Monday, July 9, 2012

He is Good

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him" 
Nahum 1:7 (NIV)

When strangers and friends alike ask me "how did you do it?" in reference to my pregnancy with the twins and early delivery, I usually have one main response:

I was able to do it only because I found my refuge in Christ. The night before I delivered these 28 week wee little ones, I can remember just soaking up every little kick and movement inside my womb...and I remember smiling and thinking "God you are so good."

I spent only a moment with my son before he was whisked away to the NICU. My daughter, Audrey, I would need see till much later. And although there was much anxiety about what lay in the future for those two little babies, I can remember not crying upon seeing them in their incubators because all I could think was "God, you are so good." It was the song of my heart every day I walked into that sterile room with babies even smaller and sicker than my own. That face in the picture below isn't of a mother wallowing in fear...that's a picture of a mother who was looking on in amazement of what she has just seen her Healer just do. And it was the most beautiful moment.


I dwell on that moment when I feel like God does not care about my desires. Those moments when I am having a pity party for myself...those moments when my heart is so full of anxiety...those moments when I am feeling weak..I look at this picture. I see that smile of hope. I see woman just amazed at His goodness.

And I realize the beauty in letting go and surrendering to God.

I see a woman who was not strong at all...but her God indeed was. And He was/is good.

The beauty in suffering is when you die to yourself, you fully get to experience God in a way many people never get to.

He cares. He loves. And He is good.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha:What You Can’t Handle

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." 
Philippians 4:13 (KJV)

I’ve said it a million times, always with the intentions of giving well meaning advise to someone struggling with life's toughest problems. I’ve also received this advise a thousand times over, from people with the same desire to give only the kindest, gentlest advise possible.

“God will never give you anything you can’t handle”.

It’s the oldest trick in the book, the cure all for just about anything that darkens your day. No matter how bad things get, someone can always stop you in your tracks, prevent those next few words of complaints from exiting your mouth by throwing this old fashioned saying at you.

But I don’t believe it any more.

We are human, deeply flawed and stained by a sin nature. God is perfect, magnificent and powerful in every way possible. We can accomplish nothing good on our own, but through His grace, we can do all things.

All things.

THROUGH Him.

But apart from Him, we can do nothing.

So, here’s my reasoning. God absolutely gives us more than we can handle, and He gives us more than we can handle on purpose. Every. Single. Day. However; if we are His children, He is alive and well inside of us. And if we trust Him-fully give Him control of our lives-He will lead and guide us through any storm.
THROUGH Him.

And He allows these trials and tribulations to come our way not to punish us, but to grow us. To help to shape and mold us into the image of His perfect son. And He never ever leaves us alone to deal with any of life's problems, He’s right there with us every step of the way, always waiting for us to come to Him for help in times of need.

If we never had problems, or if the problems we did have were always small and easily fixed, then we wouldn’t need Jesus. Our human nature would kick in, pride would take over, and we would try to “fix” everything ourselves. And then when the problem was solved, we’d pat ourselves on the back, giving ourselves the glory instead of Jesus.

He wants us to need Him. He wants to have a relationship with us, a friendship. He already knows everything that has and will happen in our lives, but He still desires for us to come to Him and share every detail of our day with Him, and to trust Him to work out His will in our lives for Good.
So even though it’s not true that God won’t give us anything we can’t handle, it’s good to know that
He’ll guide us through anything that comes our way.

And we’ll never go through anything HE can’t handle.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The War is Over

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved ),  and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus For by grace you have been saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. "
Ephesians 2:4-9 (NAS)

God does not make junk. He doesn't want a refund for making you. He knew every ounce of you before you were even created...and He made you anyway. He knew our flesh would be nasty and He knew we would need a savior so we could be made right. Once you have accepted Him in faith as your savior, there is nothing left to do. You are immediately made right with God...simply because of that gift of grace. Immediately, the war is over. It does not mean your sin goes away...it means we have raised our white flags and surrendered. It means we realize He is good and we are not. And you can work your whole life trying to please God...but my friends, please hear this: HE IS ALREADY PLEASED WITH YOU. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He calls you His beloved.

In the church world, we have become so obssessed with our sins that we forget that God is the one who makes us clean. When you find yourself struggling with sin, God is no less pleased with you than when you are giving away everything to the poor. He loves you just the same. Do not hide your head in shame when you sin. Look to the heavens and say "thank you Lord!! Indeed a reminder that I am desperately in need of a savior!!" 

When we are in sin, we are simply missing out on the joy God has for us. It does not mean He is shaking His head in embarrassment. He is not this God of many rules. He is a God who adores, cherishes, and desires for us to experience the greatest joy possible...and when we are living in sin, we can't experience that. It doesn't mean He stops loving us...it is God saying "I want you to stop sinning because it will bring joy to your life."

With my own child, I find myself looking at her and saying "if you would just be obedient and make your bed, we could then go outside and enjoy playing. But you continue to disobey me, so you can not experience the fun day I have planned for you." 

Do you see what I mean here? I love her the same. I want her to obey because I have great plans for us. When my child disobeys me, she is missing out on so much goodness.

My friends, God feels the same way. He just wants you to experience the joy in knowing Him.

Perhaps some may say this is a romanticised view of Christ. But someone who would create filth, yet see it's beauty and want it to so desperately that He died for us...that is the greatest love story ever told! He tells us over and over again that we are made right because of our faith in Christ.

When you accept Christ as your savior, the war is over. He will continue to polish you up until the day you are embraced in His arms in Heaven, but only He can do the polishing. Stop trying to work to please God. He is so incredibly pleased with you. Just dwell on who He is. He is beauty. And although our flesh may be filthy, a heart that has accepted Christ is beautiful.

He does not want a refund. He just wants you. Stop hiding your head when you sin. Just say "thank you God for loving me anyway." 

There is freedom in the surrender.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

God is my boxing champ

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 
Exodus 14:14 (NIV) 

He is my savior. He is my friend. He is even my psychologist at times...if only God could write prescriptions. 

But lately...lately, God is my boxing champ. 

