Friday, July 1, 2016

Forget Less; Remember More

I have a long sleeve shirt I purchased early on in our new to military life way of living. I do not recall where I purchased the shirt other than to say it was an online military faith-based site.

On the front of the shirt it reads, "Not even the military can mess with God’s plans."

The shirt has hardly been worn (maybe once or twice) but I threw it on one Thursday evening shortly before my husband returned home for a long weekend (Memorial Day Weekend). Because he tends to be rather observant, it did not take him long to ask about the shirt.

“Is that really in the Bible?”

Confused by his question, I looked down at the front of my shirt to read the quote again. I then noticed a scripture reference under the quote… Jeremiah 29:11

I, of course, went to the Bible to compare the quote to the verse it referenced. While not in those exact words, the Bible does indeed say not even the military can mess with God's plans. Nothing can mess with His plans.

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

The smile on my face became more profound as I chuckled over God connecting the quote and verse for I have been guilty of frustration with God over the change in plans to my husband's second deployment. I have referred to the change as the no plan, plan.

As much as the nine months apart from my husband for his first deployment made me weary, God used the time apart to grow us both spiritually and as a couple. While I did not expect the second deployment to be completely similar to the first, deep down I had a longing for God to do the same work in us again.

New growth quickly revealed itself the second time around.

My husband connected to a church and a men's Bible study once arriving at what would be his home for nine months. He was in God’s word. These were answers to long awaited prayer requests. And our conversations via Skype were some of the best we've had.

Thank you, God. I can do this again if you will do your thing again.

Then plans abruptly changed.

Certainly I had much joy and peace in my heart to have my husband stateside; however I perceived the changes as God taking away answers to prayer.

My husband was no longer attending a weekly church service.
He was no longer connected to a men’s Bible study.
He was no longer spending time in God’s word.
Skype connections were not good which left us both frustrated.

Why, God? You asked him to go and we obeyed. Where is the blessing for our obedience?

But God, His ways are not our ways. His plans are always perfect and they come to fruition in His perfect timing.

I have created my own new go-to quote: "May I forget less and remember more that God will show Himself faithful."

Friends, like those Israelites, I forgot and I did my fair share of grumbling for things not going the way we planned for them to go. Let's consider for a moment if plans had gone the way we had planned, or let's say the way the military had led us to plan for...

This picture I now have of my family together again (together for an outdoor church service too!) would not exist for we would still be waiting for my husband to return home.

My husband eventually connected with a church too. And I know I can trust God with the other things. Thankfully, my husband is now home and we don’t need to fret about Skype connections!

I prayed for God to do again what He did in us and through us during my husband's first deployment. I thought my prayer went unanswered.

But God did answer. The ways He did it again may look different, yet the end result is the same... all praise and glory to our God. For all we've been given, all the together moments, all the growth, is only because of Him.

"I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever." Psalm 86:12

Yes, friends, not even the military can mess with God’s plans! Praise God! He is good ALWAYS!

May we forgot less and remember more that He will show Himself faithful.

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Sharing with AWN’s Monthly Recon Rendezvous Link-Up PartyJennifer Dukes Lee for her Tell His Story Link-Up and the Let Us Walk Worthy Link-Up.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Bible: Real Places, People and Time

I have heard people say the stories in the Bible are not real stories. The stories have been referred to as either mythological or a collection of fables. Jesus walked on this earth and did tremendous things but is He really the Son of God? Was He really raised from the dead? And what about the stories in the Old Testament? Are they all just stories?

Years ago I had a conversation with a pastor about the parting of the Red Sea. I told him of my struggle to make sense of it. The pastor responded to my doubts saying, "Beth, it's only a story." Maybe I misunderstood his response. One thing I can say for certain though, the conversation led me to believe God’s parting of the Red Sea was nothing more than a story; He did not really part the Red Sea.

It has been over fifteen years since the conversation with the pastor. I now know every word in the Bible is God-breathed. Every word is truth. Every story in the Bible, Old and New Testament, is about real places, real people and real time.

Every story is a real story. The parting of the Red Sea... God did just that.

