The key to obedience….

To everything there is a season….          Ecclesiastes 3:1 

After weeks of prayer….I turned in my key yesterday. Not the key to my work…..not the key to an old home after moving to another. Although it is a home of sorts. It’s the place where my family lives. The place where I know I am loved without judgement. The place where I became a part of….where healing of old hurts took place because of love. I turned my key in to my old church home….and it was difficult to know this chapter was closing…but I’ve walked this road long enough to know sometimes we are called to the hard things.

A few months ago, I began the role in leadership of Celebrate Recovery in another church in my community. It has been an amazing experience. As we started meeting weekly two of my friends that attend my church asked within a week’s time if I felt like I was being drawn to that other church….if I felt like I was being led to attend there with my CR people…..and I hadn’t really thought about it….I was convinced God needed me at my church as He has used my transparency to foster change among the women there.

Shortly after….it came….a stirring of conviction……keenly aware of a prompt to visit there the following Sunday….and I prayed all week….trying to make sure. Sunday morning came and I almost stayed in bed as it would have been the easiest decision to just do nothing….but I knew in that the enemy gets a victory so I prayerfully got ready….no idea where I was headed in my Sunday clothes…..only knowing I was going to church….but still unsure of which until I got in my van, backed out into the street, at the stop sign, I prayed again….then felt compelled to turn left. I sat with another CR leader in sea of mostly unfamiliar faces….but felt peace about being there. After, I felt like I needed to be open to changing my church home. I felt that we, my husband and I needed to really pray about this decision.

I prayed about that discussion….talking to my hubby. I had an uneasiness about his reaction and I tried to put it off…but feeling conviction….I bit the bullet. I prayed and asked God that if He wanted us to consider this change that He would make it clear by my hubby’s agreement to at least consider it. My husband’s reaction was totally not what I expected. My hubby agreed….wholeheartedly agreed….and we had the most spiritually encouraging conversation….and it seemed  not only like confirmation but I began to recognize this change, this change of homes…..may not be about me. Celebrate Recovery may simply be the vehicle God used to drive me to the stop sign….to be willing to choose left. This past month every Sunday we’ve gone left. My husband’s mind made up after a couple of weeks….and although I had peace while I was there…and even through the week…..I drug my feet…..I didnt want to say it with finality….didn’t want to yield to permanently leaving the safety of His flock of my people…the family I had grown to love. Don’t get me wrong this new church is a good church……I feel welcome and it too is an awesome church with good leadership, solidly grounded in the Word of God. The only problem…..it isn’t home. Yet I knew in my heart of hearts my resistance to this change was disobedient.

So I made an appointment with the Pastor who had been spiritually challenging me weekly for the past five years…..a man I respect tremendously. As I explained what brought me in…..and even though during the conversation, I tried to keep the finality of this decision at bay…..I knew. I knew this was the last time I would walk in as a member…..I knew that I needed to walk out surrendered to that fact. It became clear what I needed to do…..I dug in my pocket for my key….my symbol of belonging to this home of God’s family at the corner of 6th and Lincoln…..and gently layed it in Pastor’s hand.

And I grieved the loss of my home the second I walked out the door….yielding is painful sometimes…..

…..but I know there is a room full of women in my Friday CR group who need to find their church home too….who need to find the healing that I have found through the unconditional love and acceptance of those church ladies at my old home church. That this new home of mine was slowly becoming their home….every Friday night……and that home is the easiest door to walk through. I recognize that the other CR members and I can be the bridge for those women and others to walk in the door on Sunday morning. Likewise, maybe because of our obedience, the new church home can be a bridge for my husband and I to a new level of commitment to God in our lives and our marriage.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own underatanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct  your path.                 Proverbs 3:5-6

Advertisements

Oh God, how I need You…..

He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20

We all need healing…we are all broken people….broken from sin….sometimes broken from addictions….hurts from abuse…..broken humans in desperate need of healing.   When we accept Christ as our Savior….healing begins….our sins are forgiven….we are reconciled.   As we cry out….His blood….His amazing grace flowing red….warm….splashes over us…..covers every sin….covering the ugliness….with His beauty. Salvation is an amazing gift!  

