Monday, June 19, 2017

Answering the Call~

"You're moving to New Jersey?! Are you kidding me?!"

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice
as she asked what seemed to be a more than valid question
of her then 22 year old daughter.

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This native New Mexican packed all she could
into all the suitcases she had (a whopping count of two!)
and flew to New Jersey.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What?! You're taking a teaching job in Wisconsin?!
Are you kidding me?!"
(Aren't you so glad, that in a constantly changing, unpredictable world,
our parents stay predictably the same? Me, too!)

I can still see the look on my dad's face
and hear the sound of my mom's voice as she asked,
what again,
seemed to be a more than valid question
as I launched into my teaching career.

"I just know God is calling me there."

This time,
before I could continue,
my dad interrupted with a one liner
packed to the brim with truth.
"Darlin, it snows there."
I knew what he was saying.
It snows in New Mexico, too,
but Daddies worry about their daughters
moving to a place where IT SNOWS,
like in Wisconsin.

"I know, Daddy.
But, I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me there,
amongst all the snow drifts,
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
Once again,
this native New Mexican packed all she could
into a U-haul trailer and headed west -
in a truck driven by her mother,
and shared with her little sister.
And, truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

"What? You're moving to New Mexico again?!
 WONDERFUL!
When should we be there with the truck and U-haul?!"

(Amazingly, sometimes parents can even be predictable
when their response doesn't mirror words you've heard before,
but their heart cry does.)

"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down this call three times already.
I told God if it was His will and He really wanted me there
to have them offer me the position again.
And, they did.
I have to go."

And, go I did.
This new found lover of snow
re-packed all she had
and placed them back in another rented U-haul
hooked up to the same truck
that had brought her to Wisconsin.
And truth be told,
she would do it all over again.

Not because each place didn't have a newness to overcome and challenges to face.
Not because being so far away from "home" was easy and comfortable.
Not because stepping out on my own was anything I ever wanted to do.

But, because God was calling and God met me there.

"You're moving into God's calling? Are you kidding me?"

Now, the voice I hear
is none other than my own,
although in the quiet of my own heart
I can hear tinges of my mom in these words, too.

"I have to." I tell myself.
"I just know God is calling me there.
I've turned down His call a zillion times already.
I told God if it was His will
and He really wanted me to follow His lead,
to step out in faith,
to go where He calls
even though I have no idea where that is,
to call me again.
And, HE DID.
(Over and over and over again, HE DID).
I have to go."

So, here I am.

Remembering God's leading in the past to find courage to step out into the future.
Realizing God's call has always been just where I needed to be.
Celebrating God's guidance and ever continual prompting of my heart.
Anticipating God's provision, blessing, favor, and love in calling me forward.
Knowing God's call - when lived out, and looked back on in retrospect,
will have me, like so many times before, ready to do it all over again.

Did I know a thing about New Jersey? Nope!
Was I equipped to handle the bitterly cold, snow filled winter of Wisconsin? Nope!
Has living in my home state been a skip down easy street? Nope!

But, in all these places,
and in all the faces in each place,
and in every situation and all circumstances,
my God was there.

And, me, I have grown.  Oh, how I have grown.
And me,
(ME - the one God hand-picked to
move to New Jersey,
to head to Wisconsin,
to return to New Mexico),
I have a heart full of memories.  Such sweet memories.
I have seen the undeniable move of God.
I have felt His nearness and have been held by His faithfulness.

And, I say all of that to say this:
If you would like me to come to your church or your town
to speak at an event or for a woman's retreat,
this girl will pray and then,
if God says so,
she will pack her suitcase,
and go wherever God calls her.

Do I know how this is going to work? Nope!
Do I know all the details? Nope!
Do I feel equipped for the job at hand? Nope!

But, as my Handsome Honey would say,
"You'll be fine, Beautiful. You've got God."

Yes, I certainly, amazingly, thankfully do.....
and God is all I need.



For more information, visit my "Speaking Page."







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Friday, June 16, 2017

The Voice of My Father~

My father passed away over ten years ago,
and yet, at times,
it seems as though time has stood still since I saw him last.


In my mind's eye, I can see him still -
sitting out on the back porch,
legs crossed,
one leg resting atop one knee.


And of course,
punctuating those long legs of his, cowboy boots.


One arm is resting on the arm rest,
while the other one,
bent at the elbow,
is providing his head
with a bit of rest, too.