When the conversation with the pastor took place I was in the midst of the hardest time in my life. I had left my husband. I barely stood at the weight of somewhere between 90-100 pounds. If I had more bravery I would have chosen death over life. Friends, choosing life is brave. Depression and an eating disorder, which in itself could have taken my life, were my Red Sea.

What if I had been told God really did part the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites? What if I had been told the Bible is all Scripture breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). What if I had been told the truth of the Gospel right there and then?

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)

I needed to believe in God. I needed to believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died for my sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day. I needed to believe God could part my Red Sea and bring me safely over to the other side.

How would have knowing this truth fifteen years ago changed my life?

Let me be clear, I believe I came to know Jesus Christ and His saving grace in the exact way and time He intended. I might not understand why it happened the way it did but when we choose to follow Jesus it's not for logic or reason. Most of the time the call to follow Him will not make sense. He asks us to put our trust in Him and follow despite lack of logic or reason.

Here’s the truth, we are not saved by simply believing Jesus walked on this earth. We are saved when we believe in who He said He was (the Son of God) and what He claimed He would do and did (save the world). We are saved through faith in Him.

This faith includes believing every word in the Bible comes from the mouth of God. And every word gives us life and life to the fullest (John 10:10)

I no longer question the truth of His word. The question on my heart is who, Lord, in my life stands at their Red Sea wondering if You could really fight for them like You really did fight for Moses and the Israelites? Like You fought for me?

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” Exodus 14:14.

If I want God more than anything else this must include wanting others to know Him and the truth of His Word more than anything else.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Planting Seeds

On Easter Sunday I returned home from spending four days with our oldest son, who lives in a Southern California. We had much needed mother/son bonding time.

We took in a sunset.
We hiked.
We were lazy at the beach.
We visited the small town of Julian and ate its delicious pizza and devoured its famous apple pie.
He cooked for me and I cooked for him (the one and only meal I know how to make).
We jet skied.
We met up with my sister and her family.
We relaxed via mostly decent TV entertainment.
We chatted.
We had our way of bonding.

It makes me sad that he lives in a different state but I wonder if he lived closer whether would we have weekends like the one we had. The distance forces us to be intentional.

Our youngest son lives only 15 minutes away. When he shows up without my prior knowledge of him coming, I get all giddy. If he was only stopping through briefly my reaction usually convinces him to stay longer than intended. Then there are the days when he sends me a text inviting me over for dinner. Umm. Yes! Absolutely, I will come. I willingly change other plans to be there.

One of my younger brothers (I have three younger and one older) asked me recently what similar traits my boys have. This question stumped me at the time as they are different as night and day. I ponder this question again and would have to say our boys are both kindhearted people you can count on to be in your corner.

Because they have such different personalities, I find my relationships with them to be different.

The youngest will talk my ear off and conversations with the oldest require me to take the lead. He knows I will come prepared with discussion questions to keep our conversation moving along.

The youngest is not so much a hugger and the oldest allows me to fully wrap my arms around him and linger. It might have something to do with the number of see-you later moments we have had. He's grown to know his mom needs those hugs. With the youngest no longer living at home I have a feeling he may catch on to my hugging needs.

The youngest has a joyful spirit and comfort in his own skin which made it a tad bit easier to send him out into the world. The oldest does not as easily see the decent man he is (a trait he inherited from his mom). To compensate, I am guilty of attempts to protect from the sinfulness of the world.

The youngest did not test our parenting abilities quite so much (yet still had his moments) while the oldest too often saw our inability to parent well when tested.

The youngest likely does not remember the hard, hard seasons. The oldest has always been more sensitive and acutely aware of my sadness when hard seasons come.

Maybe another similar trait our boys share is they both know their parents are always in their corner, despite all the times we messed up parenting.

Time with either one of our boys usually leaves me somewhat sentimental afterward. The together moments are fewer and farther between. I have discovered a profound love though for being a mom to adult children. It fills my heart with joy to witness the fine young men they have become.

On a recent drive home after a day at the office K-Love played on the radio. The host referenced the importance of planting seeds in the early years of children.

I have thought of this before in terms of our lack of planting good seeds in our children's lives. We certainly did not plant faith seeds as we did not become Christ followers until our early 40s.