Salvation started my healing….but my healing has been and continues to be….a journey.   When I spend time with Him…seek Him….study His word….I experience my Healer reaching down to bring more healing….this healing, unlike my salvation is a process.  

I know His word is powerful….spending time with Him brings healing….peace….joy.  Lately spending time in the Word is a bit of a struggle….my desire to study….my hunger for the Word….surpressed.  I am still in the Word…..but mainly out of obedience….because I know I need to stay close to my Healer….stay in His Word….armour up every day.   This season of lack of hunger for His word has gone on awhile.  One of my friends mentioned John 15 yesterday….and Jesus wanting an intimate, abiding relationship with us.  I recognize the intimacy I had with my Jesus slipping further away….if this were any other relationship….the likely cause of decreased intimacy is my wall building…..and I need to examine my heart….am I stiff arming Jesus…in some warped method of self protection….  I know I need Him….I desperately need Him…..but I’m not desperate for Him…..I want my hunger to be for Him….not for things of this world.   Usually by the end of my blog….He helps me tie up the loose ends into a conclusion of truth…..today this song is where my mind keeps going…..I sometimes use songs as prayers as I kneel before the Lord…..I sing to Him…..words that my heart longs to express….Lord…I NEED You….Oh I need You…..Oh, God how I need You.  

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

To teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus,

-Matt Maher

Dear Daughter Who Feels Forsaken…..

Another Hallmark holiday at the door…..for those of us who haven’t had greeting  card sentiment relationships….it can be a difficult time.   Perhaps your relationship with your father was strained….difficult…abusive.  If that is you…..picture these words on the prettiest card you’ve ever seen.

Dear Daughter Who Feels Forsaken,

I know It hurts when one of the most foundational relationships in our lives….isn’t picture perfect.   We longed for a dad….a daddy.  That big strong man….arms open wide to scoop us up to his shoulder.  A daddy who’s love for us we could always count on…..a daddy who protected us and kept us safe.  A daddy who wanted us….encouraged us…cherished us.

Oh my fellow sojourner…..we do!  “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10). God loves us so much, He sent His son to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16)    Our loving Heavenly Father can be the Dad we’ve always longed for….when we believe in Christ for salvation….we become children of God. “you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.  Now we call him, “‘Abba Father'” (Romans 8:15).  We can call God our Abba Father!  We can have the intimate relationship we have longed for….in our Heavenly Father.   He is a Father who wants us……not only did He adopt us, the Bible says He predestined us for adoption (Ephesians 1:5).  So before we even knew we needed a Daddy…..He had already adopted us!

He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).   Nothing we have done or will ever do….can separate us from the everlasting love of God.    Let me say that again, “there is nothing in all creation,  that will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Roman’s 8:39).  We have the Daddy we longed for…..He is our Big, Strong Daddy,  He scoops us up and sets us on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31).  He is not only strong Dad, He is our strength….our refuge (Psalm 46:1).    With our Everlasting Father…not only do we feel safe….He IS our safe place!  “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” (Psalm 18:2).  We are safe….protected…..loved!

God will never abuse us.  He calls us precious….and He honors us (Isaiah 43)……He doesn’t just treat us respectfully…..He honors us….cherishes us.  Oh daughter, we are not forsaken, because our  Heavenly Father will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

He is always with us.  “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness;he will quiet you by his love;he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Just think….right now, our Heavenly Father is singing over us….He’s singing the song our heart longed to hear..the jovial birthday chorus…..the Sunshine song when our feelings were hurt…..Butterly Kisses.…the lullabye in the dark of the night….He sings for you….with you….about you.

For you……He sings!

 

 

Serving with Jesus…

Jesus take all of me
I run to You, I run to You,
I lay everything at Your feet
Let my life be Yours!!

This familiar chorus is my heart’s cry….to be fully surrendered….totally yielded to my Jesus….that every part of my life be His….to honor and glorify Him!

