Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eternity in our Hearts


Deep  down in my soul,  I feel an ache for a different world, a better place, a heavenly home.
The Bible even says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God, “has put eternity into man’s heart.”

We can’t really grasp the depth of this truth without being submerged in the darkness of this fallen world. I don’t believe we would long for fields of forever and streets of gold if we were surrounded by happy circumstances all the time.

Comfortable spaces don’t cultivate challenges that point us to the Creator.
They just don’t.

So much pain to see. And you would think that looking away would be a good idea. After all, getting wrapped up in negativity and fear can pull even the most faithful christian away from recognizing the goodness of God.

But, I believe that we need to see it. We need to be aware of the horrific injustices and the tragic stories and the unfair treatment and the mind-boggling statistics.

We need to see it so our hearts feel the burn that comes from longing for our true home.
We need to see it so our minds recognize that no amount of knowledge or power can take the place of the all knowing, all powerful One.

Cause, in reality, our societal barrenness, our earthly lack, is meant to point us to the only One who can turn bad into good, overcome darkness with light, and transform death into life.
Our focus should always be heavenward but our actions should reflect our desire to bring heaven to earth. The yearning I have for my everlasting home should not take away from my mission to reflect Jesus while temporarily living on this planet. It should actually “spur me on towards love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

And the same goes for you. Be sad when you read the paper. For we all have been touched by the hurting condition of this hurting world. But, then, let that sadness motivate you towards a life that leaves a legacy of love. Let that longing for a better place actually look like you creating an atmosphere of peace in the midst of the chaos.

Heaven’s call is for anyone but not everyone knows it. Those of us who have answered the call must use our eternal significance to bring the hope of heaven to this utterly despondent land of cheap thrills and flashy counterfeits.

I long for the day when I can be home sweet home in my Savior’s embrace.
But for now, I won’t look away from the pain. I’ll let it create a hunger in me for more of heaven’s touch lest I forget that I am only here for a short while.

And being a good steward of the time I have been given is really the best way to represent heaven well.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Community is a Beautiful Thing.

When I visited the Philippines last month, I ran head first into a way of life that I knew I would have to talk about with others. The heartbeat of this country?  
Here’s what I learned about community and why you should really consider questioning its importance in your own life:
  1. Engaging in community will help you see that there is a whole world out there beyond you and your family.
Yes, we know this fact in our heads. Schools teach on it. Churches preach about it. But have we as a society really grasped this concept deep down in our hearts? Community, if done right, means living with an open door and open hands policy.
Want an example? Ok, instead of planning to meet up with your small group once a week on your assigned day and letting that be your only source of fellowship with others, why not have your neighbors over for a meal once a week? Both are great ways of fellowshipping and neither should be regarded as unimportant. However, we tend to stick with our preplanned arrangements and never step outside of our comfort zone to invite the new family down the street over for a backyard barbecue.
The key point here is this:
Every opportunity to engage with someone is a chance to sow love and hope into their lives. It’s not about taking what we can get from our times with someone else. It’s really always been about giving as much as we can give in our moments with others.
The Filipino people were so amazing at this selfless way of living- “Invite all your friends and family over cause we are cooking dinner. Walk down the street and extend the invitation to them too. Come one, come all.”
2.  Engaging in community is not convenient but the reward is greater than the sacrifice.
When we were overseas, I had a huge shock to my system on the whole idea of “personal space”. I can hear your thoughts screaming, “But alone time is important so you can recharge!” Yes, it is. I am not countering that biblical truth. What I’m saying is that we have taken this good idea of ‘me time’ and turned it into an excuse to not interact with others on a consistent basis.
I was engulfed by a communal way of life that I had never experienced before. I learned that I am not a very smiley person when I have to be with people literally 75 - 80% of the time. But I noticed something remarkable.
Community looks like conversations at midnight and meals around huge tables of people and spontaneous visits to neighbors down the street who heard you were in town and just had to see you. Community is not something that we just do when we feel like it. God intended it to be the very core of who we are. And it’s tiring and not necessarily supposed to be written into our calendars, but that’s when the good stuff inevitably happens. You can’t outplan God.
3. Engaging in community brings you to a place of wide-eyed awareness as you get to know other people and the needs they have. 
Sure, we can still get to know people’s needs by talking to them once a week at church. It happens all the time. My question is this: Just how long does it take to really get to know someone?
I wonder, did Jesus avoid the taxpayer on the street so He could get to church (the building, obviously) and fellowship? Nope. He went to Zaccheus’ house and ate a meal with him.
Did He ignore the masses of people longing to be near Him so He could make it to the 10:00am service and preach? Again, no. Jesus set up church on the side of a mountain and everyone was invited. Oh, and they ate together too (again)!
This is why it’s so important to have real conversations with people in the middle of daily life right smack in their own environment. We have to leave our comfort zone and go to them. The more you hang out with people, the more you see them the way God does.
I had the chance to be totally submerged in a new culture for 2 ½ weeks and there were days when the needs I saw were too great to bear on my own. What if I had never said Yes to God’s call to go on this trip in the first place? I wouldn’t have really known what the needs are because I had never seen them with my own eyes.
Community is an investment. It’s not a play it safe, comfortable way of doing life. It’s letting down your guard and opening up your heart to all people, all the time. 
I will never forget what I learned on my trip to the Philippines and I hope you caught a glimpse of the effect it had on me.
Together is my new favorite word.
There is so much life to live and it’s SO much better when we are purposefully living it with others.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Passion for Jesus!