While I certainly agree it becomes harder to have a proper influence (or to instill meaningful values) in our children's lives after a certain age, good seeds (and faith seeds) can be planted at any age.

I am not sure if I am referencing this planting seeds phrase correctly. You understand what I am trying to say, right? The early childhood years are crucial development years.

But I consider how God makes all things new. I am not the person I once was. My mind has been renewed to a new way of thinking. God is making me to be more like His son with each passing days. The same applies to my husband.

We messed up in many ways during the early years of children's lives. Heck, we were messing up in their teenage years too. We are imperfect people who sin daily and still make not so smart choices in our parenting decisions. However, there is a profound difference in the way we parent our children now compared to back then for we are different people.

My point being, we now have a more positive influence in our children's lives. We plant good seeds. We focus on planting seeds to draw them closer to Him knowing our role is in the planting. God ultimately determines when their hearts our softened to know the truth and for the truth to set them free (John 8:32).

Maybe the point is really this: I don't let go of hope. I hold on to Him. I allow Him to continue to do the work He is doing in me.

"He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." ~ Philippians 1:6 

I trust Him to work through me, and others, to win the hearts of my unsaved children for our God "is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

As I give thought to the differences in our children and the differences in my relationship with them, I find another similarity… hints of our Almighty God moving in their life. They may not yet know Him the way we know Him, but I see His light beginning to shine through as He transforms their way of thinking.

With this, I fall on my knees and say, "Thank you, Lord."

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

He Loves Perfectly

Several posts ago, the one on twirling, I mentioned I had attended an IF:LOCAL gathering. Then I briefly told you of a long-time desire to gather women around my table. I told you I intended to stop talking and instead “trust God and move.” I also said if you did not see a post on this gathering by the end of March it meant I needed encouragement in the bravery department.

It is almost the end of March…

I gave deep thought to what to call this gathering of women (a catchy name is a must), and who to invite. A part of me loved the idea of posting an open invitation on Facebook to local friends. Typical to my nature, I questioned the idea. Various discussion ideas played out in my head. Mainly, I knew I had to trust God with the details by letting go of control and any expectations I had for this gathering.

Truth be told, I lost bravery quickly and did nothing.

Then a dear friend who had joined me at the IF:LOCAL sent me a text to tell me of the step of faith she had taken. In her text she included a copy of the invitation she would soon send to those invited to gather at her table.

My initial reaction: JEALOUSY!

My next reaction (because let us not park long on jealousy.): Be brave, Beth. If God has placed this desire on your heart He also asks you to step out in faith.

So I got brave and designed an invitation with the help of Paperless Post.

The catchy name was going to be "A Table of Hope Builders"

Then I lost bravery again when it came time to add the names of those on my heart to invite. The enemy gained a foothold on my thoughts.

What makes you think anyone wants to gather around your table?
No one will show up.
Don't press that send button, Beth. 

Enter, deep sigh.

I had not fully given up on the idea. I have been in God's Word long enough to know lies versus truth. And I so want to be finished with believing lies.

It sure felt like God was closing the door on this gathering though.

A whirlwind of changes began when my husband returned to the states much sooner than planned due to medical issues. Rightfully so, all other plans came to a halt. The gathering of women around my table would need to wait, or maybe my heart's desire (my prayer) was to go unanswered.

On the other hand, God often answers our prayers differently from what we specifically pray for, giving us the opportunity to see Him in a new way

 "God takes something little--a small request--and replaces it with a much bigger answer." ~ Kelly O'Dell Stanley, Praying Upside Down

This past Saturday, the Saturday I had intended to gather women around my table, without an official invite extended, two ladies at two different times joined me at my table. As I hugged and said good-bye to the second lady I had a moment of sudden realization. God had answered my prayer.

Maybe He did not answer with what we might call a much bigger answer, but the right answer. Because God’s ways are always right; they are abundantly above all that can we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).

God answered another prayer too.

Since the day my husband departed for his second deployment I had asked God to make our time apart go quickly. Please God, make this time of separation not feel like forever for there are days when it feels like forever until I will see him again.

