Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thrones or Thorns?

The other day I was reading a devotion which stated, "The ministry of THORNS has often been a greater ministry to humankind that the ministry of THRONES. For some reason these two words have continued to stick within my heart and mind. What would I choose? Would I choose to sit on a throne of ease and comfort in this life and never feel or experience any pain or disappointment? Or would I rather have a position to touch another life and to feel one's pain because I have thorns myself?

How can I truly encourage others and be a vessel of hope in this world if I never had a thorn? Satan wants to crown us with many thorns just as Jesus was crowned with the same. The enemy has set about to pierce our minds with daggers of lies that God is not for us. Our adversary also wants to discredit us so that we will be of no influence.

However, we are more than conquers through Christ Jesus. Everything that the enemy uses to flatten us and to damage us is merely pavement for the road God is constructing in our lives to lead us to victory. In the storms of this life, we can use the winds to our advantage. An eagle does this very thing. He sits upon the ledge of a mountain and waits. When the storm approaches, he soars and uses the stongest wind currents to help lift him to a higher place. We too have the opportunity to be like the eagle. As we wait upon the Lord in the midst of the storm, He will enable us to use the winds to lift us above the storm that we may fly above the clouds.

What are some thorns you are suffering today? Maybe you are struggling in a relationship or have financial struggles. You may be facing an illness or have lost a loved one recently. It could be a weakness in your soul such as rejection, depression or loneliness. Jesus wore a crown of thorns for a greater reason than the obvious mocking and humilition He received. Paul had a thorn in the flesh for a greater purpose than just a physical weakness. These lives demonstrated that God will bring us to a place of victory if we choose not to lose. He said we are more than conquerers through Him who loves us. (Romans 8:37)

When we claim victory in ourselves we set ourselves up for thrones of pride and self sufficiency. These thorns are damamging to us as well as to others. However, when we claim victory through Christ, calling to Him constantly and leaning upon Him moment by moment, our thorns then become a throne that is everlasting. I like to think of it as a THRONE OF THORNS. May our thorns be turned into thrones of hope for others. May the briers of our lives pierce our hearts to release a gush of love that others so need in their distress and plight. As painful as it is at times, I choose thorns. Jesus' crown of thorns was transformed to crowns of glory...the Glory of the Father. May we all choose to allow our thorns to be a ministry unto our Lord and to others. So what will it be? Thrones or Thorns?


CROWN HIM THE VIRGIN'S SON
THE GOD INCARNATE BORN,
WHOSE ARM THOSE CRIMSON TROPHIES WON
WHICH NOW HIS BROW ADORN;
FRUIT OF THE MYSTIC ROSE,
AS OF THAT ROSE THE STEM;
THE ROOT WHENCE MERCY EVERY FLOWS,
THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM.

(From the hymn, Crown Him with Many Crowns)

Monday, December 17, 2007

OH SO LOVELY

Thirty nine excited children came through the doors of City Life Church with bright smiles and expectant hearts. These were some of the most loving and happy children I have ever met. They were all special and beautiful. Each one glowed with the glory of God even though they had no realization of it. Also, each child knew they would be receiving something new that day...a shiny new bicycle.

There was a beauty present in a way that I have never experienced. This was something lovely that started weeks ago. Even though the children were such a blessing and were so precious, I cannot stop thinking about the beauty of a group of people who joined together as one to make this Outreach happen. Many people gave in so many ways. Many members of the City Life Church family gave donations. The total amount given was around 1400 dollars. This family not only gave of their resources, but gave of their time to help prepare for the event and to also serve the children and the single mothers that attended. We served together as one body which included children and teenagers. Everyone had a part to play.

We also had support from two different "Curves" facilities in Woodstock and Marietta. The members donated 14 bike helmets along with stocking stuffers and over 700 dollars in Walmart gift cards. I would like to thank every individual and business who contributed to the lives of these children. Their Christmas will be brighter because of you. Your generosity, thoughtfulness and especially your love has touched these children in a way that they will never forget. You have left fingerprints of hope in their hearts. You have sent a message to them from God that says, "I have not forgotten you dear little one. Your heavenly Father knows you and delights in you."

Most of these children have no father present in their lives. Some of them live in shelters because their parents cannot provide for them due to negative life patterns which include abuse, drugs, and neglect. Thirty nine children is a small number compared to the number of people in Atlanta who cry a silent cry every night because they have lost hope and believe they have been forgotten. People are starving for love and we are the answer because the Answer resides within us.

It was a gift to be able to spend the short afternoon with these important people. The children and the mothers who came are beautiful to God and are lives cherished by Him. What a privilege it was to touch their lives and to have them touch mine.

I pray that the Lord will give us more opportunities to touch others in this way. His beautiful face was seen in many. His countenance was in the children. His arms were the ones who reached out and served and gave. His beauty was there. This is what I long for. Oh so lovely is the Savior we serve!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Gold Miner's Daughter

It was another one of my puzzling dreams. I was standing in front of a group of people singing this seemingly silly song. "I'm a gold miner's daughter. I'm a gold miner's daughter." Spectators were chuckling as I sang these words with conviction to the tune of the old hymn, "I've Got Peace Like a River". This is strange I know, but oh how true. I am a gold miner's daughter.

Needless to say, God has spoken nuggets of gold truths from this dream and I would like to share them. First of all, I am not who I thought I was. I am not the same today as I was yesterday. I am becoming all that God wants me to be through the testing and trying of my faith. This revelation is knowledge that I had in my head, but is now becoming through the passage if time real within the fibers of my very being. Not only is my heavenly Father constantly panning for gold in me, but He is making me into a desperate gold digger.

Just a few weeks ago I found out that I was expecting a baby. We have nine precious gifts from God's heart. Now, we have two angels in the realms of glory living in prosperity and eternal security. I had the first miscarriage back in late June and the second one less than a week ago. These loses have been extremely painful for me. I agree with Mother Teresa's statement that one who says there are too many children is like saying there are too many flowers.

It is interesting that I had actually been praying and asking the Lord to bless us again with another baby. Many say to themselves," What in the world would compel someone in their right mind to ask for more and more children?" My answer is, this desire is not of this world and it is something I cannot really explain.

On the other hand, I have also been praying fervently for God to show me more of His heart and to reveal Himself to me. Just like Moses, I was asking God, "Show me Your glory." Oh what a dangerous prayer to pray. However, the King of Glory is waiting for those who would boldly ask with sincerity of heart.
Also recently I have been hearing of testimonies all over of signs and wonders in the land.
There have been accounts of feathers, gold and sapphire dust falling from the heavens onto people's skin. There have been events of oil scented with myrrh coming from the palms of people's hands and from the soles of their feet. I have even found myself looking around from time to time for a diamond from the throne of God laying at my feet. It is a glorious endeavor to desire these signs and wonders. However,my heart springs with delight whenever I recall a pastor who said, "It is not so much in how He chooses to come and reveal Himself, but what matters is that He come. Just come Lord Jesus and show us your glory."

When we consistently ask of the Lord for more of Him, we become diggers of gold. We are mining for the treasures of God's heart that we may get next to Him and know Him in a deeper way. However, God is the Father Miner who is digging and sifting for gold within us.

Because gold is a weighty substance it always stays at the bottom when being panned for. Especially in the past, gold miners would use a pan to sort the gold from small rocks and gravel. They would mine in small streams by scooping up soil along with water. The lighter debris would float to the top while the gold would stay at the bottom. This would happen through the process of sifting and shaking by the one searching for the gold.

Likewise, as God mines for gold within us, He causes shaking and sifting in various ways in order for the unwanted and undesirable things of our flesh to come to the surface. The items that are gold and incorruptible stay in the deep places of our hearts. This deep place is God's treasure chest which is stored deep within.

God does not always reveal Himself to us in seemingly blissful ways. The word says that He is an all consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). When we ask for His heart of gold, His fire always comes first. He will test us through trials by His purifying fire that we may be perfected and become a trusted vessel to carry His presence to others.

Job 23:10 says, "When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold." He is after a faith that is genuine and transparent, just as pure gold is transparent. 1 Peter 1:7 says," That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

When we seek the Lord for more of Him, we must accept the way in which He sees fit to come. Many times it is by His fire and it is through His shaking. This is the way God has chosen to visit our family lately. It would be so much easier to have gold dust in my lap and and oil from my hands. However, here are some ways God works through the fire and sifting of His presence. He is asking, "Will you embrace the way in which I choose to come to you?" When we say yes in the midst of the pain of His scorching yet loving flame, His heart floods with pleasure and delight for He knows we have chosen Him above all else.

1. God's fire proves your faith. He will test you in the very areas that are dearest to your heart. This may include desires that are godly and pure. He is asking, "Will you still love me even if I choose to never answer any more of your prayers?" He is looking for a bride who will love Him for Him only. We are just like this too. We want others to love and care for us because they value who were are, not just the things we can do for them and give them.

