus far.  I grew so much that year.  Indeed, that year was foundational to helping me become the woman I am today.  I am better wife, mother, friend, daughter, childbirth instructor, doula, health coach, and follower of Jesus because of that one year in college.

I can't keep looking back though.  Memories are all well and good, but they don't truly get me anywhere.  I am running a race and must focus on where I am at NOW, as well as fix my eyes on what is yet to come, what God has for me in the days, weeks, and years ahead.

I must remember God has put me where I am now, with the people I am with now, for a reason.  And I must be INTENTIONAL with the time I have been given, with the people God has placed around me.

And so must YOU.
Allen reassures us, "I know your life may feel more random and disconnected" than someone else's, "but you can't tell me God would plan the details of Joseph's live and ignore yours."

She then issues us a challenge, "Next time you are in a public place, be awkward and look in people's eyes.  People - NEARLY EVERY ONE OF THEM - are hurting, even if they don't say it.  And we hold their cure.  WE GET TO GIVE GOD AWAY, and it is for our JOY.  I am never more content that when I am meeting needs."

Are you up for this challenge?
Or does it scare the bajibbies out of you?

Do you want to play it safe?
Or are you willing to lay it on the line, to step out and be different, to be intentional with your time, to put a stop to piddling?

We have to make a choice:
"At some point we have to decide whether or not it is worth it to spend our lives helping people be free from bondage, meeting their needs, cheering for them as they run, giving them God.  And at some point, if I find myself being completely mocked and rejected and hurt, IS IT STILL WORTH IT FOR ME?"

I never said this would be easy.
Jesus never promised that either.
BUT, His way is certainly the best, the most fulfilling, the most rewarding.  In deed, it is the ONLY way to truly LIVE.

As Allen describes, "God's economy makes beautiful exchanges; as we give, we grow."

And so I am stepping up to accept her challenge, "Seek risks and uncomfortable things.  You do not risk like a fool; you are WISELY INVESTING in the only two things that will not die: God and people's souls."

This means no loitering allowed.
No dilly dallying.
No getting distracted.
No putting off until tomorrow what can be done today.
No making excuses.

Because if we piddle, we miss it all!!!!

Satan wants nothing more than for us to check out of the race.  He longs for us to be the hare - to settle down on the sidelines, thinking we have all the time in the world, that taking a little rest won't hurt anything or anyone, that we'll be fine and still come out on top in the end.  How wrong we would be to listen to his deathly lies!!!!

Like Joseph, we must not waste time trying to control our circumstances.  As he did, as he CHOSE to do, we must invest our time STRATEGICALLY and unconditionally love and serve people.  It will be the best investment of our lives!

Earlier this week, I invited you to be a zebra with me, and today I am urging you to follow the example of the steady tortoise.  He may have been slow, but never did he stop "running" the race.  Never once did he piddle.

Nor should we!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Follow the Zebras

Recently, my middle daughter celebrated her 3rd birthday.  Why am I not sure, but she chose to have a "Zebra Party."  For whatever reason, she became fascinated with zebras and wanted a zebra cake, striped plates and napkins and banners.  Everything zebra.  She even wore a zebra outfit, complete with a zebra hat, for the party.

I posted this picture on Facebook, commenting how Kellah had become obsessed with zebras.  A friend shared how she was learning from me, her mama.  My friend described me as a fearless woman who lived with courage and passion, comparing me to a zebra who is - I guess - the only animal that runs TOWARDS a fire instead of away from it.  Somehow, the zebra knows their safety lays on the other side of the flames, and so they choose to run INTO the fire rather than trying to escape it, which would ultimately result in their being overcome by the very fire from which they were fleeing.

That information about the zebra fascinated me.  And has stuck with me ever since.

This morning, as I read more of Jennie Allen's book Restless, I couldn't help but think of the fearless zebra once more.

Today's chapter, "Threads of Suffering," spoke about how we respond to pain, grief, trials, difficulties, the FIRES in our lives.  She opened with this marvelous truth that we might need to read over and over and over to let it penetrate to our souls and fully grasp the depth of its meaning and the implications it has on our lives, "Out of our pain we will heal the world."

