Posts Tagged ‘God’

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Prayer Works

June 15, 2011

I just spent a week with my cousins and Aunt from PA and absolutely had a wonderful staycation with them.  Their boys are such a joy to be around and full of life.  Aunt Janice is more like a second mom than my aunt. Kavin, my one-year-old yelled in excitement every day he saw the boys.

In all the fun and the hustle and bustle of a wirlwind vacation, there was a sweeter connection happening that we didn’t have before.  Matt, my cousin, and Barbie, his wife, have been going to church for a while now and are hungry for Jesus.  It blessed my heart to the deepest places to know they are getting fed on a regular basis with scripture and fellowship and I enjoyed listening to them share about their faith journeys.  I learned some new things from them this week about scripture and Matt’s thoughtful questions going further after the sermon energized my spiritual curiousity.  I write this with tears in my eyes, grateful for God answering my prayers for many years: that Matt would desire a deep realtionship with Jesus.  Thank you, GOD!

As I dove into the scriptures myself this morning, the Lord led me to Thessalonians 1:5- “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.”  I am reminded that it is the Holy Spirit’s work to draw each of us into conviction.  We still have a choice and we need to pray for those we love, but the Holy Spirit’s work, not our own, is what draws us to Himself.  This week I witnessed the Holy Spirit drawing my loved ones to Himself and I am grateful to the very depths of my being.

I never thought I would be sitting in a church worshipping with Matt… and there we were, with both our families… listening to the Word and learning about the disciples.

So, we did lots of fun things this week, and all the boys (including my own) enjoyed romping around So. Cal. together.  For me, the greatest gift was seeing my cousin, whom I love so much, be interested and excited about the things of God.  It encourages me to continue to pray and trust that the Holy Spirit is working… even if I can’t see.  We are all on a journey with ups and downs, smooth times and rough.  I am grateful that the Lord allowed me to spend time with him this week and get a glimpse at Matt on his journey… as a husband, father, and believer.  I am proud of who he is and excited to see him next year when we visit.

Prayer works!  Pray for those you love and don’t lose heart… the Spirit is at work.

 

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The Gospel

June 13, 2011
The Gospel is not some pithy catch phrase to gloss over our lives and make them whitewashed with goodness.  The Gospel isn’t some bumper sticker we place on our car as we join a club.  Instead, the Gospel is an invading force of light that penetrates every pore of our being until we ourselves become light so all the world might see.  It is my greatest pursuit that more of Jesus live in me today than yesterday.  That is only made possible by the provision of the Gospel.  You see, I use to SAY I believe, like some still do, but then live our lives as if the Gospel has no power.  It doesn’t.  Not in a life that believes but doesn’t embrace.  One of the scariest verses in the Bible for me is James 2:19- “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”  What is this faith then, that saves us?  It is the faith that chooses to allow Christ to transform us by HIS grace and not by our own attempts.  From death to life.  From darkness to light. From brokeness to wholeness.  From sinful to holy.  All made possible by the Gospel by which we live:  Christ lived perfect, died a sinner’s death, rose to life, and ascended into Heaven.  It’s simple… yet simply life altering.For me, the Gospel is everything.  It not only saves my soul from hell, but gives me everything I need for life and godliness.  When famine comes, it is my sustenance. When doubt comes, it is my truth. When fear comes, it is my peace.  I know that in the Gospel, I am nothing, but Christ in me is everything.  What a relief!  What a joy!  What a promise!

Sometimes I am scared at the reality of the Gospel.  As a believer I skim over the grotesque nature of sin so that I can live a comfortable life, not consumed with the depravity of others in order to penetrate my light in a way that will lead them away from darkness.  The questions we are faced with today with the ever-increasing wickedness around, the dissolution of morality, the severity of sickness and catastrophe;  I don’t have the answers for, so I often remain silent.  I excuse my responsibility by thinking “I don’t know the Bible enough, I don’t know their situation enough, I don’t want to damage our relationships.”

Well, the real only foolish thing is to remain silent on the one thing I do know.  Christ is life.  What that means in the places of sickness and poverty, I wish it could magically erase these devastations now (it will some day when Christ returns!).  But I am learning that the hope of the Gospel, the transforming nature of the Creator working in the lives of the believers; is available for anyone, even an awful sinner like me.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but for the brave.  It meets all of us where we are at and gives us the hope and purpose for it all … the good and the bad.  For the adventure He has me on takes me to uncomfortable places within my self and within the world.

