Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lessons from Nicaragua

With the aid of an interpreter, her face showed harsh concentration as she told her story.
It was like she was digging deep into her memory pulling out the words that would share parts of her life.






These words and more seemed to echo in the space surrounding me as she spoke.
Then like a flick of a light switch her countenance changed.

She told of how she now forgave those that turned their backs on her, those that placed her in harm’s way and those that hurt her.
She said with a smile of confidence, “I have learned that God has forgiven me so how I can I not forgive those that hurt me?”

Oh the lessons I learned while in Nicaragua.  Although I had been through times in my life where the hurt was so deep, I was called to forgive and did, there are still times when there is hurt and I am slow to forgive. 
May I learn that all levels of hurt deserve forgiveness not just the deepest ones. May others see a confident smile that comes along with forgiving like I saw in a hot sticky village in Nicaragua.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Was it Really Plan A?

As they stood at the front of the church you could tell without them saying a word that they were nervous.  Really why would you think that two teenagers about to give a presentation wouldn't be? 

With several minutes before the service was to begin, the two walked over my way.
The young man shared with nervousness that their video would not work.  He felt that it was so important to their talk but then offered with resolve all he could think to say.  "Well I guess we go to plan B."  I gently smiled back and told him, "Maybe your plan B was God's plan A in the first place."
With that a smile graced his face and took his place to proclaim what God had given him to share.

Isn't that how we are so many times in our personal lives?  We start making plans, start coming up with how things are going to happen on our calendars or even in our everyday or long term lives.  We stand there excited, proud and even safely dependant on our plans.  Oh yes they might seem they are right on track but then things don't work, stuff falls through the cracks or they just plain 'ole fall apart.  We quickly assume we have to resort to plan B.

But what if our plan B was God's plan A in the first place?  What if God allowed all the stuff to fall apart or shift in another direct so that we will join Him in His BEST plan?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "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."

Sounds like long before we made those plans, long before we dreamed that dream, long before we started down this current path, God knew His best for us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."

God's plan A is not just over your eternal life is is also over your everyday lives. Are you relying on a plan B or are you trusting in His plan A?

Don't get frustrated when your plan B seems the only option, it just might have been Plan A along!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Time for Pondering

Have you ever had those times where you've had something to share but you just didn't know how?

You hear God's voice softly speaking to your soul but to type it out the words, well they just wouldn't flow?

That's how I have been lately.  Listening to God, overflowing with His richness but just not knowing how to put it in words.  Every time I would begin to sit down to share, the words just wouldn't flow from my brain to my fingertips.  I think God wanted the words He was giving me to settle deep in my heart, His words to become my heart beat.  Although we are to share what God has and is doing in and through us I think there are times He says ponder this a while.

These times of pondering have be wonderful for my soul.  Refreshing times have been enjoyed as I let His word replenish in my time of quiet reflecting.  But now...

Now I think it is time for the quiet to be over.  Now is the time to allow the words to flow again from my fingertips to page.  Now is the time to let go and let God have free reign over my writing and ministry. 

I can't wait to see what He has in store from this time of reflecting!



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Let Go and Let God

Standing there on the wooden platform high above the ground all harnessed up with nylon straps really had me thinking about the word trust.

In one hand was a metal contraption and the other hand was free so that I could reach high to grab hold of the wire cable then bringing the two together clamp myself to it.  Adrenaline rushing through my body as my turn came.  I was told to sit back into the harness, pick up my feet and glide through the tree tops of rain forest to the next wooden platform.  Imagine if you will looking up and seeing a cable that was not much thicker than a nickel was round and you are told to clamp onto it.  That moment when you pick up your feet, you are experiencing Trust with a capital T.

All kinds of things could cause you to fret over your situation.  Who made that cable?  Who sewed this harness?  Did the one that hung the cables get them good and secure to the trees? What if? What if? What if?

Many times when facing tough or scary situations in our lives we start to worry, asking all kinds of questions instead of trusting. What if…? What if…? What if…? Well at least that has been my default. But God has a different plan for us at those times.

Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; [so] shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

The word trust in the Hebrew is ba’tach which means to attach to or secure to.

Here the psalmist is telling us than when things are tough, scary or even confusing we are to attach ourselves to the Lord.  We have to do just like when I was zip-lining through the treetops.  Reach up and secure ourselves to The One and Only then sit back into the harness of His hands and let Him be the support and security. 