He replaced my small request with a much bigger answer. I may not fully understand why He answered this way but as I have said previously, the why does not matter. And God did not cause my husband's injury to bring him home sooner; He allowed and used a circumstance to accomplish what He had always intended… an earlier reunion for two people who obediently said yes to His calling (another deployment) but also longed to be together again.

As I navigate a season of change and uncertainty, God reminded me of a truth I desperately need to cling to: God can be trusted to love perfectly. “God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true” (Psalm 18:30).

So in the midst of this somewhat difficult season, I will praise Him. For when we belong to Him we will always find Him to be Faithful and True (BSF notes). He alone gives us joy today and forever.

It is well with my soul…

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Monday, March 14, 2016

A Blessed Reunion

My husband's first homecoming, after a nine month deployment, came with much pomp and circumstance. {Preview here}

This homecoming came with a quiet, thankfully uneventful, seven hour drive to Kentucky, a big ol' smile directed to the security guard (because I was rather joyful over my arrival) as I crossed through the military base gate, a last minute "oh my goodness" moment when I realized I had no makeup on (even though hubs could care less about makeup) and then a look out the front window of the car to see my husband walk toward me.

There was no fanfare; there was just the two of us.

He warned me ahead of time not to jump on him. You see, the different kind of homecoming came because he returned home early due to medical issues that arose while deployed.

I ran to him with a squeal of excitement. Per his request not to jump on him, I instead hugged him gently. He still squirmed from bursts of pain. Then we walked hand and hand, smile to smile, to pack him up for our weekend retreat.

He may look fine in pictures and to passer-byers, yet this warrior of mine is not fine. Several herniated discs in his neck have him in constant discomfort. I saw the level of discomfort rather quickly during our hour drive to Shelter Point Retreat on Kentucky Lake in Murray, Kentucky. Oh my poor husband. He couldn't get out of the car quick enough.

But here at this lovely home of a dear friend through blogging, we celebrated our reunion. 

The why did it happen this way and what happens next did not matter. God perfectly designed our reunion in His perfect timing.


I have noticed my ability to compare. I compare myself to others way more than I would like to admit and I also compare my own experiences to each other. I have done much comparing of this homecoming to the last one. Both types of comparisons can steal your joy.

Maybe the comparison of homecomings happens because I believe a service member’s homecoming should be what my husband received when he returned home from his first deployment. That homecoming lived up to my expectations; it exceeded my expectations.

And maybe, more so likely, God seeks to teach what I should already know: it's not about us and our expectations... it's about Him.

It's always about Him.

God determined when and how my husband would return home from his first deployment and his second deployment. He determined one would have fanfare and one would be more intimate. Both equally appropriate and beautiful because God had returned my husband to U.S soil, into my arms and then gave us precious moments together. “To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen.”

As I reflect on the last few days with the man I love, there is no place for comparison. I only have room for gratitude.

Gratitude to God for my husband’s safe return home.

Gratitude to God for the time we had together.

Gratitude to God for the special lady He placed in my life who gave us a most wonderful gift: A warm and loving place of shelter. A place of shelter which ultimately pointed me back to the One who is our shelter and provides everything we need.

The name Shelter Point Retreat is a rather appropriate name for her gem of a home on the lake.

If you are in need of a getaway, I highly recommend you check out my friend's place. Visit the VRBO listing here and the Facebook page here. Kristin also writes about her retreat home here. It's more lovely than I could describe or show through photos.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Unchanging One

I must admit, I remain unsure of God's desire for me when it comes to writing. It stays low on my priority list. Maybe I expect the process and results to be similar to what it once was. Maybe God seeks to teach me to simply trust in Him.

So I write when I sense He's prompting me to write. If time between posts become days, weeks or months, all will be well. If readership plummets from inconsistency (or the other things which can positively impact readership) all will be well. If grammar and punctuation are downright awful, all will be well. It needs to be because I'm done with the fight to be something or someone I am not.

Just write and trust Me. Honestly, the writing part can be harder than the trust part. I do not know where to begin with the writing. I know Him, at least better than I once did, and I know He can be trusted.

Now, if we sat together over coffee I would likely ramble on and on. Our time together might come to an end with me wondering if I allowed adequate time for you to spill your guts out too. I dislike the thought that I may have made it all about me. I want to hear from you too… I really do. Please God, whatever I said, may it have pointed to You.

