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Thursday, June 28, 2012

we are God's play doh

Play-doh is something that has been around my entire life. I remember as a child my mom would make homemade play-doh and I would sneak and taste it.  Kids love molding and shaping all sorts of animals and shapes.  Its texture is soothing and it even can release stress.  It increases fine motor skills and it is perfect for killing time with kids of all ages. It is used for great object lessons and it comes in all sorts of colors.  As I was thinking about all the things play doh is used to make or shape I thought about how frustrating it is when people mix all the colors.  A beautiful pink can suddenly turn into a dull brown.  Once the colors are mixed you can’t just pull the colors apart you have to buy new play doh.   Often times our dreams and the desires of our hearts become play doh in the hands of others in our lives and before you can even see the dreams blending and taking on a new shape or idea of its own the dream is suddenly something you wish you could have accomplished.  The people we surround ourselves with have so much to do with the shaping of our dreams. We allow words to push us in the direction of our dreams or simply push us in the opposite direction. We think because someone else thinks an idea is crazy or out of reach that it must not be from God when really the craziness of an idea should assure you that God is completely birthing that inside you! Nothing about God ever seems to make since because His ways are far beyond what we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).  Our insecurities also play a part in shaping our dreams and because fear is a beast we have to stand guard.  Fear is out to kill your dreams NOT push them into reality. I was reading in Isaiah 64 and it says in verse 8 Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” 
I want you to take a second to think about all the crazy things you have dreamed up in your head and after you talked yourself out of it how badly you wish you could have gone back and went through with it.  God is shaping your hearts to be more like His. He is shaping your thoughts because He knows that fear keeps us from so much.  He is shaping our dreams in the center of our being and passions and excitement comes in the form of our gifts that He gave each one of us. I am finding daily that when you allow your obedience to collide with your surrender CRAZY happens.  Maybe your dreams seem so out of reach at this point. Maybe you don’t have a dream. Maybe you are numb because nothing in your life seems to play out like you had intended.  I promise you that God has placed within you a beautiful gift and He wants to use you beyond your wildest imagination.  Start today by loving people with your words or serve people by giving your time and attention to their needs.  Begin seeking God with ALL you have even when you don’t feel like it.  Surrendering is NOT a sign of weakness it’s recognizing that God’s power is greater than your own.  God chose you!! Let that sink in... HE CHOSE US even with all the stains of our past and the brokenness of who we used to be.  We become like the play doh that has been mixed and instead of God saying we are useless He touches us with His hands and suddenly we are made new!! New dreams are formed within us and we must stay within the potter’s hands in order to see those dreams within us come alive.  Who has your ear? Push through the chaos of what you can’t do or the circumstances that maybe choking the life out of you and know that God has you safely in the palm of His hand and the shaping and molding are happening even now! Breathe…..



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

distance doesn't make the heart go fonder.....

Today was my first day of exercising since my ankle injury back in March.  My friend Heidi had so much to do with my motivation. She would cheer me on and push me beyond when I literally thought I would collapse.   I mean the day I broke my ankle we were doing level 2 of 30 day shred and doing BOY PUSH UPS!! I was devastated and knew that I would have to endure major setbacks I also knew that I would most likely gain a lot of my weight back.  Today 4 months later I have not gained one pound in fact I have lost.  I am down 54 pounds since last year and I am more motivated than before the injury.  This morning at 6:30 am and I was so excited to reunite with Heidi for a powerful workout and it was that exactly!!! Jillian Michaels kicked my tail to say the least.  I had to start back at level 1 and I had to do modified push-ups and I couldn’t do the full out jump rope/jumping jacks but I gave it my all and now 3 hours later I am already soreJ  Before I left this morning I was putting on my cute hot pink tennis shoes and self-talking myself all the way to the car I realized that we often treat Jesus like exercise.  I thought about how motivated and dedicated I was to working out before my injury. I mean we hardly ever missed a day and I would even organize my day around my working out time with Heidi but as soon as something happened to set me back my whole life changed and fighting the temptation to NOT overeat became harder, the fight to NOT become numb towards God was hard and the fight against my thoughts of NOT caring also became harder. You see Just like I was in a routine of exercise our hearts have to be positioned daily to spend time with our Creator because when things hit us or knock us down its His word that sustains us.  I was given endurance, strength and God’s promises to lean on to bring me back to Him rather than indulging in a bag of oreos for a way out.  I also know that when you step away from intimacy with Jesus your thoughts, your words, your responses and the way you live daily are impacted and before you know it you feel disconnected.  This morning I was groaning and hating every sit up and yet a few months ago I was smiling and loving how far I had come.  What changed?  It was distance… God never moves and yet we often feel numb, angry, broken and away from Him. We MOVE and we stop moving towards the heart of our King. He desires our intimacy and daily pursuit of Him and we have to fight through the busyness of our lives, the pride that keeps us pursuing the things of this world and really seek Him with all we have.  I am so excited about this new season of exercise because my heart is ready and I am ready to finish what I started!! God thank you for allowing a broken bone to teach me how important it is to daily pursue you and to walk so close to you so that NOTHING can keep my heart from yours!!

