The Journey

wooded pathAs 2012 comes to a close and I reflect upon the past year, the first thought that comes to my mind is gratitude.  I am so grateful to my Savior who has been ever so faithful and continues to pour out his amazing love in my heart and life.

The life we travel here on this earth is not a predictable one. It is continually full of twists, turns and the unknowns.  I am so thankful that God who has drawn me into this great journey with himself continues to show himself to me in remarkable ways and that his love and faithfulness know no bounds.

One area that I would have to say that God has really worked on my heart this year is in the area of trust.  He has shown me that he is a God to be trusted.  Sometimes because of hurts in our past, we tend to put up walls around our hearts.  We think these self-made fortresses will keep us safe from being hurt and then sometimes we bring that dis-trust into our relationship with God.

This year God has helped me to tear down those walls.  I am able to come before him in transparency knowing he is the God who loves me regardless of my performance.  He sees the good, the bad and the ugly and loves me all the same.  And in trusting Him he further helps me to live in a transparent and trusting relationship with others as well.

My communion time with God has grown rich and been such a sweet and precious time for me.  As we daily spend time with God, He longs for us to pour our hearts out before him.  He is ever the compassionate father who loves on us.  He hears and meets our needs according to what he knows is best for us and I have learned to trust in that.

I have found my truest self by daily surrendering to him and walking in obedience to his will for my life. It is in living the life that he has designed for me when he created me that I find peace and joy that only come from him.

As his children we are called to live in freedom and that freedom is found in living open-hearted and open-handed before him. Recognizing all the good I have in this life comes from him and that he is there to stand in the gap of the needs and longings of our hearts and to fill them with more of himself.

One of the verses that he continually put in my mind and heart this year was, “Not my might nor power, but by my Spirit says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). I find that when I am trusting in myself and my own strength then I fail miserably.  But when my trust is rooted and established in God and the strength of his Holy Spirit working in me, then he helps me to succeed and accomplish all that he has planned and that’s exciting to know and to see!

We serve a BIG God who yearns for us to seek him whole heartily and enjoy the daily fellowship of His presence in our lives. As I look forward to 2013, I am super excited and look forward with anticipation to what he is doing and what he continues to do.  It is my wish for you as well that you would continually seek his face and that he may fill your life with an abundance of love, joy and peace that come only from living a life fully surrendered to Him.  Enjoy the journey!

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

A penny and a promise!

pick-up-pennyThe other day I was helping my youngest daughter Natalie out of the back of the car on the busy side of the street.  As we walked around the front of the car and stepped up onto the curb, I noticed a shiny copper penny lying there on the ground.

I asked Natalie if she would pick it up and she exclaimed, “It’s just a penny.”  I told her to pick it up and to read what it says above Abraham Lincoln’s head.  She gave me a puzzled look and then read, “In God We Trust.” I reminded her that sometimes the simplest things can be our greatest reminders of God’s presence in our lives.  God is always there, he is always speaking, we just have to be looking and listening!

Often times in our lives, it can feel like we are on a treadmill.  Going round and round and not going anywhere. This usually happens when we lose our focus.  When we have clear focus we can see things for what they are, but when our focus gets fuzzy, things become unclear and we can become easily disillusioned.  God is in our circumstances and when we trust him and are looking for him, he can show himself to in the most amazing ways, no matter how difficult our circumstances may appear.

Satan loves to deceive us and make us lose our focus, because when we have the wrong focus our walk with God becomes counterproductive.  God is never far away.  When we trust his promises we know that he is always with us and that he never leaves or forsakes us.  At times we don’t always feel his presence but we can know (because his word says so) that he is always there.

  • I AM THE WAY  – We walk by faith and not by sight. Trusting God means we walk by faith in the promises of his word and not by the feelings in our lives which can so often be misleading.  The bible says in John 14:6 . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . when we follow after God he points out the way for us to follow.
  • THE TRUTH – He is the truth.  Satan is the father of lies and tries to distract us from the truth.  The truth of God is found in his word and that is why it is important that we are rooted and grounded in him.  We as believers are to know the word so that we are able to discern the truth from lies.
  • AND THE LIFE  – Jesus is the life.  In him is light and the light was the life of all men.  He comes to give us abundant life in him.  This doesn’t mean a problem free life, but a life that is brimming with peace and joy that come not from our circumstances but from living in communion with him.

Sometimes the littlest things can be the biggest reminders.  God is continually trying to speak to us.  Are we listening? Like the reminder on the penny, we need to Trust God and his Word, they always make perfect “Cents.”

