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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Saved by the bell...literally

This morning I spoke to some teenage girls at a local high school. I asked them what some of their biggest fears were. I heard tornados, rats, failure, finding a dead body to achieving success, heights and a few other things.  I wanted them to leave with a new understanding of how fear immobilizes their dreams and moving things forward. This one particular girl raised her hand and said "how do I face the fear of finding family members who are alcoholics dead?" As soon as she asked me the bell rang and I thought to myself wow that's what being saved by the bell looks like.   As I thought more about the bell ringing in the exact moment I was at a loss for words it reminded me of Gods timing.  His faithfulness blows me away at times and yet it also can frustrate me beyond words. There have been moments I have needed insight and wisdom His silence felt like crickets chirping on a breezy summers night.  What I realized is that in those moments of begging God to move I had shifted my attention and affection away from Him and instead locked in on what it was I needing Him to fix.  We measure everything we do and that can become so toxic in all we do.  For years I would measure my success by other peoples standards and yet somehow I would always come up short.  When I began to embrace the freedom I have in Christ that measuring stick had to be thrown into the trashcan.  In Joshua 7 I am reminded of how many times I have ended up in the hands of the enemy asking God what in the world was going on by questioning His sovereignty in my life. What a brat I am and have been. 

Joshua 7: 12 that is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. 13 "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies UNTIL YOU REMOVE IT." 

Removing things in our hearts that will lead to destruction is a painful process.  I have taken God off the throne and replaced Him with food along with other things many times. I begged God for years to give me freedom and victory but it wasn't until I admitted it and then surrendered it to my Father in Heaven that I could feel the release it had on my heart. It had nothing to do with Gods timing but everything to do with my repentance.  For some maybe its your job and the pursuit of "success" that your devoted to and it consumes your time and causes you to miss out on life. For some its your weight,body image and appearance you are devoting every single thought to and the desire to look and feel a certain way. I had to remove the things I was devoted to in order to stand before my enemy and embrace the freedom my heart longed for. Today what needs to be removed from your heart in order for you to claim victory and avoid destruction from the giants in your life? Gods redeeming and saving grace isn't based on His timing but our embracing.  It's time you stop waiting on a perfect moment to let go or a saved by the bell moment and just walk in the beauty of the cross. Forgiveness and redemption awaits. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Abandoned house, cracked windows & Cadbury eggs

Cadbury eggs are such a weakness for me this time of year.  The chocolate on the outside filled when the creamy middle ahhh so delicious. At one point in my life eating just one wasn't an option I had to have like 3 or 4.  It seems like struggling with self control is where we all find ourselves in spring because we all know that summer is coming. This morning I was reminded that God wants good for me. He protects me by giving me only bits and pieces of my purpose and future as I choose to live for Him fully along the way. He wants me to fully trust Him. Fully surrendering requires me to fully obey and let go of all control as I walk in self control. He has to be enough for me. Lamentations 3:24
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
When God becomes my completion nothing else will satisfy and self control will be something that I no longer am fighting against but instead it becomes a result of my obedience. 

My youngest daughter got a really nice camera for Christmas. She wants to start getting into photography.  So this past week a friend of mine who is a professional photographer along with another one of my friends who pours into her took her to an abandon house with a spooky yet cute & vintage appeal to get some experience. As I looked at the house it was literally an absolute mess. Some of the windows were cracked and there would be no way I would spend the night in that house. It's crazy how much we rely on the windows of our house to protect us, or to let the sun in or to keep the cold out.  The windows give the outside world a glimpse into our home. I saw this verse in Proverbs and the message version was a haunting revelation because the condition of my heart is the window to my soul and how I follow Jesus. 

A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out. (Proverbs 25:28 MSG) 

Our steps of obedience is a direct result of how deep our faith is. When we have little faith we obey less.  No matter how big a house is, or how decorated it is when you have no door or windows the house becomes vulnerable and the stuff on the inside is up for the taking. Our lives are no different. Our only protection comes from Gods word. It's lavishing ourselves in His truth in order to identify the toxins that come our way.   My prayer for you today is that Jesus becomes enough for you. When you fall in love with the Creator your faith not only increases but your desire to obey will flow out of your love for Him.  I used to worship food because I was trying to fulfill a desire & also choke the pain of not feeling like I was good enough. I had no self control because my life was about me. We have to wrap our hearts around the truth that following Him shouldn't be about behavior modification but instead it should be a life that is driven by simply choosing Jesus over yourself.  

Let Him be your enough. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Criminal minds and a Cadbury egg

Fear is a word I have blogged about a ton of times.  I hear it almost weekly from women and young girls regarding their future or facing the circumstances that surround them. I have walked through seasons of fear that almost took my dreams out of my reach. I'm realizing its the posture of our hearts that determine the response to our fear. Because what we choose to bow down to is often what we follow. When we allow thoughts to go unprotected you better believe relationships, friendships, marriages and our dreams will be laced with fear. The enemy works over time to make us feel like we aren't good enough or equipped enough to dream beyond our insecurities. 