2. God's fire cultivates brokenness. Brokenness yields humility. A child of God who walks in victory but does not have brokenness becomes triumphant in way others cannot relate. This repels others who are going through hardship because they cannot relate to that person. Pride parades and drives needy people away. Humility brought forth through brokenness creates a fragrance which draws others to Christ.

3. God's fire also heals and gives you a message. Just as fire is used to weld metals together. He will work His fire within you to mend your broken heart. Your faith will be pure and sure. Also, you will have proof through your life to show to your children the goodness and faithfulness of God.

4. God's fire spreads and ignites those coming behind us. The next generation does not want to just hear about the works and faithfulness of God. They want to see it in live action. We are the screen they are watching to see if God will come through. They see the realty of who He is in the way we allow Him to bring change in us. His glory is not so much in the manifest signs and wonders of diamonds, oil and gold. His splendor is in the gold He is bringing forth in our personal lives. This is what will stay with our children. This is what will remain.

My heart is comforted in knowing that the hardships we face are not just about us. They are about our children, and their children. I want God's gold to come forth in me and for my faith to be proven for their sakes. My desire is that my life would count for something much deeper than just my short time here even if it means all of the desires of my heart do not come to pass on this side of heaven. I can rest and be at peace knowing that the Master Gold Digger is digging in my heart and bringing forth gold that will be passed as an indestructible inheritance to my children who are following and watching me. Remember also that your testimony is not so much in the outcome of your circumstances, it remains and gleams in and through the change that the test has worked in you.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testingof your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Sunday, October 21, 2007

He Holds You



Do you see this beautiful picture? Really focus and take it in. This is you right now. No matter what you are going through, soak in the reality that your Father holds you. You think, "Jesus is holding a child in this picture." Yes, that child is you. When I saw this photo, I felt it was a message for those who are grieving. It is when we grieve, we lose all of our composure. The veil is removed and we are vulnerable. One embrace from our heavenly Father and we melt. We are safe to be. We are free to weep. This is for those who are grieving.

Grief is like being on the ocean when the waves are really rough. Or it can be described as a tidal wave which hits unexpectedly. Everything in you and in your life is suddenly changed. The loss of a loved one is as a violent storm.

Even if your loved one passed away a year ago or more. There will still be swells in the sea of your heart. There are triggers that cause the swell such as holidays, the anniversary date of the death, or even just seeing something in the store can trigger a swollen wave of grief. Do not be discouraged and feel as though you are not healing. We must learn to ride the wave when it comes. It is a healthy part of your healing.

Also when you are in the midst of cresting waves, guard your heart against condemnation. Other voices will come and whisper that you are not thankful for what you have. Grieving and experiencing sorrow does not mean you are not thankful. Sorrow means you are courageous enough to love. Sorrow means your heart is soft enough to hurt. Your Saviour catches you in the turbulence, holds you until you are still, and never releases His grip upon you.



Sorrows as a tidal wave crash upon
heart and chest as weights of unflinching steel
Pressing upon me as though I could
Never breathe again.



I cry, "Saviour, I cannot inhale.
I am fading, please save me.
This surge is cresting,
Do not let it over take me.
Are you here?


The inflaming monster approaches,
There is no relief in sight
Suddenly, I am caught
Beneath its unending vigor.

Black. All is black.
Will my heart beat again?
Yet I am alive.
Stillness. Illumination.


The crest has broken
Its violent intention
Push me upon the shore
Upon the bosom of the One
Who retrieves me
And breathes hope and life
Back into me



The next wave is bulging
I know of its plot
but I know His loving stance
To catch me after each shattering crest
And to replace my breath with His
Upon His eternal shore
Within His unending hold
I will make it through each wave
Until the sea is glass.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Life's Bare Necessity-Intimacy with God


As a little girl, I would flip through the same story book until the pages were worn. It was bound with Disney Classics of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and all of the well known fairy tales. Also, my grandmother had a box in her closet filled with fluffy dresses and high heeled shoes. She also would give me old tubes of lipstick that I would put on when playing "dress up" After donning myself with such "grand" apparel, I would proceed to the huge living room where my grandparents had numerous record albums of what we then called "elevator music". I did not care for the sort, but it had to do. I would spend countless hours making up dances and creating make believe balls where I was the princess.

In Staci Eldredge's book, Your Captivating Heart, she shares the same examples illustrating how God created our hearts as women to long to be the beauty, the princess, and to be pursued by the One who cherishes us the most. There are traces of evidence even from the womb, that God created us with those longings. He created us for intimacy.

Where there is intimacy there is fulfillment, joy and fruitfulness in our lives. May the concept of intimacy be redeemed in this fallen world we live in. The enemy of your soul does not want you to know the full definition of the word, intimacy, and how to thrive in your relationship with God.

In the Wikepedia, intimacy is described well. Here are some statements shared.

"Intimacy is linked with feelings of closeness, safety, trust, and transparency among partners in a collaborate relationship."

"For intimacy to be sustainable and nourishing, it also requires trust, transparency, and rituals of connection."

"Intimacy requires empathy-the ability to stand in the other's shoes."

"Intimacy requires identity development. You have to know yourself(know who you are in Christ (my addition) in order to share yourself with others.

Even though these statements came from an encyclopedia, they perfectly describe God's heart for you. He desires to be intimate with you and He longs for you to return that affection to Him. The voice of our Savior's heart cries out, "I want to be close to you so that I may show that you can trust me. You must trust me. I am asking you to come closer to Me so I may show you all that is in my heart for you. I know who I am, the Alpha and Omega, your All in All. However, you will not know really who you are until you come close and learn who I am. For you to know yourself, you must know Me. Yes, you may know of Me, but you must grow to know me. As you long to be known and understood, I too desire to be known and to share my heart with those I can trust. I stood in your shoes by dying for you. As my child you now are in right standing with Me and I wait for you to come closer. In return, I will draw nearer to you."

Psalm 139:13 says "You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb."
This verse clearly expresses God's intimacy with us before we were even aware of what affection was. Verse 15 shows us that our frame was not hidden from Him and He was weaving us together in secret. This was an intimate time; just you and the Maker. As He was forming your inward parts, He was constructing much more that your organs, muscles, and blood. The Creator of all the Universe was forming a living sanctuary within you where He deeply desires to dwell.

Within you is a castle where riches long to be buried. Within you is a Prince who fights for your soul and rides to the high hills to recapture your heart when it starts to stray into dangerous terrain. This King of Glory whose name is Faithful, paid a very elaborate price to be intimate with you. He is captivated by one glance from you. Stir the known and unknown longings within your heart and call to Him. He awaits your invitation!

(This was inspired after reading, Your Captivating Heart, by Staci Eldridge)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Passion and Purpose- A Great Couple




"I DARE YOU"!!!!Let's play truth or dare! No! How about we live the truth and plunge into the dare! I just dare you to fan the flames in your heart and jump on the hot road of God's purpose for you in this earth! I dare you!

I have been reading Joyce Meyer's newest book, "I Dare You". It is a powerful and encouraging writing that will confirm, reaffirm and stoke the coals of passion and purpose in your heart. This writing is also packed with practical wisdom in maintaining your vision with courage, discipline and consistency.
God has given you dreams and they are not something you just thought of. Once you were passionate about the dream and you dared to believe those dreams would become a reality. However the bad guy has lied to you and has robbed you of your heart's desires. What did you used to dream about? You need to go back and recapture those divine longings. Go into the enemy's camp and take back what he has stolen from you. You have believed a lie and it is time to take back what is rightfully yours as a child of the King.

I would encourage you to read this book. Joyce talks about passion and purpose. If you look at the photos above, you will see the illustration of the balance between passion and purpose. Many people have passion in their hearts for many things. However, passion without purpose can get out of control. Think of an actual fire. If a fire is not controlled by water, it will spread and do a lot of damage. However, a fire that is controlled can fulfill it's purpose. Having flames of the heart are powerful when they are combined with the water of the Holy Spirit.

The water of God's Spirit, keep the passion in line and on the road to purpose. On the other hand, if I have a great purpose with no passion, then there is no flame to spread that purpose. It is not catching and will die out eventually.

We also must make it a practice to stay poised before the Lord. (read more about this on the website :leapinghearts.com under Heart Threads). Remaining fixed and consistently hovering over the promises from God's heart, in addition to thriving in our relationship with Him, are the keys to being victorious in being who God has called us to be. It is also vital for the dreams He has placed within you to come to pass. You have a responsibility. God will not drop your dream into your lap You have to fight for it.

Sometimes you will feel alone in your passion and purpose. This is not the time to give up. When you are alone, the enemy will take advantage of the moment and try to impregnate you with his lies, abort your dream and destroy your fire. In the seasons when you feel alone in your dream, you need to make it your passion and your venture to make this the most intimate time with your Lord. This is the practical way to overcome the adversary of your heart and dreams.

I encourage you to read this book. It is packed with practical wisdom for your future. Furthermore it will fan your flame of destiny. Keep pressing on and be courageous!! I DARE YOU!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Who is God Speaking Through?

