Pressing In

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Confession: I have not been able to read my Bible since the beginning of this year.

I can do short verses at church on my phone.  Opening my book Bible and reading through it makes me nauseous.  The words swirl on the pages.  But it’s not just the Bible.  I walk around with this headache and blurry vision that makes reading mac and cheese boxes difficult for me.

This is a side effect of all that is going on in my physical brain. I am serotonin-negative, which is also known as clinically depressed.  I also have ADHD, which can cause random episodes of dyslexia and trouble focusing the eyes.

worshipIt is not, however, a reflection of my faith.  I could not stand firmer on God then I do at this moment.  Let me tell you, we serve a beautiful and personal God.  He is faithful to reach out to me, to captivate my attention when little else in this world does right now. He breaks through the walls caused by my physical symptoms like the kool-aid man!

When I have a difficulty seeing, I tune my ears (spiritually and physically) to listen for Him.

There was one Sunday a while ago (when we still thought we would buy a house this summer) when I was on the worship team at church, singing “Always“.  The Spirit of God showed up that day and in a way I can not explain, He brought me down to my knees in a quiet sob.

I think to most people it would’ve looked like I was distraught.  I wasn’t.  All of me was fully overwhelmed by His love and in worship.  But His Spirit was working in me to express a prayer I didn’t yet know I would need.  It came from the pit of my stomach, this brokenness, this cry for comfort and strength I wasn’t originally asking for when we first started to sing.

prayingSee, I didn’t know my mom had breast cancer, and we would be denied the pre-approval for a mortgage, or that a chiropractor had sued me and was going to levy our entire bank account clean.  I don’t think I could’ve mentally prepared for all this to happen in one week had I been warned anyways.  But when I was standing there completely dumbstruck by all this, that feeling in the pit of my stomach came back and I realized: God in His mercy had interceded for me, calling down the comfort and strength I would need while – in His providence – not revealing to me the very immediate future.

This is just one example of how God is working in my life even though the chemical imbalances in my brain make it difficult to read the instructions on a box of mac and cheese, let alone my Bible.

But I’m not excused from my responsibility to press in to the Lord.  Anxiety still starts building walls around me that suffocate me at times.  My friend Lo Tanner wrote about her experience with anxiety on her blog a while back, and God brought her very post to mind when I was having a rough time with this issue just last week.

So how do I press in?

  1. I listen to my Bible.  I listen to guided meditations based on verses.  And AFTER this I listen to worship music.  I listen to my kids studying their Bibles.  I listen to people who are praying for me and the things God laid in their heart over me. And when I have messages from God through out the day, I try to listen to them too.
  2. I pray.  There’s a whole lot of talking on my part through out the day.  It feels a lot more conversational.  I’m now “that neighbor” who stays in her car, “talking to herself” while sipping a cup of coffee at around 9am.writing
  3. I take notes.  I can’t explain why writing is easier to me than reading except it must be a different process in the brain; I’m regurgitating information and not receiving it.  But I have a journal where I write any thought that is worthy and I try to let go of thoughts that aren’t.  I also write affirmations to declare out loud daily so my brain can hear me in charge and not the other way around.  And I write this blog.

If you look around this blog, you will quickly realize that I’m not an uber-spiritual person.  I’ve talked about parenting, frustrations, weight loss, and other things too.  But if God impresses upon my heart to share a spiritual word, I have to be obedient.  It may be that as a friend you are in a season to receive the instruction to press in and perceive what God is doing in your life right now, and that may have a higher priority than other things in your life right now too.

PS. As a disclaimer I should let you know that the links which lead away from my site are not affiliate links.  I am not paid to advertise for any of these services or music, and I will not receive a dime in commission if you click on the link.  I’m just an honest Christian mom, giving credit where credit is due, and sharing the resources that are helping me in this season of my life.

When Refuge Feels Like Disaster

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Confession: While I believe in all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I’m not one to proclaim that I am prophetic, nor do I dwell a lot on the supernatural realm around us.  I’m very much a here and now kind of believer with a healthy fear for what the Spirit is doing.

