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today i choose JOY because at the end of the week i’m going to be with my girls that i’ve been friends with since elementary school. erin (second from right) is getting married and we all are standing in her wedding. the photo below was taken at laura’s bridal shower two years ago. no matter the distance, we seem to stick together. we have to try to set-up phone dates to keep in touch, and when we’re traveling near each other we’re quick to make sure we see one another, even if it’s just a 24 hour business trip. i love these ladies. and i know the Lord has kept us all in touch over these years for a purpose.

can’t wait to see them! love you girls :-)

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I’m overcome with wonder, awe and excitement this morning.  When I chose Jesus over anything else in this world, I wondered what my story would look like. Would I have anything “cool” to show for my life? Would my testimony speak to people? What would I do with this faith and love of God?

It was all about me.

And sometimes it still is. Tell the truth and shame the devil :-)

But something miraculous is happening around me. I get to be a part of the story and I’m completely humbled by it.  I’m tearing up again as I write this.

Seven years ago two people totally far from the Lord came together and started dating. Peter and I didn’t know Jesus. Sure we knew of Him. He was cool. Peter grew up in church so he certainly knew who the Great I Am is back then. But neither of us knew Him intimately.

We lived our lives as we wanted and we wanted each other. Time went by and I started to fall more and more in love with the Lord. I asked Peter questions about his faith and what he knew of Jesus. It was clear that we were drifting apart.

After two and a half years I distinctly heard the Lord say, “I have blessings for you and I have blessings for Peter but I cannot give them to you in this relationship.” It was one of those rare times when you know that you know that you know that the Lord just spoke to you.

We ended our relationship. I started to follow hard after Jesus and Peter started to read the Bible and ask questions. We pursued our Lord separately. One day perhaps Peter will share his journey here, but what I will say is it was a time of serious soul searching for him. He had been raised one way, but never owned his faith for himself. It was at this time that he started to explore Jesus for himself.

Time went by and my heart ached for him and his for me. It became clear that the Lord had moved in both our lives. After seven months or so we started to talk a little here and there. But we were such new/young believers that we couldn’t distinguish our own feelings and the Lord’s will very well (something we will be learning all our lives I think). We decided it was a good idea to begin dating again.

We didn’t seek the Lord on what His will was for us. We didn’t consider that perhaps God had a different plan. And we headed toward destruction. Within three months of dating again we were engaged. And five months after that, the engagement and the relationship were over.

It was devastating, heartbreaking, crushing. I’ve never felt such pain in my life. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy. I thought our first break-up was hard, and it was, but ending our engagement took pain and hurt to a new level.

It was in this time that I met with my God in ways I never could have imagined. It was in this time that I truly learned how incapable I am and how capable my God is WITHOUT MY HELP.

Two plus years later the Lord brought us back together. And it truly was Him. One day I’ll go into the details on this blog so you can see just how God orchestrated every step.

But for today, it has become clear to me. This story is not about Peter and I as much it is about God’s glory, His everlasting love and His eternal plan for His Kingdom. Our story is a small part of the painting He has created.

When I pull back and look at the beautiful canvas set before us, I am in awe and wonder of our God. I am humbled that I am to live this life for Him. That He would choose me. That He would choose Peter. That He would choose us to be a part of His painting, His story, His work.

I praise you this morning my God. And I am humbled by your presence and your love.

yep, this week was sooo crazy i forgot to post about choosing JOY on monday, so i’m choosing JOY on friday this week :-)

frankly, i’m trusting the Lord wanted it this way as today is good friday and it makes sense to me that on good friday, as a follower of jesus, i would choose JOY.

i’ve heard this many times before, but feel it’s most appropriate to quote today:

“you cannot have a resurrection until you have a death. there is no empty tomb unless there is first a figure on a cross.”

thank you God for the ultimate sacrifice you paid on this day 2,000 years ago that we might have life everlasting.

i still can’t get my head and heart totally around the fact that the perfect God of all the universe would send His Son for me. but none-the-less, i am eternally grateful. i choose JOY today because my Savior died for me on this day.

from flickr.com

i am really enjoying this choosing joy gig. my perspective on a lot of things has radically changed in the past few days… gotta remember this so when this little documenting experiment is over i don’t fall back into the trap of joylessness—okay that’s super dramatic, i don’t think i was totally joyless before this started, but definitely not choosing the joy of the Lord every day.