A couple of weeks ago,my oldest son told me that I have a bad habit of interrupting people when they are talking. I was shocked and surprised he corrected me. However, it was done in a very respectful and loving way. I never realized I had this habit. However it took my own child to point it out.

The choice was before me to receive correction from my own son with humility or to pridefully reject what he shared with a pure heart. Over the last couple of weeks I caught myself doing just that. Someone was sharing something with me and I interrupted with something I wanted to say. Once, I even found myself finishing some one's sentence for them. It made me realize how rude I must sound to others at times.

I believe the Lord wants to break me of this habit and I am thankful He brought it up through my son. As parents or even leaders, I think we can become prideful in who we receive truth or correction from. We tend to choose those that we will allow to speak into our lives at times with a haughtiness that someone "less mature" than us cannot actually reveal something undesirable in our lives. This is a true test of humility. Here are some questions to ask ourselves.

As a parent, do I feel resistance rising up when my child says something about a weakness I have? As a leader, do I have attitudes toward others that they are not as "far along as me" spiritually, therefore I do not need to receive from them? We must always keep our hearts open to every avenue God wants to speak.

As for me, personally, I want to be a better listener. That means speaking much less that I listen. My heart is to help others work through their problems by pointing them to Jesus. Allowing others to finish what they are saying, and just being quiet is such a vital key in doing this very thing. The Lord listens much more than He speaks. How I want to be like Him.

Lord, Thank you for your grace and the loving way you correct us. You desire for us to be transformed into your likeness even in the way we listen and the way we relate to others in conversation. Help me to be more courteous like You Lord. Amen.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Industrialization 101












I just had to share this unplanned self learning and creative time the kids had yesterday in the backyard. I love the flexibility of homeschooling. I had gone outside to call the kids in to finish up their "book work" and they were all working together on these pine straw huts.It was so fun to see them collecting large limbs from the woods and I admire their creativeness in building something so unique. There is such a message of unity in this activity. Together we can work and make something great!!! I am amazed at how God reminds us and teaches us some of the most wonderful truths through the creative and simple acts of our children. May we all follow their example. The little hole in the pine straw where you see the kid's faces are little windows they made in the hut.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

DR. MAC (Memories of True Hospitality)

Dr Mac was truly a man who exemplified what true hospitality is all about. In our culture of material gain and outward appearances, I feel we are losing this simple art of the heart.Dr. Mac was "Granddaddy" to me and he was a medical doctor back in the day when doctors made house calls and delivered women's babies in their homes.

For Granddaddy, it was his heart and his joy to help others. He was a simple man who was filled with a kindness that is rare today. I remember going to my grandparent's home to visit for a weekend. If Dr. Mac was on call, he would get up in the middle of the night to meet patients at his clinic. If the patient was very ill, he would go to their home. If they were poor, he would give them medicine. In addition,I also remember numerous times when sick people would come to his house needing help. I do not remember him ever turning anyone away.he even took a step further and made time to call his patients the next day to see how they were doing.

This compassion impacted my life as a little girl. As I watched him, there was a work being done in my young heart that I did not realize. This was a simple man, who simply loved people, and he was known and respected not for all he did, but for who he was.

Dr. McLane,(Dr Mac) was a true vessel of hospitality. It is grievous to see how our world has twisted the true meaning of hospitality. It is not about having a perfectly decorated house, and preparing the fanciest meals. It is not about trying to advance appearances. Hospitality is an art of the heart. It is kindness shown toward guests or strangers. It is a resting place within that says "welcome" to those we meet. In fact the word hospitality is formed from the root word, "hospital".

Our homes should be a place of rest where our family members feel welcomed and accepted. Our churches should be a place of comfort and encouragement where others feel valued. We should see every individual as Christ sees them and esteem others as more important as ourselves.

When someone is before us, we need to welcome them with a smile that is genuine. Instead of frowning or turning our heads when someone walks by, we should say, "WELCOME" with our countenance and smile.

I am sure our Saviour smiles much more than HE frowns. He delights in His children.
Let us make an effort to reflect His genuine smile,make house calls,and go to the places where others are hurting. Then follow up with a phone call. Thank you Dr. Mac, Granddaddy, for showing so many the true meaning of hospitality. May your legacy live on!

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Living Sacrifices

The other day I met an extraordinary young woman named Alicia. She is also the mother of five young children.
As we were having a great conversation about family and mothering, she shared more and more of her life and story with me. WOW, I was amazed by the things I heard. She and her husband are ministers here in Atlanta where they serve in an inner city organization in which they go out and meet the needs of hurting people. In this ministry there are many other churches and local ministries who gather together and go to the people. On Saturdays,these groups of people knock on doors and ask the people how they can serve them. They cut grass, clean, and help people with basic things such as getting their driver's license renewed. These are just a few of the services they provide. She said you would be so surprised at some of the basic life skills people do not know how to do right here in Atlanta. This gives them so many opportunities to pray and to share Christ with the poor and hurting.

She shared with me about a particular group that went to a home downtown and knocked on the door. There was a woman inside crying, "I need Jesus! I need Jesus!" A man came to the door and led them in to the woman who was strung out on drugs. One person said, "How can we help you?" The desperate woman continued to cry, "I just need Jesus!" So the group of people from this ministry prayed with this woman to receive Jesus as her Savior. Hallelujah!

This young woman also shared with me about her sister who lives in Metro Atlanta. She has five of her own children and has taken in five other children who were neglected and abused. She does not even receive pay as a foster parent, but just trusts the Lord to provide. One child's mother is a drug addict with several other children of different men. She was leaving the children alone all day at home to run the streets. My heart was stirred not only to hear the stories about the hurting, but was tremendously touched by these motherly ministers and others who have laid down their lives to reach the suffering. They truly are living sacrifices going out beyond the comforts of their own homes and families and making a difference in the live of others.

Alicia shared testimony after testimony of God's provision for their family as they have stepped out time and again to touch others lives. I was touched by her passion for the lost and her excitement for family and how her children serve along beside her and her husband.

I have contemplated much of this the past couple of days as I have been reading Philip Yancy's book, "Where is God When it Hurts?" I have had the book for two years but have not read it until now. I believe it is God's timing as my heart has been stirred in a different direction over the past several months. This is what Yancy said about Jesus.

"Clear your mind and reflect a moment on Jesus' life. He was the only person in history able to plan His own birth. Yet He humbled himself, trading in a perfect heavenly body for a frail body of blood and sinew and cartilage and nerve cells. The Bible says there is no temptation known to man that Jesus did not experience. He was lonely, tired, hungry, personally assaulted by Satan, besieged by leeching admirers, persecuted by powerful enemies.

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, ad familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces..." (Isaiah 53: 2-3)

When Jesus first began His ministry, the people hooted, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" An ancient ethnic joke: Jesus the hick, the country bumpkin from Nazareth. In keeping with that reputation, he seemed to gravitate toward other rejects; those quarantined with leprosy, prostitutes,tax collectors, paralytics, notorious sinners."

Jesus was THE MAN familiar with every pain imaginable. So many times I have prayed and asked the Lord to share His heart with me. Sometimes we pray things and do not really know what we are asking. Are we really willing to share in His sufferings? He says if we want to know His heart then we must be willing to hurt in this life. How can we truly hurt for others if we never have to experience pain ourselves. I believe Jesus was drawn to the hurting and the diseased because He identified with their pains.

I want to find the rejects, for I was one. I want to find the hurting, for I have hurt many times. I want to find those who grieve, for I have been grieved by death and disappointment. I want to find the lost, for I was once lost on death's path.
Take me to them Jesus. Show me the way. may I be a living sacrifice today and everyday.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Testimony-The Gift of Pain

I have been like a running faucet the past couple of Sundays at church. We have nursery duty this Sunday so I will get a break. I am so sensitive to things and I am just learning to embrace that as a gift and to listen to the flow of my tears.
It just goes to show that God's anointing and holy presence is with us in our services. There have been some Sundays when I just have not wanted to go to church. Every time I have felt that way and went anyway, the Lord has given to me in such profound ways. However, I have expressed to the Lord that I am going to church for Him only. I am going Lord to love on You and to worship You. Every time I have prayed that prayer and have truly had that motive, He in turn has met me and has given to me in a way that I cannot measure in the natural or appropriately express in my limited vocabulary.

This past Sunday, Pastor Sterling spoke on the Bourne Identity which relates to wounds. The Bourne Identity is an action type of movie. He shared such great insight about how we are naturally born with wounds because we are born into a fallen world. The entire message I felt the Lord was touching something so deep in me. I really could not put my finger on it. EMANUEL WAS THERE!!!

As the message came to a close, Pastor Sterling had a ministry time in which he invited any who needed prayer for wounds in their hearts which needed to be healed to come forward. I knew I was hurting, but was not sure why. Wow! The gift of pain is precious. I cannot believe I am saying that. However it is the truth.

