Joy in the journey!

Joy in the journey!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Joy in dark places.....with a party hat.

It was not the news I was expecting. In fact as I sat listening to the test results for my sweet Mamma, hearing that her cancer was no longer responding to the chemo, it was as if someone had placed a plastic bag over my head and I was suf
focating. The house was quiet. Everyone was gone for the day and I listened to the silence. Is there a word to describe what I felt? If there is I don’t know what it was. As fast as all the questions filled my head was as fast as my lips just kept uttering the words “Jesus help.” All I could get out was a faint whisper.....”Jesus help.” It came from a place in my soul that had never cried out like that before. In an instant....the sweetest presence blew over me and I knew He was there. Where I ended....He began. Someone asked me the other day, “How does this Holy Spirit thing work for you?” They asked me if it really was possible to have joy in the dark places. Today, sitting in a dark place.....He’s there. It’s as if the room lit up and I didn’t have to ask the questions because I knew He had the answers and they all made sense. That my friend is the Holy Spirit. That is what gives me joy to jump, joy to face this journey with my sweet Mamma, joy to know there is a party to be had on this side of heaven....regardless of what my circumstances are.

As we drove to the Doctor today, knowing what we were facing. Or better yet, not knowing what we were facing.....we looked at each other and we laughed! I know right? We were cracking up! Belly laughs! We hugged each other in the car as we sat parked in the lot and we remembered the scripture the Lord gave us through this journey. Jeremiah 33:3 “Call on my name and I will answer. I will show you great and mighty things you know not of.” We felt joy! We felt expectant, and we felt a party coming on. And you know me, I always have party hats in tow and by golly we wore them to this appointment. Whatever the news.....God had a party in store.

The news was not that great. One more try at chemo, and then we take a look at things then. Another plan to be tried. The doctor never knows what to expect when Mom and I come to see him. In fact he always opens up the door and peeks in first. And then he smiles. I say “come join the party!” We love it when we make him laugh. It’s kind of become our mission.

I am sitting here with my precious Mamma now. That red bag of chemo running into her’s a love hate relationship. I have prayed as it enters her body the blood of Jesus heals her. I pray we will see those great and mighty things we know not of. No matter what, we have had the journey of our lives. We have been able to minister, love, pray for, and cheer those on who are in this battle with her.

A precious beautiful young lady sitting beside Mom is having a rough journey. The tears are flowing and she is heartbroken. All I could do was put my hand on her leg and pray. She asked me for a party hat. Do I have an extra one? Are you kidding? I have a bag full! As I watched her tears dry and the laughter began.....I just thanked God for the journey He has us on. It’s a journey of party hats! That even in the hardest journeys, we see the biggest miracles. The laughter we heard today, no money can buy. Moments like these are those that shape and define and stay in our hearts forever.

The lessons I have learned on this journey with my Mamma have changed me forever. Jesus has become more real and closer than ever. His Spirit and His presence have carried me when I felt uncarriable. I am thankful He has His party hat on too. I know when we get to’s going to be one huge party. Why not start now? Today....we are. Yes, even in the chemo unit. But that’s just Jesus. That just my precious Jesus. And that my friend is why I jump for joy....a lot! Party on!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What a friend we have......

She sat there with a look on her face that was angelic.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  She would sit in her rocking chair and sew for hours.  Those clothes she worked so hard on, would be sent to missions.  She usually had a straight pin or two in her mouth, but it didn’t stop her from singing.  I could hear the shaky sweet voice of my precious Grandma sing “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”  It was her favorite hymn. There are days that sweet tune she sang rings in my spirit for hours.  

This week as I sat here thinking about the journey I am on.  I started to get a little overwhelmed.  Never at one time have I ever had so many huge tasks at hand that needed so much faith, and endurance.  I am a doer.  I am a planner.  I tend to overthink things in figuring out how things will work.  This can work for me at times, and it can work against me at other times.  Have you ever become so exhausted in the planning that you don’t enjoy the trip?  Well I found myself working on the solution to every situation, and there were many situations to be solved.  It was exhausting.  

