Blessed to Be a Blessing…

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”― Benjamin Disraeli

My heart is full of joy this morning. I recently received an overwhelming gift. Many of my friends have as well. In my case, someone paid for my entire family to go to a life-changing conference. Among my friends, one received financing for a book project, another was blessed with a new car,  another received long-awaited professional counsel at no charge, another received funding for a photography project. The list goes on…

But there’s more. All of these gifts had one common result—they empowered the recipient to do what God had called them to do. The gift-givers didn’t give out of duty or obligation or worse, pity. They gave with a heart to empower the work of God.

This is the Abrahamic covenant in action. We are blessed to be a blessing. (Genesis 12: 1-3) God was up to something amazing when He released this promise. He began a domino effect that has carried on for thousands of years.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.  Proverbs 3:27

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.  Proverbs 11:25

–See that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.  2 Corinthians 9:11

domino demonstration knock down small big-1

That is exactly what happened. Each of the gift-receivers praised God for His faithfulness. Don’t miss this. God is teaching us to be like Him.  Out of His abundance, He “graciously gives us all things.” (Romans 8:32) His holy intention is to produce in us a righteous harvest. In layman’s terms, good fruit. He plants His good seed in us so that we will in turn have an abundant harvest to plant good seed in others. Is God smart or what?

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The Launching…when God shows up

There are just these moments when other people’s stories collide with my own.  And when they do, it gets so crazy “coincidence” that you know in your Knower that God is up to something big.

I have had this ember burning in my soul for months now. It has been a mystery, a wonder, a prayer. And I have hardly been able to even speak it out and  be coherent. But every time I tried to release in the physical what is happening in the spiritual, the ember would flare up into golden flame.

And then I would hear comments about hunger, and restlessness, and even eagerness.  “I am never going back,” is a phrase I have heard not once but three times from women who have gone beyond the bible study, the church going, who have gone into the deep places of God. My heart beats with theirs. So much so, that I feel like now there is a rolling fire in my soul.   We can’t go back to okay, God is wanting to more for us.

And thus. “The Launching.”

red Launch

God is gathering women who are hungry,  even desperate for more of Him.  There is a rising ache and groan among women who have really tasted the beauty and closeness of Jesus. And we want more. But how?

So this event is to help women soak in His presence. Really. To impart revelations that we need to stay centered in the middle of our lives.

Rest. Dependence — which produces peace and confidence. And so much more. Continue reading

Our Awkward Lovely Selves

Why is awkward such a curse?  Why is being in human contact so painful that we will vie for just about any alternative to escape. Enter:

  • Food
  • Porn
  • Smartphones
  • Texting
  • Gossip
  • Avoidance
  • Sex
  • Shopping
  • Drugs
  • Work
  • Shall I go on?

I wonder if Awkward is a symptom instead of a cause. I heard a story once about the power of the photograph.  Read that again. The Power of a Photograph.  The story goes that a group of people were interacting, sharing, relaxed and comfortable in their own skin. They were even “unaware” of personal flaws until…the introduction of the photograph. One woman was said to be quick to smile, full of laughter and joy— until she  saw her face for the first time in a photograph. IMG_1970

Try to give yourself time to envision this.

Our children are INUNDATED with images of themselves. From newborn photos in the hospital, to annual growth pictures, to school pictures, to now Facebook and Instagram postings, our children are constantly seeing themselves captured in time. They are constantly “on display.”  I even remember seeing a great shot on a school field trip of one of Charis’s friends.  I said, “Hey, let me get your picture.” She immediately straightened her back, threw her shoulders back, cocked her head to one side, and then gave me a perfect cover girl smile. Obviously, my original shot of her was ruined, but her “photo coaching” was evident.

So try hard to think of life without the constant evaluation. No concern of whether you are with makeup or without. No selfies. No Kodak moments. Just living life as a fluid experience.

Back to the laughing woman. She saw her own captured image for the first time and for the first time she became self conscious. Conscious of her self.

The wrinkles when she laughed, the gap in her teeth, the way her eyes squinted unevenly, all these unique attributes were, before this moment, simply part of who she was and blissfully un-critiqued.  But no more.

We live in an age of Self Conscious.  How do I look? How do they look? How do I look compared to them?

The temptation is so strong. Case in point. I am in Nashville today having joined Chuck on a business trip.  We got up at 5 a.m. and had a three hour car drive.  So I washed my face, brushed my teeth, pulled my hair back in a ponytail and headed out the door. I was completely at ease until Chuck dropped me off at the Starbucks near Vanderbilt.

