The Roller Coaster of Love

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The last Mother’s day Paul and I were together. We spent in Bush Gardens in Williamsburg, VA.  Our family has always been Roller Coaster Junkies. We would

find the biggest and the best and ride them and sit in the front row.  We love the thrill of riding them.  There we many ups and downs and twists and turns. Not everything we experienced was something we expected.  That was all to real to me that day as I pushed my husband up and down the hills of the park that day.  He was in a wheel chair because the cancer had taken its toll on his body. He did not have the energy to walk in the park let alone ride the rides. It was a hard day yet we tried to make the best of what we had together. We created new memories together. My daughter and I rode the coaster together.  We did sit in the front row and we were thrilled and surprised. This was a keen example of why it is important to take the time to build a firm foundation of a relationship. God gives us examples of both the good and the bad in the Bible. With all the unexpected twists we face, it is vital to have something to guide us.

After close to thirty years of being married and dating Paul, we followed a bit more of the first example of finding a spouse. We could have taken a bit more time to get to know each other, before we got married. It has been a bit of an adjustment to being single again. My kids will tell you my husband and I began the social networking craze.  We just communicated through letters, phone calls and believe it or not cassette tapes.  You learn quite a bit about a person when they talk to you for an hour describing everything they are doing.  It does not mean that you learn everything. There is a great benefit to taking time to get to know the person you are in relationship with.  Most importantly it is who you choose and to make a wise choice.  I would not say I am an expert or I have the corner on the market. I do have a loving Savior to guide me and a few years of testimony.

I have encountered many people in either dating or courting. Some find theirs at work, at school, at church and some even venture to the online scene.  I do not wish to define the right way to pursue a companion. What I wish to do is just shed some light on what the examples God has given us.  The two I wish to look at are Jacob and Ruth.

One of God’s chosen people is our first example. His name was Jacob and his name means supplanter. With a name like that he was destine for greatness. I hope you are saying yeah, right, about that.  His name means someone who goes against authority or illegally seizes something. This is not what I would call a model citizen.  I think we can say from the start Jacob got off to a bad start. From the womb he was making his way into positions he felt were to be his. Throughout his life he would set his heart and mind to something. Then he went after what he felt was his to have. When he saw Rachel he set his heart to have her.   His story is one of setting a goal and then working toward that goal until he received what he desired.  When he saw Rachel for the first time he wanted to have her for his wife.  He first served her. When he had finished helping her, He broke the Jewish tradition of courtship.  He did not spend the time to get to know her as a friend, but choose to kiss her when he first met her.  Oh Jacob had his eyes on a prize.  Yet the prize he went after cost him a great price.  He first waited 7 years to marry her.  Then when he thought he got what he worked for. He was tricked.  He had to work another seven years to get what he wanted. Yet in doing that he was not following after God by taking a second wife. So this is the first example of seeking a relationship.  What Jacob ended up with was a big mess.  He had two wives and a bunch of handmaids, a barren wife, feuding sons and so much more. When we seek our way in relationships we get so much more than God intends for us. So you say what is a good example of relationship?

Ruth a foreigner and a gentile, an outsider not even qualified to even worship God in most circles. She lost the husband. Then she did some crazy stuff in the eyes of those who she knew.  After her husband dies, she decides to move with her mother-in-law also a widower, she chooses to follow after the God of Naomi’s people, and has no support system.  Yet the Lord blesses her for the statement of faith she has.  Naomi was insisting that Ruth would stay in her own country with her own people.  Yet she felt different and in Ruth 1 her words re-sound her faith.

Ruth 1:16-18

16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you  or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. 17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the  Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”  18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she [e]said no more to her.

You see Ruth was not concerned with finding a person to fill the hole in her heart left from the loss of her spouse.  No she was seeking a relationship with a loving God who can make all things new in her heart.  She allowed the Lord to become the source of her relationship and not the other person to be the fulfillment of her heart.  As a result of her devotion she was rewarded by the Lord first with provision and then through wise counsel, a husband and a redeemer.  She did not try and to make her way in the relationship. She sought wise counsel and walked according to God’s direction in her life. As she did God placed her in the bloodline of an eternal King “Jesus”.  What greater example could be followed? She is one of a few women mentioned in the family tree of Jesus.  She was a gentile.  That was unheard of but God made a way for her where there seemed to be no way.

