Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part Five: Helping Hands

I have worked on many projects, and not a few happened to be with all men. See, I am good at building things. I love to look at a house and start from the ground up. I obsess over woodworking and designing beautiful creations that take labor and time to perfect. As you can imagine, my crowd that I help with on these projects rarely, if ever, consists of enthusiastic and, much less, knowledgeable women. I used to find myself offended when a man offered to handle the power tools instead of me or when the men took the saws away from me to finish the job.

All I ever got stuck doing was painting it seemed (and just an fyi, I hate painting – talk about dull). Needless to say, my frustration lead to me pushing them aside and insisting that I was apt enough to do the job, thank you very much. But, I started watching the guys as I did this. They were lost.

Thus, I adopted a new philosophy: ask how I can help rather than demand how I can help. The guys never seem to have a problem with me using the saws or the drills or doing something dangerous with the knife (*grins* --- me and knives are deadly), but they wanted to take the lead because they felt comfortable doing that. It was their way of saying “I love what you are doing, but I want to help you here.”

Men take a huge risk with women. They go against their very nature that fears failure to put their necks out for us. And what do we do? We join the feminist movement and take their careers away from them. Or we submit to them and let them lead wherever they want (which doesn't help them either).

Yet, that was not what we were designed for. Women have such a high calling for their lives that no amount of money can compensate for the loss when women abandon their post. We are the helping hands. We are the right hands of men.

A good man seeks woman for advice. Seriously. Women are made to be critiquers and supporters. Your words as a wife or even simply as a friend resonate louder than most men will ever admit. We were gifted with the unique insight that it takes to stand at the side of leaders and be their comforting advice, encouragement, and strength.

No man on this earth could do what woman does. They were not designed for this purpose. They were designed to lead and we were designed to support.

This design is not only intentional, but brilliant. A leader fails miserably without their right hands. The support feels undue pressure and eventually breaks down without a strong bearing in their path. Neither of the positions are lesser or greater, but they each need each other so much so that if one fails, the other fails.

Many women hold the Biblical position to be that of slavery. They see it as a demand to remain in the kitchen and be under a man’s leadership 24/7. Taking care of children and running the household is their only foreseeable future. (And this position stereotyped as the only Biblical position is not quite the ideal representation of being the supportive by the way.)

Yet, statistics show that when women choose a career field outside of the home, they choose one where they can help. They don’t choose one to lead others or to be prideful in their accomplishments. They choose a position to be the helping hands.

That’s what we are. It is not a job title that confines us to the home or to the career field. It is a passion and a calling that pushes our hearts into a place God designed them to go.

You remember the guys I build things with? Well, guess what? I use the power tools and saws just the same as them but in a different way. They like to finish the job; I like to start it. I like to guide the job, fix the spots that are broken and get it to perfection. The projects not only get done faster, but they get done with a joy and an appreciation that is often lost.

They respect my knowledge, seek my advice, and allow my hands to create the perfect details. But, in the end, I can see that they want to take the pride in these projects and feel like they led and accomplished them.

And you know what? That is fine by me. I want to know I mattered. I want to know I made a difference. I want to know that I was there to help and to lend what I could to the job. That is what I want and that blends so perfectly with what they want that is makes a team.

Just a side note though: if you think I am dropping the power tools or letting them carry everything or handle all the saws, you are dead wrong. Unfortunately, I happen to take a good deal of pride in my woodworking and all my hands on work too. The more rigorous life is, the better off I am.

Women and men are a team. I have offered you ladies a glimpse at God’s beauty magnified in you, the reason you fear abandonment, the reason women suffer so much oppression, and the source of your strength.

But, in the end, it all leads to one thing: God designed you, inside and out, for a very specific purpose. He placed in your hearts passions, fears, callings, hopes, and joy so that you would always thirst for Him and always want to magnify Him in your life. You all have a unique way of going out this and have absolutely gorgeous hearts to prove it.

God not only adores you, but He needs you to desire Him. He truly does. Your love and your understanding of who you are to Him mean more than anything else. Women were chosen to have specific struggles to counter our natural sinful tendencies, and in those struggles, our only answers would be God and the comfort of His callings.