It’s no secret that I’m under a lot of stress.  My mom is starting chemo and I’m heading to see her with my kids, flying across four time zones with two ADHD boys and a girl and my medications for RA.

I say all this because *usually* seasons of stress cause me to have random, vivid dreams.  I seldom remember details – I just wake up with uneasy feelings that I digest with a cup of coffee as I listen to my Bible app.

Which is why, when I have one of those dreams that I not only remember three days later, but that I also hear confirmation, I stop and take notice.  When I woke up from this particular dream, I felt almost instantly a call to share it.  That’s not something I do without giving it a few days first.

refugeI was in a forest of sorts, and there were people living there like persecuted refugees.  I saw people with really dark skin and assumed they were the refugees, but I also saw Caucasian people alongside them.  When I spoke to some of them, a few white men shared that they had been cast out from their communities as a result of standing up for the black people.  While we were all in the jungle trying to get away from the city, I felt like this had taken the world by a storm – overwhelmed in the night, like it’s a global disaster.  I also noticed a feline creature, kind of unrecognizable but as big as a tiger, stalking the perimeter of this refugee camp.

I was so overwhelmed by fear that I looked straight up into a starless sky and said, “Oh Jesus come soon!”  And was dumbstruck by how star-less the sky actually looked.  That’s when I was approached by a white, elderly gentleman, in a suit, very pastor-like.  He tells me, in a very calm and matter of fact manner that “a third of the stars fell with the enemy down to earth.

I ask him, “What’s happening here?  What’s with all these people?!”

He responds with a voice that almost brings the catastrophe around me to a low hum:

black and white“These are the people who have chosen to stand for God’s Word.  Don’t be confused; this is not a catastrophe due to racism or political issues.  These are the people who are standing on the word of God, who have chosen to see it as black and white, so to speak.  This is the bride, facing the consequences of their actions in a fallen world, where the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour..”

I responded with, “Oh Jesus, help us to be ready for You!  We need to prepare!”  And he put a hand on my shoulder to calm me down and said, “Maria, they are ready.  They are precisely where God wants them to be in this hour.  Your mistake is the assumption that the Bride gets it all together and then Jesus returns.  But it is God Himself who makes her holy and blameless for His coming, that’s not something you accomplish out of your own merit.  None of this is a surprise to Him who brought all these people here together, and this is exactly what He has provided for their refuge.  These circumstances out in the world are merely a winnowing fork.  Their hope in God’s Word brought them where God wants them.”

worshipI took the scene in one more time and said, “This is the refuge that God has provided for them.  This is for their good.”  And he said, “Yes! And now is when you will be able to see God’s glory.  This is the place where God provides miraculously and shows His power to save.  Even now don’t you feel it?  Haven’t you experienced God anticipating your every need?  Taking care of leveling your path before your foot hits the floor?”

And as I realized that He has, I woke up.

I believe this is an overall message of encouragement to everyone.  And that it will speak to those who are ready to hear it without any further interpretation.

The Cha-Cha of Life

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If it ever felt like we take one step forward and two steps back, it’s now!

We did not get pre-approved for a home loan.  We ended up moving into a small apartment just to be on our own again.

I’m not even trying to get into a home loan. I’m trying to get to Florida to see my mom and my sister.  And then get back.

whynottri1My mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  That blind-sided me.

A chiropractor is out to get me and levied my entire bank account.  The only medical place I have not been able to pay decided to help themselves to my husband’s entire paycheck and all we had in savings.

We did a triathlon as a family!  Then I injured my foot and haven’t been able to walk pain-free since June 9th.

I joined itWorks!  I can’t wait to get my starter kit.  Looking forward to making money for using products I would buy at GNC and start losing the weight I gained.

My dog Momo had a major seizure…

life groupOne step forward, two step backs.  It’s a cha-cha. The Salsa lover in me should find this beautiful… Except I feel violently shaken and disoriented right now!  Part of the reason I haven’t been able to blog, other than depression (and I’m seeing a therapist and a doctor for that) is I’m kinda’ stunned speechless! Yet I’ve been very well taken care of by my tribe of believing homeschooling moms and that has made all the difference.