I went in the bathroom and saw my reflection. Without even “thinking” I compared my appearance to the college, preppy, professional, cool lookers I had passed on the way in.  Wow, I thought, I look awful.

Really? In a span of walking from the front door to the bathroom, I went from completely at ease to completely self critical.  That, my friends, is the curse of Self Conscious. And, may I go further? I believe this root produces a nasty offshoot called Awkward.

We get in social settings and our fear of conflict or failure or criticism chokes our hearts and emotions to such a degree that we seize up and morph into this ball of Awkward. We’re so concerned about what to say, how to say, should I say. It all comes back to looking to each other for definition and approval.

I tell you there is freedom. And that freedom comes not by winning the game of perfection, or isolation.  No one wins when there is only one standard of beauty. No one wins when we resort to emotional shut down to avoid the tension.

Freedom comes when we acknowledge the fear of being less than and allow Perfect Love to have His say. That is what transformed my Starbucks moment.  “I belong to my lover, and His desire is for me.” (Song of Songs 7:10)  Oh yeah, there is a bigger story being told here.

It really is the diversity, the collage, the imperfections of humanity that make us truly alive. It is the beauty expressed in each of us that lets us truly see the beauty of God. It is the love of God that helps me love me and thus love you.  Why? Because if He can love my crazy, psycho self with all my inconsistencies, I am confident He can love you too.  Understanding the “Level Ground of Love” that we all stand on really does change our need for approval from others.

Freedom comes when God’s compassion for the human condition becomes our standard instead of our own self conscious assessment.

And the whole awkward business? It is uprooted when we shift off Self. Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone blows it. And NO one knows how to glide through this life thing without an occasional crash.  Therefore everyone can relate to the need for grace.

We need a bigger view. The pressure’s off. Just be you.  I’ll be me.  Let’s just laugh and love together and let go of the Kodak moment. We are more than a snapshot. We are more than just awkward.

Photo Credit by Salem Spicka

For The Wounded Ones in the Abortion Battle

Because I know you are out there…

I know that every time you even hear the words “pro life” or “abortion” or “pro choice” you get a pit in your stomach, or lump in your throat, or rush of fear, anger or regret in your heart.

Your worst fear is to be found out. Your deepest desire is to be forgiven, finally. You wrestle with what your parents, pastor, boyfriend, husband, friends said before and after your decision. Or what they would say if they only knew…

You replay the day. Over and over.

You flinch at babies. Or you long for a baby.

You can’t stop crying. Or you can’t stop raging.

You can’t stop hating yourself. Or the father, or person who pressured you, even if that person was you.

You can’t even think about heaven. Because what on earth will you say to your child?

And then there is God…how could he love you now?

Even churches act like your choice is too bad, too big for God’s mercy. Will God punish you forever?

Do Christians even care about the scared, trapped pregnant woman or just the baby?

Sisters (brothers), God’s grace is greater than all our sin. It truly does wash us white as snow. When we sing “Jesus paid it all” it means He paid for that day in the clinic as well.  Not partially, or conditionally, but it is completely covered by His redeeming love.

I pray you will have the courage to begin the journey to freedom.  One of the steps to my own healing was to talk about it. I had to open the door to let the shame and fear out but also to let His breath of cleansing freedom in. God led me to a grace-filled believers who really, really understood the Power of the cross. They spoke truth over me that Jesus came to save the world not to condemn it. (Thank you Nan Sprouse and Pat Gilley.) They cried with me. They grieved with me. They loved me with the eternal Love of Jesus.

Look at John 3:16-18 with fresh eyes:IMG_1318
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

The gospel of Jesus, His desire to make the world whole applies to  you. You are not disqualified. You are not cast out. You are not unlovable or unforgivable.

Truly, as the song says, “God renders miracles of our sin.”

For the wounded ones of the abortion battle…Your child is with God but you are still here with us. I pray that God will lead you to people that will love you into freedom.

Pro-Choice…I once was blind, but now I see

“If you don’t want to have an abortion, then don’t have one. If I do want to, then it should be available.”

“What right do you have to tell me what to do with my body? It’s my choice!”

“Thank you [HIllary Clinton] for always speaking up for women.”
IMG_1717
Let’s play a little game, shall we? Let’s translate some of these comments from people who advocate abortion:
“If you don’t want to murder someone then don’t, but if I do want to murder someone, then I should have all the tools to do it.”

