At The Cottage Background

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ticket to Grace


We are all in need of grace.
For varying reasons and at varying degrees.

Sometimes for a forgivable act. And sometimes for the unforgivable.
Sometimes for a unkind word that was spoken in haste, out of emotion, and not with much thought behind it.
Sometimes for when we are exhausted and beaten down and just need time to pull ourselves together...... and get ourselves back on track.

Grace can look like certain things too and be accompanied by actions.
Like a smile when you deserve the scowl.
A hug when you feel like everything is falling apart.
A kiss on the cheek accompanied by words of kindness when you were just short and not kind.
And the okay given to just escape for the day when you have the whole world waiting to be tended to.
It is being given time to finish a homework assignment when you couldn't get it done on time.
In the faithful words of a friend whom you've hurt, coming to find that they still love you in spite of your missteps.

This is grace.
And I realize that I am given it everyday.
Grace to fall and grace to fail.
Grace to get back up and grace to try again.

I need these kinds of grace most of all.

But I realize that I am my own worst grace giver.
I expect so much out of myself and give myself even less.
I believe that I can do it...... anything.... and when I fail.......
Well, let's just say that a physical beating would be kinder.

I don't rest when I'm tired.
I don't stop when the reserves have run dry.
I have gotten better than I used to be..... but this isn't saying much.

And when I am hit hard like I have been lately. When the world seems to be falling down all around me and I begin to cry and wail because I can't keep it all going.
When my balls that I "thought" I was successfully juggling begin to drop at an alarming rate.
I realize.......... 
And I  stop.
Not because I want to. But because I have to.

This week I have figuratively and physically just dropped from where I have been standing and just sat.
Not a pretty sit. Composed and put together.
But a heap. Legs in sloppy indian style with hands limp by my sides and head down.
Tired and weak.
And not by choice mind you.
Never by choice. But out of desperation and knowing that I can't keep doing it on my own.

It is in this posture that I have allowed it to be possible for others to come around me and help me.
To make me meals and feed me.
To speak words of encouragement and love.
To offer kindnesses and support.

I still feel beat up and bruised.

But I also feel loved and taken care of.

I have felt the effects of grace.
God given and bestowed.
Not because I deserve it and not because I am owed it.
But because it is in His nature to give it.

And that is enough.

My ticket from feeling antiquated and  bereft.

And my pass to being renewed and filled up again.

If we don't accept it, we won't benefit.

And we will only have ourselves to blame.

Thank you Father for the grace givers in my life. The people that You have surrounded me with that choose to love me when I am unlovely.

And for your grace Father that surpasses them all. With a love so full and so deep that I can't even try to understand it.

That love overwhelms me and fills my heart with undying gratitude........
And gives me the motivation to share it with anyone who will hear.

..... until another tomorrow.


"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
 John 1:16

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." 
 Jonah 2:8

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:24

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Tastes Good

I love to bake.
It is one of my favorite things in the world to do.
I love everything about it.
The creative process of making something that melts  on your tongue and brings a smile to your face the moment it touches your taste buds.
I love that I can make those around me feel loved just by giving them something yummy and well presented.
Who doesn't love cupcakes? Or homemade chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts and white chocolate drizzled on top? And brownies..... toffee covered and topped with fudge?
And don't get me started on pastries....... that is the stuff of my dreams. 

So...... when I found out that I was allergic to wheat and yeast I thought, with my cup is half full mentality, "No problem. I will just improvise."
I had no idea how hard it would be.
I am not a huge bread eater but I do love the occasional biscuit or my favorite..... buttery croissants with even more butter dripping off of them.
But I thought to myself, "You can do this. You can make this work."
Needless to say once the cold hard reality hit, I was sad..... depressed even.

It wasn't fair. 
Jesus got to eat bread right?
Why couldn't I?
And what about making all those people happy?
Although, I still bake for others on occasion, the joy was taken away from me in that I couldn't partake and share in that joy.

It was a huge bummer.
I tease with my family that I feel like a special needs person.
I guess I am.
And the few things I am learning has sparked a mind journey that I am still embarking on.

When you do change and improvise in anything you do, baking... life...... things are going to be different then when you did it otherwise before.
Things will look different, feel different, and in my case taste different.
At first you may not like the results.
You may turn your nose away and feel sorry for yourself.
You may even declare as I have, many a time, that "It's just not fair!"
And it's not.
But sometimes, and usually........ it is for our better good.

Change can be fun. 
But not fun change is....... well..... not fun.
It is uncomfortable and oft times uneasy.
It can be mind boggling and life altering.
It can bring about the best in you, or the very worst.
I have had some of these, and probably most in my own reactions.

But I do know this..... that when I stopped partaking and taking in what wasn't good for me, and what my body had been so tirelessly trying to tell me..... I began to feel better.
No more stomach aches and brain splitting headaches.
No more random pains and unexplained happenings in random areas of my body system.
I just felt good.
And what once was so good to me before, didn't taste so good to me now.
Because I knew the consequences of eating it.
And I was so mad that I did.