I guess I forget I’m dancing with the Lord as my partner and He takes the lead! Not an original idea, but I heard Amena Brown, a spoken word poet and she NAILED IT, it’s so good I’m sharing with you the lyrics. Not quite as good as hearing her recite it, but it’s the best I got today:

Dance with Him
He puts His hand on the small of my back
Two fingers pressed into the center of my palm
He pulls me close
Steps with His left, my right
I focus on His eyes and try to ignore my feet as they clumsily count one – two – three
I’m trying to trust Him
He knows this dance better than me
I’m still a novice and it’s obvious
I have yet to lean in and let Him control the turns
He takes His time and even when I miss a step
It’s fine
He knows I’m learning
He wants me to put my hand in His
Close my eyes and trust Him
With my life
My heart
With worry
And “I’m so scared”
With hurt
lifeWorth and unworthy
Loving and unlovable
And my heart has been hurt before
I have been burned before
Loved
And endured loss before
I am in no mood for a dance
No mood to be romanced
I have become a grace cynic
And love’s worst critic
He sends me invitations every day
And even though I have yet to RSVP
He doesn’t mind me
He keeps pursuing
Taking steps in spite of me
He is a songwriter
Composing the notes that hold together eternity
And He wants to teach my limbs to sing
He’s been waiting to watch me let go of woe
And worry…until my soul
Sings in that beautiful voice He gave me
That I have someone come to think
Is not so beautiful
To dance with Him
I must give in
And give up
Plus
The trust it takes to really love
And I want to love Him unbridled
Believe in Him with a faith that is unshakeable
Like tree roots centuries deep
Until I learn to follow His time
Take deep breaths
Rest my head on His chest
And my cares at His feet
But I never fare well
As long as I depend on mewhynottri2
Take His hand
Take a chance
Fingertips in the palm of the One who holds galaxies
In His hand
Hand on His shoulder
Heart in His hand
We dance
To a down beat
That keeps time with His heartbeat
Sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me go
When He’s only letting me turn
And sometimes
It feels like He’s letting me fall
When He’s only letting me learn
His is the song that never ends
His love
Sinners become friends
He wants to dance with you
Until the only Song you hear
Is Him

When I have nothing to encourage you with personally, it’s ok.  That will get better.  But I’m never without encouragement from the Lord, without His peace, or His provision.  As a Christian blogger, the best I can do is share the encouragement I’ve received with you.  I pray it lifts you up today.

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Lifelines While On The Go

Confession: I don’t have a lot of time to blog this week. It’s been super busy!

Between doctors appointments and school activities, American Heritage Girls and homeschool cooperatives, I’m mentally and physically maxed out. But the climax of this week that has my undivided attention is Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!


Easter for our family has never had anything to do with bunnies or eggs. We don’t even give kids baskets or gifts to celebrate the day. But oh do we celebrate!  My children understand that through Jesus’ death and victory over the grave, we are now invited to the greatest party in the universe!

“When the hour came, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:14-18‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I think some people see believers who turn to the Lord as lemmings who have signed up to a list of dos and donts. Certainly Jesus described those who would make excuses not to come. But entering a relationship with the most Holy God is not a bore! It’s a feast!

The Parable of the Great Banquet

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24

It’s an access with the King of Kings we did not have before that veil in the Temple was torn, one where we can delight in the presence of God and His fullness of joy. It’s being satisfied unlike anything in this world can do in us. 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭23:5‬ ‭HCSB‬‬


So there is a lot of singing, a lot of worshipping, a lot of fellowship, some good food, and definitely some family time in the sunshine in store for us. 

But even with all these things going on, I still need to train for a triathlon (and my family too)! And spend time in prayer and personal Bible study. And time with the kids. And time with the husband. The blogs with the book reviews, lessons learned, and fitness encouragement will have to wait until next week. 

