Sunday, July 29, 2012

In His Presence


What a hiatus, right?  One minute I'm here, and the next I'm MIA...Needless to say, the blog has had to take a bit of a backseat for the past almost, eh um(clearing my throat) two months.  How did the time escape me?

Well, I can tell you one thing.  While I have missed the outlet of writing, God has more than compensated me for my time away.  In the past weeks, since the "launch date" for Sunday evening worship, He has pushed me well beyond the limits of my comfort zone...I have had sleepless nights. Nights spent sitting at the piano, playing song after song with chord sheets spread out in front of me, forcing myself to look at each chord as I strike the keys...hour upon hour.  Day upon day of learning to play so that I can follow.  So that I can lead.  I have spent endless days in prayer, waiting on the Holy Spirit to reveal songs to me.  Waiting for God to speak to my heart about what He wants, versus what I want, what anyone wants.  My prayer has been, "What is it that You want us to bring to you?  What is it that you want us to hear from You?  What is it that You want to say to us?  What do you want to do through us?"

He has continually searched my heart.  He has found someone imperfect.  He has found someone who has been known to lose her patience.  Someone who gets confused and discouraged. Someone who isn't always pulled-together and kind.  He has found a woman who has been know to yell at her kids.  He has found someone who struggles with self-doubt and questions her value, when she forgets to see herself through His eyes.  He has found someone who puts her foot in her mouth on occasion.  Who acts out of haste and often regrets it.  Someone who worries when she should just trust.  Someone who has to remind herself of the One who died for her, and how much He cherishes her.  Someone whose first instinct is not always to react with love and patience.

Most importantly, to Him, I know He has found the heart of a worshiper.  He has found me emptied in dire need of being filled with Him.  With His presence.  With His love.  He has found a woman who desires nothing more than to be in constant conversation with Him...a woman who wants her life, her voice, her heart to be poured out for Him.  A woman who doesn't want to do anything unless He is in the midst of it.  He has found someone whose heart's desire is to be a David...or an Obed-Edom, someone we have spent the last month learning about on Sunday nights, thanks to Pastor Chris.  

Here is a link to an amazing summary of this man's life and legacy:*if link doesn't work, copy and paste into your search engine : ))

Just the day of Obed-Edom, the presence of God was contained in the Ark of the Covenant.  It was contained in a physical, moveable and RE-moveable "box", so to speak.  If someone removed the Ark from your presence, they took God with them.  You had one of two choices.  You could remain where you were, void of God's presence or follow the Ark.  Obed-Edom chose to do the latter.  He had become so addicted to the presence of God, to the blessing of God, to hearing from God, that he refused to be away from Him.  He made the decision to go wherever God went, just to be near to Him. 

We live in a time now in which we have the Holy Spirit living in us. God is with us.  In us.  Living through us, as we call on His name and enter into His presence, found in our "secret place" with Him.  I found an amazing resource for teaching this.  Here is the link:

In the past month and a half, I have become more free than I've ever been in my life...and in my worship.  God has already begun to move in the hearts of His people.  Lives are being not only changed but transformed.  I am experiencing and seeing true, abandoned, pure worship.  In His presence is fullness of joy.  In His presence is healing, hope, salvation, forgiveness, love, redemption, and freedom.  Only in His presence is life truly as beautiful and magnificent as He designed it to be.  He created all of us for worship.  He created all of us for a loving that can only manifest itself as we draw near to Him and spend time getting to know Him.  Getting to know His voice.  Allowing Him to see every part of us.  The deepest parts of our hearts.  Our hurt.  Our sin.  And, the relationship with the living God is the only one in our lives in which we will be invited to come just as we are, asked to settle in...and STAY. He wants us to come to Him and never leave.  I am overwhelmed by His glorious love every moment of every day of my life.

I hope all of you are as blessed as I have been to take part in this journey~the journey of growing in Christ; growing as a worshiper, and yielding to God's calling.  His blessings will far outweigh any of the challenges I may face for stepping out in faith.  Thank you for all of you who have continued to pray for me and my family and my team; for those of you who have stopped to offer encouragement, and for those of you who come out on Sundays and worship at the feet of Jesus with us. 

Thank you forever.  May you all be blessed~ 



Friday, June 8, 2012

A Hope and a Future

How many of you have ever read this scripture?  The Bible is so full of inspiration, love stories, adventures, and God's promises to His people.  These words are so simple, yet mean so very much to me; even taken out of context...

In their fullness, they read like this, Jeremiah 29:11-14 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” 

Now, I don't know about you, but I've been in exile...more than once as a matter of fact.  At times, I led myself into it.  Other times, I was led...And, yet others, I know that, out of love for me, God had placed me there.  Remember though, whenever He takes something away from us, or lets us experience that time in captivity; when we ultimately admit our helplessness and begin looking for Him, He will always show up.  There isn't a blessing that He doesn't wish to pour out on us.  There isn't an ounce of His love that He hides from us.  Even when we choose to run from Him, He pursues us with overflowing love and mercy and gives us the grace to turn around and run into His loving arms.