I wanted it to be something else.
I was assured that after so long of not eating that way that I might be able to go back.
Unfortunately for me.... now that I have purged my body from what it didn't want there in the first place, it now recognizes it the moment I put it back in.
And the result is immediate.
My body kicks in its defenses and attacks what it now views as foreign.

This is so much like all the other things in our lives that don't belong there.
We want them, therefore we continue to partake of them. And in the process we continue to be sick with our messed up mentalities, and junked up thought processes.
We even get mad when well meaning people try to help us in our state of sickness.
We get defensive. And we shout, "It's not fair!"
We don't like being told that we can't do something that we enjoy....  has become our way of doing things.... or our way of dealing with what we can't control.
Worse yet...... that which has become comfortable to us. 
What we like, and what tastes good.
Even when it is making us sick.
When we secretly know deep down that something is not right.
That something is very wrong.

It is not easy to change your thinking.
We all want things the way we want them.

Our comfort and security.... no matter how false that really is.
Our  timing.
Our  prejudices.
Our choices.
Our  way.

Sounds ugly when you say it like that.
And it is..... ugly.
Always wanting and demanding our way always is.
We just delude ourselves into thinking that we justly deserve this.
That we are owed it and therefore it is our right to demand it.

But it's not.
It is ultimately not what is best for us.
Or in our best interest.
And that is where the rub is.
The uncomfortable knowledge that what we are doing and how we are going about it is not right.
And we know it. And it makes us mad.
We strike out and fight.
We can unmeaningly hurt those we love and even those around us who we know love us very much.
In that moment though...... we don't care.
We are so upset that we know that we have to change.
To change our thinking, our living , and our way of doing things.

In the end we ultimately choose.
To keep being miserable and taking one more bite after the other.
Knowing the consequences.....
Or we choose to change.
Letting God come in and surrendering all that we know is holding us back.

It will look different.
Feel different.
And ultimately taste different.

But it's okay.....
If we let it be.
And if we want to be whole and healed in the way that our bodies and minds so desperately need.

And hey, if your like me..... trying really hard to see the cup half full......
Once you've gotten over the Poor Me syndrome ......
You will begin to discover that there ARE other ways of doing things.
If your willing to open yourself up to the possibility of something new.... and the somethings that can re-open the once closed off parts of your life.
You may discover that what you once thought impossible..... now has possibility.

Like the yummy muffin I ate this morning.
Totally good for me, and totally free from the "stuff" that is not right for me.

There is something to be said for that.

It just tasted good.

..... until another tomorrow.


"Taste and see that the Lord is good.
      Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
  Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
      for those who fear him will have all they need.
  Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
      but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing." Psalm 34:8-10

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pouring Out and Filling Up


I have been sick this week.
The yucky, coughing, feeling terrible sick.
I don't care for being sick any more than the next guy....
But I especially hate it because it stops me from living my day to day, and getting done what needs to be done.
And the real reason..... I don't like having to depend on anyone else to take care of me... or take care of what is mine to do.

I enjoy relaxing and reading a really good book in bed. But when your forced there and left with no choice..... that is not my idea of fun.
I have exhausted my repertoire of movies, I have picked up and put down my Bible over and over again......
I am ready to be well. 
I am ready to get up and see to my obligations.
I have had to let go of a lot this week.
I have been forced to let go of things I would normally hold onto with a tenacious grip.

I have also been thinking... a lot.
About all the things I have no control over.
I have been mulling and turning things over and over in my head.
And I have been examining this road. This trail I am on.
Looking at it.... dissecting and figuring it out.
Trying to gage my progress and trying to see if I am on track with where I think I should be at this date and time.

In the midst of all of this "goings on" a few important things have been happening.
I have tried to take them in stride.
Tried to handle them appropriately.
But yesterday... I couldn't.
My body said no and I listened. Surprising myself with how quickly I did it.....
I called out for help.

And it came.

This once again reminded me of how often I have cried out to God in my greatest need.
How often I have fallen to my knees and begged for His mercy and grace. And how often He has answered and rescued me out of what appeared to be a hopeless situation.
It made me look back and recall all the times He has been faithful to me.
And it filled me up.
Renewed my faith.
And gave me hope again.

I needed it. Once again, my gage was nearing empty.
And I even had reserves left over.
Someone I love would need it later that day, and I was able to share what I had.

It is never for ourselves.
God doesn't give so that we can horde.
He doesn't fill so that we won't pour.
We have been made to give back. We have been created for much more than living for our own purposes and pursuits.
We are God's. Whether we acknowledge that or not.
And one of our many purposes is for just this. 
Not living for ourselves, but for Him and others. 

I am thankful for those who choose to pour into my life.
For those who's agenda is much more and higher than just serving themselves.
I have been changed because of it. 

My hope is that I return the favor..... pouring out from what I have been poured into.
And giving my Heavenly Father the recognition He so justly deserves.
The praise and honor that are His and His alone.
We are His and the only way the world will know that, is if we are reflecting His image, witnessing to His faithfulness.

