He Is Faithful and Good

For whatever reason, the blog has been getting a lot of views lately – both on the wordpress site and on Facebook. As you may have noticed, nothing has been written in quite some time. Well, nothing blog worthy anyway. With all the looks, though, I’m guessing that it means I might need to write something.

“Something.”   😉

Truth be told, it’s been a very trying and difficult season. None of which I will go into now 3e28307761b240f34c56bdf91cd6ea31– I do love my transparency with things, but most of this isn’t mine to share and some of it I’m just trying to process still. Sometimes, writing can be part of the process, but other times, we just need to be still and find answers and peace in His solitude.

And that’s exactly where I’m at right now. Sitting at His feet, thanking Him for the little things, praying for big things, and doing my best to stay in His presence despite the enemy’s desire to pull me away.

When times like this come, and they will and do come, please please please – find Him and find the people
whom He has put in your path to help hold you up. Life is not about doing it all by ourselves. It’s about leaning into Him and His people.

The good news is that He is faithful and I am seeing the fruits of consistent prayer in this challenging season. Prayer really does change things, friends. Not just the things for which we’re praying, but it changes us.

My head is above the wave, the tides are changing, and He is good. All the time.

Stepping into the War Room

Just. Keep. Going.

By now, many of us have seen the movie War Room. As soon as I heard about it, I knew I would be seeing it. First because it’s Priscilla Shirer, and anyone who knows me, knows that’s enough. Secondly, I wanted to see it because it’s about prayer. I love prayer. I love to pray. I burden for others and that’s a gift that I love having. Usually. =]

My problem, sometimes, with movies like this is the perfectly wrapped ending. By the end of the two hour movie, life is almost perfect and the War Room has done exactly what it’s supposed to do.

What about those times when there isn’t a perfectly wrapped ending? What about those times our prayers aren’t answered in the way we hoped or expected? How do we continue without being angry with God or doubting that He ever hears us?

Just. Keep. Going.

That’s my only answer. I’ve had some prayers that have gone unanswered for years and I have others that get answered in ways I didn’t expect and some that get answered immediately. I can’t understand why.

The idea that we have a perfect God who is always willing to listen to us when we cry out to Him is something that still amazes me. I wanted to share some of my own war room scriptures and quotes with you.

10385309_10204173332271968_7915259727223994481_nEphesians 3:20 – 21. My friend created this for me as a going away gift when I left my last workplace. It’s probably my most cherished gift. It’s my favorite scripture, handmade into this beautiful design and then placed in a frame.  (let me know if you’re interested in seeing more of her work! I’ll direct you to her FB page.)

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

“You own the skies and still want my heart.” – a quote from a Hillsong United song – Up In Arms.

“You make me brave.”

“Oh, men and women, pray through; pray through! Do not just begin to pray and pray a little while and throw up your hands and quit; but pray and pray and pray until God bends the heavens and comes down.” ~ R. A. Torrey

“Try a little harder to be a little better.” ~ Gordon B. Hickley

“You can’t save people, you can only love them.” ~ Anais Nin

Sometimes, I will pick up that thing You’ve asked me to lay down. I’m thankful for Your grace. I ask for your forgiveness.

Surrender.

“You see the depths of my heart and love me the same.” ~ Chris Tomlin – Indescribable

2 Timothy 4:17 (NKJV) 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me

Psalm 116:2 (NLT)Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

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I used to be really scared to pray. I don’t know why – shame? Guilt? I’m sure it was both.

Let me encourage you – we can’t all have a “war room”, but we can all have a time and place in which we can wage our war on our knees (or on our butts, or face, or driving down the road…). Please don’t let *rules* stand in the way of having a conversation with our Creator. He really, really wants us to talk to Him. He is relentless for us. For you. For me.

It’s hard to be honest with Him and ourselves, putting all of our hopes, dreams, despairs, struggles, heart for others, etc… out there. It is. I get it. Trust me when I tell you, it doesn’t always have a happy ending like in the movies. But when we listen, when we’re still, and when we faithfully step into that war room with Him – it will always be right.