Then as I sat there completely overwhelmed, there it was.  It was that sweet shaking voice that sounded like an angel.  It was like it was right there with me.  I just remembered it all and began to sing it outloud.  “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear.  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”  The hymn my Grandma would sing for hours. It rang so strongly in my spirit, and a peace came with it.   

I remember even as a young girl I would get overwhelmed, and my Grandma would remind me to stop looking at the problem, look to Jesus.  She said it with such comfort.  
It was so simple, so sweet, so lifechanging. 

As I sung the song under my breath, I realized that all my methods to solve, all my plans, all my “trying to figure things out”, won’t work without His fingerprints on them.  He reveals to me what doesn’t work because, after all, He is the answer.  In my worthy goals to do things right, and figure things out, in my home, school, church, ministry, relationships, in any place or situation, there is no saving grace, no answer, apart from Jesus.  It is Jesus alone that makes the difference.  His competence, His comprehensiveness, His assessment of what is needed, His interactions in hearts, and in days, His presence and performance are key to any “solutions.”  

I cannot overthink God’s plan, I need to trust Him with it.  As C.S. Lewis said “Relying on God has to start all over every day, as if nothing has yet been done.” Some days that means relying on Him minute by minute.  

Oh the amazing things I have learned on this journey.  He shows up in ways I never dreamed.  He teaches me and equips me in some of the hardest times of my life.  I think that is so neat.  It’s not about me, and how I can fix things.  It’s about Him and how I can trust His plan, no matter what.  

As I sing that song over and over in my captive consciousness: “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”  I am not singing anymore about my act of carrying anything, or figuring things out, or my acts at all.  I am singing about Him.  He’s the game-changer, He’s the difference maker.  

Are you facing something that seems insurmountable?  Let God put His fingerprints on it, let Him be the game changer for you.  He is there just waiting.  Not only will you see your breakthrough, you will watch your life be transformed through the journey with Him.  You will love who you become!  What a friend we have in Jesus!  I will forever hear this hymn in my heart.  Thank you Grandma, for so lovingly instilling in me what this really means.  I know she is in heaven smiling and singing.  And I kind of think heaven joins in with her when I sing those sweet words.  

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless
pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to
the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge,
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there
will be no
need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship
will be our sweet portion there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why we need "underwear" friends!

I just read a devotional this morning that has now become my favorite.  It’s about underwear friends!  I know right!  These special friendships are there when the wedgies of life tear us apart at the seams.  It made me think about all the amazing people God has placed in my friends. 

I have friends that lift me up, support me, even pinch me back to reality when I go out in left field.  They have stood with me, laughed with me, been patient with me, prayed with me, cried with me, and even drove me around while wearing a chicken suit!  I have learned so much from my friends.  They are treasures who enrich my life.  The best kinds of friends in life are those who love us despite our wrinkles and warts.  They have a knack for drawing the best out of us and challenging us to grow into all we were meant to be in our journey of life and faith.

 Psalms 18:39 is one of my favorite verses.  “You have equipped me with strength for the battle...”  I thank God for my underwear friends;  they lift, support, squeeze, and even pinch me if necessary.  They are God’s resources that gird up my proverbial loins for the battle.  I can throw away my girdle, because they are the best option to gird me up....God’s option.  A friend is one of the best things you can have and one of the best things you can be.  I want to be the best friend I can be.  I want to give back what I have so generously been given.

I am forever grateful for my underwear friends!  They have made life’s wedgies a journey I have grown through and seen miracles through.  May we all be underwear friends!  Stretch on my friends....stretch on!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Love wins!