I’d like to leave you with some lifelines I use to help me stay centered on the go:

  1. Perspective: journal on my phone. It helps me keep track of my priorities and rate the day based on how I centered I was to things that are important to me. This ADHD brain needs tools like this so I don’t get lost between vet appointments and frog dissections.
  2. Bible In One Year Audio Bible: I honestly don’t have time to read my Bible and I hate being so hectic. But I value this resource so much! I listen to the Bible and the commentary and it’s very edifying. It turns something mundane like making breakfast or folding laundry into a holy moment; while my hands are busy, my heart and my mind are engaged in God’s Word. 
  3. Nike Fitness Club: I’ve been able to enter what weights I could use and what supplies I have, and how often I can exercise this week. It builds customized workouts no more than thirty minutes and within my abilities. 
  4. Audio CDs: our van is old school and comes with a CD player. When we spend so much time in the van, we listen to stories as a family. It gives us something to look forward to and something to discuss as a family. It definitely beats everyone to their own electronic devices and the disconnect that can happen when you’re just running from one thing to the next. But if you have Bluetooth capabilities in your car, Audible is a great resource! Or check out Overdrive and see if your local library is on the app to borrow audio books directly to your phone, from your house!


These are all resources I use for free. If you choose to upgrade to a paid version I will not be compensated in any way. The only apps I found worth paying for are:

  • Fitstar Yoga: I desperately need to stretch my achy joints. I paid the fee to have workouts built for me as I improve. And I can play any music I want in the background, which usually is my worship play list so I can relax and release tension. 
  • Abide: This is a Christian meditation guide. It’s prayers based on scripture that you can hear in the mornings or at night. With background music and based on topics. It’s an active prayer and scripture meditation app in that you are prompted to think and pray about specific things in your life, and meditate on the significance of the Bible verses in your own life. 

Both these apps have free versions too, and if you choose to pay for their subscriptions I won’t be compensated in any way. This isn’t an affiliate post, it’s an honest mom blog post. 

It will be a wonderful week! Be blessed!

What are you doing this weekend?

Unanswered Prayers

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Confession: My husband and I are fighting a battle against the Credit Bureu over our score and our history.  It has been a loooooong battle against years of unemployment/underemployment and identity theft.  And it feels uphill and unfair.

And by looong it means we have been living with our friends since last July, a family of five with a family of four in a three bedroom condo with three dogs and a bunny.  We have been paying a credit repair company AND a credit report monitoring company to help us fight this battle.

While I’m extremely thankful for our friends’ hospitality, it’s not something I want to abuse of.  It’s also not comfortable. I’ve been ready to move out since October 2016.  But our credit scores were still pretty bad and not climbing as fast as we hoped.

Then last month we were finally only 15 points away from the magic number!  We were so optimistic.  Things were just bound to turn a corner soon, right?

Wrong.

For reasons I still don’t understand as I’m writing this we lost 46 points.  It felt like a punch to the stomach while the referee called a time-out.  It’s like doing the cha-cha with someone who is actively trying to step on your already sore toes.

If I’m completely honest, at some point I was in the shower, asking God, “What kind of animal sacrifice do I need to offer You for me to get a little bit of favor?!  What more do You want from me?!?” And these are common reactions to unanswered prayers… Why? When?? How??? With a dash of bargaining and trying to bribe Him.

But then I chose to anchor myself on truths against a bombardment of lies from the enemy in response to these questions.  I said these truths to myself like a creed, over and over until my heart caught up to my brain:

Eklutna

  1. God has surrounded me in a team of prayer warriors that are supporting me.  The friends that opened their home for us did so because they believed in the work that God will do in our families when we are able to stop renting and can afford a stable home.  For the same reason, they have asked us to stay: because they want to see the Lord bring this to completion as much as we do.  Our realtors are covering us in prayer.  Our church is covering us in prayer.  I am not alone.

     hope

  2. God is FOR me.  I can look up and expect His help!  He doesn’t just mildly like me, and He’s not indifferent to these trials.  Just because He hasn’t released it to me in my timing, does not mean that His answer is “No.”  His heart is generous towards me and is more than able to provide!  So for all this time that He has not said “Yes”, I have to believe it’s because what He has in mind is better than what I am seeing right now. I will continue to look up and expect His help.
     Portage
  3. God is accomplishing something good in my heart through this trial.  It’s not a trial that will result in bitterness, or wedge distance between God and me.  This is a trial that has me fall onto the Rock of ages – and I will remember these times with fondness! I will recall how God held us, and sustained us, and did wonderful things in our family and all around us.  This may be a painful part of His plan, but it is still with the purpose of causing good in me and around me. So I will worship Him.