Sometimes waiting on God in faith is like waiting for Christmas to come every year. It always comes, but it feels like it will never get here. This is where my faith is at lately. I have faith that He has great things in store...but, I feel like I am always impatiently waiting on Him. You know how there is this unspoken rule in America that you can't put up your tree until after Thanksgiving? Yeah, I've had mine up for weeks by the time we are carving that turkey. 

The longer I wait on God to answer a prayer, the more anxious I become. I constantly find myself saying "I put all my hope in you Lord...but, I don't for how much longer." I am in a constant war within myself...God against my flesh. I want to abide in Him, but I struggle with His timing.

Sometimes I feel like the Israelites crying out saying "you are leaving me here to die in the desert!!!" 

It is hard when you feel like you are fighting alone. The world always questioning you and your decisions. People who are supposed to love you break your heart and leave you with battle wounds. Sometimes I really just want to wave my white flag of surrender in the air at the world because it just seems easier to follow the crowd.

But my Heavenly Father doesn't allow me to stay pushed down for long. I wrestle with scripture and I wrestle with Him...forgetting He is on my side. I wrestle with the world. I wrestle with the really hard questions about faith and God. This week I have thrown my fists at the sky and said "God, why would you create people who you know are going to go to Hell? You love us...so, why even create non believers?"

I get frustrated reading about Calvinism vs. Arminianism. I get frustrated watching denominations fight over theology. I get frustrated hearing the debate over gay marriage within the church itself.

But, I can feel Him fighting for me. Fighting against the world and reminding me that He is my only hope and He is the only good here. I feel like God lets me take a time out now and then, but He draws me back in and just says "let ME do this, Sarah!" Reminding I am not alone on this faith walk.

Reminding me that like the Israelites, He is the boxer. I am simply commanded to let Him take out the enemy. 

And there is so much peace in knowing that. So, even though I feel like I have been waiting on answers to prayers and questions...even though the world beats me down...I find comfort in knowing He is the greatest boxer in the world. And He has already won my heart.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha: The Sacrifice of Praise

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name."
Hebrews 13:15 (KJV)

Do you ever find yourself having one of "those days"? Days packed full of disapointment when things just don't go your way, and you are completely exhausted from the weight of the world?

I've had one of those weeks.

Even though I know its wrong, sometimes satan keeps my mind from recollecting that God's promises are true, His ways are best, and His timing is always perfect. And when I don't get what I want, I feel like I've been let down. Because I deserved this, because I needed this, because this was perfect for me and right now is the right time for me to have it.

But as I was feeling sorry for my self earlier this week, a still, small voice gently interupted my pity party, pressing on my aching heart the words of Hebrews 13:15.

And that's when I realized there is a reason what we are told to do its called as a SACRIFICE of praise.

Because it isn't easy for me to do, and God gets that. And He loves me anyway.

Even on weeks like this, I have so much to be thankful for. But disapointments can wound us, leaving us in a weak and fragile state, vulnerable to the enemy. And if we let him, he'll seize any opportunity to slip in doubt, anger, jealousy and self pity, and before we realize it, were drowning.

But God's Word tells us that even when it doesn't feel right-even when it hurts-we are to offer God the sacrifice of praise continually, giving thanks to His name. And in Ephesians 5:20 it says that we are to give thanks ALWAYS for ALL things. No matter what trials come our way, whatever tribulations plague us, it is our duty to "in everything give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Wait, what?

So, if my car breaks down, my husband loses his job, we have no money in the bank and my baby gets sick, God's solution is to give Him thanks?!

Exactly.

When everything turns upside down, we can show God-and prove to ourselves-that we trust Him when we come to Him continually with a sacrafise of praise. When every bone in our body, every breath in our lungs cries out in praise to Him even during the darkest times in our life, we are giving Him complete control. And even though it may feel unatural, painful, and sometimes rediculous, training our minds to give thanks to God continually strengthens our faith and brings rememberance who we really are.


We are redeemed, forgiven, and loved, despite our circumstances.

We can look back in our past and see times where God was faithful and just to carry us through, just as He promised. and then the choice is ours to make; we can drown in fear and sorrow, or we can thank Him for whatever work He is doing in our lives through this trial, trusting in faith that He will keep His promises even now and never leave our side.

And we can praise Him, even in the midst of a tornado. Because let's face it; we were once lost, dying, and without hope. But God saw through our sin, and loved us enough to send His only son-and a rediculous amount of grace-to take our place. And for those of us who believe on Jesus Christ as our personal saviour and have excepted His free gift of salvation, this world is not our home. We have been pardoned, freed from the bondage of sin, cleansed, and made righteous.

Our chains are gone, we've been set free!

So we ALWAYS have that to be thankful for, even when our world turns upside down. We will never be without reason to praise God for what He's done for us.

I know its not easy, especialy since I'm in the middle of trying my best to practice what I preach, but I also know its not impossible. Because if it were, God wouldn't tell us to do it.

So I'm going to do my best to steady my grip on God's hand and push forward. Instead of dragging Him backwards and begging Him to change His mind and the outcome, I'll choose to thank Him for this weeks disapointments, and trust that even though it feels wrong, He knows its right. And I'll keep asking Him to remind my heart again and again that His promises are true, and His ways are perfect.

And I'll offer Him my sacrifice of praise.

What things have hapened lately in your life that make it hard to give thanks continualy?

Can you look back at any specific times on your life that God has turned a disapointment into something good?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday Scripture: Be Courageous

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. "
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV) 


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturdays with Shawn: Faith

"These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1:7
via


Saturdays with Shawn is brought to you by:
www.sweetpraises.com

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturdays with Shawn: Providence

via

Providence


It comes from the Latin, providentia. Pro means "before" or "ahead of time"; videntia is from videre, meaning "to see."
Put them together and you have "seeing ahead of time," which is what our beautiful God does. 

The Father always knows best.
Let's trust in Him!


"The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."
Psalm 37: 23-24

Friday, June 8, 2012

Faith: It's like learning to swim

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

We attended my daughter's first swim meet yesterday. Mind you, she is barely 4 years old and does not like to get water in her ears, but the girl will win your heart with her effort. I was not really sure what to expect. Although she has performed ballet in front of an audience, I was not sure how she would react to performing in front of a huge audience in a sport she isn't exactly in love with. She loves the water but does not understand why she can't just stay in the baby pool for forever.