I have much to tell you. God continues to transform me in mighty ways. Discover could be my one word for 2016, if I were to choose a word. I discover new truths about myself and also about God. The truths about me are not easy to accept yet necessary.

The truths about God... Oh may we not be done uncovering more truths about God until the day He brings us home and reveals all the mysteries.

I see God in all things. I hope I point to God in all things. Like when I admit to a heart struggle, I hope you know my faith remains grounded in who He is and His promises. There are admittedly days when I am shaken. But when those days come, I know where to go: Gods Word, prayer and godly friends.

I wrote the first part of this post several weeks ago and I now chuckle over the title I chose. Only God could know how much the truth of how He's unchanging would be needed right now. Because truthfully, friends, I struggle lately with change. And I struggle with good change, which seems so crazy.

For reasons, I have said little about my husband's deployment in this space. However, if we are friends on Facebook you may have caught wind of news that my husband is back in the states. This happened much sooner than planned. I obviously prefer his boots be planted on U.S. soil rather than foreign, unsafe soil.

But this is a change from laid out plans and I often do not handle change well.

The previous plan: I would see him again September-ish. I did not love this plan but I had accepted it and fallen into somewhat of a routine.

The new plan: there is no plan. He's not home and I don't know when he will be home. He's back due to medical issues (not life threatening but significant enough for the mission to end early for him.) and we do not have answers on how the medical issues will be addressed.

He's been back for several days and now resides only 7 hours away from me (we are actually in the same time zone) but we wait for our chance to see each other. I'd love for it to be easy to pack up and go, but it's not.

[Thankfully we now have a plan in place to see each other soon.]

His unplanned return impacts other plans too. Please don't hear me wrong, this is not a complaint; just truth.

Bottom line: the changes, the unknown and the waiting have shaken me some.

The truths I cling to are:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)

"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 (NIV)

"The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever." Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)

"The Lord's plans stand firm forever; His intentions can never be shaken." Psalm 33:11 (NLT)

It is well with my soul, friends. It really, really is. But it is well with my soul only because of who He is and because I am His. No matter the changes, unknowns or time of waiting, that truth is enough for me.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

And the twirling returns

Topics I could write about here in this space twirl through my head again. They had stopped for a period of time. It could also be I stopped paying attention. In any case, they are twirling again.

A decision on the topic I want to explore with you takes longer to come. I want the process of writing to come with more ease so I pray for God to be clear on the topic and timing. Then, “Please, God, let the words flow. If you could take care of the grammar and so forth, that would be great too. Amen!”

I could write on deployments and how the second time around is so very different from the first.

I could likely write on various topics when it comes to deployments. Does it make sense to say I find the topic to also be very personal? There's an intimacy experienced with my husband and also with God meant only for me. Maybe my encouragement on deployments should simply be this... Don't minimize what God can do.

I could write on prayer. God does a mighty work in my heart on how prayer really works. He challenges me to look closer at my current prayer life. Where does it lack? What is prayer and what should it look like? He provides a new perspective through books like, the Power of a Praying Wife and Praying Upside Down.

I could write on feelings and how they can be so deceptive. Satan does his usual thing... he attempts to steal my joy but seriously, take a hike loser!! I'm done with you.

I could write on another life change I will soon embark on. Instead, for security purposes hubs and I have decided the topic should be left for another time. Like most life changes, it won't be an easy one. At the same time, I see God hand me another opportunity to go deeper with Him.

I could write on spiritual growth too. Where to begin though? God is just so good!

Oh, I could totally write all about the IF:LOCAL I attended this past weekend! Let’s talk about gathering around tables!!! It has been a desire of mine for far too long to gather women around my table. I need to stop talking and move. Trust God and move. Would you please nudge me if you do not see a post from me by the end of March on my first gathering? If you do not it means I need encouragement to be brave.

Friends, I move slower these days. I'm present more. Priorities are rightly aligned. Not perfect yet right for this season. The days are not easy. I miss my husband more and more with each passing day. I also love him more and more with each passing day.

And I'm reminded of my two favorite words in the Bible daily.

“But God.”