A few years ago, I asked the Lord to open doors for me in the area of getting to know my neighbors better.  We have lived in the same home for 10 years, yet hardly knew anyone in our neighborhood.  Isn’t it funny how that happens?   It was through that prayer that I began to meet and hear magnificent stories of those who lived around me.  Beautiful friendships were born.  Then it went further.  I began to meet amazing people wherever I went.  I heard stories that brought tears to my eyes, stories that made my heart leap with joy, stories that helped me pray more diligently for others, stories that made me thankful.  I learned that behind every person is an amazing story.  I learned that the people often judged the most by others, for a variety of reasons, truly have the most wonderful stories of all.  Nobody really stopped to listen to them.  They were too busy judging them, laughing at them, and passing them by.  What beauty I have found, what amazing friendships have been made!  What lessons I have learned!  What miracles I have seen!  What open doors the Lord has opened!
When I thanked the Lord for answering my prayer by opening doors, I heard Him say to my heart, “Lisa, that open door was you looking....they were there all the time, you just didn’t see them.”  Wow.  How many things has God had in my path all along that I have missed because I was so focused on my day, my things, my life.  It’s amazing what happens when we just look for opportunites to be a blessing to others. What blessings await when we choose to love and not judge.  Miracles are waiting at every turn. 

Yesterday my miracle was a precious man in the grocery story, who had a beautiful story.  Others were laughing at his overalls as he sat alone by the window.  I adored those overalls (he called them his bib).  They were chicken overalls, and yes....they had quite a story.   He had such a wonderful sense of humor and was so joyful!  He blessed my heart with the story of his overalls. I told him about my chicken suit and he loved it! We had the best conversation.  He thanked me for talking to him and said he hadn’t laughed that hard since he could remember.   As I left that day I was so thankful for yet another amazing friend and another incredible story.  And I was thankful I didn’t miss the opportunity to hear it.  It truly is life changing.

I want to challenge you to try it!  Just spend a day looking for opportunities to be a blessing.  Spend the day listening.  I promise you, miracles will pop out from every corner.  And what is neat about the journey is the biggest miracles begin within our hearts when we choose to love.   Healing happens!  Transformation begins!  Old negative mindsets dissolve!  Anger begins to fade!  Walls come down!  It’s just so neat!  Love wins every single just does!  Have fun on the journey!  See you there!  

Love on my friends....Love on! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't look back!

He was a young man, and I had never seen him running in my neighborhood before.  But on this particular day he was running the same route I was.  I said “hello” to him as he passed, and he responded back with a very focused “hello”.  As he made it several blocks ahead of me I noticed that he kept looking back at something.  I thought there might be a dog loose or something he may have seen that I did not.  As I watched him running, admiring how fast he was going, all of the sudden as he was looking back, he lost his footing.  He went crashing to the ground, hard.  I gasped and took off running quickly to see if he was ok.  As he got up, quite embarrassed, he just said to me, “That will teach me to look back!”  And off he went, brushing himself off.  I never saw this runner again, but I remember this day vividly.  Why?  I don’t know.  But it came back to my mind the other day as I was having my prayer time.  

Have you ever felt like you are stuck in one place, unable to move forward?  Have you cried out to God for an answer feeling like He is not hearing your cry?  I think we have all felt this way at some time in our lives. I sure have.  But what I realized more than ever, just like that runner who fell as he was looking back, is that I will be in the same position if I focus on what is behind me.  I will miss what God has ahead for me if I am constantly reliving my past mistakes and focusing on things that happened years ago.  Have you ever found yourself reliving past mistakes and past hurts like it was only yesterday?  
As I read my devotion this morning I came across this thought, and it reminded me of that runner, and the times I too focused on what was behind me rather than what was in front of me.  
If we choose to remain in a perpetual state of reliving our bad encounters, trials, mishaps, mistakes and tragic events we have experienced we become handicapped by the very thing we are trying to escape.  It distorts our thinking and paralyzes us from breaking free of faulty mindsets and belief systems.  It then becomes the primary source of the current state of problem or setback that we are encountering; further facilitating a continued fracture point in one’s life.”
How true it is!  You see, where we put our thoughts, our energy, will have great impact on our forward movement and how we walk out our lives.  One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 23:7 “As a man thinketh, so is he”.  It always reminds me to search my heart and find out where my focus really is during those difficult times when I feel overwhelmed.  Am I focused on moving forward, or am I stuck? Am I focused on the Lord?  Or am I focused on figuring it out myself?  Am I focused on God’s promises for my life?  Or am I focused on lies and wrong information?
What you focus on, you give life to.  Where your energy is invested, multiplication occurs.  What you behold you become…
It is easy during the trials in life to forget who we are.  We forget how deeply God loves us and is there for us.  He is passionate about us!  I love the passage 1 Peter 2:9-10.  I have it where I read it often to remind myself of who I am!  It declares God’s heart over His people.  It also provides direction in how to walk out that which He proclaims.  
You are Chosen – Walk with the full understanding that you are cherished and loved.
You are a Royal Priesthood – Walk with an absolute knowledge that you are the sons and daughters of the King.
You are a Holy Nation – Walk embracing the gift of complete and full redemption that is yours in Christ.
You are God’s Special Possession – Walk in confidence knowing that God is for you, that He has made you His own.  That you are fully clothed in His mercy and grace and are positioned under the protective arm of the Father.
An important treasure to keep within your heart is this…It is not about what you don’t have or don’t like.  Guard your heart always.  Remember who you are.  Remember “whose” you are!  

