Thursday, July 28, 2011

Limitless


"Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, oh Lord." Psalm 139:4

Fear, doubt, and lack came knocking at my door this morning. Faced with more work, more changes to my chapters, more words to be added, more editing before my book is ready for the eyes of the publisher. Limited words. Limited resources. Limited time.

Then God so gently reminded me He is limitless. His wisdom far surpasses my own. His words have already been set upon my tongue. His resources are infinite. He knows no limits of time or space or beauty. He dared my imagination to run wild.

Therefore, this day my fear will be replaced with joy from the God of this universe who goes before me to plan and provide from His unfathomable depths of resources and wisdom. I shall drink from His pool of Living Water and pour out His words that overflow from His limitless love. 

"Everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:8

"You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel." Psalm 73: 23-24

O Lord, our thoughts, our words, our resources are limited. But you are limitless. Fill us with your Holy Spirit to overflowing that we may dare to dream God-sized dreams. Go before us today, oh God, to prepare a way for us. Fill us with your wisdom and provide for us by your infinite resources so that we might partner with your creativity and bring your kingdom here. Amen.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Because of Jesus

"Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south." Psalm 107:2-3

Faces. Faces of beauty. Eyes. Eyes smiling, crying, searching. Lips. Lips praising, praying, sharing. Hands. Hands clapping, opening, rising. Hearts. Hearts beating, loving, longing. Lives. Lives touching, moving, changing. Story. Story forming, sharing, leading.
 
       All because of Jesus.
 
The active, ever-present God meeting each one as individual. Individual in shape and form. Individual in need and want. Individual in talent and beauty. Women, writers, speakers, leaders uniting to tell their stories. 
 
     All because of Jesus.
 
Humbling. Heart-breaking. Inspiring. Motivating. Empowering. Stories confessing brokenness. Stories sharing joy. Stories leading us to the One who seeks and saves. Stories of the One offering us something new; a new name and a new life.
All because of Jesus.
 
This was my weekend. Surrounded by 650 women gathered from around this country, representing 44 states and four countries who had a Jesus story to tell. A story unique in it's delivery and circumstance yet universal in it's message: Broken. Touched by the open hands of Jesus. Changed forever.  
All because of Jesus.
 
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Detours



"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life."
Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

Join me for the beginning of this Detour today at 4pm on Encouragement Cafe . I'll be serving up my detour story titled GPS: Listening to God's Planning Strategy.

Here's how the story continues:

Usually detours are set up to protect us from dangerous road conditions ahead. But when we detour off God's planned route for our lives, we can travel some treacherous roads. As you've just read my story at Encouragement Cafe, I learned this the hard way and then God redirected my journey on an off-road experience.

In the seven months it took to completely heal from my concussion, there were times when I could do nothing. The pain was so severe that simple tasks like bending over, watching television, listening to music, and browsing the Internet triggered excruciating headaches. I could however, journal and read for short snippets of time. So, what's left to do? NOTHING!

I felt so guilty knowing my entire family was working and I was contributing nothing. I kept checking in with God, "Are you sure I'm suppose to be doing nothing?" The answer was always the same, "Do nothing. Just let me heal you." Double checking that I heard him right I'd ask again, "So God, in my 'doing nothing' what am I REALLY suppose to be doing?"

In God's infinite wisdom and humor, I wasn't really doing nothing. I was enrolled in God's School of Ear Training. God had me right where he wanted me; totally dependent on Him for a full nine hours a day. In those hours God trained my ears to discern his voice in prayer, in reading Scripture, and in simple conversation.

The following summer it was time to take a step of faith and follow God's directions. Journaling quietly at my girlfriends kitchen table one July morning, God gave me the gift of words that formed a simple verse. As I reread it I thought, "Hey, that could be a children's book! "God answered, "Why, yes it could. Now publish it." That's how simply my children's book Auntie's House came to be and was published by Halo Publishing Int'l in February 2009. It was a small beginning that has germinated into a larger, God-sized dream.

Learning to hear God's voice, recognizing it and stepping out in faith to obey it have been valuable lessons. It is difficult to let go of our own plans and veer off-road with God. Sometimes the road conditions leave us with poor visibility and we're left wondering what awaits us up ahead. But one thing is true: God will never leave us or forsake us on our journeys. He will see us through to the end.

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

"Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight." Psalm 119:35 (NIV)

Dear Lord,
How easy it is to stay our own course when you are calling us to detour away from dangerous roads. Help us not only to discern your voice but to humbly lay down our own road plans for yours that lead to life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Holy Tears


"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells." Psalm 46:4

By Saturday afternoon at the She Speaks conference, my heart was overwhelmed by God's presence and words that pierced my soul. It was all good, just more than my humanity could contain. So, I tip-toed into the prayer room, sought sanctuary, and wept. Tears of gratitude, of wonder, of cleansing from my Jehova-Mekaddishkem, (God who sanctifies), rolled down my cheeks. My shoulders heaved and my voice could not utter one audible word, only a groan; a sound so deep within that only the Holy Spirit could interpret.

God's journey for me this year has been one signified by these words: Surrender. Confidence. Small beginnings. God planted them in the soil of my heart one-by-one throughout the past seven months and they germinated in separate, neatly cultivated rows of understanding.

