Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Forward to 2012

This new year has much in store for our family. I'm looking ahead with excitement as I get to be a part of some new beginnings, some "landmark" moments and just another year of the Lord's faithfulness.

Here are some things I'm looking forward to in 2012:

  • First time taking the kids on a real sledding hill and not just the plow pile in our backyard.
  • Josh getting his IT certification.
  • Watching the kids play soccer for the first time this spring.
  • Welcoming baby #6 into our family and our world.
  • Taking the kids to the amusement park for the first time this summer.
  • Celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary (Yes, we have actually been married for that long, or at least we will be in August).
  • Having all three girls in elementary school.
  • Gideon getting to begin Preschool.
  • Celebrating Jade's 5th birthday.
  • And honestly, I'm a little scared about this last one - turning 30. 
These are just some of the things this year holds, but I'm definitely excited about what I know is to come. Imagine how exciting all the extra surprises will be!!!!

Happy New Year!!!! May your year hold many blessings from the Lord.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Who I've Been, Who I Am, Who I Want to Be & the People Who Help Get Me There

The other day I was thinking about the people that I have looked up to throughout my life. These are people who have inspired me, taught me, or just modeled for me what I want (or wanted) to be. So rather than just doing a look back over the last year, I guess you can say I looked back over the whole of my life. Where was I at certain points in my life? Who did I look up to and why? Where am I now? Where do I want to go? Who do I look up to that models where I want to be? Does this line up with what God wants me to be? These are the questions I asked myself and here is the outline version.

Let me preface this by saying, I never wanted to be these people, but I admired certain qualities they have/had and think about do I exemplify these in my life and if not how can I.

The younger years:

When I was little I looked up to my sister Cathy. She was only two years older than me and my best friend, but she taught me so much. She was kind to me, even when I was mean to her. She helped me with my homework and even taught me some of the things she was learning so I would be smarter than my classmates : ) - not sure how well that worked.

Older elementary:

At this age, I was really into my music and already wanted to be a professional dancer. However, I still looked up to those who didn't get into a lot of trouble because they chose not to be troublemakers. (I obviously was not one of those.) One friend in particular who was like this was my friend Mary Black. She simply didn't want to do what she wasn't supposed to. I didn't understand that, being a rebellious sort. Anyway, I admired that in her and continued to admire that as we went into jr. high and high school. As I got into more and more trouble, sharing my adventures with her, she still just didn't understand why I would seek after that. It made me question that myself.

Jr. high:

Honestly, at this age I looked up to any woman who was a professional dancer in music videos or who was considered attractive by men. Yes, I was very shallow. That was where I was at that point in my life and I'm not going to deny it.

High school:

Jon (my stepdad). It took me a long time to really even like Jon, but when I finally got over my immature ridiculousness or just not wanting a father figure around, I was able to see how much he really loved our family.

As an adult:

I am saying as an adult meaning from the time I was 18, because, well some of them have stayed the same.

Glen and Georgann Richardson have been staples in my life for as long as I remember. But it wasn't until I was about 18 that I really got to know them. I truly admire Glen's dedication and commitment to studying Scripture daily, and his incredible recall of Scripture. Whenever I am realizing that I have let myself get out of my quiet time routine, I think about Glen and his commitment to being in the Word daily. Oh how I want that kind of commitment. When I think of a gentle and quiet spirit, Georgann is always the first person to come to mind. She is the sweetest person I know. She always has a word of encouragement on her tongue. I do have to say when I learned that she has only ever yelled at her kids one time I was struck with shock. I can totally believe that she would never yell, because again she is just a gentle and quiet spirit. I was shocked because I could never imagine that being me, although I would love to have enough control over my tongue that I don't yell at my kids (or Josh), so that is something I am working on, because I know that it is Christ in her that is the reason she can do that. Knowing that it would have to be Christ in me gives me some hope of it being a possibility.

Wendy Whitely is a great model of being a supportive help-mate to her spouse and I truly admire that. I'm not always so supportive or encouraging to Josh and I definitely need real people to be examples of that for me. At times when I need a reminder of what it looks like to be the help-mate, I think of Wendy.

These people are by no means perfect. However, I see them as the Paul's in my life that are saying, "Follow me as I follow Christ". They are living what they believe. They are living what they say they believe and what they teach others. I admire them in that I want to develop those Christlike qualities that I see in them, because I know that's what God wants for me and that's what He wants to do in me, if I will give up the control so He can. (As I stop writing to yell at my kids) Quite obviously, I am by no means perfect either.

Anyway, I don't know if those I wrote about will read this or not, but they have really meant a lot to me and continue to mean a lot to me. They are also the ones I still keep in contact with regularly, because of how much they mean in my life. Love you guys, and thank you so much!

Monday, December 12, 2011

To Be an Oak Tree

This week, in the homework of a bible study I am just finishing up, we had to take a look at Scripture that refers to those in Christ as oak trees. The key verse we were looking at is as follows:

Isaiah 61:3b - "So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

After looking up some other Scripture that also use the metaphor of trees, I started thinking why an oak tree? Why would this be the metaphor God chooses to describe His people? So I started thinking about what I know about oak trees and how beautiful a metaphor this truly is, and this is what I wrote:

The oak tree is strong, with roots that run deep, making it sturdy, able to withstand strong winds and rains. At times a storm may come when the branches may be torn, but the longer that tree has stood, growing, the stronger it has become. Its branches have been the joy of many a child or small animal that has played or sought refuge in its arms. Its leaves, so green with life, are a display of its connection to a significant source of water and food. Those same leaves, a wonderful display of beauty as they change colors, unveiling God's wonderful design. As winter comes and the land is barren of food, the animals feed from the fruit of its branches that has been gathered and stored for time of need. During this time it has been stripped of its clothing, washed clean and clothed in purity. It wears the snow and ice like a crown of jewels. After the snow has melted away, it bears new life on all its branches. Throughout every season, it is a wonderful display of the glory of the Lord in its strength, life, fruit, and beauty. Oh that I may be an oak tree firmly planted to display the glory of His splendor!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food for Thought

I came across this question in my homework the other day and thought I would open it up to those of you who read my blog - don't worry, I already did the homework, but I would love to here your answers!

Do we have to sin? Explain. (Refer to Rom. 6:6,7,14)

Again, this is just food for thought, but if you would like to comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Childlike Prayer

"God, thank you for the food and um, that we got to play outside yesterday and um, oh yeah, help me not to be afraid at night because I don't need to cuz the boogie man is not real and the Lord is my shepherd I shall not be afraid. Oh, and please let it be sunny tomorrow, not too sunny, a little cloudy, but sunny cuz I want to play outside. Amen."

This is a prayer of my four year old. I am humbled that even with the limited amount of Scripture she knows, she still prays Scripture. Of course, not all the time, but that even at four she would do that is just so cool! I just love how kids keep us humble.

 “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. " Matt. 18:3-4

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are You Being Honest?

Recently, I posted a video about wrong worship. Feel free to look it up on Youtube. It was a video of a worship team singing familiar songs, generally sung in churches, but changing the lyrics to reflect what some people are really thinking as they sing them. Such as changing the focus to themselves, rather than God. This sparked some controversy. While the video was somewhat humorous, in that it was funny to hear the songs with the different lyrics, the point was to get you to reflect on what your own heart is like as you sing in worship to God.

I bring this up because of one comment that was made regarding whether or not we should sing songs that about our response to the greatness of God, if we do not live the reality of that. Examples would be "I Surrender All", "You're All I Want", "You're all this heart is living for".

Now can any of us say this is true all the time? Of course not! Not even the apostle Paul could say that (Rom. 7:15). But the reality is, even when we sing songs that exalt the name of God, we must ask ourselves, "Do I really believe this?"