While I vividly recall his mannerisms and gentle ways,
it is the words he spoke to me that I remember most.
I think this is because he was a man of few words.
Even now, I hear his voice of instruction, guidance, humor and spunk.

In winter: Don't forget to pack a sleeping bag in the trunk of your car.

In summer: If you get a flat tire, make sure when you pull over you aren't parking on tall, dry grass. You wouldn't want to start a fire. Oh....and watch for snakes.

In fall: Isn't that the prettiest harvest moon you have ever seen?

In spring: Watch for snakes. (Snakes seemed to be on his mind a lot). The weather is getting warm and they'll be coming out.

In conversation in our home: Talk nice.

When traveling: Don't drive too fast.

After dinner: How about warming us a piece of that peach cobbler and putting a little shot of ice cream on it?

When shopping: Let's just pop in here for a minute and see what they have.

When someone in our family was angry: Why are you mad at me? I didn't throw any rocks at your dog.

When referring to me: How's Daddy's Darlin'?

It is these phrases, these words, that now give me comfort, keep me packing a sleeping bag in my trunk during the cold months of winter,keep me watching out for snakes, and smiling.

It is no different with my Heavenly Father.
Every day, in my heart, I hear his voice speaking to me, too.

In relationships: Love another as I have loved you.

In trials: Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

In decision-making: Acknowledge me and I will direct your paths.

In my mistakes: Confess your sins to me and I will forgive you.

In my fears: I didn't give you a spirit of fear. I gave you love, power and a sound mind.

In my day-to-day life: I am with you always.

I am so thankful for my earthly father. His wisdom and love guide me still.

Yet, I am most thankful for my Heavenly Father,
The Giver of all good gifts,
the One who gave me the precious gift of my earthly father,
the One who knows me better than I know myself.

It is HIS voice that leads me into the paths of righteousness.
It is HIS voice that leads me to my eternal home.
It is HIS voice I want guiding me each and every day.~

(Reposting in honor of Father's Day and my Daddy's birthday, June 22.)







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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Faith to Go~

Only one time.
Just one.
That's it.

Like Gideon,
when I set out my fleece asking God for confirmation,
He answered.

And, like Gideon,
wanting to know for sure
what God had already revealed to me with my first fleece,
I set out another one.

Only this time,
God remained silent.
He answered only one time,
the first time.

Why was God gracious (and patient!) enough
to humor Gideon's need to know a second time,
a second time?
And, not mine?

As I sat staring at the San Jose flower blooming smack dab in the middle of our backyard (a seed from a flower in the front yard had obviously made it to our backyard, completely hidden out of sight, until a few weeks ago), I found my heart wrestling with the God who had been so gracious to answer me in the first place, the first time.

But, God.  
I really, really, REALLY, need to know.  
This is an important issue I'm grappling with.  
This could (and most likely would) change everything.  
This is HUGE, Lord.  
Can't you please give me a sign?

And, all I kept hearing over and over again in my spirit,
a first time,
a second time,
a third time,
a fourth time,
a fifth time,
a time for every time I questioned God,
was this:
I already did.

Followed by this question:
Do you trust me?

It was obvious my knowing the answer
wasn't where the possible break down
in my "doing or not doing" would happen.
It was in the area of my trusting and obeying.

I had heard God just fine.
But, was I listening?

If I wasn't listening with one fleece,
what made me think I would listen with two, or three, or four BILLION?

God had spoken.
Now - would I move?

Yes, discovering God's will is important.
It really, really, REALLY matters because it can (and most likely will) change everything.
But, here's the thing:
Knowing God's will is not the same thing as doing God's will.
And, as much as God wants us to know His will,
He only reveals it to us so we. can. do. it.

So many times,
when we ask God for answers,
we already know what God is whispering to our heart.
More times than not,
when we try and determine God's will for our life,
we already have a good idea what His will might be.





I can't speak for you, but I can say this about me.




It's not the knowing (or lack of knowing)
that keeps me standing still,
it's the trusting and obeying.




Which takes me back to Gideon.



When God first approached Gideon,
Gideon was hiding.
God -
who knows the beginning from the end,
who knows us better than we know ourselves,
who knows the ALL of all there is to know,
was very intentional in the words He chose to use to address this cowardly man.

God referred to Gideon as a mighty man of valor.

Like the San Jose in my backyard,
God planted a seed of "future fruition"
into the soil of Gideon's heart,
only Gideon didn't even know it was there.

If Gideon would have realized it,
if he would have used his faith to water this seed,
it would had taken root and blossomed immediately.

