Thursday, August 28, 2014

Starting small

I recently read a book about a man who learned to walk by faith in a way that seemed foolish to those on the outside. Seriously foolish. If your cupboards were almost empty and you had a family to feed, would you turn down a job with a 6-figure income because you knew God wanted you to rely on Him and He had another plan (even though you had no idea what it was)?

Over and over as I read this book, things from the book and things that happened in life both told me that this is something God wanted from me... this kind of faith. There was a reason I was reading this book at this time.

God has already taught me two lessons today... reminding me that I have to leave logic out... that I am not smarter than He is... that He knows what He is doing. Oh, and He's going to have a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Go buy a Bible. A real paper one, not something on your computer or phone.

I asked Him where to go and show me which one I was supposed to buy. Driving to the store, I thought about the Bible I wanted. I knew I didn't want one with devotionals or commentaries. I spend too much of my study time reading about the Word already. I need to read the actual Word.

I thought it would be great if I could find one with plenty of room to write in it as well. I even thought about inventing a Bible with blank pages between each printed page... so I don't lose my notes. Bibles are expensive, but God will provide, right? I had the money from the house I cleaned today in my pocket, and God would figure out how to plug that hole in the budget when the time came.

As I got out of the van I glanced down at the floor and saw a $5 bill. With a quick Heaven-ward 'Thanks!' I stuck it in my purse and joked to myself and God both, "I guess it IS an expensive Bible if I needed more than what I have on me!"

Inside I went straight for the clearance Bibles... no luck there. On the regular shelves I flipped through Book after Book and began to think that maybe I had already misunderstood His instructions. None were what I wanted and I couldn't really imagine spending everything I had on one that wasn't what I though He wanted me to get. With one more glance at all the shelves before I left, I saw a small book on a bottom shelf with a bright sticker on the cover: $2.97. A complete Bible with no commentaries or devotions, but very little white space either. 

How am I going to take notes in this? Should I get a notebook too?

Then He said something that surprised me.  Those notes you are worried about writing are for you. You aren't writing for you. You are writing for Me.

So, despite all I tried to plan out... I ended up with the Book and some candy for less than the $5 bill I had found on the floor of the van, leaving my budget intact. Oh look at that... You DID know what You were doing. Thanks God.

Driving home from the bookstore and thinking about that experience I started thinking about the guy from the book. Then silly me asked a question. So, what is MY version of passing up a 6-figure income with bare cupboards?

And He told me, driving down the road, as clear as if I had read the words on a billboard. Well, lets start with you taking down your eHarmony profile. Yes, I know today starts free communication weekend. Do it anyway.

Ah yes, Lord, You would pick that. I can't really do anything but laugh though. I did ask for it, and He and I have talked about this before. In the end though, I know that if I can't do something as simple as that, this is going to be a very bumpy roller coaster ride.

I have some studying to do now. God bless.

Upside down and backwards

What an understatement it is
to say living completely by faith
without logic or excuses
is a difficult thing.
It's not that I don't believe
God will sustain and prosper
such a life, lived for His glory.
It's not even that I'm worried
about the times that will be hard.

It's that, for a girl
who has lived her whole life
in constant fear of the unknown,
not knowing what God's plan is
and still saying "Okay, I'm all Yours!"
is like going to an amusement park
and riding all the rides facing backwards,
never knowing if I'll be headed
up or down the next second,
or if the roller coaster
is about to slow down, stop, 
plunge me into a corkscrew,
or send me through a loop
that leaves me dangling upside down.

What I have to cling to
is the belief that when
this roller coaster stops
and it's time to change rides,
I will get off at the platform,
and say, "That was awesome. Which one
do You want me to ride next, Lord?"
And also hope that those standing around,
watching me do things that seem to defy logic
will stop and say, "Riding all the rides backwards?
No concrete knowledge of what's coming?
Just a belief that everything will be okay?
I think that's how I'm supposed to be riding too..."

If Jesus is the Word made flesh, then to know Him, I need to know the Word.

Today as I struggled with getting up and making time for Him, and ultimately chose to write instead of read, that ever faithful (even when I'm not) God of mine said, "You're not going to get anywhere reading on your computer or your phone. Go buy a Bible."

If I look hard enough, I could probably find ten Bibles in my house. I can even see one from where I sit, but I don't think the Kid's Adventure Bible is really what He has in mind. I'll add it to my 'to do' list today and see what happens. I have a busy day ahead of me, but I'm faithful He will give me an opportunity to fit it in, if that's what He wants me to do.

