Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Change... Time Well Spent!

I was reading (in)courage this morning… it was called, “When Your Christmas Season Includes Change.” Wow! Just what I am going through! During the times of change I can tend to look at it as bad (grievous) when I should actually looking at it as a time for grace. I have to admit that I grow the most during times of change… I allow myself to be drawn closer to God & live in His presence more! When I look at change like that it seems so much sweeter! It is not something being done to me, but something being done for me.

I have been upset that our Christmas was not going to be the way we traditionally do it. So my choice was either to be miserable over it or just give it my everything day by day… one day at a time! Christmas is going to come whether I have things the way I want it or not! Right?

The last year & a half we have spent a lot of time waiting, even more so in the last six months… moving along with baby-steps at times! I was reminded today about the anticipation of the first Christmas. Hundreds & hundreds of years before Christ was born, a prophecy was spoken about His coming (Isaiah 9). People lived their lives in anticipation of that day, but they never saw it happen in their lifetime! When He did come… what a change that day brought! He gave up His place in Heaven to come to this sinful world to rescue us! One precious little baby carried in the womb of one young virgin woman that brought the greatest change ever! Did Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, look at this change as something to grieve or did He only see this as an act of grace? When I think of change in this way it puts a whole new spin on things for me. 

I know everyone has something they are going through that is bringing change… unanswered questions, illness, financial stress, for me it is waiting to find the right house to call home again. One thing is for sure… in these uncomfortable times of change, God never changes. His promises ring true! Your God before this change is your same God after this change! And His presence is so much sweeter in unknown territory.

My hubby & I have spent a lot of time waiting over the last few months… waiting for an inevitable change. Two failed house purchases left me feeling deflated & ready to just stop looking for awhile… after all we were running out of houses that fit our criteria for the B&B.  I knew God would come through, because we knew His promises to us, but maybe this was not the right time. Luke was not feeling the same about stopping, so I asked him, “Is a house gonna drop from the sky?” A few minutes later he noticed he had voicemail… the voicemail was from a builder who had a house for sale by owner. Luke had inquired about this house the day before through a property for sale type website. We decided to do a “drive-by” to see what it looked like & where it was at. Of course we had to get out & peek in the windows & immediately I told Luke, “You have to call this man back!” The builder came & met us at the house within minutes.  As we walked through this unfinished house, I had a “jaw-dropping God is so amazing” moment or should I say moments!? It was absolutely crazy… God-crazy! Luke & I both knew we were home!

It was in that first walk-through of this house God made His vision for the B&B/retreat center so much clearer to both of us! I still am having a hard time grasping all the little details God “put” into this house to display His love to me! Please, don’t get me wrong… I know God’s greatest Gift of Love was His Son & that is more than enough, but I believe just like I love to do little things for the ones I love… He also shows His love in little ways too! Only His little ways are jaw-dropping!

BTW - When we put the offer on the first house, this new house was not even started to be built! We were to close on the second house on Monday & the new house was not even listed until Tuesday! This new house is built as a “spec” house, which means it is built just to sell… it has 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, & 10 acres of land! Like it was being built just for us & we believe it was! (wink)

A faith-builder during change... we see the impossible, but God sees all things possible!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Feel the Burn!

Does life have you feeling a little deflated? Be encouraged… you are not alone! I find it so hard to keep perspective sometimes! Being in the “in between” place my hubby & I are in right now, I know we need to keep moving forward & pursuing the next thing in the journey, but then when something, “takes the wind out of your sails,”… it is so HARD!!! I know God knows my heart & He knows I don’t want anything but what He wants for me! I have always had a hard time just rolling with the punches… oh man, is He teaching me a lot in this area!!! I don’t like it, but at the same time I am so thankful He pushes me to be stretched!

You know how when you exercise, which I do every once in awhile, as your muscles work & become contracted… I usually hate every minute of it, but then… when you are done you can stretch. It is a burn that hurts but feels so good all at the same time! That is exactly how I feel with what is going on with me right now. The closer I move towards God… the more I seek Him… asking Him to use my life to glorify Him… the more of a workout I get! It is those little spurts of ~ learning, learning, learning… growing, growing, growing… stretching, stretching, stretching. There are so many times I just want to throw my hands in the air and say, “Enough already! I give!” And then God speaks to my heart & reminds me He created me to be a champion for His glory. It might be in a verse I read, a devotional I come across, the beauty of His creation in nature, or sometimes it is just a text of encouragement from a dear friend.

While we were waiting for our house to sell… I had those moments when things seemed extremely tough. In my flesh I knew I could just stay put where we were at… beautiful house, great friends, all we ever need… but those thoughts never lasted long because I knew what God has called me to. I also knew that if I said “no,” it would be okay because He loves me unconditionally. But I knew too what I could be missing out on… things greater than I could imagine!