Ok so I will get off my soapbox now.  You will usually find the person, when you are seeking the one who desires to have our hearts first.  It is best to allow the Lord to fulfill those places.  If we seek another person to fulfill what God is meant to fill, they will fall sadly short, they are not equipped to fulfill that place of our heart.

Matt 6: 33-34

33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 22:37

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the great and [o]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

So my advice to you is seek to be like Ruth seek first God, as you do the provision comes and the rest will care for itself. We need to follow her example and love God with all we have. As we do that he helps us to love ourselves and then to share that love with others.  What’s it going to hurt anyway.  The best thing that could happen is you get an awesome relationship with the God of the universe.  I don’t know how that rates with you. In my book it rates big!

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If You Build It They Will Come…

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You open the mailbox and look inside. Another bill is waiting to welcome you and your wallet has nothing but dust in it.  Many are faced with the challenge of how to make ends meet in a tough economy. I too have been challenged in this way.  When your money runs out and there are no new prospects in sight then you ask what do i do now??  I found myself challenged in this way this last month.  I have had many people tell me stories of how they were challenged to walk a road of faith and choose to trust that the Lord was truly their provider.  This has been the path I have been walking for the last month.

In the month of September, I knew my funds were low and soon I would be out of money completely. Yet i sat in a leadership meeting with my Pastor challenging us to ask God to prove himself in a place in our lives.  I did not need long to come up with what I needed God to show me.  I needed provision.  So I request that the Lord would please do something in my situation by September 30th or I would need to start seeking employment.  I felt I could not ignore my situation but yet, God knew my heart was to take God at His word.  Even if I was afraid, I would take steps forward believing Him for breakthrough. Waiting is a hard place some days it is easy and other’s it is hard. I was down to the wire. It was September 29th and I had one day to my deadline. I decided to go to a healing conference that was held locally and was free.  As I sat and listen to this woman from El Salvador I was very stirred up.  I had been studying a scripture about Hezekiah that morning. When this lady made reference to that scripture and then began to speak that there was someone out there who had asked God to do something in a certain time frame and that God was asking them for seven more days.  It was like it was just God, her and I in the room.  God had my attention and I agreed to seven more days.

I had a choice now dare to believe God or give into my fears.  It was time for stepping out of the boat faith.  Did I dare to be like Peter and take a chance that this was truly the Lord nudging me and be willing to let the waves start crashing around me as I walked on water.  I too like Peter found out this is not a journey for the light hearted.  So I stepped out and chose to walk by faith not by sight.  I could not see how I was going to get provision but God repeatedly spoke to me that He was going to put me in a broad place, He was going to deliver me, He was going to send me people and resources for what I needed.  He was now challenging me to believe that.  He had spent the last several months telling me that it was vital, that His people would take Him at his word.  He gave me examples of Zachariah, Mary and Peter. Where each of these people were given a direct word from God that challenged them to believe Him for something bigger than they were.  The challenge also came with promise.  Each person reacted first in fear. We all have to fight fear.  Even the best people in the bible had issues with fear.  It is going to happen. Fears main purpose is to stop us from moving forward in faith with what God is calling us to do.  I have to say that even after this last season the Lord showed me that even though Zachariah gave into his fear and doubt God’s word still did what it said it was going to do.  God shut Zachariah’s mouth to stop him from speaking that fear and doubt.   So I made the decision to dare to believe Him.

The first few days not much happened.  I spent some time just being faithful in the things the Lord had given me to do each day. It did not seem that there was a way for money to come in.  it seemed it was business as usual.  On Wednesday that week a couple from my church walked by my house in the morning.  they lived in my neighborhood and we had all agreed that we needed to connect.  When I saw them go by I was still in my PJ’s and on the phone with a friend so I was not going to run out and chat. I thought I would just catch them another time.  I finished up my phone call and then changed my clothes. To my surprise I saw them walk past again. So this time I went out to greet them.  I brought them in to see my house. I wanted to show them the handy work that God had done. I call the house the Nehemiah House because the Lord used the book of Nehemiah to tell me to rebuild the walls of this house and His people.  In less than a year we have been able to almost completely flip this house. So I was sharing the vision with them.  They became very excited and shared they like the concept.  Steve told me that he was a graphic artist. So I asked him if he minded sharing his knowledge on a concept I had for a logo for what I was now calling the Nehemiah House Project.  The explanation of that is on another Blog called “House Lift” rubble2restore.  Steve asked if I minded that he take a try at the design.  So I agreed.  With in two days He had come up with what is now the logo for this ministry.  God began to move in the 7 days he had asked for.  They were the first of four different people that told me I should build and art studio in my house.