This faith-based perspective is by all means it’s not of this world.  It’s definitely not in my nature.  It is His Spirit working in me, comforting me, and giving me a hope I could not manufacture on my own through ‘positive thinking’.  So if you are going through a trial, the best I can encourage you to do is to dig deep into God’s Word and prayer.  He can lift your countenance better than any motivational phrase can!  If He has this strength available for me, He can do this in you too!

If you like the Bible verse images, go ahead and save them! They make great smart phone wallpapers, and I own the rights to the photos. 🙂

What is God revealing to you about your season of trials?  How can I align myself with God’s will for you in prayer? Share below.

One Thing I Learned from Mandy

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Confession: I have been rocked by tragedies recently, although mostly peripheral to me.  I don’t know if my heart is just more sensitive today, or maybe it’s God trying to show me something…

I have been gutted by multiple instances of overnight fires, claiming multiple lives.  Even here in town.  I shared on my Facebook feed a news article as a prayer request in one incident because it felt horribly close to home, and my husband knew the couple involved.

But my phone wasn’t done blowing up with these types of notifications, as last week on Tuesday many of my blogger friends expressed grief that a fire took the lives of a mom, dad, and two children during the night. In sadness, I said a quick prayer for people involved but it didn’t really register at that moment.

How You Finish

Mandy Kelly was a wonderful Christian blogger at Worshipful Living, where she created a lot of brilliant resources for Moms/Homeschoolers/God-fearing women like me… One of these being the Good Morning Girls ministry, where she was the Leadership Coordinator.

I cannot even begin to share how the Good Morning Girls Facebook page influenced my life; I followed along their Bible studies, I was encouraged to dive into my Bible (even through seasons where I didn’t really feel spiritual), and I often used these studies in fellowship with other mom friends when we felt a little too busy or disconnected.

When I realized it was “that Mandy”, my heart sunk.  Even though I didn’t know her personally, she was who “I wanted to be when I grow up”.  I think every Christian mom-blogger does this chore of Pinterest and social media promotion with the hopes that they’ll be able to use their voice and influence others the way Mandy did.  I dream of having this humble beginning of a blog become a solace for all these godly warriors who are fiercely on the front lines of God’s Kingdom over their households.

As I prepare to participate in a link-up to honor Mandy, I have to think about ONE THING she taught me and I’m at a total loss for what to say.  She taught me to read and highlight in my Bible, and how to do the SOAP method.  She taught me that I can rekindle the joy in my homeschooling, and that having the faith of a harlot can be a remarkable thing.

But I think the main lesson I can walk away with is to finish well.

Her life and ministry was an example of how it doesn’t matter how you start as long as you do, and nothing on this earth is fatal or final; until you are before the very presence of God – where Mandy and her family found themselves last Wednesday morning – you can always be used by God.  You are never out of grace.  You are never beyond hope.  So finish this race, and finish well.


Even though it came as a surprise, I know she was welcomed into eternity as she heard Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Because in her earnest desire to finish well, that phrase describes who she was and what she inspired others to be.

Mandy’s church has opened a fund to help raise donations for the family. You can make donations here. When you visit the website, click on the green “Give” button and designate your donation for The Kelly Family.  The funeral for Scott, Mandy, Lizzie and Judah Kelly will be at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 27, 2017, at her church. Visitation will be held before the service from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. I ask that you please hold the surviving two children and extended family in prayers during the service (for Alaskan reference, this would be between 6:30am – 10:30am our time).

In Memory Of

This post will be a part of a link up of other bloggers choosing to honor Mandy, which goes live on March 29th. I encourage you to read more from other bloggers at that time.  And I can only pray that should I pass on to eternity unexpectedly, I would have made my mark on this world like Mandy did.

What are some ways you hope to finish well? How can I encourage you and pray with you through this?

Moving Toward The Mess

In my last book review, I shared about Danielle Tate’s “Restoring the Lost Petal”.  It just so happens that I’m finishing up this other book – and it goes quite nicely with the last one!

