Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Look Back (The Most Read and Shared Posts of 2016)

When the clock strikes midnight
and a brand new year begins,
we have absolutely no idea 
what the next twelve months will hold.

But, God does.

While life events may catch us by surprise,
they never surprise our Heavenly Father.

As 2016 comes to an end, 
I decided to let this past year speak for itself.
Instead of writing about stepping out into 2017,
I wanted instead to focus on God's faithfulness in 2016.

And, after all,
doesn't that seem fitting?

It is in looking back
that we find the courage to step forward.

It is remembering God's faithfulness then
that reminds us He will be faithful 
and tomorrow,
and the day after tomorrow.

So, here you have it: 
the most read and shared posts of 2016.

Thank you, my precious Abba Daddy, 
for 2016 and Your undeniable presence through every single moment of every single day.

Thank you,
that as we step through the door of 2017, 
You go with us,
ever walking 
beside us,
before us,
behind us,
within us.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Most Unlikely Place~

Sometimes, the message of Christmas shows up in the most unlikely place.

A young virgin.

A stable.

A Facebook news-feed.

Several Decembers ago, I decided to hop on my computer and check Facebook one more time before heading to bed, before sweet dreams took over.

My younger sister was spending the weekend in New York City, taking in all the city and Christmas there had to offer. Me, I was "seeing the sights" through each post, (plus, keeping tabs on her in the big city - it's what big sisters do, right?! - no matter the fact that my sister was 38 at the time!)

It was hoping to discover where she was now that had me booting up and logging on.

Sure enough, she had left another post and another photo. Oddly enough (or maybe not odd at all) it was smack dab in the middle of these other three posts.

Tears of sadness tonight. Breast cancer has taken the life of a dear friend. I sure do look forward to that day when all suffering ends. To those of you who knew Sheryl, she passed away at 6:30 tonight.

"God's strength is fully revealed when our strength is fully depleted." ~LizCurtisHiggs

Such a lovely sight! I love NYC! 

My aunt Carmen lost her battle with cancer today. Prayers for the family are welcome. Rest peacefully Carmen. I love you.

Yes, sometimes, the message of Christmas is torn from the manager, hand-delivered, unwrapped and placed right in the lap of your heart when you least expect it, but need it the most.

As I read through each post, I thought of the baby born on that blessed night. Jesus, bundled in swaddling clothes, innocent, pure, all-God, yet all baby, oddly enough (or maybe not odd at all) hand delivered by Almighty God, through a young virgin, and placed smack dab in the middle of our world.

In the middle of our suffering.

In the middle of our sin.

In the middle of our weakness.

As my eyes stared at my computer screen, my heart found itself gazing upon the very heart of God.

This is why the herald angels sang.
This is why "we three kings" traveled afar.
This is why the little town of Bethlehem is still visited today.
This is why the night of this baby's birth, unlike any other night, was silent and holy.


God is with us.

Not in some far away Heaven.
Not hidden from view, out of ear shot, untouched or unbothered.
Not there, but here.

Jesus came straight from Heaven,
into our sin-marred, heart-breaking, pain-inflicting world
so that through
His immaculate conception,
His lowly birth,
His spotless life,
His sacrificial death,
you and I,
in the midst of all this earthliness,
can taste and know the sweetness of Heaven,
that is found in only in God
and only when God is with us.

Everlasting life.

This is the message of Christmas to be lived out in our hearts all year long.

God with us when the diagnosis is cancer.
God with us when our tears fall beside the freshly dug grave of a loved one.
God with us when our strength is gone.
God with us when the world turns against us.
God with us when we stand and gaze at the lights of Christmas.

God with us here, now, forever.

As I re-read the posts left behind by those I love,
I pictured Anita and Danette
wiping away tears,
longing for Heaven,
comforted by the blessed hope we have in Christ.

I pictured Shelly
sitting up a little taller,
her courage and faith a little stronger,
strengthened by the power we have in Christ.

I pictured my beautiful sister, Laura,
smiling with delight,
her eyes seeing the sparkle of Christmas shining radiant and bright
against the darkness of night,
overwhelmed by the joy-filled light we have in Christ.

And, I pictured God,
wiping a tear,
sitting up a little taller,
smiling with delight,
looking down on His own son lying in a manger,
defined by ALL we have in Christ.

This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. 
And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; 
by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. 
God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger,
 telling the world how bad it was. 
He came to help, to put the world right again.
 ~John 3:16-17 (MSG)

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. 
If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, 
because you will have the light that leads to life.”
~John 8:12 (NLT)

Yes, sometimes, the perfectly perfect message of Christmas
shows up in the most unlikely place -
the human heart.

And when it does,
a life is reborn -
a life that is not bound by time and space,
a life that is not limited to here and now,
a life that is not without help, not without spiritual healing, not without hope.

When the Christ of Christmas is hand-delivered,
and given residency in the heart of a human,
God. is. with. us.




In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 
The light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness has not overcome it.
~John 1:4-5 (NIV)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

When Friends Pray~

Happy birthday, sweet friend.
I've had a long and exhausting day and wanted to touch base with you all day...though I just realized a few minutes ago from Facebook that it was your birthday.  Which is just crazy weird because I woke up this morning around 5:45, which is about an hour and a half before I usually get up.  Gabe's monitor was beeping all the way out in the kitchen because of a low battery and after I got up to shut if off, I had you on my mind all morning and couldn't sleep.