In that.... I find my greatest reward, and the fulfillment of what I really am searching for.

... until another tomorrow.


9"All the nations have gathered together
         So that the peoples may be assembled 
         Who among them can declare this
         And proclaim to us the former things?
         Let them present their witnesses that they may be justified,
         Or let them hear and say, "It is true." 
    10"You are My witnesses," declares the LORD,
         "And My servant whom I have chosen,
         So that you may know and believe Me
         And understand that I am He 
         Before Me there was no God formed,
         And there will be none after Me. 
    11"I, even I, am the LORD,
         And there is no savior besides Me." Isaiah 43: 9-11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Faith Like Strawberries


Today as I was getting lunch packed for my kids I noticed something.
I was washing strawberries and was once again taken back by them.
They looked red, ripe, and firm from the outside, but once I began to wash and handle them, it became apparent that they were soft, mushy, and not so good on the inside.
I was disappointed..... And then a thought struck me.

My faith has been like these strawberries lately.
I have done all the right things to get my "outside" looking good.
I have been faithful in church attendance, acts of service, doing Bible study, and worship.....
But deep down, at the core...... where it counts... where I actually believe God and not just try.... 
My faith hasn't been solid.... grounded, or firm.
The fundamental principles  are easily believed for others, but are so hard when it comes time and you are hit with the impossible, to apply them in your own life.
Especially when you are hit with the truly deep things in life.... 
Sickness, disease, fear, lack of provision.
The list goes on and on.

Is God faithful?
Does He care and listen when I really need Him to?
Is this what my faith is built on?
No wonder when the hard things hit I crumble and succumb to the pressure.

I am facing a particularly hard situation right now.
My faith is being challenged. 
It's hard enough when it is about you.... but when it involves your children it is different... Things change.... 
It feels as though you are being cut at the knees.

I want to believe.
He has proven and shown Himself faithful so many times before this.
But who am I that He has to do what I ask?
Who do I think He is that I have this "Please do what I want, or I might not believe you anymore." mentality?
This is where the fear has really settled in.
In the nooks and cranny's of my belief system.
Poisoning everything I think and know about God.
Things that I know the truth of, but have been polluted by the lies and hypocrisy of my own self made standards.
Standards not set up by Him.
When steeped in hurt and not understanding why He does what He does, or why He allows what He allows... 
I am faced with a very important question..... a very intricate choice.

Do I believe that no matter what I face, or what I am confronted with, that He is still my loving and caring God?
That He is who He says He is, and that He is still faithful and true?
Do I believe what His word says, even if it doesn't work out just the way I want it to?

I don't know......
I want so desperately to though.
Doubt, worry, and confusion have been my unwanted companions.
I believe that He is allowing the toughest things in my life to show me the mushy, messed up faith that I have been holding onto.
Showing me the most insecure parts of me. The parts that have me thinking that He is out to get me and doesn't want what's best for my life and those around me.
Thinking that although He has promised.... he might not come through.
Or worse yet.... that I might have understood Him wrong.

He doesn't want this for me.
That is very evident and very clear to me.
He wants me to be solid, firm, and unwavering.
He wants me to understand and know Him fully.
To settle into His arms and not fret and fuss.
He wants me to know Him like I want my children to know me.
To trust as I want them to trust me.

But it is a process..... one that I wish wasn't so slow. I know that it is the pace that I have kept.
I am wanting to get through this.... to overcome it and win.
I feel like I am beginning to run. I want so badly to get to the finish line of this particular season and race.
I can feel myself breathing deeper and harder. I have begun to suck in the air and lean forward a bit.....
I can feel more than see the course that is just out of my sight.
I feel like I am just about to round the corner.
I can feel myself pushing and pulling from my reserve.
And I can hear Him from behind...... gently nudging me on. Encouraging me to not give up.

I can do this.
I don't want to lose.... to have at the end the faith that is outwardly appealing but contains no substance.
I want desperately for my children to see, to know, and to want for themselves the kind of faith that I possess. 
True, strong, unwavering, and firm....
And I don't want to be afraid of how I am going to get there.

..... until another tomorrow.


"For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does." 
Psalm 33:4

"For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies." Psalm 57:10

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15

"The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy."
Psalm 111:7 

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart." Proverbs 3:3


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Home of My Heart....

I'm not sure what comes up and what that word conjures up for you, but for me it is so much.
It is more than the word implies. 
So much more.

My church has been through a lot.
I have been there since it began.
And I have come and gone.
But in the end..... it is home.
And there is no place like it for me.
I believe there is no place like it in the world.

The people are unique.
We all come from different walks of life.
Able to contribute to what has become my families safe place.
Home away from home.
Filled with faces that truly love and truly care.

None of us are perfect.
We have all stumbled and fallen. Made mistakes and done things we wish we hadn't.
We all know that. We are well aware.

But we all come together to love and serve our God who we believe is like no other.
The same God who loves us in spite of our stumbling. 
The One who sees us for what He has destined us to be and not what we have settled for ourselves. 
And we all are striving toward that..... toward Him.
Wanting more and desiring to go deeper.
Not settling for just okay anymore. And not content to wade in the shallow end.