I'm not trying to say we shouldn't sing either of these types of songs, in fact, I think just the opposite. I don't know about you guys, but how many times have you been in church worshipping and the Holy Spirit convicts you and you start to pray, "Lord, I have not surrendered all. In fact, I've been holding back in this area. Please help me to give it over to You. I want this to be true for my life." Or "Am I living like I believe that You can move mountains? Or that You are mighty to save my neighbor who wants nothing to do with You? Or even that Your name is great? Do I really believe that? Oh, Lord, help me with my unbelief (Mark 9:24)!

So I ask, are you being honest? Let me clarify what I mean by that question. When you come to worship in fellowship with other believers, through singing, prayer, and hearing the Word; or when you praise God in your own home/office/car/school/whatever, do you come before God with an honest open heart asking Him to show You what is truly in your heart that You may repent and turn from your sin? Because that is true worship.

Now I challenge you: when you do sing songs, whether they are to uplift the name of God, or making a statement of how we are to live in Christ, let it motivate you to integrity. Be challenged by them to make the changes necessary to make them become truth. Don't shy away from singing, because they are not yet truth, rather ask God to help you make them truth.

Be honest in a way that transforms your heart.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Just HAVE to Share!

I've been completely stressing out this last week. Our house is still a disaster zone as we continue to paint and move furniture. On top of that I have major papers due for school and finals coming up. I think my boys are sick and my kitten has fleas.

These are just life stuff, but what I HAVE to share is what I read this morning...

Isaiah 11 is where Isaiah not only prophesies about the coming Messiah, but also His eventual reign over a perfected earth. 

Now that may not seem exciting to you, but Holy Cow! Isaiah is basically telling the people of Israel and Judah that with all the crazy stuff that was happening to them and that was going to happen, their hope was to be placed in the fact that Jesus will not only come to earth as a man, die and be resurrected, but that He will return again and set up His kingdom where those who have been obedient to His call will live with HIm for eternity. This is in the Old Testament people! Before Jesus even came, before David was even born. Way, way, way back, this is where they were told to place their hope.

Boy, do I feel like Peter right now. Peter took His eyes off of Jesus for just a moment to look around him at his present situation and started to drown, when if he had kept his eyes ahead of him, on Christ, he would have continued to defy the laws of nature. (Matt. 14:22-36).

Basically, I was reminded to quit looking around me at what is going on in this life, and look to what I know is to come! Whew! What a relief and fresh sense of energy and renewal. 

Nothing in the present matters outside of the context of the future. If that doesn't give you a new perspective, you're dead.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

To Save a Life...

Recently, I shared a little bit about this with the women in my Bible study group, but I"m going to expand on it some here, for good reason.

A while back my husband and I were having some major issues in our marriage. During this time, I was hurt, angry, bitter. It had gotten so bad that I wanted a divorce and was trying to figure out how I could leave. Then, I found out I was pregnant. I did not want this baby. After all, how was I going to take care of these children on my own? What was I going to do if the child looked like him and was a living reminder each day of how much he hurt me? What was I going to do?

I could not have an abortion, but what I considered was just as ugly. Self-induced miscarriage. I spent a lot of time trying to think of ways I could make myself miscarry this child. I even looked up some things on the internet. It wasn't just because I didn't want to have another baby, but I also wanted to hurt Josh as much as I felt like he had hurt me. 

God got to me. He refused to let it happen. He opened my eyes and made me realize how ridiculous I was being. It took a miracle, but He delivered. Why? Because He is the God of miracles. 

In my brokenness, I cried out to Him. Literally, cried, weeped, was on my knees before Him in prayer, because I was tired of trying to do this on my own. I couldn't handle my life anymore. For three days, this is what I did. By the end of those three days, I was ready to listen to what God had to say, and what He said was that divorce and losing this baby was not in His plan for my life. And then the miracle happened. The major issue that was ripping my family apart was eliminated. There was still a lot of work to be done on repairing our relationship, but I knew that I was not going to go through with a divorce and yes, I was going to have the baby. I do not have a particular Scripture that God used to speak to me at that time, because quite frankly, I was not in the Word. However, because of what I had learned through the years, in my time of prayer God brought back to my mind some of the truths in His Word.

Jade is turning four today. She is a true delight! Such a blessing from God. Jade is definitely strong-willed. She is always surprising us with how well she understands things and is most always giggly and goofy giving us all a good laugh! I can't imagine my life without her.

Funny thing is that Jade is the most like me out of all of my children. It's a reminder that during a time when I wanted to self-destruct God has something different in mind - life. 

O Lord, I thank you that you are love and that you saw fit to extend your grace and mercy to someone as undeserving as me, and that you did what you had to do to preserve Jade - may she be forever Yours!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Choosing to be a Prisoner?

At church yesterday, my pastor and our worship leader spoke about freedom and being freed from the bondage of sin. I started thinking...

Imagine you have been convicted of a crime. You pleaded guilty, you knew you did it, so you didn't even bother trying to deny it. The judge sentences you death. But then someone offers to take your place. The judge takes their offer and lets you go free. You are ecstatic!! You almost had to spend the rest of your days in a prison cell until they finally decided to carry out your death sentence, but now you are free! 

Now imagine one day, you walked into the prison, went into a cell and closed the door behind you, then started crying out for someone to help you.

We are sinners who have been convicted of death. But Christ took the punishment of death for us. When we give Christ Lordship over our lives, we are granted freedom from the punishment of our sin. 

You are probably asking the question, "Why would anyone have walked back into the prison and put themselves into a cell when they are free?" 

This is what we do, when we live as though we are enslaved to sin. You see, when Christ died on the cross He took on all our sin - past, present, and future. He took it. He gave us freedom. Walking into that cell is what we do when we begin to feel defeated by sin. We go back into old habits and patterns, or even start new ones. Then we cry out to God for freedom, and He says, "I've already given you freedom, now start living like you're free!"

His death was once and for all. He doesn't need to keep freeing us over and over again. We just need to start living like we are free. 

So what does it mean to live like you are free? If you asked someone who had been released from prison what it would mean for them to now live like they were free, I'm sure they would not say that going back to their old life of crime with the threat of going back to prison would be true freedom. But being released as though you had never committed a crime, no record to stain your reputation, now that's true freedom. That is what we have been given. Christians have the choice to live in the freedom that they have been given through Christ's blood, in Christ's strength. Or to allow themselves to be falsely bound by sin. I say falsely bound, because once we have been freed by the blood of Christ, sin no longer has power over us. Satan no longer has the upper hand. We may feel like it does, because we are weak in our own strength - but it doesn't.
What sins are your prison cell? 
Are you going to continue to live as though you are a prisoner, or are you going to live in your freedom?

I thought of a few of my own, and let me tell you, I would much rather live in the freedom I have in Christ. 

Go live in freedom. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bearing Children and Fruit

"My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you-"
Galatians 4:19

Today my pastor used this verse during his sermon, and it got me thinking. Why use this analogy unless there is something about this actual experience that can teach us something? I have had five children and with that five different experiences regarding childbirth, however, the more I think about it, the more I realize how they have been pictures of my spiritual growth. Allow me to illustrate, without grossing you out too much ; )

My childbirth experiences:

With my first child I was in labor (from the time my water broke until she was born) 15 hours. I was determined to go natural so I tried every method I could remember to help bear with the pain. It eventually became evident that I had back labor. This means the baby is facing the wrong direction when going down into the birth canal, putting added pressure on my back. It also means that contractions are much worse, and the baby has to be turned while you are pushing so he/she can actually come out. 