1 Chronicles 16:11 Look to the Lord and His strength;SEEK HIS FACE ALWAYS.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I hope this touches your heart as much as it did mine

 I have been waiting for the perfect timing to post a friends email I received two weeks ago. This girl is a new believer (2 months old). Her passion for Jesus has pushed me back to that feeling of falling in love with Jesus for the first time.  When she was 17 her father killed her mom and then killed himself. She has grown up being strong and it isn’t till now that she recognizes that it was God who carried her through some pretty deep moments.  Even now she is starting the process of forgiving her father and she is desperately clinging to God’s truth to walk through it.  She has been placed in my life and I am beyond excited to mentor her and really walk beside her in this new season of her life. I believe God has HUGE things for her life and as He strips her of things way down deep I believe that when people see her they walk away getting a glimpse of just how incredible Jesus truly is.   This is just the beginning of a beautiful journey of allowing her wounds to be opened in order to bring healing and for God to use her scars for His glory!!! Please pray for Bethany and leave her a sweet comment of encouragement- she would love it!! Thanks and I hope this touches your heart as much as it has mine.

Last night, after my Life group, I was sitting in the floor talking to Holly, the woman that leads our group, and her husband. They just so happen to be the Preacher and the Preachers wife of the church I attend. Sitting there, telling them what had happened the night before, how God has a way of being so incredibly real to me it’s sometimes hard to believe.  I asked Richard, “Does God do this to everyone, does he speak this clearly and this BOLDLY to everyone like he does me?”  I whole heartedly expected the answer to be yes, but he said no.  I thought really?? He doesn’t?? I thought maybe I was just more open and accepting and willing to hear him, that’s why I hear him so clearly.  Sometimes I hear him so clearly and things happen in such an obvious way there is no way I can deny it’s God, but I still find myself second guessing it.  Did that really just happen?? Am I really just a lunatic making all this up???? There is no way I am making all this up right?  I never even had an imaginary best friend growing up, my imagination cannot be THAT creative. Could it?  When I got in my car last night to head home, all I could here was Richard saying “no, He doesn’t”.  I kept wondering why if God can be this real and this clear to me why isn’t He this “in your face” with everyone else???  I picked up my super awesome spanking new book that Holly had just given me earlier. It is a devotional that she reads every day and bought it for me because it has really touched her life and thought it would do the same thing to me.  I picked it up out of the seat and opened the card that was inside of it. It wasn’t until we were half way through the Bible study earlier that I realized there was a card in the book. For whatever reason when I noticed the card, I didn’t open it and slid it back into the book.  But of course I didn’t open it when I first saw it, but after I had just asked God  “why, if You really don’t do this to EVERYONE, why are You doing this to me?” of course now would be the moment I open the card and read what Holly wrote “God has HUGE plans for your life!!!” When I gave my life to Christ, He made it very clear to me that he wanted to use my story for his glory. People have often times told me how well I have done with the circumstances I faced with my parent’s death.  I knew He no longer wanted me to take credit for what HE had done for me. Even when I didn’t know it was Him who was strong and not me.  I knew that my story wasn’t just your everyday testimony, so naturally I assumed that it could possibly bring people closer to the Lord by hearing it, showing them that even when we don’t realize he is holding us, he is.  I was cool with that; yea sure I’ll share my story and give all the glory to Him, no problem. But after I read that card I started praying. “But HUGE things?, what is that even supposed to mean Lord??? What are you trying to tell me?? Are you wanting me to be the next Joyce Myer or something?? Well if that’s what you want that’s fine, but I’m not cutting my hair that short lol.  Seriously though what are HUGE things????  I accept your will for my life and all of the HUGE things you want to do through me, I just wish I knew what all this meant.  Amen.”  Well this morning Chris had an appointment with an oral surgeon to have his wisdom teeth removed. While I was waiting, I started reading my devotional. I was so excited to dive into this devotional and read what God had for me today.
This was the devotional:
 “THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH WITH YOU, My child. Your mind leaps from problem to problem to problem tangling your thoughts in anxious knots. When you think like that, you leave Me out of your world-view and your mind becomes darkened. Though I yearn to help, I will not violate your freedom. I stand silently in the background of your mind, waiting for you to remember that I am with you. When you turn from your problems to my presence, your load is immediately lighter. Circumstances may not have changed, but we carry your burdens together. Your compulsion to “fix” everything gives way to deep, satisfying connection with Me. Together we can handle whatever this day brings.”
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand” – Isaiah 41:10