The horn blows and off they jump into the water...ok, technically, one of the coaches had to help her slowly get into the deep end because there was no way she was jumping in that water full speed ahead. Her coach was in front of her calling her in, but she needed that encouragement from other coaches to get in. Once in the water, she smiled and grabbed onto her coaches neck with a death grip.

"Kick your legs Ella. Kick. Kick. Kick. I won't let go of you, but you have to kick!" she coached her.

Ella started kicking, but you could see the intensity in her face. About half way down the lane she was smiling again, but she was working hard kicking those legs...still refusing to let go of her coaches neck. And then Ella got kind of tired and the coach helped carry her. And Ella smiled and held on tight.

When she reached the finish line, she was all smiles. She was giving everyone high fives. We were so proud of her. Some kids swam the entire length of the pool. Others jumped right in and did great until about half way down the pool and needed a little help.

And then there was Ella. And she was so brave. So courageous...not letting fear keep her from experiencing the joy she saw others had. You could tell how desperately she wanted it, but she needed a lot of encouragement. But she kept going while hearing the coach say "I won't let you go. I won't let you go. Just keep kicking."

I wonder if faith is like learning to swim. Some people dive right in and make it seem effort less. Others take the plunge, but feel discouraged along the way and need a helping hand. Others, fall into His arms and hold on with a death grip. They find moments of happiness, followed by moments of fear when they are going through a trial. They kick and struggle through their faith, but they hold onto that voice that is always whispering "I will never let you go. Just keep going....and I promise you the prize at end will be worth it."

And then they reach the end and everyone is giving them high fives in Heaven because they know it has not been easy for them. And they look back across the length of that pool and smile seeing how far God carried them and how He never left them even when they were scared. And their Father, He is the first one to give them that high five and swing them around in His loving embrace.

Watching that brave little girl showed me the kind of faith I want. I want to need Him every step of the way. I want to hear Him whisper in my ear "just keep kicking...Sarah, just keep believing"...I want to hear it over and over again even when my goggles are foggy and I cannot see the finish line. I want to feel His arms carry me. I want to finish the race and win the prize and look at my Savior in total amazement. I want high fives at the end...not because I was a good swimmer, but because I held on tight.

Some days I may tread water. Others I might kick hard with smiles on my face. Some days I might have doubts...but, I keep on kicking. Because that is faith. Faith is holding on with a death grip to the Savior's embrace knowing He is enough to get you to the finish line. And you don't have to be a great swimmer. All you have to do is get in the water and wrap your arms around His neck.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Finding my Resting Place in Christ

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken."
Psalm 62:1-2

My soul does not feel very restful. And I do feel quite shaken. I feel like the more I try to pull it together, the more I see how broken I am. I try to be a better mother...yet, not even half way through the day I am yelling at my children, something I said I'd never do. I'm yelling at them because they are yelling and fighting and being disobedient. I try hard to stop and pray. I even try the good old "count to ten" before speaking and I still lose my cool. And I love them and wish I could love them the way Christ loves me. And I want to be Jesus to them...but, the thing is, I am not Him.

I once heard someone say that unconfessed sin can cause great anxiety. That it can put up a wall between you and God. So, I throw my hands in the air daily looking to the sky and shouting (in my head) "God, I have no idea what else to confess to you!! I know I am a terrible sinner and do rotten things all day long that I don't even realize, but can we just move past this and move on to forgiveness...you know, so I can feel that rest you talk about??"

I have a history of thinking God shakes His head in disappointment at me and that He witholds His blessings because I am a loser sinner. This type of thinking will have you in a constant state of despair as you will never be able to recall all your sin...thinking surely God has a lesson in all this for me.

We are to wait patiently on the Lord, yet my heart is growing impatient. I've waited and...well frankly, I'm tired of waiting. I question whether I am praying right...is there a right and wrong way to pray? I do not know. Every time I learn something new through a trial, I expect God to immediately remove my anguish...you know, because I've learned my lesson. Certainly that is the point, right?

So I dwell on this verse today. Mostly I dwell on that word "rest". We have had our house on the market for 15 months and I have 3 young children.  I am mad about the economy. I am mad that we can't start building our new home until we sell this one and lock in on low interest rates. I am mad at the unknown of so many things. I am mad that a little girl we have been praying for is going to die of cancer. I am mad that God did not cure her. Basically I am mad that I have no control and God has all the control.

I'm ridiculous. I know. He knows. He knows I'm good at temporarily surrendering control, but I lose my cool when things take too long. I have patience...until, well, I run out. And I get restless waiting on God. I am sure it has been a nano second to Him, but to me, He takes forever!!

I am learning that the only way I will find rest is when I learn to find joy and contentment while I wait. But how? How does one find happiness in the midst of chaos or sadness or great anxiety?

Finding rest in Christ really means having faith in Him. It means that even though you feel restless, you rest in knowing that God's plan is always better than our own. And I'll admit I don't always believe that. Sometimes I try to tell God what to do because I am a control freak.

Deep down I know I would never want anything that God did not want for me. It's hard to always believe that as we are all self centered by nature. By being self centered, we are basically saying God is not sufficient and/or He doesn't know what He is doing. I often find myself telling God His ways suck...always later to regret those thoughts.  But I still wonder why He makes us wait? If it's not to teach us a lesson, then why?

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us"
Ephesians 3:20 (NAS)

He is okay with being misunderstood because He sees how it all ends. He sees how it brings Him glory. He wants us to bring our desires to Him, but we must trust that He can always do something better beyond our comprehension. This is faith.  This is how you have joy...when you remind yourself His plan is GREATER THAN OURS!

It is all about remembering who God is. That He is good. He is good even when we don't understand and don't like what He is dong. But in Him, we will find rest.

Rest in knowing He is God and He is our only hope. Rest in knowing that if we had our own ways, we would screw it all up. Rest in knowing He can do way more than we can imagine for ourselves. And when all that still feels hopeless, rest in knowing that it will all make sense in Eternity.

You were forgiven a long time ago. God is not with holding from you. Let Him be the rock while you wait on Him. Don't give up on Him.





Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha: Overcomers

Tuesdays with Tabitha

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me Ye might have peace. In the world Ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 (KJV)

This life is full of problems that everyone has to face, there's no denying that. But is it really ever possible to rejoice in our tribulations? To stand in the midst of our biggest problems and thank God for them, because we get that they are an opportunity to grow closer to Him?

In the devotion book "Jesus Calling", Sarah Young writes:

Do not long for the absence of problems in your life. That is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble. You have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven. Rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you, but do not seek your heaven on earth.

Begin each day anticipating problems, asking me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter. The best equipping is My living Presence, My hand that never let's go of yours. Discuss everything with me. Take a lighthearted view of trouble, seeing it as a challenge that you and I together can handle. Remember that I am on your side, and I have overcome the world.

................

It can be difficult at times to give our problems to Jesus, trusting Him to accomplish His will, no matter the outcome. But He has a plan for each of us, Ames He tells us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us. He has our best interest in mind and will always take care of us.

If we can learn to completely trust Him with whatever comes our way, we WILL be able to face anything. Because we know that though we are incapable of solving difficulties that come our way, with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

We can't handle it, but He can.

When we get that-when we believe that-then we are able to look lightheartedly at tribulation and offer thanksgiving for the good that we know God can bring out of it. And we can do far more than just survive the problem.

With Christ, we can overcome the world.



Do you find it difficult to hand your problems over to the Lord?
Are you able to focus on His Living Presence when things get dark, remembering that He never let's go of your hand?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Not Guilty

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief."
1 Timothy 1:12-13

Guilt. It haunts me. It plagues me. I dwell on past mistakes. I dwell on the fact that I don't believe I will ever be a "good and faithful servant." 

I hear filth leave my lips. I watch myself fall in to the trap of gossip. I hate it. I hate me...I hate my flesh. I hate that I feel like I will never reach enough holiness. Will I ever be a truly great example for Christ? It is my greatest desire...yet, sin often overcomes me...sometimes unknowingly, sometimes with premeditation. Sin grieves my soul...why do I fight my flesh so much when I want so desperately to be like the Christian women I admire?

I proclaim the Bible to be truth, yet I wrestle with scripture. Sometimes I read and it just doesn't taste good and I feel like God is demanding too much...expectations that no one can truly live up to.

I hate my flesh.

I love when I find rest in Christ. Why can I not feel that way all the time? 

Because I still believe I am guilty. Because I still believe I need to polish off my filth to even approach Him in prayer. Because I feel like I must be blameless before Him.

Because I completely forget that I am no longer guilty. And that He has made me righteous. I forget that I cannot right myself. I forget that God does not make garbage. He doesn't wish He never made me. He knew my sin before I was ever created. I forget that "I'm HIS girl" and He cherishes me. I forget that He is refining me and He is in charge of bringing about holiness. 

That even though I am plagued with sin and guilt, that I am no longer guilty because I have been saved. And all He wants from me is to allow Him to continue molding and shaping me. He WANTS me. He wants me to experience all of Him. He wants me to stop feeling guilty...because He does not see me that way anymore.  I am forgiven.

It is the joy of salvation, that you are still full of sin, yet you are forgiven. His mercy has left me no longer guilty.



 
 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Falling in love with the Presence of God

 "What has happened to all your joy?..."
Galations 4:15 (NIV)

It is a special day in our home. Ten years ago, my husband and I vowed to love each other for forever. A decade.  We have had many trials and tribulations. We have hurt each other deeply through the years, but also loved each other even deeper. What no one tells you about marriage is that it is through working through all those trials that you fall deeply in love with one another. Every year...deeper and deeper. It is a beautiful thing!

We have plucked each others first grey hairs and we have laughed at old photos of us when we first met in 1998...our faces much more wrinkled and our eyes much more tired. It is somewhere in the midst of these trials and tribulations that you truly become "one" just as scripture describes. It comes in that moment when you realize you would not want to live your life without them in it. When they are around, you feel a sense of completeness. It happens when you realize that you married an imperfect person and that you too, are imperfect. It happens when you truly see the beauty in this imperfect person God has made. Imperfect...but, perfect for you. You rid your marriage of ridiculous expectations and learn to love with grace.  It takes work and time, but you finally find the JOY in marriage.

It is in this moment where you start to become one with your spouse that is much like the moment when you discover God's gift of grace. We know about it. We've studied it. But, sometimes it takes a long time to truly embrace it.

You become aware of the loving presence of God. It happens the moment you realize you are no longer bound by law, but living under grace. There is this moment where you realize that He truly is all that you need.

And you begin to fall in love with Christ.

And it is strange because you may have known Him for a very long time, but you never experienced His love. You never fully experienced the JOY that comes in living under grace.

It happens when you realize that God created you knowing you were going to be imperfect. It happens when you stop trying to earn His love and realize He already loved you before you were created. Isn't that awesome?!

You see, legalism in Christianity is much like the dating/courtship period prior to marriage. You love this person, so you put on your best face. You work really hard to show them how great you are and how much you could love them. You are trying to win over their affections.

But then you get married, and you have them, and you still really want to show them you love them, but it is hard to keep up that initial act you had that swept them off their feet.

And you start to see each others imperfections and sometimes joy is lost. You wonder what happened to that "perfect" person.

And many lose their joy for God because really they never fully experienced His grace. They have not yet really fallen in love with Him because they are still trying so hard to please Him.

He is pleased with you. You are His beloved. He doesn't create junk. He doesn't want a refund for what He created. He wants you to fall in love with Him. Let Him do the work and polishing and the refining. Enjoy Him. Enjoy Him making you more like Him.




Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dear Self on your 32nd birthday

"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus"
Phillipians 1:6 (NIV)

Yesterday was my birthday. 32 years...I mentally still feel like I should only be about 25, but a few fine lines around my eyes tell a different story. Staying up late is now midnight and no longer 3am, spanx has become my new best friend, and much of my naivete from my "youth" is gone. Although I am still quite young, I believe your 30's are when you start to realize that you are not going to be here for forever. I am in the season of life where I am watching my friends parents pass away and other friends who find out they have cancer.