One of my favorite songs of all time, and I will show my age on this one, was a song by Wayne Watson called, “Because of Whose I Am.”  I remember when the words to that song really sank in many years ago and I realized God had a plan for my life and it was good. I was His child and He really cared about me!  As I look back on that day years ago, I see how He meshed all the events in my life, good and bad, to bring me to the place I am today.  Even in spite of my mistakes, He worked miracles! He saw the painting as a masterpiece when all I saw were a bunch of colors running everywhere.  He’s the master painter afterall, I just needed to give Him the brushes.  

Let go of the past.  It doesn’t hold your present. In fact it will rob you of your present.  Don’t miss the miracles of today because your head is turned back.  He’s painting a masterpiece and when you get a glimpse of will be blown away!  Yes, you my friend are the son and daughter of a master creator!  That just makes me want to shout a big yeehaw!  Anyone want to join me?  Let's remember "whose" we are today!  Journey on my friends....journey on!  Yeeehaw!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

His name was Frederick. I know this because I heard the neighbors call him one day.  I call him “Freaky Fred”.  He was a spastic rat terrier who I truly believe plotted ways to make my daily runs as difficult as he could.  I have to say this dog drove me nuts.  He would pop out from nowhere barking and nipping at my ankles sometimes causing me to fall flat on my face.  I have had many “Freaky Fred” falls.  Fred loved to torment my dogs as we would run.  One time he popped out from a bush and jumped on Holly’s back.  It was not a fun ride for Holly.  Holly would look at me about a block before we would pass his house as if to say, “Oh please, don’t make me run past Freaky Fred today!”  We tried to change our running route, but Freaky Fred always found us.  I was always so annoyed at the fact that the owners of this dog didn’t watch him more closely.
A few weeks ago, I was determined to avoid our Freaky Fred encounter.  I was alone on this run, and took a new route that I knew Freaky Fred would never figure out.  As I was happily running along I was flagged down by a car.  Inside the car was a little elderly man.  As I got closer I could see he was crying.  He said to me as he wiped the tears, “Miss, I know you run in our neighborhood a lot.  We have lost our dog.  We have looked for a day now and cannot find him.”  As we talked about descriptions I realized the dog he was describing was Freaky Fred!  Holy cow!  I have to say my first thought was “No more Freaky Fred Falls! Hooray!”  But then my heart sank as I saw this sweet man wiping tears.  I told him, I would indeed look for his dog.  I was completely off my regular route and felt Fred would not be anywhere close.  I began to pray for Fred.....reluctantly, but I prayed.  Then my heart had a turn of compassion for Fred and I wanted to find him! (That had to be God!) I was about 3 miles from where I spoke to Fred's owner, and as I was praying looked over and saw movement from behind a bush.  I know God was in this passing glance.  I never look at moving bushes when I run!  I walked over and looked more closely and there was Fred!  The little guy was shakin’ in his boots and was frozen with fear.  His spots were muddy, and he was scared.  He was not jumping up like popcorn anymore, and he looked so pathetic.  I looked at him and said, “OK Fred, it’s you and me kid. We haven’t been the best of friends, in fact I have quite detested you, but I think we need to change that.”  Fred would never let me near him in the past.  He was always in attack mode so, I didn’t know how this was going to end.  I held out my hand and just sat there.  Fred slowly peeked his dirty face out from the bushes, and proceeded to do the popcorn jump bypassing my hand and landing smack dab in my lap, licking my face as if to say “I surrender! I am sorry! You are my friend!”  It was at that moment Fred became my buddy.  We had about 3 miles back on route to get him home.  I held Fred all the way.  It was quite the bonding 3 miles I must say.  It was then I realized, Fred had a story.  I just didn’t know what it was, but I was determined to find out.  