I look back on my life...I see the pain.  The loss.  The abandonment.  I see the heartache that, at times, was almost too much to take..the kind of pain I had to force myself to breathe through, just so I didn't die...and not that I didn't want to die...I did.  I see the sin.  The hurt inflicted on others.  I see the disappointments...the regret...the failures...But wait~far above that, I see my heart made new.  I see the old me dying.  I see my eyes set on a God who makes me keenly aware of the times He stepped in and blessed me.  The forgiveness He so freely gave me.  The victories He brought me into.  The desires of my heart being fulfilled. His provision and faithfulness.  His longing to have meALL of me.  To use me, as imperfect as I may be, to build His kingdom and to bring people into His presence.  I see the people He set on my path...the seeds they planted in me...the utterances from my spirit in THEIR presence that set my life's purpose and destiny into motion.  I see my sister in her solitude.  In her bravery.  In her deep devotion to her Lord and Savior. I see those who reached out to me as God led them to...who prayed for me...who prayed with me...I see me on my face before the Lord who healed me and set me free... 
I see my life as nothing without Him and everything with Him.   

This Sunday, I will step into brand new territory.  I have been called to lead worship on Sunday evenings at my church.  While it is such an honor, it is also such a weighty responsibility.  My family and I have already begun to experience what the enemy can stir up when he feels threatened.  I am choosing to press in.  Press through.  Fight with all I have. God says that "no weapon formed against us shall prosper".  My faith is in Him, His word, and His promises.  

Thank you for all who are part of this body of Christ.  Thank you for those who have prayed for me and my family; for my ministry as God grows and challenges me.  Please continue to lift us up in prayer.  I pray that my heart would remain pure.  That my eyes would remain fixed on the Lord, and that I would be completely open to anything He wants to do through me.   

I want nothing more than to sing people into His presence, and allow them to catch even a glimpse of His heart...Once it was revealed to me, I couldn't help but want to share it.

Be blessed.  Thank you all~

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

Okay~I have to admit that I watched this over and over once I found it~I thought it would be best to start off with something funny, since the discussion itself could be quite serious, a little gross even, and well, maybe even....boring.

Thank God for Geico commercials!  While my husband doesn't think they're the least bit funny, I could watch them all day long.  For me, they rank right up there with HGTV design episodes or Seinfeld reruns.  Yep.  Thought I'd just put myself out there... 

 So, you guessed it~This post is about SUSHI!!

Sushi (すし, 寿司, 鮨, 鮓, 寿斗, 寿し, 壽司?) is a Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice (shari) combined with other ingredients (neta). Neta and forms of sushi presentation vary, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari. The most common neta is seafood.
Raw meat sliced and served by itself is sashimi.

The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi (馴れ寿司, 熟寿司), was first developed in Southeast Asia, and spread to south China before introduction to Japan.[citation needed] The term sushi comes from an archaic grammatical form no longer used in other contexts; literally, sushi means "sour-tasting", a reflection of its historic fermented roots. The oldest form of sushi in Japan, narezushi, still very closely resembles this process, wherein fish is fermented via being wrapped in soured fermenting rice. The fish proteins break down via fermentation into its constituent amino acids. The fermenting rice and fish results in a sour taste and also one of the five basic tastes, called umami in Japanese.[1] In Japan, narezushi evolved into oshizushi and ultimately Edomae nigirizushi, which is what the world today knows as "sushi".

I am a huge fan of sushi~Have been for a long, long time.  It's something my oldest son and I have eaten regularly since he was five...Many times, we would be in a restaurant, and people around us would exclaim, "Oh my gosh!! He's eating that, and that green seaweed stuff, and with chopsticks, and he likes it?!!"

Then, they'd go on to tell me that all their kids would eat were chicken fingers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. How did I get him to like this?

Simply this.  I exposed him to a wide variety of foods, from the time he began with finger foods.  I varied the shapes, sizes, textures, cooking processes.  I fed him every fruit and veggie that found its way into the kitchen.  I experimented a lot with baking and cooking different things.  There was always something going on in my kitchen.

So, it came as no surprise to me when he wanted to try sushi.  And, like my experience, it was love at first bite!! 

I still remember the first time I tried it myself.  This was prior to meeting my current husband, by the way, just for the record : ))  

I was dating this guy who was in the advertising business.  He had a lot of money, and it was common for him and his associates to eat sushi several nights a week.  I,myself, was a single mom, putting myself through school and raising a child on, lets just say, close to nothing.

He picked me up for a date one evening, and announced that he was taking me out for a surprise...He uncovered my eyes when we got inside, and here on the table in front of me, was a huge spread of sushi.  I had read all about the "risks" involved. (We were, after all, in Oklahoma City..Where was this from? Louisiana??)

Anyhoo, he reassured me that it was safe, and that he'd eaten at this place countless times.  So, we sat down and prepared to dive in.  Armed with my chopsticks, I went in for the kill.  That's when he stopped me and said, "Wait, Jacque.  I know you love hot stuff.  This will knock your socks off!"  That's when I met the green-mush-love-of-my-life.  His name is Wasabi.