A friend often tells me, “We have to let go and let God.” 

Let God carry us through a trial. 

Let God carry us through a desert. 

Let God carry us through the storm.

Let God carry us through the peace as well.

Are you facing a situation that has you baffled?  Have you attached yourself to God?  Are you letting go and letting God? What’s keeping you from lifting up your feet and soaring through the tree tops with God?

Oh the zip-line was a blast! I loved soaring through the sky giggling and smiling the entire way down.  But let me tell you it doesn’t hold a candle to attaching yourself to God.  That my friend is a lot more fun and is an adventure beyond compare!!!!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prayer is...

It happens all the time, we drive up to a speaker on a board and voice our request.  Easy huh?  Just say what we want and within minutes we are pulling forward to quickly add to our possession that which we just ordered.  This is such an easy time to obtain things.  Using the verse out of context it is a… ”ask and you shall receive” time in the thoughts of many.  But that is not how our asking of God should be.

Many are so accustomed to this type of lifestyle that they think that is how prayer is supposed to be.  Things go wrong, in a tight fix, confused…just throw out the request into the speaker and you shouldn’t have to wait for more than a few minutes and here’s the answer or solution. When you don’t get immediate answers it may lead you to think that God must only snatch up the prayers that sound good to Him. 

Is this really what prayer is?  Is it just a request line like calling in to the local D.J.? A throw it out there and see if this one will be picked up?

No, Prayer is a relationship.

It is that one on one time with a God that desires your fellowship.  He is not a distant God that only allows a one sided conversation.  Rather He is a God that wants you to know Him and experience His love and presence. A God that longs for a growing relationship with you!!!

Let’s think of it this way.  Have you ever said you were close friends with someone but have never spent time with them?  I didn’t think so, how strange would that be?  To build a close relationship you spend time with someone to get to know them.  You learn what they are about, what their likes and dislikes are and even at times what they will say in certain situations.  This is exactly how our relationship with God can be.

As we communicate with Him, and He with us our relationship with God grows.  We voice our thoughts, not just our list, to Him as we share everything that is going on in our lives.  He speaks to us through the reading of His Word. 

John 15:7 states, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you.”

T.W. Hunt says it so well, “A love relationship with God is the point at which effective prayer begins.”

So how do we become people who pray effective and bold prayers?

We answer His invitation to enjoy His fellowship.  Make it our passion to know Him and His Word and He promises to respond to our prayers.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pouring Out in Prayer

There she was discouraged and reduced to tears. Her lips were moving but nothing was heard by the man standing near.  He assumed she must have come into the tabernacle drunk with wine.  Having enough he demanded that she must have been drinking and to throw away her wine.

 “Oh no, sir!” she replied.  “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring my heart out to the LORD.” 1 Samuel 1:15 NLT

Hannah had plenty of reasons to wallow in gloom.  Unable to bear children and her husband’s  other wife was taunting her.  She shared some of her sadness with her husband but she knew only God could truly hear her pleas.  She got up from the dinner table and found a quiet place in the Tabernacle to begin spilling out everything within her that breathes.

Have you ever had a day like that?  A day where it seemed you could do no right?  A day when everything was falling apart?  Have you ever felt like you needed to spill out everything to God?

 The definition of prayer is a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.   It is simply talking things out honestly with God or maybe even writing them down. 

I confess that I have found that at times my prayers have been a list...a list of wants, needs, hurry up and do type things.  But when I pray, when I really pour myself out to God I learn that He is listening and planning out to lift me up.

Recently I was having one of those days.  Discouragement was my shadow that day and it didn’t seem to be moving away anytime soon.  I finally got to the point that I spilled it all out to God then said, “Please God can I have something to know that you really love me today?”  Not only did He show me once but three times within the hour that He loved me.  I know had I not spilled out everything within me that I would most likely not have been looking for His love.  Although I was still facing the same things He lifted me out of the discouraging moments. 

So have you spilled your very being to God?  He has a big shoulder and can handle it.  He’ll be there listening.  I promise!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Praying Boldly, What does that look like?

The little booklet sat there for some time on the kitchen island. It had arrived in the mail one day packaged with catalogs of resource and study items. A little booklet that caught my eye, not enough to read immediately and not enough to throw away either. So there it sat receiving glances each time I passed by.