Surrender. At first I thought this word was given to me for my husband. I misunderstood. It was all for me. God finally whispered clearly to my heart, "Surrender your words. Surrender your striving. Surrender your book." He didn't say give up on my efforts, my dreams and plans. Rather, he called me to lay them down and partner with him in the creative process of a God-sized dream: a book that would speak healing to the wounded hearts of daughters of divorce.

Confidence. Big dreams brought fear. Fears that I wasn't good enough, equipped enough, talented enough. I wasn't enough. But he reassured me He is enough. I walked into church the Sunday after New Year's Day and was handed a slip of paper; a torn off calendar sheet with two Scripture verses on it. It's significance to the sermon fails me now but it was a profound message to me directly from God. It read, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10:35-36. Dated: July 22, 2011; the date the She Speaks writers' conference would begin.

Small beginnings. A book has been brewing in my belly for two years and this winter I surrendered it back to the Lord for his purposes and wrote hard and long to prepare it for the writer's conference. I asked Josie Muwonge, a visiting pastor, to pray over me for God's annointing as I continued to prepare. She said, "I see God's annointing all over you already. Go home and write." And when she finished praying she whispered, "Do not bemoan the small beginnings."

I walked into She Speaks this weekend very pregnant with the lessons God had taught me, locked behind a binder, written in black and white. I surrendered it to the publishers. One liked it. More work to be done. But this was not the significant moment. For the significant came in small morsels, spoken by sisters of the Word, that swelled my belly when those neatly germinated rows collided in one place; those God-reminders of surrender, confidence and small beginnings. I could not restrain myself and in moments they poured out as rivers of tears sacrificed to the Most High in a holy corner of the She Speaks prayer room.

Do you have a dream that God's placed in your heart? Are you tired of the burn in your belly to see it come true? Are you burned out from striving and planning in your own strength? I invite you to lay it down, dear reader. Take time to weep and listen for God's words as his Spirit washes over you.

"My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God." Job 16:20

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sweet Worship From Generation to Generation

“Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will praise you forever; from generation to generation we will proclaim your praise.” Psalm 79: 13


Since our children married I find myself longing for them during Sunday morning worship. I miss watching them get lost in praise and witnessing God’s precious Spirit wash over their faces.


God must have been listening to my heart because he gathered my family together for worship, this Sunday night. As the lights dimmed and the music began to swell my heart was full as I stood amongst my family who invited worship. Soon, my three year old granddaughter beckoned me to dance. “Grams, can we dance? Will you dance with me?”


I must admit, at first I struggled with how to use this as a teachable moment for her; to teach her that we dance or raise our hand in worship to Jesus, not just because it’s fun to move to the beat of the drums. Then Jesus whispered, “Do not hinder the little children to come to me.” So, I kicked of my shoes (and Dakota’s too) and we danced and we swayed and we worshiped Jesus together. There we were, side-by-side lifting our voices, raising our hands, raising our banners of praise to the Lord. I find it almost inexplicable.

video


In a quiet moment near the end, the band began to whisper a melody that has been sung to comfort four generations in my family:


“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus. Let all heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms may all pass away, but there’s something about that name.”

I was swallowed up in God’s presence at that moment, holding my granddaughter close, watching those familiar faces soaked in His presence; I was so grateful to be worshiping with my family. I am thankful that He has blessed my family from generation to generation with a passion to praise Him.


Thank you Lord, for the blessing me with a family that worships you. May our lives continue to honor you and our lips to worship you from generation to generation. Amen.

"His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." Luke 1:50

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Greatest Desire


"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4

It's a perfect morning. Summer, sunshine, silence and a whole day to do whatever I desire.

While comforting scents of coffee and cinnamon brew in the corner, I pop a raisin English muffin into the toaster. And wait.

Not wanting to waste time, I scan my grocery list, adding and subtracting items according to my scant plethora of coupons. Still waiting.

I scoop up the newspaper, (barely reaching my driveway), nearly tripping over my fluffy feline that runs under my feet as I step back into the house. She weaves back and forth between my legs until I fulfill her desire for tuna and eggs, Friskies style.

Ahhh. Coffee's done. English muffin is dripping with melted butter. I grab the paper, ready to settle into the local news when God whispers, "Come away. Delight in me."

I stand there a few seconds contemplating all the time I'd waste sitting around "doing nothing." Really. God whispers again, "Come away." One thing I've learned in my almost 50 years, when God asks me, more than once to do something, I listen. So, dropping the paper,  I relinquish my desire for busyness to "do nothing" except be in God's presence.

He never disappoints. In the devotional Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young God met me this morning with these words, "This time alone with me is essential for unscrambling your thoughts and smoothing out the day before you. Be willing to fight for this precious time with Me. Opposition comes in many forms: (including) your own inner critic to spend your time more productively. As you grow in your desire to please Me above all else, you gain strength to resist these opponents. Delight yourself in Me , for I am the deepest Desire of your heart."

Do you ever look at your quiet time with God as doing nothing, like me? Do you ever desire to spend your time with other people doing other things rather than with God? The bible says we are his greatest delight; he takes great pleasure in His children; He sings over us with joy! He just wants to spend time with us and become our hearts' deepest Desire; our greatest longing.

Dear Lord, forgive me of my selfishness. Continue to draw me near to your side, into your presence until you become my deepest desire.