I laid back down as soon as I fixed the beeping monitor, but tossed and turned and couldn't sleep, and just prayed for you for a while because for some reason, God put it on my heart. I guess what was about 3:45 am for you, so you were probably fast asleep! But for some reason I had this urge to pray for you and reach out to you today, and now as I realize it's your birthday, it was probably God reminding me to thank you for being you, and reminding me how blessed I am that our paths crossed some 4 years ago!

I hope you're enjoying your birthday and I'm also praying that it's been bearable, as I know it's the first without your sweet man celebrating with you.

I love you, lady!  Happy Birthday! I'm so thankful for you. 

Oh beautiful friend,
First, before anything, I have to apologize for not taking full advantage of the opportunity to see you while you were visiting here a few weeks ago. I really wanted to see you, but my heart and I have been in some major wrestling matches the past month or so. Please forgive me.  I know your beautiful heart understood and that you were more than willing to give me space, but still - I want you to know how very sorry I am. I also hope you know just how precious you are to me and how much I treasure you and your friendship. You are so dear to my heart. Love you, friend.

When I read your message, my heart was overwhelmed. To think God would speak my name to your heart in the early morning hours, to know you spent some of that early morning time praying specifically and especially for me - it touched my heart in ways I can't even express.

I am so thankful you shared this with me because my birthday was not a day I was looking forward to. My sweet man made every birthday extra special and since my last birthday was only a month and a half or so from when I lost him, it is one of the my most recent, precious memories. Also, having a birthday without him - just another reminder of the reality of his death. (This is what my heart and I wrestle with most.)  And yet, the actual day of my birthday - after you had prayed for me - I awoke with such a peace in my heart. Unbelievable, unexplainable peace. And what was so beautiful - this peace surrounded me all. day. long.  I didn't shed one tear the entire day - and that is saying a lot because tears come every day, several times a day, especially lately. 

Now, I know why. Now, I know it was your prayers that carried me through the day. To know God loves me so much He would speak my name to you, to know you love me so much you would answer the call and pray - *tears even now as I type* - this is too precious for words. Thank you, precious friend. I am the one so very thankful, the one so very blessed, the one eternally grateful that God had our lives intersect 4 years ago. Only our gracious Abba Daddy could orchestrate all of that.

Merry Christmas, sweet friend. May it be happy and blessed and may the happiness and blessings follow you right on through 2017. Love you! Big hug to you.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Whatever Is Right~

"What am I supposed to do with this?"

He stood there, his arms folded across his chest, a look of "I don't know" on his face.

"What am I supposed to do with this?  I've served here seven years. I lose my husband and now I have to sign this paper or I'm terminated immediately? Seven years.  Don't I deserve more than this? What am I supposed to do with this?"

Still, he stood there, his arms folded across his chest, a look of "I don't know" on his face.

And as much as I hate to admit it, I have been wrestling with this even still, even now,
two months later.

Until tonight -
Until God showed me this:

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, "You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you." So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, "Why have you been standing here idle all day". They said to him, "Because no one hired us." He said to them, "You also go into the vineyard and whatever is right you will receive."

So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, "Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first." And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius.

And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying "These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day." But he answered one of them and said, "Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is is not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen."
~Matthew 20:1-16

Even though the men who had worked all day
received the exact sum they had agreed upon before entering the field,
a denarius,
they felt as though they deserved more.

What is it about us humans that always makes us think we know what we deserve?

As I read this story
what captured my heart was not the obvious.
I didn't ponder
the disgruntled workers who had toiled all day,
or the seemingly "unfair" wages given in comparison to hours worked.

What tumbled round and round in my heart was what the landowner said to the
workers hired at the third, the sixth, the ninth, and the eleventh hour.

"You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you."

Unlike those first hired,
these workers stepped into the field
without a clue as to how much they would be receiving for their labor.

They had no idea.

They were simply happy this man had offered them work
and that they had the opportunity to earn something, anything.

And the part that completely took over my thoughts was this:
These men trusted the landowner.
With no official contract,
with no handshake or deal made,
they trusted whatever was right would be given to them.

So often, we think we know what we deserve.
We think we know what we should be given.

And yet,
here in this parable,
the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart a most beautiful truth:
God doesn't want to give us what we think we deserve,
God wants to give us whatever is right.

The men hired at the third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours
could have insisted they knew what their wages would be
before they ever took one step into the vineyard.

They could have asked to receive the equivalent pay
of those already in the field,
based on the hours they worked.

"If you are paying full day workers a whole denarius,
then we who are only working half a day,
will work for half a denarius."

But, they didn't.
They were willing to work and then receive
whatever the landowner thought was "right" to give them.

And, how incredibly generous this landowner was.

Everyone - no matter how long they worked - received a denarius.

The landowner gave them not what they might have felt they deserved,
but what he felt was right to give them.

And what he gave those who trusted him enough to go,
no questions asked,
no dotted line signed,
no handshake exchanged,
was more than they ever imagined.

"What am I supposed to do with this?  I've served here seven years. I lose my husband and now I have to sign this paper or I'm terminated immediately? Seven years.  Don't I deserve more than this? What am I supposed to do with this?"

As I thought back to that day,
back to this conversation,
back to this moment of wanting what I thought I deserved,
I heard God speak to my heart.

"My precious child, 
You are hurt because you don't feel you got what you deserved,
but, don't you see?
Don't you know the heart of Your Father?
I don't want to give you what you think you deserve,
I want to give you whatever is right."

And, then last,
but certainly not least,
there is that last phrase in this parable:
For many are called, but few chosen.