 

 

 

One Word 2016

By now you guys know that I don’t do New Years resolutions and instead choose a word to help guide me through the year – or I should say, I pray about a word and, eventually, God will lay a word on my heart with so much gusto that I couldn’t shake it if I tried.

I’ve struggled through 2015, definitely not leaving it behind feeling very “victorious” and that was my word for 2015. I didn’t know if God wanted me to redo the word or start over. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to even talk to Him about it. I felt a little bit bruised about the whole thing. We’ve all been there.

Finally, I relented and just spent some time with him on New Years Eve and so many things became clear. I realized that I might have still been riding my high of the new life/move transition when choosing my word last year, without taking into consideration a lot of different factors. So while last year didn’t seem victorious, I felt victorious on NYE for figuring some things out. And if that’s what I have to take away from my 2015 word for the year, then I’m happy.

On to 2016…

OneWordCommit

One of the problems I’ve been having is my inability to commit to anything since I’ve moved. It’s weird for me – I’m the queen of overcommitting myself. I will commit to everything and do my best to do it all. I will say “Yes” and volunteer for everything! However, nowadays, I can’t even commit to a knitting project. I’ve become consumed with circumstances around me and I’ve allowed that to make me hesitant to commit to other things in my life that are important.

So, 2016 – the year to live out my word by choosing to commit to things, outside of my present circumstances, in ways that are fulfilling to the path God has called me to walk.

How about you? What’s your word?

I find that sharing my word is helpful and it keeps me accountable. Let me know your word and I’ll poke and prod you all year, I promise. =]

 

 

 

 

No Passing Zone

I’ve been throwing this topic around in my head for weeks. I’m not sure that I even have enough of a cohesive thought about it to actually make something that sounds helpful or encouraging, but I’m ready for it to leave my brain.

Transition from one very safe place into a much unknown place can be mucky and murky and difficult. I’ve encountered more “trust issues” in the last year than I have in the last decade. It’s made me think back to the old me, the one who didn’t trust people, and I had to play this out carefully to not allow myself to slip back into that place of a consistently untrusting spirit.

The definition of trust is simple: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. The act of trusting is not quite so simple, though. It isn’t just the ability to be vulnerable with another human; it’s the conscious decision to believe your safety is of interest to another human; whether it’s emotional, physical, spiritual, etc…

In hindsight, because I allowed myself to try and run ahead of God and the plans He had for me, I felt like I was suddenly not under His armor or behind His shield or allowing Him to journey ahead of me in order to clear the path. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe for one hot second that God walked away from me and suddenly left me unprotected, but I did walk ahead of Him – with an unconscious flip of my hand saying, “thanks for getting me to this point, God … I got it from here.”

And now I have s6195593_origome consequences for that. I’ve been a little dinged up, a little bit damaged, and a little less trusting. Not because of anything He did, but because of what I thought I could do without Him leading the way. God does give us wisdom to make decisions and opportunities to spread our wings, but when we’re too busy running ahead, we’re running right by the things He has for us and we don’t even realize it.

The good news is that we have a God of mercy and grace. When we run ahead, we can turn back to Him and He’ll give us a proverbial pat on the head and say something like, “passing Me the baton now, eh?” and He’ll keep it pushin.. (maybe He just says that to me… :p )

So for those of us feeling a little battered, a little bruised, a little unsure of the people in our circle, or just plain unsure of ourselves – let’s take some time to check our placement. Are we under and behind His armor or are we walking ahead trying to “handle it” on our own. If it’s the latter, I’ll be praying with you (and myself) that we might be made aware when we’re trying to run ahead and that we fall back under His loving protection.

 

 

Blessing Reminders

Blessings are sometimes overlooked. I’m totally guilty.

A friend of mine said to me today, “blessings come very easily for you. It’s not a bad thing, you’ve been such a blessing to other people and now you’re reaping that reward.”