My second child was unexpectedly born early during a stressful time of life. With her, I was in labor for 25 hours. I had to be induced and could not get out of bed due to some medicine they had to give me. This, of course, made it much more difficult to deal with the pain of the contractions. Just as I was ready to give up and get an epidural, she came down enough for me to push. 

My third labor, I don't remember much about. I do remember that I needed to push before being fully dilated. The doctors and nurses didn't believe me and left the room. I had to yell for them to come back in and literally pushed her out 15 minutes later. However, since they had not done much to help prepare me, I had a lot of tearing. Most unfortunately, I could feel all of the stitches they had to give me. Ouch!

The fourth labor was much easier. The pain of my contractions was all in the top of my thighs, so it was not as intense. While obviously, it was still somewhat painful, at this point I knew much more about what to expect and had good help throughout the process. Much easier.

The fifth was a breeze. Almost. My water broke before contractions began and from that time until birth was only 5 hours. Again the pressure was mostly in the top of my thighs, which allowed me to sleep most of the time. Yahoo! The hardest part was obviously pushing, which again didn't take long, and I had much better support.

All of them ended in the birth of a new life. Each one different in it's own way and each child was bigger than the last (except my second who was early, but would have been bigger than my first had she come on time). 

So what does all this have to do with spiritual growth? Oh, I can't wait to tell you!

The labor and birth of my first child reminds me of when I came to Christ. I had spent a lot of time using what I knew trying to handle the pains and problems of life my own way. I even tried to apply what I had learned about God's Word, but still was attempting to be strong and do it on my own. I had a limited relationship with my child while she was still in my womb, but my baby had to turn to face the right direction before she could take her first breath so she could really start living and have a living, breathing relationship with me. It wasn't until I turned to face the right direction, away from the world and the reflection of myself, toward Christ, that I was able to enter into a relationship with Him, changing my life forever.

My second child came at a stressful time of life, unexpectedly. It was a long, hard labor and just as I was ready to give up - she was born. This is a reminder to me of what I consider to be a major time of spiritual growth in my life. At that point, life had been stressful for awhile, and was only getting worse. And it all came crashing down unexpectedly. I had been trying, again, to work out my problems on my own, but didn't realize it this time. Just when I was ready to give up and give in, God worked. It was a one of those big peaks along my spiritual journey, that I will not forget.

My third experience with labor is a reminder to me of those times in life when we know we need help, but no one really listens until the last minute. By that time, growth is extremely painful. Relationships may need to be stitched back together afterwards, which also can be painful. Fortunately, as we learn forgiveness, the way God intended it to be, we begin to forget the ugliness of these times and just remember the growth that came from them, and what we can do differently the next time we find ourselves in that place, so that the growth doesn't have to be so painful.

My fourth labor was much different than the previous three, but also much easier. I had great support and didn't have to endure as much pain to bring forth life. As I have grown spiritually, I have learned, how to get the support I need, and to desire change so that it comes without so much struggle. 

My fifth labor proves what I just said. In fact, growth can come somewhat peacefully. Yes, there is still pain in the process as we have to put off sin, but we know the joy that will come in the end and look forward to it. 

Just as my labors got progressively easier, spiritual growth should also. Just as my children got progressively bigger, so should the fruit we produce as Christians. 

You may think this is a stretch, but I'm marveling in the beauty of how God uses my life to show me pictures of Himself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fast food or a life?

This I have been wanting to write for some time, but have put it off and am now glad that I did, as I have been able to better formulate my thoughts. My goal here is to make more easily understood a common and devastating issue. I only hope this helps to clarify. I refer to this problem as Fast Food Christianity. Recently a professor in one of my classes I took this last week made a reference to “fast food Jesus” recalling to mind this very topic that I have been wanting to write. By now I’m sure you are wondering what I mean (yes, I am assuming you’re interest, haha), so let me create a picture for you:
Imagine you drive up to a fast food restaurant. Behind the microphone, Jesus greets you with “May I take your order?” You respond with, “Yes, I’ld like an eternal life in heaven with no commitment. And may I exchange my kingdom treasures for riches here on earth? Thank you!” You excitedly grab your bag at the window and drive away without checking to see if you even got exactly what you ordered, only to later realize that this is not what you received. You’re angry about not getting what you ordered, but decide it’s too late to go back, so you settle with what you got, false hope that is deep-fried and salted to disguise its damaging effects.
You may laugh at such an idea, but this is what many people believe about Christianity, and even worse what many churches are teaching about salvation. That you decide when you are going to go to Jesus, based on when it is convenient for you and not going to cost you much, to request your eternity in heaven (which sounds great in comparison to hell) and a life of peace. He, of course, is supposed to freely hand this over upon your request and allow you to go on your way, back to your life of sin and destructive behavior. 
For those who believe this, I have alarming news for you: JESUS DID NOT WORK AT MCDONALD’S!
This convenient, fast and easy-believism is not what Christ teaches in Scripture. Instead, He offers a far better alternative. Consider this scenario instead:
You receive a letter and this is what it says: “Dear [insert your name], I am your Father. You have rejected me ever since you were born, choosing instead to live in someone else’s house under someone else’s authority. I have sought you out because I love you. I want you back as my child. I will treat you as my child - caring for you and loving you, always keeping your best interest in mind, but also disciplining your disobedience. The one you now live with has allowed you to think you set your own path and steer your own course, because this is what you wanted. I will play no such games. I expect you to follow the course I have laid out for you. You see, I have already paid for you. You have been a slave and I had to buy you back. I paid for you with my own life, in death. I have come back from death to claim you. I am now inviting you to accept me as your Lord. Leave your life behind and come receive what I have for you."
This isn’t easy or convenient. Responding to this invitation requires sacrificing all that you have lived for to live for someone else. But on second thought, it also means you no longer have to go from pleasure to pleasure, trying to satisfy your desires. While it is entirely free, it demands a commitment. You have to be willing to obey, willing to live for the purpose of someone else’s pleasure. 
Hmmm... this is not an easy decision. But this is what Christ requires of us (Luke 14:33).  What we often fail to see is that the latter IS the better alternative. What do we gain by trying to use Christ as a side dish while we feast on this world? Nothing. What do we gain by giving over our lives in obedience to Him? Security. True love. A relationship. True peace. Hope for a future. Eternity in the presence of our Lord/Savior/King- A reward well worth the cost!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Forbidden Topic

Ok people, I am going to write about something that I've been wanting to write about, but struggling to decide how I want to broach this topic. And the topic is...


Now, I am going to use my own life as an example, but I am not going to be explicit, so if you were looking for any type of titillating details you've come to the wrong place. I do however, feel a need to write about it, as I have seen how God has been uncovering some issues in my life regarding this very topic.

I think about sex, a lot. Sometimes more than I should. Sometimes in ways that I should not.

Yes, women think about sex. I enjoy sex just as much as my husband and am thankful that God created such a wonderfully intimate thing to draw us closer to one another in our marriage relationship.

I call this the forbidden topic, because my experience has been that Christians do not want to talk about it, or are uncomfortable with this subject. In some ways, it has been painted as something that is dirty, completely sinful and disgusting. But what happens when we are not being taught what the Bible says about sex, we are going to get our information from the world, and the world is more than happy to give it. This is a problem. And this is exactly what I have done.

Now, I am not blaming the church for my lack of understanding, because as a Christian it is my responsibility to read and study Scripture for myself. I do, however, believe that part of the church's function is to teach Scripture and it is a topic that gets pushed to the wayside far too often.

Ok, let me go back to explaining what I mean. When I was growing up, no one would talk to me about sex. Not people in the church, not anyone in my Christian school, not even my parents. The most they would say about the topic is "Don't have sex until you are married." I think one time someone tried to touch on the topic of boundaries as far as relationships go. This is a good thing to say, but what I needed, was how to view sex from a Christian worldview. That is to say, how to look at it through the lens of the Bible.