“I have the right to do what I want with my body, even if it means I am destroying someone’s body in the meantime.”

“Thank you Hillary Clinton for only protecting the women who are able to speak for themselves and not the ones who are currently silent in the womb.”

I did have an abortion.
I was pro-choice.
Until I realized how selfish and ridiculous my logic was — I was guilty of murder so let me help more people be guilty of murder.

What aggravates me about the abortion debate is many  people are so high and mighty about their personal rights and so condescending to others who value all human life.  What I want, what I think, what I need.  One woman said she couldn’t imagine bringing her baby into prison to see the dad. So she aborted instead.  This is crazytown.  Death is better than hardship?

And on top of it all, the personal hell that abortion brings is the most UNDERrated dilemma ever.  How many women and men have I walked with who carry life-altering grief, shame and guilt.  They made decisions based on too much fear and too little help and  hope. No one talks about this reality in the pro-choice camps.

Thank you Jesus for washing that blood off my hands.  Thank you for healing my broken heart. I pray the same for those who still suffer from this choice.

Today though, I want to address the staunch pro-choicers…If you are in favor of murdering the babies for mom’s convenience, preference, and shortsightedness about the future (I can say this because I did it) then proceed.  Let’s just agree to call it what it is: Perverted human rights. One human life valued above another. Period.

Don’t call it empowering, or justified, or noble. Just call it murder. I pray that somehow, you will one day see that we have “choiced” away a huge portion of our country’s resources and wounded our own soul in the process.

God have mercy on us all.  Give us eyes to see the truth Lord.

Photo Credit: Salem Spicka

The Power of Being Cut Down…

I am in the most remarkable season with God.  It is very uncomfortable, sometimes boring, sometimes painful, and often irritating.  I love Him and so very confident of His love for me. This season, however, sucks. It is no wonder then that He brings up the idea of cutting off dead branches. The Bible uses the terms pruning.

prune
pro͞on/
verb
gerund or present participle: pruning
1.
trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, esp. to increase fruitfulness and growth.
Most people, and me, hear the term pruning and they want to run for the hills. But you’ll notice the last little part of the definition. To increase fruitfulness and growth.
Ah yes. Well this issue does make the most fearful, lazy, or resistent of us to hang around a bit more.IMG_5795
Let me give you a beautiful real life picture. I have a butterfly bush that seemed as if it was dying. Once vibrant and lovely, a home to many butterflies, it became brown and shaggy with very little monarch activity. I really considered pulling up the whole plant. But I kept hearing my gardener friend, Beth, talk about how she was “deadheading” flowers in her job as a landscaper.  One day I  walked past the butterfly bush and I sensed that my plant was not dying at all, but in need of a hard pruning.  The bush couldn’t keep up with managing the dead stalks and the new ones at the same time. So its growth and production slowed down.
Pause — for effect.
Give yourself a  moment to consider dead places  that once may have been great but now cease to have or give life. Give yourself a moment to think on the expense and fatigue it is to keep up with the dried out areas and nurture the new ones.
Moving on.  With my careful instruction, Charis trimmed off the dead or dying blossoms on the bush.  When she was done, it looked like it had a bad haircut.  But weeks later, it looked like a brand new plant. Fresh blossoms abounded as did the fluttering guests. Cutting off the dead or overgrown branches really did increase its fruitfulness and growth. Which brings me to my sucky season.
God is cutting off dead places in me.  I have some habits that have been chopped off.  Thinking too much about what others think of me, not defending my own boundaries, even wasting time…these dead methods have had to go because they suck the life out of me.  I have some people that I have had to let go of.  Some were beautiful for the season we shared. Some were plain toxic. But now, God is doing a new work.  I can hang on to the “idea” of our relationship, however, the reality is they are dead weight and carrying them around doesn’t make room for the new relationships God wants to grow in me.
Some other things He is pruning?
Getting rid of stuff.  I don’t need it. Clutter is costly to my soul.
Cutting off excuses about health and wellness.  Time to invest in this temple.
Stripping expectations of “how things should be according to me.” I am not in charge. Of anything. Period.
Surrender to the Gardener is non-negotiable.
As I  wait here being plucked, trimmed, and even gouged…there is a hope that rises.  God doesn’t waste anything. He is wanting what He has planted in me to bear the most fruit and growth possible for His glory.  And, He is willing to hurt me to help me.  What will I do during this process? Believe God or blast God?
Two questions fell out of my mouth when I was talking to a friend who is also going through severe pruning.
“What is God trying to teach me right now? and Am I being a good student?”
These are worthy of answers. I can spend my time complaining about the pain and uncertainty of the pruning. Or, I can trust that everything that is being cut away by His loving Hand is going to bring about good in my life.  So the pruning continues.
Here’s to holy shears.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:13-14