“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17

“A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”                                 –Psalm 34:19

As soon as I closed my book I heard two girls talking behind the front desk. The girl was telling the other one about all the things that were going on in her life. She said “I know I shouldn't worry and let the Lord handle it for me but I can't help but let my mind race with thoughts of worry.” She had already started crying just talking about it all, she kept saying how stressed she lets herself become over everything that was going on. It was obvious she had a million things going on and was becoming overwhelmed.  I listened for a while and thought to myself that everything she just said I read in my devotional. I asked God  “Are you trying to tell me something, am I supposed to let her read the devotional???? I started thinking how crazy it would be to walk up to a stranger and hand her my book and say read this, not only that but then I'm caught red handed, eavesdropping on her conversation. She's going to think I'm a Jesus-freak fruit loop. “No way, I can’t do that! Lord you really don’t want me to do that, do you???”  Immediately following those thoughts, seriously no exaggeration here, the next sentence out of her mouth was... "I just try to "fix" things myself... it’s just how I am, I have a hard time letting go and letting God help me, even though I know I should." The second I heard " I try to fix things" come out of her mouth I had cold chills all over me... and then the words "There's your answer, Bethany" fell all over me, like a bucket of cold ice water. So I said “Ok Lord, I get it... I'll let her read it”
I walked up to the counter and said. "I know you’re going to think I’m a crazy nut, but I couldn't help but overhearing you talking, well actually to be honest I was listening pretty closely to everything you were saying. I guess there is no point in lying about it. I'm pretty sure, without any doubt, you're supposed to read this.” I handed her my devotional turned to today’s page, May 25.  This is my devotional and I think it's for you from God.   She smiled and said “ok”, but even through her smile I could tell she was thinking “I'll just read it to be nice”, “To ME?? From GOD????” “Probably not” but obviously she was going to read it anyway. She laid the book on her desk and started reading, no kidding, before she was even half way through reading it, I saw every ounce of air she could possibly grasp fill up her lungs. Tears started to roll down her troubled and weak face.  When she exhaled the amount of air, it was like I could see the weight of the world lifting off her shoulders, or at least that’s what it looked like to me. I felt like Jesus himself was standing beside of me, he was so very, very real to me.  His absolute, un-denying presence was so strong TO ME at that moment, I could have cried.  She made a copy of the page and gave me the book back and thanked me several times. I told her "my stomach is tore slap up and my nerves are shot all to heck. This isn’t something I’ve ever done before. I had the feeling God wanted you to read it, but when I heard you say “I try to fix everything”, I told the Lord he won, and I would"  As proud as I am of myself for getting up and doing what I knew He wanted me to do, this isn't about me. I am so completely taken back by God's love. He perfectly set that up for her. It was no coincidence that I was there at that very moment; It wasn’t just dumb luck that I happened to be sitting in that waiting room reading a book that I had never read before; And there is no way, in a million years, it was only a fluke that what was written for the day May 25 was meant perfectly for her.  It is not possible that all of those things “just happen to be”… It was God.  He knew exactly what she needed and He gave it to her.   Not because he had to but because he wanted to... it's crazy to think that he loves us that much.  I've been walking around on cloud nine since I left there, in complete and total amazement of His love for his children.  Throughout the day, I’ve thought about all of this, and the only thing I can even think or say is WOW!  What an amazing God he is, He meets our every need, even when we don’t think He is.  Reflecting on it all, I feel like God not only gave that girl what she needed, but he also answered my desire to know “Why, if he really doesn’t do this to EVERYONE why is he doing this to me, why is he so very CLEAR and BOLD to ME?”   Answer: I feel like He wants to use me, so he must be very clear to me about his will and desires in order for me to follow through with them. Example: Would you give confusing and unclear directions to someone if you intended for them to go somewhere?  No, you would give the exact directions to ensure they arrived exactly where they NEEEDED to be!!!  My Prayer: “Whatever this “HUGE” thing is that you have in store for me Lord, I’m down. Direct and guide me in the way that you intend for me to go. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.” Who knows, maybe God really does want to use ME for HUGE things; Maybe he does want me to be the next Joyce Myer (but I’m still not cutting my hair that short lol).  But if not, and this is the only time that he will ever use me; it will be more than enough. What happened today may not seem HUGE to anyone else, but to me it was so much more than HUGE. Today I caught a small glimpse of my God’s unbelievable, overwhelming, precious love. I saw Him perfectly plan and place someone exactly where they needed to be. I saw my God love someone so incredibly much, He was there willing and ready to help them carry their burdens even though their trust was not in him. Although they were trying desperately to “fix” it alone, he still yearned to help them.  All of that, not because he has to, but because he WANTS to. All because HE LOVES US!!!!