The past few days, I’ve been thinking about the phrase: “Do with, not for”…this slogan is the backbone of the field in which I work, supporting people who have intellectual disabilies.  We “do with”, not “for” so people can be actively involved in their day and lives.  

For – is a preposition, and the most likely definition in this context is: “in the interest of; on behalf of”  

With – also a preposition meaning “in relation to especially implying interaction or connection”.  

Yesterday…..this came to mind not in a vocational application…..but a spiritual application.  I was thinking about how important it is for us to minister with God, rather than for God.  Maybe this is just a play on words….but the more I thought about it, the more it resonated and began to seem more and more that God wanted to remind me to work with Him….as His servant.   This familiar slogan was God’s way of getting my attention.  

When we are doing something for someone…..we often insinuate they need us in order to complete the task.  Sometimes when pride gets out of control we believe God can’t do x,y or z without our help.  What we fail to realize, God doesn’t need us…..He has all of the resources one could have at His finger tips.   He doesn’t need us.  He uses us…..not out of need…..but out of love.  He gives us opportunities to minister and serve so He can bless us.  

Often doing for God is out of religious duty, rather than for His glory as we were created. When we minister for God….we are often exercising our independence….doing things in our own strength.   However, when we minister with God, we are dependent on His strength and power.   When we minister with God…..we are actively engaged in letting Him do His work through us.  We are yielding in humility to be His vessel.  

There’s been a lot of ministry in my world lately.  This was a good reminder to me to make sure I am not doing things in my own strength. That I am serving with Him not for Him.  I’ve found myself there at times over the years;  I know that in my own strength not much good gets done.  I need to yield to let Him work through me.    Without Jesus I am powerless and my life is unmanageable…..that’s not anything anyone else wants!  With Jesus, I am forgiven, joyous and free!  

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.            

2 Corinthians 4:5‭-‬7 

Rose for my Momma…..

I took my momma a rose for Mother’s Day today.  As I got out of the car, the familiar scent of honeysuckle, lilac and pine greeted me…..and with it images of my young momma hanging clothes on the line as she sang an old hymn to pass the time.  

My mom and I never really got along…..or probably the truth of the heart is….I never really wanted to.  Growing up I saw my mom as weak because she didn’t protect her children…….she saw me as headstrong and prideful like my father….she tried, as any mother would do to squelch those qualities….but like a young, wild horse….it only made me more determined….more obstinate.  

My mom was abusive at times…..I think out of frustration for the mess that was her life…..being married to my dad was a tough road….one no young bride would embrace with excitement.   It was evident she stayed for my sister and I, filing for divorce a few months before we turned 18…..learning once again my father had an affair……this time with her beloved best friend.

I write this not as evidence against my mother….but I want to paint a picture of how messy our relationship was in my younger years.   Truly, my mom had a beautiful heart…..she loved Jesus….had the most beautiful child-like faith.   My mom loved everyone and would do anything for anyone.   But like anything else that came from 729 HCR 37…..our relationship was broken……we were broken.   

Yesterday, it was with deep regret, with my rose in hand that I didn’t get past that brokenness…..the unforgiveness….until a decade ago.  As I laid the rose on my momma’s name etched in granite….1945-2007….I lamented for all the Mother’s Day that I wasn’t available….didn’t make her a priority.   As I looked down at the Easter peeps my son left for his beloved grandma….his only grandparent…..her only grandchild, I said outloud….”she WAS an awesome grandma.”    

I remembered the day I had to tell that boy, now man that his beloved grandma wasn’t going to make the night.  The day the decision was placed on my shoulders…..a surgery that would surely kill as her weak body succumbed…..or to die peacefully surrounded by her family.   Being obstinate and headstrong……part of me wanted to fight….but it wasn’t my fight….knowing my momma’ s love for my boy……she would have wanted to spend every precious second that night with the boy who had brought her so much joy…..we….my sister….he and I held her hand as her heart beat for the last time.   