At the start of the day, the landowner had gone out to hire laborers.
No doubt, many men knew the landowner would need workers.
No doubt, many men were probably waiting for the landowner bright and early.
They knew there was work to be done and they were there to answer the call.

These men were called.

Later, though, 
through out the day,
the landowner saw men in the marketplace, standing idle.
When he asked them why they were just standing around doing nothing
they replied, "No one would hire us."

These were the ones who were chosen.

This landowner purposely and personally approached them 
and chose them to work in his field.

The landowner purposely and personally invited them into his field
and longed to give them whatever was right.

Again, as I thought back to that day,
back to that conversation,
back to that moment of wanting what I thought I deserved,
of feeling I should still be where I had been called to work,
I heard God speak to my heart.

"My precious child, 
You are hurt because you feel rejected,
you feel not wanted,
you feel like the workers who replied "No one would hire us",
but, don't you see?
Don't you know the heart of Your Father?
It is I.
I AM inviting you into my field now.
I AM choosing you."

What is it about us humans 
that makes us think we know what we deserve?

What is it about us humans 
that makes us long for the "contractual security" that man can give 
when God, Himself, 
if we will simply trust Him 
no questions asked,
no dotted lines signed,
no handshakes exchanged,
longs to give us whatever is right,
longs to give us so much more?

What is it about us humans 
that makes us long to stay where we are called
when we have been given the opportunity to go where we have been chosen?

The landowner was more than generous, more than kind-hearted, more than deserved.

Our God - 
there is not limit to His generosity, His kindness, His GRACE.

Yes, grace,
That's what this story is about, you know.
God's grace.

Grace that gives more than we deserve.
Grace that doesn't simply call us,
but grace that purposely and personally chooses us.

What is it about us humans that makes it so hard for us to 
receive of His grace?

Up until just a bit ago,
I had been wrestling with
"What am I supposed to do with this?"

But not here,
not tonight,
not now,
not after God showed me this.

What am I supposed to do with this?

God's amazing grace,
already took care of it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When A Godly Man Almost Missed God~

I had never noticed it before.

But, Monday,
as I sat outside
soaking in the sunshine
and reading again the story of Jesus' birth,
I saw it.

Tucked into the first chapter of Matthew,
right there in the very first gospel,
God opened my eyes to see something
I hadn't seen
until that day,
until now.

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born.  His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

And when Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

~Matthew 1:18-21, 24-25

the people of God,
those righteous and wanting to honor God,
those who may share a pew with us,
those who might even share a name with us,
discover we are "expecting",
only they don't understand
that it is God, Himself,
who has impregnated us
with this dream,
with this ministry,
with this "new" soon to be birthed through us.

All they see is something is happening
that they were not a part of,
and not knowing what to do,
they choose to
either walk away
or push us away.

Just look at this story again.

Just look at Joseph.

Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

Joseph, a righteous man,
was ready to walk away from his relationship with Mary
because He didn't recognize that it was God, Himself,
who was at work in her and through her.

being a man of God,
before he walked,
he took the time to think about it.

And, as he did, the angel of the Lord came to him in a dream
explaining to Joseph what he,
in the natural,
didn't understand.

Joseph, son of David," the angel said, "do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

Joseph decided to stay,
to say "yes" -
not only to Mary,
but to what God was birthing inside her.

And just look at what happened to Joseph
because he decided to be part of what God was doing.

He was given the honor of being the earthly father of the Son of God.
And, by choosing to be the husband of Mary,
Joseph was included in the lineage of Jesus.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.
~Matthew 1:16

And, it was Joseph who was given the honor
of naming this precious baby, JESUS, as instructed by the angel.

And Joseph named him Jesus.
~Matthew 1:25

How different things would have been for Joseph,
if instead of saying "yes",
he would have followed through on his initial idea to walk away.

as people of God,
we miss what God is doing,
and consequently,
by choosing to walk away,
by choosing not to think and pray about it first,
by choosing not to be a part of what is being conceived in our midst,
we miss out on being a part of what God is doing.

We miss out on being a part of the story of the Messiah.

We miss out on the "new" God is doing
to reach a lost world with the precious name and love of His son, JESUS.

Maybe one of the messages of Christmas this year is this:
God is at work.
God is always at work.
May we, through fervent prayer,
always seek God for further revelation,
before we decide to walk away,
before we decide to quietly disassociate ourself from someone else,
before we decide to have no part of the move of God happening in our very midst.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ours to Discover~

As I finished putting the last flip in my hair,
and looked in the mirror one last time
before heading out the door to run errands,
I prayed for God,
as always,
to go before me, behind me, beside me,
with me.

The first stop on my to-do list:
The Department of Motor Vehicles.

The task to accomplish:
transferring the title of my husband's truck from his name
to mine.

As I pulled the collar of my sweater
close to my neck and prepared to open the garage door,
I asked God to wrap me in His love,
to draw especially close,
to give me His strength and His wisdom,
to bless me in unexpected ways in unexpected places,
to touch me in a way that only He could.

As the garage door went up,
the tinge of cold in the air greeted me.
A gusty breeze was scooping up new fallen leaves
and throwing them up in the air like confetti.

when leaving the house,
I hop in the car,
back out of the garage,
drive to the mailboxes at the end of our cul de sac,
and then head out,
especially if the weather is less than desirable for venturing out in.
And yet,
this day, for some reason,
I couldn't shake the feeling that I should walk to the mailbox.
So, pulling my sweater even tighter around me,
I headed down the driveway.

And, there it was.

God's unexpected blessing in an unexpected place
just waiting for me to discover it.