What we feel and experience and long for and fight for is good. If it wasn’t a struggle, we wouldn’t have rewards, we wouldn’t have triumphs, we wouldn’t know how good things really are.

My heart goes out to every woman out there. I wrote these posts because I believe these truths can touch your hearts, can give you just a look at what God has in store for you if you would just let Him into your hearts, ladies. It is so worth the journey.

Thank you all for reading. Blessings!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part Four: Bare Strength

Have you ever noticed how a woman attracts more attention than a man? A woman who attracts more attention not because of her physical beauty, but the beauty of her soul? Think about it. The moment a woman laughs, sings, smiles, politely comments, makes conversation, heads turn. She attracts people’s attention, woman and man alike.

There is an awe about a woman who dares to bare her soul to the world, to shine a light that casts out all dark thoughts and places. A woman's soul is said to be medicine to the world. The passion harbored within her heart brightens up a day in a single song of praise, a kind gesture, or a gentle hand catching a falling object. She is a healer. She is mercy.

I’ve heard men rant at women for being forgiving, for offering second chances, for offering peace. I’ve seen men shake their head at the smile that comforts a naughty child or the helping hand to a man who just punched another. Yet, I’ve also seen men stop and stare, awe-struck by the mere thought that she might risk herself, her reputation, and her life simply to offer another mercy.

Women run such a risk of being misused or over worked or pushed around because they are so willing to put themselves on the line, their hearts on the line, when asked to. Granted, we don’t do it for every situation, but our hearts are naturally tuned to respond with grace more than punishment. We are the embodiment of God’s graceful, forgiving, peaceful and merciful characteristics. And for that, we bear both exploitation and glory.

See, there is a strength in women that few can match. A true woman shouts to the world. She knows justice; she upholds it; but she also knows when a heart needs a friend more than a new enemy.

We have the guts to let pieces of our hearts reach others, knowing full well they may be rejected, stomped on, or accepted. We know full well that there may be pain on the other side of a relationship offered entirely in grace, but we pick it back up again.

Even when plagued by the tortures of false beauty or fears of abandonment or the shame and hurt Satan pours on us, we still shine light into the darkest places because it is what we are called to do. Deep down there is a desire to be in situations that demand every piece of our minds, hearts, and bodies. We not only long for adventure, but we long to be run dry of all possible sources of strength.

There is gladness in our hearts when we open the doors to our soul just a bit to let others peek or even when we simply pour out our soul into something others would find meaningless. The heart of a woman does not thrive in moderation; it thrives in ups and downs, fills and drains. The key is keeping our hearts full.

That fullness comes from the Lord. He has specifically designed us to be a physical expression of His compassion and mercy. He also gives us the tools to engage in that physical expression every minute of every day through His word and devotion to Him. He sings to our hearts, dances in our minds, and empowers us with His words. We love to teach and spread the Word. But, we usually prefer to act on it rather than speak of it. We like to be the hands that extend love.

Now, this is not to say that we are to be unwise and lay our soul out for everyone to see and trample on. That’s not what I’m saying. A true woman knows when it is best to keep her glory close to her and when to expand it to reach others. What I am saying is that being a woman, a true compassionate creature of the Lord, takes a strength that no male-dominated career can provide. It takes a strength that no worldly pleasure can prepare. It takes a strength that no level of degree can alter. She is a teacher, a lover, and a healer. And those three alone mean getting hurt, rejected, despised, cast out, torn, neglected, misused, misunderstood, you name it.

The Lord never assured us that we would evade trouble in this life, but rather guaranteed it. Men find their strength in protecting women, in carrying out the justice of the world. Women find their strength in stopping punishment to rescue a soul that needs gentle care, not retribution.

The Lord doesn’t require that you become a feminist or that you embody every characteristic of the ideal woman (Proverbs 31 is a great example). What He asks you to do is bring all that you have to Him and let Him turn it into your battle plan. He equipped you with a unique and valuable personality that magnifies His compassion in specific ways, often times opposite of your best friend's and family's. He created you precisely as you are so that you could specifically carry out His plans through His grace.