Do you know “The Truth?”

truthI was raised in a “main line” denominational church and we went to church every week.  I attended the churches parochial school for my twelve years of education.  And in high school, it was an “all girls” school at that (sounds fun right), haha!  At least we didn’t have to worry about impressing the boys, teehee.  My family seemed outwardly “religious” and yet inwardly I knew there was something missing.

When I was eighteen, I started dating a young man who after some time began to make me question my beliefs.  I soon discovered that I really didn’t know what I believed at all.  It’s like I was scrambling to grasp at something when trying to defend my faith, but it was like grabbing at broken pieces of glass.

I believed in God, but who God actually was I really had no idea.  I always pictured him as a judge living up beyond the clouds.  I would pray once in a while when things got rough, but without feeling that God really heard or even cared.  I pretty much believed that I would get to heaven if I was “good enough” and guess what? In comparison to the rest of the world, I thought I wasn’t half bad. At least I wasn’t an axe murderer anything like that. I thought that I was basically a “good” person.

This same young man began to open up the bible and show me the truths therein.  Initially my first reaction was that, “I don’t care what the bible says.” I’m “such and such” a religion and we do what the church says.  And as I began to look further into the bible, I was astonished to find what was there. . . actual truth, truth that spoke to my heart.  God’s word began to penetrate my hardened heart and I began diving into the word in search for more truth.  I had never read the bible like this before and there seemed to be the answers there for things that I had questions about. I couldn’t believe that what I thought was “this ancient book,” actually pertained to me and was relevant to my life today.

The reason I share this story today is because without truth, we will fall for anything.  In Hosea 4:6 it says . . . my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  God is speaking of the knowledge of himself which is found in his word, the bible.  To know who Jesus is, we have to read the bible.  He is the revealed truth of his word.  And as children of God, all of the truths in the bible are God’s promises to us, his people.  2 Timothy 3:16 states . . . All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

What seems so desperately lacking in this world we live in?  It’s truth, it’s absolutes.  Without these, anything flies.  The bible says in John 14:6  . . . I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.  There is NO other way.  If I could get to God by being “good enough” on my own, then God wouldn’t have had to send Jesus to the earth to die for my sin.  It’s that simple.  In Titus 3:5  it says . . . not by works of righteousness we have done, (meaning I can never do anything to earn my salvation or be good enough on my own) . . . then the verse continues . . . but according to his mercy HE saved us.  It has nothing to do with me other than me accepting and believing the truth.

As Christmas day is soon approaching I am thinking on the most beautiful gift ever given. God sent his son to the earth, to live in human flesh, not because he had to, but because of his great love for us.  In Luke 2:52 it says . . . And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.  He was tempted as we are, yet he lived a sinless life. Then he was falsely accused and sentenced to die a horrific death.  Jesus willingly chose to die for us because he knew he was fulfilling the plan of his father.  He paved the way for us, sinful man to live eternally with God the father.  Salvation is a free gift, for all who believe in the truth!

John 1:14 states it like this . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  Jesus is the truth that is SO needed today in this world that is trying to erase him.  He is the way to eternal life and there is NO other.

The bible says . . . For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.  If you’re feeling hopeless this Christmas Season, know that Jesus is the hope that is needed in this broken world. He is the only way, He is the absolute truth, and In Him we find eternal life. My prayer is that you truly experience HIM this Christmas Season, and know the hope for which he is calling you, and that is the absolute truth!

Seeking to Soar

548858_4331142392969_645372534_nThis morning after I dropped the kiddo’s off at school,  I drove down to get a coffee and then to go sit by the ocean for some quiet time.  I do this quite often to find some space to myself and to just sit,  reflect and to spend some alone time with God.  It really helps to be able to get this time outside my home.  I’m so thankful to feel God’s presence and am able to connect with him on a deeper level when I do this.

As I sat there sipping my coffee, I was quite amused by watching the seagulls flying up and down the coastline and landing here and there on the bluff.  The wind was unusually strong this morning due to some big storms we had last night.  Watching those birds take off and land in the extreme wind is really rather interesting.

It seems that there is extreme exertion on their part due to the intensity of the wind to both take off and land.  Their little wings have to flap like crazy to stay a flight.   Like I said, it is really rather amusing to watch.  The effort they have to exert seems like such an intense struggle against the gale force winds coming off the ocean.

Once the Seagulls are high enough and after much struggling, they eventually let go and drift backward into what seems to be a natural stream of air flow and then they are simply carried by the wind. To me, I am so relieved for them because at this point the act of flying seems almost effortless.  They are now soaring and being carried naturally in the flow of the air current.

