Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Light

Are you trying to find the Light?
It can easily be seen by some but others have to look for it.


Maybe you're in the dark and you can't find the light switch on the wall. 
You're just stumbling around the room hoping to feel your way in the right direction.
You are trying to escape your circumstances but nothing seems to be working.
You know what?

God is with you in the dark.


Maybe you're in the dark because you are blinded by your problems.
You can't see the light because your situation is blocking it from shining through.
Every time you take two steps forward something happens to push you three steps back.
Did you know?

God is with you in the dark.


Maybe you're in the dark because you chose to be.
The blackness of the night lured you in and you got so used to night vision that you forgot what it was like to see during the day.
You want to leave the toxic familiarity of your circumstances but are afraid that the light will draw attention to your flaws.
Can you believe?

God is with you in the dark.



So many of you are suffering in silence because of the darkness in your lives.
Addiction, illness, depression, abuse, etc....these things represent the DARK.

They will consume you if you let them.
Please don't let them.
The key to overcoming doesn't come in a pill bottle.
Victory isn't a drink away.


The way out of the dark is simple.
His name is Jesus.
And He doesn't belittle you, embarrass you, or shame you into following His light.

He just loves you.
Right where you are.

Cause you see,
"At night I’m immersed in the light!

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You."


Monday, October 20, 2014

Brave the Deep

A part of me has always wanted to go scuba diving in the ocean.


To see the beautiful array of coral and fish
To play with the friendly dolphins
To experience the underwater world


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But my desire to venture into the depths has been largely overshadowed by my fear of what lies beneath.


I could run out of air and drown.
SHARKS!!!  (Isn’t that reason enough?)
The water pressure could crush me.
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Yeah, yeah, I know. Those excuses have about a 3% chance of happening. 
But, c’mon, that’s still a very real possibility.


And I don’t typically do things that I’m not sure 100% sure are going to work out.


Do you?
Personally, I like to play it safe.


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But, I have been feeling a slight nudge in my Spirit lately to go deeper.
You know what I mean.
Like God is saying, “ You are living too safe. I have so much more for you. Jump in . Dive down. I want you to throw off your fears and live reckless with your faith. BRAVE THE DEEP."

I’ve never been what one might call the “brave” type.
I like my life in definite terms. My future to be clearly outlined.

Give me a set of rules, a list of objectives, something concrete...and I’ll  gladly come along.
But to move with the wind of the Spirit, not sure where He might lead me...that’s just plain scary.


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Do you know what SCUBA stands for?
Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus


An oxygen tank allows the person to breathe, explore, and swim around freely in the aquatic atmosphere.
I find this such a great analogy for the Christian life.


With Jesus we can move around with freedom in unfamiliar territory.
We have our own breathing machine….the breath of Jesus...to keep us from drowning.
We have access to the source of life...the only way to live without fear...at all times.


He is our Scuba tank!
When I recognize that my ability to brave the deep is not dependent on how much I can do on my own but on the very presence of Jesus Christ living within me, then I feel empowered to conquer this fear.


I can go beyond my very real and very daunting limits by allowing the Holy Spirit to navigate the waters for me.
He wants to take us to a deeper level of trust and intimacy with Him.
But we have to let go of our fear...and allow Him to be our oxygen tank.

















Unlike the physical tank that Scuba divers use, the breath of Christ is always available...it never runs out.
He can keep us from crumbling under the pressure of a rapidly changing environment.
He can keep us from being eaten alive by the sharks of social media, negativity, or unforeseen circumstances.
He can keep us from drowning due to personal lack or insecurity or past mistakes.


Because He is the breath of life, the conqueror of fear, the never-changing One.


What are you waiting for?
This is your chance to go somewhere you've never been before.

Let God lead you into uncharted waters.
Let's brave the deep together.




Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mountains and Memories

Growing up, my family would visit the mountains around Thanksgiving every year. 
I loved the sights and smells of it all.
Crisp air and crunchy leaves were like a warm blanket around my soul. 
They comforted me.  




Now, every year around Autumn I long for the mountains. 
I remember those trips with fondness and a tinge of sadness because miles between my family and I have prevented them from continuing on. 
Personal loss of precious family members has caused those memories to be bittersweet as well. 





There is a longing in my heart that will always be conjured up when the seasons start to change and the cool winds start to blow. 
And I get lost in thought of what used to be...what once was...and why it has to be different now. 