It is a bittersweet time in my life. It is such a beautiful life God has given me, but I realize that it could all be taken away in the blink of an eye. Maybe it's because it is my birthday or maybe it's because I can be a tad bit pensive, but I have found myself asking God "why in the heck did He create me? What does He want me for?" By the way, I think being pensive can be a positive thing. For me, it is a moment where I step back from the busyness of life and look to the Father. I stop and dwell on who He is. I stop what I am doing and ponder if I am listening to what God wants from me. You see, I cannot experience the joy He has in store for me when I am too busy trying to figure out how to make myself happy on my own.

But who am I? I surely do not feel anointed in any way. I believe we are all given spiritual gifts, but sometimes I will admit my pride likes to see the fruits of my labor. I like to be able to see the work that God is doing through me...because I believe He is doing something through all of us who accept Him into our hearts. But, I have recently been feeling like God has been pressing on my heart this: "Sarah, I did not create you because of who YOU are, but because of who I am."


It is not about who we are, but who He is. Just dwell on this for a moment.

I honestly don't even know what that means except that He created me therefore He wanted me. And if He loves me, then He would want me to find joy in loving Him. And by finding joy in Him, I will fall deeper in love with Him. And the deeper I fall in love with Him, the more I hope my pride dies and I will see my purpose...which is all about letting His love shine through me. And truly, whether we feel anointed or not, we all are. We all are called to worship. 

So my desire for this 32nd year of this life He has given me is to grow more in love, grow more in my desire to worship, and to find joy in His presence. I want to see and feel those divine moments where He is near and I am drawing closer rather than pulling away.

I want to stop fearing those moments that He feels far away. I want His presence to be so known to me that my heart is constantly filled with a joy that only He can provide in my life. I want to want Him! I want to see the beauty in the mundane. I want to stop walking around so blind and see the blessings in my every day life. I want to live His purpose for me. I want to be able to give and express love and encouragement to others that only God can provide by allowing Him to use me.

He loves me and He loves you. And He isn't finished refining me (thank goodness!). Won't it be glorious when we are in Heaven and we can see the finished project?

Refine me God. I don't want to be me...I want only for you to shine through me.

Your favor is my delight.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha-Let it Shine

Tuesdays with Tabitha 

  "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."
 " Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Matthew 5:14 & 16 (KJV)

We learn it when we’re young, but do we really follow through?

One of the first songs we teach little kids to sing at church is This Little Light of Mine. There is nothing cuter than watching them up there, tiny little pointer fingers spinning round and round as they proclaim that they are going to let their light shine, singing out loud and proud. We’ve all been there, pointer fingers spinning, shining our lights for Jesus.

But then we grow up, and we find that the world just isn’t as accepting of our lights shining as the Church congregation is, and it’s far more difficult to proclaim your love for Jesus to a lost and dying world than when you were five and adorable. But is that a good enough excuse to hide it under a bushel?

Nope. We need to let it shine.

In Matthew-written in red-Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world, and He compares us to a city set on a hill. It’s like when you’re driving out in the middle of nowhere at night, surrounded by darkness; nothing to light your way accept the stars and your headlights. Eventually, you can see glowing in the distance, the lights of a nearby city shining so brightly that it can be seen from miles away.

That’s what we’re supposed to look like to a lost and dying world.

Jesus commands us to let our lights shine! We are to be so full of God’s grace and love that we are bursting at the seams, and anyone who sees us or hears us speak can tell immediately that we are different-In the world, but not of it-transformed by our Savior and literally glowing with the light of Jesus living in our hearts.

We are to love the unlovable, give to those who don’t deserve it, and forgive even when it’s not asked of us. We are to show kindness to others, speak words dripping with grace, and extend favor to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:35-40). And really, we should want to, because we are saved to the uttermost, redeemed, and purchased with blood, free from sin and condemnation.

Because though we ourselves were undeserving, God loved us. He forgave us, He saved us, and He put a light in our hearts.

But sometimes, Satan tries to blow it out-and we let him-because we’re embarrassed to share our love story, and we’d rather hide our light under a bushel than to face the possibility of persecution of any kind. We don’t want to be labeled as a “Jesus Freak”, and we most certainly don’t want to share our limited time, money and resources with complete strangers just because the Bible tells us so.

It sounds selfish. Childish. Ungrateful. But sometimes, it’s how we live.

I don’t want to hide my light under a bushel anymore, and I don’t want satan to blow it out, either. I want to live for The One who died for me, so that everyone around me will see my good works-works that aren’t of myself, but works that are instead made possible through the Grace of Jesus living in my heart- and Glorify my Heavenly Father. I want to seek Him, to live Him, to love Him, and to become so full of Jesus that my heart explodes and overflows His love through everything that I do; His bright light shining out through my actions and words daily.

Jesus put His light in my heart, and I want to let it shine!

What can you do to let your light “so shine before men”?
What hinders you from being a city set on a hill?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

 "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!' "
Romans 10:14-15 (NIV)


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturdays with Shawn-Thankfulness

via

 What are you thankful for?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 
James 1:17

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Colossians 4:2
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
Hebrews 12:28


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha: Jesus in a Box

"Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite."
Psalm 147:5

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m pretty sure my Jesus spends a lot of time in a box.

I’m quick to pull Him out on Sunday mornings for church, and when I can remember at breakfast, lunch and dinner. He’s also free to come out when I can manage to stay awake for my bedtime prayers, or in the extreme cases when I really need something from Him.

How sad is that?

Basically, I’m guilty of thinking of myself as bigger than Jesus; thinking that I can do things better my own way and in my own time. And because of that, I put Him in a little box with four walls, and I just pull Him out to talk when I’ve ran out of options and it’s convenient. I give Him rules, set boundaries, and place limitations on what He can do, where He can do it and when He can do it.

Because that’s how I stay in control.

Just like doubting Thomas, I can’t see Him, and I can’t always feel Him, either. I believe with all of my heart that the God that lives in me is the same God that parted the Red Sea, healed the blind, and is just as great a God today as was back then. But sometimes-when the enemy sends distractions in the form of temptation, stress, anger, or fear-I quickly forget.

And suddenly, God’s in a box again.