Again, in the spirit of keepin' it light around here today~More about why that's so important today, later...stay tuned.  I'm reeling you in now...And, no, this isn't to rally support of Budweiser...and probably even more funny if you have ever seen the string of Superbowl-birthed "What's UP?" commercials prior to it!

So, I was asked to just take a big chunk of this green stuff, Wasabi, and put it in my mouth.  No sushi buffer.  No ice cubes on the side.  No milk to chase it down with.  I had never experienced anything in my life even close to it, and this is coming from a gal who has been eating jalapenos and every other imaginable hot thing since I was a tiny little girl.

The first physiological response to this stuff?? I thought my brain was on fire!  Then my eyes started to burn...I had the strange feeling they might try to escape from my nostrils.  No joke here.  My sinuses felt like someone had power washed them with Pine Sol.  And then~

It was gone.  Done. Over.  No lingering burning sensation that would prevent me from tasting the rest of the meal.  No glass of milk-chaser needed.  No running to find a piece of bread or cheese.  None of the after-effects I'd experienced with jalapenos or any other type of hot peppers.  I was hooked!!

So, there you have it.  The sushi followed.  It was delicious, fresh, light, and just perfect with the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce.  I had become a fan for life.

Fast-forward to this past Monday night.  Amos had a late afternoon dentist appointment that ended 1 hour before my worship practice began.  That meant I had to get to the supermarket, grab something for dinner, get home, cook, and get out the door in the next 50 minutes.  Whew!

So, off we went.  We had picked up a couple of items in the produce department, some beans for the soup, came around the bend and grabbed a half-gallon of almond milk, and then it happened.  IT meaning the sighting.  It went something like this....

Amos and I had just been talking about how hungry we were.  How short on time we were.  He hadn't eaten since 11 that morning, and was starving.  I was looking at running out the door with no dinner.  We looked up and saw row upon row of...

Both of our faces lit up!!  This was an answer to all of our dilemmas (for now anyway).  He could have a healthy "snack", and I could stuff dinner in my face on the drive home.  Not much conversing about this one.  He chose an Alaskan roll, and I chose a spicy tuna.  Checked out.  Everyone to the car.  Buckled in.  Let dinner begin!

I went to practice that night.  Amos stayed home and helped with his brother.  Everyone went to bed.  Several times during the night, I was awakened with the onset of what seemed to be a pretty bad headache, along with stomach spasms.  

When the alarm went off, I got up to go make sure Amos was awake.  I almost fell into the door.  I stumbled into his room, groggy and dizzy.  Yes, he was up.  I was pretty sure at that point that my brain might explode out of the front of my face, so I dragged my feet back into the bedroom and threw myself onto the bed.

I heard him in the bathroom.  He was taking forEVER to get ready.  I thought he might miss the bus, so I got up and made my way to the door to tell him to hurry.  He mumbled, "Okay Mom."  A few minutes later, I heard him leave.

My husband had to take the baby that morning because I could not get out of bed.  My stomach felt like someone had shoved an ice pick into it.  I was nauseous.  I was dizzy.  Had no energy.  No voice.  Fever.  Chills.  And, this headache that made me wonder if I could be having a stroke at the same time.

At 11:22, my phone buzzed.  It was a text from my son.  It said, "Mom, I'm feeling sick.  I think it might be the sushi."

Now, folks, I'm a pretty bright woman, but I hadn't thought--not even for a second--about the sushi.  A few minutes later, the school nurse called.  She said he was sick.  She didn't want to send him back to class.  Could I pick him up?  I physically couldn't get out of bed.  Grandma had Nathaniel by then, who was napping.  Scott was out of pocket.  So, Amos stuck it out until school ended and rode the bus home.

We both spent that day and the next in bed.  No food.  Had to force ourselves to drink water.  At one point, I had the chills so bad that I took a hot bath at 11 pm...
Basically, one word described our condition.  

Amos was able to return to school yesterday.  I, on the other hand, was still fighting with all I had just to keep up with the little man and not fall over.  This morning, I woke up feeling more like myself.  About 80%....

So, I'm here to pass along some information.  Turns out, the type of food poisoning we had was bacterial.  There are other types out there~one that involves a type of worm(ewww-yuck)~that are far more dangerous.  We are extremely blessed that this passed on its own, without any medical intervention.

Will we eat sushi again?  Sure.  Probably not for a while, and most likely never again from the supermarket, but it's a tough one to give up permanently.

Here is a link to a site below that will give you a brief education.
 The internet, I'm sure, has an almost endless supply of resources for your perusal.  In the meantime, you might want to read this since it's brief and to the point.

Have a fantastic weekend, all!! Thank you for your loyalty, and for coming back to read~even when there is such a lull between posts.  I love and appreciate all of you so much!

Be blessed!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Waiting Here For You

How many of us are waiting?  Waiting for something?  Waiting for someone? Waiting for that daughter or son; that parent to find their way into the arms of Jesus?  Waiting for healing in our relationships? Waiting for healing in our finances?  Waiting for physical healing in our bodies?  Praying and waiting on for that same healing for someone we love?