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path. In the way in which I walk they have secretly set a snare for me.” Psalms 142:3

Read the Book of Esther… what a story! That is one of my favorites in the Bible. I love how God took a plain, orphaned, Jewish girl & used her to save the nation of Israel! Her uncle Mordecai told her she could keep silent & someone else would step in & do what she was asked to do. But he also asked her, if she might have been brought into the position of queen for such a time as this.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

So let me ask you a question, one that I have to keep asking myself… What has God put before you? Has He been preparing you for such a time as this? I know for myself when I seem to lose perspective, I have to go back to the beginning of this journey & remind myself of what my motivation is. And the truth is… it really isn’t about me anyways!

Are you feeling stretched? Does it feel like sometimes you just might snap, like a rubber band?

“God’s way is perfect! The promise of the Lord has proven to be true. He is a shield to all those who take refuge in Him. Who is God but the Lord? Who is a rock other that our God? God arms me with strength. His perfect way sets me free. He makes my feet like those of a deer & gives me sure footing on high places. He trains my hands for battle so that my arms can bend an archer’s bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of Your salvation. Your help makes me great. You make a wide path for me to walk on so that my feet don’t slip.” 2 Samuel 22:31-37

You are created to be a champion to bring Him glory too! What will your next move be?

Rejoicing in Truth!

Monday, October 7, 2013

God's Symphony

On our ride home my eyes were drawn to the gorgeous hues in the tree line.  The trek home leads us through winding, hilly, picturesque views.  The passing landscape led me to think about the seasons… do you realize that autumn is the only season that is prepared for by three previous seasons?  As you can, take these colorful moments of fall in & really soak them up… look hard at the beauty & really appreciate the Master painter that painted each stroke! 

I was thinking how God’s symphony of seasons culminates into a crescendo for the eyes with an explosion of unbelievable vivid color! Although these intensive shades can be quickly fleeting, so I have to learn not to take any of it for granted.

“Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest
sing for joy.” Psalms 96:12

It can be the same with the seasons of life… the “winter” season means death, especially in Michigan… but it is so necessary. “Spring” brings new life… it bursts forth out of the ground after we have made it through the cold, gray winter. Then the “summer” comes along, a season for growth... rain, sun, warmth, & long days prod the advancement along. And finally, “fall”, the final step in life… the time to shine forth in all the glory of how the Creator designed.

Whether you are living through an illness, moving on to a new stage in life, or just trying to figure out this thing called, “life,” you will be in one of these seasons or maybe even multiple seasons at the same time in different areas of your life. For example, we have been waiting for our house to sell… we put it up for sale 15 months ago… that was a long winter, but at the same time, it was a time of growth (spring) for me too. The choice was mine to focus on the economy & the home sale’s estimations or to focus on what God was doing in my heart. These moments of growth (summer) would always lead to the son-shine & the warmth of intimacy with Father. And now, the sale of our house! The end of “winter” in this area & the culmination (fall) of God’s glorious faithfulness!

Of course, now starts another season… I pray this time of finding a new home to fulfill the vision of the dream God has given will not last long. No matter how long this winter lasts, I know my choices of how I deal with it will be where life & growth will happen in my life. Father wants us to always cling to Him… not just in moments of uncertainty! But always!  When it comes right down to it… all of life is uncertain… God is the only thing that is certain!

Once again it brings me back to Isaiah 43:19 ~ “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

 So as we wait on the answer to the offer we put on a house… it is my time to keep preparing for the glorious new season! So that means packing, & sorting!  If I keep my thoughts on God & draw nearer to Him, I have such peace. I feel like He is propelling me into unknown waters but I praise His name that He knows all! He created everything so how can I not trust that He has it all under control???

He is doing a new thing! That is why I feel like these are unknown waters… they are! It can’t be new to me & still be known to me! It is His living water that He is propelling me into! How can I not praise Him??? No matter what is to come!

We are all in those different seasons of life… no matter your situation or circumstance… trust Him! Do you want to keep living the same old life or are you ready to let Him do something new? This can be so excruciatingly hard… I get that, believe me, I get that! But the “reward” for trusting Him more can be so peaceful.  I don’t have all the answers, all I can do is share my experience & the truth God is showing me.

Things I have to keep reminding myself of:
~ God is faithful! (Psalms 33:4)
~ His timing is always best & never close to my timing! (Isaiah 49:8)
~ He will answer my prayers in a way that is best for me to bring Him glory! (Jeremiah29:11-14)
~ He is always near, even when I don’t feel like He is! (Psalms 34:18)
~ The battle is not mine, but God’s! (2 Chronicles 20:15)

I praise You, Lord, for Your glorious creation… the creation in nature & for what You are creating in each of us who choose to follow You!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Feelings Over Truth?

I have had a couple “bumpy” days… I have noticed that some days I have a greater need of mercy… not only from God but from others too!  The thing with God’s mercy is that He has given me all the mercy I will ever need forever… given in daily doses! “Through the Lord’s mercy, we are not completely wiped out. His compassion is never limited. It is new every morning. His faithfulness is great.” Lamentations 3:22-23

The problem is so many times I don’t “feel” it because I am choosing to do things my own way.  Doing things my own way only helps me to put my trust in me & not Him! What a colossal mistake is that??? Yet I continue to do it over & over again!