Miley: Rolling Out the New Product Line

So sure. Miley’s performance was disturbing. But where is the equal uproar about Lady Gaga’s thong? Maybe it is right next to Beyonce’s buxom cleavage,  which is right next to Britney’s belly button piercing, which is right next to Madonna’s pointed bra. I guess we should throw Pink’s pushing-the-limits videos in there too just for good measure. If you ask me, Miley was just trying to keep up with the big girls. These daring divas cast long shadows of perversion, seduction and distorted womanhood, so Miley had to show she was willing to do anything to join the club.

Are any of us really surprised?  Just like Apple rolls out its “all-new” tech masterpieces, the music industry is constantly on the search for its new Femme Fatale. Not familiar with that expression? Fatal Woman. 1. A woman of great seductive charm who leads men into compromising or dangerous situations.IMG_0487

We’ve seen many such transformations as in Madonna’s Like a Virgin. We saw it when Britney shed her Catholic school uniform. And now Hannah Montana has become Slutty Cyrus.  But we knew this right?

We live in a culture where women are products defined by their s-e-x appeal.  They are for consumption as long as their beauty, audacity, and plastic surgery holds up. This is no surprise.

What does surprise me why we look to them for inspiration…who’s responsible for that?

What I am challenging is our discernment. There is evil in this world.  This evil has one desire: to destroy the image of God. In the man. In the woman. No surprise.

Miley’ s performance (as well as others)  is  an example of destroying the image of both men and women.  A good looking man imitating sex with a good looking woman. No love. No thought. No soul. No commitment. Just sex. This being the sum total of life.  It was desperately clear in the way Miley kept addressing her crotch. It was as if she was saying: “Please notice my vagina. My value is based only on what I am willing to do with my vagina.”

Think that is a distortion of our God identity?

So how then shall we live? Like panicked hermits, sheltering our kids and husbands? Or, like judgmental finger-pointers who slander or, perhaps worse, pity these women/ products? Such entertainers have made deliberate choices and profited from them.  Our responsibility is to connect the dots with Miley and with Jesus when he asked, “What does it profit a [woman] to gain the whole world but lose [her] soul?” (Mark 8).

How about we take cues from Daniel?  Daniel was stolen from his family when he was in his teens. That means, up until that time, his parents had been soaking him in God’s truth, God’s love and faithfulness.  So when he was ripped from their care, Daniel was still able to think, discern, choose God’s ways in the middle of a culture that was more even evil than ours is today. Daniel worked for the wicked king, yet he lived a distinct God life right in the middle of a perverse kingdom.  He didn’t excuse it or join it. He didn’t run from it.  He brought God into the middle of it. His divine courage and wisdom is a model for us today.

We may be offended by Miley, Lady Gaga or the others, but we don’t look to them for inspiration or motivation anyway. ( Do we?) Daniel didn’t expect his coworkers or boss to be the model for godliness. He depended on God to be in him and work through him.  His life is one powerful story after another of God showing up.  Daniel completely changed the world, for good, by following God.  In the same way today, we look to Jesus for His power, His definition.

Loving God means something.  You see different. You think different.  You choose different.  Living in the Spirit empowers you to see and stand for the Kingdom of God, even when the world wallows in its own vomit. We don’t get sucked into the world.  We pull the world toward Jesus.  Like Daniel, we bring the goodness of God into this mix. We stand for truth about who we really are as God’s people. We tell our daughters in detail what these rank role models  are doing and why…selling their body and their soul for some sense of power and fame.  We tell our children how to avoid the same pitfalls in their own lives and give them better goals to aim for.

They can be seductresses or they can be warriors in the kingdom.  I bet, if you tell them the truth, they will see real power and choose God.

Bikinis, Boys and Tan Lines…Oh My!

I recently posted a very articulate video on the origin of the bikini and its less than desired result for empowering women. (Jessica Rey and the Evolution of the Bikini.  http://youtu.be/WJVHRJbgLz8 ) The bikini’s history and the current status of billions of dollars in sales is astounding. Confronting. Worthy of consideration. And yet, I must confess, while I loved her thoughts and challenges—uhm,  I hated her modest swimsuits. At least for me. Why? Because I hate tan lines.