Gideon never would have set out the fleece.
He wouldn't have needed to.
By the very name God called Gideon,
it was more than obvious,
God was calling Gideon into battle.

This unlikely mighty man of valor wasn't needing more direction,
he was needing more faith to trust and obey.
God knew this and graciously gave Gideon what he needed.
Two fleece-confirming moments later,
faith sprung up, blossomed,
and Gideon moved in the direction God was leading him.



Have you asked God for a sign?



Has He been faithful to show you?



And, like me,
do you find yourself waiting for
a second one,
or third one,
 or ...?



Maybe,
just maybe,
instead of asking God for a sign,
we need to be asking God
for another measure of faith.

Maybe,
just maybe,
instead of asking God to show us the way to go,
we need to ask God to give us courage to step out in the direction He is already leading us in.

Maybe,
just maybe,
instead of asking God to help us hear His voice,
we need to ask God to help us listen and obey.

Maybe,
just maybe,
what's holding you and I back is not the need to know,
but the faith to go.







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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When God Pays It Forward~

Some of the deepest wounds we encounter
are not from our enemies.

We can handle "enemy" blows
because we are
on our guard,
prepared,
expecting nothing less.

After all,
they ARE our enemies.

The wounds our enemies inflict
might slow us down,
might set us back,
might mess up our plans
and mess with our emotions for a while,
but the emotional depth of the wound,
superficial at best.

Sadly,
the deepest wounds we encounter
come from the people who
and the places where
we expect it least.

Those who share the same color jersey.
Those who share the same company name on their paycheck.
Those who share the same pew.
Those who share the same address.
Those who share the same name and blood.

Wounds from those who supposedly have our back
leave us flat on our back.

Wounds from those who are supposedly our "support system"
reach all the way
to the marrow of our bones.

The recovery time and healing
for these kind of wounds -
days, months, often years long.

In our hurt and humanness,
we wonder why God would let this happen?
After all,
if He would have chosen to
He could have chosen
for things to work out differently.

Which in turn,
if we allow the Spirit to guide
our thoughts,
our recovery,
our healing,
will inevitably bring us
to Jesus,
to His suffering,
to the cross of Calvary,
and to this:

Why would God let this happen?
After all,
if He would have chosen to
He could have chosen
for things to work out differently.

Jesus came to save His people.
Every single person who ever lived
was created in His image.
We aren't the "enemy",
we are family.

And yet,
from His own people,
He received the deepest wound.

Betrayed by a kiss from Judas
who was in His "inner circle".

Pierced in the hands and feet
by you and me and
our sinful nature,
our selfish choices,
our pride and self-reliance.

And yet,
through this "deadly blow"
Satan was defeated
and God was glorified.

And, you and me -
we were redeemed.

Because what we often fail to remember
and what we are quick to forget is this:
Jesus is the redeemer.

No matter the wound,
our God can heal it,
and not only that,
our God can redeem it.

No matter the wound,
our God can use it for a Kingdom purpose.

We can focus on what's been done to us -
replaying it over and over and over again
in our thoughts,
in our words,
in our actions
or,
we can focus on what God will do for us
and for others
through it,
in spite of it,
because of it.

So often,
when we have been wounded so deeply,
we yearn for justice to be done,
for revenge to have its way.

But honestly,
when we fully grasp
the redeeming power of redemption,
why would we want to settle for anything less
than God using our "worst wound"
for His absolute best?

Our healing is not found in
praying for God to "payback"
those who have hurt us.

Our healing is found in
releasing our wound to God -
through the power of forgiveness -
and praying for God
to redeem it,
and pay it forward
in ways that only He,
our precious Redeemer,
can.









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Thursday, May 25, 2017

When We Stop Realizing~

So often,
we think age equates maturity -
the older we are
the more mature we are.

And yet,
this isn't always the case.

An adult can be just as immature as a child,
if not more so.

The same is true spiritually.

We may have grown up in church.
We may have read the Bible through and through.
We may have hidden scriptures in our hearts.
We may even earn our living by serving in ministry.

And yet,
Peter,
with all the conviction and fervency
he can convey using mere words,
warns us of the
not-to-be-missed,
not-to-be-overlooked,
not-to-be-taken-lightly truth
in these two verses:

Therefore, dear friends,
since you have been forewarned,
be on guard so that you may not be
carried away by the error of the lawless
and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
~2 Peter 3:17-18

Growth requires growing.

I know this sounds more than obvious,
but how often do we stop to realize
that if we stop realizing
we stop growing?
(Go ahead. Re-read that again. I'll wait.)