As the invitation was given, I waited a few moments and looked around to see if anyone else was going forward. No one was moving. However, I could not restrain myself. I got up and went forward. I do not even remember the steps I took to reach the front,but as I arrived to the couple who was up front to minister , the tears began to flow as if they would not ever stop.

It would take so much writing to explain all that God was touching in me. However, today I thought of the Title of the movie, "BOURNE IDENTTY" The very thing I was feeling pain and wounded in was the very core of who God has made me to be. Yes, I am first a child of God, but I am secondly a wife and mother. God revealed to me that I have been under a false guilt for the desires that I carry in my heart to carry children, to birth, to nurture and to mother. He gave me a new and complete freedom to grieve a miscarriage that happened about 2 months ago. He gave me freedom to grieve the loss of a much wanted baby even though I have 9 other children. God gave me liberty to embrace the core desires of my heart and the revelation that HE placed that there. The very things I had been fighting were the very things that God has anointed me by HIS grace to be and to do. IT is not just a season. I will always birth whether in the natural, or in the spirit. It is my calling as a woman and it is GOOD!

I so appreciate Susan and Jeff Hutchins who are elders at City Life. They were the ones who took me and prayed with me and cried with me. There is something profound when you see someone sincerely sharing your pain and truly grieving with you. There is such healing in that. I felt the love of the Father and the "motherly" love of God through them as they shared such a depth of compassion that I so needed.
How the Body of Christ needs each other.

If you ever feel like you do not want to go to be with your church family, that is a strong signal that you need to go. God is waiting for you there. The enemy wants to keep you away in order that you will miss God's hugs, His pleasure and joy for you as You go to give unto Him, even if it is your pain.

IF NOT FOR PAIN,
WE WOULD NEVER KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
SORROW AND JOY
WE WOULD NEVER KNOW HOW TO COMFORT
IN TIMES OF GRIEF
WE WOULD NEVER KNOW
AND WE WOULD NEVER RECOGNIZE THE NEED
WE HAVE FOR A LOVING GOD
WHO IS ATTENTIVE TO US
IN EVERY DETAIL
IN EVERY STRUGGLE
IN EVERY HAPPY MOMENT
PAIN IS A GIFT
IT GIVES US A PLACE OF KNOWING
A PLACE TO REACH OUT
AND BE THE DIFFERENCE
FOR OTHERS WHO ARE SUFFERING!

THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you are a mother,whether in the natural or in the spirit, you are anointed to mother. His approval and strength is available to you. I received a stack of magazines today called "Above Rubies" The publisher wrote a personal note to me. It said , DEAR ANGE, (ANOINTED TO MOTHER),
MAY LOVE, JOY, AND PEACE BE MULTIPLIED TO YOU. MAY YOUR HOME OVERFLOW WITH THE PRAISES OF THE LORD. MAY YOUR WALLS REBOUND WITH LAUGHTER. MAY LOVE SPILL OVER FROM ONE TO THE OTHER. ABOVE ALL, MAY THE ANOINTING OF GOD'S PRESENCE FILL EVERY ROOM.

This is my prayer for every mother who reads this. I also have some copies of this encouraging magazine to give away. If you would like one, email me and I will reserve one for you and bring it to church on Sunday. I will be in the nursery. I have 9 copies so let me know. My love goes to you mothers!!!!!!!!!!

Ange

Friday, August 31, 2007

THE CALL TO TRUST IN PARENTING

HE WHO DWELLS IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH SHALL ABIDE IN THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY. I WILL SAY OF THE LORD, "HE IS MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS; MY GOD, IN HIM I WILL TRUST."


From the first moment a newborn baby is placed within the warm embrace of his mother's arms, he begins to learn about trust. Until we are held within a genuine, heart felt embrace, we know nothing of the matter of abiding and hiding within safety. A baby learns from the embrace and care of his parents who the people are that provide and care for him. He learns who he is through the ones he learns to trust.

It is a known fact that if you hold a newborn baby about 12 inches from your face, he can see you clearly. As time passes, he begins to recognize your features each time you pick him up to cradle him. When we purposefully hug and hold our children as a way to express our unconditional love for them, they learn that we are the givers and that they are the receivers of all we have to offer them. When it comes to the neediness of a newborn, we are humbled by the complete dependence this tiny life has upon us. Subsequently as they absorb the recognizable attributes of who we are, they learn and know who they are. As a result, they are secure knowing they are safe within our care.

This is the exact model for how we as God's children should trust Him in all areas of our lives. Psalm 91 is so applicable in parenting in that if we are trusting in our heavenly Father, we can have confidence and have assurance that HE will guide us in our journey of parenting. Below are five points or keys to trust God in our parenting.

-KNOWING-who I am as a child of God
-SEEING-our children as younger brothers ans sisters in the
Lord.
-GIVING-our children a Kingdom View
-MODELING-a heart felt faith by keeping constant company with
the Lord.
-LIVING-a heart felt faith by keeping constant company with the
Lord.


The first and most important key to trust is in knowing who I am as a child of God.
It is by getting to know Christ that imparts to us who we are in Him. As we become increasingly secure and confident while learning to consistently abide in God, we will outwardly manifest attributes which will in turn cultivate our children's security in their relationship with us.

We want our children to be secure individuals so that they will be well equipped for the influences of the world. We do not want them to follow it, but to stand tall in it. For example, if I am a fearful individual, I cannot expect my children to not have the same fears. As a child, I used to pray the same prayer before I went to bed. I would fearfully plea for God to protect me from tornadoes, house fires, earthquakes, and burglars. Because I was a fearful child, I grew to be a fearful adult. If I had not allowed the Lord to help me in this area of fear and to deliver me from it, then more than likely my children would be victims of the same fears. As we desire the best for our children, let us desire God's best for us. Trusting in God is the best He has for us. He demonstrated that when He went to the cross and fulfilled His promise to rise from the dead. Why would we trust anything else. Let us always endeavor to look to Him, call to Him, learn of Him in order that we may love Him more. This is the core key of successful living in all areas of our lives.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Life of Joy, The Joy Of Life

I am amazed by the designs and plans of God for our lives. The word "amazed" and the phrase "plan of God" seem so trite sometimes in that we use those words so often. If we do not stop and quieten ourselves to go deeper than even the level of our vocabulary, the phrases and words can become so stale. Oh Lord, may Your name and your ways never become stale in my mind, in my mouth, in my heart and in my spirit. I am taking a little break from the parenting articles as I am so full of God's love, life and grace. I just have to share.

Today has been such a special day. It is no one's birthday, no holiday or special occasion. It is a day, just a day. However, a day no matter what it entails is a gift and I do not ever want to take the time He has so graciously given for granted.
One thing that has made this day so special is that I am beginning to see more and more of the life God is giving in the place of loss in our lives. We lost our baby to miscarriage about a month and a half ago. My heart is still broken, but a broken heart does not mean it is the end. We named our baby Joy and now I am beginning to see why the Lord gave us that name for this baby who await us on the other side.

A couple of weeks ago I joined Curves which is an exercise facility for women. The women who go there are so friendly and talkative. I feel like I have known them for longer than two weeks. One of the employees named Cindy has been so kind to me and has helped me learn to use the machines correctly. Today, when I walked in, her face just lit up as she approached me. She asked me if she could share something personal and went on to tell me that her oldest daughter who is only 8 weeks pregnant was at the Doctor's office that moment because she had started bleeding heavily. She asked me to pray for her. She asked me about my experience with the miscarriage and about my experiences with having children. I have only spoken with this woman a few times and she is pouring her heart and concern out to me concerning her dear daughter who lives far away in Buffalo, New York. I was able to minister to this woman today because of a loss in my life. If I had not lost Joy, I would not have had the joy of showing the love of Jesus to this dear woman.

Just yesterday I felt so much grief from the loss of baby Joy. I am healing and the days are getting better overall. However grief is an oddity. it can wash over you unexpectedly without any notice or warning. It is a process and it is taking a long time. This morning however, I felt the life flow of baby Joy and the Lord within me so intensely as I had the privilege to encourage this woman with a message of hope.

I experienced the life of Joy who is no longer in my womb, but she is in the embrace of the womb Creator and life Sustain er. When I touched a hurting heart, I felt I was touching Joy. Everything this baby stands for is life because she is alive. And the loss I have experienced is nothing compared to the glory of His life in my heart. This is so simple ,but oh so deep. Lord, may the simpleness of your love never grow stale within me. The life of Joy is bringing me into deeper wells of the Joy of Life. Oh What a Day! Oh What a Savior!!!!


Eternal Life is in Him and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:4-5 (Living Bible)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Elevation of Methods and Formulas

It was the most time consuming, tedious, and tiresome Christmas present he had ever assembled. Oh, the memory. We had to hide the tremendous box away at a friend's home until the children were nestled and snug in their beds that Christmas Eve many years ago. It was all planned out. We would stay up all night if that was what it took to complete this huge project. It was our children's first swing set!