How many of us are waiting on a miracle?  

How many of us are waiting on GOD?

Just how long do we wait?  How long do we trust? How much faith should we really put out there?  Shouldn't we ration it so we don't run out?

I felt led to bring you this message today.  I have waited on people.  Waited on circumstances to change.  Waited for my financial situation to get better.  Waited on my relationships with others to be restored.  Waited on a body wracked with  pain to either die or heal.

I have waited on God...for Him to speak.  To move me.  To heal me.  To move me into higher places.  To bring me into a place of rest.  Of hope.  Of peace and joy.
I have waited on God on behalf of others.  I have prayed and lifted them up to Him.  I have had to leave them in HIS hands, and let Him have HIS way with them.  HIS will.  In HIS timing.  

So many of us struggle with who we are.  We struggle with what the world wants from us.  We struggle with how others perceive us.  We struggle with trying to figure out what this life is all about, and what our purpose is here on this Earth.  We struggle with figuring out how to not only survive, but THRIVE.  

  We struggle with our faith.  We struggle with our pain.  With our needs, our hurts, our desires.  Our loss.

This is where the Word of God comes in.  

Only when we know what GOD has to say about us and our situations, can we truly be moved into a place of victory.  A place of praising God UNTIL that victory comes; trusting that it will come, and a place of continuing to praise Him AFTER it has come.

 Here is what God has to say about waiting....

"Be waiting for the Lord, and keep his way; and you will be lifted up, and have the land for your heritage: when the evil-doers are cut off, you will see it." Psalms 37:34

"Do not say, I will give punishment for evil: go on waiting for the Lord, and he will be your Savior." Proverbs 20:22

"Whoever keeps a fig-tree will have its fruit; and the servant waiting on his master will be honored." Proverbs 27:18

"And those who have knowledge of Your Name will put their faith in You; because you, Lord, have ever given Your help to those who were waiting for you." Psalms 9:10

"See! as the eyes of servants are turned to the hands of their masters, and the eyes of a servant-girl to her owner, so our eyes are waiting for the Lord our God, till he has mercy on us." Psalms 123:2

"O Lord, take me out of the hands of my haters; my soul is waiting for you." Psalms 143:9

"Jehovah is pleased with those fearing Him, with those waiting for His kindness." Psalms 147:11

"When I was waiting quietly for the Lord, His heart was turned to me, and He gave ear to my cry." Psalms 40:1

"Also let none waiting on Thee be ashamed, Let the treacherous dealers without cause be ashamed." Psalms 25:3

"Now may the God who gives comfort and strength in waiting make you of the same mind with one another in harmony with Christ Jesus…" Romans 15:5

"Love is never tired of waiting."1 Corinthians 13:4

"So that you may not be slow in heart, but may take as your example those to whom God has given their heritage, because of their faith and their long waiting." Hebrews 6:12

"And so, as the result of patient waiting, our forefather obtained what God had promised." Hebrews 6:15

"Go on waiting calmly, my brothers, till the coming of the Lord, like the farmer waiting for the good fruit of the earth till the early and late rains have come." James 5:7

"Be as calm in your waiting; let your hearts be strong: because the coming of the Lord is near." James 5:8

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his word, as he seems to some, but he is waiting in mercy for you, not desiring the destruction of any, but that all may be turned from their evil ways." 2 Peter 3:9

"See, I am waiting at the door and giving the sign; if my voice comes to any man's ears and he makes the door open, I will come in to him, and will take food with him and he with ME." Revelation 3:20

"I am waiting for the Lord, my soul is waiting for Him, and my hope is in His Word." Psalms 130:5

Be blessed.  I pray that you will find comfort, hope, and rest 
in this today.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Breakfast of Champions

I get asked a lot of questions about how my hubby and I do things...What do we feed our kids? Do we immunize? Do we eat any meat? Are we organic fanatics? Not because I have an "Oddball" sticker across my forehead(hold on a second...yep, it's gone.  Had it for years. You can still see the tape tracks), but because once they find out he's a Chiropractor, or one of us mention "paleo"...or, we are the ones who raise our hands in the classroom of 20 kiddos when asked any parents object to their kids partaking of the doughnut hole treat, it's bound to happen.

So, today, I thought I'd mix things up a bit! (great pun, Jacque) You'll see why that's such a funny soon!

Without going into detail about all the things that people ask, that many of you don't care to know, I thought I'd cover a fun one...

 Nope, it ain't Wheaties in this house!

Nathaniel, who is 2 1/2, has basically the same thing every day for breakfast, with the exception of eggs or nuts and fruit, or maybe almond-flour pancakes or muffins on an occasional day.  We each try to consume one at some point in the day, just to keep balanced.  