We worship together.
Pray together.
Cry together.
Laugh, and sometimes get mad at one another.
But we forgive... And give grace... knowing we will need it for ourselves the next time.

In the end..... we know.
And I know.
As well as I know my own heart.
If I need them.... they are there.
If I am broken.... they will run and wrap their arms around me.
If I am lacking any good thing..... they pour out from their reserve. Sometimes from the last of what they have.

They are the true definition of the body of Christ.
We don't do for others any less than what we would want for ourselves.
We don't hold back the best to only give the less.
We find joy in the blessings and are broken when one of us is wounded.
We meet at the base of our alter and pour out our hearts to the only One we know that can fill them.

You can't find many places like this.
I have tried.
When I have been disillusioned and felt forsaken.
When I have been called out and then been brought back in.

This is home.
This is where my heart belongs. Where it has found it's place.
There is comfort here..... and hope.
I am met with God's presence every time I walk through the door.
I may not be in the mood, or I may be hurting and afraid.
I may even be in a state of rebellion......
But this one thing holds true..... He is there.
And I am so glad that He is.
I run in the state of my heart every time I know it is time to go.

There is no place like it.
In the world.
And in my heart.

When I am there... sitting next to the people I love the most..... 
I am found..... 
I am filled....
And I am overflowing.

I am home.

I hope you have a home too.

.... until another tomorrow.


"I love the house where you live, O LORD, 
       the place where your glory dwells." Psalm 26:8

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hope Sought Out.....

The last few weeks have been full.
Full of activity, full of trials, and at full speed.
I have felt like the road that my car has been traveling is bumpy at best and filled with pot holes the size of a crater at worst.
I have felt every jar and shake. Have been reduced to helplessly grasping the wheel and holding on with all my might.
And I am getting tired.
It is hard to continually keep that pace.
I don't know how those who have to travel that road for most of their lives, and do it well, do it at all.

I feel as though I keep looking out the windows, wondering , searching.....
Trying to find someone who can relate, who can help, who can point me in the right direction and give me hope on this path that I have chosen to go.
And I have felt compelled to seek them out. 
The wise, the mighty in faith, the ones who are not surrounded by this cloud of confusion and smoke.

And I have found them.
Their faces can been seen through the fog and I have walked in that direction toward them.
We can't do any of this on our own.

Who are we? 
That we think we can do it all by ourselves?
We need those who have gone before us.... who are fighting the good fight..... and conquering.
We need one another.
And we need not forget that.
I have.   I did. 
But not anymore.

I needed and still do need to be reminded of who I am in Christ.
I need to be reminded of WHO the God is that I choose to serve.
I need to be reminded that His word is True, Just, and full of things I need to survive this rough terrain of life.
I get caught up in the day to day, by the "good" times, and then when the ruts hit, I panic.
I grasp and reach..... I cry and fear..... I lose perspective and ultimately lose my way.

His signs are everywhere.   He hasn't left me deserted.   He hasn't given up hope because I have.
I just can't see them because I have chosen to believe the lies that have risen up like a thick fog.
Blocking out the words of His truths.
I focus on the holes and the dangers of them instead of relying on the One who can cover them all as I go over them.
I forget the power that He has and the ability to speak straight into those situations.

I am striving to know Him more.
Deeper and more intimate.
I have found that as I have asked this, my road has seemingly become more rocky and more rut filled.
I have been confused by this..... disillusioned.
But I believe..... I know..... that He is with me.
That any confusion is on my part.
Is my own fault and frailty in believing lies instead of truths. Truths I have been raised on. Truths that I know hold and will continue to hold even after this world has faded away.......

I am learning to lean in a little closer.
I want to trust Him. I want to know Him.
I am not going to lie that this doesn't scare me just a little.
He is so much more than I can handle.

And yet..... He is Abba Father.
Holy and Mighty.
Just and True.
Loving and Full of Mercy.
Gentle and more Patient than I can conceive.

And He is worthy of my trust.... worthy of my praise.... worthy of all of me.

He hasn't left you.
He is right there.
Grasp onto Him instead of the wheel.
Cling like you have never clung before.
It is there that the peace comes.
It is there that He is able to speak.
Clearer than the lies, and louder than the roaring sound of your fears.

He is God.

As I take the baby steps toward my Father I am tempted to look back.
I am choosing not to.
And I hope that there are others who are following.
Not me.... but Him.
Getting up from where they have fallen and walking forward with me.
Toward Him..... toward the things He has for us to do.
Things that we can't do if we are bound by our own selfish beliefs and bondage's that we have allowed our enemy to entangle and wrap around us. Heavy.... weighted.... and not from Him.


That is what I have been seeking.... and what I have been given.
And I pray.... someday..... I can give it too.
Convincingly..... knowing.... not just because I have chosen to believe it.....

But because I have lived it.

..... until another tomorrow.