The unusual temperature of that billowy night is a memory I know I will never forget. And I know my dear husband especially will always remember the blistering cold as he labored in love to make the boy's dreams of a swing set a reality. John worked all night and finally completed the project exactly five minutes before they awoke Christmas morning. Whew! That was close!

One reason it took so long to assemble the swing set was that it had so many parts with so many screws. John had to follow the directions carefully, step by step, in order for the swing set to turn out a success. How much like this scenario can we compare parenting? How many times have we asked and searched for methods, formulas, and directions on how to raise our children? The questions start from the time time the parents find out they are expecting a new baby and continue until the child is launched into adulthood.

Wouldn't it be great if all new babies came with an instruction manual that gave step by step directions for that child's life? It would list the brand of diapers that baby should wear, the method of feeding, how to get him or her to sleep through the night at two months old. Then, as you move through the manual you will be instructed as to how to potty train that child and at what age. Later on, you would know for sure whether you are to send your child to public or private school, or even be home schooled. In addition, you would know what discipline techniques work best for this child. At adolescence you would already be well informed as to how to deal with fluctuating hormones,insatiable hunger, and conflicting attitudes. Then the final chapter would guide you to the exact plan for that child after graduation. Everything worked and you are now ready to launch your young adult into life with confidence because you know you stuck to the book and did it all right.

There are so many resources available for parenting that it makes my head spin when I go that section of a book store. Everyone wants a method and a formula for making their children turn out successful. We must be very careful not to try and fit our children into a formula or a method. There is only one equation for all of life and that includes our journey in parenthood.

(Trust in the Lord)+ (with all of your heart)- (leaning on your own understanding)+ (all your ways acknowledging Him)=GOD DIRECTED PATHS. Proverbs 3:5-6


In other words, if we lean upon our own understanding by seeking the perfect method and leaning upon that to work, then we are trusting in something other than the Sovereign God who has the written plan of that child within His safe keeping. Flipping through books, searching the web,and asking other parents are all great sources and we need to take advantage of trustworthy resources. However trusting in anything above the wisdom of our all knowing God makes them idols in our search to be the best parents we can be.

In addition to idolatry , we must also realize that we are harming our children by leaning upon methods and formulas. If we become so fixated on putting together the right ingredients in order to parent successfully, then we are led to relate to our children as if they are projects on conveyor belts. Unfortunately, this causes breakdown in relationship with our precious children. The inner knowing and discernment of children are very keen. Therefore, they sense when we are relating to them in this way. It damages our bond with them as they will feel like we care the most about how they will turn out rather than loving them right now.

God cares about how we all turn out. This is why He came upon this earth as a man to die and save us from an eternal death. However, He delights in us daily just as we are and never makes us feel as though we are His projects just to be completed so that He can be praised for His wonderful accomplishments. We must constantly examine our hearts as parents and repent for trusting in sources other than the Source Himself.

God so loved the world that he sent Jesus. He calls us to love above all other noble things we can do. This will lead us into the next articles which will be centered on trusting the Lord and looking to Him to be the best parent we can in His eyes. We are called to trust in HIM alone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Over-Dependence on Control

Once I heard someone talking about a mother who "ran a tight ship". This may have described someone who was well organized and very structured in the way they parented and ran their household. Having a "tight ship" is almost a necessity especially for larger families like us. There has to be a healthy measure of organization and control in order that the family ship runs as smoothly as possible. Does this mean our home is spotless and everything is in place? No way!! However, we do have a system which allows us to flow harmoniously through each day. At the same time the schedule is loose enough to allow for divine interruptions. A ship that is too tight will eventually cause everyone to want to jump off and swim in a different direction. We want our sails to be loose enough that we may be free to flow with the unexpected changes and interruptions.

I remember when our oldest children were younger. I was very into having charts and schedules all over the house. These worked well for a season and the children enjoyed them most of the time. However someone would eventually wake up sick or a neighbor would be in need. There were many occasions when my structured plans would be cancelled. This seems to be even more so now as our family has grown. I also remember having to forget about the neatly made "chore and homework schedules" because of discipline problems. Sitting down with the children and having discussions about the importance of respecting and loving each other and honoring their parents were of more importance compared to sticking to structured schedules.

Do not misunderstand and think I am proposing that control is unimportant or wrong. When our oldest children were younger, much more control was needed to protect them from harm and to teach them responsibility. Even now with our younger ones, we do have a tighter reign on them compared to the teenagers. However, as they grow and mature, we release a little at a time and give them space to grow and become who God created them to be.

In our 17 years of parenting, we have always had to tighten the ship somewhat as our family has grown. The more people who live in one house, the more order is needed so that all members are healthy, safe, clothed, fed, nurtured, and disciplined. A tight ship is a good thing. However, the question we need to re-examine is this- IS YOUR TIGHT SHIP TOO TIGHT?

You ask, "What do you mean by having a ship that is too tight?" Let me ask you, "Have you ever been in some one's home that you feel like you are walking on pins and needles? Have you ever felt like if you breathed too hard, something would break? Have you ever been so uncomfortable around a particular individual that you were afraid if you said one word, your head would be "bitten off" ? Or have you ever felt if you said something you would be criticized for what you expressed? "

We all have probably experienced this type of tension at some point in our lives. The last thing we want to find out years from now is that our own children felt that way growing up in their own home. Rigid rules and harsh discipline along with the other items I mentioned above can breed fear in our children. Sometimes we can be so reliant on our authority to control our children that they can become terrified of us. Therefore, their obedience stems from fear instead of sincere honor. This detriment works against winning their hearts. In addition, too much control intimidates them into subjection and gains only outward compliance.

Finally, as we examine our hearts as parents, let us recall the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. After squandering away all of his inheritance, the son returned home to his father who had been waiting and hoping for his son's homecoming. I wonder how this father "ran his ship"? Was it too tight? It seems to me that if this father was overly controlling, the son probably would have been too fearful to go back, too terrified that his father would snap his head off and say, "I told you so." On the other hand, he may have been too bitter to return home because he learned to obey outwardly to his father's harsh demands, while his rebellious heart remained hidden. The home his father provided for him must have been a comfortable and safe place to be. This son was probably taught and trained well, but at the same time, was allowed the space to grow and to find his own way as he matured. This loving father was not dependent on control to mold his son. If this were the case, he would have refused to give his son his inheritance in the first place. This wayward son remembered home as a place of warmth,void of rigid rules and demanding schedules. That is one of the main reason he came home.

Let us be challenged to guard against over dependence on control. We want to relate to our children as precious people who have feelings and the ability to make choices. They eventually will decide if they will continue to respond as trained. No matter how much we try to restrict or control them, they will make their own choices and our hold on them will not guarantee they will turn our exactly as we hope or imagine. We must keep in mind and heart that our children are individuals with a free will who are processing their own lives and upbringing. There will be a point of transfer where they will be accountable to God. Let us focus on how we can touch their hearts with the love of the Lord rather than trusting in control factors.

(The next article will be on Elevation of Methods and Formulas. This will be the last article on the Horses and Chariots of Parenting. We will then be sharing the "Call to Trust" in our Parenting.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Preoccupation with Outward Form

As parents we look for and are drawn to other parents who seem to be doing a great job in their calling as parents. It is a good thing to desire positive examples in our lives that we can glean from and draw strength from as we pursue our own charge to raise godly children. So often we look at the outward fruit and draw our own conclusions of godliness. For instance, we are impressed by the modesty, grooming standards, wholesome music styles, respectful manners, organized schedules, and orderly homes of Christian families. This is outward fruit that may or may not represent the inward fruit. We need to be cautious not to be preoccupied with these things in our own parenting as well as being too fixated upon these outward standards in others. Nothing is wrong with these admirable qualities unless we make them a priority and a standard for molding our children's behavior while we altogether miss their hearts. The question to ask here is, "What is the priority?"

In 1 Timothy 2:9, modesty is addressed. However, Jesus emphasized many more times about a changed heart bearing outward fruit than issues of outward form. If the enemy can tempt us to focus on the outward issues above the inward, then all the hype about modest dress, rules of behavior, hairstyles, music choice, etc., are all vanity and pride. The result of this outward focus is judgement in that it is inevitable we will apply our chosen standards to others as if our way is the only right way.

In the last article we discussed how the Pharisees were confronted numerous times by Jesus for defining their own chosen standards as holiness. Then they belittled others who did not hold to their standards. For example, when I was a young mother of 2 children, I went to visit a friend who had three children who were older than my sons. My oldest, Bradley, was 2 at the time. I had not seen my friend in several years. One of the first questions she asked me was if Bradley was "potty trained" yet. When I replied no, she gave me a frown and critically said, "I cannot believe that. I had ALL of mine potty trained before they were two." Needless to say, I left there that day feeling like a failure as a mother because of some other's standard for potty training.

Here is the test. When we believe or feel like WE have achieved results with our children, we can very easily become proud of our accomplishments. Furthermore, in our pride, we judge others by those areas we feel most successful. Beware. We must not elevate issues more that Jesus did.