Trusting in the Lord means I am surrounded by mercy (Psalms 32:10)  Being in a holding pattern of sorts right now in my life, some days it is not so easy to just trust that everything will work out!  There are many moments that I feel God will not come through for me, but because I trust Him with my whole life… I know He always will!  It is a funny thing about feelings… they can rarely be trusted!  God put feelings & emotions in us… that is true, but He put them there, I believe, as warning signals not as a way to live our lives!  I know for myself if I trust on how I feel to get things accomplished or to live my life… I would never do anything or go anywhere most days!  I heard a statement that courage is not the lack of fear but the faith to do it in spite of fear!  Some days I have more courage than other days!

For instance, if a person is afraid to fly they can get on the plane without too much anxiety, but as soon as the wheels come off the ground that is when trust has to kick in!  You feel like life is out of control… you may not have a clue about how the whole flying thing works, but it is then that you must trust that it will be okay!  God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And that is why I know & can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear! What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Trust, faith, mercy… those are all great words! They seem so “holy”… we can use them when talking to someone about their problems.  “Trust in the Lord, He has got this!”  “Have faith that it will all work out for His good!”  “God has poured out His mercy on you in this situation!”  I am sure I have said a variation of these statements at one time or another. And I truly meant them!  But when it is me going through it… like I said those are great words, but do I really “feel” that to be true? 

I was reminded once again recently that trust is an all or nothing choice… either I trust God with everything or I really don’t trust Him with anything!  That may seem like a harsh statement, but trust is trust!  When we can’t see what the next 5 minutes might hold for us… can we trust God that it will be okay?  “I trust You with this 5 minutes, Lord!” If what it takes is to trust Him for 5 minutes at a time… then trust Him with your whole being for that 5 minutes & then repeat it over & over & over! I know that sound ridiculous, but if that is what it takes, then that is what it takes!  And FYI… I am writing this for me as much as for anyone else!

I was thinking about all the “changes of tomorrow” people are going through… the kids going back to school, the economy not doing so great, loss of a job, illness, and on and on. Those things are hard circumstances! In the middle of that you may not “feel” like God will come through… how do you trust & know that He will?

God sent His Son to the world as a sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:9).  You can read in Matthew 26 how that even Christ asked for His Father to let the cup of death pass from Him, but He also said, “not as I will but as You will.” (v. 39)  If Christ was able to trust His Father even through death & knew it would be alright… how can I not trust Him through these circumstances of life? God gave His Son’s life for my sins… why would He not do what is best for my life now?

His answers may not always look the way we think they should look, but that is okay! Trusting Him has no limits!  It is through trust we can find contentment & through contentment we will bring Him glory!  Oh, how I want my life to bring Him glory!

Father, I thank You that no matter my feelings I know You are always with me & in control of every situation.  I praise You for Your goodness & faithfulness. When the world around me seems to be crumbling Your mighty arm is my shelter… I trust You for my salvation & I trust You with each one of my days. One step at a time is all You require of me & I can do that knowing You hold the plan.  Thank You for loving me! I pray blessings over each person that reads these words; shine Your light in those dark places. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Be a Girlfriend...

Today is National Girlfriend Day... it is a day to let those ladies in your life that have been with you through thick & thin how much you love & appreciate them!  I have been blessed with incredible women in my life! So I wanted to share this little article about women needing women.  I pray hurts of the past from not such good friendships will not leave you scarred & unable to be loving & transparent with some great women in your life! So here we go with "Why Women Need Each Other" from Anita Carmen:

“My husband is my best friend, but he could never take the place of the women who were and are foundational in my life,” says Anita Carman, Founder of Inspire Women. “God never meant for my husband to fill every role in my life. When I try to make him what he is not, all I do is drain him!”

The Bible speaks of women encouraging each other such as Mary the mother of Jesus going to visit her cousin Elizabeth after the angelic visitation,” says Carman. “Elizabeth had the discernment and spiritual maturity to affirm Mary in her calling.

God saw it fit to team women up in pairs or in groups. He designed women to be in each other’s lives as part of a biblically supportive community. Pastors have expressed the need for women to minister to the women. This is especially true in situations where women have suffered abuse.

The Bible speaks of the older women teaching the younger women. God values the experience of a longer walk of faith with Him and validates the impact of an older woman speaking truth to another.

Some say women are more effective ministering to women because they are natural nurturers. Others say it’s because they tend to be more relational.  The Bible does not attribute the results to nurturing or to relationship skills but simply evidences the structure of a biblical community. God designed women to help each other.

So what happens when a church does not have a women’s ministry? This means there is no intentional structure to foster relationships among women. Chances are, women do not have a structure in place where they can voice their needs and have those needs answered through the guidance, love, and support of other women.

When a woman is alone, her mind can easily become the playground of the devil. There is no voice of accountability in her life. There is no one who will walk beside her and keep her from making wrong choices.

I woke up at the age of 17 to find my mother had taken her own life. Had there been a woman in her life who was observing her depressed state, I believe someone would have intervened.