What? What blessings? Do you know that I’m praying for this, and this, and that? And this one thing I’ve been praying for 15 years! This other thing I’ve been praying for almost two years! I have this on my list and this and that one thing. I’m waiting for ALL of these things or at least one to pan out for me. I just need to catch a break.

Wablessed-aviciih Wah Wah Wahhhh! WAH!

I didn’t say all that. Inside my head, though, I did. Until…

I realized how right she was and how grateful I am that she called me on it.

In the recent months, I’ve been showered with blessings. Help with car repairs, birthday gifts I don’t deserve, meals at nice restaurants that I wouldn’t normally go to, even a couple trips because of the generosity of those who love me. I’ve had friends purge their closets and I’ve acquired the rewards. People have been generous and kind to my man-child.

There really are so many things! The problem is that my focus keeps being drawn to the things I’m not receiving. The things I think I *really* want/need, but aren’t coming to fruition.

Help me, God, I’m a blind, thankless woman who can’t even appreciate (beyond the immediate appreciation) the blessings that have come to me because I’m so determined to keep my eye on the blaringly obvious things that I feel are still missing.

I can’t imagine I’m the only one who has done this… right? Back me up here…

So, take a few minutes… do an internal audit of the things happening around you, to you, and for you. Those, my friend, are blessings.

It’s too easy to slip into that place of “not enough” or “why not me?” Flip that focus switch, friends. Allow God to show you the work He’s doing for you, how He’s providing, and how He’s lining up His people on your behalf.

He is a good, kind, gracious, loving God. Amen!

 

Singing A New Song

One year ago… today…  I drove away from home. It’s the second time in my life when all my possessions were tucked away into a truck to be hauled miles and miles away from the place I called home.

When I left Michigan, it was hard, but it was for work. I didn’t have a lot of options and that seemed like the best one. When I left the eastern panhandle of West Virginia/northern Virginia area, it was a totally different move.

A kicking and screaming move.

An exciting move.

A “I’m scared to death to do this” move.

A “I have peace, but no understanding” move.

A fully surrendered move.

Now, here I sit, one year later, and I’ve gained no more understanding than I had a year ago. I almost wrote this post with the intent to write about all the things I miss. The people I love. The job I left. The church that welcomed me into her arms every week and the hugs that embraced me – tightly and with a depth of love I long for today.

I can’t go there, though. It isn’t healthy for me and that isn’t where God is calling me to focus. He doesn’t want us looking back and living in the place He no longer has for us. When Christ calls us to Him, it’s important to keep our attention on the road ahead, no matter how frustrated we are with the process. No matter how foggy or dimly lit that road might be.

So, as you can imagine, I’ve been pouring over different scriptures to walk me along this path, looking for ways to intentionally seek after God’s direction, and turn into myself to see how He’s trying to transform me through this process.

Here are some things I’ve had to cling to during this process:

Connect. With God. With people.

Be useful. To God. To others.

Learn. More about God. More about others.

Love. Intentionally and completely.

No matter where we are in life, the road less travelled or often travelled, those things listed above will always be important. When things might not make sense to us or our world is confusing, those things above will always remain. They allow us the chance to step outside our own self and look at the bigger picture. The fullness of Him and His purpose.

It’s easy to sit in our puddle, pool, or pit of self-pity or doubt or funk. The truth is, though, that we need to be running harder and faster after Him. We need to have a circle of people surrounding us. I have a small group of ladies that I’m constantly throwing out prayer requests to because I trust them and love them. I know they feel the same about me. We all have the same goal when we’re living in community together – even if it’s 1,000+ miles apart. We’re called to walk life with others, be prayerful for others, and help those God puts in our life to know Jesus a little better every day.

Tonight, I will be hosting my first book study here in the great state of Texas, with a small group of women I’ve come to know. While I did not schedule it to begin on this day because of the whole “one year ago today” thing… this morning I’m sorta sitting here in awe at how God works out these little confirmations and reminders for us to hold onto.