My favorite shows are The first 48 and Criminal minds. I'm not an adrenaline junkie but those two shows have me on edge the entire time. I usually like a good love story  but not on these shows I just want them to catch the bad guys. Because of these shows I find myself being afraid of a lot of things and people. I literally will survey the scene to see who is where, what they are wearing and usually I look to see what time it is just in case the BAU team from Criminal minds needs my help. I love the thought of being in the middle of an investigation but the reality is that it would give me major nightmares for the rest of my life. I started noticing something yesterday as I watched an episode with Richard before bed. The beginning of criminal minds the crimes were bad and the crime scenes left you wondering what the victim looked like (I know freaky) and now the episodes leave little to the imagination and the crimes are brutal.  Someone asked me how I could watch it before bed and it made me think about how I was when I first started watching. It would have me on the edge of my seat afraid to go to bed and now it doesn't really bother me. Isn't fear the same way? It starts subtle and then it builds momentum and begins reminding you of failures and then after getting you hooked to a thought you are sucked in and giving up. As I was reading this morning I came across this verse 

Psalm 5:7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

This fear isn't out of being scared it's about being in awe. Whatever it is you worshiping is the very thing you are in awe of.  It's sad to say how many times food and body image were the center of my worship. I would eat until I was sick and then begged God to help me lose weight. My worship reflected the posture of my heart.  Just recently I was standing in a store and I found myself staring at a bag of Oreos. I could almost taste them. It was like a war in my head.  It took everything in me to walk away and I wish I could say I walked out empty handed but I walked out with a Cadbury egg and I devoured it. I felt like I won the battle simply because I chose one chocolate creme filled most delicious egg over a whole bag of Oreos. You see bravery is facing one moment at a time and choosing NOT to bow down to what is enticing you away from the heart of God. Today one choice can change the direction of your heart, your dreams and your circumstances.  So many times we look at how big our dreams are and we think why even try. We must dream beyond our insecurities because the moment we choose to surrender to a calling we no longer can see the power of God simply because we are looking in the wrong direction. We must surrender to Him alone and allow Him to equip and create a passion within us because when that happens the beyond becomes a reality! Dream BIG but keep your eyes locked on Your Creator!  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

I wont be jumping out of an airplane anytime soon.....

As I move closer to my 40th birthday I have become so spontaneous over the past few years. I love trying new things.  I randomly flew to Austin Texas last year with Richard for our anniversary and a few months ago I tried Elk steak and it was delicious.  I don’t plan on jumping out of an airplane anytime soon but to say that I have a new sense of adventure would be accurate. I have a few things on my bucket including riding an Elephant in Thailand to flying all over the world.  I like the rush that comes with the anticipation before trying whatever it is new.  At Islands of Adventure in Orlando Florida there is a roller coaster called The Hulk and it’s incredibly fast and full of twist and flips.  The excitement starts before it actually takes off with you sitting in a tunnel with your feet dangling and green lights flashing to create the illusion that you are in fact turning into the hulk. It builds this momentum without even moving and then it literally shoots you out of the tunnel into your first flip. It is RIVETING!

After thinking about the emotions that surround those moments I was challenged to think about the anticipation and excitement that surrounds my faith.  It is easy to say I have faith but often the comfort of my life or the desire of comfort chokes the very passion of living it out with a gut wrenching trust and all out abandon.  I am talking about moments where we have everything to lose and yet also everything to gain simply because we were forced to trust God.   When God doesn’t seem to come through in a way that we thought we take matters into our own hands by manipulating situations by trying to outsmart the Creator of the universe and yet the only thing revealed is our lack of faith. I believe that faith is the very thing that moves us into a place of full dependency on God because we have to trust Him without knowing what’s around the corner or how things will unfold and choosing to trust anyway.  My words of how BIG I believe my God is can be directly reflected in the intensity of how I live my life.  For years I begged God to do something in my life with speaking and yet my heart wasn’t ready because I honestly didn’t trust Him and even more embarrassing I didn’t believe His word.  I loved God and I desired to follow Him but after looking through stacks of old journals I was dumbfounded at how I viewed Him.  Every day I would say things like “give wings to my dreams” and while that sounds pretty and packaged well inside my prayers I didn’t believe God could use me because I didn’t even like myself. I hated my body, I hated who I was.  My insecurities became my focus and soon pride was the worship of my heart with the concept of dreaming big being masked as was a way for me to help others somehow escape the pain I was feeling.  Through surrender I realized that my self hatred was pride because it was all about me.   Scared or hiding from your past mistakes is also a form of pride because God makes all things NEW and uses what the enemy means for bad He transforms for good.  Dreaming big doesn’t mean I manipulate or orchestrate my gifting in a way that brings me glory all in the name of Jesus because I am trying to escape struggles. Instead it’s a process of daily surrender as those who surround you watch you look beyond the captivity to the cross of redemption.  It’s allowing God to shake the very foundation that we build to move us into a place of deeper intimacy simply because we chose to trust Him.  If you had to measure the depth of your faith right now what would it be? What BIG and BOLD things is He calling you to do?  There are people in my life that I look to in complete awe at times wondering why in the world things happen the way they do and then I see something that is so evident and that’s the depth of their faith.  Are you struggling with your finances, your marriage, your dreams or even your daily routine?  Maybe it’s time you position those things for mind blowing faith moments. Revelation 3:8 should encourage you to deepen your faith because literally NO one can shut the door but God himself (or your disobedience).  God says this “ I know your works. See I have set before you and open door and NO ONE CAN SHUT IT; for you have a little strength, have kept My word and have not denied My name. “   Take risk today by stepping out of a comfort craved world and take a chance on the God of the universe opening doors that will not only deepen your intimacy with Him but give a world that is in desperate need of hope a glimpse of who God is simply because you chose to exercise your faith because honestly without it it’s impossible to please Him.  Hebrews 11: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him….

Go ahead and DREAM BIG!!