on that note, today i’m choosing joy today because God is who He says He is. we don’t always get to see why God does things the way He does—i think that’s the beauty of faith. but this past weekend i got to see why God chose to allow something that seemed so hurtful, to come to light now and not sooner. He doesn’t always give us the chance to see immediately why He allows pain and heartache, and i trust when He doesn’t allow me to see the ‘why’ there is a greater purpose at work. but man, when He does let me see, i can’t help but be full of JOY!!

i’m choosing joy today because in the midst of hurt and pain, His greater plan is at work and this past weekend i was able to empathize with someone i dearly love as i could never have before without having gone through it myself. what is an even greater joy is that now i know how to pray specifically for this dear one, because i know what it feels like.

2 corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Facebook says a lot even when it says nothing at all.

I clicked on a friend’s profile today and her ‘wall’ is no longer visible. Another friend checked to see if perhaps I was just blocked from her ‘wall.’ Turns out I’m not, although it is very possible we’re both blocked, but I highly doubt that. My first thought was something must not be right. I know, I might sound crazy, but all too often you can tell a lot about a person by what their Facebook page doesn’t say.

There are those that I affectionately call the “lurkers.” They don’t really want to be on Facebook but can’t help being on there to see what’s going on in other people’s lives. They don’t have much at all on their profile, but they have one so they can see yours. Creepy? Maybe. Smart? Possibly.

There are those who have their “work” profile and their “personal” profile. Limiting what the work folk see and can do as compared to the family and friends. A violation of social media? Perhaps.

Then there are those who make you wonder why they don’t just carry a video camera around all day documenting their every move. Certainly that would be easier than sending status updates every 10 minutes. They’re the ones who when someone asks you how friend X is, you can undoubtedly speak to their child’s play-dough mess, the virus that God-forbid forced them off Facebook for an hour, the weather outside their door, and their plans for the summer. You can talk about their life in great detail yet, you haven’t spoken to the person in six months.

But, I digress, that was not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to ask the question, how do you reach the person who removes their ‘wall’ and yet you know they need you? How do you reach the person who makes their profile look perfect yet you know it’s a cover-up? How do you love on the person who “talks” in status updates because no one else will listen?

I don’t know the answer, but I think it might be a combination of the Holy Spirit and Love. Maybe I need to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when to contact, how to contact and maybe I need to allow His power to come through that I might Love like He does. Maybe it’s pursuing when they don’t want to be pursued. Maybe it’s picking up the phone even though I already know everything they’re willing to tell me. Maybe it’s like Casting Crowns said, “Love them like Jesus.”

i’ve heard people say forgiveness is a choice. i think trust is too. yes, i think people need to earn trust. but i think it is a two-sided equation, you need to give trust to those who desire to earn it. the more you give, the more they earn. the more they earn, the more you give.

so today i did a search for vereses that talk about trust in the Bible. and wouldn’t you know, a passage of scripture i have read 100+ times, heard 100+ times and in fact have stated that when i get married i will not read this passage at my wedding, is the very passage the Lord used to speak LOUDLY to me today.

from 1 corinthians 13:

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

wow. love trusts. i love. i must trust.

i’ve been a huge advocate for titus 2 ministry (let the older women teach the younger women) yet i never really found myself in a place where i’ve seen it in full motion like i did this past weekend. it began friday when i met with a wise and wonderful woman from my church for lunch. she spoke into my life in such a way that only God could make happen. she didn’t judge me or my situation, she just listened, smiled at me as i talked – i could see it in her eyes, that “i know exactly where you are kiddo” look. and she did. she’s been there, done that, has lived to talk about it and is ready to equip me so i don’t have to make mistakes i might have if i were to “go it alone.” the peace and comfort i felt by the time our lunch ended was totally something that can only come from a God-ordained and anointed conversation.

it also encouraged me to see that one day, Lord willing, i will sit where she was and counsel a younger woman in my shoes. for now though, i am more than happy no, delighted really, to be on the receiving end. oh Lord, bring wisdom and courage my way :-)

then on saturday we had a women’s event at my church, the first of its kind we’ve ever done and it was powerful! we began with powerful worship and then my pastor’s wife brought a word and then gave her testimony. both were incredible! afterwards there was a time for women to pray with each other and for each other. i know God moved that day in many, many lives. we then had a time of Q&A with a panel of women in various seasons of life: single, married, single mom. there were so many questions and so much wisdom offered. it truly was a massive titus 2 event.

i am so grateful for the body of Christ, so grateful to be surrounded by such strong and courageous women of faith.