I hold tightly to those two words. No matter what we may endure, we are to trust and wait on God. He has a “But God” story for us. Actually, we are already in the midst of our “But God” story for “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). We find the ultimate good He accomplishes in verse 29: “For those God foreknew He also predestines to be conformed to the image of His son.”

“God is able to use everything in life, good or bad, to make His children more like Jesus.” Bible Study Fellowship

Be comforted by this truth.

Draw near to Him. “Taste and see that He is good” Psalm 34:8.

And listen to this…

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Prisoners of Hope

There is a verse in Zechariah which has previously not caught my attention but last week Kris Camealy used the verse in her post, Prisoners of Hope.

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope.” - Zechariah 9:12

I have planted myself on this verse. I meditate on the three words: Prisoners of Hope. I have weaved this verse in to many conversations lately and most times I weave it in as I hold back tears. I'm not sure how to explain why. It may be a new favorite verse or even an appropriate life verse.

It could be the story behind when I first read the verse which has me meditating on those three words.

Twelve marines lost at sea. Here one day, gone the next. Twelve families are grieving. In Kris' post she grieves for these families. She grieves for one family member she knows personally, a writer with a book scheduled to release soon.

In Christie Purifoy’s new book she writes, "God walks with them always ready in the darkest places. He is especially present in the very places we imagine he cannot be” (Roots and Sky). How could she have known how much she would need the truth embedded in her words?

But God knew, right? The mysteries of our God… I have no words.

I am studying the Book of Revelation with Bible Study Fellowship. While a hard book to study, I find embedded in this book the fullness of who God is, or the fullness of His character which He makes known. He is a God of love, grace and mercy but also a holy, just, and righteous God. In Revelation we read of the great day of wrath and vengeance and retribution. “Who is able to [face God and] stand [before the wrath of the Lamb]?” - Revelation 6:17

We could think these attributes contradict themselves. Yet we know God does not contradict himself.

Last Sunday my pastor delivered a sermon on how we are to fear God. I know this. I have read the many verses in the Bible which tell us so. I did not grasp what it meant to fear God though. Respect God? Worship Him in awe?

No, (well,those too) fear God means fear God.

My time in Revelation has made this clearer: we will tremble with fear on the day we are finally in His presence.

“The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’” - Hebrews 12:21

There is more. (As my dear friend Michele says often, there is always more.) Right after we are told to fear Him, we are told, "Fear not."

Our God of indescribable, unmatchable, power lives in us and is actively working on our behalf, so we do not need to fear Him.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” - Romans 8:31

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” - Romans 8:37

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” - Philippians 4:13

So I return back to the words from Zechariah 9:12.

Like Kris, the words captivate me. "What is a prisoner, but someone confined or kept in the custody of another. God keeps us in His custody; we are confined by the Holy." - Kris Camealy

I am captivated only because I know God’s character more fully. I know the refuge and protection we find in Him because His Word makes this truth clear. We see it over and over again in Revelation. We won't find anything or anyone able to match what God is able to give and do.

Our God, our Almighty God, is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

When we find ourselves in a place of fear, doubt, brokenness or heartbreaking sorrow, we return to Him. He is our stronghold, our hope. We are held forever and ever by Him. Nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of Hope.” – Zechariah 9:12

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Want God More

Right after I began to write again two events occurred:

1) A reorganization at my place of employment shifted a whole new set of responsibilities to fall under my role as Executive Assistant to the President and CEO,

2) and I discovered Adult Coloring Books.

Truth be told, I have sneaked in a blog post or two (or more) when I should be working. God has convicted me on this each time. I have prayed for more responsibilities and new challenges to fuel a new love for my job. While I am delighted to have less down time to be distracted by non-work related stuff, it comes with sadness for two people who lost their jobs. So now I pray for God’s provision over my former co-workers.

As for Adult coloring books... Oh my, such goodness. Give it a try. I suggest opting for the reflection and worship coloring books. Like this one.

To sum up, other things occupy my attention before writing.

What occupies my attention most is to want God more. I don't say this to boast. It is just the truth: I really want Him more than anything else. I need Him more than anything else. As Lisa Whittle writes in her book I Want God, “until the want matches the need, nothing will ever change. Needing without wanting is just a really good idea that never seas light.”

