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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Alyssa Grace



Lord, I thank You for entrusting Alyssa into my hands - to care for her, to raise her to know You, to learn to hear Your voice, to one day return back to You.  I ask for Your  help, Your guidance, Your wisdom. I want to present You with a daughter one day that has made You proud with her life.  I pray for protection and long life for Alyssa. May Your hand of blessing and favor follow her everywhere she goes.  I commit her once again to You - that she would live a life unashamed of You - a life recklessly abandoned to Your will...

I loved you the moment
I knew you were on your way
Such anticipation I had
For your arrival day

Great plans for your life
I held deep in my heart
Never thought for a moment
You’d have such a rough start

You were such a fighter
So little - yet so strong
I watched my baby endure
Five months way too long

Now it’s 14 years later
I’m so proud of you
You’ve faced so much
But God carried you through

I look at you now
Your smiling, happy face
I’m so blessed to have you
My sweet, Alyssa Grace

Happy 14th birthday, Alyssa!   You are such a beautiful, fun, and loving daughter. Thank you for always giving me a reason to smile. I'm so proud of you and I love you deeply.
 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Fulfilling Your Spouse

 
We all have our ideals of what we want to GET out of our marriages, but what are we willing to GIVE?  Laying aside our desires for just a moment, let’s think about our spouses. What could we do to assure them they are loved? What would make them feel safe, secure, and truly cared about?  We all have an innate need for these things. What are we doing to daily fulfill it for our partner? 


 
Some of us the yearning and need is even greater because of things we have gone through in life; possibly rejection and abandonment wounds that yes, only the love of the Father can heal, but what if we could play a part in binding up those wounds in our mate as the Father lavishes His love upon them through us?  What if? 


Our relationship with our spouse is to be the most intimate of all relationships we have.  We are neglecting the responsibility given to us when we fail to invest in learning how and applying a level of love to our spouse that is to trump all other earthly relationships they have.  Easier said than done?  Yes.  A lot of denying our own selfish desires and attitudes for the sake of them?  Yes.  Choosing to love them in word and action even when we feel justified in not doing so?  Yes.  We are the closest “skin” God can use to love His child and demonstrate His unconditional love for them.  

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. To have the privilege to make someone feel special, and to make their life a little easier is priceless.  Wives, wouldn't it bring you unspeakable joy to know that when your husband leaves the house each day, he longs to get home to YOU?  Husbands, can you imagine the “spring” you’d have in your step in knowing your wife excitedly anticipates your return home? 
 
When we just take life as it comes, all too often we set ourselves up for failure. This is true in our homes as well.  We can say we want to have a healthy and happy home, but wanting and doing are two different things.  Good relationships don’t just happen.  To get good at anything there is practice, repetition, and dedication. 
 
Have you ever thought about writing down your goal as a spouse?   When you are making plans for the day with things you wish to accomplish, once you make a checklist of those things, you feel obligated or accountable to do that which you have set in your heart to do.  Likewise, when you get specific as to the spouse you want to be, you are more apt to take the steps to becoming just that.  Then share it with your spouse.  What a beautiful moment you will bring to them when they see your heart’s desire is to bring them joy!
 
How does this sound?        
 
As your lifetime best friend, I want to bring you joy
A place of safety where you can be vulnerable
I want to hold your hand as an encourager, your biggest fan
As your faithful lover, I want to make you feel like the man (woman) you are

I commit to talking things through, never allowing walls to be built up
I will protect your feelings even if I do not agree or understand
I will always do my best to show you how much you’re loved
I want you to never doubt how proud I am that you are mine

I want our home to be a peaceful haven
A place you can retreat to - to be refreshed from each day’s challenges
I want to make you feel alive; adding smiles to your life
Whatever it is I can do, I want to make life easier for you
This is possible, but we have to throw out the 50/50, self seeking mindset “I’ll do for you if you do for me.”  Marriage is teamwork. What team ever succeeded with players only giving 50 percent?  Marriage takes commitment and it is a commitment far beyond staying faithful. 
 
100/100 carries a whole different perspective: to solely seek to satisfy your partner’s needs.   If we want a truly fulfilling marriage, both sides have to give their all. As I tell my children, you are responsible for YOUR actions.  You can’t use someone else’s “shortcuts” as an excuse to not do your best.  I find the things I teach the kids to be sound truth and healthy relationship advice. Ha.  It’s time we as adults start living by the same rule.  If our spouse is having a less than 100% kind of day, guess what?  We aim our own behavior on God’s standards not on the weakness our spouse is having at the moment. J
Let’s make the decision today to be passionate about fulfilling our spouse.  Ask the Lord to put that desire in you if it is currently clouded by negative emotions.  Begin seeing your spouse as a gift of great worth laid in your hands from the Father Himself.  What will you do with this treasure?  Will you protect it from the danger of outside elements?  Will you carefully handle and nurture it in such a way that you yourself do not cause it damage?  This gift given to you will one day be given back to the Giver Himself.  Will your spouse be returned in greater spiritual and emotional condition than upon the day you received them?  I believe that is our mandate as husband, as wife.  May each of us bring glory to God as we purposefully take care of this "gift" of great value!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Worth It

 
As I walked one afternoon, I was meditating on:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
 
God loved us smack dab in the middle of our sin.  He demonstrated His love while we rejected Him.  He poured His life out as an offering with the chance we may never love Him back.  Why would He lay Himself down for us in the midst of our wickedness?  Why would He provide a way of escape for us when we lived a life that mocked His ways?  Why?  In that moment of question, I felt Him gently speak, “Not because you were worthy of it, but because you were WORTH IT.”
 
