You Brought Me Here Why?

I remember the excitement when the phone call came. “We just have to finalize it, but you can schedule that moving truck,” the Midwestern man’s voice exclaimed. Expectantly, we did.

We waited.

But the paperwork never arrived. Weeks later, the same voice apologized on the phone. Unforeseen circumstances arose. The position was cancelled. We’re weren’t moving to Iowa. We were moving though… we had to.

We waited.

Living out of suitcases at my in-laws’ house, we sought work.

We waited.

My husband showed me a job listing. It wasn’t what was expected. We knew one person in the whole region. But the Lord said yes with perfect clarity and abundant confirmation. One Skype interview and a phone offer later, we were scheduling another moving truck. This one was bound for the unknown of Minnesota.

With just two weeks to prepare and little in the bank, we signed a lease online with high hopes.

We’d waited.

The Lord had made the way. We believed it.

Then we pulled up to the apartment complex….

Read the rest of the wild story over on Abby McDonald’s Anchored Souls Series, where I’m honored to be included. 

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This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

#1 Way You’re Doing It Wrong

How does a Christian grow in their faith?

We like to start by building ourselves up in the Lord when we work our praying and ministering muscles.

Another strategy is to stretch ourselves by extending our hands out to others with the love of God. We often lift our Bibles higher and higher, making them heavier and heavier as we scribble in the margins and stuff them with notes.

But the first step in the growth of Spiritual muscle takes place when the inner stuff breaks down.

The first position of the believer being strengthened is bent low on humbled knees.

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Growth in the Lord doesn’t begin by doing more or carrying weightier virtues and ministries.

Rather, spiritual growth originates in becoming less.

Becoming strong in the Lord requires the laying down of our bulky burdens at the cross to be free to train as our trainer leads.

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” never calls us to be more or greater. In fact, “be strong” can be misleading. The words translate more directly to “be strengthened” or “be empowered.” The rest of verse makes this clear.

We have to be strengthened by the the source of our strength.

To be strengthened by the Lord, kneel before Him. Heave off the weights you aren’t meant to carry. Let your Spiritual muscles be broken down by the Lord, examined, and made stronger as true muscle, earned by submission to the trainer.

Sweet relief for the weak (all of us!):

We are strong in the Lord when we grow in His mighty power, not when we’re mustering up our own.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Satisfy

To have enough. What a mind-boggling concept. We live our days on “more,” not “enough.”

Our time is spent seeking more time. Our appetites are never appeased for long. Our work earns what it takes to get by- but never enough to meet all of our needs and desires.

We are the unsatisfied. And often, we’re proud of that fact. Accomplishing more and gaining more earn us praise and make us successful in this world.

But Scripture says this:

“Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

Isaiah 55:2

We prefer to seek and seek and seek. To spend and gain. It’s no surprise, though, that this prodding toward satisfaction is found in the same chapter as the well-known word from God that His way is not our way. That His way is higher than ours.

Our way, our focus on “more,” is ever-changing and expanding. But God’s is complete. Whole. Contented. Full.

His way -His self- is enough.

You can breathe that sigh of relief now.

“Praise the Lord, my soul…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103:5

Satisfy is a beautiful word.

In this verse Michele shared in her earlier post about memorizing the mind of God, we’re reminded of what satisfaction accomplishes: renewal and praise.

Yes, that’s right. Satisfaction accomplishes something.

Without satisfaction, we’re in the loop of “more.” We’re trapped in a cycle. But satisfaction says “enough.” Calls us full, and marks the completion of something.

Satisfaction means that what was intended has been fulfilled.

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That fullness gives glory to the Lord. It shows the fullness of His plans and demonstrates His faithfulness.

When we are satisfied, we admit that the Lord is all that He says He is and give Him the ultimate praise: that there is none other and nothing more. That He is the standard, the good, and the end we seek.

Satisfaction proclaims that our God is indeed perfect.

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Another mind-boggling concept, I know. But praise Him!