So many women look upon strength as being at the end of a fulfilled check-list or an altered personality. Instead, you just end up with a broken spirit. Our hearts were not made to compare with others or to live up to standards that did nothing to fill our aching souls.

Only God can fulfilled those souls of ours, and we so often times run to the wrong places. We want to seem strong, bold, beautiful and worth it. Yet, we see greener grass on the other side without ever seeing how plush our own is. A woman who knows who she is, Who she needs to follow, and who she needs to hold her heart out to is a strong, bold, gorgeous, and well worthwhile woman. She is a rare gem that can never be found twice.

The thing is. . . you, right as you are now, don’t have to change who you are to become that strong, beautiful woman you have always sought to be. She is staring right back at you when you look in the mirror. Don’t be ashamed of not knowing how to cook or not desiring shopping or being the worst when it comes to colors. If it’s not you, it’s not you. Who you are right now is the person God intends to shape and use with His grace, not the woman you composed on some paper and have sought to make her a real person.

So, you know what? Throw away that checklist. If you love to sing, go to the market and sing your heart out. If love vibrant colors, go get some paints and start sharing your heart on canvas. If you love to hunt, get to practicing on your aim. If you love to mountain climb, get your gear and go! Do what you love and do it all for the glory of God. Flaunt your beauty, your heart. Give Him glory in a way that only woman can, with compassion, healing, mercy, grace, and transcendent splendor.

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part Three: Hero Versus Villain

Have you ever wondered where the feeling of abandonment comes from or why we can just never feel quite as beautiful as everyone tells us we are? Our friends gasp at our adornments, but linger on our faces: "Wow! You are gorgeous!" Yet, still, we blush and shy away. It cannot be so, right? Beauty is a curse and threatens our heart's purity. It goes against how we are supposed to be, strong and hard women. Ha. . . Nothing can be farther from the truth. But, allow me to dig a bit further.

It is also a very distinct possibility that though you are surrounded by a laughing group of ladies or a joyous, serving missions' team, you just start to feel that creepy, sickening feeling that you are alone. You aren't really alone, but you feel it. You feel whispers pounce on your heart, declaring that you suffer alone and your suffering is a direct result of something you did. Not only do you feel alone, but you caused yourself to be alone.

All. Lies. And. More. Lies.

Remember all those childhood fantasies or cinderalla stories? There was always a villain. . . always someone that dressed the lady in dull clothes and let her hair become covered in dust. The villain reminded the young woman that she was alone and all alone.

Ladies, there is a very real villain that beats on our doors. He doesn't ask to be invited, but instead whispers under the cracks, tears the door apart bit by bit, and we just stand there. Oh we deny it at first, but as the on slot increases and persists, we find ourselves repeating to our hearts the things he has whispered for years.

I want you to think about it. Satan was once called Lucifer, a name that means morning glory. Satan was not just once beautiful. . . he was absolutely gorgeous, breathe-taking, awe-inspiring. But, he let his beauty and his glory become his downfall. He believed that because of his beauty, he was more like God than any other. He deserved to be God. As a result, he was struck down and banished to hell.

Then, God made the world. When He created the world, He made man in the image of God, but He made Eve the glory of man. Eve was beautiful. Remember in the first part how I described Eve as magnifying the beauty of the Lord? The mystery of the Lord? The hope of the Lord? Have you ever thought, even remotely, that Satan hates Eve and her daughters with such a passionate jealousy that simply does not relent?

If the jealousy of her beauty was not enough, God gave Eve the ability to give birth to life. She became the life-giver and nurturer. Now Satan really hates her. Think of history for a minute. Women were merely property of men for centuries. Still today women are considered property of men in several nations; even looking at a man brings death to her. She is not equal, is not loved for her beauty, but diminished and told to keep quiet, alone and out of sight. Even worst, women suffer more abuse, sexual slavery, and just plain slavery than men ever have or ever will. There has been no relenting on the horrors dealt out to women of all races, nations, tongues, and tribes.

Don't get me wrong. Men face persecution too, and their suffering is not to be diminished. But, just looking at the sheer numbers of women who have endured countless occurrences they never should have had, how many times they have never been sought as treasure, is just heart-breaking. Not only that, but the women that do suffer. . . somehow believe they deserve it. How absurd and how horrific.

