Friday, September 30, 2011

Are You Downy Fresh?

My friend and I have taken up bike riding as a form of exercise accountability.  We have enjoyed some wonderful talks and times of getting to know each other over the course of the summer.  There were days when we would barely make it down our road and back. Now there are times when we log 15 miles on one ride.  Over the months we have logged over 300 miles on our bikes and dread the days when we must move inside due to cold weather.

On several of our rides I noticed that when cars passed or the trail would narrow my friend would always move in behind me.  Many times she would stay there long after the car had passed or the passage widened.  Finally one day she laughed and said “I love to follow you.  You always smell so downy fresh.”  Although I felt smelly due to sweat, we had a good giggled over her comment.

As I thought more about her comment I began to think about our walks as Christians.  Are those following behind us taking in our freshness?  Are we taking in the newness of God’s Word and letting it diffuse out through our lives on to others?

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”

Are those following you enjoying your fragrance?  When the stuff of this world takes place it is so easy to forget to bath in the “laundry detergent” of the Word of God. 

I want to encourage you to dig into God’s Word so that as others follow you they will notice that you always smell fresh.  Fresh from the Word of God that is…and the other doesn’t hurt either!  LOL

Stepping out of the shadows,


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm Still Standing

If you are a guest from Common Graces WELCOME!  I am so glad you popped over and want to greet you with a cyber big smile and hug!   

There was a song that Elton John sang while I was in my teens.
The chorus popped into my thoughts this morning and won’t go away.  
 Do you remember this?

Don't you know I'm still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid
I'm still standing after all this time
Picking up the pieces of my life…

I am neither a cancer survivor nor a survivor of domestic violence so why is this song ringing so loud today?  I think because I am simply trying to survive myself.

One of my worst critics is myself. So many times I am the one that holds myself back from true victory.

I am currently reading “A Confident Heart; How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God’s Promises.” By Renee Swope.  I agree with Renee as she writes that many women don’t ever feel like they are good enough, smart enough or valuable enough. 

In this book so many chapter titles resonate with me.
Take a look…
When Doubt Whispers “I’m Not Good Enough”
When Doubt Whispers “I’m Such a Failure”
When Doubt Whispers “I Don’t Have Anything Special to Offer”

Do you struggle with doubt?  I do!
So much so that I have lived in the shadows of insecurities so long that I have limit myself.  Afraid to do what God calls me to do because of the doubts placed in my thoughts.

So how do we overcome this doubt and become survivors?

I think, just like Renee, it comes from living in the promises of God.  God’s Word is filled with amazing promises.

Promises like:
I will never leave you nor forsake you.  (Deut. 31:6)
If God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
What is impossible with man is possible with God. (Luke 18:27)
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (Ps. 91:15)

This doesn’t even touch the tip of the iceberg.  I encourage you to search for more in God’s Word.

So I guess I now understand why that chorus from the teen years of my life is playing through my thoughts.
As I stand on God’s promises instead of my own strength…I am still standing…looking like a true survivor…feeling like a little kid.

As I was finishing this up I read a line from Warren Weirsbe’s commentary.

“God’s promises are prods not pillows.”

To be a true survivor we cannot pull all these promises around us like a warm blanket on a chilly morning and get all comfy cozy but rather we are to let them prod us to service for God.  To step out of the shadows and walk in the promises He gives us.

What are some promises you are standing on and stepping out in?

Stepping Out of the Shadows.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Down Memory Lane

My car was near the end of the procession.  Winding through the streets of unfamiliar parts of a town that I seldom traveled we came upon an intersection in which I was very familiar.  As the line of cars traveled to the right my heart tugged to the left.  Memories of my life freshened in my thoughts as I recalled where that road led.

After the cemetery service was over, I was driving back towards that intersection beginning a debate with myself should I travel that road or go back the way I came.  The way I came would get me home much earlier which was a 3-hour drive.  The other way would take much longer and require a map to go through areas I had never traveled before.

The sun was much stronger than I had expected that day so I pulled into the service station to get a cool bottle of water to quench my thirst.  As that crisp cool water hit my throat it did not quench my longing for turning left to journey down that road.  So I turned left and took the longer road home…down memory lane.

The road was much better now than when I was a child but the homes and communities that dotted my memory still stood.  The communities like Hollywood that you would miss if you blinked your eyes brought smiles.  Passing roads that I knew would take you the back way to my Grandparents home but I didn’t trust memory to take me that way so I continued on the sure path.  As I entered into the small town of Delight I was flooded with familiarity.  There stood the old house where a Great Aunt and Uncle once lived, the bank where my father’s cousin still works and the gas station where we would get sodas and candy.  The little white houses that seemed to have been there since my birth still lined the road and further down the road I see my uncle’s house but no cars were in the drive so there was no need to stop then I rounded the curve. 