I know He’s capable of anything and everything, but I don’t trust what I can’t see, what I can’t feel at that very moment. And because of that, I falter. I try to fix things myself, take care of whatever is wrong, and I don’t talk to Jesus as a friend. I don’t ask Him to help me. I don’t thank Him when He does. And I certainly don’t let my light shine for Him in a dark and dying world, because that would mean giving up control, and giving someone else the credit.

But what If I took Jesus out of His box, and left Him out? What If I treated Him more like a friend-a Heavenly Father- and less like a story book character?

If I could focus on His presence daily in my life, I have no doubt that unthinkable things would happen. Because if I removed those boundaries from Him and stripped away the walls I’ve created myself, He would be unleashed to unload insane amounts of grace into my then-willing heart. I would come to Him for anything and everything-free of fear and condemnation-and He would rule my life, finally able to do amazing things in and through me as a willing vessel.

Miraculous things.

God doesn’t live in a box, and actually impossible for us to really put Him in one, but we can definitely hinder His power in our lives when we don’t trust Him. If we are looking to ourselves, we won’t get far. But if we can plug ourselves into the amazing power source that He is, we’ll shine so bright that nothing the enemy can send our way will ever be powerful enough to stop us, we’ll be able to accomplish anything (Philippians 4:13).

God wants to be powerful in our lives, to do great works through us and to shine His light through us every second of every day. He doesn’t want to be limited by our lack of faith, or defined by what our human minds believe He can and can’t do. But in order for Him to truly do remarkable things in our lives and in the lives of those around us, we have to fully trust Him, even when we can’t see Him or touch His nail scarred hands. Even when we can’t feel His presence or hear His still small voice.

No matter what, we have to seek Him, live Him, breathe Him.

And let Him out of that box.


Do you put limitations on the power of God by putting Him in a box, like me?
What can you do to make Him more real, more prominent in your life?
What will it take for you to let Him out and leave Him out?

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Adonai

"You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely." 
Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)

I have been thinking a lot about why we pray. If God is just going to do whatever He wants anyway...if He is completely sovereign, then do my prayers really matter? I know that He commands us to pray.  I also know that this is a way to communicate with Him, but when I am in a season where I do not feel my prayers being answered, I question how important praying really is. Does prayer really change anything? If He already knows what I am going to ask, why do I need to ask?

"Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Matthew 6:8 (NIV)

I ask my husband what I am supposed to pray for if God already knows what I need.  He is used to my almost child like questions and gives me that crooked eyebrow look and says "Sarah, prayer isn't your wish list." I snidely think "well I know...that's what Santa Clause is for, right?" But I do not say this out loud...afraid God doesn't have the same sense of humor that I do (although, I think since He created me, maybe He is funnier than I give Him credit). But doesn't He tell us to let our request be made known to Him? (Phillipians 4:6-7) 

I am constantly asking the childish "but why?" and my husband with his uncomplicated faith is always at peace with a simple "because He says so." But, I want to understand why it is so important that we pray.

The past two Sundays, I have heard our pastor briefly mention the name Adonai in reference to scripture in Isaiah 6. The sermon was not about the name, but that word has been at the forefront of my mind all week. Adonai is the original Hebrew word used in scripture that translates as a noun and means: My Lord, Master, Sovereign One. It is authoritative. It is acknowledgement that God is completely sovereign.

(A little fact: I read at home and discover that the original singular word is Adon and is used over 200 times in the Bible. However, when in reference to God it is used in plural form Adonai. Some scholars believe it was used this way to indicate the trinity.)

This week, I ponder when in my life have I felt closest to God through prayer and what made me feel close at that particular time. What made me feel that my prayers were heard? It did not take me long to think of this time in my life as it was a time not that long ago. Never have I spent more time in prayer than both when I was pregnant with the twins and after delivering them 12 weeks early. There is nothing like the fear of death of a child (or children in my case) to bring you to your knees. So,  what made that time different than other times of prayer?

I read through a few of my posts from that summer of 2010 in hopes of getting a glimpse into what was stirring in my heart and soul. These few sentences from August 9th (the entry was entitled "Before the Journey is Clear" ) clearly showed me why I felt such an intense presence of God at that time. I wrote:

I do not know what God's plan is for me and my beautiful babies. He may or may not allow my babies to be healthy and come home with me. Don't get me wrong...the thought of having my babies go to Heaven instead of my arms is completely unfathomable. I certainly beg God for His mercy on my grave situation. And yes, I sometimes feel despair and anger.

You see, during that grave time, I was in fact calling Him Adonai. I had recognized that my plan and desires may not be God's plan.  I had surrendered that I was powerless...that I was totally and completely dependent on Adonai. I was in complete and utter despair, but I knew His hands were involved in every detail.

And there is so much beauty and growth in surrender. Although God does not need our prayers, He is honored when we call upon Him. We are calling Him Adonai. We are bringing our requests before Him yet in a way that acknowledges He is completely sovereign.

And I believe it is in the recognition of this name that will completely change how and why we pray to our Adonai.

Our amazing, sovereign, compassionate, and loving Adonai




Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre." 
Psalm 149:3


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturdays with Shawn: Water


via

 With joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:3
There the Lord will be our Mighty One. It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams. No galley with oars will ride them, no mighty ship will sail them.
Isaiah 33:21

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
John 7:38



Saturdays with Shawn is brought to you by:
www.sweetpraises.com

Friday, May 11, 2012

Motherhood: Pressing Out the Selfishness

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)

God did not intend for us to go about life on our own. He desires for us to encourage and lift each other up. And although we are given such a special oneness with our spouses, there is just nothing that can replace a friend of the same gender. My girlfriends, especially those who have gone through stages before me, are my greatest cheerleaders. They are the ones who have loved me when my eyes were smeared with black mascara because I was a wreck with my first born: the one who never stopped crying. They have been living examples of Jesus for me and I am so thankful for the legacy they are leaving in my life.