The pain you hide away in your hearts, the lies you tell yourself on a daily basis, and the lengths you go to find some warmth from others are all a result of Satan pushing you to do so. Women are targeted and are often successfully kept captive and tortured.

Yet, for every villain, there is a hero. And that hero is God. How many of you have ever walked down a moonlit path and said "My God, my Lover, thank you for all you have done?" My guess is some of you immediately tuned into the word 'Lover.' Or. . . let's say you are praying and all of a sudden you feel a whisper back "I love you too, dearest." That can't be right. . . It's GOD. He's not going to whisper endearing terms like that.

*smiles* Think again.

So many authors tell us that we have a God-sized void that can be filled by none other than Him. We can try to fill it but it will only become a black hole, sinking deeper and darker still. Well. . . you aren't the only one with a big, empty void in your heart. God has one too; one that can only be filled by you. Don't laugh at that. I'm completely serious.

God loves us more than we can fathom in a way that seems foreign to us. But, think about what He does. He wants to be pursued by us so much that He hides from us (believe me, Psalms says so). Not only does He hide from us, but He delights in amazing our hearts, in making us fall so much more in love with Him. He wants us to fall hopelessly in love with Him so much so that when He hides, we never stop running until we find Him. We want to find Him so much that our hearts ache and long. Basically. . . There is a hole in God's heart that you, and only you, can fill.

See, there was once that a friend of mine went for a run. (She loved running. . .I liked walking.) She loved running the city pathways and then going into the fields. Well, around here, something that you never ever see are salamanders. Oh, I'm sure we have them, but I have yet to lay eyes on them. Her story is incredible though. It was nearing dusk and she was just about home when she just started praying.

She had felt so abandoned that day, I later found out. She looked up for just a moment and suddenly looked down. . . The road was littered with salamanders of every size, shape, color and pattern that could be imagine, she said. She stopped in her tracks and just stared. She said she didn't know why but she could only start laughing and thanking God. It was the first time in a while that she heard Him whisper, "Do you understand just how much I love you?"

I remember loving that story, savoring it, wishing it could be mine. But, you know what. . . God doesn't give us all the same message of love. He knows what each individual heart needs. For me, my moment came while walking. It had been cloudy as usual, but for whatever reason, the wind suddenly picked up and the leaves swirled in the most amazing ways on the path that fall. The wind alone could not possibly have spun them in the way they were organized, much less around me. I knew. . . and I loved it. I saw beauty in the wind-spun, frantic blowing leaves while my friend saw it in the still, spotted coloring of animals. I needed wild and rustic. She needed still and sweet.

The point is God romances us in unique ways. Our stories are not going to be the same, but they all have the same principle: God is chasing your heart just as much as you are chasing His. Actually. . . He is chasing yours more. He has a deep longing to fill the void where you always should have been just as much as you want to fill the void where He should always have been.

And we already know who wins the battle in this world. But. . . who will win the battle for your heart? If you just seek Him, there is no way you can resist the way He loves you and pursues you. He and you are part of a romance story. You are His bride, His lover, His fiancé.

Open your hearts to Him and Satan will lose. The oppression dealt out by Satan will not match the romance He writes with your heart and His. Satan cannot touch your love story. The question is. . . will you let Him write it?

6Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 
7And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 
8For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. 
9Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 
10And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 
11I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. 
12And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 
13And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. 
14Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 
15And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. 
16And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. 
17For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. 
18And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. 
19And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercies. 
20I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. 
21And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; 
22And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. 
23And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. 
Hosea 2:6-23

A Woman's Heart Part Four: Bare Strength

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part Two: Abandonment

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." Hosea 2:14

I can guarantee there were two types of reactions to Part One: Beauty to Be Unveiled. Either you started to truly believe that you are beautiful or you allowed yourself to simply nod, smile, and let it last for a few minutes. The next day you either arose with a peaceful sigh, thanking the Lord for creating you absolutely breathtaking in sight or you hide your beauty behind what walls have existed for years and guarded your heart.