Lisa's book ignited a revival in my soul. I want Him more.

For me wanting Him more than anything else begins with intentionality. I told you that I am a girl who thrives on routines. On the other hand, I realize wanting God more than anything else includes wanting Him more than comfort. Routines create a sense of comfort for me. Routines are good but there needs to be a balance. There needs to be a willingness to forgo a routine if God calls me to something less comfortable.

Then again, the routines I aim to establish all include more of Him. Through the routines my intimacy with Him grows. Then it seems natural to notice my trust in him grows, and then following Him into the uncomfortable comes with more ease. Not easy; still hard. A little less hard, maybe (not always).

At this point I considered providing you with an outline of routines I've established. I decided otherwise though because what works for me might not work for you. And it isn’t about the routine itself.

Wanting God more than anything else will require sacrifice. I believe one of the primary sacrifices we make is our time. It comes down to this: what matters most? If God matters most (as He should) we need to make time for Him.

Friends, we are saved by faith alone. However, life change happens when we are devoted to knowing Him and His Word and doing what it says. My promise to you... the sacrifices we make to know Him, know His Word and do what it says, are absolutely worth it.

I write this post with profound awe for how God continues to transform me. I experience His transforming power as I devote my life to wanting Him more than anything else. I mess this want up often, but with intention I set myself back on the path of choosing Him first. I remember what I did at first, repent and repeat.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:5a

I then move forward into the unknown with Him. Although not completely unknown for I know how it ends: eternity with Him.

"Wanting God is not risk. Living without wanting Him is.” ~ Lisa Whittle

Oh how I want God, more than anything else!

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Monday, January 4, 2016

It's Not About Me but the State of Me

We are on day 4 of a New Year. I must admit I am happy to return to work and a somewhat normal daily routine. The time off to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with those I love was needed but when my routine is changed for too long it throws me off balance.

I am a girl who thrives on a routine.

Now that we've entered a New Year, for many it's a time for reflection and setting new goals.

I'm not a girl who thrives on goal setting.

Sure, I'd love to read through the Bible this year and I would love to improve my prayer life. I would love to read more books too. These are worthwhile goals but I dislike the whole goal setting thing for the potential let down when I fall short, as I likely would.

As I wrote in my last post, the only want I have for 2016, and the years to come, is to want God more than anything else. For if my eyes and heart are truly focused on this one want, and it's not just an empty commitment, than any other want will be what God wants for me. And won't I be more in tune with His desires for me?

I have thought more about the want to be good at just one thing. If I do something based on whether or not I am good at it (I could paraphrase this as doing something for praise), I have made it all about me. If God asks me to write or to shepherd a group of ladies through His Word, or any other activity for that matter, it should never be about whether or not I am good at those things. It should be about showing up and serving where God has called me to serve.

Now grant it, I already knew this truth. Isn’t it funny how we often need reminders?

"God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called."

So, yes, I have reminded myself again that in whatever way I serve Him, it is not about me. To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen.

Nevertheless, would you allow me to give you somewhat of a “state of me” address? For the most part it can be summed up this way: "it is well with my soul." Despite certain circumstances, all is well.

A reflection of 2015 reveals growth, the "only God" kind of growth. I am notorious for falling to the lies of the enemy, especially when it comes to the kind of person he says I am. I fall less though. I believe the enemy less and God more. Our enemy has less of a foothold on my thoughts. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

My heart is mending from a loss.

I walk in freedom from an eating disorder, minus one slip. Thank you, God, for your forgiveness and for helping me to stand again to continue in this walk.

Relationships with extended family are stronger. Maybe one day I will expand on this or I will just focus on extending gratitude to God for opening my eyes to see the error in my way of thinking. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” Isaiah 55:8

A second deployment does not steal my joy. Trust me, the second time around is not easier. It takes more intentionality to not let my joy be taken.

Even though separated by a large number of miles from my husband, I witness God use the time we are apart to grow our marriage in new ways.

This growth happens only because my trust is in Him; it happens only because of Him. God alone is the source of my abiding joy. “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” Psalm 43:4

I think I shall stick with my one want of wanting Him more than anything else.

Will you join me?

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