Halfway down my driveway,
lying on the cement,
perfectly still
amongst the blowing leaves,
was a twenty dollar bill.

If I would have driven to the mailbox,
I would have missed it.

If I would have left any earlier or any later,
with the wind blowing like it was,
it wouldn't have been there for me to find.

It was a God-orchestrated delight.
And, delight my heart it did.
The monetary value had nothing to do with the joy in my heart.
That God would do this,
for me,
well - you can't put a value on that!

I could just see God
sitting on the edge of Heaven -
about to burst with excitement,
waiting for me to discover this simple blessing.

How it must delight our Father's heart to delight us!
How it must delight our Father's heart when we delight in His delight.

I scooped down and picked up my blessing.
As I made my way to the mailbox,
I thanked God for being so beautiful to me.

As I placed the key in the mailbox and opened it,
it was empty,
but that was more than ok.
This blustery walk with my God
had left my heart overflowing with the warmth of His love for me.

And, as He is faithful to do,
my God stayed with me the rest of the day.

The lady who helped me transfer the title of my husband's truck, -
gracious, kind, compassion, and extremely helpful.

The lady who helped me with insurance policies at my next stop,
tender hearted and bubbling over with the love of the Lord.

All day long,
everywhere I went,
I felt the very presence of my God.

Our God is so very faithful.
When we look for Him
in the midst of our day,
in the midst of our tasks,
in the midst of our trials,
in the midst of the chaos blowing around in our life,
we will find Him,
right there in front of us,
just waiting for us to discover Him
in the midst of it all.

Our God delights in tucking delights into our day.

I wonder how many times
we are so busy we our to-dos
that we miss His to-enjoys.

I wonder how many times
we are so consumed by our cares and concerns
that we miss our God.

Oh Father God,
We don't want to be so wrapped up with the 
and cares of this world,
that we miss 
the beauty,
the peace,
the comfort,
the joy,
of You
tucked into every moment,
waiting for us in every situation.

We want to see You in the midst of it all.
We  want to experience You in the midst of it all.

Thank you that You are there.
You are always there.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

On Astronauts, Mary, and A God Who Knows~

If it would have been left up to me, moon travel never would have happened.

Let's face it.
Prior to these brave men leaving their footprints on this far away wonder in the sky,
there were too many unknowns.

How will ---?
What happens if ---?
What about ---?

And the biggest question of all -
at least in my mind:
Are you sure???

Before we step out,
we want to know what we are stepping out in to.
Before we buckle our rocket seat belt and jet into space,
we want to know all about our destination,
and we want some kind of guarantee that we will arrive there (and if need be, back!) in good condition.

We want to know about then, now.

Take me to the moon?  I don't think so.

And yet, God wants to take me (and you!) to the moon and beyond.

Now to Him Who,
 by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, 
is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, 
far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think 
[infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—

To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. 
Amen (so be it).
~Ephesians 3:20-21 (AMP) 

God longs to take us beyond our 
highest prayers,
our dearest desires,
our grandest thoughts,
our mightiest hopes,
our wildest dreams.

His plans for us leave the moon in the dust and because they do, 
we often find ourself asking

How will ---?
What happens if ---?
What about ---?

And - time and time again-
Are you sure???

Honestly, if it would have been left up to me, the birth of our Saviour might not have happened either.

Let's face it.
Prior to the wise men following the far away wonder in the sky,
prior to the shepherds worshiping a baby in the manager,
prior to a trip to Bethlehem,
there were the obvious questions.

How will ---?
What happens if---?
What about ---?
And, most likely the biggest question of all -
Are you sure???

Only Mary didn't let the questions stand in the way of God's desire to take her above and beyond her
highest prayers,
dearest desires,
grandest thoughts,
mightiest hopes,
or wildest dreams.

She didn't need to know how.
She didn't wait to find out what would happen if.
She didn't worry about.

And, instead of making sure God was sure, she simply replied that she was sure,
and then, she stepped out into the known.

Because what you and I don't always remember,
what you and I don't always see,
what you and I don't always understand is this:

While we may not know, He does.
While we may wonder, He longs to fill us with wonder.
While we wrestle with the what ifs and the how wills, God already is and already has.
And, while we wonder if God is sure, God is simply waiting for us to be sure and say "yes".

Take me to the moon?
Thankfully, astronauts took this great step for mankind.

Birth the Saviour of the world?
Thankfully, Mary, the one chosen to be blessed among all women,
birthed The One, Jesus Christ, who came to save mankind.

Fulfill our God-given destiny?
Amazingly, God has entrusted THIS to you and me.

This same God who spoke the moon into existence,
and sent His only begotten Son into our very existence,
has a purpose and a plan for us, too.

No doubt it is beyond our
highest prayers,
our dearest desires,
our grandest thoughts,
our mightiest hopes,
our wildest dreams.

No doubt it will have us asking
How will ---?
What happens if ---?
What about ---?

But, when it comes to the biggest question of all,
"Are you sure???",
may we never let uncertainty keep us from what is most certainly true:

May you and I always be willing
to take our Saviour's hand
and boldly step out into the known.

Friday, November 25, 2016

His Destiny: To Change Ours~

Several years ago while shopping an after-Christmas sale, I stumbled onto a priceless treasure. I was digging through a huge bin of marked down T-shirts when I saw a navy blue one peeking out from near the bottom of the pile. Since blue has always been my color of choice, I decided this shirt was worth going after. After several minutes of elbowing my way through a sea of shirts, the one that caught my eye was finally within my reach. As I picked it up, I turned it over and looked at the front.