Here is a general list of things that go into Nathaniel's shake:

1 organic banana
(optional) 1/2 c berries
1 t.VitaMineral  Green powder
1 probiotic(necessary for good bacteria)
2 Wuji Chlorella tablets
10 frozen pieces brocolli or 1 large kale leaf
1 heaping T almond butter
6 oz Almond milk
6 oz water
We mix all this up in our Vita-Mix blender...Love it!

Here are some pics below of the products we use:

We love this milk because the almonds they use are GMO~it's not organic, but we're satisfied with it.  We use the unsweetened vanilla.
One of the greatest things about this combo is that it's fresh and nutrient-dense.  It's a great way to start the day, and a super way to make sure that Nathaniel is getting the proper nutrition.  If he pushes away his veggies at lunch or dinner and only wants his protein, I don't get so concerned.

Each of us in this family have a variation on the recipe above, but again, the key is nutrient-DENSITY.  As "yucky" as the broccoli or kale seems like it would taste, honestly, you'd be surprised at just how "banana-y" it tastes!!  

If you introduce these things early, your kids will truly enjoy them!! One of the most exciting parts of Nathaniel's morning is getting to help make his "shake".  

Be blessed! Be encouraged! Be inspired! 
Happy Monday to all of you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bless God

The Bean on Easter this year

My little Nathaniel is at such a cute age right now...Well, almost all the time.  For those of you out there who have walked through(and survived!)the toddler years, I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.  These little folks can be just WILD one minute; leaving us in a tailspin; where we stop only to count all of the new gray hairs; and leaving us overwhelmed with joy at the fact that they are ours the next. He is working so hard to be independent; learning new ways of dealing with his emotions; learning new ways to get what he wants; wanting to please us, yet wanting what HE wants more than anything.  It can become exhausting...Since yesterday afternoon, his new phrase is, "I want to break that. "

However...didn't we ALL begin in this place?  We have all had to learn and grow.  Stumble and fall.  Hope that someone we trust is there to kiss our boo-boos and brush us off and pick us back up. Hope that someone will be there who loves us unconditionally.  Someone who will encourage us to grow and be all we can be. Someone who will be overjoyed because we belong to THEM.

There is something so precious about a little person. They are so new.  So angelic.  So unblemished.  They love.  They forgive and forget.  Their joy overflows at things which we as adults take for granted.  The simple things.  The things that we seem to pass over as unimportant.  They have such life in them.  Life ahead of them.  Dreams yet to be dreamed.  Destinies yet to be fulfilled.  

One of the sweetest things that Nathaniel does is "bless God" when he coughs or sneezes.  This is his little way of saying, "God bless," or "God bless you."  It's so funny when we'll be out shopping somewhere and he'll sneeze(or even fake sneeze-oh yes, he's a smart one) and yell, "Bless God!"  People always stop and ask what he means by that, and then laugh when I tell him what he's doing.  It's one of those cute endearing things that I know I'll be sad about when he figures out the "right" way to say it.

Nathaniel is on to something...maybe we should "Bless God" more often.  Bless Him for being Him.  Bless Him for loving us.  Bless Him for caring deeply enough about every single one of us to send Jesus to die for us.  Bless Him for looking down upon us, and confirming His presence and His ability to provide for us when times are tough.  Bless Him for using us, even in our imperfection, to bless others.  

Last week I had my own "Bless God" day.  

I woke up with no solid plans~other than it was Wednesday, so I planned on taking Nathaniel to Grandma's and running errands, cleaning, food shopping, etc.

What I didn't yet know was that by saying "Yes" to God first thing in the morning, and making a conscious effort to walk in His Spirit, and listen for His voice, He was going to bless me immensely, and bless others in the process.   

I made my day's plans on the way to drop off Bean.  I would go to UPS and have a forgiveness letter notarized and faxed(part of what God had been speaking to me about my "Nineveh")...this was a big deal.  I knew that it couldn't wait one more day.  I wasn't about to give Satan a foothold where he didn't deserve one...Then, off to a women's shelter to drop off a few to clean, etc.

After the letter was faxed, I felt such joy in my heart.  So happy to be part of what God wanted to do~even though it took me some time to do my part.  I was on cloud nine as I drove to the shelter.
I showed up unannounced.  Not like me.  I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I left the donations in the office, and something told me to stay and help out.  I had committed to organizing some closets. With only one down, this day seemed as good as any.  

Here is something to ponder...What do we do when we know of a little person who is doing without?  What if they've been abused, or have been in an abusive home?  What if that place of safety and rest has become a place of sorrow and loneliness and pain? What about the women who have fled from these environments?  What about the ones who have taken their children and fled?  Many have nothing but the clothes on their backs.  They are thankful to be alive and to have each other.  They pray that someone will care enough to intervene.  To protect them. To give them shelter.  Maybe give them a warm meal and a change of clothes.  Maybe, just maybe a chance to live.  To heal.  To learn how to trust again.  To learn how to live again. 

This is one of those places.  SO very close to my heart.  A place of safety and love.  Encouragement and hope.  Security and healing.  New life.  Second chances.  

So, one of the women who work there told me about a young woman who had come to them with two small children.  They didn't have anything.  Truly nothing beyond what they had on.  I felt like God whispered, "This is yours."