Praying that He remembers that I'm not so great at listening yet, and turns the speakers up a bit for the moment... and that this roller coaster I am on, that I feel slowly and gently clack-clack-clacking up this steep hill, gives me a few minutes to make sure my seat belt is secure, my sunglasses and cell phone are stowed away safely, and my shoes are tied tightly before we plunge down the next drop or into a corkscrew.

I don't know which it will be or how far ahead it is so I'll just prepare and wait.

(He'll like, warn me first... right? Riiight...)

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 
~2 Corinthians 4:7

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


God made me a pretty smart girl.
I have some good ideas from time to time.
If a good idea in a willing servant is God-inspired,
there is very little that can keep it from becoming reality.

As much as I try to be a willing servant
so many "good ideas" have fallen apart for me
when I tried to take action on them.
Even the ones that I thought would bring Him
the glory He wants and so richly deserves.

Don't You see that I am trying to do something amazing here?
When people see it, they will give You the glory!
This will prove to so many that it only takes
faith to move mountains.

Then it doesn't work out, and I am heartbroken.
Tired, depressed, angry, irritated, and unmotivated.
Pray? Why bother? (As if I'm punishing Him.)
Read? I don't feel like it. (As if somehow He will cave to my sulking.)

I'm reading a book, The Extravagant Fool by Kevin Adams. Here is an incident he related in this book between him and his daughter that floored me, probably much like it did Kevin when it happened...
At age four she came bouncing from the bathroom, dripping wet with tears in her eyes, to ask, “Daddy, didn't you say that anything is possible with God if you just believe hard enough?”

“Sure, sweet girl. Absolutely.”

“Well, Daddy . . . I’ve just come from the bathtub, and it was filled up to the top.”

“Uh-huh.” I suddenly imagined myself backhanding the floating chairs, toilet seats, and toothbrushes half submerged in Bathroom Lake.


“Yes, sweetheart?” I’m now reluctantly reaching for the bathroom door, with her close behind me.

“Well, um . . . I’ve been trying and trying to walk on the water the whole time, and I just can’t do it. I’m really sorry, Daddy. I believed I could do it with God’s help, but I can’t — and I’m really sorry.”

With profound silence, I looked at her curious little face and hoped for a routine word ...

... But all I had to offer this time was a hug — one I couldn’t let go of without a little extra help from above.

Help me, Father. Just one thought that gently brought the next one:

Anything is possible with Me, but not everything is useful to Me. Peter only walked after I said, “Come.”
“Sweet girl,” I said on the heels of that thought, “it is possible for you to walk on water, but only if it’s something God wants you to do. Did He tell you to walk on the water?”

“No, Daddy, He didn’t. I just wanted to.”

Before I could finish that brilliant thought, though, she was on to the next subject.

It doesn't matter if I have the best intentions or the worst intentions. It doesn't matter if my end goal is selfish or if I want it to work for His glory. If it isn't His will, I will ultimately fail.

 I can tell God I want to make a relationship work, I want to write a book, 
I want to grow my company into something huge in His name,
I want to bring people to Him with the story He's given me
I want to teach teen moms their self worth and help them 
break free from the negative patterns in their lives, 

I want to walk on water.

The reason why doesn't matter.
Whether trying to bring glory to my name or His.
None of what "I want" means anything...

If I don't first listen for Him to say "Come..."

And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 
~Matthew 14:29

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Last night I had a dream

Most of the time, dreams mean nothing... and I believe that is true about this one. But it was so real that I had to write about it.

Last night I had a dream that group of terrorists had taken over. I don't know if it was the whole country, but it was happening where I live. They were dressed like the photos I've seen of ISIS.

Somehow it had become legal for them to kill anyone who spoke to them disrespectfully in public, which included anyone who spoke about the Bible or Christianity. I was walking down the street and saw two women eating on the patio of a restaurant. One said something to one of these men who was "patrolling" the area, machine gun in hand. Immediately he was at her side, gun pressed to her head as her friend begged her to apologize and told her, "You can't say that to them. They can kill you for that!"

I walked on without waiting to see what happened.

The next thing I remember, I was in my own home and one of these men was following me down my hallway. I kept quoting Bible verses to him. One was in Hebrews, but other than that, I don't remember which verses I used. When he got angry I told him, "This is still my home, my private property. I still have religious freedom in my own home."

His response... "You can't hide in here forever."

I don't remember being afraid in the dream, but I know I would have been.
Thinking about it today makes me wonder how brave I would really be.

If I were one of those people with this symbol posted on their properties, what would I do? What a scary reality for some believers, half a world away. More evidence that we Americans, as much as we complain about some things, are more blessed than we can imagine...

Thankful that for me it was just a dream. Praying that that life never becomes a reality.