Our world is over-sensualized. It is no longer enough for a girl to be pretty or beautiful, she should be "sexy". We see it in clothing, magazines, hairstyles, even make-up is about how sexy we can make ourselves look. As if every thing we do, should be for the purpose of arousing the lusts of those around us.

From the time I was in middle school, I remember trying to work out this subject in my mind and what it means for me as a girl, a teenager, a young adult, and now a woman. I understood that it was wrong to have sex before marriage, but did not understand it in the sense of keeping myself pure before God, so I began to allow the world to shape my view of sex at a young age. Yes, this led me down the wrong path as far as choices I made in relationships, but that is not where I want to go today. What I do want to say is that lately, the Holy Spirit has been convicting me about how I am still allowing the world's view to influence my thoughts and sometimes even my actions.

I am sick to my stomach realizing how I have carried this distorted view of sex and what it means about me as a person, a woman, a wife, with me through these years. Giving up bits and pieces, but holding onto it still, not quite wanting to let it go. The part of me that still holds onto that idea of beauty = sexy.

I've struggled with this, like I said, since I was in middle school. What girl doesn't want to be beautiful? So obviously beauty has quite often dominated my thinking. God has taught me so much over the years, of what true beauty really means. But even knowing that, doesn't always mean I think like that. And it doesn't always mean I act like that.

I find that I am continually having to renew my mind with Scripture in this area, as the Holy Spirit convicts me of yet another way I am allowing it to seep back in. There are times I have to remove myself from a place, turn a channel, put down a magazine, etc. I have to make conscious decisions to put the thought out of my mind and think about what God sees as beauty. This is not always easy. The world pummels us over with this idea of being sexy.


Even Christians often have this misunderstanding about what sex is and why it was created and how to enjoy it properly. I'm not just talking about understanding that it was created for the context of a heterosexual marriage relationship, but even what it means given that context.

I had a professor recently who puts it this way (might not be an exact quote), "Sex is a ministry to your spouse." It was created as a way to minister to your husband or wife in love. Hearing that just turned a lightbulb on as far as a good way for me to describe what Scripture says about sex (1 Cor. 7:3-4) and a good way for me to put into perspective society's push towards "being sexy".

Society views sex as simply lustful. It is all about desire and arousal. Feeding the desires of the flesh. The push for women (and girls) to be "sexy" is to pursuit arousing that desire and lust in the men around you. As though they need some sort of help doing that (am I right guys?). I'm not going to go into the implications this has on our guys, except to say that it only makes their struggle that much worse, especially when women in the church have bought into this idea. I'm sure I have not always helped them by some of the things I've worn. But my push here is for women to understand how this can affect even the seemingly smaller decisions we make. Things like why we get a certain haircut, or walk a certain way, do our make-up a certain way, why we exercise, how we choose to eat, etc. Guys may not always notice, but how many of us do some of these things with that thought of being sexy behind it? I admit, I sometimes do.

Increasingly, my perspective has been changing over the years as I better understand it from Scripture and as I continue to put off thoughts formed by the world's perspective and replace them with what I know God says about this subject. But I had to come to see this as sin. I had to learn a new worldview. I still have to choose to use it. And I have to continually make the choice to not allow it to dominate my thinking. I don't always do that, I admit.

Now, I debate about clicking on that publish post button that means this will forever be floating around in cyberspace, but I know I am not the only one who struggles with this issue as a woman (1 Cor. 10:13) and I hope my honesty and forthcoming about it will help someone else. I am taking a risk of vulnerability sharing this with all of you, and can only ask for your prayers and loving accountability.

Some insight into my mind

So many things to write about, not enough time or energy to get to them all. Only other writers know how frustrating this is, or others with memory issues, as we do not want to lose it and not be able to get it back.

Here is what goes through my mind as decide what to write:

"Oh, this topic that I am learning about is really interesting and I would like to share that with others, or what about this, or this that I've been wrestling with, but how much do I want to really share, do I lay it all out there, how much should I hold back? I want others to see me as open and vulnerable so that they feel safe to be vulnerable as well, but I don't know if I really want others to know my struggles in this area. Is it because I want them to see me as better than I really am? Truth is, maybe. I don't want to air out all my dirty laundry, but I want to tell someone. I desperately want to tell someone. But I don't think I can speak it. It would be much easier to write this, but i don't want to tell everyone. Who can I tell? Forget it. I'll just write about this instead. But should I really write about that issue? Some people are really going to be offended. How can I say it in a loving, but to the point way? Should I even be caring about stepping on their toes if I am trying to communicate truth? Yes, I should, so how can I do this tactfully? Wait, now I don't have time to fully write about that. Ugh, maybe I'll get to write something later. Just wish I could say what I really want to say. Without fear and without the tears from holding back."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Things on my mind...

For those of you who follow my blog, or even check in from time to time to see if I have posted - THANKS! I'm glad you care about what I write about. : )

I know there are often large gaps between my bloggings, and it is not from a lack of things to write about, in fact, I probably only get to post about 1/4 of things I really want to write. Even fully developed ideas don't always get the luxury of being posted. This is only because I talk myself out of sitting down to write because I know I should probably be spending that time doing homework (especially since quite a bit of it is late).

Anyway, just wanted to let you know, don't fret. I'm still around. I'm just kind of busy.

Oh, and if you like my posts, or disagree, or just have a thought about it, please comment, I would love to hear what's going on in your minds as well!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Free Indeed!

This poem came to me in church service this morning, during the singing portion of the service. I prayed this prayer as I sung and then spent the rest of the service writing it down.

O Holy One! Awesome Lord!
Worthy of all praise!
We sing, we stand, we dance
To You our hands we raise.
We enjoy the feelings
That come with celebration
Yet what do we do
When our hearts are torn by conviction?
Do we continue in our praise
Humbled in Your presence?
Are we brought to our knees
In light of Your holiness?
Today my eyes were open.
Today I paid attention.
Today I became vulnerable
To Your Word being spoken.
My soul cries out in anguish.
This wretched soul of mine!
Yet out of all Creation,
You have chosen to make it thine!
Why me, O Lord?
Surely, nothing have I done
To earn such bountiful grace.
Yet You of all see fit
To look upon my face
And declare freedom for my soul.
Oh yes, I am free indeed!
Then why do I bind myself
In selfish pride and self-pity?
Truth be told, I have no rights
Of which to call my own,
But you have given me the privilege
To stand before Your throne.
How do I not spend
Every moment, every breath
In complete submission
To Him who blessed me with His own death?
My heart grieves in sorrow
For how I've wounded You.
And even now after I've been forgiven,
My own ways I still often choose.
But You declare this mess that is me
Righteous. Cleansed in Your blood.
That my life may glorify You
From now until it is done.
I praise Your name
For all that You are!
For Your mercies that You have shown.
For the trials and blessings
Through which, closer to You I have grown.
Renew in me with each breath
The reality of Your love.
That my life,
Each moment,
Will reflect
The Glorious One above.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Over the last couple days I have been thinking that I left off one of the symptoms from my last post on spiritual dehydration. After this morning's church service, the testimonies of the associate pastor candidate who preached, and his wife, God confirmed that I needed to add it. So here it is:

Fatigue: spiritually - we get tired of trying to "be good" on our own

It becomes all about rules rather than allowing Scripture to develop within us Christlike character that helps us choose to do what is right because we want to glorify God.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Drink the water!

Dehydration - an abnormal loss of water from the body, especially from illness or physical exertion
      symptoms: dizziness, nausea, cramping, diarrhea

As someone who has been either pregnant or nursing every summer for the last 6 years, I am often thinking about whether I am drinking enough water. I keep in mind the symptoms of dehydration so I know what to look for in myself, but also in the child I am feeding (when nursing).