To my surprise, the design on this T-shirt was that of the manger scene. Little baby Jesus was fast asleep in his small cradle, with Mary tenderly seated as his side. As beautiful as this was, more beautiful yet, were the six words printed boldly in white above the picture.

His Destiny was to Change Ours

Here was the true meaning of Christmas spelled out for all to see and yet up until now, this T-shirt had slipped by totally unnoticed and completely unseen, buried at the bottom of a clearance bin! As I stood there, surrounded by a crowd of noisy, energetic shoppers, I felt a hush come over my soul.

Day in and day out we elbow our way through life in an effort to reach our goals, get ahead, succeed, and find true happiness. Digging through the bin of life, we proudly grab these surface level bargains, settling for the leftovers of this world, all the while missing out on our true destiny.

We go to church and accept the surface level truth of Christ's birth, yet never realize that the very essence of Christ and the purpose of his arrival as a tiny baby may still remain buried under piles of ill-fitting religion and theology. How we need to dig deeper, to search more, to grasp the almost incomprehensible ......His destiny was to change ours!

Yes, Christ came to earth as a baby to ultimately die on the cross, making a way of forgiveness, atonement and salvation for us. There is no denying this life-giving truth. Our final and ultimate destiny is to be with him in Heaven through out all eternity. But what about here? What about now?

One of my favorite verses is John 10:10b:
 "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly." KJV

If ever a verse described the destiny of Jesus as it relates to our own, this is it. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Life eternal is most definitely part of the abundant part, but our destiny doesn't begin once our time on this earth is over. NO! Our destiny changes the moment we turn our life over to Christ.

Our can'ts become cans.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 
~Philippians 4:13

Our defeats become victories.

We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. 
~Romans 8:37

Our trials become treasures.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. 
~Romans 8:28

Our desires become reality.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
~ Psalms 37:4

I'm so glad I caught a glimpse of blue peeking out from the bottom of that bin of marked down T-shirts. Yet no happiness in the world will ever begin to match the joy I now feel since I caught a glimpse of my true destiny in Christ.

When it comes to shopping, you will still find me searching through clearance bins in hopes of finding a bargain, but thanks be to God, you will never, ever find me digging through the bargain bins of life or poking through the discounted racks of religion and theology.

I have discovered my true destiny and I'm not settling for anything less than God's best for me!

I am not going to wait until I die to truly start to live.
I am going to live the abundant life now! 

I am going to reach out with every bit of my heart, mind and soul 
and grab onto the treasure I have in Christ.

I am going to start living out my Christ-given destiny.

How about you?

And you shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all of your heart.
~Jeremiah 29:13

(Re-posting one of my most popular posts.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

50 Things I'm Thankful for This Year~ (In No Particular Order)

1. God still breathing His breath upon me

2. Prayer warriors who take the battle seriously and fight it aggressively

3. Unexpected blessings from unexpected people in unexpected places in unexpected ways

4. Hugs

5. Take out

6.  God's strength in my inner man that pushes through to my outer man

7. A card in the mailbox

8. Those who shed tears simply because I am

9.  Closed doors

10. The all-encompassing comfort of the Holy Spirit

11. Eyes that see and ears that hear, physically - and most precious of all, spiritually

12. The lingering scent of my man, tucked into the collar of the shirt he wore last

13. The healing found in the warmth of the sun

14. The moments I lived with my handsome honey that have now become memories I can re-live, over and over again, anytime I want

15. Friends who have proven they really are friends

16. That even in the waking up, God is still with me. (Psalms 139:18)

17. The evidence of God's faithfulness in the past that make stepping out into the unknown future so much easier to do

18. Sisters - those who I grew up with, those who I was given through saying "I Do", and those who I have grown up in the Lord with

19. Our blessed hope of Heaven

20. A cup of coffee - the taste and the warmth in my hands - both extremely satisfying

21. God's gracious gift of words - spoken to me and through me

22.  The overwhelming realness of God and His plan for my life that caused me to explode in a sea of tears at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington  (Maybe I'll blog about this one day. It's a story that really does need to be told.)

23.  Facebook and the companionship it has provided during the loneliest nine months of my life

24.  The peace of God that passes all understanding

25.  Neighbors I never knew ringing my doorbell and asking to help me with my air conditioning and then a few weeks ago, my heat

26.  My Heartprints of God family -  those who read, like, comment, email, and most of all, pray for me

27.  Hot showers

28.  The still small voice of God saying "that's not of Me"

29.  The opportunity to personally thank someone who was instrumental in the development of my faith

30.  The realization of how very loved I am (Few people have been given this precious gift. I am humbled and in awe.)

31.  Every single handwritten note from my Handsome Honey

32.  God supplying me with the courage and the words to speak at my husband's service. He truly does grant us the desires of our heart.

33.  A unstoppable faith in an unstoppable God

34. Sleep  - when it comes so sweetly and deeply

35.  That I know God's heart

36.  The intimate way God shows me -  time and time again - I am in His will and He is by my side (Again - there are blogs posts that need to be written here as well.)

37.  Texts between sisters

38.  A heart more tender and easily broken for those who hurt

39.  These two phrases God has spoken over and over to me this year:
        - "You are a soft voice I use to speak to others in a loud way."
       -  "I am calling you to prophecy to dry bones."