He is good. All the tinewsongme. All the time. He is good.

***

You’ve brought me to the end of myself
This has been the longest road
Just when my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
Falling into You

I confess I still get scared sometimes
But perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies screamed inside go silent
The moment You begin

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go

Falling into You

You remind me
Of things forgotten
You unwind me
Until I’m totally undone
And with Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
Now You’ve won me

And if I lived a thousand lifetimes
And wrote a song for every day
Still there would be no way to say
How You have loved me

Oh, how You love me
And that’s how You’ve won me

 

Underface

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Shel Silverstein has been one of my favorites since I was young. I still flip through pages of his poems and find my inner girl, my inner broken soul, and my underface.

While the last several months have been really super and I’ve been blessed over and over by people who love me and I still haven’t completely figured out why… I’ve been privately holding close my brokenness. My underface. My undoneness.

The good news is that I (we) have a loving God who sees the underface. A loving God who desires to completely restore the broken vessels that we are and walk alongside us down a road of redemption. He provides us with people who are willing to see the underface and not run away in disgust or judgement, but to embrace us with love, grace, and mercy.

We may be able to hide our underface from one another, but never from Him. Whatever you might be dealing with today, tomorrow, next week – He is with you; relentlessly pursuing you and desiring the intimacy of you asking Him into your underface places.

I needed to remind myself of that this morning, maybe you too?

Life Hurts – God Heals

How is someone supposed to feel when a Father dies?

An unknown father.

An absent father.

A father who walked away from his own child father?

I had a dad with whom I was raised and I also had a father that contributed to my creation who then abandoned my mom. My mom was married to my bio dad for a couple of years and all the things I know about him are bad. Not at all good.

Every few years, I would get a hankering to do a “search” for my bio dad online. I never found him, though. I had that hankering a couple weeks ago. I found him. He’s dead.

I knew it was him because I remember his mom’s name and his sister’s name, both of whom were mentioned in his obituary. Also mentioned were his wife and three children – now adults, of course. His love for art and how he was able to make so many people smile and bring happiness and joy through his art was also mentioned. My bio dad was an artist. He drew and painted for others. To make them happy.

On par with what all abandoned children feel, we fall into the questions that come with abandonment – why wasn’t I good enough for him? Why didn’t he love me? Did he ever think about me? Did anyone know about me? Was I just forgotten all these years? Did he create a whole new life and just forget his old one existed? Why didn’t he want to know me? Am I that awful? That unlovable?

I have two half-brothers and a half-sister that I know about now. Of course, I’ve spent the last two weeks teetering back and forth about whether to try and make contact. Maybe to my aunt first? She had a relationship with us for several years after my dad left. I was never a secret to her. But what if his kids never knew I existed? Would I ruin their world? Their image of their dad? Was he loving to them?

I’m not sure if he ever got his life together – on paper it sounds like he did. I know now, though, that I’ll never have a chance to know him, to know whether or not he turned his life around, to know whether or not he ever cared about me, to know if he cried for me through the night. I’ll never know that and I’m sorta bummed about it.LHGH-960x550

Things and emotions that I assumed were long gone all bubbled to the surface over the last couple of weeks. It’s been weird.

I honestly don’t know how someone who doesn’t know God would process something like this – it’s all I’ve been able to do is to remind myself that I DO have  an Almighty Father, who will never abandon me.

In Psalm 27:10 (NLT) we’re told, Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. The enemy would like me to think that because the bio dad didn’t hold me close and didn’t want me that I’m not worthy to be held closely.

And the enemy is a liar.

In Psalm 142:4-5 (NIV) David was in a cave, crying out to the Lord and he said this, 4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. And we could leave it right there… but the next verse says, 5 I cry to you, Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”

When we’re in a cave, whatever that looks like for us, and when we have a relationship with the living God, we know that we can cry out to Him because He is our refuge. The enemy would like us to think that God doesn’t hear us or doesn’t care.