She used the example of a compost pile to illustrate her point, "The messiest waste of our lives becomes the most fertile soil."

Often time, our struggles begin in childhood and shape us into the men and women we become as adults.  Allen reminds us, though, "those struggles can go on to entangle us our entire lives.  OR, if we are BRAVE enough to face them, they could be the GREATEST WEAPONS we have to help set others FREE."

As if to confirm this is a lesson God is teaching me, I saw a beautiful quote my friend posted on Facebook in a team page this morning:

Being courageous isn't easy or necessarily fun.  It takes guts.  And requires you to face your pains, fears, doubts, worries, struggles head on.  Rather than running from them, you do as the zebra does and CHOOSE to go towards the flames, knowing that through them you will be healed, knowing that on the other side lies true safety and ultimate victory.

Allen assures us that we are not alone in wanting to run and hide, "We are all tempted to shut down when the fire gets too hot.  But who would not lie under his friends' bodies and wish to die (you need to read the story of Gilbert Tuhabonye to full understand)?  Who would be brave enough to dig out and run?  That's crazy, AND YET that same passion is in US."

"We can do one of two things with suffering: 
we can absorb it and let it change us, 
or we can let it crush us.  
Suffering will CHANGE you, or it will CRUSH you."  

The choice is YOURS.

I choose to let it change me.
I choose to be COURAGEOUS, not comfortable.
I choose to let God work in my life, however He needs, to make me into the woman He created me to me.  I choose to give Him free reign, to use whatever means necessary to fulfill the master plans He has for me, to live up to my potential, to carry out the purposes He has for me, to showcase His glory, to change countless lives as I point them to Christ and introduce them to my Savior who freely gave up everything for them - for me - so that they might live.

This mindset is all well and good, but it does not promise me a life of ease.
Rather, I am GUARNATEED suffering.  As a follower of Jesus, I know trials and tribulations will be part of the discipleship process.

Still, when those hard times come, when I miscarried our baby and said goodbye before ever whispering, "I love you," into my precious child's ear, when I had knee surgery 3 times is 6 months instead of fulfilling my dreams of playing collegiate volleyball, when I got the bank statement saying we overdrafted and I had no idea how we were going to afford gas and groceries or pay our bills...

In the midst of the chaos, when the pain is real, when all hope seems lost, when there doesn't seem to be a way out or an end to the dark tunnel, when you don't understand why or how this can be for your good and God's glory, it can be quite easy to question God's love, to ask, "Why does God let me suffer?"

Allen helps us focus on these truths instead of falling prey to the enemy's lies:

*Jesus is best known through suffering.

*We get stronger.

*We hurt for heaven.
"Suffering reminds us this life is short, and this earth is not our home...His glory will be revealed, and those who have suffered most will be the most overjoyed."

*Our lives could leave a mark.
I couldn't agree with her more, "If we are here for just a breath, I'd like my one little breath to feel more like a mighty gust of win."

Again, commitment to this way of bold, courageous, passionate, purposeful living "takes surrender, perseverance, and not wasting my minutes away on comparing or complaining."  We must remember, and truly believe in our heart of hearts, "It is an HONOR to suffer.  It is a PRIVILEGE.  And we are NOT to waste it.  God wrote suffering into our stories and wants to redeem it for His glory.  And if we weren't shaking our fists at Him, we could possibly sit down and see that we are running from a life in flames toward a great purpose - a purpose that could NEVER EXIST WITHOUT THE FLAMES."

Her words reminded me of the lyrics in Gungor's song, "He makes beautiful things."

Allen goes on to share how God used her own childhood struggles and pain to do something good, very good, better than she ever imagined.  "God used something dark to break chains in me and to se me free.  I stood staring my worst fear in the face, and God has never felt closer."

As we face our fears, as we suffer, God comforts us.
We, then, in turn, can comfort others.

Allen writes, "My freedom and the way God filled my soul lit in me a passion which eventually turned into a calling.  Everywhere I go I see people stuck in bondage to something invisible, and I lose sleep, pound the table, and spend endless hours fighting for their freedom through writing and teaching.  Out of my pain, I see others' pain, and because I have tasted freedom I crave others' freedom."