114"You are my hiding place and my shield;
         I wait for Your word. 
    115Depart from me, evildoers,
         That I may observe the commandments of my God. 
    116Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
         And do not let me be ashamed of my hope." Psalm 119:114-116

Monday, October 12, 2009

Diamonds and Faith

I have never owned a really big diamond.
I have never really wanted one.
But that doesn't mean that I don't admire their beauty or can't appreciate their worth.
They are beautiful, and for me just more proof of how creative and amazing our God is.

I love the look of the diamond that really has nothing to do with their worth.
I love the way the light plays off all it's facets. I also love how their seems to be a rainbow that is trapped inside bouncing off and reflecting the colors around it.
I rarely think about the original state that that diamond came in or the history of how it got to the state it is when I can admire it.

The root word in diamond means unconquerable and indestructible. It comes from the Greek word "Adamas".
When diamonds first start out they are not perfect and shiny, nor cut just right.
They are rough and raw and often much different looking then what we purchase in the jewelry stores.

They have to go through a process of refining. Even before they are found and dug up.
They are originally formed by incredible heat and pressure in the earth.
Diamonds are used to not only adorn our jewelry but to cut stone, metal, concrete, and even other gems. 
Meaning: they are very strong.
They are a wonder for much more than what we have commonly come to appreciate and know them for.
And it is for this reason that I am so fascinated by them.

And why lately I have been thinking about them in regards to my faith.

I want it to be strong. Unconquerable and indestructible.
But much like the diamond, it has to be refined. Cut and shaped. Polished and set.
Formed by intense heat and pressure.
It isn't until then that it can become truly beautiful. 
It can't have the strength and power that it does unless it has gone through the process that is necessary for it's outcome.

I have been walking around in wonder. 
Asking questions and in constant conversation with my Heavenly Father.
I have been still.... often crying in the silences.

I know what I want. 
And although I am still unsure as to how to get it, I am still willing.

Unshakeable, confident, unwavering faith.

I have doubted in the past that I can ever have it.
I am starting to believe that it is mine if I really want it.

But I am in the intense heat and pressure part of the process.
I still have so far to go.
So many I have shared with have been feeling the same way.
But we all feel the same sense of hope. 
The coming of something so much more and far more beautiful than our hoping for could ever produce.


Rare and precious.
Strong and pure.
Refined and with proven worth.

This is Faith in its truest form.

And it is what I am working toward.

.... until another tomorrow.


"1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

 3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

 6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him."  Romans 5: 1-8 , The Message Bible

Friday, October 9, 2009


Things are quickly changing around here.
My kids are growing at the speed of light.
Their likes and dislikes.
Their loves and hates.
And I am not always good at keeping up.
I tried to explain this phenomenon to a friend last night.
It feels like I'm on a treadmill that won't slow down and I think I might fall off.

This is how change can be.
I can keep up or get off.
I can whine and complain or I can hit my knees and cry out to the One who holds all of time in the palm of His hands.

I actually love change.
I love the adventure of it.
I've accepted that this is a integral part of life.
But I  fooled myself into thinking that I love all change.
I've learned by trial and error this season of my life that I don't really love all of it at all.

I don't love that my oldest child is going to leave soon.
I love that she is going to go out there and change the world. 
I love that she is pursuing her life long passion and dreams.
But I mourn the gaping hole that her leaving will bring  in our home.
I already feel the lack of her arms coming from around the back of me, hugging me close and telling me how much she loves me.

I'm not sure how to take the changes occurring in my youngest daughter.
She seems to finally have hit her "teen" years.
I'm not her favorite right now because I've chosen to be her mom and not her friend.
She is most like me.
I am positive that dealing with a very close life like clone of myself has to serve a higher purpose.
It most certainly has me on my knees. And has shown me glaringly the things in my life that still need some attention.

My son in growing so fast. So quick.
It feels like yesterday that we lay sprawled on the floor playing with his toy cars.
Wasn't it just moments ago that our house was filled with all things Buzz Lightyear?
Now there are soccer balls on the counter and baseballs strewn where I can trip on them.
My kitchen table has become his "dumping" ground.
But he still tells me he loves me.
He ignores my unmade up face and messy hair and tells me I'm beautiful.
He still loves to snuggle at night, but instead of begging for a story he tells me his latest sports facts.

I may not like all the changes going on right now, but I am learning to seek out the things that I need to grasp from them.

I am learning to be more sensitive.
I am trying to understand the perspective of one that is the age that I was not so long ago.
I am reaching out and trying to hold onto the precious moments and lock them away for a day that I will need them most.

And in the midst of all this change I feel the change in me.
The change of not wanting my own way but God's.
Praying harder and with more passion and fervor than I ever have before.
Seeking out God's direction and wisdom as fast as it takes me to utter and cry out the prayer or run to find my Bible.

And I know these changes are good. They are right.
Because they are drawing all of us closer to our Heavenly Father.
Knowing that none of our change surprises Him or mess with His day.

I am becoming more dependent on Him.
I am reaching out to others when I am hurting rather than hiding it away in the deep recesses of my heart to deal with on my own.
I am taking steps to check myself in every situation.
I am not good at it yet, but I am aware.