Another point here is that we need to guard against our motives for why we make certain choices in our families. In my past experiences I have heard many mothers share about how they make their bread from scratch, raise their own food, and mop their kitchens everyday. These are all great things. Homemade bread is one of my favorites! However, if we do these things to parade them in front of others as an indicator as to how great we are as parents or we think that certain methods of doing things exemplify the best to our children, then we are deceived.

Recently, I read a story about a pastor who visited a mother who was dying with cancer. Her pastor asked, "If you could go back and change one thing as a parent, what would you do?" This dear mother replied, "I would have baked less bread and spent more time playing with my children." This is a sobering story. We should all be exhorted to continually assess our methods and our standards along with the motives behind them. Remember, it is more about touching our children's hearts, not molding them on the outside into our cookie cutter ideas of successful children.

Many times I have failed in this area with my teenagers. I became so focused on their external state, that I did not take time to be still before them and listen to their hearts. We must also guard against this especially with our teenagers. Many times I think we as Christians can get so caught up in expecting "bad fruit" from our teenagers because of the world's attitude about teens. When one of my teenagers becomes very quiet and aloof, I have been guilty of making wrong judgements upon him because I was focusing on what I thought was negative fruit. If we are not careful to "listen to their hearts", we can push our teenagers away in seasons when they need us the most. How needy we are as parents to be still in our hearts during our busyness that we may correctly hear the inward cries of our children.

Lord, help us to continually humble ourselves before You that we may have tender hearts toward our children's hearts. Help us not to be overly focused on outward form that we may have clear vision of what they need in their souls. You say to be still and know you are God. Teach us to do just that so we will know Your best for our children . In Jesus Name, Amen

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Religion of Avoidance

When our now 17, 15, and 13 year old sons were much younger,I was very sensitive to their surroundings and everything they were exposed to. Yes, I admit it. I was a "smother mother". Isn't it a good thing to guard and protect our children from the negative influences of this world? After all, God's word says "Guard your hearts for it is the well-spring of life." When our children are very young they do not understand what this means, so we are responsible for sheltering them from things that could influence them spiritually and emotionally, as well as physically.

However, I do believe that sheltering can be more of a detriment to our children rather than a positive enhancement when we become to rely on it as the solution to the problem of our children being influenced by the world.

When our three oldest were younger, I was very cautious about what they watched on TV, what types of stories they read, and who their friends were. These things in themselves were not bad, but I did over react in these areas many times. For example, we had friends that we spent a lot of time with. They had one son who was the same age as our second child. The little boy loved to watch a show called "Power Rangers". Power Rangers was a "no no" at our house because it was violent and "supposedly" based on New Age beliefs which presented your own power rather than God's power to fight and destroy evil.

When we would have this family over, the little boy wanted to constantly act out the characters in Power Rangers. I would politely, but firmly tell them that particular type of play was not allowed in our home. However, all of the little boys would continue running around kicking and performing their intimidating "karate chops" on one another. It irritated me so much that I almost stopped allowing our boys to play with the little boy. However, we continued to build a friendship with this family. If we had not been in their lives at the time, the mother and father very well could have divorced as they had just come through a trial of infidelity in their marriage. We were able to be utilized by the Lord to help save their relationship. My religion of avoidance could have stopped us from being a blessing to this family who needed safe friends during a time of darkness in their marriage. Furthermore, our chidren are not ruined for life because they played a few rough and tough games of Power Rangers.

This should make us think of the Pharisees who were the religious rulers at the time of Jesus life on earth. Jesus was constantly confronting them because they avoided anything that seemed to taint or defile. This practice of avoidance made them appear and feel holy. If we as parents become too fixated on keeping our family from corruption, we can become prideful of our higher standards. therefore,we are not much different from the Pharisees.

The fact is that if we are not careful, parenting can become one of the most prideful and arrogant areas of our lives. We must not think we are prone to even the point where we "boast" or "share" with others the standards we share. We really should not offer our standards unless we are asked.

Another negative to being fixated on sheltering is that in our pride we become very in tune to what other parents are doing or not doing in their methods of parenting. Unfortunately we fall into being judgemental. Not only does this hinder us from developing relationships with others that need the Jesus who is in us, but it also teaches our children to be self righteous and prideful. As they "inherit " these seemingly "holy" mindsets, they also go through life looking down at others whom God wants to touch through them. It "messes" with our entire destiny.

Let us guard against the horses and chariots of over sheltering. Instead of them being a tool in our hand to defeat the enemy, these weapons can easily be turned against us and our children for our own destruction instead of our glorious transformation.

(Check back soon for the next horse and chariot of parenting, PREOCCUPATION WITH OUTWARD FORM)

Monday, July 23, 2007

The ABC's of Parenting Part 1

Some trust in horses,some trust in chariots, but we trust in the name of the LORD OUR GOD. (Psalm 20:7)

Quote: "In life, children have a tendency to transition from total dependence in their younger years, to total independence from their parents as they get older. The goal of parenting is to lead our childrern to interdependence within the framework of a strong Christian faith."

(In these next several blogs, we will be breaking down the ABC's of parenting into seperate articles. We realize that raising and training our children is not as easy as "ABC". However, we hope to impart the simple truth in that we serve a loving God, the only one true God who is trustworthy.)

A IS FOR ALIGNMENT- we must align ourselves with the truth and take action toward that truth.

Imagine you are a king and a warrior. You hear from your trusted watchmen that a massive army of men and chariots are planning to come against you. A feeling of dread and fear tries to settle upon you for you know your men do not equal in the strength and the number of your adversaries. The enemies possess elaborate chariots which can hold 3 or 4 soldiers and strong horses to pull them. These chariots also have sharp blades protruding forcefully from each wheel ready to mow down and slice up anything in its path. You ask the internal question, "What am I going to do? There is no way we can defeat, much less survive this multitude of aggressive warriors who have the weapons and the power to flatten us in a mere moment."

This was an actual event recorded in 1 Chronicles 18 and in 2 Samuel 10.
Whenever the Israelites were preparing to send a king into battle with his troops, a prayer would be spoken over the king and the army. Psalm 20 is the actual prayer spoken by the people over King David, Joab the commander, and the entire army. Because of the law of the land, the Isrealites were not allowed to have all of the intricate weapons that the Ammonites and the Syrians depended on. However, they had God and they knew He was all they needed. In Psalm 20:7, they declared, "Some trust in horses and some trust in chariots, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God."
And because they truly trusted in the God who is trustworthy, David and his army faced their fear and defeated the enemy. Through his faith and dependence on the Lord, David and his men killed 40,000 men and destroyed 7000 charioteers!

What does this have to do with parenting? It has everything to do with parenting because it is all about trust. Where do we put our trust when it comes to raising our children in a godly way? This is a question we must continually ask ourselves as none of us are prone to getting off track. As Christians, we desire the best for our children, but even with the best intentions, we can fall so easily into leaning on the horses and chariots instead of the Chief Warrior, Jesus Christ. Some of the methods and ideas we look to are usually very good, but good elevated above the best becomes a detriment if placed on the throne above trusting the Lord.

Horses and Chariots represent our own strengths and our own reasonings of what will mold and make our children into successful, well behaved, well respectful human beings. In this segment we will share the first horse and chariot of parenting.

I. RESULTS ORIENTED

As parents we all have a strong desire to see our children be and become all that God wants them to be. However, sometimes we can get so caught up in the goals and dreams we have for our children we can become overly focused on the envisioned results and even succumb to using them as a measure of success in our parenting. When things are going well, we often become very relaxed and even a bit prideful. Family can become as a trophy or as a badge of honor to be admired by others or even God. This is a form of idolatry because our true security is from God, not how successful we are as parents.

In addition, we must realize that all idols require a sacrifice. Therefore, we end up sacrificing relationship with our children for the idol of the family. We make a trade here that was never our intent. We exchange their hearts for our reputation.

The world measures success in every area of our lives by the observed results. Because God's ways are not ours and His thoughts are far above our way of thinking, He defines success in moment by moment, day by day obedience.We have heard the statement over and over." The true test of your parenting is not evident until you see how the child turns out as an adult." How about all of the parents who are obedient and look to God with consistency and devotion and their children choose to go the wrong way in life? Can we really judge the parent? We must realize that God measures parents' success by obedience not by how their children choose to respond to their influence. Obedience is not the formula for success, obedience is the highest success. Isn't this a liberating truth?

(Check back soon for the next part, RELIGION OF AVOIDANCE)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Measly Pickins"

People were everywhere. The old and the young made their way down the grassy hill toward the awaiting shore. It was not the water they were drawn to, but a Man who was and is the Source of living water. Deep down they all knew, the babes, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas. They knew where the real Water was, so that was all they could think of that day. They must not have known how long they would linger to listen and to gaze upon the God Man who had everything to give, for most of them came with no plan for the day except to glean and feast of the Bread of the Living Word.