As I walked up the hill, I saw the little elderly man standing in his driveway.  I will never forget the moment that he saw me walking with Fred.  He put his hands on his sweet face and in a quivering voice called out to me, “Is that Fred?  Do you have our boy?”  I waved to him and said “Yes! I found him!”  I was determined not to cry at this point, but felt the tingle in my nostril, and that was it.  The ugly cry began.  I think back on that moment now and know it must have been quite a sight.  A crying sweaty girl holding a muddy little rat terrier sobbing as I walked up the hill.   Fred saw his owner and leaped out of my arms and the reunion began.  (And my ugly cry became even uglier)  Many tears, and many barks were had that day.  As I began to talk to the owner of Fred, I smiled as I listened to Fred’s story.  This elderly man was taking care of his wife who had Alzheimer’s.  They rescued Fred over a year ago.  He had been abandoned, and when he was found had cigarrette burns on his body, cuts, and had a bleeding neck from rope burns.  They were Fred’s savior.  They wanted to train Fred, but just had too many issues with their health that came up suddenly after they rescued him. They loved Fred in spite of his quirks....and there were many.  When Fred was lost, his wife was distrought.  She loved that little crazy dog. What would they do without Fred?  As I walked into their backyard, I realized the small hole where Fred would make his daily escapes.  The little man had no idea Fred was roaming wildly while he was inside taking care of his wife.  We sealed up the hole and I looked at Fred.  He was looking at me. He was really growing on me this Fred. (who was named after the man’s brother)
I spent several hours with this couple that day.  I knew Fred’s story now, and so much more.  As I ran home after a wonderful time with this couple, I thanked God for Fred.  God taught me so much through this little fella.  Fred was “Freaky” for a reason.  His hard exterior was a cover up of deep hurt and pain.  His fear brought out something in him that was a type of protection for him.  It was as if he was saying, “I have been hurt, and by golly you won’t hurt me, in fact I’ll get you first!” 
How many Freaky Fred’s have we had in our lives?  How many times in life have we judged others too quickly not knowing their story?  How many times have we been hurt or mistreated by others and left it as “well, they are just mean people!”  How many names have we called others who are different?   Do we have people that rub us like sandpaper in life?  It may even be family members.  I wish I could say I never did this.  I am guilty.  I have been around very hateful people who have hurt me deeply and I just completely left the situation annoyed, and disgruntled, and just plain mad.  What I failed to realize is that maybe all they needed was a kind word, love, compassion, time to hear their story.  I could not hold a grudge because I did not know their story!   Just like Fred, shaking in the bush, they are in the same position crying out for attention, yet covering up with a completely different behavior.  Sometimes that behavior being what we may interpret as just plain mean and cruel.  
They have a story!  As I ran home I just asked God to forgive me for the many times I had labeled people who had hurt me as “Freaky Fred’s” . They were not freaky at all, they were fabulous!  I just needed to love and look!  I asked God to open my eyes and let me see what He was seeing in these people.
On my runs now, Fabulous Fred is always watching eagerly at the little window in the gate.  His tail wags with glee when he sees me!  I always go over and pet him and have a chat with him. In fact I decided that 1 or 2 days a week I would leave my dogs at home and go walk with Fred.  I have had a chance to do some training with him, and he is quite the smart one!  We are the best of buds now, and his owners and I are friends too!  If you would have told me a few months ago, Fred and I would be friends, I would have never believed it.   
God has a wonderful way of helping us turn Freaky into Fabulous!  I challenge you to think of those in your life who totally annoy you, or who have hurt you.  Pray for them, ask God for opportunities to change Freaky into Fabulous!  You will be amazed how He reveals things and opens door for change.....and usually the change begins in your own heart.  It’s pretty neat.  I love these life changing journey’s with God.  I am always amazed how He teaches me lessons on these journey’s in my life.  And sometimes those lessons even come wrapped in the form of a little dog named Frederick.  Bark on my friends, bark on!!!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Love wins.