The Gospel is not some pity catch phrase to gloss over our lives and make them whitewashed with goodness.  The Gospel is to die to myself so that others might live.  The Gospel gives me life… the Gospel is my life.  He died so I might live… and the life I live, I live by faith in Jesus Christ so others might live.  Yes, it’s sloppy.  No, I am not perfect.  But I desire to be changed from the inside out.  No whitewashed tomb here… just an overhaul in process…. thanks to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Yet, I will praise Him

June 12, 2011

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines.
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock would be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,

YET (emphasis mine) I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

This basically sums up the first year of motherhood for me. Yes… there have been thousands of joys every day and I love watching Kavin grow. I would not exchange the divine privilege of being home with him with anything in the world, YET… it has not been easy. From his possible death the first month of life, to transitioning to full-time motherhood… there have been many days I didn’t know if I could do it.

However, it has been in my weakness that Christ REALLY has made me stronger.  He has taken my broken, crippled feet… and given me hinds feet.  Although I am still in process, I am amazed at how far His grace has brought me in just one year’s time.

I also look around at the trials I see going on: famines, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, disease… and I too can see in these that followers of Christ or not, we ALL go through trials of various kinds.

It seems to me that we, as the church at large, do not talk about the Christian life as one of toilsome perseverance as we pitch a rose-colored Gospel to would-be followers of Christ, but following Christ does not keep us exempt from hard times. From the pages of Scripture in the verses of Habakkuk, I can see it all clearly…

Life sucks sometimes, yet even in all the mud and mire, the Lord is our strength… and THROUGH it all (not around it all) He will make our legs like hinds feet so when calamity strikes again, we will be able to rise above it and leap from the mountain top of joy, to the mountaintop of promise.

I imagine myself writing poetry like the passage in Habakkuk. As I look at current world events, my poem may look something like this:

Though the economy may fail
And children die from starvation
Though houses wash away
And marriages dissolve
Though countries rage war over greed
And the poor remain in need

YET… I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation
The Lord is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet
And makes me walk on my high places.

Jesus promises us trouble… and victory. There is no victory without adversity.  The Gospel is summed up in this… that He DIED (adversity) and ROSE (victory) from the dead!  So too will we in Christ Jesus.

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Holiday Traveling Tale

December 15, 2010

Flying home alone with Kavin this week, who is eight months old now, caused a bit of anxiety.  Jason and I joked about it on the way to Pennsylvania.

“Before I was a dad I used to see a baby on the plane and think, ‘Oh great!  I will never be able to sleep now.'” He commented as we stood in line to get on the plane.  “Now we are the ones people are looking at saying, ‘Oh great!  There is a baby on the plane.”  We laughed.  Inside my mind I hoped for kind fellow travelers.

Kavin did great on the way there.  So, as I stood in line for the flight home, this time on my own, I prayed for kind travelers once again.  Thank God for His provision.  A lady and her mother befreinded me in line. They loaded first, due to the mother requiring extra assistance.  When I stepped onto the plane, I saw my new friend sitting in a seat behind her mother, “Here.  These two seats are for you,” She said as she rose and handed me my cup of coffee she carried onto the plane for me.

The flight going out of Pittsburgh was delayed, so I needed to make a mad dash to the next gate once we arrived in Vegas.  With Kavin hanging on my chest, a rolling carry-on, another bag full of blankets and snacks, and his diaper bag, I tried my best to scoop everything up and not hold back the line.  “Here.  Let me help you,” Bonnie, the grandmother whom sat in my row, said as she grabbed my bag of blankets and snacks.

Bonnie needed to make her flight too, but took the time to walk me to my gate and get me on the flight.  “Wow, Lord.  Thanks!”  I said as I walked down the ramp and loaded onto the booked plane from Veags to L.A.  I could only find one window seat… the last seat in the back of the plane.

The flight attendants assisted me to load my bags.  Sole, a beautiful blue-eyed Puerto Rican young woman with long brown hair, perfect french tip nails, and sporting a Luis Vitton hand bag sat next to me.  “You and I will get very close this short flight,” I joked with her as I explained that I will be breast feeding Kavin for most of the trip.