However, there was a little boy who came prepared that day. His mother must have had a inner knowing or even a hope that her little boy would be away for a large part of the day. Therefore she sent him off with a package of bread and fish.

Jesus had been teaching a good portion of the day, so he began to feel the natural hunger of the crowd. He turned to Phillip,one of his disciples, and asked, "Phillip, Where are we going to buy bread to feed all of these people?" Why was Jesus asking a question He already knew the answer to? He wanted to impart a truth to Phillip in a way that he could not learn from a mere lecture.

Looking around as he pondered the question, he replied, "It would take a fortune to even begin to feed them." As this was being discussed, Andrew was listening in and seeking his own solution to the problem. He spoke up. "There is a little boy here with 5 barley loaves and a couple of fish, but what good will that do?" Jesus then told the disciples to have everyone sit down on the grassy hill. Jesus began to show His name faithful, by passing enough bread and fish out to fulfill all of the people. In addition, the scraps were gathered which filled 12 baskets with enough leftovers for the disciples. What a powerful example of GOD making the seemingly impossible, completely possible from the measly pickins of a little boys' lunch.

When the impossibilities stare us in the face, the reality of what is within us surfaces, just as the doubtful comments of the Phillip and Andrew. The ironic thing is that the disciples had already witnessed miracle after miracle. You would think they would have immediately blurted out the answer to the question Jesus asked.

As I was meditating on the faithless response of the miracle marinated disciples, I began to think about what my own response would have been. I also thought about how I have responded to impossible situations. Because I have always been a pretty emotional person, my first response would probably have been panick, anxiety or distress. Being the "feeling" person that I am ,I may have broken down in fearful tears and judged the whole situation through my timidity and anxiety.

Now there are those who are rational thinkers who like to process things through figuring it out. "Well, in ain't lookin so good. Now see here, we have 5 little biscuits here, and two smelly little fish. Hmmm, Nope, just ain't no way, just ain't no way."

Then I think of the ones who are full of faith and even though they cannot feel it and they cannot figure it, they proclaim, "WITH MY GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!"

So let us ask ourselves,"Am I a feeler, a figurer or a faither?" Regardless of what we are, God meets us with our "measley pickins" if we will transfer them to Him. What are your measley pickins? What if God is showing you an impossible situation that you know you cannot comprehend how it will work out? Maybe you are thinking, "I do not have the time. I do not have a dime. I am not spiritual enough or smart enough. I do not know enough scripture, and I have too many of my own problems. I am too shy, too weak and tired." God says, "Give me your little lunch, your measely pickins and watch what I can do with them. All I ask is that you give me your seemingly pitiful offerings. When you place them in my hands, the miraculous will happen. Your offerings of weakness and inadequacies are lovely to Me."

So beloved, as you wait upon the shore of the never ending river, be assured that when we hand over all things to Him, our little bits as well our abundance, He is faithful to multiply it all into more than we could ever imagine in our limited minds. Let us be thankful for the Sovereignty of God whose ways are not our ways and whose thoughts are far above and beyond our own. Taste and see that the Lord is Good. Have a great Lunch!!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reasons for This Season

Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)


Just days ago, before the miscarriage, I wrote a blog about being a comforter. As we have received much comfort, we must freely give that which has been freely given to us by the Master Comforter. When we first saw the ultrasound and the evidence that there was no longer life within my womb, immediately I went into shock mode. It was as if some voice said, "FREEZE". And that I did. My heart stood still as if it had stopped beating all of a sudden. I felt dead.

This entire circumstance has and is one that I could never imagine unless I was in the midst of it. You do not really know until it is happening or has happened to you. It does not mean that you are hard hearted and without compassion when one is going through something you have never experienced. However, there is a depth created in those places of suffering that one cannot know unless you are personally walking through that valley.

The valley I have been walking is the valley of death through miscarriage. I have cried out to My God to show me what it is He wants to teach me about Himself through this. He has said to me over and over, "Be still and know that I am God." Okay Lord, I am frozen, I am paralyzed by this grief. Now what is it You want me to know about You?

He has been showing me many things about this turmoil and pain. I refuse to not talk about pain. Miscarriage seems to be such a "hush hush " topic. It is minimized by many because this life never passed through the birth canal and entered into this life. This child was never seen, therefore it is easy to brush it under and to "forget" . It was "only" a miscarriage.

I am here to say this experience has opened my eyes to a silent pain that I never knew existed. A mother knows when her body begins to change with the signs of life within her. This begins in the first weeks of conception. With me, I knew after 5 days that I was expecting. I felt dizzy and strange. I felt tired and queasy. I knew there was new life within me. I was over joyed!! The life flow of the little person was already a part of me and the eternal bond was there to stay.

My hope and prayer is that everything God is walking me through will be a blessing to others who will walk this valley also. I hope to be a vessel who God will offer many blankets of peace and comfort to others suffering this silent grief. I mentioned earlier that I had asked the Lord what He wanted to teach me. I am learning that He is not teaching me, He is training me. We can be taught many things, but there is a deeper level of knowing, of understanding, of living and breathing when we are trained. Training is when our hands are in it and we are doing it and experiencing it. Teaching is gaining knowledge that may only go so far as an intellectual understanding. Teaching leads one to think, but training guides one to feel. It is all about passion.


There are many things God is revealing to me through this season. One, I am realizing that I am not as in control of myself as I thought I was. When you are hurting with such an intense pain, it is as if you have been traumatized by a huge tidal wave that has crashed upon you. You are tumbling this way and that with deep sorrow, anger, numbness, confusion, fear, and on and on. I am not in control of myself and this has been a humbling revelation. One of the fruits of the spirit is self control. Should not I have self control if the spirit is within me? Why am I feeling out of control with my emotions? The Lord reminded me that He will allow these pains to reveal to us that there is never an end to our dependence on Him. Just when we get to a place where we think we are walking so close to Him and that we are fulfilled, He will remind us through adversity that the well of need that HE created will never be filled so much to the level that we have arrived to some spiritual accomplishment.

No I am not in control! Praise His faithful name. However, He is in control. Last Tuesday, after the D&C, my Dr. told my husband that I came to a little after the surgery. She told him that I opened my eyes and said, "GOD IS IN CONTROL!" I do not remember saying it as I was still affected by the anesthesia. I was encouraged to know that even though I have felt out of control, that there is rest and peace in the truth that HE IS IN CONTROL! The Hope of glory within is in control of me. I have not one thing to fear, for His love holds me close, so close to His breast as He constantly breathes everlasting grace into my soul without reserve. Shalom.

(My next few blogs will be about more things God has been speaking to me about waiting on Him, abiding in Him, His faithfulness to come to us in His manifest presence, and being thrust into His arms through pain and disappointment. Keep checking back if you would like to read about these things)

Many Blessings and thanks for reading the things I am sharing from my heart. I pray you are blessed and strengthened.

Ange

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Joy I Knew

You came into my life
A lovely surprise
You gave me smiles and laughter
The thought of you filled my soul
And my spirit rejoiced.

Within me I felt your life,
Yet you were so tiny
I never felt you move,
or kick or squirm.

Yet you moved me
And you always will
For I knew who you were
And I know who you are now
You are Joy.

I saw you as an arrow
Being shot straight up to Heaven
To be a blessing there
As you were to me here

You brought laughter to my heart
Whenever I thought of you
Whenever I shared about you
You are as real as the tears I cry.
You are Joy.

I miss you and the pain is overwhelming
Knowing that we are apart
I never felt the stabs of grief so deeply
I never felt so empty
but you are Joy

I know I am blessed
Beyond measure
To have known you but for a moment
I cradle you in my heart always
You are Joy

I feel my dreams have died
And my hopes have been eliminated
However, life is more than now
Life is beyond this present span

You are there in the Arm's of glory
And His joy is rocking you
Ever so gently
Ever so lovingly
Forever you are Joy

I have hope and I know
That one day I will hold you
And I will see your beautiful face
And kiss your laughter filled cheeks

For now my precious Joy,
I will think of you everyday
I will hope in the coming day
And I will rejoice in your life
Always you are Joy



This poem is written to honor our little angel who went to live with the Lord on June 28th, 2007. We named the baby Joy. We lost this baby to miscarriage at 7 weeks and 4 days. However, the life of this child was real. The life of this baby meant so much. I want to honor this precious beautiful life who was within my womb for only a moment. This life had a purpose and I believe one day we will hold this child when we enter the gates of Heaven. I am blessed to have known this child. I never saw the baby or felt the movements of his or her life. However , I felt and still feel the way this baby moved my heart. I am eternally grateful for this precious Joy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

From Comforted to Comforter

I just have to comment about yesterday's message. Pastor Sterling spoke about The Real World. He shared the facts about Atlanta, Georgia in that there are many wonderful things about our city. There is the opportunity for education, business, appreciation for the arts, and much more. These are the things we tend to hear of the most. However, the dark side of Atlanta is that it not so much the City of Fountains, but has a widespread reputation for its perversity in prostitution, homosexuality, sex trading and more unthinkable things. This is the Real World.