Finally I decided it was either time to read it or throw it in the trash so I snatch it up and sat down to see what this was all about. That was when my mind and heart  received a challenge.

This little booklet opened with the Talmud Jewish literature story of a man. An eccentric sage that lived during the time line spread during the silent period between the Old and New Testaments. A man named Honi.

Legend has it that during a great drought Honi went out into the village and drew a circle in the sand. He then stepped into the circle and began praying stating the he would not leave the circle until God sent rain. As his prayers continued God sent a light sprinkle of rain and the people danced with joy but Honi said to God, “This is not what I am praying for.” God then sent a torrential rain, people ran to their shelter but yet again Honi prayed, “God this is not what I am praying for and will not leave this circle.” At that time a nice steady rain was provided by God and Honi stood and left the circle.

Upon reading this little booklet named “Be a Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson I really began to think about prayers.  Although this is not a Biblical example we do find many times is scripture where a bold prayer was lifted up to Elohim The God of all gods. My favorite example is in the Book of Joshua in chapter 10. When facing an overwhelming number of enemies Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people asking God to let the sun stand still.  So the sun stood still upon God’s command and victory was theirs.

How do we now put these two accounts together and infuse them into our lives?  Can we do that?  Is that something from Biblical times to never be repeated again?  My God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow so what stops us from praying with boldness?

Although on the day the sun stood still Joshua didn’t draw a circle but what about Jericho?  He did seek the Lord and the Lord told him to lead the people to walk in a circle around to walls.  Maybe this is not an actual drawing of a circle but a showing of persistence and consistant calling upon the Lord in faith.  Not a praying once then tucking our heads and not mentioning it again.  Maybe we are to cover every side of that dream, diagnosis, fear, situation, etc. with prayer.  Maybe as we circle that thing we will begin to see it more through God’s eye and learn more of how to pray in a way that lines up with God. 

Thoughts on prayer are flooding my mind.  I want to dig into prayer a little more in the next few post or however long God leads.  Questions fill me and I know God’s Word has much insight and answers. Questions like when does bold become bossy?  God is not our puppet so what does His Word say about how we approach Him and pray.

Hopefully my post will come more often than every Monday because of this topic. (Or as in this case Tuesday.  Please forgive me on my tardiness) I do hope you will join me in the conversation and let’s grow together as we seek a prayer life that pleases the One to which we pray.

1 John 5:14 “and we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.”

Let’s learn what that means!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Letting Go

There I was, standing in the closet looking for something to wear.  Oh I am such a creature of habit by grabbing the clothes that are hanging right in front therefore causing me to wear the same old thing time and time again.  “Not today.” I determined.  I moved further to the back of the closet and started rummaging through items that not seen the outside world in a while.  As I sorted through long forgotten (as in out of sight out of mind) garments my hands fell on a piece of fabric that almost made me laugh and cry at the same time.  Wrapping my fingers around the hanger and I pulled out a dress that I have kept for too many years.  The blue suit I now held before me was the dress I wore away from my wedding reception.  The corners of my mouth lifted upward and my eyes brightened as I remembered the day this dress was first worn.  As the memories slowly passed through my thoughts I shook my head and questioned…”why had I kept this thing hanging around for so many years?”  My husband and I just last month celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.  I had worn the dress several times those next few years but now it just hangs there. Yes for 25 years, hanging in my closet. Can you say antique?

Oh, I have cleaned out my closet many times over the years but time and time again I would hang this dress back into the recesses of the dark abyss. Each time making excuses why to not discard it. Can you just imagine my reasoning?

“I will wear this again.  One day I’ll be back to that size.”
“I will regret if I get rid of it, of course it will come back in style.”
“I’ve had it this long, would it be bad luck to discard it now?”

Crazy thoughts I know but hey you never know when you will need that exact style.  Maybe for 80’s dress up day?  LOL

Why can’t I let go of it?  I have found that it’s not just sentimental dresses or other material things that are hard to let go but some action and emotions as well. Why are there things we simply just hang on and on to?  Whether it is something that is weighing us down keeping us from moving quickly to where God wants us or an emotion caused by a hurt inflicted on us.  Why do we find it hard to release that which is either old, no longer of use or that which is being a hindrance to our lives? Letting it wrap us in tightly in strips of bondage keeping us from freedom.