You made a decision after you read that post. You either took the words to heart or you filed them away for another time, another time when you might feel strong enough to deal with them.

The fact of the matter is that I can tell you how uniquely divine each of you ladies are, but until your heart accepts my words. . . no, HIS words, it will not change lifestyles and beliefs. The Lord delights in your beauty, in His creation, beyond what we can fathom.

Yet, our hearts are absolutely and positively prone to hide, to deny, and to allow suffering to take place where none is needed. You can believe or not believe what I say, but what God says is. . . you don’t have to be alone.

That is our greatest fear, right? As women, we thirst for and thrive in companionship. We long to share our hearts, not live in seclusion. But few seem interested now-a-days. Few seem to delight in our hearts. Instead, we are told lines such as these:
“I could never understand women!”

“Women are just too deep, too fast. They are not worth the effort.”
And it hurts. Just say it. It hurts more than words can express. When we begin feeling and believing the lies of this culture, the perceptions of our peers, we retract. We shelter. We try to find and control our lives when God calls us to lose our live in order to find life.

We seek to control our lives through any means necessary, through believing and eventually speaking the lies of this culture to our hearts. We feel ashamed of our beauty. We feel ashamed of our love. We feel ashamed of our vulnerability. We feel ashamed of our desires. We feel ashamed to be women.

Many wonder why the feminist movement came about and rose up with such ferocity. Women wanted to feel comforted by company, by the joining of hands, but they also wanted to answer a very deep and complex question: Do I matter?

The volumes of the world seemed to speak that men mattered; the pride of the male race attracted attention. The feminist movement, unlike some believe, was not a new notion so much as it was a unspoken notion finally proclaimed and given the attention of the world. It became a way for women to feel like they mattered and to feel like they were not abandoned or forgotten.

Ironically, it only led to tired and frustrated grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters. These women were not only exhausted as a result of having found their search for answers to be just as difficult, but now they added a new can of worms to the mix: they needed to control everything involving men's expertise as well as their own.

The need to control is not a new desire in women. Men experience the same need to control, but often in different forms. Because women were naturally born with the tendency and desire to be vulnerable and to be protected and nurtured by their husbands, women seek to control their hearts, emotions, and feelings. Sometimes things just get beyond control and other times you meet women whose hearts seem held in a vise-like grip that will not only refuse to resolve, but to also punish those who dare to draw near.

Mistrust is deeply seeded in our hearts; it started way back when Satan tempted Eve. Eve felt that she was not being given all that she needed, that God was holding out on her. From the moment she believed that mistrust, the daughters of Eve inherited it.

Our culture and men feed the mistrust even more. Culture tells us one thing and then destroys our hopes with even higher expectations. Men draw away from women before they get too close and personal, not wanting to tap into their own fears in order to begin to not only aid and protect but also understand women.

It lives and breathes at the heart of men and women alike: a fear that breathes from Satan himself. It causes men to hold back and to abandon, for they deeply fear failure. It causes women to draw in and close up, for they deeply fear abandonment and misuse.

You want to know something? I live and breathe that fear every single day of my life. I know I do. And I know you do too. We may try to hide it, call it different names, cover it up. . . whatever the case may be, but it’s there.

It haunts us; you and me.

And not only does my heart break thinking about it, but the Lord’s heart breaks even more. He made you beautiful for your vulnerability. He made you precious in your graciousness and loving spirits. He made you divine in your endless desire to serve others, to be a part of all the great adventures of life.

When Eve took the apple at the Fall and believed Satan’s lies, the Lord knew the heart of Eve in that moment; He knew the mistrust that dwelt there; the fear.

And He had to save us. He had to save women. Those longings we feel, those deep, fearful, tearful, painful longings to matter, to be loved, to never be forsaken were placed in our hearts many years ago so that we might see the Lord as our ultimate source of comfort. He knew only His heart could comfort us and give us the grace and love we needed.

Our fears exist so that we may know the truth of His promise: that those who seek Him shall find life. But those who seek their own life shall lose it.

Your hearts, our hearts, are too precious, to breath-taking to keep locked away behind walls, imprisoned and beaten by lies. We are not called to take our fear of abandonment, our desire to matter, and to use them as chains.