He was gruff, serious, and never talked.  The neighbors always commented to me that they were scared of him.  I knew there was a story here, and I prayed for him everyday as I ran by his house on my morning runs.   I would see this man out mowing his lawn, never looking up, seeming very focused on the job at hand.  He seemed sad.
One day as Holly and I ran by his house he was walking to his mailbox, and I stopped to say hello.  I saw one of the neighbors watching as if they were horrified something bad would happen. His name was Bob.  Bob immediately took up with Holly, who was my running buddy.  Holly loved Bob!  It was like she knew his story way before I did. Dogs are a great judge of character!  
Turns out Bob was retired. He was then 65 years old and had served in the military almost all of his life.  He seemed lonely, and made the comment “I think people are scared of me,  and I don’t have the energy to let them know I won’t bite.”  Holly was a God-send on this visit.  As he pet her, he began talking about stories in his life.  And man did he have stories!  War stories, childhood mouth was open in awe.  People just didn’t know Bob!  He was one of the most caring, interesting people I had met in a long time!  He had saved lives, and fought for our country in incredible ways!  In fact as we talked one day some fighter jets flew over us.  He saluted with tears running down his face and said “that is music to my ears.”  He flew one....He saved lives and he had his life saved.  Thank you God for our military.  Do we thank them enough?  I feel like we should express our appreciation to them daily!   I thanked Bob.  He said it had been a very long time since anyone recognized his service in the military.  Wow.
His stories always led back to how much he loved dogs.  I suggested he get one!  Why not adopt a dog?  He looked at me with surprise.  I knew he was interested when I saw that sparkle in his eye.  I told him about some places to adopt some great dogs, and a big smile creeped on his serious, focused face.  I do believe Bob had a very soft heart....and that softness was beginning to show! 
I didn’t see Bob for a few weeks, but as I ran by one day I saw him walking to his mailbox again.  Following him was a big beautiful tan lab.  He had adopted a dog and named him Max.  Max had been trained quite well.  His owner died suddenly and Bob came to the rescue...just in time!  Bob’s whole countenance had changed.  Max sat by his side, and it was a match made in heaven.  He said to me “I think Max was the one that did the rescuing.  He rescued me, not the other way around.”  
Over the years Max and Bob became the neighborhood favorites.  Bob trained Max to get the papers off the curb and take them to the door.  Several times Holly joined Max.  Max was one of the most obedient dogs I have ever seen.  He always sported a bright collar or bandana, and Bob shined when he was with Max.  It was such a blessing to see a hard shell come off of Bob, and see him set free. Bob often talked to me about God.  I know these converstions were sent from the Lord.  It was amazing.  Bob got involved in a wonderful local church where he met his current girlfriend.  Whoever says you can’t have a girlfriend at 70 is wrong.  They are so cute together!  
I saw Bob this week....he flagged me down as I was running down the street.  He had tears in his eyes, and my heart began to race.  What happened?  He began telling me about Max.  Max had suddenly died.  I was in shock.  It was so fast that he literally fell into Bob’s arms, gave one last tail wag and was gone.  He had suffered a heart attack.  At this point we were both crying.  As the tears dried, Bob thanked me.  He said the day I came to talk to him and suggested he adopt a dog, was the day his life changed.  He was now engaged to his girlfriend, involved in a wonderful church, was involved in the community, and happier than he had ever been.  He said Max was his angel here on earth.  I could not agree more.  
I have reflected on Bob and Max so much this week.  I learned many things from this encounter.  I learned that under the hardest of shells, there are people longing to be set free, loved and appreciated.  Love wins.  All the time, love wins.  God uses that love to set people free.  He even uses the love of a dog!  I often think of what would have happened had I listened to the neighbors to “stay away from the scary man!”  Bob was not scary.  In fact he is a hero.  A hero I am so thankful for.  How many unsung heros are out there wishing someone would listen to their stories?  How many are hungry for just a simple “Hello?”  Several years ago I set out to get to know my neighbors.  I asked the Lord to help me.  He did.  He opens doors in ways I cannot.  I thought this journey to get to know my neighbors would be a difficult and scary one.  It has been one of the most fulfilling journeys of my life.
It is my prayer that we can all take a minute to listen, love, and be a friend to someone hurting. If you don’t know how to start....just ask God.  He will show you. He will open the doors.  You will see it is a life changing journey, and yours is the life that will be changed the most!  When I started thanking God for Bob’s story....I instantly heard Him say to my heart....”you prayed for him every time you passed his house.  I heard every one of those prayers.”  Why was I surprised?  God knew just how to reach Bob’s heart......and it started with a simple prayer and the love of a dog named Max.   
Love wins.  Always.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Your standing ovation awaits!