There’s been a deep need in my heart to reach out and say some very important things.  And I believe that what God stirred in my heart with the last book and with this one are related.  So even though I was supposed to be done with Move Toward The Mess by mid-January, I think God’s timing was perfect.  It let me soak this book in a little bit deeper.

book

My last book review talked about the importance of the church addressing modesty, purity, and sexuality – since they did such a poor job with me!  I was already not a virgin when I got saved.  I was “too messy” for that church.  But we’re never going to get a grip on this much needed conversation if we’re afraid to get messy.

People will come into our churches just like I did – with soiled hands and a filthy dress – and we have the responsibility to embrace them into our Kingdom family.  We need to be the ones to affirm them in Christ, remind them of their God-given value, and remind them of their purpose.  This is not something we can do from a distance.  We have to get our hands dirty!  That’s not to say that “sinful people” contaminate us.  But we desperately need to learn to be comfortable with hugging, talking to, and spending time with people who are not washed in the blood… Because how else would they get to that point?  What else would attract them to God’s love if it isn’t demonstrated in our very own hands and feet?

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So without stealing the previous book’s thunder, I would say “Move Towards The Mess” by John Hambrick came at just the right time.  Because this book contains chapter after chapter showing us how God shows up in the lives of those who run towards the mess instead of away from it!

We live in a broken world.  Drive two miles away from your church and you’ll see the spiritual and moral chaos that is in every city; the poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution.  And if the neighborhood is still nice, just keep watching; they may not be poor financially, but they’re poor in spirit.  Those kids may have a house to sleep in, but be so disconnected from their family it’s not quite a home either.  There’s still addiction to fight.  There’s still young girls using their bodies as currency to meet their needs.

So I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if your Christian walk is rather uneventful or you find your church life quite boring, it’s probably because you’re in a “country club for saints” instead of a “hospital for sinners”.  That’s not to say you need to change churches.  What you really need is a new perspective.

One analogy that Hambrick used which stuck with me so well is that church is really the locker room pre-game ralley with the coach.  The hype of being in that locker room is the precedence of going out into the field and playing the game – going out into the world, “moving towards the mess”, getting our hands dirty carrying out the plays our coach has planned.  Without hitting the field, using our grit, and finding our mettle these “locker room ralleys” are useless.  We waste time going to church if it doesn’t radically affect what we do outside in the world.

football

His antidote to this attitude really boils down to knowing that we are sinners saved by grace.  When we realize just how much God has forgiven in us, we stop waiting until we get our lives together, or until we get the right “title”, or waiting for the broken to come to us.  Our own need for grace becomes fuel to love others and want to bring salvation to them.

Not many churches will experience the randomness of a girl like me walking through their doors one Sunday in February and getting saved.  I was the exception, not the rule! Most people live on the fringes of the church property and won’t step inside because they feel filthy.  Well, my friends, let’s bring church to them.  Let’s move toward the mess.

Pick up your copy of “Move Towards The Mess” here, or you can win a copy on my blog by commenting below and answering the following question:

What mess do you feel God calling you towards?  Where does your heart ache the most towards others?

Disclaimer: I received two copies of “Move Towards The Mess” by the Blythe Daniel Agency in exchange for my honest review.  I was not paid to give a good review, nor will I receive any monetary compensation from your purchase.

Triumphal Procession

Everyone loves parades!  My daughter was in the Fur Rondy parade here in Anchorage last weekend.  She marched for American Heritage Girls.  My boys had a blast cheering their sister on and then getting candy and goodies from everyone else that passed by.


We all want to walk through life feeling like we’re a part of the parade.  We want people to cheer us on! To clap as we go by!  We want to feel victorious as we move forward…


… It doesn’t always feel that way, right?

If I’m honest, I’d say that lately it feels more like I’m walking the Green Mile.  Sometimes we’re in icky situations, surrounded by an icky crowd…

… Sometimes we’re sure that they are not cheering for us, they’re laughing at us as we walk by.  They are rejoicing in our misery.  We’re out to be spectacles, put on display for all our failures and short comings.