Joannie gives us an amazing word on living life to the fullest in fellowship with other believers. 
What season of life are you in? Let God lead you and leave the fear of the unknown behind! 
Thanks Joannie for your boldness to lead us! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Vulnerable on Purpose?


It’s hard, isn’t it?
To bear your soul and hope for the best…
To entrust your inner self to another person….

Being vulnerable is just plain difficult….and scary…and amazing.

Yep, vulnerability is amazing.
And not just for the depth of relationship that is discovered through those scary “I-can’t-believe-I-am-telling-you-this” kinda moments….

It’s amazing because of the freedom that we find in revealing who we really are…

You know what vulnerable means?
The dictionary defines it as, “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded or hurt.”

So, basically, I’m opening myself up to a whole lot of possible pain and criticism by being honest with you about who I am?

That’s why very few people truly embrace vulnerability as a way of life.
Because the dictionary has it wrong.
Because the media has it wrong (cue reality tv).

Vulnerability does make us prone to painful experiences. No doubt about it.

But I think we are focusing on the wrong characteristics of this rarely used word.
Why don’t we look at the positive effects of vulnerability for a sec?


Maybe the dictionary should really say, “capable of inspiring you to live out the God-design for your life in a truly authentic way.”

Let’s talk about the famed woman at the well from John 4.

She is a woman with a past that she is battling on a daily basis.
She is an outcast because of her ethnicity and her gender.

Jesus sees her and  invites her into a purposeful conversation ( which I’m sure her soul craves). After all, her current situation was more focused on promiscuous activity than on fireside chats.
But, something inside of her leaps at Jesus’ words when He gently says that He is aware of her circumstances, her past, and the condition of her heart.

She could’ve denied it.
She could’ve walked away unchanged.
She could’ve even reacted in anger at His knowing words.

But she couldn’t resist the fact that this man, this Jesus, longed to know who she was deep down inside.
He was interested in the real her…not in who she was pretending to be.  
No condemnation in His voice. Just love.

God designed her (and us) with an innate longing to be known intimately and openly.
To be seen.
To be heard.
To be loved into a life that is so much better than the one we’ve settled for.

The woman at the well was no longer who “they” said she was.
She was who Jesus said she was.


And her willingness to shed her layers of shame in an act of vulnerability caused her to live a life of purpose by boldly sharing Jesus’ message of grace with the rest of the town!