When we stop realizing how precious grace is.

When we stop realizing how undeserving we are of it.

When we stop realizing our ever present need of it.

When we stop realizing others need it, too.

When we stop realizing how often we fail in grace-full living.

And,
what about knowledge?

When we stop realizing hidden truths revealed by the Spirit.

When we stop realizing our need for intimate fellowship with God.

When we stop realizing knowing leads us to doing.

When we stop realizing we don't know it all.

Therefore, dear friends,
since you have been forewarned,
be on guard so that you may not be
carried away by the error of the lawless
and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
~2 Peter 3:17-18

How do we keep from being carried away?
How do we keep from falling from our secure position?

We keep growing in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

No, age doesn't equate maturity;
steady growth does.

May we heed the words of Peter.

May we keep realizing our need to realize.

May we keep
growing in His grace,
growing in His knowledge,
growing up in Christ.









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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When Religion Hurts~

Sometimes our greatest need
and our place of coming face to face with Jesus
and receiving His all consuming healing,
will be the very place that
separates us from the crowd,
leaves us on the outside looking in,
gets us thrown right out of the synagogue.

Sometimes our deepest wound
and our place of touching heart to heart with God
and experiencing His all consuming love,
will be the very place that
people question and pass judgment,
people turn their backs,
people completely miss the touch of God.

Not everybody will celebrate a healing.
Not everybody will rejoice a life set free.
Not everybody will recognize God's unmistakable presence in a life
or the work He is doing through a life.

And sadly,
sometimes,
it is the religious people of the day -
those who profess
to understand God best,
to know God most -
who miss God altogether.

And sadly,
sometimes,
it is the religious people of the day -
those who profess
to be doing in the name of God
and ministering in the name of God,
who misrepresent God altogether.

God seldom moves the same way twice.
His miracles are as unique and individual
as each unique and individual circumstance,
as each unique and individual person.

If we look for Him
inside the box,
within our neatly defined man-made rules,
we are sure to miss Him.

A man was born blind -
not because he or his parents had sinned
like the religious people of the day piously speculated,
but so through his need,
and God's surpassing greatness to meet this need,
God would be glorified.

When Jesus,
through spit, mud,
and blind faith on the part of the blind man,
brought sight where only darkness had been,
those walking in religious darkness refused to see
The Light.

Holding on to all they had to hold on to,
they couldn't see beyond
the traditions of men and their religious rules.

And despite the fact that not one blind person
had ever been given sight before,
the man healed  -
who had come face to face with Jesus,
who had come heart to heart with God,
who now believed this must be God,
was thrown out the synagogue.

No clapping.
No celebrating.
No rejoicing.

Only Judgment.
Only "We know better than you."
Only rejection.

For the man who was blind but could now see,
this was his second blessing.
For not only did he receive the gift of sight that day,
he received
in place of religion,
the gift of Jesus, Himself,
and he fell down and worshiped Him.

Living Christianity by a set of rules,
with an unchanged, religious heart
will always lead to judging others
instead of trying to save others.

Just look at the woman caught in adultery.
It was the religious people of the day
who brought her to Jesus for judgment,
who held the stones in their hands.

Just like this woman,
just like this blind man,
I've been in their shoes.

Maybe, you have, too.

When my greatest need
and my coming face to face with Jesus
and receiving of His all consuming healing
found me
separated from the crowd,
on the outside looking in,
thrown right out of the synagogue.

When my greatest wound
and my coming heart to heart with God
and experiencing His all consuming love
found me
questioned and judged,
turned on,
and my touch of God completely missed.

When I lost my husband,
God led me to my laptop.
Raw, honest words of grief
poured freely from my heart and out through my fingertips.
But, always - always - always -
woven between each and every word
were the precious words whispered to my heart by His precious Spirit -
words affirming, reminding and giving testimony to
the healing presence,
the faithfulness,
and the all consuming love of my God.

In every word I wrote,
in every breath I took,
in every tear I cried,
He was the ALL that was
upholding me,
sustaining me,
guiding me,
blessing me,
carrying me,
refreshing me,
restoring me,
healing me.

God opened my eyes
in my time of greatest need and deepest wounding
to see His presence
and to witness His glory as never before.

Only those around me missed it.
They completely missed.

This - seven months after losing my man.

"We don't think you're handling the death of your husband right."

"Oh, what makes you think that?"

"We read your writing. You need to agree to grief counseling or you are terminated immediately."