Unfortunately we (I) often keep those feelings around just like that old dress of mine.  Finding reasons to hang on and not let go.  Often justifying why need to keep those things, thoughts and feelings around.  Maybe it is better called just like it is…being stubborn or holding a grudge.  We’ve gotten a little comfortable having it around.

We may rationalize in our thoughts…

“It doesn’t hurt having that in my life because it has always been “by my side”.  I might not have the same life if I remove it.”
“I am going to keep this in my little thought book and remind them of how they hurt me.”
“If I let that go surely I will need it again.”
“It is too soon to let this go. They’ll have to apologize first.”
“I might need that to recall if this ever comes up again.”
“I don’t think I can live without it.”

We can even get to the place when we know we must let go but have no idea how.

 I have learned over my years that some things have come into my life or happened that have been easy to let go.  I was quickly able to let the waters wash it away never to be seen again.  That is such a great feeling and comfort! 

However there have also been times where the hurt is so deep, the betrayal so harsh, the pain so severe or the safety of it being there has caused letting go very difficult. 

So how do we learn to let go?  How do we let the waters wash un-needed things away so we can live with a peaceful and even forgiving heart?

Sadly I, and maybe you, have been at this juncture very recently.  I know God wants me to let it go into His strong and ready hands.  He wants to wash it away from my battered soul or relieve me from the weight that is dragging me down.  But I am often the one hesitating in letting this happen.

I get angry as to why that person who hurt me doesn’t have to admit their wrong.   Or confused how they can walk around me with smiles on their face like they didn’t filet me open and leave me gaping with wounds? 

Standing confused as to how and why God calls me even requires me, to let it go into His hands.

God is teaching me that it is only when I take my hands that are cupped, holding this hurt or object then place them over His open hands letting it flow out of my hands into His can I truly let it go.

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” And in Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Cast means to roll it over, to place all that weight on something else.  Isn’t that just like Jesus, wanting the weight of that hurt or object to be placed on Him instead of us?

As we release that which is in our hands into His He will keep us from falling, falling from the weigh that we are trying to bear on our own.  But, there is one thing we must remember.  Nowhere after these verses does it say, “To let Him have them just for the moment or just for the day.”  It never tells us to hang them back in the closet for future use because we might need them again.

I don’t know about you but this is probably the hardest thing for me.  To let it go.  To let that which is entangling me and hurting me fall into His hands and let Him wash it away.  I am learning to ask God, “What does that look like to let it go?  Please teach me how.  Help me to let you wash it away.”

Some days are easier than others.  Some days I have to repent from wanting to take it back but I believe that since I am asking God to show me how to do this He will be faithful in teaching me!  For a life unhindered by burdens and hurts is something He wants for all of us. 

Oh Father, teach me to let it go!

Monday, January 9, 2012


There was an electric buzz around the main conference room that night. “Aren’t you excited about the speaker tonight?” “Have you read her book?”  “I can’t wait to hear from her. That book changed my life.” 

My friend turned to me and asked me straight on if I had read this book everyone was chattering about.  My reply was a simple “No” and a slight shrug. I had seen the book advertised in Christian book catalogs so I was vaguely familiar with the title but in the recesses of my thoughts I could not convince myself to pick up this book, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann VosKamp. I really didn’t have time to read through 1000 things that someone listed as gifts they had received.

The chatter simmered to a low as the evening speaker was introduced. I admit, since there was so much hub-bub, I was intrigued to learn more about this author. She took the stage in a way that drew me. She didn’t command the audience with exuberant over confidence but rather with humility…she didn’t even have her talk memorized. She scanned her iPod with hair falling into her face but the words she shared captured me.

As Ann began relating her journey of counting 1000 gifts she recalled the story of the birth of her daughter and the first words the doctor said. In the delivery room, before he announced whether it was a girl or a boy, he said, “Look at her hands.” The hands of this little bundle of joy were clenched shut. Hands, balled into a fist tightly keeping out this new world.

At this point Ann began to relate this to us sitting around tables intently listening to her breathing out the words God had given. She stated that so many of us go through life with closed fist. Tightly held fist that are closed to the world around us and to the blessings of God. Sometimes even unaware of what we were doing.