I sat there looking at that same tile floor, smelling that same sterile smell, and hearing the crinkle of the paper on the table as I swayed my feet back and forth. Ugh. It was another doctor visit and another anxious feeling for yet another test and another report. I thought to myself that a pity party would be in order about now. In fact I had so many emotions running around my head I found myself saying out loud “Jesus, help!” “Hello? anybody out there?” “Lord? what is my purpose here?” “What are you doing?” I had to almost chuckle to myself because I was firing one question after another as if He didn’t already have the answer.

But then as I sat there in the quiet, I instantly knew.....He was there with me. His presence all around. In fact I know He was holding me while I was sitting there on that table feeling sorry for myself. That sweet presence turned my many questions into breaths of praise. As I turned my mind toward Him, and got my mind off of myself and my fears I realized.....He knows me. I mean He really knows me! Sounds simple, but really something changed in that moment. I began to rest in knowing....He had a purpose for me.....even through all of this. I had purpose. How many times do we lose our purpose, and let go of our dreams because of fear, or a trial that comes our way that shakes us to the core?

When I was in my mother’s womb, God was there. Though I may not have known Him, He knew me. He had a plan for me even then. Life is not so much a question of finding ourselves, but finding God. Really finding God..... It is a question of discovering what God has already designed. When we find His purpose, we then understand how our uniqueness and gifts fit into what God is accomplishing. It’s like a dramatic play that unfolds. This all was a part of that play. Even this visit to yet another doctor....all part of the play. In this play, the light is on us. Here’s our cue! Most people miss their cues and they never realize they were in the middle of a divine appointment. God was there all the time.....

It was then that God reminded me of everything I had been through.....I witnessed great miracles. I saw His hand in every situation. His grace carried me through each trial. He placed miracles at every was my job to look, expect, and trust. He had never let me down....why was I questioning?

God is a big thinker. My thoughts, even my big ones, are so small compared to God’s thoughts. My dreams, even my biggest ones....pale in comparison to what God's dreams are for me. God-sized dreams are not man-made, they are God designed. God has shown me that if I find myself coming up with a plan, the dream is too small....When God chooses to confront a situation, He is a big thinker. When He looks at me, He already knows my background. He is not asking for my resume, He is asking me to be a servant He can trust. I needed to trust that His dreams and plans for me were beyond what I could even comprehend. Could I trust completely even in the tough times? Even when it looked like an impossible situation was in my path?

Was I able to trust? Was I committed? If I could be committed enough to do whatever it took, that is all God wanted. You can’t give what you don’t have. You can only give God your loaves and fishes. But most people hide their loaves because they don’t really trust God. In order to fulfill God sized dreams, you need to be able to trust.

Someone asked me recently what this past year had taught me most. I can most definitely say it was all about trust. I daily remind myself that I want God’s dream for my life. It may come in a different package that I think it will, but it is His dream and it is a wonderful dream. He is fully able to finish the dream. The question is will I finish with Him? Yes! I will finish with Him.