The first thing I did was call my husband and ask him to put the word out...Then I called a friend who has a consignment shop to see if she had anything that hadn't sold that might be ready for donation.  She said I could have what she had in back, although she had no idea what was even there.  

Then, I went to work on the hall closet.  As I pondered this, I noticed a young woman.  I had seen her; even spoken with her briefly before.  She stopped and turned to me and said, "Why are you doing this?"

I explained that my heart was in it.  I was able to encourage her and give her some hope.  I told her that this place was an answer to my prayers.  I had been looking for a place to give back to.  God had heard me and led me to them.  We talked for a few minutes.  When she left, no longer was her head down, but her chin was up, she was giggling, and saying "thank you!" as she almost skipped away.  

~"Bless God."~

Just a few minutes later, another woman came by.  I had been watching her pace back and forth.  She was clearly on the verge of an emotional breakdown.  I could see how stoic she was trying to be.  I asked, "Are you okay?"

She explained that she wasn't okay...not by a long shot.  For several reasons.  She couldn't be the strong one anymore.  Everyone needed her shoulder to cry on, but her own problems were too big, and she had no one to turn to.  She didn't know how to get through what life had dealt her at the moment.  Her child had been abused.  She had been abused.  She had nothing left to give. She was frightened.  She was overwhelmed. 

I talked to her for a while and then just wrapped my arms around her.  I asked her if she wanted me to pray. She said, "No, that's okay."  So...I said, "Well, these are the things I'm going to pray when I get home," and just sort of prayed them anyway.  I told her to keep her chin up and to always remember that "God is a miracle worker."

She looked over her shoulder and said, "That's what my mom always said."

~Again, "Bless God."~ 

I walked back down to the office and let them know that I was finished with the closet, for now anyway, and that I wanted to get to the consignment shop to see what might be available for this little family.

When I arrived, the owner took me to the back room.  In the corner was a pile of clothes.  Just haphazardly thrown there.  A few bags nearby.  She gave me a big rubber bin to stuff everything in.  And, stuff I did.  I was on a mission.  In a huge hurry.  Within five minutes, I was thanking her and running to my car.  I had no idea what was in there, but I felt excited!

On the way back, I felt like I should pull over and try to organize this stuff.  I had made such a mess.  It was going to take someone a lot of time, and a lot of work to go through this.  So, I pulled over into a parking lot a mile or so away.  

I reached over and tugged on the clothes.  Out came a little girl's dress~in EXACTLY the size I  needed!  I pulled out another.  Another.  And yet another.  Dress after dress.  Beautiful and girly.  A nightgown.  Little pants.  Shorts.  A cardigan.  Piece after piece.  There were over twenty things!  I was almost in disbelief!  God's presence was so tangible.  I knew He wasn't finished. I began to cry, just thanking God out loud.

Again, I reached over and tugged at the clothing I had so tightly stuffed into this bin.  Out came a little boy's shirt~in EXACTLY the size I needed! Again and again.  Now, I had clothes for both of them!  

I reached in and pulled out....a woman's size small..And another.  Another. A pair of jeans. And another.  While this wasn't a lot, this was for someone who had basically nothing.  

I sat there and cried. Truth be told...sobbed.  I called my mom just so I could share it with someone.  I could barely talk.  We got off the phone and I drove back to deliver everything. 

There was so much to give that this woman needed help getting everything back to her room.  I said, "I know...I'm the woman who shows up and talks about God all the time.  I can't help it!  He is so amazing! Only HE could do this!!"  We were all laughing together.  It was truly exciting to see how quickly and how mightily He worked!

I prayed after I left.  Just praised Him for being so good.  For His unfailing love and provision. For using me to bless others that day.  For blessing me through it.  For releasing me from the bondage of my past by urging me to formally forgive someone else.  Walking in His spirit is the most beautiful, most joyful, most blessed place to be!

...The next day a friend called who often has clothing items to be donated.  I was about to give her directions to take them herself when she said that she had a big bag of size-- women's clothing.  All nice stuff.  Conservative.  Great shape.

I cried again! (after I jumped up and down!!)  God had provided things for the mother now, beyond the items I had found in the bin!! Only God.  Only God.  

~Bless God!~
 The humble soul will bless God under misery as well as under mercy, when God frowns as when he smiles, when he takes as when he gives, under crosses and losses as under blessings and mercies. The humble believer looks through all secondary causes, and sees the hand of God...for the rest of this, go to this link 

 May you all have a blessed, beautiful day!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Word of God Speak

Word of God speak...Would you pour down like rain? Washing my eyes to see Your Majesty? To be still and know that You're in this place? Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness...

This has been the summary of my prayer for two weeks now.  

An opportunity presented itself two Tuesdays ago.  I knew I had a big decision to make.  When the idea was presented initially, I was overwhelmed.  Honored.  God had moved.  He had answered prayers.  Opened doors.  Created opportunity for growth and challenge.  And abundant blessing. 