Around this curve sitting on the left in the community of Pisgah (pronounced Pis-ghee) was a little church and cemetery.  The grounds where many meals were shared on the tiered levels of concrete tables for homecoming.  The grounds marked by tombstones where the earthly bodies of relatives lay resting until the return of Christ.  Memories…

Just past the church down a gravel road I wound around to the drive of where once my Grandparents lived.  As I pulled in, I was met by a large gate with a “No Trespassing” sign but they were not big enough for my memories to cross over.  Although I stayed in my car and the land was overgrown so that I could barely make out the remains of the house where I once played, my memory walked down that drive.
I walked to the orchard where we would gather walnuts…to the front porch across the lane to my great-grandmother’s to take the metal dipper out of the bucket for best tasting water to drink…to the kitchen where my grandmother made homemade candies…Memories…

Finally I turned my car towards where I now call home.  As I plotted my route over unsure roads, I started thinking of why, why did I travel this road?  I think it was to recall. To recall from where I once came and reflect on the things of the past so that I would remember and lean upon them when I travel the unsure roads. 

Jeremiah 6:16 tells us to “Stop at the crossroads and look around.  Ask for the old, godly way and walk in it.  Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls.”

The path I traveled brought many memories and made my heart smile but the path that God encourages us to take not only brings memories or heart smiles but it brings rest.  It is a path that is really not new but one that was established long ago. 

Are you at a crossroad?  Looking for the map to route the way?
Ask for the old, godly way…feel the tugging at your heart and walk it.

I don’t regret taking the extra time to travel that path down memory lane.
More than that I will never regret traveling down God’s path.
It truly is the best path and does bring rest for the soul.

Stepping from the Shadows.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Longing for More

One of my favorite praise song comes right out of Scripture.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my souls pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1-2 NIV

One thing I love about my house is that many times throughout the day I can simply look out the windows and see deer in the yard.  It is quiet a comical sight when my hubby places feed out for them.  As you can see in the pictures above they are not afraid to get close enough to be the first at the dinner table.  We also get a kick out of them when they notice hubby outside they will ease in and look to see if he left them something.  Sometimes you will hear them "talking" to him and at times I giggle when I hear him talking to them.  We've even noticed that they pick out the best tasting stuff first then finish up the rest.  Just like my boys used to do at dinner.

Although it is not water they are panting for here they are longing for something and they are quick to come to the table.

Oh that I am that way.  How I desire to have my soul long after Him.  Thirsting for the Word of God...watching for Him each day and quick to come to the table. 

Have you ever counted the minutes until you could be in His presence again?  It is my desire, my prayer that I will have an eagerness to ask, "When can I go and meet with God?"  To come to Him thristy, to be filled with Him and be satisfied.  The greatest part is that I can be in God's presence at anytime and anywhere.  I can stand under His waterfall of truth and grace and be filled to overflowing.  The only thing holding me back is myself for He is always available.

Do you thrist for Him?

Stepping from the Shadows,


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

These Boots Were Made For Walking

Recently I attended a conference where I was excited to hear from all the speakers on the platform.
When we arrived at the venue I quickly realized I was not the only one anxious to listen to these people of leadership.  After parking in what seemed to be the “back 40” (that is country talk referring to the 40 acres of land that is the farthest from the house) we set out to walk.  The shoes I had chosen to wear were not new shoes but it was nearing the end of summer and my footwear of choice was more in the sandal category.  Needless to say the heels of my feet had been free from friction for months and blisters soon rose.  It was obvious that I was not accustomed to wearing these shoes for walking great distances.  As I focused on my feet I took my eyes off my destination and that made the walk seem even longer.

That can be much like our walk with God.  When we don’t walk great distances in our spiritual shoes we tend to focus on the difficulties around us instead of what is right…the destination of our pilgrimage to God.  Ouch! I think I just stepped on my own toes.

Let’s look at the final portion of Psalm 84 verses 9-12

O God, look with favor upon the king, our shield,
Show favor to the one you have anointed.
A single day in your courts
Is better than a thousand anywhere else!
I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God
Than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
For the LORD God is our sun and our shield.
He gives us grace and glory.
The LORD will withhold no good thing
From those who do what is right.
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies,
What joy for those who trust in you.

At the beginning of this psalm in small print there is an inscription stating that this was by the Sons of Korah.  These were Levites that had the sole duty of guarding the entry of the sanctuary.  I love that the psalmist states that a single day in God’s courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  He knew of the honor of the office he held and it was so much better than anything else and was willing to sit by the door just to be close to God.

God is our sun and our shield.  He does not give us everything that we think is good BUT He doesn’t withhold anything that is permanently good.  He gives us grace for the journey He has set before us.  What begins with GRACE ends with GLORY for those who do what is right. 