“What if we start listening to Him, instead of Oprah, for a definition of healthy female sexuality?”

http://blog.kyria.com/2009/12/oprah_porn_and_jesus.html#more

i heard a very simple yet profound quote the other day:

“who i am and what i struggle with are not the same thing.”

have i let my weaknesses become my identity or have i looked at them as areas that require even greater grace so that my identity as a daughter of the Most High King might reflect my Savior more beautifully?

i’ve been reading through the book of hebrews for a little while now and it has been such a blessing. one of the many things i love about the Bible is you can read the same passage over and over again, set it down and even not come back to it for a year or so, and when you pick it back up, the Lord exposes new truths and ministers to you in new ways.

this week He opened my eyes to the following verses:

hebrews 10:36 – You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (emphasis mine)

and then hebrews 11:17-19 – By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (emphasis mine)

and even still hebrews 11:32-33 – And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions… (emphasis mine)

these verses jumped out at me because of the word PROMISE. God NEVER takes back His promise. when we step out in faith, when we push through, when we fight for an undivided heart, when we believe Him for what might seem impossible, He WILL give us what He has promised.

this was such a sweet word for me this week and i hope for anyone that might read this post, it might encourage you as well. our God is a God that will not hold back from His people.

romans 8:28 – and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

He is faithful and as we delight in Him, He delights in us and He does give us the desires of our hearts. the Lord is taking me down an unfamiliar road right now, yet all to familiar at the same time… it’s as if He’s saying, look, i made promises to you, you have forgotten, but I have not. Whoa!

if you feel you are in a similar boat, take heart. He is faithful, we must persevere and when we have done His will we will receive what He has promised!

psalm 20

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.
Selah

May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.

We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;
he answers him from his holy heaven
with the saving power of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.

O LORD, save the king!
Answer us when we call!

a little more than a month ago i went back to connecticut to hang with my family and meet my new niece (who is sooo stinkin’ cute!). one evening we had some folks over for a barbecue. on the menu – my mom’s potato salad. which, in my opinion, is the BEST potato salad in the world. yes, the entire world :-)

the thing is though, i like it cold and the rest of the fam likes it room temperature. despite this knowledge, i asked my mom anyway if we were going to chill it before we serve it. her response, “oh that’s right, you like it cold. everyone else seems to like it warm but i can put a bowl in the fridge for you so you can have it cold.” i said, “oh no, that’s okay.”

i simply didn’t want to inconvenience my mom. everyone else likes it warm, i don’t need to be the difficult one and add more work to the process of preparing for this barbecue.

well, the barbecue came and went. everything was so tasty as always, and when it was time to clean-up we headed in the house and got to work. i was putting away the leftovers when i opened the fridge and there was a bowl of potato salad. my mom had prepared a separate bowl just for me so i could have mine cold. but i didn’t look for it before we sat down to eat. i can’t tell you how sweet it was to me that she did that. such a small gesture, but so intentional and thoughtful. even though i’m the only one who likes it cold, she thought to set aside a bowl just for me.

lately i’ve noticed i do the same with the Lord. i settle for warm potato salad. i have deep desires that i look forward to seeing filled, yet i don’t necessarily ask for them. and why don’t i ask? because i look at other people’s lives and see they have much greater needs than i do. and the current situation or circumstance i might find myself in really isn’t that bad. so why should i ask to be moved from where i am, it’s not that bad? and that’s just it. God wants to give us the cold potato salad. even though warm is still good, cold is better. even though life isn’t hard, even though i might find myself content with where i am, that doesn’t mean get comfortable. that doesn’t mean stop asking God for the deepest desires of my heart.

who knew potatoe salad could be so profound.

matthew 7:7-8 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Women are beautiful, and God intentionally made us that way. But there is something that happens to a woman when she is finally set free. When she relinquishes control to her Savior, her Abba Father, her King, she glows in such a way that only He can make her glow. She has a peace and grace that leave you wanting what she has. It spurs you on to seek your God to know Him intimately, to desire to be like Him. You wonder, what does she have that I don’t have?What she has is the assurance that she is loved, she is delighted in and she was created for a purpose. Most likely she has fought the battle and fought hard, knowing the war was won on the Cross. She has cried, prayed and begged her way through the valley, clutching at every Word her Father gave her along the way. Even when she didn’t feel His presence she trusted He was there. She learned how to take her thoughts captive and how to cling to what was true no matter how she was feeling, no matter how dark and lonely the valley may have seemed. She fell in love with her Lord more and more as she trusted His Word and He came through every time.