That type of thinking is hard to overcome this time of year.
It threatens my joy as if it were an avalanche lurking over my head just waiting to consume me. 
No air. No way out. 

Have you ever felt this way before? 
Like you just feel suffocated by what used to be? 
Like you can't breathe in new air because you're choking on the old air?






Let me encourage you today, friend.
Seasons change. They come and go. 
It will eventually warm up again.
The leaves will gradually fade into the earth. 
God made it this way on purpose. 

But what will we miss out on if our focus is on yesterday or tomorrow instead of today? 
If we are looking for a way out (physically or emotionally) instead of learning from the season we're in, do we really get anywhere? 

Here's what today offers: 
Colorful landscapes
Invigorating wind gusts
Crunchy leaves to jump in




I know for me, it is hard to see past the pain sometimes because once it's triggered, it wants to linger.
But I'm learning that the triggers will always be there. 
The pain will come out when I least expect it. 
And I have to make a choice. 

Do I dwell in that place of loss and let it overwhelm me?
Or do I let the pain carry me to a place of gain as I recognize the moment for what it is? 

Fleeting
Passing too quickly
Here today, gone tomorrow

Yes, I am grateful that seasons change. 
But I'm more grateful that they change ME.

I never want to go back and be who I was.
I'm always learning, growing, becoming...

So are you. 

And while I miss some things about yesterday, and while it hurts like hell some days, I am so glad I am who I am today. 




So, let yourself feel the pain of yesterday as the fall air blows hard outside your door. 
Then make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, sit on the front porch, and feel the moment of change you're in right now. 

It only happens once. 
And you don't want to miss it. 




"For everything there is a season,
  a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance."
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-4



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A New Song to Sing



I want to be a singer of new songs.

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A new song can’t be kept in.
It has to burst out and be heard.
What it says is relevant and important ...right now.
For you and others.

 
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A new song isn’t just a silly poem.
It’s full of life and liberty.
It beckons for people to listen.
It has to be released.

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A new song brings change to the atmosphere.
It has an inviting personality.
It isn’t negative or humdrum.
It begins, starts, initiates, a happy dance.


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A new song marks a new beginning.
It says “This is a new day.”
It causes movement in our bodies and souls.
Others listen and join in.


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What in your life is asking for you to sing?
Where do you need healing?
What feels trapped and is begging to be uncaged?
Are you desperate for breakthrough?


Sing, my friend.
Just sing a new song.


Sing out of your pain until you can feel peace.
Sing in the darkness until you can see the light.
Sing for your freedom! Sing for your joy!
Just sing.

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Paul and Silas were beaten and then imprisoned in chains...but they didn’t give up hope…. they sang!
King Jehosophat’s soldiers were facing an overwhelming army of enemies...but they didn’t fight….they sang!
Mary was young, single, and miraculously carrying the son of God….but she didn’t worry about what other people might think...she sang!


It’s no coincidence to me that these examples all resulted in the same thing…..
a mighty display of God’s power on this earth!

Paul and Silas' songs to heaven caused an earthquake that broke off their chains!
God used the army of Judah’s praise and worship to ambush the enemy and defeat them!
Mary's song of thanksgiving to God gave her hope as she went through her pregnancy and eventually gave birth to the Savior of the world!

















Find your song and give it a name.
Claim God’s promises and set them to a tune.
You’ll be amazed at the freedom that will come.


Let’s give God the glory for all He has done in our lives today.
And sing a new song about it!  
 



“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.”- Psalm 40:3


 
 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hope Smiles



Hope has a lingering effect on a person.
She is not easily forgotten.
Because she stands out.
And, many times, she stands alone.


Hope embodies an undeterred belief that there is a good ending to the story.
Your story. My story.
And despite the unexpected plot twists, genre changes, and lack of character development, Hope remains when all else fades away.


She gives us a reason to see the best in the worst situations.
She is the promise of the rainbow after the rain.




Sometimes, though, we can’t seem to get enough of Hope by ourselves.
We may feel like a deflated balloon and need a breath of fresh air to keep us afloat.


And many times in life we need to meet a new face with a new idea.
A leader to inspire the next chapter of our story.
A communicator that casts vision and brings a welcome change.


We all need this person to nudge us along.
We all need someone to believe in.




