not the best substitute for 1/2 and 1/2 but sometimes you just gotta make due.

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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.

just a little encouragement for today :-)

isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

Last Friday was a BIG day and I didn’t realize it until it was almost over. I was full of emotions and even as I type this, various feelings are welling up inside. The more I think about it, the more I see how this was such a significant anniversary not just for Peter and I, but for me as an individual. It was three years ago this past Friday that he and I ended our engagement and ended our relationship.

I was in a dark and painful place. I wanted to believe God that I would get out of it; I wanted to believe that He had more for me. But I was hurt. It was a pain I had never known and to this day would not wish upon my worst enemy. But He, the Lord Almighty does indeed make beauty from ashes.

I never thought I would stop believing that to be married meant you were successful, I never thought I could love God more than anything else, I never thought I could be a woman capable of marriage, I never thought I would have a love affair with Jesus, and I certainly didn’t believe that God could redeem and restore Peter and I like He has. I am just amazed at what the Lord can do in such a short time.

It has been a hard tearful road. But I’ve learned sometimes you have to fight for the good things, even when the Lord has given you the blessing. I’ve learned, my Jesus is my everything and He is all I need. I’ve learned to grab hold of Him and not let go. Everything else is to be held with an open palm.

My mind has been flooded with these promises:

judges 6:12 (of course!) “the Lord is with you mighty warrior!”

psalm 37:4 “delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

eccl. 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in His time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

I will never know this side of Heaven just how incredible You are Lord. Thank You for the parts You allow me to see.  Thank You for writing my story. A story that could truly only be written by the uncreated One. Only You could be both the builder and the wrecking ball.

Just when my tears were falling deep enough to drown
Down in the valley of the shadow of a doubt
When I gave up that’s when He came to lift me out
And set me high, yeah

When I saw it as a gift of matchless worth
I started thinking it was something I deserved
He pulled the rug from underneath without a word
And left me dry, yeah

So piece together these little mysteries
It isn’t hard to see the writing on the wall
Triumph and tragedy, only God can be
Both the builder and the wrecking ball

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

He gave them freedom and a fertile promise land
They took for granted their deliverance at hand
Thirty-nine years later they’re still walking through that sand
Wondering why, why

So piece together these little mysteries
It isn’t hard to see the writing on the wall
Triumph and tragedy, only God can be
Both the builder and the wrecking ball

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

And He builds it up, and He knocks it down
Just to build it up even stronger

So piece together these little mysteries
It isn’t hard to see the writing on the wall
Triumph and tragedy, only God can be
Both the builder and the wrecking ball

Jill Philips – Wrecking Ball

choosing JOY for another evening of convicting beth moore Bible study. breaking free. amen. too late to write more tonight, but wanted to be sure to post.

 the clouds finally broke. thank you for the sun Lord!

(from my drive into work today)

my snack before my run tonight… ;-)

I have become the sporadic inconsistent blogger I preach against on the job… uh-oh! All that aside, this is my choosing JOY Monday post. Today I choose joy because of what I’m learning in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free study that I’m doing with my very good friend Cicely (before she leaves to be a missionary in Guatemala-ha!).

As a child of God, I can count on these five benefits:

1. to know God and believe Him

2. to glorify God

3. to find satisfaction in God

4. to experience God’s peace

5. to enjoy God’s presence

I am so grateful to be called His daughter.

umm, so on monday i blogged about choosing JOY because of how God speaks to us… yeah, okay, so monday night my good friend cicely and i began the breaking free Bible study by beth moore. guess what scripture she camped out on… yep, JUDGES 6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i hear you Lord, loud and clear :-)

amen!

i don’t have much time to blog this morning… seems to be the story of my life when it comes to this blog these days :-( but, i had to post a little something for choosing JOY monday.

today i choose JOY because when we seek God, He answers and sometimes He repeats Himself so we don’t forget what He’s told us before. in august 2007 the Lord spoke to me loud and clear through the verse:

“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” (Judges 6:12)

well, this morning i came before Him in my quiet time and asked Him to speak to me. i’m facing some major decisions right now and i want nothing less than the Lord’s will in all areas. and wouldn’t you know, i have felt aimless in my walk through the Word these days yet in God’s providence i picked up my one year Bible and the old testament reading was judges 6:1-40. gideon has got to be one of my most favorite characters in the Bible and i think it’s because i can relate to Him. remember my post a few weeks ago when i quoted one of the bloggers i follow:

“I want to be faithful like David, but I’m a sign-seeking Gideon. I want signs for signs. What I really need is faith. More faith.”

i get it Lord. i will fight for what you have promised and i will not forget :-)

choosing JOY on this monday because the Creator of the universe, the Alpha and the Omega speaks. and speaks to me.