I have one near and dear sister in Christ who has been a mentor to me and many others. To me, she is the crown jewel of mothers. Not because she is perfect, but because she is determined to allow God to use motherhood to "push out her sin." It is my favorite saying of hers that I have passed on to other mothers as well. So, today, I am going to loan her sweet heart to all of you. She IS my Titus 2 woman. After reading her words, you will understand why I just adore every ounce of her. Enjoy this special treat from my friend :


June 17, 2009 Pressing Out the Selfishness
About three years ago, when I had a nearly three year old and a 14 month old, I was sitting in a bible study of mostly women older than me.  Most of them had passed the mothering young children stage and had either children in college or early twenties, or were grandmothers.  Even though I was almost three years into my mothering experience, it still seemed new and fresh.  I had completed the first year of having two kids, under the age of three.  Having one child was a cakewalk compared to having to balance and adjust life to two kids, not to mention my nearly three year old was a difficult one at best.
At some point during the discussion, I can’t even recall the topic now, I made an off handed comment about how parenting is God’s way of pressing the selfishness out of you.  I laughed as I said it, but one of the ladies there, probably around 50ish, just loved the statement.  So much in fact that she wrote it down.  Imagine, I said something profound, when really it was just my state of life – an internal war going on within me.  A war between what I wanted, and what my babies wanted.  I wanted quiet, they were loud.  I wanted rest, they were playful.  I wanted my nearly three year old daughter to stop hitting her sister, and well, you can guess what she wanted.  I wanted to read my email, and they wanted to bang their little fingers on the computer keyboard messing up any attempt at what I was doing.  I wanted to eat cookies, but they wanted one too.  I wanted to have long lunches with friends, but they would not sit still long enough.  I wanted to have uninterrupted conversations with my husband, but they were constantly diverting our attention from each other because they wanted the attention.
I now have three kids, ages 2, 4 and 6 (btw - my difficult three year old turned out to be a real gem).  I also have one on the way, due in November.  Through the constant needs and demands of three small children, God had indeed continued to press out the selfishness.  He is refining me by the fire, so to speak.  He has made me practice the art daily, hourly, sometimes by the second.  He has shown me how to serve others, how to love the little ones, but not at the expense of meeting my own needs, or developing my own relationship with Him.  He certainly does not call us to be a doormat.  I expand on this topic in another post.
Yes, God’s way of pressing out the selfishness.  God’s way of teaching the ultimate lesson that Jesus teaches us – lay down your life.  Serve others.  Love others above yourself.  Hmmm…is that a lesson I wanted to learn?  Am I being called to lay down every part of me that make me myself just to raise my kids?  Well, yes…..but in the process, I have become more of who I actually am.  More of who I want to be, and more of who God created me to be.  Lay down your life, know God more and come more fully into yourself….interesting concept and completely contradictory to what the world teaches.
Part of developing a deeper relationship with Christ is letting go and allowing the selfishness to be pressed out.  Hanging on to that selfishness, while it might seem easier in the moment, is indeed harder and ultimately, more frustrating in the long run.  More of You, less of me.  You increase, I decrease.  Christ was the ultimate servant, and if we call ourselves Christians, our life’s work should be to imitate what he has done…lay down our lives. 
But we fight it.  Oh we fight it.  I want what I want, when I want it.  I want quiet.  I want to not be interrupted.  I want a clean kitchen.  I want my children to always behave in public and not embarrass me.  I want accolades for a job well done.  I want to sleep late, to take a nap, to watch anything I want on TV.  Did I mention I want quiet?  I want to drive in the car without answering 1000 questions between here and the grocery store.  I want to shop alone!
But I also want to know God.  I also want to become more like Jesus.  I also want pure joy in my life, regardless of my circumstances.  I want to leave a legacy of faith throughout generations, I want to stand before the throne of God and hear “well done good and faithful servant.”  I want my children to know Jesus and to live a life glorifying to Him.  I want, more than anything, to know Him, because I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that knowing Him is the purpose of my life.
Do I get to have perfect kids, a clean kitchen, a quiet home and still get to know the Creator of the Universe in the way that I want to know him?  Is it possible to live a comfortable and easy life, be as selfish as I want, and still truly and deeply know Him?
Anything’s possible, but in this moment, in my life, I know the daily task of raising my children is actively pressing out the very thing that keeps me from the Lord…my own self.  My own selfish desires.  If the opposite of loving God is loving yourself, then it makes perfect sense that He calls us to press out that which keeps us from him.  And what a beautiful plan God has to make that happen – our little ones.
People have very mixed reactions to us having a fourth child.  Some are elated, most don’t understand and some show flat out disdain.  But with each child, a little bit more selfishness is pressed out on a daily basis (and yet somehow there is always more to be pressed!)  But you know what’s left to replace it?  Joy.  Pure joy.  Not happiness over circumstances –mothering young children is no piece of cake, let’s just be honest.  But a joy remains that only God can provide through an active an on-going relationship with Him.  It is a joy that comes only by allowing Him to sanctify us through the practice of raising children.
Press on Lord Jesus.  Bring it.



Amen my sister in Christ!! Thank you for being a Titus 2 woman to us all. Bring it Jesus!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother: Disciple and to discipline

 "When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
 Then he taught me and said to me,
'Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live.' "
Proverbs 4:3-4 (NAS)

It is a season. A season where my 20 month old twins have temper tantrums and my recently turned four year old is testing me in new ways. It is a season where I feel like all I do is discipline all day long.

And it is exhausting. It is frustrating. I am tired.

But, they are the future. And they were given to me to help mold and shape. I am to discipline them and be their disciple. Have you ever noticed the similarities in those two words?

I take my role as mother very seriously. And I refuse to fail them.

So, there may be times where I seem absent from the world. There will be days where I don't fulfill my desires to write on this blog daily. There may even be several days in a row. But know that is because I also take my role of disciple very seriously...and I would never write anything that was not prayerfully sought out and completely heart felt. So, if you don't hear from me now and then, just know that I still stop and pray daily for each of you who come here seeking truth and love.

But, as a mother, I only get these few short years before other people start having heavy influences on their fragile hearts. And I am desperately trying to raise warriors for Christ. I am trying to equip them for what will be a very hard world to live in I'm afraid. I have such a short amount of time to earn their respect so that they will trust my wisdom and guidance.

The world is thinking of the perfect gift for Mother's Day this weekend and my only true desire is for my children to know and find joy in the Lord. Mother's will be praised and honored this weekend and yet, I find myself on my knees saying "God, were you crazy choosing me? Please don't let me screw this up!"