And the enemy is a liar.

If you’re reading this post and you don’t know who Jesus is, I assure you that He is waiting for you to cry out to Him from your cave. He is waiting to bring you into His arms and give you comfort, to remind you that you are loved, and to let you know that He will never leave you.

Satan wants to keep people under his thumb, tangled in his web of lies and deceit. He wants to tell you that you’re not worth anything – not even worth a father who wants know you. Not even worth a man at all. Not even worth a thing. He’s lying to you, sweet one. He lies to me. It’s his way.

I listened to a message last night by Jimmy Evans. It was part of a series called “The Hurt Pocket” and, surprisingly, it touched some of the hurt places in my own heart that I thought were long ago healed. One of the takeaways was that in order to heal our hurt we have to be willing to bring it into the light and to be honest with God about it. I haven’t done that. I stuffed. Deep, deep down into my soul. Do you do that? I do. I assume it’s healed because I don’t think about it, but really it’s just stuffed. Hidden. Almost to the point of not being found. And then it is. It’s found and it’s hard.

My takeaways for you, if you’re reading this, are to first decide whether or not you’re in right relationship with Christ. If not, let me help you! Email me. Message me. Anything. Secondly, if you are in relationship with Him, be honest with Him. Take your hurts to Him – no matter how old and stuffed down they are – and allow Him the time to heal them for you. He wants to heal our brokenness, we just have to give Him the broken pieces.

I wanna be like You, God.

“Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket–to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served? Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted–not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister?” ~~ Oswald Chambers

After I read the quote by Chambers, I had to find my place again.22d11c04ef15070fef921adfb58037e6

Even while writing this post, I’ve backspaced and deleted over and again (I totally just took out 5 solid paragraphs) because my flesh is looking for the right to lash out and justify my own feelings. Trying to find words to say what I want to say, but put a spin on it so that it looks pretty and not like an attack. But it isn’t pretty.  My heart is a little bit ugly right now. My flesh DOES want to lash out. And my Father just continues to remind me that I’m being “poured out until I’m used up and exhausted,” and that’s okay. It’s what He’s called me to do. He sees me and He’s trying to remind me that He is all that matters.

Hebrews 13:16 says, Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. It doesn’t say, do not neglect to do good and share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God and to man and you will be shown much gratitude when you do it and that person or this person will call to tell you how much they appreciate everything you’ve done.

Giving is easy. We should always be looking for ways we can give to others, love others, show mercy to others, have grace with others, show kindness, etc… Yet, all of these things may never come with a thank you or a kind word and we need to be okay with that too. In fact, it could be met with a mean-spirit and gossip. And that’s when we cling to God tighter, “my flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart,” (Psalm 73:26).

This post shouldn’t be encouragement to be a doormat for people. I believe it’s very much all right to have boundaries with people, especially those who are not safe people. It should serve as a reminder, though, that it is always about Him and what He’s putting before us. Sometimes, in fact… usually, it means taking the lowly road. The most humble position and serving even if no one remembers. When it’s all about Him, the world might tell us we’re “totally insignificant,” but not to Him. Never to Him.

So, for today and forevermore, let’s hold open the door for people without an expectation of a “thank you” when they pass through. Throw a few dollars to someone who might need it. Return someone’s cart to the little cart house thingy bobber. Help a neighbor carry in groceries. Open your home to someone.  In Colossians 3:17, the Bible says, and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In the big scheme of things, we are serving people – sure – but we’re really serving Him. I want to be that person. All the time. Without stipulation, without expectation, and without a thought – it’s so natural that it’s just who I am. Many of us have that heart, I’ve seen it in action too many times. However, if any of you are a little bit like me, then maybe sometimes, you feel unappreciated or unnoticed. Take heart, my friend, the King of Kings notices you. And loves you, wildly.

 

Conquering the beast.