No matter how she felt at any given moment, she went back to the Truth and it did indeed set her free. And now, she stands in the victory that was hers along. She walks with grace and dignity and has put shame and despair behind her. And she will comfort those who need comfort in the same way she has been comforted by her Father. She will use her victory to bring her sister to victory. She will not be ashamed of her past, or the scars she may bear because of it, but rather walk alongside others, bringing them to their victory. And one day she will see, even her scars have been healed.

That is why I love women’s ministry. To come alongside and watch a woman as she goes through this experience is one of the greatest joys on this earth. Women are beautiful, but when they meet with the Loving God, when they fight the battle that has been won for them, and they don’t give up, there is an unexplainable beauty and grace that comes upon them.

i’ve been inconsistently, yet in the Lord’s perfect timing, following a recent study of the life of joshua. currently we are camped out in exodus looking at the battle between the israelites and the amalekites. if you can remember, this is the battle where moses commissions joshua to lead the israelites into the battle while he, with God’s staff in hand, watches over them from a nearby cliff/hill. moses must keep his arms raised as he holds God’s staff. each time he lowers his hands the amalekites advance against the israelites, but once his hands are raised, the israelites come back. this is a long battle and hours of fighting, moses gets tired. so aaron and hur some along side him, offering him a stone to sit on and their strong able bodies to help hold moses’ arms up for the length of the battle.

i’ve heard this story many times and always looked at it from the perspective of friendship. aaron and hur were just the friends moses needed at that time to hold his arms for him. after all, he was 80 years old, and that’s what friends do, they help you fight the battles. and while this is true and a great lesson to glean from this story, i was exposed to another angle today that really hit home.

when moses had his arms raised and was offered the stone to sit on, he sat. he didn’t say, “no, it’s okay, i got this one guys.” he wasn’t so caught up in being the leader of this great army below him that he couldn’t recognize when he needed help. he knew, the battle wasn’t being fought and won because of him, he knew it was being fought and won by his God.

i was so convicted of this picture, realizing that in my own selfish insecurities, if i were moses, i wouldn’t want to sit for fear that people might think i am weak. for me, sitting would be weak, would indicate that i can’t lead, would mean people would see i am vulnerable, would open people’s eyes to the fact that i can’t do it all.

but then i remember, it is when i am weak that i am strong, as then it is the Lord’s power that gives me strength.

moses was strong, not weak. a weak man would have said no to the help his friends offered. a strong man says, i need help. a strong man is humble and dignified before the Lord. admitting when he knows he needs help, and humbly accepting it.

i learned a lot from this passage today and this new perspective of it. Lord, help me to humble myself and not be afraid to let the women in my life come along side and battle with me. for then, with Your power flowing through us, will i be strong.

i decided to spend lunch with Jesus today and the neatest thing occurred, i fell even more in love with Him – ok, how uber spiritual and uber cheesy can you get?!?! but it is what it is, and that’s what it is.

earlier this year i was reading up on a missionary organization that i just think is the coolest. it’s call climbing fo christ, and their mission is to take the gospel to high places where other missionaries can’t or won’t go (aka. remote villages in the mountains, etc.) and on their site they have a journal entry of a former member who was killed in an avalanche. her name is lygon, and she had a huge heart for the Lord and lived her life to bring Him glory. when i read the journal entry on their web site, i was so moved. you can tell from her writing just how much she truly loved Jesus. and you know she is dancing with Him right now. what a beautiful picture!