On Thursday that week I went to an art class I had been invited to. I started going because I i needed to do something that would give care to my soul.  I had always loved drawing and i had not done much painting other than some mural’s  and signs I had worked on in the past.  I had been invited to visit the class a few weeks earlier and was asked to come back.  It was in this class that I have met some awesome artists and God loving people. Who are passionate about their art and the Lord.  It was this day that I met Brenda.  Her and I just met that day but there were three of us who wanted to help the art teacher get the studio ready for his next big project so we all agreed to meet that next monday. My seven days was over on Sunday. That night one of the older ladies in the class Patty encourage me in my art and faith.  She was the second person to tell me I needed to start and art studio.

On Friday I got a call from my friend Jill in California.  I shared with her some of the scriptures that the Lord had been sharing with me that day.  While reading a scripture about giving and being cheerful about your giving.  She told me she had a random picture in her head and she was not sure it was God but that she thought I should start an art studio in my house.  I am now sensing a theme here. She was the third person to say this.

On Saturday I had to take my son to the airport early in the morning for a trip he was taking. When I returned home I sat down for my journaling time.  I had been reading in several books that fasting was good for breakthroughs.  I had had it on my heart that I might want to do a three day fast but it was a water only fast and that is the kind of fast i don’t take lightly. So I wanted to know the Lord was in it.  That morning the Lord took me to 2 Chronicles 20.  It was about Jehoshaphat and his army going up against many armies of enemies.  They were out numbered and weren’t sure what to do.  So Jehoshaphat prayed and fasted.  The Lord told him to stand and watch the Lord deliver him from their enemies.  He was given instructions to just stand and worship God. As they did the enemies became confused and killed each other. Then Jehoshaphat and his army just walk onto the battlefield and it took them three days to collect the blessings from the battle.  I don’t know about you but three days for an army to pick up blessings had my attention and it all came through prayer, fasting and taking God at His word.  He had my attention now.  especially because this was not my first time visiting this scripture.  The first time was over 17 years ago.

So I chose to fast. I would start today and fast until Tuesday morning. At this point I had a work day schedule to work on my house with some help but I was moving forward.  I chose to start putting feet to my faith after being confirmed through three people I started to work on the garage to transform it into an art studio.

On monday I had some errands to run before the cleaning of art studio. I also took some time to seek the Lord that morning.  I asked him to please give me the plans He had for the ministry, like he had given Moses for the tabernacle. I knew he had done it for Moses and God was no respecter of persons. So what He has done for one of us, He can do for all of us. This is the day I really got to know Brenda.  As we were working together cleaning and we found we worked well together.  We enjoyed sharing about what God was doing in our lives.  We were blown away by how our heart’s for ministry had a similar heartbeat.  Then while sorting through some books she start just randomly started praying everything I had wrote in my journal that morning. She then proceed to tell me I needed to start an art studio in my house.  It is almost funny because I had been watching a show on TV that week and some one on the show made a reference to the movie “Field of Dreams”  where the quote “if you build it they will come.” I am not building a ball field but I am building a studio.  Brenda and I then decided to become good friends and partners in what God is doing in our lives.