The change feels a lot like the changing of seasons.
The colors turning on the leaves, and the air bringing with it a bight of winter.  
The breeze promising  relief that is long overdue.
Every season in our lives is different.
It brings different change.
But the one thing that I have been clinging to the most, is the truth that no matter what season I am going through that God stays the same.
His "bigness" is more profound in those moments when my "smallness" is so evident. 
Although my children will continue to change, He will not.
When my treadmill begins to pick up speed and I begin to panic, His hands will reach down and hook underneath my arms and lift me up just enough until I can regain my footing and begin running again.

He is the calm in the storm. The One who commands my waives to cease their crashing.
He is the majestic lion that reminds me that His strength and power are far greater than my own.
And He is the gentle Father that gathers me into His arms and let's me cry out the tears of my heart and reminds me that I'm not alone.
In life and the changes of it.

He is with me.

And that never changes.

.... until another tomorrow.


"O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to your dwelling places. Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 43:3-5


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Beginnings of A Quest

How do you fight something that you don't quite understand?
Something so much larger than you?

I am unsure how to go up against the biggest obstacle in my life.
The feelings I keep feeling are contradictory.
I have been working my brain overtime.
I have been saturating myself with the Word and with every book I can get my hands on that is about knowing God. Scripturally based of course.
I realize that the keys to breaking the stronghold of fear in my life is knowing God, submitting to His authority, and trusting Him.
I have asked some pretty tough questions. Of God and of myself.
A lot of them.
Ones that I am seeking answers to.
I feel that I have been given the tools to fight but can not quite make them out. 
Things are still hazy and unclear.
I have been seeking wisdom. An instruction I know I have been given.
I have thrown myself headlong into this and I know that there is no going back.

I referred to this path I am currently walking in this season of my life as a quest.
There is no better word for it.
Quest means: the act of seeking, a journey for adventure, to search for, to ask for.

I'm not sure what kind of quest you are on.
Whether it is to find answers to questions and overcoming obstacles, much like me, or to seek to find what has been lost.
Maybe you are just hoping for more. Out of life.....or more than what you have been given.
I know so many who are seeking for happiness and meaning.
Everyones quests are different, but we all end up in one of two places.
Either understanding that which we sought to attain or even more lost than when we started out.

I have the distinct understanding that if that which we are seeking is self motivated, meaning for selfish gain, eliminating God out of the equation, then the result will always end on the road with no clarity or continued direction.
We are left lost and confused. More frustrated than when we began and not understanding why.
But if we truly are seeking to draw closer to Him, with a true desire to know Him more and ultimately give Him our hearts, then what we are most desiring to know and gain will come.
It may not look like we want it to. It may not have the shape or colors that we first supposed.
But we will know. And the reward will be the overcoming of the very things that have held us back for so long.

This journey is not easy. 
It is heart wrenching and hard.
My feet and hands are already showing the signs of the battle that I have just entered and begun.
They are already beginning to crack and bleed.
But His presence is unmistakable. 
His love undeniable.

Every morning when I wake up and don my armor I am fully aware.
More aware than I have ever been.
And I know that I am not alone.
Although this cause is mine to fight for..... the purpose is shared. By people I am close to, and those who I have never met but are connected in the faith.

The quest to know our Saviour more.
To understand Who our God is without doubt.
To allow full access for the Holy Spirit to do what He wants to do.
To allow for Him to show us and rid us of the things that are in the way of our growing and moving forward in His calling for our lives.
And to unequivocally walk with a confidence that we can not obtain on our own.
A surety of purpose and firmness in our steps.
And an understanding of who we are, because we know to Whom we belong.

I realize that my armor is going to get some scratches and dents.
I've realized that I may get battle weary and tired.
I know that there may be days that I might want to quit. To give up.
But I know that I won't.
Because I've already measured the distance from victory to failure.
And failure is not an option.
And it is a word not associated with my God.
I am His.
So nothing less is associated with me.

As I begin my day, fully equipped I will be praying.....
For all of the others who are entering the battle just like I am and for those who are already engaged.
And I am praying for the victory of us all.
Because when we overcome the enemy with the words of our testimony and the truths of Who God is...... he CAN NOT STAND.

I hope you are ready.
I have sensed a call that has gone out....... for those who believe and are willing and wanting more of God. Of what He is doing. And not being content with doing what has always been done.
He is on the move...... 
I pray that as the days begin to pick up and move toward what He is drawing us toward, that we will be ready.
And I pray that we will not ignore the call.
Our lives and the lives of those we love, and even ones that we have yet to meet depend upon it.

.....until another tomorrow.

Psalm 43:1-13
(I hope you get a chance to read it.) 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Beauty of Fear

I have begun what feels very much like a quest.
I have come to some very real conclusions about this journey and path that I am currently walking.