The comparison monster. I suppose at one time or another in our lives, we’ll deal with it. I’ve been pretty fortunate not to have a face-to-face run in with the thing for many, many years… maybe since high school.

And then I moved to Dallas. Suddenly, it’s all over me. Creeping over my shoulder when I least expect it. Hiding away near my bathroom mirror as I get ready in the morning. It sits in the passenger seat of my car and whispers its ugliness to me as I drive to my destination. It’s a hideous beast.

I’ve struggled, as I’m sure most of us have, with self-esteem and insecurities at different times in my life. But this beast is different. This isn’t just seeing my flaws in a larger than life manner. It’s seeing those flaws and then comparing them to all the women around me who are prettier, more fashionable, wealthier, more successful, being used by God in big ways, on and on… and on. And on.

It’s just—ew.

So, of course, as God does, He begins to prepare me and show me ways to conquer this beast. I hear Him. I see it in the Word, I hear it in the messages I listen to, and books that somehow land on my table. One of the foundations of something we do at my church is… Hear, Believe, Obey. God is making sure that I have the “hear” part down pat. The next two things are all on me.

While reading Love Idol” by Jennifer Dukes Lee over the last month, the eighth chapter called Preapproved, is pretty much all highlighted and scribbled upon. It’s like that chapter was written for me. Like Jennifer sat in her study and allowed God to use her solely for my benefit. She heard, believed, and obeyed. I’m thankful.

She opens the chapter with this verse: Psalm 37:6 (MSG) – He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Huh… He will validate my life. And stamp me with approval. Me? Well, yeah… that’s what He says! She goes on to say, “Eyes cannot look in two different directions,” so I have the choice to look at the comparison monster or to look at God’s word that He has stamped me with approval. When we know that God’s word is truth, we hear it. The next part is to believe it. A few pages later, Jennifer says, “…living like I actually believe what the Savior says. And He says He love me. It makes me feel weak-kneed and deliriously adored.” A couple paragraphs down she mentions how we need to constantly and consistently remind ourselves that “God delights in me.” We have to train ourselves to believe what God says about us is true. That’s when we can really begin to understand it.Screen-Shot-2015-02-27-at-10.07.05-AM

So then, how do we obey – now that we’ve heard and we’ve believed?

Just stop. Stop listening to the monster that ushers those ugly lies – because that’s all they are – into our heart places. Slowly replace those thoughts with the thoughts He has given us over and over again. In this chapter, Jennifer explains how God is a God of “Alreadys” and how we are already preapproved by Him, loved by Him, cherished by Him. We didn’t even have to do anything! In 1 John 3:1, she points out, “I am already His beloved child.” Already. “He is the God of Alreadys, inviting me to turn away from the voices that tell me I’m not enough. His words are an invitation to every unwanted child, every unrequited lover, and every person who has ever wanted to know he or she matters.”

Over the last couple of weeks, once I admitted and accepted that this was something that was beginning to impact me way more than I wanted it to, I was able to seek the things from Him to remind me how loved I am – for no reason at all.

He doesn’t care if I put on make-up every day so that I look like everyone else in this huge metroplex. He wants me to put on Him every day. When I walk out of the house with Him covering me, there is no comparison game. This is how we obey. We stop our own cycle of madness so that we can hear and believe, and eventually obey His truth of love, approval, and attention.

“I am unabashedly, irrevocably loved,” she says. Me too. You too. This is our truth. This is what we’re to believe so that we are able to obey the things He calls us to do in this life, for His purpose.

This beast can be a hard one to conquer, but it isn’t impossible because we have a God who is bigger than impossible. He’s mightier than the beast and will slay him dead, as soon as we hear, believe, and obey. Part of our obedience is allowing God into that part of us so that He can take it out, once and for all.

My friends, if you’re struggling with comparison, I beg you to own it and work on it. It’s a freedom like no other. When we stop wondering if we’re enough, we’ll realize we’ve always been enough. You are already loved, approved, and delighted in by the most loving, merciful God.