I believe in religious freedom and religious choice. While I am sad when someone chooses not to believe in the grace that saved me, I know that God gave us free will for a reason... and just as He won't force them to believe, I shouldn't attempt to force them either.

When it comes to religion in a public place, I believe that I should be able to stand on a street corner next to a person who is telling every passer-by that Christians are idiots and be just as free myself to stand next to the them and tell everyone that Jesus loves and provides grace for everyone... even the person calling me an idiot for believing it.

Just because you don't like or agree with what someone is saying, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to say it, nor does it give you the right to treat them badly.

You would think, given the scenario from my dream, that most people would agree. Unfortunately, many people are doing all they can to take away the religious freedoms of Christians in America, a little at a time, because they don't agree with them.

What they don't realize is that someday, their own freedoms will be called into question and they won't have a leg on which to stand.

A little different than my usual post, but that was a little different than my usual dream...

Pray for us, for our conscience is clear and we want to live honorably in everything we do. 
~Hebrews 13:8
Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 
You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. 
Remember the great reward it brings you! 
Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you 
will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith.
But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 
But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. 
We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.~Hebrews 10:32-39
Thankful today for all that I have, and praying for those who only dream of having the problems I 'endure' on a daily basis...

Sunday, August 17, 2014


This guy I knew a long time ago emailed me earlier this week.
I told him I knew he was only after
one thing and he was not going
to be getting it from me... 
     that I'm a different girl now... 
          and I sent him on his way.

Then you basically tell me you want the same things from me... 
     except you live so far away now.

You talk about coming back for me... but admit it would be next year, if at all.
Careful to tell me not to wait, you still throw it out there as a 'what if.'

I tell myself what you want is different 
     than what the other guy wanted, 
        Why? Because I love you... but really it's not fair. 
You had so many opportunities to love me, and you didn't take them. 
Don't tell me how much you regret it now that you are gone.
Don't talk about what 'maybe' could have happened if.
Don't talk about what 'maybe' could happen in the future.

I deserve someone who wants all of me... forever.

I deserve someone who knows how to love me back.

Not just someone who wants to send me sweet text messages
that mean nothing when applied to real daily life.

And I want to tell you to stop. 

But I don't want you to stop. 

Because sometimes a text message 
that makes me feel wanted
feels better than loneliness.
Which makes me wonder if
maybe I'm not a different girl after all.

I know I talk too much. 
You don't want to know any of this. 
You just want me to tell you to stop or don't,
because you said you'd stop if I told you to.

Don't stop.

And I can't help but wonder if this is a test.
Maybe this is the time I'm supposed to make the right choice
and God will decide I'm ready for something else...
or maybe I'm fooling myself with this as well...
     or setting myself up for defeat... 
          because I will never make the right choice every time.
One right choice followed by another followed by maybe even one more... eventually followed by a lot of stupidity... and then I have to start all over again. And anyone who read my last blog post is saying, "This doesn't sound like the girl who was practicing thankfulness and praying over her list."

Three steps forward 
and 2.5 steps back.
Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Prayers are more than a request

I truly wish that being married wasn't something I desired. I've even asked God to take the desire from me. I would like to live a life that doesn't make this topic part of everything I do. And I do know that since I've started dating again, this topic comes up more and more. If you are exasperated by it, know that I am too.

Awhile back, when I was frustrated about the two recent relationships I've had that haven't worked out, a friend told me, "Did you really think God was going to let you marry the first guy you dated when you started dating again? You might have to do this 15 or 20 times before He sends you the right one."

What!?! What a terrifying thought. Especially for a girl who has a track record of picking the wrong guys and sticking with them for way too long... often because I don't want to start over with someone else. Remembering that advice is almost enough to give me panic attack. His heart was in the right place, it just wasn't what I needed to hear at that moment.

I had coffee with my pastor's wife last week and we talked about similar things. She had some different ideas for me.

She told me to first make a list of the qualities I want in my future husband.
I had actually done this before, but that was back before I realized the possibilities. I can tell you now that my new list is much different from my old list... but no, I'm not sharing it. :-)

She then said to pray about it daily, thanking God for preparing him, wherever he is, whoever he is, to be who I need and thanking God for making me into the person he needs.

When I thought about this later, I started to get frustrated again. Daily? That's no problem. I've definitely been doing that. But why does how I ask matter? Why can't God just answer the prayer because He understands?

But really, I know prayer isn't just about getting what you want from God or thanking him for what He has given. Prayer also changes the person who prays. Thanking God for preparing my future husband is saying that I understand he isn't ready yet. Thanking God for preparing me is saying that I understand I'm not ready yet (even though I obviously think I am.)