Yes, I know that people aren’t as forgiving as Jesus is at looking past our flaws.
But I do know that assuming the person across from you isn’t going to appreciate your transparency is a cop-out. :)

You don’t know what the other person will say until you try.
And you may get hurt.
Because, sometimes others don’t want to be vulnerable back.
And God-designed vulnerability beckons heart-changing, uncomfortable, authentic, challenging moments of realness.
Not everyone appreciates that.
But, that’s ok.

Because, God sure does.
And remember,  He sees you.
He knows you.
He hears you.
And He will always love you back to life.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Thoughts, Labels, and the Truth

We all wrestle with things from time to time.
The list goes on and on, doesn't it?
Some days I feel like I'm wrestling with all of those things at once!

On those not so good days, when I feel like all hell is breaking loose in my mind,
I can keep on thinking the polluted thoughts that will eventually lead me to a breaking point.
And I have chosen that path before.
It's not pretty, let me tell you.
I mean, I have a right to let my mind wander wherever it likes, right?
Sure. (If I want to deal with the results…)

But am I prepared for what those thoughts will inevitably do to the health of my soul?
Do I want to end up living (or not really living) a  fearful, shameful, doubtful, depressed and angry life?
If we look at our thoughts through the lens of God’s word we'll realize this little nugget of truth: 
Our thoughts are the labels we wear.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good;
and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil;
for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”
Luke 6:45

thoughts become things.jpg

Like a name badge stuck on our chest, we live out our thoughts in very public ways, whether we want to or not.
By the words we say, the actions we perform, the places we go, the people we hang out with....
These are our thoughts in action.
We might not actually say what we're thinking but our lives say it for us.
This doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing.
In fact, it's a very good thing when our thoughts are fixed on the truth.
Focusing on God's love is a great place to start if this concept seems foreign to you.
Actually that’s the best place to start...and to stay.

Really, this is the meaning of life:
To let God’s love radically take over so that everything you say and do is a response to that amazing, transforming, life-changing love.
And when you put on love (Colossians 3:14), your thoughts become lovely.
When you truly let God’s love become your source of all that is good and true, you live love.
To be immersed in it- mind, body, and soul- is liberating.

Cause when you allow the power of God’s love to change you from the inside out,
to really get a hold of you,
you become free of the toxic thinking that held you captive,
you walk confidently with your real name on display 

And no one can take that revelation truth away from you.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This I Pray...

Lord, I need You to speak for me.
I always tend to mess it up when I use my own words.  

I want to speak up for the hurting, not stay silent because of my past hurts.

I want to speak up for the lonely, not stay silent because of my own battle with loneliness.

I want to speak up for the ashamed, not stay silent because of my own secret shame.

I want to speak up for the victims, not stay silent because I've also been victimized.


"I have put my words in your mouth
    and covered you with the shadow of my hand."
Isaiah 51:16

Lord, I need You to be my eyes.
I always see the worst in others when I look through my own blurred vision.

I want to show grace to the sinner, not hide behind my sin.

I want to show grace to the wounded, not hide behind my scars.

I want to show grace to the captive, not hide behind my self-made prison bars.

I want to show grace to the guilty, not hide behind my own judgement.


"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. 
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Lord, I need You to prompt me to listen.
I always miss out on opportunities to bless others when I ignore Your voice.

I want to be like Abraham and go when You say go, even if it's to an unknown destination.

I want to be like Daniel and pray when You say pray, even if my life is being threatened.

I want to be like Moses and lead when You say lead, even if I'm old, shy, and have an anger problem.

I want to be like David and sing when You say sing, even if I'm depressed, disturbed or in danger.


I can't do anything without You, God.
And I don't ever want to. 
Thank You for using me. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is seeing believing?

I've been wondering about the future lately. 
Been thinking about what I have to do to get from here to there. 
I feel like my dreams are so unattainable and far fetched that I will never be able to achieve them. 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles with this. 
I love my life, my husband and kids, my home, etc...
It's not that I'm ungrateful. 

It's just that I know there is MORE for me to do, be, see, etc... 

And I wonder how long it is gonna take.
Do you ever find yourself asking God that question?