What does this beautiful beacon look like?


Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, and Mother Theresa are all familiar agents of Hope.
But you know what? She could look just like you or me.
And she often does…


She is strong in her faith even when it seems like her prayers have gone unanswered.
She is willing to give what she has, but wise enough to give what is best, not necessarily what is easy.
She stands up for the rights of the weak and oppressed without concern for whether or not her political party supports it.
She is honest, real, and vulnerable with other women about her struggles and does not hide behind a mask.
She motivates her followers to resist the temptation to give in to cultural norms by demonstrating love of her own uniqueness.
She is courageous when it looks like all hell is breaking loose around her by grabbing hold of her fear and wringing its bony neck.
But most of all, more than any of those things, she lives a smiling life in the face of frowning circumstances and people.


Because that’s what Hope does.
She smiles.
She doesn’t let the pain of today take away her ability to laugh at tomorrow.


Hope leads us into uncharted waters with a life raft on board in case the boat we’re on sinks.
And she fully believes the boat will stay afloat.
But if it doesn’t...if it goes under, Hope smiles and puts on that life vest.


Then she hands you one too.
 



 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why You Are Beautiful

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Did you know that you are beautiful?

Even if no one else can see it…
Even if you were always told that you’re ugly….
Even if today you forgot to put on your makeup…
Even if you’ve been up late crying your eyes out…
Even if you have scars and bruises….
Even if your husband/boyfriend left you for someone else…


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How could I be beautiful you ask?

Because your beauty doesn’t depend on you…
Because what’s on the outside isn’t where your worth is found…
Because ugly words spoken over you don’t make you ugly…
Because real is always prettier than fake…
Because brokenness is beautiful…
Because being left never means you’re alone…


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Here’s what God has to say about beauty:

You are indeed beautiful! ( Song of Songs 4:1)
You are wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:13-14)
Inward beauty is what God looks at! ( 1 Peter 3:3-4)
Outward beauty doesn’t last anyways! ( Proverbs 31:30)
You are more precious than jewels! ( Proverbs 3:15)
There is no flaw in you! ( Song of Songs 4:7)
 


 


You're beautiful. You are treasured. You are sacred. You are His.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Real Talk is Really Hard



The other day I was called upon to talk about myself in a public setting.
And I choked.
My hands got clammy.
My heart started racing.
My face beamed bright red.

I barely made it through my little 3 minute talk.
And because all eyes were on me...I stumbled through it fearfully.


Why is it we have a hard time telling our stories?
 
Our stories are proof of God's hand on our lives and when we retrace His fingerprints by telling them to someone else, we find a little bit more freedom.

But, if we are afraid to speak up....what then?

I want to tell my stories, believe me.
And I've prayed about it, time and time again.
But I still struggle with opening up.
With being....VULNERABLE.
Yep. I really don't like that word. :)

Some people say that I really need to grasp the concept of "mind over matter."
To think myself through it.
To ignore my feelings and just state the facts.
You're on a need to know basis anyways right?
I mean, do you really need to know?
Maybe, maybe not.

But after my recent embarrassing moment, it occurred to me that I might need to embrace a new concept.
Maybe I need to focus a little less on my logical and perfectly appealing mind and a little more on my emotional and insanely flawed heart.



Because I'm not smart enough to pull one over on me.
Some truths are just plain messy.
I can't change my stories.
They happened.
And there are things I'm just not proud of.
BUT GOD...

In order to fully walk in freedom I have to share my stories with others.
And the more I think about it, the less I want to do it.
But the more I let myself feel it, the less I want to keep it to myself.
Because it's not about me anyways.

I can overthink it to death and then tremble as I relay it to you through clenched teeth.
Or I can let my heart's desire to live a free life be my guide into vulnerability.
And boldly share my stories.
Flaws and all.
The ugly truth.
This closet perfectionist hates being noticeably imperfect by the way. :)

But let me be clear:  
I'm able to embrace my mess by the sheer grace of God.
Only then can I bring Him glory by telling my story.



So I'll take a crack at this heart-being-my-guide thing by saying this:

Amazing Grace,
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost.
But now I'm found.
Was blind, but now I see.



 
Mark 5:19(msg)-
"Jesus said, 'Go home to your own people.
Tell them your story—what the Master did, how He had mercy on you.' ”