For being so complex, the truth is quite simple: Why spend on that which can’t satisfy? Praise the Lord: He does satisfy. To find what is enough and complete, look no further than to Him.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

When Loneliness is a Blessing -The Word Works Series

Writing on her blog Fearfully Made Mom, Abby reveres the Lord and His workmanship in her words and life. Sharing stories and thoughts that many of us encounter in daily our lives, Abby is quick to point straight to the truth we need to hear. Listening in gladly today!
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I remember the first time we drove through this small town tucked into hills of Western Maryland. It was a cold, rainy day and a heavy fog hung over us like a blanket.

As we made our way across the overpass and I looked down at the place I would later call home, I thought, “Oh God, what have I done?” My husband and I were going to be living here in a few months, and I had agreed to the move here sight unseen.

I looked out my window and I thought about the friends we’d be leaving, the church where we’d thrived, and the snowy peaks outside our doorstep in Utah. Had we gone crazy? On what planet did we decide this was a good idea, to pick our family up and move cross country for the second time in five years?

And yet, in late January during one of the coldest winters on record, that is exactly what we did.

After living with my in-laws for a few months while looking for a house, we finally found a place to raise our growing family. We were expecting our second son, and I was eager get active in the community. But the more we tried to fit, to find a church family and make friends, the more elusive our desires became.

I wondered if we’d heard God wrong. Even though we’d prayed fervently before making the move, I couldn’t help thinking we’d made a mistake. What I didn’t realize was that even in the midst of my grief, God was working.

God can use some of our loneliest seasons to draw us closer to Him.

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As we push back against the isolation and wonder where He is, He’s whispering, “I’m right here, my love. Come and sit with me a while. Everything you need is right here.”

During those months where I grieved the life we’d lost in Utah, God drew me to his side and comforted me like no friend ever could.

He gave me an understanding of his Word which can only be gained by living it.

I remember coming across this verse in James during those first few months of transition into our new town.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,

whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

James 1:2 NIV

I used to look at verses like this one and think, “Seriously? That sounds really nice in theory, but how can it apply to my everyday?”

But the move changed me.  It took James words and put skin on them in a way I never expected.

After spending some lonely months in my recliner nursing my newborn, I saw that James wasn’t delivering some clichéd phrase to sound religious. He was speaking truth and life.

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I wasn’t happy about my situation, but I had joy. Because friends, joy goes so much deeper than being happy. It is knowing no matter what trials life brings, we cling to a hope which will withstand it all.

As God worked on my heart, he prepared a place we would later call our church home. He brought people to our doorstep who ministered to me in my sadness.

When a new spring dawned and buds formed on the trees outside our window, I knew our winter of isolation was over. And I thanked God for everything He taught me during the cold.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Loving-Kindness

As Jeanne shared earlier in the week, the Lord’s love is certain. His love for us is displayed in so many ways. For Jeanne, it became apparent that God’s love for her was complete, even through infertility. So complete, in fact, that His love for others never competes with His love for her.

One of the aspects of His love that Jeanne highlights is kindness. The Lord’s loving-kindness is precious. It’s here that we find His love for us changing our lives with the joy and comfort of living and active relationship.

“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’”

Jeremiah 31:3

Also translated as God’s own covenant-loyalty, favor, or affection, His loving-kindness has specific qualities.

It is His loving-kindness that ensures that what He says, He will do.

…That the character of God, which is so inviting, is sincere and fulfilling.

His loving-kindness is what welcomes us without fail, always unconditionally and joyfully.

Certainly there are times that He seems far off and we seem unlovable and unworthy of returning to Him. There are times in which we look around us and it seems He is loving, but more so towards others than us.

Praise the Lord that is not the truth.

His loving-kindness offers us assurance. Like the father of the prodigal son He described, or like Christ giving incredible power to the friends who had abandoned Him before He rose again, we know that the Lord is one whose eagerness to love and delight in His children does not change.

His kind-hearted loyalty to each of us His loved ones is the same because His covenant with each of us is the same: by the blood of Christ, we are His children.

Savor the sweetness of this word from His Word. As the verse says, we are drawn by this loving-kindness.