“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk for I give myself to you.”
Psalm 143:8

God will give us the means to walk along His paths, but we must do the walking.
Got the right shoes on?

Stepping from the Shadows!


Monday, September 19, 2011

From Strength to Strength

One of my favorite childhood journeys was when my family hopped into the station wagon and headed to California.  Remember I told you of the side trips we have taken on our many journeys…well this one did not disappoint.  Our route from Arkansas to California was via Seattle Washington.  Yeah we were all about how the crow flies…NOT!  In Washington we met up with my Uncle and his family to caravan in his Winnebago and our car down the coastline to our destination. 

Picture if you will 9 people eating, sleeping and doing life as we swayed in a top heavy motorized room down the mountains stopping only to pick up supplies, seeing sights and pull into RV parks for the night.  Have you traveled in an RV?  With 9 people (2 grown men, 2 women, 2 TEENAGE boys, and 3 girls?) Let’s just say we entered into a “Valley of Weeping”.  In other words it got a little rank in there.

As we followed the twist and turns that where highlighted on the map, we came to a river where my Uncle immediately pulled that rolling hotel room to the side of the road.  It was announced that EVERYONE was to get on a swimsuit, grab a bar of soap and bottle of shampoo and bathe in the river. 
The declaration ended with “NO EXCEPTIONS and you are not getting back in until you do.” That water was ice cold but to be clean again was so refreshing.

I am not trying to make light of anyone’s “valley of weeping” please don’t read that in to this.
It is just our valleys can at times get “rank” but the psalmist knew that when we go through this valley we will not stay there.  Look at the verses again.

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
It will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
And each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Oh LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob.
Psalm 84:5-8

What did he mean, “It will become a place of refreshing springs?”

Those who’s heart walks with God for very long know that these valley’s will come and although they don’t know the length of the valley they do know that they will not stay in this place forever.  As we travel God sends His blessings if we do not lose heart.  When you come out of the valley, if you take time to look back over the time there and you will be able see the refreshment God sent to get you through.

Some versions Psalm 84:7 reads, ”They travel from strength to strength.”
My thoughts go to one that is in physical therapy.  With each step they get stronger and stronger.  I see this as the same with the one on pilgrimage to God.  As we walk through the valley of weeping the refreshing springs give us the stamina to step towards God.  We travel from one refreshing pool to the next and as we do we gain strength with each placement of the foot.

Are you taking steps (even if it is small steps) each day toward God and out of the valley?

Have you emerged from the valley and can now look back and see the refreshing springs that you traveled through?

Keep pressing on until it becomes a place of strength!

Stepping out of the shadows,


Friday, September 16, 2011

Those Moments

With all the joys of traveling there are “those” moments.
You know…
                     When the tire finds the only nail lying on the road.
                     When the fuel pump decides it is taking a vacation too.
                     When the reservations get all mixed up.
                     When the kids don’t want their sibling touching them.
                     When someone gets sick or hurt during the time memories are suppose to be being made.

Those moments…the times when the joy of the journey has taken flight and all but disappeared.

Continuing on in Psalm 84 we find that the Psalmist knows about those moments as well:
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
Psalm 84:6a

Notice he didn’t say IF…he said WHEN.  When they walk through the Valley of Weeping.  Many versions use the word Bacca, which meanings weeping or tears.  Bacca trees dotted the landscape and these trees have sap that oozes out like tears thus giving the name. This exact location of the area is not given specifically but the writer knows the road map to Jerusalem well enough to know it is there.  He also knows that on any journey The Valley of Weeping is associated with any difficult or painful situation in life. 

How many times do we get caught off guard because we enter into the “Valley of Weeping”?  I know I do!

Things were going so well…but then WHAM! We get blindsided. 

The moments when life gets interrupted…
                        When you receive bad news from the doctor.
                        When an attorney shows up at your door.
                        When a loved one falls ill.
                        When your spouse says we’re moving.
                        When the paycheck didn’t make it through the month.
The Valley of Weeping…those times when all seems hopeless and you feel helpless. 
When you want to cry out, “ this is not what I bargained for!  I thought the journey to God’s hope and promises was not suppose to go across these of pathways.  What did I do to end up here?”

Although my valley may look different from yours, I have cried out loudly these exact words to God.  I have traveled these valleys and felt the heat scorching my back.  I have searched for the relief only to find none for the moment.

Why?  Why would God call us on pilgrimage to Him and then allow us to go through the Valley of Weeping?  The clue is in the next few verses of Psalm 84.

It will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
And each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.
Oh LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, hear my prayer.
Listen, O God of Jacob.

How could it be that the Valley of Weeping can become a place of refreshing springs?

From a dry and thirsty land to a spring that is refreshing, now that just might just make the journey not so bad. That is exactly what we will dig into with the next post. 