"God, I know you have called me to such and such but I'm not seeing any signs of such and such happening right now so how can I move things along a bit? Or can you just drop such and such right into my lap this very second so I don't have to wait anymore?" :)

Can a girl get an Amen? 
I'm just being real. 

This waiting period of my life has felt like it's been going on for the past 3 years. 
The more progress I make in the natural, the less clearly I'm able to see how the heck this miracle of a dream is going to happen. 


But God is so hilarious sometimes. 
I mean, He really has me laughing over this one. (Sarcasm intended). 
I can hear Him now. 

"Daughter, you are so adorable in your frantic efforts to make this giant dream come to pass on your own. I can see how badly you want it. I want so badly to give it to you. There's just one catch: you have to let ME do all the work." 

This comforts me and challenges me. 
It really is such a huge concept to grasp that I can spin my wheels getting everything perfect for my dreams to come true but really God's just waiting on me. 
So He can finish what He started. 

His word even says it as clear as day:
"There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (Philippians 1:6 MSG)

Why do I doubt? Because I'm blinded by my own "Gotta Do It Myself" mentality.
GDIM for short. :)

Just because it looks like my dreams are on hold doesn't mean they aren't going to come true. We are such an "I have to see it to believe it" kind of culture but God says, 
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29)

Let that sink in for a minute.
BLESSED are those who believe before they see it come to pass. 

How hard this is for me! 
You too, right?
(Cause you're human.) 

God knew this would be difficult for us. 
Our flesh cries out to be appreciated by doing everything in its power to achieve success. 
But that's just it.
We gotta stop listening to our flesh. Our flesh is made up of me, myself, and I.  

The only way to get from here to there is to listen to the One who has the whole journey planned out perfectly... the Holy Spirit. 

When we listen to Him: we can laugh at the seemingly giant obstacles in the way of our dreams. We can dance in the rain of the storms that threaten our very existence. We can sing out at the top of our lungs to the tune of heaven's song. 

Why? Because we know that He will do what He has promised.Did you get that? 
I don't even have to sweat the details, girls.
And neither do you.

Your Daddy's got this.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Darkness is Temporary

"Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, 

but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you." Isaiah 60:2

Today is "Shine a Light on Slavery" day.  
It's a day devoted to telling those around us the shocking news that slavery still exists. 
In fact, there are more slaves on earth today than ever before in history. 
Over 27 million in fact. (Source: A21 Campaign )

That is some dark news, my friends. 
Sometimes, it seems like the darkness is overtaking us, doesn't it? 

But, you know what? 
Darkness is temporary. 
It can't stand the light and runs away from a single flame.  
It cowers at bright beams of hope and shrinks back at rays of grace.

FEAR is it's weapon of mass destruction.  
But don't be misled by this impostor of darkness.
It's all a lie. A ruse to try to distract you from the truth. 

And this is the undeniable truth: 
The Light always wins. (Isaiah 58:8)
The Light lasts forever and ever. (Isaiah 60:20) 
Eventually the things done in the dark are exposed by the Light. (Eph. 5:11-14)
And the Light's weapon is far stronger than that of the dark:   LOVE.

This is NOT the time to shrink back or give up or stay quiet. 
Fear can't exist in the presence of love. 

So, we have to keep fighting. 
We have to keep loving.
We have to keep shining. 

More needs to be said. 
More needs to be done.
So. Much. More.

And the love-light of Christ is a beacon to the hopeless, desperate, and forsaken. 
He's inside of us! 

Jesus is the Light of the world. 
He is the bright morning Star.
He is the Dawn at break of day.  

How can we keep quiet?!!

Jesus is the only way to fight the Darkness. 

Do you live with a knowledge that you carry His Light inside of you? 
This truth brings us courage to keep pushing back the dark. 

It's not just a cliche to say that we are here on earth to be the Light.
No, it's a calling to see things differently, a mandate to bravely act. 
It's a revolutionary way of living, a mission to live for the cause of Christ. 
Are you shining?

We have no reason to shy away from burning bright 
because His Love is our guiding Light.