Instead, I was a teen who was oblivious to the seriousness of my mother’s pain. And my father was trying to use logic to respond to my mother’s wounded heart.

One of the most important women in my life was my spiritual mother. Her prayers carried me through my hardest challenges. When I was frustrated in building a ministry with few contacts, she would say, “Your heavenly Father knows your name.” When the ministry needed resources she would remind me, “Trust your heavenly Father. He has everything under control.”

Women helping women, women teaching women, women encouraging women, women praying for women enrich our lives with relationships that will feed our souls while fulfilling God’s purpose on earth.

In establishing the ministry of Inspire Women, I penned these words to express the ministry’s meaning in a woman’s life: “Imagine a world where every woman wakes up knowing her purpose. More than that, she has a friend who believes in her and will invest in her potential to change the world.”

“When women compete with women,” says Carman, founder of Inspire Women, “they are deviating from God’s design. When women help each other, we reach more than each could accomplish alone. Today God has called home my spiritual mother but I can still remember the many hours we talked on the phone.  I still recall how excited she was to receive my call and to listen to all that God had done to part a Red Sea. And then in her usual pattern, she would put the phone down on her lap. Then I would hear her clap while shouting the words, ‘Yeah Anita!’”

Happy Girlfriend's Day, you all!

As iron sharpens iron, so one person (woman) sharpens another (woman). Proverbs 27:17
Rejoicing in Truth!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Treasure & Time...

Two things God put on my heart to share with you today...

~ You are His treasure
~ Time is precious!

I am not totally sure where I am going with this, but those two statements really touched my heart.  I know for myself there are many times I don’t feel like a treasure, but those are the times I am usually looking anywhere besides God for that validation. That only leaves me sad, discouraged & defeated.  What do we do with the things we treasure the most? We keep them safe in a place of honor… maybe not so the world can see it or get to it, but so we know it is highly thought of in safe-keeping.

"You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to You because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. My bones were not hidden from You when I was being made in secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop. Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book before one of them had taken place. How precious are Your thoughts concerning me, O God! How vast in number they are! If I try to count them, there would be more of them than there are grains of sand. When I wake up, I am still with You." Psalms 139:13-18

If we are God’s treasure (and we are) then how should we treat ourselves or each other? It is not the expectation that anyone should treat us like a treasure… it is that we should treat others that way… expect that from yourself not for yourself!  It is about knowing who our Heavenly Father says we are… and believing it!  So that He can use each of us to “buff the shine” into someone else & they can see the treasure they are through Christ.

"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Our human bodies may not look like much of a treasure from the outside, but it is the light of God living on the inside that makes the world know this treasure comes from God & has nothing to do with us.

Time is precious... I have spent the last year of my life waiting a lot! The thing is when I actually look back at this time, I have been waiting for something big to come to life, but I also can see all the little ways God has made this time count. I know He holds time in His hands. I also believe that we all have daily appointments assigned by Him, but we have to have a willing heart to take the time & fulfill those assignments! 

Oh, it can be so easy for me to get caught up in my "stuff" & lose track of God's "stuff" for me right now... today! He does want us to dream & plan to a certain extent, but He also does not want us to waste the time He has given us today!  Ouch... that is a little painful for me! I have felt in so many ways my life has been on hold... "I can't do this because..." "If only things were different then..." "I wish I could..." Yes, I have my pity-party moments! But then I am reminded that if I use my time for the "little" assignments... they can turn into big things for God!

"Every day can be an adventure with God if we're not too busy to answer His call." - Sheri Rose Shepherd

I don't know... maybe this was all for me more than anyone else.  But I do hope you received something from God through these words. I made up a word to use lately in my life - God-venture... it is like a God adventure.  You know, it is funny that the definition of "venture" is a risky business that could have a great profit.  Hmmm... that says it perfectly with a lot of faith thrown in! I pray you will let your life be a "God-venture!"

Rejoicing in Truth!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Soak Up the Truth... Let Go of the Lie!

Grade school can be a good place to plant the seeds of insecurity & it only gets worse in Jr. High & High School.  But there were so many kids in my class in grade school that could read super fast.  I was always a slow, thorough reader… I liked to soak up every word, picture it in my mind & understand it.  I remember there use to be this reading program in school called SRA… not sure what that stood for.  You would have to read a little story & then answer questions about it.  There were different levels that were represented by different colors.  The “exceptional” readers would make it to the final color stages by the end of the school year.  I don’t remember how the color stages went, but I think I never made it past “brown” or “tan!” And then when I would have to read out loud in class, I would freak out because of being so shy. Do you know what I mean… I could hear my own voice & every word I would read I knew the other kids could hear the lack of confidence in my voice! 

Fast forward to adulthood… I always said I really don’t like to read.  But recently I was shown this statement was not true… it had to do with a lie I was still believing about myself.  I realized the reason for that statement was actually because I felt like an inadequate reader in school.