In watching all of this I see a parallel in my own life.  Sometimes we feel as if we are having to fight and struggle to get adrift in our own lives.  We are exerting all kinds of effort and soon we become weary and tired.  But the great part is that as soon as we “let go” and release the struggle to God, we can simply “rest” in him and we are then carried, the same way the seagull is carried in the natural flow and current of the air.

It says in Isaiah 40:29-31 . . . He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

With the recent events in Newton Connecticut still fresh on our hearts, we feel the heaviness of the circumstances that transpired and we struggle to make some sense of the horrific events that took place.  I’m thankful that we have a God who hurts with us.  He never leaves us or forsakes us and he knows our pain firsthand.  He is with us in our hurts and sufferings.  And I’m thankful that we can find rest “in him” as we let him carry our burdens. I’m also thankful that He IS our peace during difficult times.

It says in  Matthew 11:28-29 . . .  Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Lord Jesus thank you that our true rest is found in you.  As we continue to lift up the dear families that lost their children and loved ones, we thank you that we do not have to carry these burdens alone.  Thank you that you can help us to soar above circumstances that threaten to take us down and that you give flight to our wings as we abide in you .  Thank you that our HOPE is found only in you and that when we come to you with our heaviness, that you will bear the burden with us. Thank you for your word and the precious promises that our ours! Please continue to comfort, strengthen and uphold the families in Connecticut.  You are an awesome God and we thank you for being our Emmanuel. In Jesus name. AMEN

Wise men still seek Him~

starAs a city kid, growing up in a suburb outside of Chicago, many of my weekends would be spent in the neighboring state of Wisconsin.  This is where my mom was raised and where her parents still resided. So on weekends we would make the three and a half hour drive to go visit them.

My dad’s parents also owned a fourteen acre parcel of property there in Wisconsin where we stayed at for these weekend visits.  We always looked forward with anticipation to our time there because it gave us “city kids” (who at home didn’t even have a back yard), great freedom to run, play and explore without all the worries of city life.

As a middle school aged child, I remember one of super fun things us kids would do for self entertainment.  We would join in with cousins to play this amplified game of hide and seek. In our eyes it was a fun and more “mature” version of the kiddie game.

Our “older” version of hide and seek would be played like this: half of us would go hide in a designated area of the property. And the other half, “the seekers” would ride around on some Honda 50’s my grandparents owned, seeking out the hidden players. This would provide hours of fun and entertainment   Sounds like hoot right?  It truly was!

As the Christmas season is upon us and as I was thinking back on these fun childhood memories, it reminded me of the account of the Wise Men who were “seekers” of the baby Jesus.  The actual account is found in Matthew the second chapter.

The wise Men had who had come from the east to Jerusalem, were inquiring about the baby that was born, “King of the Jews.”   Hearing his, King Herod summoned them (for his own devious reasons) to find this baby King and report back to him.  So the Wise Men followed the star in the east that led them to the place where the baby lay. The bible says, when they found him they fell down and worshiped him and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  And that evening (in a dream) they were warned of King Herod’s evil plan to have baby Jesus killed so they decided not to return to Herod but to go home to their own country a different way.

As I re-read this account of the Wise Men, I ask myself what can I take away from their story in my pursuit of the Christ of Christmas and the meaning and application for my own life.

  • First of all they were “seekers” of Him.  The bible tells us to seek ye first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you as well.  So during this season with so much distraction on decorating, shopping, parties and programs God wants us to continually seek him and put him first and foremost in our lives.  When the world tries to drown him out in the mayhem of business, we must continually seek to be in his presence.
  • Secondly, when the wise men found the baby, they fell down and worshiped him and presented him with their finest gifts.  This reminds me that we are to daily offer our lives to God as a spiritual act of worship to him.  To be a living sacrifice to his cause and his purpose for our lives.  It is a matter of dying to self so that we can be made alive in him.  A life fully committed to him is the best act of worship we can give.
  • And then finally being warned in a dream the Wise Men departed a different way.  The walked in obedience and did as the Lord had instructed and God expects the same obedience from us.  He wants us to be in tune with him, to seek his heart and desires for us, and to walk in his will for our lives.

This is my prayer for you and well as me me this Christmas season:  Father God I pray that we would truly seek YOU first and foremost in all things. That you would help us keep your eyes from everything else that tries to distract us from the true beauty and meaning of this Christmas season. That we would seek fulfillment not in presents or other things, but the presence of the Savior. May we seek to build relationships that are rich in you. And may all the other distractions of the seasons fade into the light of YOUR presence, that we might discover in YOU is the greatest present of all, JESUS our Emmanuel, God with us!