Immediately I was reminded:
 
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12
Image result for love verb heart
It is not a suggestion, but a commandment to love as He loved.  We are called to love those who do not deserve it.  Just saying we love people isn’t what He meant.  Love is a verb.  It is demonstrated in our actions, in our attitudes, in our words towards EVERYONE… yes, even the unlovely.  Yes, even the one who disrespects you, the one who speaks evil of you, the one who has smeared your name, the one who has broken your heart, corrupt leaders, misguided politicians, the harsh boss that takes you for granted…
We have become so accustomed to the thought that we need to only respect and love those who are deserving of it and those who have earned it.  But God’s ways are much higher than our human logic:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you to show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers alike. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that?  And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the heathen do that?  You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:42-48
Image result for you are worth it
Each one of us was once lost in our sin and living a life separated from God… and yet - Jesus found us WORTH IT.  When we are tempted to pull our judgmental swords and  withhold “the love of God that has been shed abroad in our hearts” let’s remember where we came from and love those who have not yet found The Way. 

"And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"  Romans 2:3-4

The goodness of God.  The goodness of God in what Jesus already did, the goodness of God in our everyday lives, and could it also be the goodness of God THROUGH US to others that will lead them to true repentance?  
 
May our love walk demonstrate the God who loved “while we were yet sinners.” May God's love in action - in us - be the very tool that gains us access to speak the Truth into those people’s lives who Jesus found WORTH IT! J
 
Image result for walk in love


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fly on the Wall


 
 
Ever wished you could be a fly on the wall? ...to listen in on conversations you weren’t invited to; to hear what someone truly thought of you or if they even spoke of you at all? 

God too is interested in what we are saying or not saying. Because of His omnipresence - (and I say this with absolutely no disrespect or to demean who God is) - He is a "fly on the wall" in our life.  He not only hears and sees what we are doing, but He keeps notes!

"Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name." Malachi 3:16

He loves it when we talk about Him!  Notice the reciprocal of that Scripture:

"But I tell you, on the day of judgment men will have to give account for every idle, [empty, careless] word they speak. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:36-37

The God of all creation is listening to us! He hears how we speak of others and to others.  He hears what we say of Him or what we fail to say.  May the conversation of our lives be a sweet sound to our Lord. J
(Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:8, Psalm 19:14)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

It's Time


 
Prisoners function, but they are not free. We too often learn to function in dysfunction - physical or emotional - becoming so accustomed to bondage that we settle with the condition. 


We learn to live with it.
 
It becomes comfortable.  
 
It becomes normal.  
 
Functioning through life but never free!

You are meant for so much more than going through the motions of life.  It's time to quit settling!  It's time to stop seeing yourself through the lens of your past!  It's time to aspire beyond limits others have led you to believe that you have. 

Quit hiding the chains.  Quit bringing color to them through excuses as to why it's okay to remain bound.  A finely decorated prison cell is still a prison cell. 

It's time to kick off the shackles and reposition.  Your environment, your choice of entertainment, or the people you surround yourself with may have to change in order to blossom into all that God has created you to be.   
 
 Jesus came to set the captives free!  It's time...


"The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me [the Anointed One, the Messiah] to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]." Luke 4:18

Friday, July 1, 2016

Peace


 
 
A cycle of confusion, so constant, that contentment can never take root.  Band-Aids don’t heal and time never cures.   You’re surviving, but you’re far from living.  Your day becomes about holding it together, but inside you are crumbling. 

Maybe its pain inflicted upon you by another.  Your heart is unsafe.  You long for true acceptance and unconditional love.  Your level of peace is being constantly aware and managing your actions, denying your own desires if needed, or even talking about them.  You try and you try until you realize that even if perfection were possible, it wouldn’t be enough.  Callous words leave your heart numb, and yet somehow you still feel the pain.  Every time.
 
Maybe you’re at war with yourself.  Choices in life have left you devastated, guilty, or full of shame.  Or you have something going on inside of you.  It doesn’t have a name or a known reason for being there.  It’s sad.  It’s angry.  It’s depressed.  It’s stressed.  It’s hopeless.  So… you enlist.  You enlist in a losing battle plan of addiction, self harm, or abusing others.

Only the One who made us can restore us back to wholeness. In the midst of your raging storm, I pray you look to Him ~ where your release and your peace is found.

Peace

Crashing waves

Bruise my shore

Howling winds

 Blow in once more


Torrential rains

Pelt my skin

Lightning bolts

Come again



Turbulent waters

Staggered stance

Cycle repeated

In this dying dance


 
Trembling knees

Strike the ground

 Eyes glance up

To where help is found
 

An instant hush

The storm to cease

All at once

A soul at peace…

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Freedom in Our Praise


Most of the Psalms were written during wilderness times; the Epistles,  in prison.  We can take comfort in knowing that when we are in the fire, God is about to use us in a mighty way. 

"About Midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God..." In their darkest hour, they didn't forget God nor grow angry with Him.   They knew from Whom their help came from and they knew their freedom was in their praise. 

The rest of that Scripture states, "And the other prisoners were listening to them." Others are watching us as we endure life's storms.

"Suddenly there was an earthquake that shook the foundations of the jail.  All the doors  immediately flew open, and everyone's chains came off. "

May we be like Paul and Silas, confident that God will never  forsake us even in the toughest of times.  Our continual worship of Him will invoke His presence into our lives. Not only will it bring our freedom, but an open door to share the Gospel message to those who have watched our calm endurance. 

(Acts 16:25-26, Philippians 4:4-7, 1 Peter 2:9, Hebrews 13:15)