Recently, I was thinking about this and realized that these are the same symptoms that occur when we do not take in enough living water.

Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his and his sons and his cattle?" Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become a well of water springing up to eternal life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw." - John 4:10-15

We draw on this well of living water by reading God's Word (the Bible). If we are not consuming this water frequently and daily we will experience spiritual dehydration. Just as with physical dehydration, illness and physical exertion drains our store of water more rapidly. When we are going through difficult times in life, this may be physical illness, mental anguish, emotional issues, relationship problems, or other such difficulties, we can become spiritually drained. We can also become spiritually drained from serving in ministry. It's supply and demand. The more our lives challenge us, the more we need to draw from God's Word to fill us. The more we put out serving, the more we need to take in for replenishment.

But how do we know if we are getting enough living water? We will experience the same symptoms that come with physical dehydration, but in a different sense.

Dizziness: confusion of not knowing what God wants from us or for us. It will no longer be clear to us.

Nausea: we will be sick to our stomachs with guilt knowing what we should be doing that we are not.

Cramping: living with pain rather than peace; clenched tightly in fear or anger

Diarrhea: sin will spew out of us faster than we can catch it or hold it back

While yes, it is somewhat amusing to think of it this way, but there is truth to what I am saying and I can look back and see the times in my life when I was not consistent in renewing my supply of living water; I experienced all these symptoms of spiritual dehydration.

Maybe you can't see any of these symptoms in yourself, but as I mentioned earlier, one way I can assess my own physical dehydration is by looking for symptoms in those I am feeding. This is true of spiritual dehydration as well. Are those you are feeding into experiencing these symptoms? Then maybe you need to check whether or not you have allowed for your well to become dry. Maybe not, maybe it is just them, and if that is the case, then you need to lovingly remind them where to fill up.

So remember to drink the water, both the H2O your body needs and the Scripture that your spirit needs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cheating can be so tempting

I am not one to diet. I think it's pointless, mainly because people always want to "cheat" on their diets. For whatever reason, I was thinking about this yesterday. Probably because I had made cupcakes for my daughter's class and was thinking about someone saying, "It's ok to cheat on your diet just a little bit." But what got me thinking is, isn't this a lot like how we "cheat" on living for Christ? Ok, just hear me out.

People cheat on their diet because they want to self-indulge. They give in to their flesh and choose not to exhibit self-control. Everyone says, "It's ok to cheat a little bit." But is it?

As I thought about cheating on ones' diet, I immediately thought about how it relates to when we choose to sin just because we want to. We know it's wrong, but we want to self-indulge, give in to our flesh and  maybe sometimes just not have to have self-control. The truth is, we try to justify that it's ok to give in to those desires every once in a while. It's harmless. However, sin is sin. God sees it all the same. Every one of those sins, including the one's that don't seem so bad, nailed Christ to the cross. He had to die for each and every one of them, because sin separates us from God.

When you continually cheat on your food diet, it makes it harder for you to reach your goal weight. When we continue to "cheat" on our spiritual diet (not reading the Bible, not communicating with God, doing what we want even though we know it's wrong) we make it harder on ourselves to reach our goal - Christlikeness.

Don't get FAT on the things of this world.

Now, I'm going to segue this into another thing I wanted to write about that I think actually applies here as well.

Last night, Josh bought some of these plants


It is called a bleeding heart plant. So after that, and reading Jeremiah 5, I was just reminded how when we turn our backs on God, and choose to disobey Him, His heart bleeds. Countless times in the Bible, we read accounts of the Israelites turning their backs on God, and how angry God was, but also how grieved His heart was for His people.

His heart grieves over His children now, when we turn our backs on Him. When we, even if only momentarily, choose to do what we want to do, indulge our flesh, His heart bleeds.

So the next time you try to justify giving in to that sin, just once, or just for the moment, think about this: Do you want to make God's heart bleed? Do you want Him grieved over your decision to think only of yourself? Is it really ok, to "cheat" just a little bit?

After all, He already came to die for your sin, must He suffer more now. Whew! This is going to be tough, but if I am serious about letting Him have control over my life, that means even when it would be easier to just do my own thing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out of the Box

Ok, I promised I would write about what I learned over this past BEAUTIFUL weekend. Where to even start?!

This past weekend our church held their first women's weekend retreat. From the first planning meeting, God laid it on my heart to invite all three of my sisters. What? Really? For those of you who don't know, none of my sisters attend church on a regular basis. Two of them don't go to church at all, so to invite them to this kind of thing was a stretch, for me as well as them. So I mustered up some courage and invited all of them. Guess what! They all said they would come! Yay!

Fast forward a couple months...

Now it was Friday and the retreat was about to begin. Well, two sisters made it. One bailed on me. I was a little disappointed, but ok, whatever, that's kind of how she is anyway. As the retreat began and was going along, I found myself somewhat distracted by the attitude of one of my sisters who did come. Eventually, she left early.

Now, I didn't write this to talk about my sisters, but some background information was necessary to tell you what I learned. You see, I went into this retreat so excited that God was going to work in my sister's lives, and that He did, but He also worked in mine in a couple ways I was not expecting.

The first part came when my sister left, mid-retreat. I was devastated. I had tried so hard to get her to stay and now how was God going to change her heart if she didn't stay? Really Barbie, you have God in such a small box? Well, I did. But after the tears, God reminded me that Scripture tells us, "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11. She had heard God's Word spoken to her, and it does not go out without accomplishing what God desired for it. Whew! What a relief to know that it did not all rely on me! Who did I think I was anyway? I did what God had for me to do, I invited her to come. God has to be the one to speak to her heart and open her heart up to Him. That part is not my job. But it is encouraging to know that God has it all under control, even when I thought it was going out of control.

Some other parts of this same chapter in Isaiah speak about my weekend, which by the way, is totally awesome, because I read through this book a few months ago and now God was bringing it back to me! Anyway, my other sister stayed. Her attitude was a little better and we had a great time together, but she seemed to be starting to get somewhat of a bad attitude as well regarding the structure of the retreat. And although I had tried to talk to her about some things, it seemed as though she was fighting against anything God may have been trying to do. By Sunday morning, I was a little disappointed. I had thought that God was going to do something great in all of my sisters, and now the weekend was over, and it seemed like nothing had happened. Yes, I already admitted my box was a little small. But just as Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us, " 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.' " He was not limited by my plan.

Sunday morning we had a chance to share about what we learned this weekend, and I briefly shared what I wrote above. Once I opened up the box...

The Lord showed me the mighty works He can do!

A little later, my sister, who had stayed the whole time, stood up and shared that she wanted what I had, what our parents had. And asked that we pray for her. So at the end of the service, she came up to pray with one of the ladies and I got up to hug her. As I held her and prayed for her, all of the women who had come on the retreat surrounded us praying for her as well! When the crowed went away, I took her aside and talked to her. She said she had accepted Christ as her Saviour when she was a teenager, but had not lived as though He was Lord of her life, but that she wanted Him to have control now. So right then and there we prayed together and she re-committed her life to Christ!! For those of you who do not know what that means: It means that even though she had already accepted Christ as her Saviour years ago, she is now "vowing to let God lead her through prayer and His Word rather than doing life her own way" as my pastor says it.

So not only does Isaiah 55:11 apply again here, but look at verse 12: "For you will go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hill will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands." (Go ahead sing it if you know the song.)

Let me tell you, both my sister and I went out from church that morning with joy and were led forth with peace; her - peace that she does not have to have it all together, but can trust God over her life; me - peace that God is holding my sister in His hands and we will be sisters for eternity! And I know God's creation was singing praises to God over her that morning, as well as over all of us who know Christ.