So, I am still here. Maybe not as often as I had originally thought. But, just know that is because I am busy washing three little sets of hands and feeding hungry tummies. As a mother, I was called to be their disciple.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesdays with Tabitha: Good In, Good Out

 
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Matthew 6:21 (KJV)

Simple concept to follow, right? All you have to do is follow the rules; put only good things in, and only good things will come out. Super easy, yes?

Not so much.

This world we live in is corrupt. Every where you turn yields temptation, fear, depression, anxiety, anger and hurt. Is seems as if the only way to escape the snares of the enemy is to live in a bubble, protected by oblivion. But since the Bible comands us to be in the world but not of it, we have to figure out how to survive in a sin cursed world while trying our best to stand out as a light for our Savior.

But how are we supposed to do that?

Psalms 119:11 tells us to hide the Word in our hearts. In other words, memorize scripture. Study the Bible, seek God's face, seek His wisdom. If we are dilligently seeking Jesus and His will in our lives, then His presense will become our treasure, and our heart will follow.

Good will go in, and good will.come out.

It's through His Word-the Bible-that God speaks to us. And though I'm guilty of not practicing what I'm about to preach here, it's amazing how effective memorizing scripture can be in keeping your heart turned toward God.

I've found from my own personal experience that what I watch and what I listen too also have a major effect on how I behave how I treat others, and how I think. When I put in bad things-like negative, corrupt telivision shows and dirty, curse filled songs-into my daily routine, I feel weighed down. Heavy. Sometimes even sad and defeated.

But when I spend my time hiding Gods Word in my heart, listening to Christian music and worship songs, holding a Bible in my lap instead of a remote, or a great devotion book instead of a magazine, I feel refreshed. Content. Lifted up.

In the world, but not of the world.

Phillipians 4:8 tells us exactly what we should be thinking on to attain peace. Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. If we think on these things-if we put good things in-we have a promise that the God of peace will be with us!

So, knowing what I know about how to attain peace as opposed to anxiety, you'd expect that I'd spend all of my time reading the Bible and hiding it in my heart, right?

Unfortunetly, wrong.

There are days when I get up early and spend time in prayer. I don't turn on the tv even once and I only listen to Klove. I talk with God continualy through out the day and I feel successful, vibrant, and so alive. I find it much easier to speak kind words to others, and I become hungry and encouraged to act selflessly and do all that I can to further Gods kingdom.

Then the next day I'd rather just watch tv and willow in self pity because I'm having a bad day.

It's a vicious cycle, one that the enemy no doubt enjoys watching me struggle with. But the great thing about our God is that He is faithful and just to forgive us, and more importantly, He let's us start over again the next day with a clean slate.

No matter what.

So let's be encouraged to put good in, so that good will come out. Let's think on things that will bring us peace, and take some time to hide God's word in our hearts, so that our treasure will be found in the right place, and we'll be free from the anxiety and depression that swollows so many.

It really is a simple concept after all!

Do you struggle with finding time alone with God each day?
If you could be honest with yourself, where would you say your treasure (and your heart) truely is?
In your own life, what makes it difficult to put only good things into your mind and body?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Balloons in Heaven

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

She turned four this past weekend. My first born already seems suddenly wiser and more mature. I can remember that first moment I held her and the nurse wheeled me through the hall with my hour old baby. It was surreal then and she still feels surreal to me now. I laid awake the entire night just staring at her...marveled at this creation. In awe, I kept touching her little fingers and toes in disbelief that she was really mine. And when she awoke for the first time that night to nurse, I was overwhelmed by the responsibility that God had given me. I realized what a complete treasure she was and how big my job was at that moment. 

Four years later and I still marvel at this gift. Little children shower her with gifts, but I know that she is really the gift. At the end of the party, we release four balloons into the sky. It is our family tradition and our way of telling God thank you for the years He has given us this gift (each balloon represents a year). I am a very visual person, so it is a special moment for me as her mother. We watch them until they disappear and I close my eyes and imagine God catching them and adding them to His collection that we have sent Him. 

As I tucked her into bed, she asked me when she would get to see Jesus so she could have her balloons back. I laughed of course. 

"Will He be at my window tonight when I sleep? Will He bring them back then? Will He come to my door?"

"No baby. You will not see Jesus until you go to Heaven."

"When am I going to Heaven? When I'm ten?"

"I hope not. I hope you live a really long life...and that you get married and have babies and grow old. Then, when it is time, God will come take you to Heaven."

"Will I fly?"

"I don't think so.  I think He will carry you. But, don't worry, He will help you get there."

 "Where is He right now? Is He in this room?"

"He is everywhere."

"But, how come I can't see Him? Is He in my heart?"

I pause. I am unprepared for this talk. I really thought we were a few more years away from deep religious discussions. How does one answer a question like this when it is hard even as an adult to understand? How do we see Jesus?

"Well, one day when you want Him, you will ask Him into your heart. And when you do that, He will open your eyes and heart so that you can experience His love while you are living on Earth. It's like the wind: you can feel it, but you can't see it. And He will never leave you. When you die, then you will see what He looks like in Heaven."

"Will He have my balloons? 

"If that is what would make you happy, then He will meet you with them. He has many treasures in Heaven for us."

And with this reply, she lays down with a smile on her face. She is indeed one of His greatest works in the eyes of her mother. And just like that night at the hospital, I do not sleep much. I lay awake thinking about her. But instead of counting her fingers and toes, I am thinking about her heart: and praying that she will indeed see and want His love. I don't just want her to know Him...I want her to experience that overwhelming joy that comes in a relationship with Him. And that from experiencing that joy, she will see Him dwelling in her heart.

 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturdays with Shawn: Balance

 
 
 
The most common questions discussed amongst my girlfriends:

How are you balancing it all?
How are you keeping Him at the center of everything?
How are you finding peace amidst the busyness?

As my beloved spiritual mentor has reminded in moments like these, 
"get in the Word!"
Be encouraged and know that peace is on the horizon when you let go .. and let God.
Rest in Him.

..

You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. 
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4: 7-8

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4: 6-7

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Proverbs 3: 24

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.