Come with that sigh of relief and that silly grin-

You are loved by a kind God. Perfectly. Eternally. Right now. Right here.

This post is being shared on:
#WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

Giving Our Best

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord”

Colossians 3:23

“He’s got a piece of my heart,” we say. “Do you want a piece of me?” we ask the confronter. Throughout the day, our schedules are divided into pieces: a half an hour block here, fifteen minutes there. For many of us, it sometimes feels like life is in pieces.

As John Stonestreet once said: “we do not have lives, but life.” One life. One heart, one mouth, one schedule that we can live out at once.

How, when we divide our lives into pieces in our minds and hearts, can we at the same time work with all our hearts for God? Or love Him with our whole heart, whole mind, and whole soul? We don’t often seem to recognize the whole of any of these.

Without that recognition, how can we give God our best? How do we even know what our best is?

All of the Scriptural statements about giving the best, flawless lambs (and other awe-worthy sacrifices) always frustrate me. I’ve never seen a flawless thing in my life. But my eyes are corrupt. My understanding is, too. Surely there was some standard in those Old Testament days. And there is now. Under the law of freedom in Christ as redeemed, adopted people…

The best we have to give is that which God has given us.

He has called His gifts to us good and He is the standard of good! What better to give Him than what He has declared good?

That sounds a little more feasible, doesn’t it? He never asks the impossible of us. The charge to do all to the glory of God is not there to show us how we fail, but how He succeeds in working with us, on us, and through us.

Invite God into every part and piece of your heart and your day. Ask Him into the moments you struggle and the moments of joy and praise. Offer Him the work before you so that it can be His- it will be better than what you could do on your own.

Share with Him all those pieces that He says will be made whole, and they can be wholly His and for His glory.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

 

The Kindness of the Lord

When we say that God is the standard by which we know and measure goodness and righteousness, we admit that there is no definition completely suitable of these things. There is no set of words in any human language that can fully encompass the wholeness of a standard. We have nothing to correctly compare it to.

As a friend recently pointed out, “a cauliflower’s taste can’t be described in comparison to anything. It certainly doesn’t taste like chicken. It just tastes like cauliflower.”

That’s what those things which God is the standard of are like. His kindness is kindness in its purest, most whole form.

The word for the kindness of God in Scripture, transliterated “chréstotés” says as much in its definition. According to Biblos, “We have no term that quite carries this notion of kind and good.”

Ephesians 2:6-7 emphasizes:

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

We the kindness of the Lord in His sending Christ to die for us and raising Him up again. His kindness is evident in redeeming us, raising up to be with Christ. As we know, grace is giving us what we don’t deserve.

Kindness is giving us what we don’t deserve richly and abundantly.

We aren’t just children He cares for. We are children He cares about. More than just redeemed, we are filled with His Spirit. The barrier isn’t just destroyed by Christ so that we have access if we need it. Instead, we are brought near. Drawn near.

God likes to have us near. He delights in blessing us. His kindness is not goodness out of obligation or goodness because more good is needed. His goodness is simply goodness.

In our corrupted nature, we cannot fathom this. Our closest comparisons fall short. The best we understanding we have is described in Matthew 7:11:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

The kindest we can be does not compare to the kindness of Christ.

We often look at others and wish to give certain types of kindness. Closeness, not feeling alone, hope for the future, comfort. The Lord enables us to give these in a way, but not as thoroughly or intimately as He can. Time, emotions, circumstances, and thoughts do not shift at our Word as they do His. Thank the Lord that He is so kind in expressing His love for us in kindnesses like these.

And we see this in our lives, don’t we? When we ask Him and He gives so personally, so clearly. His good gifts are more than we could ever imagine: families, friends, relationships, scenery, moments, laughs….those things that help us to understand awe, wonder, and fulfilling intimacy. That wave of peace that has no explanation. The small mistake that upsets our day for the better.

Praising the Lord today for His kindness in all the good gifts- big and small that He gives. Thanking Him most for His kindness in delighting to have us near to Him.