Needless to say, the Lord now had my attention. I had come to the understanding that if God had done that much in seven days, I could take a step further and chose to trust Him standing and watching Him bring forth my deliverance and provision.  I waited an additional month beyond my deadline. It did not come without my flesh squirming and fear and doubt working me over.  One month to the day past my deadline I was having a meltdown on my way to church.  My spirit was willing but at this point my flesh was weak.  He had done things like give me a hundred dollars here, some chairs there, a head of lettuce and a pair of sneakers.  These things were all helpful yet they were not going to pay my bills. I cried all the way to church. There were many events that contributed to my stat of mind that day. I was feeling in my emotions that I would be better off to stay at home yet in my heart I knew the best place for me was to go to church. the sermon that day was what i needed to hear about fear and doubt. I chose to go up and have prayer.  While at church I had some one give me an envelope.  Later when I checked it had fifty dollars in it.  I was very grateful for God’s continued provision.  I did not see at the time a big miracle but I was at peace again. Just before going to be I decide to check my bank account.  When your funds are low it is best to check it from time to time. Well when I looked at the balance I just began to cry.  Someone had deposited $1500.00 in my account.  I now had enough money to pay my bills.  I was grateful and humbled. God had kept his word.  He had delivered me the people and resources He had promised. He is continuing to connect me with the people and resources I need.  He is my salvation and my strong tower.  I am walking in faith and standing and watching His delivering power over my life.  I have built it and they are beginning to come. My first class is schedule on Nov 10th.  

Keeping Me Guessing!

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I am inspired by a song, which seems to be the norm for me. It is called “Keeping me Guessing” by Francesca Battistelli. The song talks about that we don’t know the route that we are traveling on and that the Lord keeps us guessing.  I have found that trust is not something that comes naturally it takes a choice a conscious one.  We must choose to continue to take steps forward even when we cannot see the end result.

Prov 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge Him in ALL your ways and He will LEAD your path straight.

Trust is not something that comes naturally for me.  I don’t think it comes naturally for any of us.  If it came naturally then why would God give us a verse like this. How about others scriptures like Ps 18:1-2?  God wants for us to place our trust in Him.  Why is that so hard for us?  I know I struggle with it myself.  Especially in the current season I am in right now.

I get the picture in my head right now of our children when they are young they will often get attached to something that they like to bring them comfort.  It might be a pacifier, teddy bear or even a blanket.  There comes a time in that child’s life where they grow to a point that using that item in their life is no longer practical.  I spoke at a workshop recently about what we use in our life to be our anchor? What is the foundation that holds us firm??  Are we holding to the Anchor that takes us behind the veil of His Presence that is spoken of in:

Heb 6:19-20

19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus is the anchor that holds us firm.  It is through our holding onto him and getting into the secret place that literally scares the “Hell” out of us…You see for us to truly trust with ALL our hearts, then we have to face those scary corners of our hearts that make us want to find that thing that brings us comfort; instead of running into the arms of a loving savoir whose perfect love is promised to us to cast out our fears.  The other parts of Heb 6 talk of how God swear by himself… why?? You say.  As it says later on in that same chapter He is not a man that He should lie.  Paul uses the word infallible – a big word “for us common folk” is a phrase I would hear from those I know from different walks of life.  That word mean’s that it is something that is incapable from making a mistake.   I am sitting here listening to songs right now; it is one of those days that the Lord is sending me lots of songs that speak loudspeakers into my situation right now.  His love is here to stay.  It seems every time I teach something there is always a lesson for the teacher in what is taught.  I think that is a good place to be.  Because, then I am never at the place where I think i have it all figured out. NO! I am far from it. Sometimes I think I am acting like that little child having her blanket or favorite bear taken away.  Do you still have your old blanket or stuffed animal??  What is it in your life that the Lord is asking you to surrender??  What is the thing you are holding to In the storms you face?? What do you look like when it is taken away??

For me I am challenged to get into the arms of my father and choose to trust that HE knows where He is taking me even when I cannot see it.  I am also challenged to not throw a fit because, I can’t have that thing I want for my security.  The thing I held to for so long was my husband.  In a little over a week it will be one year ago that I lost him to cancer. God has done an amazing job of providing for me. Over the last year my security has been the money I have had to live on.  That is almost gone and yet God is challenging me to believe HE will provide for me when I cannot see how that provision is going to come.  This is a scary place to be.  I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling.  I am that scared child standing there with nothing left to cling to other than my loving father.  I choose to cling to HIM in this place. To place my trust in HIM no matter how scary it seems.  I go to the picture of Indiana Jones standing on the cliff and having to take a step of faith into the unknown. Only to find out the path was in front of him, he just could not see it. Be a true adventurer dare to believe GOD CAN and WILL DO what HE SAYS!