Her words stir up a fire within me.  A good fire.  A passion buring deeply.
It's beginning to roar, to consume me.
And I've never felt more alive.

You see, God has placed in me the desire to help others live life to the fullest,
to pursue their dreams,
to fulfill the plans and purposes God has for them,
to believe Him
and take Him at His word
and trust Him fully
and lay it all on the line as they run HARD - full force, all engines churning - after Jesus.

I have let fear hold me back for far too long.
I am throwing off the chains now, realizing God has set me FREE.
I don't have to worry about what others think of me. God's opinion is the only one that matters.
I don't have to wonder how in the world I will accomplish such big tasks.  God's Spirit lives within me and I am filled with His power, wisdom, strength, hope, joy, peace, and everything else I need to live the life called has called me to live.
I don't have to doubt if I will fail.  God has already secured the victory and declared me "more than an overcomer."

And so, as I embrace my own freedom, I MUST help free as many other prisoners as I can.
To leave my brothers and sisters in their chains would be wrong, selfish, mean, cruel.
No!!  I MUST proclaim that Christ has set us free.
I MUST show others He is the WAY, the Truth, the Life.
I must invite anyone and everyone to join me on this amazing adventure, this journey to freedom.
We will go through the flames, yes, BUT on the other side lies the most wonderful life imaginable.

I would much rather leave this earth burned and covered head to toe in ashes to enter heaven's glory and experience the most unimaginable, wonderful eternity that will go on forever and ever than to be neat and safe, unscathed but dragging chains behind me as I fall into the pit of hell, to be engulfed by a fire and flames that will never be put out.

Allen concludes the chapter much the same way she began, "Out of our pain, we heal. Out of our bondage, we set free.  And again, the messiet waste of our lives becomes the most fertile soil."

Her words cut to the heart of the matter, "Our suffering could possibly save lives."

She shares more of Gilbert's story and finishes with this call to action, "What men meant for evil, God meant for good, for the saving of many lives.  Fires are lit in our lives, and they can burn to SHINE LIGHT or cause destruction.  WE GET TO DECIDE WHICH PURPOSE THEY WILL SERVE."

I know what my choice is.

What about YOU?
Will you join me in following the zebras?
Will you let God use your pain and suffering to save many lives, to bring people to Him so that they too may live forever with Him in eternity?

If so, I would love to pray for you and with you!
We zebras need to stick together!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Man of My Dreams

Yesterday, I shared how God surprised me with a quiet Christmas morning and an extended time with Him as I dug into His Word and let His promises flow over me.  The silence was beauiful and allowed me to hear God whispering in my ear, "I love you.  You are my child.  I have plans for you.  Big plans.  I am already working them out in you.  Trust me as I help you fulfill the purposes for which I have placed you on this earth.  I will be with you as you travel the path I have prepared for you.  So be bold, be courageous.  You are my AMBASSADOR."

I walked you through the pages of my journal, making sense of the scribbles I had jotted down as fast as I could that morning.  I still have 2 pages to share with you today, if you would let me, as I believe these words from God to me are not be kept secret but rather to be shared and proclaimed so that they can encourage and inspire my brothers and sisters - YOU - and build them up in their faith so we might join forces and live boldly, courageously, passionately, purposefully TOGETHER.

I closed out yesterday's blog with a commitment to go wherever God sends me, to do whatever He has for me, to be the woman He envisioned when He first thought of me before time ever began.  I look again at my journal and see

"Here am I, Lord, send me..."

"YOUR will be done..."

At the top of the next page I continued:
Jesus is all I need.
My identity is in Him.  Alone.
Delight myself in Him.
Desire Him.
NOT what He can give me or do for me.
Just want HIM.  Alone.  Above all else.
In HIM only will I find satisfaction
EVERYTHING my heart longs for


God then began to bring Scripture passages to mind, confirming the stirrings in my heart were indeed from Him and foundational to the dreams He is putting deep within my soul.

He seemed to whisper Psalm 73 first, so I turned there to see what He had to say.  My eyes were taken to verses 24-28...