How are you reveling in His kindness?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

Love With All Your…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

–Luke 10:27

Really, Lord? Because we know our hearts, and they are deceitful above all things. Our souls are constantly warring with the flesh. Strength, to us, is less preferable than weakness in you. And our minds? Our minds are so easily led astray.

It seems like our ability to love God is measly and miserable. To do so with our whole person seems to add up to very little.

Praise the Lord that He is glorified by and delights in our love- even if our love is far from perfect!

So loving is He that:

  1. He Guards the HEART We Are to Love Him With

Though our hearts are wild and rebellious, the Lord guards them. He works to protect our hearts from further corruption. He is intent on giving us pure hearts, washing them clean through Christ. Scripture also says He replaces our hearts of stone with hearts with hearts of flesh.

  1. He Redeems the SOUL So That We Can Love Him Personally

Apart from Christ, we would have no way to love God in a personal relationship. But He, in loving us, sent His son to die for us. He made a way for our souls to be reconciled to Him eternally. Because of that, our wretched souls are counted free. We are called His friends and His children –and forgiven.

  1. He Gives us the STRENGTH to Love Him Always

Does it take strength to love God? Ask anyone who’s betrayed Him or sinned against Him. So, ask anyone. There is nothing in us courageous enough to perfectly stand up against the world and all of sin and say “I love God more.” But He, He can makes us able. He makes a way out of temptation. He gives us endurance and His Spirit to keep us from sin and help us to lovingly glorify Him even when we are weak.

  1. He Renews Our MIND to Love Him More Fully

Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are to live according to His Will, and even to know His Will, we are to have our minds renewed. We are to see everything in light of Him and understand ourselves, our lives, our decisions, etc., according to our newness in Christ. This complete changing of the mind to fit with His enables to love Him because it enables us to know Him.

What love is this, friends!? Our Lord loves us enough to make a way for us to love Him despite our corrupt version of love. A precious gift.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

25. BEHOLD: The Christ

Behold, the warmth of a newborn baby.

Behold, the peace in the stable.

Behold, long journeys over that have only just begun.

Behold, the world forever changed in a moment.

Behold, the moment by moment blessing.

Behold, the hope we have forever.

Behold, the promise fulfilled.

Behold, the victory over sin and death.

Behold, the reason for the merry and joy.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.”

-1 John 5:1

Behold, Him, still. Still in the manger, still at work in the world, still seated by the Father, still in our hearts…stilling us in awe today.

Behold, behold, the Christ!

 

15. BEHOLD: The Calm

Crazy days. Crazy illnesses, crazy injuries. Crazy times with students. Crazy plans to keep up with. Crazy lots to get done. Crazy excitement ahead. Everything is crazy these days. Has anyone else hit that point yet? Regardless of the careful planning ahead, Christmas always seem to come with craziness.

It must have during the first Christmas, too. Our peaceful nativity scenes don’t reflect it, but…

I can’t imagine that Mary wasn’t going a little nuts while entering labor AND searching for a place to stay or being hunkered down in a barn. A city so full that there was no room at the inn doesn’t sound peaceful or quiet. The King plotting to kill Jesus from the time he heard of His birth certainly sounds a little mad.

Praise the Lord that He is the calm!

That little baby we celebrate knew the perfect peace of God better than any of us have ever been able to fathom. His life reflected that though His circumstances rarely did.

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders.”

Psalm 107

In all of the storms and throngs of angry people and lists of material things piling high, the Lord is and was constant, calm, and able to hold it all together. All that He holds together is His, after all.

Even angry, flipping tables, Jesus could still calmly and ultra-wisely answer His accusers. When they seized Him to kill Him, He calmly healed a soldier’s ear and spoke calm over His disciples.

That sort of calms knows no bounds except for the will of God. His calm is the sort of calm we need every Christmas, and every day.

Behold, the one to whom we can go when we need calm.

Behold, the calm who keeps that which would overwhelm at bay.

Behold, the reason for the calm at all: God’s Will is so good that the trouble is worth the calm that always comes anyway.

This Post is being Shared on: #WomenWithIntention and #TellHiStory