 My prayer for over a year now has been,"God, please use me.  Use me in whatever capacity you choose.  I want nothing less than the destiny that You have created for me.  I don't want to miss out on any more of what YOU want for me.  I've wasted enough time. I pray that You will open doors that no man can close.  Give me the faith and the courage to step through them, without wasting time analyzing and second-guessing.  I don't want anything if You aren't in it.  My desire is to be in Your presence always.  Not behind You.  Not in front of You."

So, one would think that a simple "YES!!" would be in order.  It was~initially.  But, just to be sure, I really needed to discuss this with my husband.  Both of us needed to pray about it.  We needed time to seek the Lord and make sure this was what HE wanted for me...for US right now.  I needed to be sure that it was my season.

Well, life sort of took over.  I began to get overwhelmed by the "what if's"...The "I don't know's"...the "I'm not sure if I'm qualified" kind of questions.  The doubt that can creep in.

So, here I was, on Monday evening...sitting on the bed with my phone and my Bible on my lap.  I had just had an encounter with the Lord earlier in the day.  Huge. Perhaps that was what He thought would nudge me into a place of confidence in Him.  You see, I was asked to sing at a close friend's mother's memorial service.  I've been a bit under the weather.  I had actually not been able to sleep the night before because my throat burned so terribly.  My head hurt.  I was feverish.  My nose was running like a faucet.  Jump to about forty-five minutes before the service, and I had no singing voice. Nada. Zilch.  Zero.  I was attempting to warm up my voice all the way to the church and NOTHING was coming out.  God always shows up, but there was still that nagging little voice, and I have to admit~I was more than a bit nervous.  

I arrived at the church, and immediately saw my mother-in-law's car was there.  She was volunteering.  I ran down the stairs to see her...Actually in a needy kind of way.  After we got the hello's out of the way, I told her what was going on.  Now, this is a woman of faith.  She has prayed more than once for me, and I've gotten better.  She does this for anyone who needs it.  Says the sweetest, to-the-point prayers, ends them in faith, and that's it.
Well, she said one of those prayers for me.

I went upstairs to the service.  Still couldn't even hum  a tune.  The clock was ticking away.  I sat down in a chair and put about 5 throat lozenges in my mouth.  Still nothing.  Push repeat about 3 or 4 more times.  Still nothing.  All the while, the Pastor was talking.  Another Pastor. And another.  Then my friend's brother.  Then my friend.  Then Pastor called me up to sing.  All the way up, I was thinking, "Holy Spirit, You have to carry this.  Please show up.  Please show up."  Still that nagging voice saying,"What if you open your mouth and nothing comes out?  Then what?"

The music started.  I opened my mouth....Out came a song.  It wasn't perfect.  Not by my standards, but who cares about my standards?  God doesn't.  He totally carried it for me, and people were so blessed.  The less of ME that's in something, and the more of HIM, the better.

So, here I was that evening, feeling confused. I've been known to bring this on myself when I don't make a decision, and choose instead to go down a path of prolonging.

I began to pray.

"Heavenly Father, I am really desperate right now.  I have to respond to this in mere hours, and I need a sign from You...Who am I kidding?  You know my heart.  You know what I'm thinking.  What I need from you is a definite, Yes, do this, or No, don't do it.  I don't want it if Your hand isn't in it.  I'm sure You already told me, repeatedly, what You want me to do.  Could You please just tell me one more time?  Loudly?  Clearly?  I'm going to just read Your Word for a few minutes.  Would You join me, and give me an answer...confirmation as to what You desire for me?  Thank You so much for your never-ending patience with me.  Thank You for showing up today, and for all the times You've carried me."

I had been reading in the book of Daniel the night before, so I had ribbon-marked it, and went to turn to it.  I looked down, and the first thing I saw was this, "Persevere in your faithfulness to God and His call.  Though you feel fearful of circumstances, trust GOD's faithfulness and strength.  Worship the Lord for the great mercy and favor He has shown you in bringing about His plans and purposes.  Believe that you will be able to build, or accomplish, what God has asked for and that HE will cause you to prosper in the work.  HE can turn the hearts of kings toward you."  

This, my friends, happens to be the Truth in Action section at the end of the Book of Ezra.  The only time I've heard God audibly was once.  I was in a place of seeking and searching like never before.  I was alone.  In the quiet.  I prayed out loud and asked Him to help me.  I said,"I don't want to Bible-dip right now.  I need for You to TELL me what you want me to read." I wanted to know where He was taking me, and what He wanted me to do, when I heard someone say,"Ezra."  The first thing I did was holler at my older son and ask him, "Ezra what?"  He poked his head out and said,"I didn't say anything Mom.  What's wrong?"

I didn't even know it was a book in the Bible.  I opened up the index and began scanning.  There it was.  Right there in the Old Testament.  Page 598.  I read it, and felt like it was for me.  Rebuilding.  Renewing.  Restoring. Even from a lost life of poor decisions and sin.  Rebuilding to be used for the glory of God.  In the tenth chapter, verse 9, it even says, "the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month."  