40.  That for every overwhelmingly low moment of grief, I experience an overwhelmingly high moment with God

41.  The right hand of God moving in my life (even in the "Be still" moments.)

42. Turtles who share my patio and birds who share my yard

43.  That when nobody understands, God does

44.  That because of God I can give thanks in all things

45.  That God is in control

46.  That God loved me (and you!) enough to die for us.  No greater love than that.

47.  The safe place that is family

48.  God's unfathomable, immeasurable favor

49. My handsome honey and the honor to be his wife

50. That my God is MORE than enough

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

As Blessings Unfold~

As I reached for the alarm, and sat up in bed, the dream that had just been interrupted was still vivid in my mind.  As I put on my slippers and made my way down the darkened hallway and into the kitchen, I couldn't help thinking about what I had "witnessed" a few minutes earlier while tucked under my covers, sound asleep. As the coffee brewed and I booted up my laptop, this dream kept making its way to the front seat of my heart, driving every topic of conversation in my mind straight to the image I had seen while I slept.

I was in a car with someone I knew very well (maybe my sister or a dear friend - I couldn't quite tell who). We were driving down a back country road  in the middle of nowhere. As this someone navigated the car down this windy, barren stretch of highway, we rode along enjoying each other's company, laughing, talking, and marveling at the beautiful scenery unfolding before us.

As we topped a small hill, the driver suddenly pulled over on the side of the road.

"What's the matter?" I asked, as she opened  the car door and stepped out.

"I forgot to say 'thank you'," came the reply. "I'll be right back."

Here? I thought.  

In the middle of nowhere?   

Walking through the open countryside without a house or a person in sight?  

Thank you?

I watched as she made her way over to a small cluster of trees.
Then, I watched as she knelt down, right then and there, and began to pray.

Instantly, I turned my head, feeling as though somehow my gaze was intruding,
that this was a holy moment made for two, not three.

Minutes later, she returned to the car and we continued on our way.

"I always forget to say 'thank you'. I pray and God graciously hears my pleas and extends His hand. My life overflows with His blessings. But, so often, without even thinking about it, I snatch up the blessing and go.  I enjoy the gift without thanking the The Giver. I breathe a sigh of relief without whispering a word of thanksgiving to The One who has come to my rescue. I always seem to forget to say 'thank you'."'

We drove a few more minutes in silence, then she continued.

"Like today. My father hasn't been feeling well. This morning, I prayed and asked God to help him, to give him some peace, to help him enjoy his day. When I spoke with my mother a few hours later, she said my father was doing so much better.  I was happy to be sure.  SO very happy, but I didn't bother to stop and say "thank you". Until just now. As we topped that hill, I thought about my father and the way he loves cresting a hill, and I suddenly remembered, once again, I had received of God's hand without so much as a look back, a smile heavenward, or a heartfelt prayer of gratitude.  I just took my blessing and ran."

Beep!  Beep!  Beep!

With the sound of the alarm, my dream was over, just like that.

And yet, even now,
as the warm coffee makes its way down my throat,
and the sleepy in me begins to fade with the light of day,
the message tucked in this dream is holding on tight.

Thank You, Jesus.

God delights in answering our prayers, but He also delights in our thanksgiving. 

Today, as the blessings of God unfold in your life and mine, 
may we not simply take the blessings and run,
may, we too, come to a stop,
pull over from the road of life,
step out of what we are doing,
find a quiet place of retreat,
drop to our knees,
and thank our most merciful, gracious, loving, Heavenly Father.

May we not take hold of the gift
without first holding up our hands to Heaven
and thanking The Giver of all good gifts.

Today, (and every single moment of every single day)
as the blessings of God unfold in our life, 
may we remember to fold our hands in prayer and say 
"thank you".~♥ 

(Re-posting one of my most popular posts.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Voice of One~

As I came down the hallway,
I heard his voice,
only the distance between where he was
and where I was
caused it to be muffled,

As I drew closer to my office
and the voice became clearer,
I knew that I knew this voice.
It was familiar,
but still,
my mind couldn't quite place this mystery voice
with the correct face.

And then,
I saw him.

Standing in the hallway,
outside my office door,
was the pastor who I was hired to work under
seven years ago.

God had since called him to other places,
but for this morning,
for this moment,
he was back,
visiting and catching up,
on the very same morning
I was here to clean out my office
and move on to the new place
God was apparently calling me.

Only God could orchestrate that.

After we exchanged greetings
and he continued to talk with our current pastor,
in the memory of my mind -
God took me back to the day
I was hired.

"Stacy, We'd love to have you as part of our staff if you would like to join us."

"I'm so honored you would extend me this invitation.  But, I'm sorry.  I'm not Methodist.  I have no idea what Methodists believe.  I'm not sure what your expectations for me would be."

He had looked right at me,
and with a smile on his face,
and an earnestness in his voice,
spoke words I have never forgotten.

"Stacy, it's more than obvious you love Jesus.  And, from watching you work in our Children's Department, it's also more than obvious you love children and they love you.  If you can get our children to love Jesus like you love Jesus, well - that's all I need you to do."

here we were,
face to face,
seven years later.

instead of beginning my ministry here,
I was packing my office
and walking out the door.

As I stood looking at this pastor in the hallway,
remembering the words we had shared seven years earlier,
I heard the Lord speak words of His own to my heart.

"Well done, my child.  Well done."

And, I knew.

who had called me to serve at this church
seven years earlier,
was now preciously confirming to me
I had met His expectations.

Maybe I hadn't met the expectations of man,
but that was more than ok,
because all along,
from the moment I had said yes to serving at this church
I knew I was working for God.