Dare to take him at his word and see what blessings he will bring into your path!  

The Adventure Begins!

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Life is an adventure. I don’t think that all of us see it as that. I do! How that adventure happens depends on your outlook as to how you live it out. God has been challenging me to begin dreaming and adventuring with him again. This blog is a part of that adventure. I have written a book that tells the story of the challenges in my life that caused me to stop dreaming. Also how God gave me the strength to face them. The Lord also gave me hope beyond those places. God has over the last year rebirthed my ability to dream again. Because of my renewed vision I have begun to start sharing those dreams with those around me. After sharing with someone I met recently he called me a firecracker! I guess he was referring to the fact that I get excited and passionate about the things of God! I have always had the heart of an adventurer. I have pictures of myself on a zip line at 5 years old in a dress.  This is true about me especially when the Lord is birthing a dream in my heart.  There is a scripture in Proverbs that says:

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

I don’t know about you, but for me there were many times in my life where I experienced the delay of a dream or something hoped for that never came.  If that happens enough we begin to give up on the possibilities of ever dreaming again. I have faced my share of disappointments so I had times in my life where I had given up dreaming. I faced some great challenges, which are part of what this blog is about. It is about life and the challenges we face.  It is about disappointments but it is also about the adventure of rediscovering, what this scripture says is true.  The second part of the scripture tells us “when the desire comes, it is a tree of life!”  That is something to hold on to.

Even though life has its challenges we have something good to look forward to! I am learning more each day about living the way God made me to be and to not be ashamed of the fact that God did make me a firecracker! I do get excited and passionate about God, life, and touching the lives of those around me.  I invite you to join me on a journey on an adventure to realize the dreams that the Lord has been reviving in my heart.  I have dreams now of writing books, rebuilding the walls of both houses and lives, and seeing as much of the world, as I can in the process. I started traveling at six weeks old and before I was two I had traveled from the west coast to the east coast and back again with a short stay in Texas.  By the time I was six I was living in Germany for the first time. So the way I see it travel is a part of my DNA.  I really am happiest when I can be on some trip somewhere experiencing the wonders of the Lord’s creation.

God has so much He wants to birth in our hearts. The one thing that keeps us from that is our schedules that keep us so busy.  We barely have the time to hear Him, let alone for us to have the time to do what he is asking us to do.  I have found the value of praying, listening and obeying.  It took losing my best friend to learn this.  My husband went home to be with the Lord last September. It has been almost a year now. I had many thoughts of what life would look like after Paul departed.  None of the ideas I had, in my head looked a bit like where I am today.  We think that we have life figured out.  We spend countless hours of our life fretting about what life will look like and planning our five-year plan.  Only to find out that something has happened that caused a disruption to our plans.  We then spend our time trying to sort out why our plans did not workout as we had hoped.

I say we should start at the source and dare to believe that God has good plans for us. Dare to seek FIRST His kingdom and all things shall be added unto us.  Dare to seek Him for His plans and give up our ideas of what life would look like. Dare to venture into the unknown and seek His plan and Dare to live it!

That is what this Blog is about the “Strength From Within” which is the title to my first book.  it is about the journey over several  years of my life. It tells the story of how I learned to pray, listen and obey. Doing that has not always come easy.  There have been times I have been so scared I was not sure what to do next, but as psalm 18 says:

Psalm 18-1-6

I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

The pangs of death surrounded me,
And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.
The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me;
The snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

The Lord has given this scripture to me more than once. When I heard my husband’s cancer had returned after the stem cell transplant. These are the word the Lord spoke over me.  He would be my strength, my fortress, my deliverer, my shield, my salvation and my stronghold.  I don’t have a castle to defend for myself because, He is my defender.  He has heard me in my distress and He has brought me out of the trouble I have had to face. Even though death and trials surrounded me I am now in a safe place with Him. He is setting my feet in a broad place.  I am only along for the ride. So I invite you to go on “The Great Adventure” with me. Follow this blog and dare to see where He takes me.