“The secret of a servant’s life is that he stays in tune with God all the time.” – Oswald Chambers

 “A call is a growing conviction as you get acquainted with the facts.” – Oswald Sanders

i have a best friend. yes. i have A best friend. it sounds silly to be 30 years old and mention a friend like i might have when i was 5 and on the playground. but it’s true, i have a best friend. i love all my friends and they stand out each on their own with something beautiful in their own rights, but this best friend is special. i don’t know how to explain her or our relationship. it’s been through a lot the past year and as we embark on different seasons it’s hard to navigate the new course we’re on. but one thing will never change, she’s my best friend.

i heard this song for the first time a few years ago. i thought christy nockels was singing about her husband. my best friend told me christy wrote the song about her very best friend. i didn’t understand how someone could write something like that about a friend, at least back then i didn’t. now i know though. i have a best friend whom i could have written this song about.

if you don’t have a friend like this, i pray the Lord will bring you one. love you shell.

Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways
you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it’s ok to cry with you
Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I’ve been with God
and that’s the way it ought to be, yeah

Chorus:
Cause you’ve been more than a friend to me
you fight off my enemies for me
cause you have spoken the truth over my life
And you’ll never know what it means to me
just to know you’ve been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
more than you’ll ever know
Yeah, yeah, yeah, more than you’ll ever know
Yeah, yeah, yeah

You had faith
when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn’t think I could find the strength to sing
and all the while I’ve been hoping that I’ll
do the kind of praying for you that you’ve done for me
and that’s the way it ought to be, yeah

Chorus

You have carried me
You have taken on a burden
that wasn’t your own, yeah
may that blessing return to you
A hundredfold
oh oh yeah, a hundredfold

Chorus:
Cause you’ve been more than a friend to me
you fight off my enemies
cause you have spoken the truth over my life
And you’ll never know what it means to me
just to know you’ve been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
more than you’ll ever know
Yeah, yeah, yeah, more than you’ll ever know
Yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you’ll ever know.

(Watermark – More than You’ll Ever Know)

Somewhere in the midst of the busyness I took back the burden the Lord gave me. It’s heavy, it’s suffocating—it’s downright immobilizing. And then, just as He always does, He reminded this silly girl that she’s not supposed to carry it.

Cast your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)

Oswald Chambers wrote (taken from My Utmost for His Highest):

We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong. We should never bear the burdens of sin or doubt, but there are some burdens placed on us by God which He does not intend to lift off. God wants us to roll them back on Him— to literally “cast your burden,” which He has given you, “on the Lord . . . .” If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But if we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of Himself and His presence.

Many servants set out to serve God with great courage and with the right motives. But with no intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ, they are soon defeated. They do not know what to do with their burden, and it produces weariness in their lives. Others will see this and say, “What a sad end to something that had such a great beginning!”

“Cast your burden on the Lord . . . .” You have been bearing it all, but you need to deliberately place one end on God’s shoulder. “. . . the government will be upon His shoulder” ( Isaiah 9:6 ). Commit to God whatever burden He has placed on you. Don’t just cast it aside, but put it over onto Him and place yourself there with it. You will see that your burden is then lightened by the sense of companionship. But you should never try to separate yourself from your burden.

Wow, I’m actually following through with this post today. Must say, I’m kinda proud of myself. It has been quite a busy few weeks and it hasn’t stopped, but I find it therapeutic to blog. I choose joy today because of this:

James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

I’m studying James as my final assignment for this Spring semester and this verse is perfect for where I find myself. According to one of the commentaries I’m reading, “The Hebrew word behind the Greek word ‘trials’ is nasah, which means to prove the quality or worth of someone or something through adversity.”

adversity. faith. perseverance. mature. complete. that’s my desire.

Yep, that’s me these days. Totally and completely distracted. I feel like my brain is on overdrive. I go to bed with it reeling, which then takes me a while to fall asleep and I wake up with it reeling. I wish I could somehow grab whatever I think about when I’m asleep because I’m pretty sure I’m still thinking. And thinking A LOT even when my eyes are closed.

In my morning prayers I’m distracted. Everyday this past week I’ve prayed, Lord, help me to focus on you. If you read this blog, you’ve noticed I haven’t been even remotely consistent in posting… again, distracted. Too much on my plate.