Whom have I in heaven but YOU?
I desire YOU more than anything on earth.

Those who desert Him will perish, for You destroy those who abandon You.  
But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my Shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do (hence I am writing this blog post)

As He had been doing all morning, God lead on an amazing journey through His Word.  My next stop was to be Psalm 16:11

He also had me visit Psalm 21:6, "You have endowed me with eternal blessings and given me the joy of Your presence."

That pointed me to Psalm 68:3, "But let the godly rejoice.  Let them be glad in God's presence.  Let them be filled with joy."

I then took a turn to Psalm 89:15

God then had me do a U-turn and revisit a familiar passage to me, as if He were telling me I should probably CAMP OUT there this year, in Psalm 34.  As I am dedicated to living boldly, passionately, courageously, yet scared out of my mind to step out and put the rubber to the road, God showed me verses 4-5, 

"I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me.  
He freed me from all my fears.  
Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces."

As I surrender my hopes and dreams to God, He will replace my fears with confidence.
As I trust Him, He will fill me with His strength and power.
As I follow Him, He will guide me.
Along the journey, He will transform me, making me like HIM.

I have a feeling Psalm 37 will be another destination on this adventure where we stay put for awhile.

"Put your hope in the Lord,
Travel steadily along His path."

The repeated promises of God being there for those who trust Him, the assurance that whatever may come, He will never leave you.  The road may be rocky or steep or narrow or all of the above.  The path may seem impassable, but God will make a way.  HE IS THE WAY.  You may stumble or trip along the way, BUT God will never let you stay down.  He will pick you up and carry you if need be.  He does not promise an easy journey, but an incredible journey it will be for sure!

I had to think back to some trials and difficulties I have faced and overcome with God's help.  Though I thought my life was falling apart, crumbling before my very eyes, I was reminded then and still hold fast to this promise found in Psalm 62

By no means am I a talented singer, but I couldn't help but quietly hum the words to Building 429's "We Won't Be Shaken."

Then, as if to wrap up my time with Him that morning, God has me re-visit Psalm 16, this time setting my sights on verse 5, "Lord, YOU are my inheritance, my cup of blessing."

Through all these precious truths, God seemed to be grounding me in this principle of utmost importance, laying a solid foundation on which to build the plans and purposes He has for me in 2015:

No matter what your hopes and dreams,
No matter what goals you set,
No matter your accomplishments,
No matter what you achieve,
No matter my rank with It Works,
No matter how many books I write or if I am ever a published author at all,
No matter how many stages I set foot on,
No matter how many lives I touch,
No matter how God chooses to use me to manifest His glory and brin about His kingdom,
this ONE THING is for certain:


Everything else is just icing on the cake...

And so I wrote out a prayer:

Use me to make YOU known,
to spread YOUR message of reconciliation.
Bring people to YOU, Jesus, through me.
May my life be a sign pointing them to YOU.
May I show them the Way - for YOU are the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Thank You for choosing me to be Your child.

Thank You for calling me to be Your ambassador.

Here I am.
Take my life and let it be used fully, wholly, ALL for Thee...

My heart was poured out to my God, laying all my dreams at His feet, relishing in the promise that in HIM all my dreams will come true!

Monday, January 5, 2015


Christmas Eve, as my husband and I climbed into bed exhausted - presents carefully placed under the tree, stockings filled, breakfast casserole ready to put in the oven in the morning - I joked about how nice it would be for the girls to all sleep in so I could have some quiet time to myself before the craziness began.  We drifted off to dream land, not really expecting for God to actually answer our seemingly ridiculous request as parents of 3 young girls who have been asking when Christmas would be here for WEEKS!!!

God, however, likes to surprise us.
He enjoys blessing His children.
And so Christmas morning He graciously gifted me with the extra time for which I had prayed.

I wasn't so sure about the way the morning began, since getting up at 5:15 with the 3-year old wasn't in my perfect vision of how the holiday would go.  BUT, after getting a few other things ready for our Christmas breakfast, she fell asleep in my office chair, and I was up, alone, to enjoy the silence.

Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed my Bible and my journal, which had been cracked open for over a week due to busyness.  Time seemed to pass slowly as I poured over God's Word, flipping from one passage to another as He guided my hand and spoke to my heart.  As I listened, I wrote.  Looking back, I filled EIGHT PAGES in my journal!

Let me just say there is something special about feeling the page between your fingers, actually turning the page, and touching the very words of God as opposed to staring at a screen and swiping my hand to get to the next portion of the passage.

I started in 1 Peter 2:13-25, continuing in the chapter I been reading on my phone with my Bible app throughout the week.

Long story short, I see that God has called me to live an honorable life such that no one can truthfully say anything bad about me.  I am told to live this way even if doing so results in suffering, for I am a disciple of Jesus and should only expect to follow the example He set for me.  You see, He "personally carried MY sins (and yours) in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and LIVE FOR WHAT IS RIGHT.  By His wounds we are healed..."  

Blown away by God's amazing grace to extend salvation to such a wretch as me, I go on reading how I "ONCE was like a sheep who wandered away, but NOW I have turned to my Shepherd, the Guardian of my soul..."

Secret about me - I love grammar.  Diagramming sentences actually gives me great joy!
I know some of you, probably most of you, are rolling your eyes and groaing just about now.  You should have heard my 5th grade students when I used to teach...

My love for grammar caused me to stop and take note of the past tense and present tense displayed in this verse - I ONCE was like a sheep, but NOW I have turned to my Shepherd..."

I am no longer lost.
I have been found.

I am no longer dead to sin.
I am now alive, in Christ - because of Christ.

A complete change has taken place.
I immediately flipped over to 2 Corinthians 5:17:

But God didn't want me to stop with that famous verse.  He had more for me to see and learn, so I kept going. What I read struck me deeply:

"And all this is a gift from God, who brought us back to Himself through Christ.  
And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him...
He gave us this wonderful message of reconcilation.  
So we are Christ's AMBASSADORS; 
God is making His appeal through us.  
We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'"

First, how privileged I am to be given such a task!!!
God has entrusted me with the job, the ministry, of bringing people to Him, of inviting them into a relationship with Him, of dwelling in His presence, and experiencing Him work in their lives in radical ways.  
How totally amazing is that!!!

The word AMBASSADOR flew off the page.
You see, for the past 23 months, I have been part of a wonderful natural health and wellness company.  One of the ranks we distributors can achieve is AMBASSADOR.  It is the top rank (other than the prestigious Black Diamonds).  It has been my goal to reach the rank of AMBASSADOR since the day I started (February 9, 2013).  I have not quite fulfilled that dream yet, but on this Christmas morning, God showed me that I have not fallen short.  Quite the opposite, He reminded me that I am ALREADY His Ambassador.  

No matter what title I have with It Works
No matter how much money I ever earn
No matter how many books I write
No matter how many children I have
No matter anything I have done in the past, am doing currently, or will do in the future


My life is my message, lived out for all to see and hear.
As people watch me and listen to me, they should witness God's love in all I do and say.
They should know they too can have a personal relationship with Him, be made new, and experience Him at work in their lives.
My life should bear testimony to this!

These thoughts brought to mind another passage in 2 Corinthians, a bit earlier in Paul's letter to the church there in Corinth.  In chapter 3, he writes:

Clearly, your lives are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you.

Again, I see that my life should point to Christ.  
When people look at me, they should recognize Jesus.
His love and grace and mercy and power and hope and joy and peace and strength should be on display for all to see.

Indeed, my life, this letter for all to read, "is not written with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.  It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts."

Before I get too carried away with myself, thinking I am all that and a bag of chips, I am clearly assured none of this is of me.  Not at all.  Rather:

"We are confident of all this because of the great trust in God through Christ.
It is NOT that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own.
Our qualification comes from God!
HE has enabled us to be ministers of His new covenant.
This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit.
The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

Once more, we see that past tesne and present tense distinction.  
Death is no more.  
God has come that we might have life, and life abundantly at that (see John 10:10)!