Here is the truth… I do like to read when it is an interesting book or a style of writing I enjoy.  The truth is I am a good reader… just because I am not a fast reader does not make me less than!  The truth is God made me this way to soak up words… He has placed this love of words in me & my heart’s desire for the words I am able to string together to be words He can use to touch someone’s heart!  I have always found it strange that I love to write when I don’t like to read, but this morning God showed me the truth… I do like to read, but the lie I believed about myself was keeping me from knowing that!

It is amazing how something that we might have been told about ourselves as a child can still be impacting us to this day!  In my mind those things are just silly things that don’t mean anything, but in my heart those “silly” things have done great damage.  Do you have any of those “silly” things that still are causing you to believe a lie about yourself?  You know when we believe things that are contrary to what God says about us… it is hurtful to God!?  He created each of us as a magnificent masterpiece!  Ask God to point out those areas in your heart so you do not have to live with those lies any longer.

Who does God say you are?  My Bible is full of little notes that are placed loosely through the pages… a couple years ago when I was going through a difficult time my hubby wrote me a note on a scrap piece of paper that says, “Carin is complete in Him… Papa makes her completely adequate for life, godliness and ALL He calls her to do!” These scriptures were written on the bottom: Colossians 2:9-10, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 9:8… check out those verses… we all need the reminder from time to time!

Take the time to read Psalms139… such a wonderful reminder of how our Heavenly Father watches, guides, & knows us completely!

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

Rejoicing in Truth!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Blessing revisited!

The writing to follow is something I wrote a few years ago, but God just placed it on my heart to share again,
but this time on Coffee Cup Corner. I really hope you will share your thoughts/feelings here to help others through your experiences. That is the kind of place I want this blog to be.

How do you look at burdens, disappointments, illness? Do you ever feel sometimes that as a believer you should not ever see yourself as being burdened?  Can you see the good in burdens that we may face?  I know I started with a lot of questions… where do I find the answers? 

When I started thinking and praying about writing this devotional, I had no idea where God was going to take me.  The words “burden” and “blessing” kept coming to my mind.  In fact I had previously posted something on my other blog titled “Burden or Blessing” not realizing that this was the place God wanted me to go for this devotional.  The first verse that comes to my mind when I think of burden is:

“Cast your burden on the LORD,
 And He shall sustain you; 
         He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” - Psalm 55:22 

No matter what we may be going through God is always there to carry our load if we will just give it to Him.  How can a burden be turned into a blessing or better yet how do I let God turn a burden into a blessing in my heart and life?  When the dreams and plans we may have for our lives just don’t go the way we think they should… how do we take that burden, that disappointment, that hurt and let God work His miracle to turn it into a blessing.  It just amazes me to see how God can take ashes and make something new out of them. 

For years I carried a burden with me.  It was so personal and I “suffered” in silence most of the time, but anyone that really knew me knew it was always there.  I felt at times it became my identity… the burden of never being able to have a baby.  Many, many tests were done, but still no real reason for the infertility… no reason for the emptiness… no reason for the loss… no reason why I couldn’t give my husband a child.   For a long time I kept asking why God would allow such a thing to be a part of MY life… I always have done my best to live for Him… why did I have to carry this burden when I wanted to be a mom so badly?  I got plenty of answers from so many people, but I never really got the answer I was looking for from God.   

I would often think of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

I know I was born with the desire in my heart to be a mother.  I also know God gave me that desire.  Then why when I was “delighting myself in the Lord” was He not giving me the desires of my heart?

I never did receive an answer to that exact question, but what I did receive was that if I had a willing heart to trust that God knows best, He can change the desires of my heart. He can relieve the burden of the loss of my dreams.  And yes, He can even turn this burden into a blessing

You might ask where is the blessing.  The blessing comes from me surrendering my desires to His way in my life.  Psalm 37:5 goes on to say, Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” 

That is a promise from God… a God who never changes (Hebrews 13:8)… a God who never lies (Hebrews 6:18)… a God who will never let me go. (Isaiah 41:13)  It may not be my plan but it is God’s plan.  This is a favorite quote that relates to this, “It is dangerous to mistake my wishes for God’s will.”

Satan hates it when we can find the blessing in the burden. One of our enemy’s greatest weapons is discouragement… if I allow him to take that burden and add his lies and deception, then he has got me right where he wants me. He will use discouragement and discontentment to turn my heart away from God and all the blessings God has for me.

How do I combat when Satan wants to bring up that hurt and try to turn it back into a burden?  I praise & worship God.  I am not saying it is always easy, but I do know that God has already won the victory and I am so thankful I am on the winning side.

These are a few verses that help me praise God in those difficult moments.  I pray you will meditate on them and that you find comfort for whatever burden you may be carrying today.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.  He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” - Psalm 40:1-3 

“Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” - Psalm 31:24

“The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace.” - Psalm 29:11 

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.” - Psalm 28:7 

I pray that through God’s leading I will be used to be a blessing to someone today. Giving God all the glory, in Jesus’ Name.

Questions to ask yourself:

Has there been a time in your life when you thanked God for a burden?