We live in a world that is so anti-family and the dark side of our city demonstrates this to no end. We need to wake up to reality and realize God placed us here for a reason and for a mission. Everything we have struggled through and everything that has seemingly been our weakness is the very area God wants to turn into our strengths and this becomes our mission.


Last night I was watching a special on the sex trade and prostitution
in India. Some of these girls are sold by their own families into this industry because of the poverty and the desperate need for income. Some of these girls were as young as eleven. I began to think about Sunday's message and the reality that these same types of things go on right beyond our own back doors within our own community.

In our fast paced, fast food, instant potato and microwave culture, many of us really do not have a clear or a deep understanding of suffering. We want to live lives of comfort and convenience. However, Jesus said if anyone desires to follow Him , he must deny himself and pick up his cross (Matthew 16:24). Jesus picked up His cross after he had been beaten and scourged until there was no flesh left upon him.

His suffering demonstrates to us that if we want to follow Him , we must be willing to suffer through tests and trials. We need to change our perspective on suffering. We can count it all joy when we go through valleys because God is using those things to dig wells of compassion within us as well as building a mission for us to carry out. Think about it! You are a mission that has been in the making ready to happen. You are a fireball of God's fiery love and power ready to slam against the forces of darkness. You are a bomb ready to explode and disarm the enemy's evil intent to hinder God's Kingdom.

That is why you have been hearing all of those lies lately. Have you heard them? They constantly echo, "You are no good. You are a failure. You have too many hang ups to be of any use to God. Give it up and quit trying to be someone you are not." If you have been hearing this lately. Take heart. It is time to step into action. It may only start with sticking your toe in the sea. However, if you make this one little move, the ocean will part.

I loved the part of the message where we were exhorted to not only allow God to come to us and comfort us in times of need, but to also go and be a comforter. We have been through many tests in our finances, families , relationships and health. We have received much comfort from the Lord. Now it is time to go and give some comfort to others who need it. We have received much, now we must freely give.

At the end of the service, there were two statements made in which we were to raise our hands for prayer. The first thing stated was to acknowledge that you are in a place where you need comforting and you need to come to God in repentance and restoration. The second one was to lift your hand if you have been comforted and feel the stirring of God to move forward and do something to be a comforter. ironically I sensed I have been in both places at the same time these past weeks. I have needed God's mercy grace and comfort, but also have had an ongoing gnawing within to go and comfort and to make a difference. I love it when God shows up in the midst of this type of turbulence.

Just the other day I was talking with the Lord and I asked Him to just show up in a special way. I was feeling discouraged and desperate for Him to come and encourage. Because His ways are not our ways, He never shows up in the way we imagine Him to. I was looking for a word or even a phone call.....I was just wanting to hear from Him. I was looking for a special bird to show up on my deck rail just as some manifestation that He was near.

Instead I received a phone call, but it was not for me. It was a needy friend who was in town and wanted to come by. She was the one who needed the most encouragement and help. My woes were of nothing compared to what she was going through. She stayed for hours and the Lord allowed me to speak truth to her and to encourage her. God showed up, but He wanted me to get out of me and to be a comforter in spite of my own pain. In ministering to this dear lady the Lord met me and showed me something tangible He had been speaking to my heart earlier. "Do you want to be healed, encouraged and strengthened? I will do that by showing you the strength that I have already deposited within you. I will continue to send those in need so that you can comfort them with my Love. In turn, you will be healed and lifted up through giving in this way." As the Lord spoke through Pastor Sterling. "Take your comforter and comfort someone else. This is true life. This is His call to THE REAL WORLD.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sharing In His Heart

I had two quiet times this morning with the Lord. Can you believe it? A busy mother with a house full of energetic babies, preschoolers, "middlers" and teenagers had two quiet times this morning? Yes and Amen! And it was not anything wondrous about me or my spirituality, it was just a very intense neediness to go to my Father and cry out to Him and to inquire of Him about certain ways I have been feeling.

I have everything to be grateful for and I am thankful for every blessing God has bestowed upon my life. Does that mean I never feel down with scattered emotions and lingering loneliness? No! Does it neccessarly mean I am in sin and just need to repent? Not always.

Sometimes the Lord gives us gifts that are unwelcome and feel uncomfortable.
As I was praying and asking the Lord why I was feeling that way, I felt both of His hands touch my chest as if He was imparting something dear from His heart to mine. I began to weep, not really knowing why. Then I heard Him say, "Be still and know."
I did not hear the entire scripture of, "Be still and know I am God." However, He knew I that I knew the rest. For a special reason He wanted me to hear that part of the scripture because He wanted to emphasize something of the last part, "I am God."

I began to share with the Lord how I feel alone at times because so much of my life is about giving and sharing. Mothers give daily and without reserve. It is our calling and it is our joy. However, sometimes we can become depleted and just want to rest and be in the company of someone who just appreciates us for who we are, not for what we can do for them and give them, but just because they delight in our uniqueness. The Lord showed me this morning that this is why I am feeling down.

Then I began to feel His heart. He showed me that He often feels this way. He is God and HE is our all in all who provides for us and is the source of all our needs. So often we go to Him as just that and nothing else. We fail so often to just enjoy His company because there is no one like Him. We become passive in our attention toward Him as someone beautiful, desirable, holy and set apart from all others. He showed me his loneliness this morning. Then I repented and cried to Him that I wanted more of Him not because He is just my Source, but because He is desirable and HE is my love.

Be still and know that I am God
Know that I feel lonely at times too.
Know that I want to be known for Me.
Not just for what I can give you.
Not for just how I can meet your needs.
Even though it is my joy to do just that,
It delights Me more to know in My heart,
That you just want to be with Me
Because I am lovely and desired by you.
I give my hurts at times for you to feel,
Because I want you to know that I get lonely and frustrated.
You are never alone in your pain, in Your joys and triumphs,
Be still and know Me as I know you.
I have given you My heart and My Spirit that you may share in My feelings too.
Be still and know that I know,
Be still and know Me more.

Lord, I thank you for allowing me to feel and know your heart this morning.
Thank you for deeper revelations that You are the God who wants to be known. You are the God who feels. You are the God who gets lonely and gets frustrated at times. Thank you for allowing me to share that with you. Thank you for trusting us as your friends to hear and experience the cries in Your heart. I am amazed that the God of Glory would be so vulnerable with His own heart. Wow, You are incredible, just incredible. Amen.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

DEVOUR SOME HUMBLE PIE: Respecting Our Husbands, Part 2

Ephesians 5:33 says, "And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband. (that she notices him, regards him, honors him prefers him, and loves and admires him exceedingly.)

If I did a survey on 100 women and asked them,, "Do you respect your husband?" What do you think the outcome would be? I believe that most women would admit that they do repect their husbands, but would they be able to explain how they are showing their husbands respect? Because we women are very emotional beings, we often wait for our husbands to meet our need for love first before we are willing to give them respect. according to Eph.5:33, this is not the way we should act. We are not to wait. We are to see that we are being respoonsible for our part in the relationship by giving our husband's unconditional respect. When we give them this through actions, we are in essence saying with our heart, our hands, our eyes, and our overall countenance, " I love you!!!" This is what keeps and covers the heart of our husbands. It is not in how we dress to the latest fashion, or the manicures and pedicures we purchase. It is not in highlights in the hair and the cologne that we wear. But love is shown by the honor and esteem we willingly present our husbands with intent and obedience.

Last week I shared the first 3 points of practical ways we can actively show our husbands repect. This week, I am sharing the next three points. If these have been weak areas for you, and we all have weaknesses in these areas, I would encourage you to use these as a prayer list. Go to your secret place and ask the Lord to show you which areas He would like for you to focus on. Circle one or two and allow the Lord to give you grace to be strengthened in those areas by putting them into action. His grace is sufficient.

4. A respectful wife venerates her husband. This means that she intentionally looks upon him with deep respect. We can control and choose our thoughts toward them. When we look upon our husbands, do we crticize his weakness and grumble within our hearts about those traits? Or do we take our thoughts captive (2Cor.10:4-5) and make it a habit to dwell on the good qualities God has given him?


5. As respectful wife esteems her husband. She values him highly. We are usually careful in the way we handle valuable belongings. Do we make his schedule more important than ours? Is what I have to do more important than what he has to do? Am I looking out for my interests or his? Sarah called Abraham Lord, not because she worshipped him above God, but because she recognized He was God's appointed headship in her marriage.


6. A respectful wife defers to her husband. This means to yeild with courtesy. She is cheerful toward him and encourages him without complaining. She does not nag, insist on her having her own way, fights to have the last word, and does not put undue requirements on him. If someone invites her to do something, she checks with him first.


When we make an effort with God's help to show our husbands respect, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to change us first. When we are changed, God then works through us to bring change in the lives of others. Are you feeling a little low on love in your marriage? Then check your respect level. Check back next week for Part 3 in gleaning pracitcal ways to put hands and feet to what God has called us to do in respecting our husbands.