Oh how I love when God speaks!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


by Kari Jobe

Here before your altar
I am letting go of all I've had
Of every motive, every burden
Everything that's of myself.

And I just wanna wait 
On you my God
And I just wanna dwell 
On who you are.

Beautiful, beautiful
Oh I am lost for more to say
Beautiful, beautiful
O Lord, Your beautiful to me.

Here in your presence
I am not afraid of brokenness.
To wash your feet
With humble tears
Oh I would be poured out
Till nothings left.

And I just wanna wait
On you my God
I just wanna dwell 
On who you are

Beautiful, beautiful
Oh I am lost for more to say
Beautiful, beautiful 
O Lord, Your beautiful to me

When we usually think of something that is beautiful it is a person, or maybe something in nature such as a rainbow or flower. It may even be something someone made. As a woman, I think of beauty in many ways, the most often probably being the beauty of the physical person.

Over this last weekend, I got to watch something beautiful. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I was given the privilege to watch, and experience, dead things being given new life; souls that had wandered, again finding the path; trust in the midst of uncertainty; and love that covers the deepest of hurts. What am I talking about? I am telling you that I got to watch Christ transform lives!


More specifically, I was given the privilege of being used for God's great work in the life of my sister. Hallelujah! I'm just a little excited ; )  My sister and I have always been close, but now we can share in something that is a huge part of my life, and has been an area of some disconnect between the two of us. Now it is something we can share in and encourage one another. How beautiful!

Even more so, is that the work that God has done in her life is even now affecting the life of my niece who lives near her. As she has spent much time investing in our niece's life, she couldn't wait to share with her what God did over this weekend, and my niece was just so excited she wanted God to change her life too! Again, there is nothing more beautiful!

The amazing thing about all this is that they were not the only two touched by Christ's love. So many women, including myself, were able to experience and feel His presence so closely. I'm going to share some of what God taught me in another blog, but I just wanted to emphasize that this is


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Get Over Yourself!

Oh, this is something I should tell myself every day.

How often do you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling guilty about not having done something, or obsessively thinking about something you wish you could do over? Well, I do this often, which means that much of the time my thoughts are full of me.

Me, me, me, what do I have to do today, what do I want to do, what do I need or want, what I wish I could do/have, how I feel about such and such, what I think about this or that, how someone is treating me, I could go on and on.

In the midst of throwing myself a mini pity party, even I became fed up and in my mind I just yelled, "Get over yourself, Barbie!" I mean seriously, how prideful can I be? Apparently very. And of course that got me thinking about just how full of pride I am.

I like to be encouraged, like anyone else, but I've realized that much of the time, I just like to hear people tell me what I am good at, or that I look nice that day. I know what you are thinking, "Who doesn't like to hear that?" And yes, we all like to hear a compliment, but I obsess over such things. In fact, I almost get depressed when I don't get a compliment about something I think I should. Even worse, when someone pays me a compliment and I take the credit instead of giving credit where it is due. This may mean not telling them about the part someone else did to make it successful, that it wasn't all my work, but ooh how the guilt really hits when I don't give credit to God.

You may be thinking that I am just being hard on myself. But wait, let me continue. People often say that during times of prosperity and peace, we neglect our need for Christ and think we can handle life on our own. That couldn't be more true with me. How often I forget my need for a Saviour, as if somehow I got to a point where I no longer need His forgiveness, strength, peace, self-control, mercy, grace! Oh I am so thankful that He doesn't let me forget for very long.

Or how many of us read our Bibles and make it all about us. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. When you look at the Bible as a though it was specifically written for your personal life. Yes, we are to apply it to our lives, but how many of us our missing the bigger picture of how it speaks to the church as a whole or the fact that the ENTIRE Bible is written to point us to Christ! It's really more about how He has revealed Himself to us. But it's so easy to read it and think, "So what does this have to do with me?" and do Bible study with that goal, finding what it has to do with you. What if we instead asked, "So what does this have to do with Christ?" and after we answer that, "Knowing that, what do I need to change to make my life reflect that?"

So you can see, that it is necessary for me to tell myself periodically

"GET OVER YOURSELF! Who do you think you are anyway?"

Life is not all about me. It's about Christ and what He has done in my life. Now if only I could remember that day by day, moment by moment.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What's Goin' On?

In case you've been asking this question pertaining to why I haven't written lately (don't you love how I assume you care that much), anyway I'll tell you. I could kick myself for not writing about some things, but oh well, here's an abbreviated version of the happenings in my life as of late.

One week ago I broke my toe. It was definitely a case of stupidity, I'll freely admit. However, it sparked some curiosity in me regarding my reaction to it and other people's reaction to my reaction. Have I lost you yet? What I mean is, when it happened, I moaned, groaned, whimpered, seethed through my teeth, did everything short of screaming that you can probably think of to indicate I was in pain, BUT I did not cry. The person who was with me even said, "Barbie, this is the first time I've ever seen you ALMOST cry." She has known me for about 5 years and has never seen me cry? Really? Then later I was talking to my sister about what happened and when she said something about me crying about it, I quickly replied, "I was not crying!" I had to ask myself, "Why do I feel the need to be such a tough girl?" I don't cry often, and I'm not saying that to brag it's just a reality. But this situation got me thinking, about why I have such a hard time shedding tears. I mean it is a natural way to express emotion. The worst part about it is, I think I push my tough girl attitude on my kids. The truth is God created tears, and even Jesus wept over things that burdened his soul. I'm not saying we need to be cry babies, but I truly think shedding some tears is perfectly acceptable when much physical pain is endured or even when we have truly been hurt emotionally. I'm now wondering how much my holding back the tears attitude has resulted in outbursts of anger.

I've also started trying couponing. I don't know if you would call it extreme, cuz I'm certainly not seeing savings in the range of $400-$500, of course I don't even buy that much in groceries. However, this past week, I did save a little over $200. Still savings well worth the time it took to get started, and believe me it takes time. The most time is spent the first time you try to do it, because clipping the coupons and digging through the ads just seems to take forever, not to mention organizing the coupons for use. Once you get started, it's really not that hard, but you have to find a system that works for you. I'm still learning, and I'm hoping that the more I learn the more I save. So, we'll see!

Some friends and I are starting a craft club. I'm so excited about this! I always think of things I want to make and just never make the time to do it, so it's exciting to actually be setting aside time for this.

The women's retreat is coming up! Also, very exciting! I'm mostly exciting about the fact that all three of my sisters will be coming. Yay, sisters' weekend! But it has been taking time to get stuff ready for the weekend.

The sun has been shining! Yes, this is a very important part of my life and has kept me busy playing outside with the kids. Which means less time on the computer and less time for writing. Oh well, there's always rainy days and eventually winter will come back, but let's not dwell on that thought.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Above and Beyond

I have been practically bursting at the seams with excitement to tell you how God has worked in our car situation, and it has been killing me to have had to wait to write this!

So, a brief recap: 3 weeks ago I had a car accident (no one was hurt), the van (our only vehicle) was totaled. We had been renting a van for 3 weeks as we waited for the insurance to decide on the van and then send us a check for the payout.

After learning that the van was being considered a total loss, and while waiting for some decisions to be made regarding this scenario, God gave me this verse : Ephesians 3:20 - "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." So I claimed it. In fact, God and I have this wonderful relationship full of humor and joy and challenging one another. So I said, "God, that's what your Word says, so I want to see it happen." Keep in mind that it says "abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think.