Share how God has turned a burden into a blessing in your life.

What do you do to get through those difficult moments?

Rejoicing in Truth!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Broken But Not Abandoned...

I am so saddened by the devastation in Oklahoma… giant tornado killing so many people… including children.  Two schools were hit and neighborhoods were wiped out!  My heart also hurts in all this for the people that are looking to understand how God could let this happen.  I saw a comment on FB in response to a prayer for God to comfort these families… it reads: "So turn to God for salvation against devastation that God clearly caused? A mile wide tornado? That's crazy."  It is a hard thing… knowing that God can stop anything… He could have stopped His Son from dying on the cross for my sins too, but He didn't! 

There is no logic!  If we could figure it out or understand it… then what would we need God for? God created everything there is in nature.  He put the natural way things are to be, in motion, but that doesn't mean that it will never get out of whack at times… and He allows it to happen.  Just like our free will… He could treat us all like puppets to live and do everything perfectly as He wants it, but what would that be?  Would that be living?  He loves us so much and the only way for us to love Him back is through free will… if you force someone to love you is that really love? 

“But God is rich in mercy because of His great love for us. We were dead because of our failures, but He made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.) God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with Him. He did this through Christ Jesus out of His generosity to us in order to show His extremely rich kindness in the world to come.” Ephesians 2:4-7

These situations are so devastating and hard to grasp the good, if any… but I have to trust that God knows what He is doing!  What is my alternative to that?  I can either trust that God is sovereign and His Word is true or I can choose to live my life with no hope… Is that really a choice?

I have recently become a fan of the Sidewalk Prophets… they have some great songs, but one of their songs, “Keep Making Me”, has words that are so powerful to me!  Because words are so important to me I find it hard to sing words I don’t mean… some days I can sing these words and mean them… other days I cannot even get them to come out of my mouth because of the tears.  I want this to be my prayer every day… as you read the words you’ll see what I mean.

Make me broken, so I can be healed
‘Cuz I’m so calloused now I can’t feel
I want to run to You, heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty so I can be filled
‘Cuz I’m still holding onto my will
And I’m completed when You are with me
Make me empty

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord please keep making me

Make me lonely so I can be whole
‘Til I want no one more than You Lord
‘Cuz in the darkness I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord please keep making, I know You’ll keep making, me

My prayers go out to those hurting in Oklahoma… may they feel God’s presence as their comfort!  And may they know that they are not abandoned!

“I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49:15-16

Rejoicing in Truth!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Bringing Him Glory... Finishing Strong!

This spoke so strongly to me today… I just knew I had to share it on Coffee Cup Corner!  Bible Life Coaching from Sheri Rose Shepherd:

“It is always the last act of love, the last word spoken, the last move made that is the one remembered most.

Have you ever fought hard for something or someone you really believed in? You gave your all, your love, your time and your talent only to have it come to a bitter end where it seems you lost everything that mattered most to you including your faith? I have been there, and in these broken-hearted moments I could not find anyway or anything to restore what was lost or repair the damage done. But I discovered in the word of God that the ONE thing I can do is choose to lay down my feelings and bring a strong close to whatever is coming to an end. I can choose to react in a way that will bring glory to God. I know it is hard to push through painful places when you're hurting, but it is even harder to look back with regret and know you wasted the pain and became part of the problem.

If you are in a season of painful change and things seem to be coming to an end, allow me to share with you some Bible Life Coaching tips that will give you peace, perspective and help you persevere so you finish with a strong close...
  • Pray for a bigger picture than your own pain and it will help purpose you to Finish Strong!
  • Do what is right and Refuse to engage with whomever is attacking you or you become like them.
  • Focus on God's will and not your rights. Remember that our God is a just God and He will repay those who have come against His children.
  • Turn your hurt into Hope for the future and, rather than fix your mind on what you're losing, choose to trust God for new beginnings that will lead to His plans for you!
God's Letter to You

I believe if The Lord was going to write you a personal letter about battles this life brings it may read like this....

My Beloved Child,

Your life lived for me will become the legacy that lives on long after you are gone. Your fight will never be forgotten. You are a hero of the faith and your commitment to the call will carve character into the next generation. Every prayer you prayed will become a blessing passed down. Every tough choice you made to obey me will become a foundation of faith your family will stand on in their tough times.

Your courage will continue to bring comfort to many during their difficult times. Your Trust in me will remain in others who watched you walk in peace. I, your God, declare on this day that your children's children will be forever blessed because you lived your life for an audience of One... Me!

Your Lord and Savior who died for you

Treasure of Truth
Happy are those who delight in doing what He commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will never be forgotten. — Psalm 112:1-3

I pray you received a blessing from this as I have!
Rejoicing in Truth!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

No Distractions!

Oh my... it has been such a busy week and this week is going to be even busier!  I am blessed to be serving at Heart Quest, it is a spiritual event set up through Fellowship of the Sword.  I have heard people ask if it is like a ladies' retreat... it is like a retreat on steroids!!! I attended as a participant 3 years ago... it was 5 1/2 days like I have never experienced before! Let me just say, God is so incredibly good!  