Shortly into the flight Sole began to tell me about her boyfriend she was on the way to visit in Los Angeles.  As we shared our stories a bit, she continued to open up, and I found myself counseling this younger woman about life, love, and hard decisions.  The Spirit began to prod me with something to say, but in my mind it sounded judgemental and harsh.  So, as I listened to her, I wrestled back and forth with the Lord, “Do You really want me to say that?”  I asked over and over.  Finally I conceded.

“Sole, can I say something?  It may sound harsh, but I think you need to hear it.” I asked.

“Sure.”  She said as she genuinly turn her countenance in interest to my insight.

“Bottom line is, I think you are focusing on the wrong things in your life.  You are confused and frustrated and hurting because you have made yourself and your happiness the priority and not your relationship with Jesus.  The Word says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.’  NOT delight in your desires and God will give you whatever you want.  If you focus on seeking Jesus, everything will fall into place.”

Whew.  Did I just say that to a stranger?  I waited for her response.  She lifted her hand as if holding a hammer and slammed it down onto an imaginary nail.  “You nailed it on the head.” She said.  “I needed to hear that.”

This morning I too am wrestling with foggy perception and frustrated with lack of clarity.  I hear my voice speaking truth into Sole’s life and realize once again that truth is universal.  All I need to do is seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto me.  The focus is Jesus.

Currently I am reading the book of Ephesians.  Paul writes, “by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.”  Today, my revelation that I am writing in brief is this:  Always be willing to speak the truth into someone’s life; accept the kindness of strangers when there is a need; and recognize God’s hand in it all.

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The Joy of Children

July 31, 2010

Yesterday I got a call from an old friend, a co-worker at a performing arts center I helped manage in college. He said, “I don’t know the details about Kavin, but I look forward to catching up.” Details. Whew! So many details.

How do I explain all we have been through the past four months? From exhilarated expectation… to a difficult, but peaceful labor… to cesarian surgery… to Kavin being whisked away, not being able to hold him for weeks… to “worst case scenarios”… to surrendering him to the Lord to take home if He chose… to his surgery… to his suffering through healing… to his breathing on his own… to his coming HOME!

There is no way to summarize the lessons, the joys, the pain, the peace, the hope, the goodness of the Lord. I have learned to not waste time asking “why?” But to praise Him for the grace He gave us, the strength to endure.

As I held Kavin yesterday, I imagined the Lord’s arm holding back what could have been, only allowing us to experience a portion of the pain, the sickness, the trial. Some may ask, “how could God allow you to go through that?” The same reason He allowed Jesus to be tempted… to prepare Him for the life ahead. The same reason He allowed Jesus to suffer… for the sake of righteousness. The same reason He allows all things to happen… so it can be seen that God causes all things to work for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Kavin brings me such incredible joy. He started laughing a deep belly laugh this week. Just out of the blue he will think something I say or do is hilarious. Oh! How I treasure his laughs!

The amazing thing is, I would go through it again and again. All the pain. All the waiting. All the petitioning. For I treasure so much more deeply the gift of his life than I think I would otherwise. I treasure so much more deeply the privilege of motherhood than I think I would otherwise.

Children, indeed are a joy… and a gift from the Lord!  Kavin is as healthy as I imagine any 4 month old too be. And this, too, is a blessing from the Lord.

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Suffering and Pain leads us to Life

July 24, 2010

In the quiet moments of my soul my thoughts reflect upon the suffering so bountiful in this world.  I still question in absolute trust why the Lord allows such pain and sorrow.  My spirit quivers at the thought that the Lord is restraining the boundaries of sin and death.  I thank the Lord for His grace in my life.  If He did not restrain evil, I would be consumed.

This week He brings to mind some truths from scripture and the world that begin to help me understand the way of the universe in this season of life and death comingling.

First He instructs me from Christ’s own sufferings.  His death was necessary to bring about redemption.  Suffering proceeded victory. The pain lasted a day, but joy came three days later.

Then I think of creation itself.  In this imperfect world, affected by the fall of man in the garden, pain and/or death precede new life.  Seeds must die to bear a new crop; mothers must experience pangs to birth new life; the darkness of night leads the way to the light of day.