That, folks, is my birthday.  I almost fell over!!  Actually, that, and then I cried.  I know that was God's way of personalizing my experience, so that I would know that this was a book I would come back to time and again, as a great resource and reference on my journey with Him!!

So, there was my answer.  Black and white.  YES!!! My year to say "YES" to God.  To life.  To growth.  To challenging me beyond my comfort zone.  Into a place of great blessing and joy.  

Let's Go!

If you'd like to know more about Ezra, here is a great summary:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Nineveh

I know~Who, oh who, begins their blog post with a Veggie Tales movie trailer?  (With hands raised, waving madly and even a tad bit proudly)..that would be me.  As in, "Me! Me! Over here!"

I bought this movie for my little guy a couple of weeks ago.  Never in a million years would I have thought that God would use it to speak to me. As in speak to me again.  About something He'd already spoken to me about.  Sort of in a gentle confirming way.

For those of you who may not be Jonah-savvy, I'll give you the short version of the story.  Jonah was a prophet of the Lord.  He heard from God regularly, and delighted in being able to share with people a "message from the Lord".  He was faithful.  He followed through.  He was a great leader.  He was a man of God.  People trusted him.  When he spoke, people listened.

Before turning in one evening, Jonah was having his quiet time with God.  God told him that he was to go to the city of Nineveh and inform the people of God's great anger and sadness.  The city of Nineveh was a city of great sin.  It was a wicked city, worthy of destruction.

However, God wanted Jonah to go to the city and prophecy to them of His unfailing love and mercy, ultimately leading them to repentance and forgiveness.

Jonah understood exactly what it was that God wanted him to do.  But, rather than follow God's commands, he ran. Picture him with fingers plugged into his ears, yelling,"I can't hear you!  I can't hear you!" (I believe I've attempted this more than once in my lifetime.  I actually believed I could run from God.  Even more amazing is that I thought it was possible for Him to lose sight of me and forget what He'd asked of me in the first place.)

He jumped on a boat headed to Tarshish, which was in the complete opposite direction. It wasn't long before the ship encountered a storm so violent, it threatened to overturn the entire ship and passengers.  In order to spare themselves from God's wrath, they threw Jonah overboard.

A large fish swallowed Jonah.  For three days and nights, he stayed in the belly of this fish...He prayed to God for forgiveness.  He rejoiced that he was still alive.  He promised God that he would complete the assignment that God had for him.  God cause the whale to vomit Jonah up onto dry land.

Jonah went into the city of Nineveh, all the while telling everyone who would hear him about why he was there.  He declared that in forty days the city would be overthrown. The king caught wind of this and ordered that the city fast, pray and repent.  God saw this and saved them and forgave them of their ignorance.  

Jonah was none too pleased with the way God poured out His mercy and forgiveness.  He felt they didn't deserve it.

Has God ever given you a "Nineveh"?  He gave me one...maybe more than one.  But He definitely spoke to me about one.  I had someone in my life from my past who had hurt me immensely.  Someone who had broken laws.  Broken hearts.  Broken trust.  Broken vows.  God spoke to my heart and said,"Let this person know that you have forgiven them.  Tell him how I have changed your heart.  Tell him about Me.  Tell him about mercy and grace and true freedom that can only be found in Me."

Did I do it?  Actually?  No.  I second-guessed myself.  AND God.  I thought,"He can't actually be asking me to do this.  It seems so straightforward, but it could really turn my life upside down.  Am I sure this is even from the Lord?  What if it's the enemy, just trying to get me into a tail-spin?"  I thought that if I had already forgiven him in my heart, there wasn't any need to open up a new can of worms and bring turmoil into my life.  I also didn't know how to go about asking HIM for forgiveness as well.  Weren't his sins greater than mine?  If I did that, he could take the easy way out again, and go back to blaming me for all of his mistakes and poor judgement. The fact of the matter is this.  God sees sin as sin.  None greater or lesser.  I wasn't perfect in this relationship. I am no greater in God's eyes than this person.  What God was asking me was to simply extend the grace and mercy that had already been extended to me.

When God gives direction, he always provides a way.  I know this now.  Didn't know this then.  I would have known it much sooner though, I believe, if I would have done what He asked me to do.  He wouldn't have had to show me in so many other ways, because this would have been HUGE.  It would have impacted me and my life in a way that I would have gotten it.  I would have understood fully.  I would be finer-tuned at hearing His voice.  I would be more ready to jump up and do whatever He asks of me, because I would have had this experience as a reminder that He's always just.  Always true to His word. Always keeps His promises.  Always provides.  And, the blessing that could have been poured out on that other person?  Well, God could have moved mountains...and then some.

How about you?  Has God given you a Nineveh to have mercy on?  Has he asked you to forgive the seemingly unforgivable?  Has He asked you to go back into your past and not only let someone off the hook, but pray for their salvation and their prosperity?  Even that He would move in their lives and use them mightily for the kingdom?

If He has, or if He does, the best thing I can tell you is to just do it.  He is always sovereign.  He is always, always faithful.  Everything He does, He does in the name of love.