I challenged God to show me up. Now He has given me an extremely wonderful, vivid imagination and this became a true source of excitement at this point. Because I would think of some way He could work in this situation that would so awesome, and then He would bring that verse back to me and I would say, "Ok God. Out do me!" And this went on for some time. Now let me tell you, God had been building up my excitement and really I was at the point where I was just wondering what He could possibly do to do better than all the scenarios that I had come up with that would have just been incredibly awesome.

But show me up He did. Not only were we able to get a new van for less than the payout on our old one, but the insurance is also covering the taxes and best of all Josh went and looked at it and decided on it by himself!

Now some of you are wondering why that is so exciting, so let me explain. I make a lot of the decisions for our family. In fact, I make practically all of them. I am a natural leader and Josh is not. I can be very controlling and since I am very level headed, naturally I think I am always right and just take over decisions. For some time now, God has really been working on my heart about what it means to be a submissive wife. What He has shown me is that a lot of times, I make the decision, or push Josh to make the decision I want him to make, because I don't trust him to do what I think is best. But what I am really saying is that I don't trust God to do what is best, or to even lead Josh to the decision that is best.

Ouch! Yeah, let's just take it as it is, I'm trying to be the one in control. However, on the other side of this - for me to be a submissive wife in the way God wants me to be, it also means that Josh has to step up to be the leader. Now as I said earlier, this is where it gets hard, because I like to lead and he doesn't. So for me to be submissive (trusting and supportive) and for him to lead are the complete opposites of our fleshly desires.

So back to the car situation. God worked in a way abundantly above all I could ask or think because in not one of the scenarios I could come up with did Josh make the decision all on his own, while I made the decision to trust and support whatever decision he made. That was huge! And let me just say that Josh made a great decision choosing a van that really fits our needs and even negotiated the price way down to below what we were willing to spend saving us a little money; talk about stepping out of his comfort zone!!

You know what, I think I could get used to this trust thing. Thanks God!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring is coming!

Today, the sun was shining, I could see grass, and my children were talking about butterflies. All signs of the coming of Spring! It is exciting!

As we rode in the car and my children were talking about butterflies, ok so they were arguing about whether they are butterflies first or caterpillars first, but that's beside the point. Naturally, I started explaining to them the process, in children's terms, of how caterpillars become butterflies. But this time, it was a little different.

This time I realized I was describing, not just the transformation of butterflies, but the transformation we go through when we come to know Christ.

I looked up the process of metamorphosis, just to get a more in-depth view of what exactly happens. When the egg hatches, the caterpillar is barely visible. All it does is eat milkweed leaves, and soon it reaches it's full grown state. It eventually leaves the milkweed plant and distances itself about 30-40 ft. away, where it begins to pupate. At this point it creates a silk-like mat and hangs there upside down, in a J shape for a full day. It then sheds it's skin to form it's chrysalis. Inside the chrysalis, the caterpillar undergoes major changes: the mouth parts go from being parts made for chewing to straw-like for sipping nectar, and a crawling insect will become a flying one. When it emerges from the chrysalis, it's wings are limp and wet, so it clings to the shell of the chrysalis (now called the hemolyph) to fill it's body and wings with blood. For about an hour after it detaches, the butterfly still cannot fly, making it most vulnerable to prey. But once it can fly, it begins feeding off flowers and looking to begin the process all over again.

We start out just like those caterpillars, filling ourselves with all this world has to offer. At some point, God pulls us away from what we know and shows us the truth of His Son who died on the cross for us (how cool that it hangs in the shape of a J for a day!!). He then covers our sins with His blood, having taken our punishment, and begins to immediately change our hearts (the Bible calls this justification). Now spiritually transformed, we enter back into the world, still needing to cling so desperately to the blood of Christ, until it has filled every aspect of our lives. Yet, here is where we are so prone to attack, because Satan sees us as weak. As we become stronger, we go out to share with others, but still need to feed from the Word of God. We are taken from being this creature that clings to the world, just slowly getting by, and are transformed into a thing of beauty ("... the many will be made righteous." Romans 5:19). We become a new creature. One that has the freedom to fly.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

I am always amazed when I see how intricately detailed all of Creation is to tell of Christ! As spring comes and we begin to see new life growing all around us,  I hope you are reminded that like the dead of winter, you were dead in sin, but have new life through Christ alone. The coming of spring also means the coming of Easter. Let us not forget what He has done for us, but rather look for Him everywhere!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Total Loss - Salvaged

Yesterday, I was told that due to the accident I wrote about in my last post, that my van is a total loss.

Total loss.

These are the words used to describe a vehicle that has damages above the value of the vehicle. It means, it can be salvaged, but it may not be worth it.

This is not how I would describe total loss. Total loss is what millions of people in Japan experienced just days ago as earthquakes rocked the ground and waters swept over houses, cars, businesses, everything. Entire cities were completely devastated. People lost everything they owned. They even lost people close to them who are missing or died during these tragedies!

But even worse than that, there are people who are living without true joy that comes only with knowing Christ personally. They are experiencing life - happiness and tragedies - as though that's all there is. They are missing out on real purpose and meaning. They are missing out on the promise of eternity with our Creator. And they don't even know what they are missing.

That's total loss.

I lost a van. There's just no comparison.

But just like my van, it doesn't have to be a complete loss. Christ came to die so that our lives don't have to be a total loss. When we admit that we are sinners, believe that He is the Son of God who came to save us, and give Him our lives - we are no longer considered a total loss. In fact, even better than a vehicle or the houses and buildings and cities that will need replaced in Japan, we're not just redeemed with the hopes of being worth it, we are renewed to a state that is even better than how we started! Our lives can be salvaged to a state of righteousness. God picks up the scraps left over after we have been tattered and beaten down by this world. He puts them back together, but when it is all completed, we are not just a refitting of our old pieces; nor our we a mixture of some new and some old. We are made brand new, our mileage has been reset, and we get put back on the road with a new beginning!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Yesterday morning I was in a car accident. It was my fault and thankfully I was the only involved and the only one in the car at the time. I was driving home from work when all of a sudden my van started swerving to the lane to the right of me, I pulled back into my lane (the far left lane) but hit the snow buildup in the left burm which pulled me in toward the wall. My van hit the wall on the driver side and then spun around finally stopping with the tail end of my passenger side in the divider wall facing traffic.

I know what you are thinking, "Wow, I bet that was pretty scary." To be honest, I was afraid before it even happened. I used to be deathly afraid of something like this happening to me, because I did not want to go through the fear and panic that we all assume comes with it.

However, I gave you the general story, but now I want to tell it from my experience of what happened. I was driving. Being in the car by myself, I decided it was a perfect time to practice my rap of the Psalms of Ascents, "... in my distress I cried out to the Lord..." Whoa! My mind literally blanked out as I watched my car swerve one way than the other. Then time slowed, as my car was spinning around I remember thinking, "I should be panicking right now, but I'm not. Lord, please keep me safe and tell me what to do." And then very clearly I heard, "Barbie, hit the brake." So I did. Hitting the break slowed the van enough to keep the airbags from deploying, which would have caused injuries. When I finally realized the van had stopped, I thanked God for keeping me safe, turned the car off, turned on my hazard lights, called the police and started looking for my glasses that had flown off my face.

As much as I had dreaded this very thing happening, it was not as scary as I thought it would be. Of course, I learned something incredible, that I think I could only have learned through an experience like this: When you are focused on God before trouble comes, it is easier to focus on Him through the trouble and after as well.

This coincides with something I learned just last week, and those of you who are in the Beth Moore study, Stepping Up, will know what I am talking about.