And yet,
(I am ashamed to admit)
here I sit,
almost seven weeks later
from having been released from my job,
wrestling with feelings of
and abandonment.

And, I wonder if you are like me?

I wonder if,
instead of listening to The Voice of Truth,
you, too, allow the opinions of the world,
and sometimes,
the opinions of maybe even just one person,
to drown out what you know
God has spoken over you
and to you.

The voice of one.

That's all it takes,
to either lift us up,
or knock us down.

And, I don't understand
why I would purposely choose
to listen to any other voice
than the voice of my Father God.

"Maybe God is calling you to let that go, too."

She sits on my couch,
a dear friend who loves deep with the love of the Lord.

And, of all the things
God has called me to let go of
these past nine months -
my husband,
my job,
the voice of man,
this one should be the easiest,
and yet,
the struggle is so real.

"Losing my husband was hard," I tell her.  "But, I know that was of God."
A sudden heart attack.
God's timing.

"But, losing my job.  This - this has truly wounded me because it was of man."

And yet,
deep down inside I know,
I truly know,
it all comes back to the one voice
I heard in the hallway
that Monday, seven weeks ago -
unmistakable and clear,
completely identifiable,
the voice of my Heavenly Father.

"Well done, my child. Well done."

These are the words
I need to allow
to grip my heart.

These are the words of truth.

And, again - I wonder -
what words,
from your Heavenly Father,
do you need to allow
to grip your heart?

What words from others
have you been holding on to instead?

"Maybe God is calling you to let that go, too."

She's right.
She is absolutely right.

There is only one voice
you and I need to hear.

The voice of One.

The voice of our Heavenly Father.

And, when we do -
when we allow His voice
in our life,
there is absolutely no doubt
you and I will continue to hear,
time and time again,
"Well done, my child. Well done."

We might not meet the expectations of man,
but that's ok,
because you and I both know
we are living to please our God.

if God is pleased,
then really,
don't you agree? -
you and I should be pleased, too.

Friday, November 11, 2016

First Things First~

Living peaceably with others.
Making offenses and wrongs, right.
Nothing between.

Sometimes I think we overlook how very important this is,
especially in the eyes of God.

Peace between His children
is so important to our Heavenly Father
He would have us make peace with each other first,
before we come bringing our gifts to Him.

So if you are about to place your gift on the altar
 and remember that someone is angry with you,
leave your gift there in front of the altar. 
Make peace with that person, 
then come back and offer your gift to God.
~Matthew 5:23,24 (CEV)

And I wonder
how many tithes and how many offerings,
have been placed on the altar,
how many hands and how many praises
have been lifted up to Heaven,
while wrongdoing, anger, bitterness, unforgivingness
still have their place in the heart of the giver,
or in the heart of the one hurt by the giver.

While giving of our money
and giving of our praise
are visible signs of our love for God,
they are not what God desires most.

He desires our heart.

Offering and sacrifices
are not what you want.
The way to please you
is to feel sorrow
deep in our hearts.
This is the kind of sacrifice
you won't refuse.
~Psalm 51:16,17 (CEV)

God longs for us to feel the sorrow of sin so deeply
we are compelled to do
whatever it takes
to make it right with our God,
to make it right with our fellowman.

Peace with God.
Peace with others.

this is Christianity at its finest.

This is what God desires.

If we are not reconciled to our God,
if we are not reconciled to other fellowman,
the rest -
the giving of our gifts at the altar -
is simply (and sadly) just a religious act.

Father God,
Teach us to love like You love.
In Jesus' name, we pray.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Gift of Time~

I'm beginning to understand,
to a tiny degree,
why God chose the time frame
of 9 months
to create a human life.

9 months -
it's not a long amount of time,
but it's not right now,
or the next day,
or even next week,

The fact that God can create a human
in 9 short months
is absolutely mind blowing.
(The fact that He created our world
with spoken words -
well, there are no words to describe that!)

Can you imagine the
rock-your-world and turn-it-upside-down impact
on a mother,
on a father,
on a family,
if a baby,
the split second after conception,
was born into this world?

(and wisely)
God gives the expectant couple
9 months
to prepare for what is sure to be
a life-changing event.

Even then,
if we took a poll of families with newborns,
I'm sure the consensus would be,
9 months is still not always enough time
to get ready,
to adjust,
to prepare for the arrival of this new little one.

And, I can't help thinking,
and no doubt feeling,
that if God determined it would take
9 months
to prepare to say "hello" to a life yet to be
it just might also
take at least 9 months
to try to ease into
saying "goodbye" to a life that is no more.

For everything,
there is a season.

I said goodbye to my Handsome Honey
9 months ago last Friday.
It's not been a long amount of time,
but it's hasn't just been a day,
or a week,
or even a month,

Unlike parents-to-be
receiving the news
9 months in advance,
this now-widow
had no warning.

In a instant,
everything changed.

And, although we were never blessed
with a little one of our own,
I think I can confidently say,
rock-your-world and turn-it-upside-down impact
on this heart,
of death happening,
in a split-second,
could rival that of an instantaneous birth.

For just as it takes precious time to
ready your heart and your household
for saying "hello",
it also takes precious time to
ready your heart and your household
for saying "goodbye".

Time -
what an awesome gift.
But more than that,
what an awesome God
to have created time,
right along with birth and death.

As the months go by,
I am finding my way through
what most certainly has been
a life-changing event.

(To change a life -
hmmmm -
how many months do you suppose
that takes?)