Her talk covered many more meaningful topics that weaved back to that first point, a point that resonated within me. I clearly saw how I was a clenched fisted woman.

Over the next few days, even weeks, I began to notice my hands and their natural tendency to curl to close.  How many times had I stood with my fist balled up without even realizing their action? There were even times when I held my fist so tight that my nails imprinted their names on my palms. How, when hanging loosely by my side, the ends of my fingers would slightly roll inward toward my palms.  Even when offering my hands in praise to the Lord, with palms up my fingertips would curl inward not allowing my open hands to be fully exposed to anyone, not even the Lord. 

Fully or partially clenched fist had become a norm without me even noticing. Could this be an outward reflection of an inward situation? Was I outwardly expressing unbelief or fear that resided in my heart? Was I revealing unbelief or fear that I might not be worthy of the full blessing? What was causing me to live clenched from this world and God’s blessings?

As we were getting ready to step into 2012, many were placing challenges out to find a verse, picture or a word to label your 2012.  The first word that popped into my mind was UNCLENCHED.

I want to learn to live with my hands fully open to all that God has in store for me. I no longer want my closed or slightly closed hands to be a hindrance deflecting the blessings He is trying to pour into them.  I want my hands to be fully open in order to take His hand.

 I want an open fist to be my new norm.

What about you?  Do you find your hands closed in a fist? Are you willing to be open fisted and unclenched before God and this world?

This is my prayer and desire for 2012.  For both of us!

Out of the Shadows….Unclenched!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Great Expectations

The year of 2011 was an interesting year for us to say the least.  My family experienced joyful times, quiet times, trying times, times of sorrow and heartache. We walked a road that we never thought we would traverse and since have been learning how to heal.

Several years ago, God led me through a time teaching me trust.  Not in trusting myself or others but trusting in Him alone. Trust is that reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety of a person or thing.  He was leading me to have confidence in Him and put my reliance on Him.   Oh how frustrated I got when that topic was always being taught or talked about.  I did not want to hear those words again and even wanted to avoid a conference for women because I “knew” the topic would be on that word.  In my mind I threatened to throw marshmallows at the speaker if she brought it up.  Yes she did and no, I didn’t but I did giggle when it happened.

Surely I had trusting God down since I had given my heart to him.  Surely I did, right?  Not so much.  God knew what was coming my way and knew I had to fully trust Him to carry me through.  I would not be able to rely on family, friends, or other Christian acquaintances to scoop me up and carry me across the valley. Oh I wanted them too! I looked for them too! I even wrongly, expected them too! I placed a burden on their shoulders without even letting them know.  I got confused, hurt and even got to the point of understanding why people walk away from the local fellowship of the church.  I realized how much we can hurt each other more deeply when we don’t fully understand what has taken place. Through this experience I am learning even more what it means to encourage those that are hurting and not push them down further but instead walk with them on this journey to freedom.

At the beginning of 2011, God placed a verse before me to memorize.  I never knew how many times throughout the year I would recall Psalms 65:11 “You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”  Through this trying year I learned to rest on God’s integrity, His Strength and His ability.  I can look back on the paths we walked in 2011 and although I remember the pain of each step I can now see the overflow of abundance.  Without my feet sounding like a thud on those hardened pathways some of the great things that are occurring now might have been slower in happening or might not have happened at all.  With God’s grace and peace I can now be thankful for the paths we walked this past year.

Now as I look forward to 2012 I don’t have a clue what paths I will walk down but I do it expectantly.

 Just today I read 1 Peter 1:3-9:

 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

I guess the part that really caught my eye was “now we live with great expectation.”  What a way to look at the calendar of 2012!  With great expectations!

According to, Expectations is the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.

Excitedly I began to think about what I might be expecting in this new year and came up with a list. So here are a few of my expectations.

To live unclenched. (I’ll explain this in another post)

To let joy overflow.

To get my fingers and toes dirty by digging into the WORD more.

To follow a dream that I have let slip by the wayside.

To live up to my inheritance.

2011 almost zapped me but I am determined to not look back over that year with heartache but rather to glance back and see the overflowing abundance that God gave to me.  Now I know that I can be truly glad for there is wonderful joy ahead and it is more precious that gold.

 So what are you looking forward to, anticipating in 2012?

Out of the Shadows,