Where I look -> What I hear -> What I feel -> What I expect

I looked to God -> I heard His voice -> I felt peace -> I expected to be kept safe

You know, I can't help but relating this to my last post about dancing. I got to experience the dance of my life with my Father. Together we moved this way and that way across the asphalt dance floor leading up to a dramatically beautiful spin and finally ending in a deep dip low to the ground. Breathlessly, I stared Him in the face as He led me. I followed His steps, floating in the air as I was swept off my feet and carried in His strong arms. And when it was finally over, all I could say is, "Oh, how He loves me!"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Just Dance

I am a dancer. Well, let me clarify: I absolutely LOVE to dance, but am by no means a professional. I have not had much training, but I do not let that stop me from trying new moves and creating dances and performing and such. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to perform a dance for my church during the service with our dance team. We practiced Saturday night, although I had not been feeling well, I practiced anyway. After practice, I experienced diarrhea, cold sweats, chills, slept for an hour in my bath tub, and woke up at 2 am to throw up. Yes, I still showed up to dance on Sunday morning. Most of you are sitting there thinking I am crazy. But let me explain.

When I was pregnant, I had major issues with my sciatic nerve. I was in pain. All the time. Actually, I was in pain, most of the time. You see, when I would dance, there was no pain.

Yesterday morning, as well as Saturday night, although I was fighting the flu, when I danced, there was no sickness.

When I dance, there is no pain, no illness, no stresses of life, no problems, no anger, no depression, no guilt. There is nothing, but me in full body, mind, and soul worship to God. Nothing exists in that moment but me and Him. I believe this is God's way of giving me a taste of what Heaven will be like. Nothing else will matter, but worshipping Him with my entire body, mind and soul.

I wish that I could remember this during the day to day irritations of life. That all of it is just a dance. God wants me to worship Him full body, mind and soul in all that I do. Nothing else really matters. God does not ask that we only worship Him when we feel like it, or when it is easy for us. He has taught me that when I choose to worship, regardless of how I feel, He will cover me because He wants me to dance with Him, for Him, and to Him.

The question really is: what kind of dance are we doing now? Is it a beautiful ballroom dance where my Prince Charming is sweeping me off my feet in romantic expression of His love for me? Is it a joyful hip-hop dance? It is a lyrical expression of the story of how God is/has worked in my life, showing all the ups and downs of my journey? The dance may change from day to day, but all require full focus and the use of my entire being.

So today I begin a new dance.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love 'til it Hurts

With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, many are trying to figure out how to show their spouses or other people close to them how much they love them. I too have been trying to determine how best to express my feelings, but how do you tell someone that you love them so much, sometimes it hurts.

We all have experienced pain from a relationship. Usually, it is not even so much what that person did, but rather how much we love them that makes it so painful. "Even my close friend in whom I trusted,... has lifted his heel against me." Psalm 41:9 If someone else, whom we were not as close to did that same thing, it would not cause nearly as much pain.

But then I got to thinking - this is how God loves us.

I can't even imagine the pain of watching billions and billions of people that I love, and not in a general sense, but love deeply and personally, turn their backs on me every day. Or what about those who pay lip service and say, "I love you, Lord," but their actions show something much less?

"The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." Genesis 6:6

Can you even fathom how much it must hurt to love someone so much that you would sacrifice your only Son just to be close to them? 

While, yes, I can say that there are those in my life that I love so much that I am deeply hurt by them at times; it in no way compares to pain I have caused My Saviour.

Oh My Saviour, Redeemer, Lover of my soul, I am so sorry how I have grieved you. My sin broke the skin on Your back. My betrayal pierced Your hands and feet. And yet You love me still.

That's love 'til it hurts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Naked Souls

This morning I heard a song on the radio that I'm sure most of you know, "If I had two hands, doing the same thing. Lifted high, lifted high." But it was this line that really got me thinking, "I use one hand to draw you closer, the other to push you away." 

Intimacy can be a taboo topic. And for those of you who know me well, don't worry, I will not be sharing TMI in this post. But think about it. As human beings, we desire intimacy, yet we are so guarded. Physical intimacy requires us to bare our bodies before another. For most of us, this is NOT something we are comfortable with, even in front of our husbands. But even more taboo is intimacy of another kind - the baring of our souls. 

Like the song I mentioned, we do this in our relationships every day. While we desire to be close to others, we keep them at an arm's length and never let them really get to know us. Some do this because they have had bad experiences in the past, but most of us, heck all of us, just don't like to feel vulnerable. While this can be an issue in our marriages and other relationships, I am most intrigued by the fact that we try to do this with God. 

I have been to countless Bible studies, where I have heard women say, "I don't do the personal questions." We are so uncomfortable being naked, that we even try to cover up in front of God. It's like we are saying, "I desire to know you God, and I desperately want to know what you have for me in your Word, but I don't want you to really know me. I mean, I don't really want to know me either." So, we skip the parts of studying God's Word that forces us to take a good hard look at ourselves and where we stand in relation to what God has for us. 

In all honesty, this could be ugly. As women, we get so caught up in appearing to be what we want to be: a good Christian, a good mother, a good wife, good at our jobs, etc. We are so worried about appearing to be something in front of others, that we often forget to do what it takes to actually BE that. It's to the point that we even attempt to appear to God as though we are not the lowly disgusting sinners that we are, but that we are something better because we have a relationship with Him. 

If we can't bare our souls before God, our Creator, our Saviour, the One who loves us so much He sent His only son to DIE for us, with whom can we be intimate?

The answer is no one. 

So, when I hear women say, that they don't do the personal questions, it saddens me, because God wants us to come before Him with a naked soul. Ready and willing to pour out whatever we have; all those struggles, that sin, that fear, that doubt, that thing that you don't think you are ready to come to terms with yet.  And get ready to allow Him to work on us where it counts, way down deep where we don't let anyone  else see. 

"O Lord, You have searched me and know me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all." Psalm 139:1-4

Friday, January 21, 2011

Harsh Truths Lead to Growth - Hopefully

There are always things that need doing - laundry, cleaning the house, finishing those projects you started, etc. Many people think I am a busy mom because I have five children, work part-time, and I am going to school. However, I think every mom is a busy mom, they just have different things on their to-do list. Anyway, as I thought today about how my to-do list keeps getting longer and longer, I had to admit to myself why. It is not that I don't have the time to complete it. Unfortunately, it has more to do with the fact that I am lazy. 

I came to this harsh realization about a month ago when I asked my husband to honestly tell me three things he would change about me if he could. He said, he wished I wasn't so lazy. GASP!!! Note of warning: Never ask your husbands this question unless you are prepared to handle anything they say. I thought I could handle it, but of course an argument ensued. However, later I had to admit to myself that in all honesty, I really am lazy, and I am thankful he had the courage to tell me the truth. Of course, for about a month now, I have still been trying to deny it. Seriously, who wants to admit they are lazy? But as my to-do list keeps getting longer and unaccomplished, I finally had to take a step back and look at why it has not been getting completed. I am lazy. 

How are you lazy? You might ask. Many may even give me an excuse because I have so many kids. The truth is, I often opt to just veg out watching tv or using my computer rather than doing the much needed task staring me in the face. But God has a way of getting to my heart. I've thinking lately about how God tells us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Now most people use this to say you shouldn't abuse alcohol and drugs and cigarettes, etc. I don't do any of those things, but God has been speaking to me about how it means so much more than that. It means I need to eat healthy foods and exercise to take care of this body He has given me. It means that I need to use my body for doing good (like cleaning my house, or other much needed tasks). Most importantly it means not just my physical body, but my whole person is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God lives in me and that needs to come across in all that I do. When I let things go, things that need to get done, just to do nothing important, I am choosing not to use my body in a way that glorifies God. It does not glorify God to put aside the needs of my family, or the promises I have made with my lips. 

So thank you Joshua for your honesty. I appreciate it. And thank you God, for teaching me a much needed lesson.  - Now off to clean the kitchen.

1 Cor. 6:19, 20 - Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.