There are days I literally ask God to trust through me.....because in my own strength I fail. He always brings me through stronger than ever.

Are you going through an impossible looking situation? Are you at that place where you feel like someone punched you in the gut and you just can’t breathe for fear of what is ahead? Have you lost someone dear? Are you standing for the salvation for a loved one who is lost? Is your marriage or relationship hurting? Do you feel abandoned and alone? Are you dealing with secrets or addictions that torment your daily walk and some days paralyze you? Is the diagnosis you have been given by the doctor causing you to fight with the feelings to give up? God has not given up on you! He has a big dream for you and purpose. You have purpose! If you feel like you are on the end of the rope hanging on.....Hang on! Your extreme is His opportunity. Remember.....God is a big thinker! And His thoughts are on you! Even in the most dyer situations.....He is there. It is my prayer that in your journey to trust and dream that He gives you the supernatural strength to hang on.

By the time the doctor came in to give me the report.....I knew no matter what, I was ok. I was smack dab in the middle of His dream for me, and that made it all worth it. It was good. It was worth trusting in. Trusting sometimes comes minute by minute, but it is worth it all. Your miracle will come. His presence will fill you, and the peace that passes all understanding will walk you through. And you will see.....the spotlight that was on you in your play all along was Jesus. And this play, my friend, is worth a standing ovation! I hear the cheers already.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Keeping it a life full of distractions.

Just as I do each morning, I was on my way upstairs to pray for each of my children. I go into their rooms each morning when they are gone and I spend time in prayer for them. Some days I am in there for minutes, some days for hours. But today as I went into my son’s room....there it was on his desk. I gasped in surprise! It was beautiful! How did he get this gem? It was a very old typewriter. It was in mint condition and it was just like my grandmother owned. I had typed on a typewriter like this before! I was instantly taken down memory lane. It was heavenly! As I sat there in the quiet, I looked around the room. The computer, t.v., electronic equipment were all around, but center stage was that beautiful old typewriter. I found out later he had purchased it for $25.00 at an estate sale. I could only imagine the stories this old typewriter could tell. It was apparent by the worn ribbon, that it had been used to tell many stories.

I began thinking about the simpler days of life, when typewriters were all we had. “Call waiting” and “Caller I.D? What was that? If you weren’t home, you didn’t get the call. No computers, no ipods, no Facebook. I was out playing softball, building forts, or riding bikes with my best friend. I remember Mom always having the dinner on the table at 5:00 and we ate dinner together as a family every night. It was a time I looked forward to so much. Family, friends, fun. It was the simple things that made life so good.

I also remember prayer time each night with my family. I was tucked in every night by my parents and it was my time to share about the day. It was our time to end the day in prayer and pray for the next day ahead. Simple times shaped my entire life. It made Jesus so real to me. My focus was on Him....there just weren’t all the distractions.

So as I sit here, yes, typing on my laptop while my itunes are playing my favorite praise tunes....I am thankful yet challenged. I am thankful for technology and the good things it has brought in life, yet challenged to focus on the simple things, the things that shaped my life in the first place. I am challenged to not spend as much time distracted by the technology, but more time quiet....quiet with Him. I am challenged to make life a bit simpler.

Have you ever found your life so busy that you are no longer enjoying the moment, but looking ahead at how you will manage the next task or event in life? Kind of takes the “simple” out of the equation doesn’t it?

Just like that typewriter, I have many stories, and I hope many left to be written in my life. I want to savor the moments of them all. I want Jesus in all of them. I don’t want to get so distracted that His presence is the last thing on my list. I want to focus on the things that matter. After all when it is all said and done, it won’t be the t.v. show that made a difference, it won’t be a Facebook status, or a cool song from my ipod. It will be the time I took to spend with those I love....keeping it simple...keeping it joyful.....keeping it focused on the one who gave me this time in the first place. After all it has been said....The greatest things in life aren’t things. I couldn’t agree more. I pray we all enjoy the simple things today, there are so many of them. You will be amazed at the hidden miracles God has those very precious yet simple things in life.