It’s crazy, I know. Don’t judge me.  Most of my friends have no issue with tan lines. But alas, I do. Joie de vivre. Right?

But tan lines or not, there remains this nagging issue of whether our girls are being told the truth about their exposure. And I’m not talking about sun screen.IMG_4974

Before I begin let’s clarify. I am not the bathing suit police. I have my own contradictions to wrestle, as you will soon see.  Yet, here are some  thoughts about the bikini’s affect on young women, and men.

I vividly remember being in Florida in my twenties. I was by myself, so no peer pressure, and I was there for one purpose, tanning.  I was also in the best shape of my life. So my itsy, bitsy bikini, consisting of approximately four triangles and some string, was simply functional for me. Not tempting, not immoral, just functional. Until.

Until I went to the snack bar without putting on a cover up. I was suddenly conscious of eyes on me. A lot of eyes. Men’s eyes ravaged my body, and women’s eyes sneered in distaste. It wasn’t that I was so captivating, but that I was so BARE.

I had not seen myself the way I was now being seen—nearly naked.

It took me years of studying male-female reactions, a relationship with Jesus, and having daughters of my own to understand what happened that day. The short version? The female form carries a lot of power. It’s a God thing and a good thing. And it’s under attack.

As Ms. Rey stated, women have the power to be treated as objects or to the power to reveal their dignity. This is an all but lost notion among mothers as well as daughters. She also went on to explain that OUR choices affect men negatively, which causes a chain reaction of men viewing us negatively.  The bikini is a big factor in this dance.

For some girls, bikinis start young. “They are just little girls, it doesn’t matter” I often hear moms say. Their logic is little girls have no breasts, no awareness of their future allure, so their  bodies are in neutral. However, the reality is year after year they teach little girls that it is normal to be nearly naked in public. This normal produces a cluelessness about their personal power and a lack of knowledge of  how to protect it when breasts and hips do arrive on the scene.

For some girls, moving into a bikini is a sign of maturity. For me as a preteen, the mark of becoming a woman was wearing a bikini and filling it out. As women floated past in their lycra underwear, my friends and I understood it to be a rite of passage. A next level. A mark of beauty.

What’s even more disturbing was the unspoken female agreement:  fat women don’t wear bikinis. Thin women do. The problem was (and is), how thin do you have to be to be in a bikini?  The following years for us as blossoming women were filled with striving and shame over wanting minimal tan lines but still needing to have the “right size” to wear a bikini. This thought lingers on.

Fast forward to some much needed maturity, (whew), some new perspectives on beauty, and the dawning revelation of the power of a woman’s body.

Over time I realized that the cute girl in the bikini was not just getting the admiration of her guy friends, she was also getting gawked by every male she passed. Eeww. She either didn’t know it, or fed off of the buzz of male attention.  But I began to question, is this the sum total of her beauty? To have a guy consume her visually?

My last beach trip made me sick.  The new ‘brazilian’ bikini bottom made its debut. So while the lovely woman posed casually with her friends, half of her arse hanging out of her suit, the bar full of men nearby were crudely discussing the need for additional Viagra pills.

Is this the empowered woman we are all working so hard for?

Who is the culprit? The men who treat her as a sex object? Or the woman for presenting herself as one?

This beauty things keeps rearing its ugly head (no pun intended). And it’s not a quick answer. With friends at the pool the other day we did a highly UN-scientific survey. We looked at several females in bikinis and noticed a striking difference in our reactions. From flat line to wow factor.

Fit mom in bikini running after two kids. No problem. Not much excitement.

Sort of fit sixty year old in modest bikini. Nada.

Overweight teenager in a bikini with lots of belly and thigh action. Not so much.

But the off-duty svelte lifeguard, bronzed and firm,  flashing her tini-kini? Yep the whole audience, male, female, young and old watched her as she strolled by.

What is that? Brainwashing? Years of telling us what beauty is, or is not? Maybe. But it is Reality for sure.

So what the heck am I saying? Here comes the hard part for me personally. I don’t like how I view bikinis based on beauty. I hate it, in fact. The rules seem different depending age and stage of life. They seem more dangerous when the woman is using her body to say, “I am so available.”

When I go to the beach, surrounded by strangers,  I find I have disqualified myself so I think I can wear whatever, within reason, as long as I am sitting down and not parading the shoreline.  Yes I am beautiful, but I have no pressure, or desire, to gather attention. Great. Happy tanning for me.