Another example comes from Jesus’ teachings to His disciples.  He uses the cycle of death and life in nature to illustrate what must happen in our own bodies to experience eternal life that He offers. John 12:24-25 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.

Paul also uses death and life to teach us about Christian living.  Romans 8:13 “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

From these thoughts I ascertain that physical death comes before spiritual life.  I am to put to death the deeds of the sinful flesh to live by the Holy Spirit.  I also see that I must die to myself in order to live for Christ.  The battle to destroy sin and death comes before the victory dance.  Tribulations and trials are here and will continue to come before Christ’s return in glory (Mark 13).  Sorrow lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).  Praise the Lord that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37)!

I simmer in with these thoughts as I watch Kavin nap in his pack ‘n play.  I almost forget the pain of childbirth as I watch the glory of this little life dreaming away.  Yet, I do not forget the suffering of his time in the hospital.  I do not forget the pain I felt in my heart not being able to hold him, watching him squirm in discomfort from the needles and tubes.  I do not forget petitioning the Lord on my knees in the bathroom at the Ronald MacDonald house late into the night, “Lord, please spare the son of Your handmaiden!”  I do not forget the Lord telling me to “offer Kavin to Me.  Lay him on the alter of sacrifice.”  I still do not understand why.  Why the Lord allowed our family to experience such pain. But I know that through the pain, through dying to my unbelief and clinging to Christ, through sacrificing my understanding to trust in Him… God brought about new life.  New life in Kavin’s physical body, yes, but even further, a new depth of spiritual life in me as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.  His rod and His staff comforted me.

Suffering leads to life, to fruitfulness, to new birth.  I don’t understand why, but I just know it does.  I wish there were another way, but Jesus even Himself asked the Lord, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)  May we all be strengthened to endure the evil of this present age, knowing that we look forward to His blessed hope.

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Faith Walk of Motherhood

February 23, 2010

So, just this last week in one of my moments of reflection, God reminded me of specific prayers I have prayed along this journey.  In my singleness I prayed, “God, if I will be more fruitful for Your kingdom single rather than married, then help me to be content in You in my singleness.  If I will be more fruitful married, than show me the man You have for me in Your time.”  Jason is the answer to that prayer and every day I stand more in awe of God’s perfect provision for me for a husband.  God answers prayer.

Then, as we began to talk about the possibility of “starting a family” I prayed, “God, if Jason and I will be more fruitful for Your kingdom without children, please make me like Rachael (barren).  If we will be more fruitful for Your kingdom with children, please make me like Leah (fruitful womb).”  Just a couple weeks later I starred at a positive pregnancy test.

It is interesting though, as I walked the park this week in reflection, how I expected God more so to keep me single or make me barren.  It seems, in my case, it takes me more faith to enter into these seasons than it would if God kept me from them.

Today on my morning walk I thought about some significant turning points in my life and relationship with Him.  I realized that at every defining moment, when I could not see through the fog at the beautiful landscape He prepared ahead of me, that I needed to surrender my current understanding of the path before me – in order to follow the path He would reveal.  The thought came to me as I spoke it out loud in realization, “In order to enter into the plans God has for me, I have to surrender the plans I have more myself.”  WOW.  So true.  Like a picture book quickly flipped on its edges, flashes of awesome memories came flooding through my mind, coupled with what I surrendered to enter into those blessings.

Surrendering my druggy friends in highschool, starting a relationship with God.

Surrendering my brokenness in college, experiencing His healing touch.

Surrendering a high profile career, entering ministry.

Surrendering a dating relationship with the person I planned to marry, meeting Jason- the guy God planned for me to marry.

Surrendering working in Special Events, which was my life- stepping into global outreach, where I have discovered my life-long calling.

So now… as I step out in faith in the brink of motherhood… I don’t know what to expect.  What His plan is for our family- or even the life of the little guy living inside of me.  Yet looking back I can see, that simple acceptance with joy will allow me to enter into His blessing rather than hold onto my my perception of what should be.  His way ALWAYS exceeds my expectations anyway… no matter how arduous the journey.  How sweet it is to trust in Jesus.  How sweet it is to surrender.  His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Thank you God for never letting me go!