Well, not really actually. I’m just not giving it back to God. I’m keeping what’s on my plate on my plate. I’m not allowing God to put it on His plate per say. (Hope that makes sense).

Like right now I’m supposed to be doing a thematic study on the book of James for class. And I am working on it, but here I am typing this entry right now. Study break? Maybe. Manifestation of a distraction? Most likely.

If my brain isn’t thinking about work, it’s thinking about my relationship. If it’s not thinking about my relationship, it’s thinking about school. If it’s not thinking about school, it’s thinking about my friendships. If it’s not thinking about my friendships it’s thinking about my finances. If it’s not thinking about finances, it’s thinking about my future. If it’s not thinking about my future, it’s thinking about work… and there goes the cycle.

And yet, in the midst of it all, I can feel God’s presence and the joy that comes only from Him. I am grateful for His presence.

Help me Lord to be still and know that you are God (Psalm 46:10).

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 took a personality/work style profile assessment a week or so ago for work purposes. What I found out managed to confirm some of my greatest fears. I fit the perfectionist profile – ack!

I’m bothered by it solely because I so desperately want to be the laid back fancy-free type who can easily roll with the punches and take life in easy, breezy strides. As I write this I’m realizing how ridiculous that is considering even the “easy breezy” people in my life have times of stress, doubt and anxiety.

There are many blessings that will come out of doing this assessment, at least that’s what I’m believing ;-)

But my ‘ah-hah’ moment with the results came when I read the section that explains how people with my profile tend to need fact upon fact to make a risky decision. We need it all laid out for us. So I suppose it’s really not a risky decision then if you can predict the outcome… and herein lies the dilemma.

I believe in Jesus. I have a saving faith.

What is faith? Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

May day! May day! Perfectionism is the antithesis of faith. All hope is lost. I should just give up now.

Okay, totally unnecessary drama, but you see my ‘ah-hah’ moment? If faith is being certain of what we do not see and my tendency is to need all the facts to make a “risky” decision, what does my faith look like?

James 1:5-6 says:

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

If I ask, I must believe.

Oswald Chambers said in today’s devotional from My Utmost for His Highest:

“Are you debating whether you should take a step of faith in Jesus, or whether you should wait until you can clearly see how to do what He asked? Simply obey Him with unrestrained joy.”

This perfectionist is seeking to step out in faith and trust the Almighty God in a season of radical change. Here we go Jesus!

ps. I found this whole perfectionist thing quite comical as well because my house and my desk at work do not even remotely look like a perfectionist lives and works there. Just in case you were wondering ;-)

I realized I never posted on what I landed on for the new journal. Turns out old habits die hard… yep, went back to the good old black cover, ruled pages with a pocket in the back faithful journal. I really debated and even bought a different one. I HATED it. So much so it was keeping me from journaling… which is never good for this though-filled head that needs to get things on paper to be a productive member of society and pleasant minister in the Kingdom :-)

Sometimes though, it’s better not to fix it if ain’t broke.

PS. The few pages I did write in the temporary journal were cut out and have found their home in the nice little pocket in the back of the faithful black journal.

It’s the first Choosing JOY Monday :-) I wanted this to be some kind of really profound post, but I think that was more self-serving than God-glorifying. So, today I choose JOY on Monday because my God is HUGE and FAITHFUL.

My world is being flipped upside down in many areas right now and this past weekend I was a bit of an emotional train wreck. But when I stepped back and took a better look at the past few days, I saw God—actually, I HEARD Him.

From my girlfriends preaching at me re: condemnation vs. conviction (you will not win father of lies!);

to my quiet times with Him this weekend (I’m convinced He sent the snowfall on the first day of Spring so I would spend time with Him and not go for a run);

to the sermon from yesterday’s service about a Choosing Faith;

to the Believing God When Victory Demands Your All sermon by Beth Moore;

to the friends praying over me;

to my steadfast boyfriend not caving in to his sometimes hysterical girlfriend (the girlfriend who refers to herself in the third person, she might be crazy!);

 HE is EVERYWHERE. And THAT is why I choose JOY.

Beth Moore brought up how sometimes we feel like “really God, do we need to tackle all this now? All at once? Couldn’t we just do one at a time?” His response: “I just thought we’d kill them all with one stone!”

I choose JOY because He is faithful, He is in control, He is sovereign, and He will never leave me.

Two scriptures that really encouraged me this weekend and will hopefully encourage anyone who reads this:

John 15:7-8

7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

1 Corinthians 1:25

25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

“Wisdom is therefore the flower of knowledge and knowledge the root of wisdom.” – Dr. Bill Thrasher

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

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