Through it all,
God has been gracious and
oh, so very kind.
And, most precious of all,

When all else has changed
because of a life-changing event
that took a mere second of time,
God has stayed faithfully the same,

And I have come to truly know
way down deep,
what I have only been able to imagine to be
up until now:

Time doesn't heal all wounds;
God does.

in His mercy and grace,
our precious Heavenly Father
also bestows upon us
the gift of time.

And, we can only hope
that those around us -
whether seeing us
welcoming a new life
or saying goodbye to a deep love -
will grant us
this same precious gift.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Lord, Use Me~

So many times
when we find ourself in a situation
that is anywhere from where we thought we would ever be,
and not one bit to our liking,
we find ourself asking the question, "why?"

Why is this happening?
Why has God allowed this?
Why am I having to go through this?

And more times than not, our question is always centered around us.

Why me?

Because -
so many times
when you and I have committed to following in the footsteps of Christ,
to take up our cross daily,
and live for others and not ourself,
we forget that our life is no longer about us,
but about what God wants to do through us.

We forget that once we decide to follow Jesus
our life and our outlook should do a 180 degree turn.
No longer is life all about us,
it is now about God using us to reach and minister to the them,
the world.

"Lord, use me."

How often we pray these words.
And, no doubt,
while down on bended knee with tears streaming from our eyes,
we mean them,
With every part of who we are, we mean them.

Then, "calamity" strikes.
We feel the rug being pulled out from underneath us,
and we start to ask "why"?

Remember Joseph?
Thrown in a pit.
Sold by his brothers.
Sentenced to prison.

I'm sure in each of these places Joseph was tempted to ask "why me?"
and yet,
those of us who have read the "rest of the story"
know God was in every step.

In the pit and in the palace and every place in between
God was positioning and placing Joseph exactly where he needed to be
to do what God was needing him to do.

The trials and the disappointments and the injustices,
though derived by men,
were converted into steps ordered by the Lord.

It's the same for you and me.

No matter what may be happening in our life,
if we have surrendered our life to Christ,
we can believe
God can and is
using every situation and every circumstance
for a kingdom purpose.

If we can keep our focus on what God is doing,
rather than on what man is doing,
we can accept whatever may come with open hands.

If we can keep our heart knowing God has a plan,
regardless of how the plan seems to be coming unraveled,
we can rest at peace knowing all is well.

If we can keep our feelings and our hurts in check,
despite all the has been said or done to us
we can walk in confidence believing God will have the final victory.

If we can remember our prayer
"Lord, use me"
and then allow Him to do just that -
God will take all the broken pieces of our life
and make something beautiful that will bless countless others.

It's not always about us,
but about what God wants to do through us.

Happy is he (and she!) who remembers this.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

It's Never . . . Or, It's Now~

I will never forget that moment.

Sitting in a staff meeting one morning, a colleague read a short devotional based on a passage found in Mark 10. Then, he led us in a short prayer.

On any other day, after the prayer, the Pastor would have dove right into our work assignments for the day and the issues at hand. Not this day.

The prayer finished and we were met with silence;
a silence that lingered, creating an uneasiness in the room.

After several moments,
the Pastor, looking at no one in particular,
yet speaking directly to everyone seated at the table asked,
"What do you want Jesus to do for you?"

Again, silence.

Minutes ticked by as we each allowed this question to penetrate our heart.

"What do I want Jesus to do for me?"

Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”

So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”

And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road.

~Mark 10:46-52, NLT

I often wonder what it would have been like to have lived during the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. As He went from town to town and village to village, people young and old crowded around to hear His words and to witness His healing touch. If I had been there, I think, I too would have been among the crowd. I, too, would have followed Jesus.

I wonder, though, would I have had the courage, the boldness or the faith to cry out to Him with my own need. Sadly, I don't think I would have. I would have wanted to, to be sure......but, I think I would have let the opinions of the crowd and my own poor self-image keep me at a distant.

"Who am I to think I can interrupt Jesus while He is ministering to those who need him?"

"Why should I take up Jesus' time when there are so many more who needed Him more than I do?"

"Why would Jesus want to heal me?"

Yes, I would have wanted to run to Him, but...

As I have studied this passage of scripture, my eyes have been opened to see my own spiritual own spiritual need. As I have looked deep into my heart, I now realize I am in greater need than the blind beggar, Bartimaues. When Jesus drew near, He had the courage and the faith to cry out to Him. But me....I often stay silent. I have the faith....but I don't ask.

Every single moment of my life Jesus is here, and I just let Him pass me by.

Oh, for the courage of Bartimaeus.

He didn't allow anything or anyone (not even himself )
to keep him from drawing near Jesus and experiencing His touch.
He boldy cried out and in faith, received.

Bartimaeus did nothing to make himself worthy of receiving this miracle from God. When he ran to Jesus, he was just an ordinary human being in need, just like you and me. He knew all he needed could be found in Jesus.

And, I think he also knew that Jesus invites us to come just as we are.

After all, aren't we powerless to come any other way?

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.
{Photo Credit}
You see, Jesus doesn't see us the same way we see ourself.

Yes, He sees the real, ugly, sinful person that we are,
but He sees us through His eyes of love.

He sees us as His child.

He sees us as someone worth giving His own life for.

He sees our need,
but looks beyond it to see the ONE in need.

He simply wants us to come -
to not let anything or anyone,
not even ourself,
keep us from experiencing His love and receiving His touch.

Today, Jesus is passing by.

All it takes is one touch to change your life forever.

Are you willing to risk everything and run to Him,
or are you content to let Him simply pass you by.

It's never.........or it's NOW!