I can dissect it even farther and focus on that "thanking Him" part. Being thankful for what I hope God is doing is a pretty big attitude change from being frustrated that He hasn't yet or worried that He might not ever... (something I need to be careful not to dwell on.)

She also said it's okay to pray that the right one, whoever he is, and I, will not have any doubts... that we will know, when it does happen, that God planned this.

Unfortunately for me, I have to remember that just because something is at the top of my priority list, it doesn't mean God is going to hand it over any time soon. But I did come away from that conversation hearing that it is okay to ask God to make the next one the right one (though I know He may have other plans) and to keep the wrong ones out of my path.

Continuing to work on being thankful for what I have and what He is going to do instead of being frustrated and depressed about what hasn't happened yet. Thank you for hanging in here with me, those of you who are. I know God has big plans for me and, I hope, a husband someday soon. Please continue to pray for me, that He will help me keep a better attitude and keep bitterness from slipping in... it's so easy sometimes to lose that thankful heart that He wants us to have.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." 
~Philippians 4:6-8

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I've heard that voice before

Years ago I was in a relationship that wasn't working. Still, I sincerely thought J and I were going to get married. So, the day he walked into my house and broke it off, accusing me of something I didn't do, I was shocked. I followed him back to his house, trying to prove him wrong.

I cried and begged and pleaded for him to listen to me, tried to prove I hadn't been talking to the person he had forbidden me to have contact with several months before. I don't remember most of what I said. I do remember that at some point, I collapsed into a sobbing heap on the entryway floor. My whole body was shaking and I was ready to throw up any second. Then, all of the sudden, I heard a voice in my head. (Don't worry, it wasn't a psychotic break... it was my own voice...)

I said, "You are miserable. You fight all the time. This is your chance to walk away. This is not what you want for your life."

The next thing I know, I had walked out the door and gone home. I then deliberately sabotaged any chance we had at getting back together by actually calling the person he had forbidden me to contact. A few days later, the banned person had asked for a ride somewhere and I said okay. J saw him in my van. The look on J's face made me wonder if I had done the wrong thing. I was immediately terrified. I was officially alone again. I called him, emailed him, sent texts, randomly tried to chat with him. I made a lot really poor decisions, many of which I blamed on him.

Two months later I went out with friends one night and, after the bars closed, they dropped me off at home. I remember walking in my front door. Next I remember standing on his front porch and hearing him say, "Stay right there. I'm calling the police." I was three of the five blocks home before they made it to his house and he pointed them in my direction. The officer didn't approach me on the sidewalk. He just asked from the street where my home was and if I was going there. I said yes, and I did.

The next time I had a weekend with no kids, the friends who had dropped me off before thought it would be a good idea for me to stay with them instead of going home... to keep me out of trouble. That was the last time I hung out with those friends because that was the night that she slept in one room while I said, "No." to him in another and my 'No' was ignored.

Who did I turn to for comfort after this happened? The man who had been my best friend for nearly four years, J. His response was, "You got what you deserved."

His comments should have been a confirmation to me that I had been right when I walked away. Instead, his rejection of me spurred me to convince him we should be together. It was two years before I quit trying to talk to him... all the while I let my life spin out of control. I've mentioned here that I have a hard time letting go sometimes right? Yeah, thought so.

So, what reminded me of all of this tonight?

D is leaving in the next few days, moving out of state. We have been 'just friends' for quite awhile now, but his definition of 'friends' changes from time to time (sometimes from minute to minute) and it has been more than a little confusing for my heart and my mind. 

A couple of times this week I have had melt-downs where I just had to shut myself in my room and cry until I was out of tears. Sometimes I think he stops by and talks about packing and leaving just to make me cry. I'm supposed to be helping him with one of his classes via the internet this fall, and he promises we will Skype, and he'll come visit at Christmas when he's in town to see his mom. I've already been told what I'm making for dinner when he comes over.

But today, when I started to fall apart after getting a text from him about the class I'm supposed to help him with, and again later while I was putting together some photos I'd gathered for him, I heard a familiar voice in my head. "Why are you doing this? He has proven he does not really care about you. You are miserable when he is around. You have to fight all the time for respect. This is not what you want for your life. This is not what God wants for your life. Move on."

Holding on has not served me well in the past. The voice was right before, and I ignored it. Tonight I am asking for grace and help and direction as I fight to be the girl I am supposed to be, instead of continually slipping back into the patterns of that girl God saved me from being.

How many times has He saved me from myself? More than I can count. I'm thankful tonight that He isn't giving up on me.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 
~Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power
that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 
~Ephesians 1:19-20