after i read her journal entry i remember thinking, i want to love the Lord that much, so much that i would just start dancing for Him and Him alone (all of you that know me, know that i DON’T dance, ever!) well today it happened, well kinda. i was spending time with Him, praying for various people and things, and writing in my journal. i began listening to the song captivated by vicky beeching (if you haven’t listened to her music you’ve got to, she rocks!) and i couldn’t help but want to get up, right there and just start dancing with the Lord – i didn’t of course ’cause i was in a public place and while i’d like to consider myself bold, i know i’m not that bold!

but the point is, the desire is there, to love with reckless abandon the one that loves me enough to die for me and give me a freedom that i’ve never knew. ah, i praise you Lord!

so, anyway, dancing with Jesus just might be on the agenda for this weekend : )

here are the lyrics to captivated:

Your laughter it echoes like a joyous thunder
Your whisper it warms me like a summer breeze
Your anger is fiercer than the sun in its splendour
You’re close and yet full of mystery
Ever since the day that I saw Your face
Try as I may, I cannot look away, I cannot look away…

Captivated by You
I am captivated by You
May my life be one unbroken gaze
Fixed upon the beauty of Your face

Beholding is becoming, so as You fill my gaze
I become more like You and my heart is changed
Beholding is becoming, so as You fill my view
Transform me into the likeness of You

This is what I ask, for all my days
That I may, never look away, never look away…
No other could ever be as beautiful
No other could ever steal my heart away
I just can’t look away…

the most incredible thing happened the other day. God gave me a personal revelation and i wasn’t even asking for it!

i have been reading the same devotional for years and i love it (my utmost for his highest by oswald chambers – it’s a classic!). but it wasn’t until last year that i began to write in it and underline stuff.

on may 31, 2007 i was in a rough place, learning how to deal with life and my present circumstances. i was so sick of me, the person that was so far from what God had created her to be. i wanted to be emptied of myself and filled with Jesus, to be like Him, to be completely surrendered to His will for my life, because clearly, i didn’t know what i was doing.

so on that day last year i read my devotional and underlined the part where chambers wrote, “… we must first make sure that God’s ‘needs’ and His will in us personally are being met. Jesus said, ‘… tarry… until you are endued with power from on high.'” 

the past year was the most incredible year of spiritual and emotional growth i have experienced to date. it has been filled with ups and downs, days of not wanting to get out of bed and days of wanting to dance with joy. the most recent few months have been the most incredible of all, as i seek the Lord, His will for my life, i’m struck with amazement at how incredible He really is.

on may 31, 2008 i was in a place of peace, a place of contentment. a place where i know that my God has brought me through to victory, a place of incredible trust in my Savior, of belief in the humanely impossible. my God has me in His huge, all-knowing, all-loving, ever present hands. so on may 31 i underlined the line that said:

“once God’s ‘needs’ in us have been met, He will open the way for us to accomplish His will, meeting His ‘needs’ elsewhere.”

i read those lines and my heart filled with unexplainable joy. God has decided to use me for the women’s ministry at my church in a way i never imagined. i’m organizing and implementing out first real bible study. after i read that and the ministry came to mind, i couldn’t help but smile at my God and exclaim thanksgiving! it was as if the Lord was telling me, “see my child, i have done it! i have filled my needs in you and NOW i want to use you to help fill the needs i have for others.”

we begin the bible study on june 2 and i have such a spirit of anticipation for us and can’t wait to see how the Lord moves. all the heartache and turmoil of the last year has taught me so much about my faith and the God that loves me. and i know, that had i not been through that year, i would not be in this role now. i praise God for healing and restoration, redemption and victory that only comes from knowing the Most High God!

on march 26, little elodie claire came into the world (it took me a while to download the pics-oops!). she is such a precious little girl, who am i kidding, what baby isn’t? her mom and i used to have lunch every thursday so to finally meet this little one was such a privilege. to think that the Lord was knitting her together in her mother’s womb and knew all her days before we even knew she would come to existence. Praise the Lord! what a blessing : )

i got to visit her in the hospital, i felt like the luckiest lady in the world!

this is where i will be this weekend, at my church serving in the backstage crew. i’ll try to get a pic of the crew in all black with our headsets and all. we might be a small church but man, God doesn’t care. He always seems to move in mighty ways and i am so blessed to be a part of it! there really is no better way to honor Easter weekend then to serve our Savior’s kingdom

sol2.jpg

hoping to get a climb in before i have to be at church – haha!

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