I also thank God that this abundant life, the success of the ministry God has given me, does NOT depend on me, but fully on HIM!  He enables me.  He equips me.  Certainly, He has given me all I need for this task.  Back in 2 Peter we are told:

By His divine power, God has given us EVERYTHING we need for living a godly life.
We have received ALL of this by coming to know Him,
the One who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.

With this blessed promise in mind, I can go forth boldly, confident, courageous.
Those adjectives (see my love for grammar coming out) lead me to Joshua 1:6-9:

I actually studied the life of Joshua farily in-depth earlier in 2014, so God was simply confirming once more how He has called me to step out and live by faith, to be bold and courageous, to go all out as I seek Him and strive to make Him known in all I do.

Amazed at what God was speaking to me, I turned back to 2 Corinthians 3 and was floored even more as I read how I am able to understand God's Word because the veil has been removed because of my belief in Christ (see verses 14-16).  Furthermore, I now have FREEDOM in Christ.  AND on top of that, "all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord - who is the Spirt - makes us more and mroe like Him as we are changed into His glorious image!"

Did you catch that?
I hope so!
Go back, see it there at the end, we are CHANGED INTO HIS GLORIOUS IMAGE!!!
How ridiculously incredible is that?!
Talk about a transformation!!
Once a wandering sheep, lost and destined for eternal condemnation.
NOW a child of the King, deeply loved and being changed into the very image of God Himself!

Flabergasted and humbled and filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, I quickly leafed through my Bible to Hebrews 10:

"And so, we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus...
let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts, fully trusting Him.
For our guilty consciencs have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean,
and our bodies have been washed with pure water."

There it is again.
The old is gone.  The new has come.

And so we can, "hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promises (remember those great promises from 2 Peter about giving us all we need to live for Him and the promise from Joshua to always be with us wherever we go).  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to love and good deeds."

Once more, I see how my life is to be a living testimony of God's love.  Throughout my daily life, people should see Jesus clearly in all I do and say.

1 John 3 speaks to this as well, "See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!  But the people who belong to this world don't recognize that we are God's children because they don't know Him.  Dear friends, we are ALREADY God's children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears.  But we do KNOW that we WILL BE LIKE HIM, for we will see Him as He really is."

I hope you saw not only how we WILL BE transformed, but how we ARE ALREADY God's children.  Dearly LOVED.

And being loved of God, I should then love others.  
Love proves I have passed from death to life - that I am made new.
Jesus Himself showed us real love through His death on the cross (see Romans 5:8).
So then, being His disciple, being God's child chosen and deeply loved, my actions, my very LIFE, should display and reflect God's love.

Indeed, my actions should show that I belong to the Truth.
This is only possible because the Spirit lives in me.
And as He does I bear fruit, HIS fruit...
Furthermore, I an CALLED TO DO GOOD.
I am created for this very purpose.
See also Psalm 139 and Jeremiah 1:5

I have been given new life.
I am being transformed.
Through this entire process, my life is a letter, a movie, for all to read and see God at work, to understand His love, and to respond to His message of reconciliation.

No matter what title I may have here on earth
No matter my rank with It Works

I am a child of God
I am His Ambassador
I am called
I am equipped through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in me.

So then, as God puts dreams in my heart, I MUST act on faith and trust Him to fulfill and work out the very plans and purposes for which He created me.

I need to be BOLD with my message.
People NEED to hear, to know, to believe.

"But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him?
And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him?
And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?
And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?
That is why the Scriptures say, 'How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!'"

And to that, I say, "HERE I AM LORD!!! SEND ME!!"

I may not know what the future holds.
I don't know what all 2015 will bring.
But this I do know:

I am following HARD after God.
I am making the most of EVERY day.
I am passionately pursuing Jesus, to know Him more so that I might make Him known and better proclaim the glory of His awesome name.

My life has purpose.
A holy, divine purpose.

But my life is short.
My days here on this earth are fleeing.
And thus I must work with purpose, with URGENCY, for the mission I have been given is of utmost importance.  People's souls are on the line.

I may not be an Ambassor with It Works (yet), but I proudly accept my titles as a child of God, a daughter of the King, an AMBASSADOR of Christ!!!!

And will BOLDLY and courageously live out this calling.
Will YOU join me?
For you too have been called...