It’s times like this we just want to retreat.  Let’s just go home… we shouldn’t have left our beds.

The Apostle Paul can relate, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:9: “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.”

Oh I can relate to that.  We have been technically homeless since last July; having moved in to our friend’s spare bedroom until the doors we are praying for get opened.  Every time someone asks, “Have you guys bought a house yet?” “How long can you stand to live with your friends?” it stings like an insult.

I’m pretty sure there are wives who wince the same way when they get asked, “When are you guys finally going to have a baby?” without knowing that they have tried… oh how hard they’ve tried!  Or the husband who hears the wife’s friend say, “How long has he been working for that company? And no promotion yet?”

First, you and me have to realize that these are innocent, well-intended questions.  Our friends aren’t trying to embarrass us, they’re concerned about us.  Even though their questions don’t seem very graceful, we can extend grace to them and forgive how they’ve stepped on our toes.

But more importantly…

We can turn the corner that Paul turned, when he realized that he wasn’t just placed at the end of a victory parade, as the prisoner of war to be laughed at.

Could it be that you and I are being paraded in our weakness, and in our frailty, because God wants to show us off to the world?  That maybe it’s right here, in this suffering, God is showing us to the world to say, “See my servant?  See her struggle?  Just you wait! I’m going to do something in her life that you wouldn’t believe unless you’d seen it with your own eyes!  The victory that’s coming for her is so great, you’ll want to see this now so you can see the revelation of what’s to come – and rejoice with her!”

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 New International Version (NIV)

14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” – Paul the Apostle

My friends, I can truly see that the suffering of this present time cannot be compared to the glory that is coming.

Joel 2:24-26 New International Version (NIV)

24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
    the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
    and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
    who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.

These are promises we can hold on to as we walk through what feels like parades of shame.  We don’t have to walk in defeat, we can walk with joy and with our faces held high regardless of our circumstances!  It’s God’s heart to lead us in triumphal procession, to spread the aroma of His salvation everywhere, so that the world knows it was God who has worked wonders for us.

Do you have an encouraging promise to hold on to? Or a prayer request to share? List them below!

Restoring The Lost Petal

I shared a few blog posts ago that my daughter had asked Siri, “What is the definition of modesty?” and how I tackled that conversation.

no-shame

Confession: My feelings on the subject have been unraveled after reading “Restoring The Lost Petal” by Danielle Tate.  And although I have provided links so you can get a copy of the book for yourself, I was not paid to provide a good review and will not be compensated in any earthly way by your purchase of it.

I think it would be helpful to understand, first of all, that I was not raised a Christian.  I got saved at 15.  And I was already an angry, rebellious teenager trying to assert some level of independence from my mom by then.  I had already made less-than-ideal choices, and because of my attitude I already had a reputation (although it was far worse than I actually deserved).

Interesting thing about how I rolled back then: If you accused me of being slutty and I didn’t really deserve it, then I would go out of my way to show you how slutty I really could be.  I don’t know how this logically could’ve worked in my favor, but that was how I rebelled against EVERYONE – by one-upping whatever anyone said, being more than what I was accused of. More tough, more angry, more violent, more promiscuous, more cruel…

And yet, if I’m completely honest, these experiences didn’t hurt me as bad when they happened as they did AFTER I got saved and started going to church!

let-god-in

When Jesus showed up in my 15 year old self, I didn’t need to be told that my dating speed was inappropriate, or that self-harming was bad, or that I needed a whole new circle friends.  The Holy Spirit did that well enough; I understood at the moment I gave my heart to Christ and asked Him to be Lord of my life that I couldn’t have Jesus and live like I’m going to hell on wheels.

No exaggeration: I gave my life to Christ one Sunday morning, and while I was praying the sinner’s prayer, I told God, “And Lord, you know that tonight these boys from my neighborhood are going to knock on my window and invite me to sneak out while my family is asleep.  No sense lying to you about this.  I’m not sure I’m strong enough to say that I’m not going to go.  I need You to protect me from this.”