Anyway, this event asks all participants to do 30 days of prep before the event, so along with those questing all of us serving also do the same prep.  It is good but during that time it can get a little rough too... anytime you are trying to draw closer to God things of life are always coming up!  So this is why I am sharing what I am sharing...

You might be feeling tired, overwhelmed, a little defeated, or all of the above!  You may even feel like you just don’t have enough in you to take your relationship with God to another level… I have been there too!  Be encouraged… you don’t have to do this perfectly!  Throw all worries of what others may think in the trash… we are all flawed, but only the ones that admit it can find freedom from it. 

In 1 Peter 5… verse 8 – Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.”  Being attentive to what God wants us to see… that is the key.  Keep from letting others’ issues take your focus off God.  When we lose focus it is so easy for the devil to slip in there and turn distraction into discouragement.  This is the time… God loves you so much!  Let Him turn your mess into His message!

Father, I thank You for this time You have given each of us to draw closer to You!  I praise You for being so incredible and loving each of us with Your perfect, unconditional love.  I ask You to open the heart of each person reading this wider than ever before to receive all that You have for them.  Even in times of doubt, Father, help them to believe Your hand guides them and your right hand holds on to them.  I pray Your peace and Your comfort over each of us. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Rejoicing in Truth!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Goo Be Gone...

Anxiety and worry!  How hard does it get to carry all that extra baggage around with us?  It is just crazy that we do that when there is no need for us to.

“Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Notice it does not say, “Pack your anxiety in a bag and carry it around for a few days.”  I understand the benefits of strength training, but I don’t think this is what they had in mind! As soon as an anxious thought comes into my mind I have to turn it right over to God… it should become automatic… the more I trust Him the easier it will be! 

I sometime have pictures that go through my head… if I can picture it then it helps me remember things better, so as I was thinking on the whole anxiety/worry thing here is the picture that came to me.  It is like making pancakes… when you pour the batter on the griddle the underside of the pancake starts to cook. But the topside is gooey!  I remember when I was first learning how to make pancakes, I asked my mom how you know when to turn it over.  She told me that when the gooey side starts to bubble then you know it is time to turn it over.  What a picture… when worry (goo)  starts to bubble up in my life it is the sign it is time to turn it over to God! He will handle it! He wants to handle it!  I just need to trust Him enough to handle it!

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Father, I thank You for being the One that wants to take care of every need!  I praise You for the great sacrifice You made by sending Jesus to take away my sins that I can know the freedom and the peace that comes through a relationship with Him. God, You are so good and faithful! I ask You to bless each person that reads this… let Your Word be a changing moment in their lives as it has been in mine! Giving You all the praise and honor in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rejoicing In Truth!

Friday, March 8, 2013

You are Not Called to Be a Caterpillar!

I had the opportunity to go to Frederic Meijer Garden to see the butterfly exhibit, recently.  For you that don’t know, I am fascinated and intrigued by those fluttering creatures.  As I was thinking about their transformation and how they start out with not much to offer… they crawl around on their bellies and can eat massive amounts of vegetation… it is hard to see the beauty or usefulness in those little critters.  I am sure most caterpillars could be satisfied living out their life as a caterpillar, but God has bigger things in store for them!  That caterpillar was not called to be a caterpillar!

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works,
and that my soul knows very well.” Psalms 139:14

If I am truly honest… I dislike the transformation process!  I am realizing my disdain for it has more to do with my stubbornness than it has to do with God’s work.  My selfishness, my humanness, can be satisfied, to a certain extent; just being what I am… transformation is painful!

Like the caterpillar, God lets it know when it is time to start the metamorphosis into what He has called it to… a thing of beauty… a butterfly!  I am almost positive the caterpillar does not argue with God about it or try to make a deal to be left alone… it knows that it is created for greater things! (Romans 9:20)  How about us?  Does the pain of transformation stop us from being made, slowly but surely, into God’s beautiful creature?

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.   2 Corinthians 3:18

What is God working on in your life?  Are you moving forward with an open and willing heart to His leading? Or are you refusing to get into the cocoon?  Yes, God loves every one of us as “caterpillars” but He loves us so much He cannot wait to transform us into His beautiful creature, one step at a time.  Remember… You are not called to be a caterpillar!

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

Rejoicing in Truth!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

From the Heart... Love is the Key...

"From the Heart"... I have seen and read lately so many things about what you want for Valentines Day or what is the best gift you have received???  I admit I can easily fall into the thought that once a year on the “big heart” day... what you receive shows how much you are loved! 

So then I was reading in Romans 12… Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (12:9-10)  I love to be surprised… I love to be on the receiving end at times, but what would my life look like if I gave instead of waiting to receive???

In John 13:1-17… the scene is the last supper, there is no servant there to wash their tired, dusty feet, so Jesus jumps into action and serves His disciples by washing their feet.  The Savior of the world tied on a towel and gave to His friends in such an intimate way!  It may not be practical to wash a person’s feet but having a listening ear, giving a gentle hug, speaking a word of encouragement... those could be the refreshing water that could cleanse a tired soul.

Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:14-15
It’s not a once a year heart thing… it is an everyday of the year heart thing!  Christ set the example… if we can even grasp a small amount of this how much of a change could we make?  God’s kind of love flows from a loving heart not out of duty or coercion… it is from a joyful heart not from a guilty consciences… it is your choice… what will you do with it?!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Friday, February 1, 2013

From the Heart... Walk in Love!

This is the 1st day of February… a short month (28 days) with so much packed into it! Ground Hogs Day… Super Bowl… Fat Tuesday… Presidents Day… Valentines Day!  I personally like to think of February as the month of love!  I have many sweet memories from my childhood from the month of February and Valentines Day in particular.

So this is what God has laid on my heart… I am going to share a few things over the next month regarding, “From the Heart.”  I am using it as a challenge to myself and maybe in the process it will challenge some of you as well.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.”  Matthew 12:30

To love like that it takes your “ALL”… there are very few things in my life I give my all to. What kind of passion does that take to give your all?  I tend to be a “middle of the road” kind of gal in so many ways, but the things that really mean the most to me… the things I have great passion for… you better watch out because I can be like a run-away train!

God has put passion in each of our hearts for different things, but one thing that He has given all of us the same passion for is to love Him.  What is your heart attitude?  We can never repay God for what He did by sending His Son as a sacrifice for our sin… and He doesn’t want repayment… it is a free gift (Romans 6:23).  But how can we show our love for Him?
Obedience… doing the will of God from the heart (Ephesians 6:6). Serving Him by serving others!?  Where are you serving... is there a place in your church that needs you? Is there a place that you need to be serving? You say you don't know where to start or what you might like to do??? You will never figure it out by doing nothing?!!! Walk it out... start now! 
"And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance." Ephesians 5:2

That’s it... from my heart to yours!

Rejoicing in Truth!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Mystery I Don't Have to Solve...

Prayer is such a mystery! Sometimes you pray and get an answer right away. Other times you pray and get nothing… no, “yes”… no, “no”… or in the silence, “just wait.” I had an experience recently of a promise God had given me a couple years ago, what I thought was being fulfilled, in just the way I wanted it to be.  I just knew it… I had it all worked out in my mind how I felt God was doing this thing He had promised!  I built myself up believing that this was it… God is going to give me just what I want, how I thought I wanted it!  I was acting like God needed my help to figure this out!  Wrong! Don’t throw stones… you know we’ve all done that!

Whose promise was this anyway?  I was not the one who asked God for His promise… He gave it to me and along with that I had to remember that He will fulfill it in His time, how He knows is best, in a way I could NEVER imagine!  Knowing that is all good and dandy being on this side of it looking back, but it was a very hard, I mean very hard (who’s stubborn?), few days getting over my feelings of disappointment!

I can admit it now, I acted like a spoiled brat, don’t get me wrong my heart was hurting and I know God knew that, but my reaction to my devastation was not pretty!  It went something like this… “I don’t feel like You are hearing me”… “I don’t feel like You care that this is what I want”… “I don’t feel You see what an opportunity this is to bring You glory?”… “I just feel like taking my “marbles” and going home! What does any of it matter anyway?”  Like I said, not a bit of beauty in my attitude.

So I spent a few days wallowing in my mud… then God sent someone to reach out to me… just that act of caring helped some of the clouds to be pushed away.  I knew my time of “mourning” had to be finished.  I started asking God to show me what was causing me to react in such a way.  I asked Him to reveal to me what that black blob was in my heart.  Holy Spirit shined His light on it so I could see it was a blob of my tangled up feelings!  I let my feelings and emotions, something God created me with for good, to be used as a weapon against myself.  He also showed me that it is not about my feelings, but it is about God’s Truth! What an ugly mess we can easily get ourselves in when we live by our feelings and not God’s Truth.

So why am I sharing all of my spiritual ugliness?  I don’t really know… I would just as soon forget it and move on, but God showed me in James 5:16 – “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  I know that it is only in my helplessness God will be glorified!

Maybe someone reading this is going through a similar struggle.  Maybe God wants to use my experience to bring Him glory… without a test you will never have a testimony. Maybe we need to start praying more for each other.  All I know is it is really not about me, but about what Christ is doing through me and through each one of you.  Someone said to me recently, that this is the year for boldness… boldness for Christ.  Are we ready to be bold?

“He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:16-21

“Prayer works because God is in control. The basis of all miracles is God's sovereignty. Why does He do one and not another? Because God is in control. We have to trust His wisdom and His goodness.” – Rick Warren

So yes, prayer is a mystery, but God’s Truth is not… He is our Provider (Genesis 22:14), our Healer (Exodus 15:26), our Protector (Exodus 17:15), our Peace (Judges 6:24), our Shepherd (Psalms 23:1), He is good (Psalms 86:5), He is just (Isaiah 30:18), He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9)… just a few.

Rejoicing in Truth!