Monday, June 26, 2017

Tucked in With the Thorns~

God's blessings come packaged in ways
that cause us to question His heart
or wonder what good
could possibly be hidden inside.

And yet,
if we trust our Father
and receive of His gift,
we discover the treasure inside
is beyond anything
we could ever have hoped or imagined
it to be.

God is all knowing,
all loving,
all the time.

disappointments -
not gifts we would welcome into our life,
but gifts, none the less.

As we unwrap these gifts,
we unwrap the heart of God.

We discover anew
His faithfulness.

We experience deeper
His joy -
a joy that remains in spite of.

We build a faith that
is able to thank God
in the midst of
for the good that is sure to come.

Rest assured,
our Heavenly Father always blesses us
with that which matters most.

We just need to be willing
to open our hands
and receive His gift.

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?!
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."

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.)

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 ...?

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

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.

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

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