I have built up the sin of fear in my life because of various reasons.
The first and biggest may come as a surprise to you....... it is death.
I am afraid to die.
I am not afraid of where I will go or what my eternity will be.... I am confident about that fact alone.
I know with Whom I walk.... and I know that He is over me... protecting and covering.
But I have questions. And doubts.

Fear and death seem to go hand in hand.
Satan has tried for centuries to distort and disfigure the face of what death looks like.
Today is blatant evidence of that fact.
I have never seen so many horror movies put out or books about vampires, witches, and monsters.
It is even been touted as "romantic" and as "beautiful tragedy".
What is romantic about violence or tragedy?


And yet we as a society have chosen to entertain ourselves with the notion that this is all okay.... beautiful even...... accepted.
And it is false.
God warns us over and over to be careful. To be wise. And to be aware of the traps of our enemy.
What is being sold as beautiful and exciting is hiding something far more dangerous.

I wouldn't let my daughter read the most popular vampire series to hit bookstands a few years back.
It was new, fresh, the author gifted with her worded descriptions.
And I said no.
But not before I read it myself. I didn't get through it. I couldn't. And I'll tell you why......

I never tell my children no without a reason. It is just the way I do things. They are allowed to respectfully question.... but my word stands. And they know that when I say no that there is a deeper reason why. And they have learned to come and trust me. Even if they don't agree.

My daughter brought the book home one day, borrowed from a friend, and asked me to take a look.
She shared her desire to read the series, but knew my policy on non-christian books and fiction.
So I did what I do.... I sat down and began to read. And I prayed.
I fell asleep that night with the book on my lap.
I awoke sometime in the middle of the night, heart pounding and the feeling of a very real presence in the room that I had felt before.

It was fear.

I knew the drill. I began to pray and intercede and ask God not only for His presence but for His discernment and help to identify why I was feeling what I was feeling.
The answer was quick and sure..... it was the book that I was holding in my hands.
I do not hold with new age thought or weird spiritualistic practices... but I do believe in the spirit realm that is outlined very clearly in scripture.

When morning hit I immediately went to my computer and researched the author.
I found out some very interesting things about her.
She is Mormon. And her faith is very important to her. So much so, that she details that she weaves Mormon theology throughout every book she writes. I also learned that contrary to most Mormons I have met, which have been very nice people by the way, her moral compass did not seem to gage with what she professed to so passionately believe in.
This was confirmation in it's truest form for me.
My daughter listened and agreed to not read any more of the books.

Years later.... to today, it has become a cult fad. Even among Christians.
I have been puzzled by this to no end.
And a fact I have recently learned is that the last book was so violent, gory, and explicit that many people that we know were disturbed by it.
But it has been romanticized, and therefore has been made to be okay.
Fear and the lie of tragic death being good is not okay.
And my opinion and thought is not the popular one. Nor accepted. Because it stands against everything that we are being sold as valued goods.... when if fact it is rotting trash.
I know this thought can breed controversy..... this isn't my intention, my heart, or even my goal. 
But I am determined
I don't answer to any man.
I answer to only One. And His opinion is the one that I am most concerned with.

I realize that the facets of my fear has many faces. 
I am facing them all. One by one.
To me, this one is the worst. And the one that seems to have the strongest hold on so many.
We have invited it in. Or it has been let in by others without our consent.
Either way, it is here and is demanding to be dealt with.

To know truth, we have to know the Giver of truth.
To know the lies, we have to identify the liar. And recognize the authority we have given over to him. 

I did not plan to go in this direction. My heart was headed in an entirely different train of thought.
I guess it will hold.... this quest is just beginning..... and I have only just begun.

.... until another tomorrow.


"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way." Psalm 139:23,24

Monday, October 5, 2009

Heart Laid Bare

I hesitate to write today.
I feel as though I don't have anything to offer, but so much I can say.

After posting my last blog I have felt vulnerable. Exposed. And Bare.
It has been surreal for me.
From the beginning I put conditions on what I would say or not say.
Mostly to keep myself safe. To keep my heart guarded and protected. And hidden.
But God has been drawing from far deeper places than I have wanted to go.
Or expose for that matter.....
He has been asking for far more than I originally wanted to give.

The fact that God is pulling from deep within can have many resounding effects. 
In me and on those around me.
And they are not all positive.
This is the hardest part of what I do. Why I have considered not doing it any more so often.
I don't want to hurt anyone. I don't want to cause pain.
And I realize that sharing my heart will effect whoever chooses to come along..... but I wish that that only meant good things and not the things that would bring some people to a place of profound hurt.

I know that it is not always me. I realize that God is allowing so many to read and reflect. 
I only want to help and offer hope.
But I also know that the journey that I set out on not so long ago has brought me to this place, and I can't and shouldn't forsake what God is wanting and longing to do.

But that doesn't make this any easier. And when I hear from others, especially those that I love, and they are impacted in such a way that I don't always  know is positive, I am left unsure with what to do and how to proceed.

I want to be faithful.
I want to honor God above all else.
And I want to be honest.

My heart has been laid open and not all of it is pretty.
In fact most of it is not.
But it is real.
And it is in it's truest rawest form.