Hours earlier…..knowing I may not ever get another opportunity…..I had made my amends to my mother…..long over due…..I forgave my mom….forgiveness was a choice that I had refused to make….until the last hours…..headstrong…..obstinate…..selfish.  My mom had tried so hard to mend fences…..win me over….but I would have none of it.   As I grieved my momma’ s death…..I also grieved the relationship that never was…..a relationship that never can be.   

I share my heart today…..Mother’s Day eve…..to give you a glimpse inside of the hurt my old behavior still causes as I stand over my Momma’s grave.   If you are holding unforgiveness or bitterness toward your mom…..let go of that today.  Forgiveness is a choice.  Take your mom some flowers, FTD them if the distance warrants…..give them….and yourself generously while she can still enjoy it.   Even if for no other reason…..she chose you….when she chose life.  Unforgiveness…..is an ugly thing….we really have no idea what it robs from us….but certainly our joy….our peace….relationships.  God will provide us with the grace we need to choose forgiveness.  And if, like me….. showing your mother love today means a rose on a headstone…….it’s worth the tears.  

My Son Lost His Grandma

My son lost his Grandma, 
She left us late last night, 
She’d been a wonderful grandma 
To my son all of his life. 

The night he was born, 
She was there with great pride. 
Bragging and boasting 
What a beautiful baby boy! 

It wasn’t long and into the car, 
Cruising around the town, 
Just one boy, his Grandma 
And one steep “whee” hill. 

Lots of fond memories, 
My son will always cherish, 
You were the best Grandma, 
My son could ever have. 

Days pass to years, 
And he is half grown, 
Sometimes it is so hard 
For Grandmas to let go. 

Grandma, I am going to play Football – 
Oh no that’s dangerous! 
But you cheered all the way, 
Go Grandson go! 

We wanted you to stay, 
A few more years at least, 
To see “your boy” 
Grow up to become a man. 

He was there with you, 
With all of us last night, 
He said “Grandma I love you.” 
And held on tight to your hand. 

But we knew the end was near, 
And he cried lots of tears. 
Sometimes it is so hard 
For Grandsons to let go.       

CKH 

600 double portions…..

 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.  Isaiah 61:7

This past weekend I had the amazing oppurtunity to attend the Celebrate Recovery One Day Seminar in Des Moines.  Since sobering up in my early 20’s, I have spent many weekends at recovery conferences…..but never anything quite like this! Six hundred men and women in recovery…..who loved Jesus!  Surrounding me under a beautiful, life-size cross….in a beautiful church…...were leaders and potential leaders of Celebrate Recovery.    We began the day worshipping the one true Higher Power…..Jesus! I have to tell you…..I cried…..tears of gratitude for the grace and mercy our Jesus lavished upon us….not only to be in recovery….saved from hell….and promised a mansion for eternity….but we experience a front row seat to Jesus using the Celebrate Recovery program to bring freedom to others.   We get to be His vessels…..we get to lead the hurting….the broken to Jesus through the Celebrate Recovery program!   I am amazed and humbled by His love for us….for me.    Many of us lived in shame and dishonor…..but our Jesus rescued us by grace.  I can think of no greater blessing on this Earth than to be used by God to help bring freedom in Christ to my sisters in bondage.  We deserve shame and dishonor….but Jesus….died so we can live in forgiveness and freedom….and He uses us to help others find freedom in Him.  That’s to me is the double portion!  

One of the videos they showed was of a child maybe 10-12 years old getting baptized….that hit me heavy in the heart…..not only do we have potential to see chains broken in those attending Celebrate Recovery…..but we can be a part of chains breaking from families by the power of Jesus…that were tethered for generations!    Having lived in generational bondage…..the thought of generational freedom makes me want to shout “hallelujah! Praise the Lord”…..and with arms high in praise….I did just that.  He is worthy to be praised!  Thank You Jesus for the Celebrate Recovery program! Thank You Jesus for Your grace that brings us forgiveness and freedom!  Thank You Jesus for a double portion,  when instead we deserve the fiery pit.  

“Praise the Lord! It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant and a song of praise is fitting.” (Psalm 147:1)