That night, I slept like a rock.  Heard at school that the boys went as far as opening my window and shook me in my bed as quietly as they could and I would not budge, so they left me alone in my room.  And they never came back.  #truestory

Christ’s forgiveness was so real at that moment that I completely forgave myself – being as far removed from that girl as the east is from the west.  The problem is, I went to church…


From then until I got married and got the heck out of dodge, it seemed that no one in my church believed I was changed – no matter all my efforts to prove it.  If I participated in EVERYTHING – from Mission’s Trips, to Bible Quiz, it was to get into my then-friend-now-husband’s pants.  Nothing I wore was modest enough.  The highlight of learning about sex was “Don’t do it! Don’t touch! Don’t even kiss! Until you’re married!”  And then when my husband and I decided to get married, the church refused to get involved under the auspice that we already had sex and our marital union would no longer be sanctified.

Sadly, this is a #truestory as well.  Needless to say, this did little to build me up in modesty and purity, little to break spiritual bondage, and little to bring healing…

the-why

Fast forward to this year, now that I’m 31 and even further removed from that person, I received a copy of this book to review.  Danielle and I are Facebook friends and we had engaged in blog-related activities and personal conversations over the years.  I was so stoked that she wrote this book and excited to offer her my support.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to read her words.  And that’s about as far as I’ll spoil it for you.  Because even though I wasn’t living a promiscuous/adulterous life style, and I wasn’t recovering from a traumatic abusive experience, I had still in some ways lost some petals and just learned to live without…

I strongly recommend this book for any girl of any age – before any sexual experiences or after, before marriage or married more than once… We as Christians need to re-engage in these conversations about sex, dating, modesty, purity and we need to do it right! We need to know much more than “don’t!” but also “Why?” and “When?” and “How?”  And we need to restore the petals in the flowers of our hearts and protect the flowers in the hearts of the younger girls coming up after us.

live-restored-title

You can get your copy of “Restoring The Lost Petal” by Danielle Tate here, but I’m also willing to give my copy away at random if you answer this prompt below:

What is the conversation about purity you WISH you had as a teenager?  If you could go back and give your 15 year old self a message on this subject, what would you say?

Use It Or Lose It!

Confession: I lost my entire previous blog, with 3 years and 200 followers, because I forgot to pay for it one month.  I didn’t pay for it because I wasn’t using it.

Seems very irresponsible of me, I know, but welcome to my long laundry list of failures… potentially related to being ADHD myself.  It’s not the first mistake, and it probably won’t be my last.

child-bible

What reminded me that I had a blog in the first place (pathetic, I know) is that I heard this Bible passage some days ago:

Matthew 25:14-30 The Message (MSG)

The Story About Investment

14-18 “It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

19-21 “After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

22-23 “The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

24-25 “The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

26-27 “The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

28-30 “‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’

In older translations, the currency was known as a “talent”.  So the last verse in essence says that the talent was taken away from the servant who hid it underground and given to the one who had 10 talents…

My loved ones, there’s a “Use It Or Lose It” supernatural law at work here on Earth!

If you don’t fully articulate and bear weight on a joint, it will start to become brittle and weak, and you lose range of motion.

Coupons that you don’t redeem before their expiration date are worthless.

I’ve been sick this whole week, and I went to my medicine cabinet only to hopelessly discover that all my cold medication expired in 2015!  I had not used it in many years.  It all was useless now.

Our Heavenly Father is a “Give us Today” kind of God.  The manna in the desert was only for the day.  His provisions for us tend to be what we need for right now (how many of us have won the lottery and are financially set for the rest of our lives? I didn’t think so).  And the gifts and abilities He has blessed us with are for us to use them today – not in some future, potentially after retirement! Now!  Because when He suddenly returns, He will ask, “What did you do with the talents I invested in you?”

Let’s be good and faithful servants then.  If we put to use even the smallest things we have been blessed with, He is good and will bless us with more.

Let’s pay heed to the fact that just returning what was given is not enough for the Master.  He owns thousands of hills under which He can bury treasure to dig up later.  It is a disrespect to our Master to not even attempt to put His gifts to work.

signature-selfie

Do you have some talents lying kind of dormant right now?  What can you do to start activating them, even if just a little at a time?