But like this man who was once blind but could now see,
my rejection was my second blessing.
For not only did I receive the gift of knowing God as never before,
I have and continue to see God use
the very words He gave me,
the very words that poured from a heart of grief
to heal and comfort,
to mend and bind,
to encourage and lift up those
all around the world
who are brokenhearted.

The very words
that got me thrown out of ministry at the church where I worked
have become my ministry.

My greatest need and deepest wound
have been used by God
to glorify my God
in ways I could never even think or imagine.

Healing and a testimony for a blind man.
Forgiveness and a testimony for a woman caught in adultery.
Comfort and a testimony for a widow making her way through grief.

Religion minus the love of Jesus - judges, hurts, and rejects people.
Jesus minus the man-made rules of religion - heals, saves, and restores people.

Yes, I've been in their shoes.

And like this man who was once blind but could now see,
and like the woman who was caught in adultery,
I, too,
with praise and thanksgiving
pouring from my heart,
fall at His feet and worship Him.












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Saturday, May 20, 2017

If Only~

If only they would have known.

And yet, from their very actions,
it is very clear,
they didn't have a clue.

The one they thought would stand with them,
stooped passively to the ground and
began writing in the sand.

The one they thought would listen to their accusations,
knelt silently in their midst and
began speaking to their hearts.

The one they thought would dole out judgment,
stood in this temple
now turned into a make-shirt courtroom and
began revealing again
why He was here,
why He had come,
why He had placed upon His divinity, humanity.

"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."*

"Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath not man condemned thee?"**

"Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."***

And this, yes - this:
"Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man."****

If only they would have known
the heart and the mission of Jesus.

If they had,
these seekers of judgment and condemnation,
never would have taken this disgraced lady
and placed her at the feet of the God of all grace.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; 
but that the world through him might be saved.
~John 3:17

If only they would have known
Jesus doesn't seek to find our faults and expose them to the world;
Jesus seeks to find our hearts and expose us to His love, forgiveness, and grace.

If only they would have known
Jesus isn't a judge; Jesus is a Savior.

And while sin abounded that day
in the lives of all that were present,
(all except Jesus, of course)
only one found grace.
Only one found forgiveness.
Only one left free and whole.


If only they would have known.






* ~John 8:7
** ~John 8:10
***~John 8:11
****~John 8:15








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Friday, May 19, 2017

I Want to See~

As soon as I turn the corner, I see him.
White cane in hand,
he taps his way along the sidewalk.

The tilt of his head in my direction
lets me know
he has "seen" me, too.

As I slowly drive past,
I try to imagine life in his shoes.

Guided by touch.
Navigating through life by way of sound.
Living each moment without truly seeing all that the moment holds.

To not be able to see a sunrise.

To not be able to stand atop a vista and take in the view.

To not be able to gaze into the eyes of a child.

To not be able to read a hand-written letter.

To not be able to see your own reflection in a mirror.

As I make my way on down the street,
heading back into my own life,
I steal one more view of him in the rear-view mirror.

And, I see it.

The face of this man is not only sporting darkly tinted glasses,
but also a smile.

I pause in my heart and wonder.

Is it possible to be blind and yet still see?
Is it possible to see and yet be so very blind?

Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes but do not see,
who have ears but do not hear.
~Jeremiah 5:21

Do you have eyes but fail to see,
and ears but fail to hear?
~Mark 8:18

Vision.
It is so much more
than seeing what is in front of us.

How often do you and I walk through life blind?

Guided by fear.
Navigating our way through life
by way of earthly cares and concerns,
insecurities and doubts.
Living each moment without truly seeing all that the moment holds.

To not be able to see the heartache underneath the smile of a dear friend.

To not be able to see the sin in our own heart.

To not be able to see God's design for our life tucked into the trials and disappointments.

To not be able to see the strength we possess because Christ lives in us.

To not be able to see the blessings of today because we're stuck in the past and worrying about the future.

To not be able to see God in the everyday moments of our day.

Oh precious, Lord. I want to see.
I don't want to stumble through life
only catching a glimpse of You here
or a brief view of You there.

I want to see You in everything,
in all things,
in the WHOLE of my life.

Touch the eyes of my heart, Lord.
Remove all that hinders me from having a clear view.
OPEN. MY. EYES.
I want to see, Lord.

Arriving at my destination,
I step out of my car.

As I walk along the sidewalk,
I look up,
and,
I see it.

There,
as plain as day
is a heart-shaped cloud.

God's healing touch has already begun,
and I smile.










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