What about my beautiful daughters? The developed one, and the one on the way?
Do I want a boy, man, male lusting after my daughters? No. (God help these men…)

I started my girls out in one pieces. And now, they wear one pieces by choice. I’m glad for that. They will have to navigate this as they get older. But for now, it seems “unnatural” for them to go out in public in less clothes than their underwear, which they rightly hide in behind closed doors. My daughters are more modest, and self- honoring that I was.  I’m glad for that too.

Here is the crux of the issue.  Our bodies are the temple of God. They are to bring HIM glory.  Not a cheap thrill.

If a woman wants a man to take her seriously, maybe she should start with herself? Does she take herself seriously? Does she own and value the beauty she carries? Does she honor herself in a way that is not easy pickings?

Moms are we teaching this to our daughters?

Just because guys like to look, doesn’t mean they get a free peep show.

And what about the responsibility we have to our brothers of all ages?  Do women understand how  and why to honor them with what we wear?

It seems to me that while we are busy criticizing the men for being animals, we might want to see who is hanging the fresh meat in front of their faces…

Let’s help our daughters become more than bait.

 

Twists and Turns and the Peace of God

My brain got twisted around on Saturday.  So on Sunday, in worship, I just sat there. No singing. No standing even. Just sitting.

And as I felt the Spirit of God pulling on my heart I began to cry because I realized I wasn’t even sitting and looking for his presence. I was content to just sit in my pity party. But God.

I heard the faintest whisper, “Grab your Bible.”  I did and it fell open to Philippians. Oh great, I thought, the whatever is good, noble, blah, blah, blah passage. “Like I haven’t read that a hundred times,” I said aloud through my tears.  The whisper came, “Read it again.”

The whole passage is below. It is medicine for the weary soul. But let me just give you highlights of what I saw as I read  it “again.”

You whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm.   (He still loves me when I’m acting like a brat.)

Let your gentleness by evident to all. (Ouch, I have not been gentle at all.)

The Lord is near. (I know you are Jesus, help me re-focus)

And the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus. ( I have let down my guard so I have no peace.)

Put it in to practice. (Yes, I can try again. I must keep practicing.)

And the God of peace with be with you. (Thank you for never leaving me hopeless.)

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (I am still learning this. I got swept up in the drama.)

I have learned the secret… (Secret? What secret?)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Yes God. With you all things are possible. Forgive my unbelief.)

I am amply supplied. ( Why do I still question this?)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Your grace covers all my weakness. Thank for strengthening my spirit.)

Can I get a Wow and and Amen?

That play on the words  — the peace of God, and the God of peace — was like an IV drip for my spirit. The peace of God will guard me, because the God who is peace is with me. In His presence there is peace and it is the shield and medicine I need.

And everywhere, all the time, the Lord is insisting on P-R-O-C-E-S-S. I must learn to enjoy the journey with Him. There is a secret. I can learn it if I will practice it. There is a truth greater than my need. I can do everything in Him because through Him I am fully resourced.

How then shall I live? By the grace of Jesus in my spirit. Selah.

Oh Spirit of God, how excellent you are in all your ways. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles. 15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; 16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. 17 Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. 18 I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. 19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. 22 All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.[a]

Philippians 4, NIV

 

Summer Rain Refreshes More Than The Grass

I love summer. I love getting to work on projects and “hang out” with my kids. I love what seems like a radical schedule shift when school gets out. But now here we are in mid-July and I find this radical shift also has a challenge to it.

It surfaced when I said out loud to the Lord, “my cup is empty.”

Then I realized how little “alone” time I have. For you moms with children younger than mine, I can hear your resounding, “Amen!”

But here is my quick pearl for today. God is always seeking to refresh, water, replenish, renew us. It happened like this for me.

It began to rain really hard, big steady drops. And I heard the faintest whisper, “that would feel so nice.” Immediately, I began recounting all the practical reasons why I didn’t have time to mess with a rain date.

Ever so gently the Lord replayed the comment, “my cup is empty.”

I looked outside at the trees, flowers and grass. They never complained about a good soaking rain. Even nature knows the high cost of being parched and drained from the intense heat. And even nature readily receives the Lord’s refreshing rain.

So out I went. Standing on my deck in the pouring rain. Not hours. But minutes. Enough to get soaked. I cupped my hands and let the rain form little pools in my hands. I couldn’t help but laugh as I tilted my head back to let the raindrops kiss my face. I felt the Lord’s pleasure as I received His gift.

Then a quick warm shower and back to the summer frenzy.

Allow the Spirit of God to water you. And see how it revives your life.