I have been praying and hoping that though I have chosen to be obedient to what I feel God has led me to do, that I also won't get in the way. 
And that I will do it with a heart that is completely set on glorifying Him and proclaiming the truth of who He is.
In my life, and hopefully in the life of every believer.
And I hope in some measure that it may even draw the one whose never believed or has walked away.

My heart is to dig deeper..... reach farther..... and go to a place so profound that I will never be the same.
And my hope is that you will never be the same either.

That the offerings of this world will not satisfy any more.
That the pet sins that we have been feeding will die away as we begin to starve them when we begin meeting with our God who is so faithful that He is willing to meet us anytime we come.
That our time with Him will begin to draw out the poisons and toxic beliefs that we have put on as we would a favorite sweatshirt or coat.
That all that we have come to regard as "truths" in our lives that have really been disguised lies would be exposed in light of what the truth really is.

I hope that in some small measure that not only I can make a difference in sharing my heart but it will encourage others to go out and share theirs. 
To not be afraid.
To be open and willing to do what God is calling you to do in accordance to His word and His precepts for our live.

Even if it hurts.
A little or a lot.
The reward, I have a feeling, is more than we can imagine.
I hope that I will not be alone in the laying out of my heart, knowing that the master surgeon is the one who is carefully handling every detail.
And that the outcome will be a heart that is not only mended but made more whole than it was to begin with.

.....until another tomorrow.


"I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving-kindness and Your truth from the great congregation. You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your loving-kindness and Your truth continually preserve me. " Psalm 40:10,11

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grappling and Grasping

A grapple: an instrument for hooking or holding; to seize; to lay fast hold of, to grip.
Grasping: seizing; avaricious; to grasp is to grip, to comprehend.

These words have similar meanings and are similar in their function.
I have been living out them both.
I have been grappling and grasping.
There has been this something that has had it's grasp on me for so long. 
It came calling last night with a vengeance. 

And it doesn't want to let go. 
This behemoth obstacle that I can't just toss off and fling away. 
I have grappled with it for most of my life. 
Tried to grasp why it has been allowed to have this power over me. 
At times it is weak, hardly able to hold onto me.... and at other times so strong that it is twisting my arm painfully behind me forcing me to my knees crying out in pain.

I have been content before to just push it, sometimes even shoving it aside, and continuing on my way.
Ignore it if I have to.
But I have reached a point in my life when it is staring me down, right smack in the middle of my road. And I can't get around it. Not this time.
I know that the time has come to deal with it once and for all.
It is threatening so much. My life, my faith, and the very life of my children.
I am afraid.
I am afraid of the questions. Scared of the answers. Of all the unknowns.
But it won't let me pass this time and standing beyond it..... is my Heavenly Father.
He is behind it. 
Not only in where He is standing in proximity, but in the reason it is now something that I must face and deal with.

For so long I have blamed the devil.
It has been easier that way. In many ways.
And I don't doubt that he has used it in my life many times. 
To cripple me and hold me back.
To render me immobile for periods of time.
But I have been forced..... to look it right in the face..... eye to eye....... and decide.
To acknowledge that what I once thought I had defeated long ago has just been lying in wait. For the right time..... 
Am I going to take it on? Am I capable? Am I ready?
I don't "feel" strong enough.

And yet.... when I look beyond it, into the eyes of my God.... I see reassurance.
Confidence I don't feel..... that I don't have.

I know it is in the way.
The last "big" thing between me and Him.
I feel it growing. Not just in width trying to block out my view of Him who means most, but in height too.
I can feel it's shadow and the acrid breath as it leans in and gets right in my face.
I want to shrink back.
To cry and drop my head.
I want to run.
But I have been given a choice.
If I turn, I have this deep seeded feeling that I will never know what is just on the other side.
Promises I have waited so long for that I have often despaired that I will never see them with my own eyes.
No one can help me. 
I know this strongly.
It is my own fight. My battle that needs to be either won or given up on.
If I don't fight and face my enemy head on, he will forever stalk me.
Waiting for the right moments to strike.
To lay me low. To kill me. And the faith that has carried me for so long.
I may get up, but I won't be the same.

I want this victory.

I am tired of his taunts.

Of his torment.

I hate him. This thing.
No longer willing to be pushed out of the way or put aside for later...... he is demanding my full attention.

His name is fear. 

And his arsenal is full.
My own seems paltry by comparison.

"How am I supposed to defeat him God?"

I need You........ he has made me afraid.
To trust..... to draw any closer to You.
I am afraid that when he is out of the way that the God I want so desperately to know will not be the God I believed You to be.
It has been easier to have him there. The undeniable enemy. 
Instead of discovering the things about You that I can't understand. 
Accepting what I can not change.

Faintly...... softly.... like the whisper of a winter wind bringing with it the promise of more.....
I can hear it........
The sound is almost weakened by the pounding of my heart and the tremors that have taken me over.

......... "know me."........
           ....."Know me".......
                    ...."Know Me".......
                              ..."KNOW ME".....

....until another tomorrow.