Stepping out of the shadows!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My mind set on the Pilgrimage

As a child I remember the excitement of packing to travel.  If we were driving to our destination my siblings and I would often “camp out” in the back of the station wagon anticipating the trip we would venture on the next day.  Well sometimes it was to not be awaken in the middle of the night when my dad would wake up and decide it was time to go.  Either way it was filled with the excitement of where that car would take us.

My dad was and is the king of scenic trips!  He would not just travel the interstate rather he would venture off into the outer areas and give us more of what it was like in the areas we were traveling through.  Some were exciting and others caused hair to stand up on your neck as we maneuvered tight turns.  Every single exploration instilled a deeper love to experience new places.

Simply put…I love to travel now!  To pack my bags and go to places I have never walked before!  To witness God’s creation in a way my eyes have never held! 

Oh how my heart longs to walk the streets of the city of Jerusalem.  To walk on the part of earth where my Savior’s feet once strolled.  To experience the culture within which The Word’s of our LORD were written upon scrolls.

That opportunity has not been given to date.  I pray that one day I will board a plane with uncontainable excitement and journey to that land.  But not yet…

At this time God has my mind set on a different journey.  A journey to Him where my joy comes from His strength not my own.

What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD,
Who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Psalm 84:5

I may not be on a pilgrimage to the actual city of Jerusalem but could it be that my pilgrimage is to set my mind on the hope of the Lord?  Am I to stop at the crossroads and look around?  Ask for the old, godly way and walk in it.  Travel its path to find rest for my soul? (Jeremiah 6:16)

If that is the place where my heart is set to journey, am I ready for what the next verses in this Psalm talks about?  Am I ready to fully embrace this pilgrimage to find joy and strength that comes only from Him?

You bet I am!!!  I said it before, I love to travel and what better place to go then on a journey with Jehovah Nissi (The Lord is my banner) as my guide.

Stepping from the shadows!

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Invitation

                                 Cooking…homework…rushing to events.

Have you ever longed to get away?
To leave the rush of the world behind and meet God?

Have you ever had that prompting in your heart to go to the quiet place of a church and just spend time with El Shaddai?

Maybe while visiting at a hospital you walk by the Chapel and can almost feel a physical pull inviting you in to spend time with Jehovah Rapha.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing
To enter the courts of the LORD.
With my whole being, body and soul,
I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
And the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
At a place near your altar.
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and God!
What joy for those who can live in your house,
Always singing your praises.
Psalm 84:1-4

This is the scripture that has been inviting me into His Presence.  Oh how I long to enter the courts of the LORD with my whole being, body and soul.  Although we don’t have to go to a dwelling place since He lives within the hearts of His children, that invitation is always calling out to us.  Beckoning us to come into His house, worship with other believers, encourage one another to sing of His praises and to dig into His love letter.

Psalm 84 is inviting me to dig deeper into His promises and shout joyfully with other Christ followers.  Over the next few post we will dig into the rich soil of this passage feeling the textures of hope with our fingers and our heart. 

Are you hearing His invitation? 
Will you join me?

Stepping from the shadows!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Monday Monday

Time to get this party started and Monday is the day!

God has had me in His Word leading me on a journey that I am so excited to walk with you on.

Beginning next week new post will be added every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I hope you join me Monday Sept. 12 when the veil is lifted and we step out of the shadows of life and into His Word!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Beginning

I find myself sitting here looking at the screen asking "Where do I begin?"

My template is ready, has been for weeks, but why haven't I submitted my first post.

Could it be that the same insecurities that have had such a grip on me and pulled me deep into the shadows of life are trying their best to entangle me again?  Hearing those silent whispers of "Why do you think you should do this?" "Who's gonna read this?" "What do you have to share really?", I have become frozen.  Have I really done what the blog title states?  Have I stepped out of the shadows and into the WORD?

So I sat here...hiding.  Not wanting to place those first words on the screen.  But God showed me it was
He who led me out of the shadows (OK maybe really more like gave me a swift kick out of the shadows, I can be a little stubborn sometimes).  Why do I need to hide when He is The Light of the World and is shining His light for me?

One of my favorite passages is when Jesus proclaims He is the Light of the World.  It was at the end of the Festival of the Booths and all the people around Jerusalem were packing their belongings to return home.  Tents that dotted the hillside for the entire festival were now folded and the lanterns were being extinguished and just like when a party is over these days, the people had a sense of sadness about them.  But Jesus steps forward and proclaims that He is the Light of the World. 

So many times we rely on false lights to push the shadows away but once we meet The True Light not only are the shadows pushed away they stay away as we fix our gaze on Him!

Will you join me as we fix our gaze on Him and step out of the shadows and into His WORD?

His girl,