Christ is knocking at the door. He’s knocking at the door to your heart. He wants to restore and nurture vulnerability, purity, tenderness, vibrant spirit, dazzlingly starlight, glistening hope, loving fellowship. He wants to restore it all. The question is. . . will you let Him?

Read Part Three: Hero Versus Villain

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Woman's Heart Part One: Beauty to Be Unveiled

‎"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2

Now, before you all die of shock that I am actually writing about a woman's heart, let me first assure you that I have actually taken some time in discovering what it is all about. I do not pretend to know the ins and outs of it, for that would mean the understanding of my own heart would reach God's understanding of it, that of which cannot be obtained. Yet, I have discovered some recent principles that I want to delve into, ones that I think the Lord has lead me to begin to slightly understand and maybe even desire.

First, let’s go into the history behind this epiphany, so to speak. The fall colors are beginning to appear and the air is transpiring a scent of drying leaves, curling flowers, and musty breeze. It is beautiful. As I stood, staring out the now open window just a few days ago, I finally realized what the primary purpose of nature is: to be beautiful. Nature, unlike many necessities in this world, does not rely on or achieve its purpose through providing for people or giving people things they need in life to survive (it can. . . but bear with me for a minute). The most common reception nature receives is stares, stares of wonder and honor, stares of pure joy and dancing.

Nature is primarily termed the glory of the Lord; it is the masterpiece of creation that displays His beauty in ways that shock us every day we witness them. The water trickling over forgotten falls, the sunset blazing forth in the midst of an endless dessert, flowers creeping and covering a newly placed grave; He provides a feast for our eyes to behold and our hearts to warm to.

Just as nature’s primary function is to simply be beautiful and captivating, so is a woman’s heart, from the day she is born, beautiful and captivating. Our culture robs women of their sense of confidence and their ability to understand and behold just how delicately perfect a woman is. We live in a culture where the media focuses on purely physical beauty and tries to tempt us into pursuing their definition of beauty. Then, we seek the church and find that they emphasize the beauty of the soul and spirit and say that such things must be fought for. In the end. . . a group of tired and downtrodden women replace the masterpieces the Lord formed in their mother’s womb, the women that were created as daughters of Eve.

But, a message that is often lost in translation is that the Lord made every woman, every single woman, to be both physically and spiritually beautiful. He made us to rival with nature, to be a masterpiece that few eyes could hold without staring. Yes. . . I know; it sounds odd and many of us women have a hard time truly believing how very precious we are, as a whole creation. Yet, it is so true and it a message that we all need to hear.

When God formed the world, He saw that it was not good for man to be alone. So, He created woman to be his helpmate (more on this later in Part Two).

--- Pause here just a minute and think about that: God said the world was not complete and it was not complete until there was woman. . . woman. You, me, them, her, us. . . woman. If you don’t feel even slightly warmed at the thought of that, go back and try again. You should feel special, very special. ---

While He created man and woman in His own image, they were made to embody different aspects of His character. Man and woman are so very different because we cannot comprehend all the aspects of God. Instead, we see certain aspects of the Lord in one and certain aspects in another. God embodied in woman characteristics such as His heart for relationships and romance, His longing for adventures with humanity, and His beauty, a beauty that is to be unveiled. Life-offering, relational expert, and all tenderness, mercy, and hope. Strength is ever present in a woman, but it does not come fighting with swords; it comes in steadfast mystery.

Women just do not look right pictured in the midst of a battlefield, with blood staining their faces and hands. That is a man’s arena. I am not saying women cannot be there or cannot be fantastic warriors, but something about that picture just strikes people funny. It goes against all the fundaments that a woman’s heart is supposed to be.

You wonder why women are commonly pictured still and tranquil while men are commonly pictured in action and doing something. That is because a man’s honor is in what he creates with his hands, what he works towards. It is against his nature to be passive. Yet, for a woman, it is the beauty about her that speaks to people, the mercy and tranquility. A woman standing still is enough to hold one’s attention for hours. . . a man standing still is enough to hold one's attention for a few minutes.

And when I speak of women being captivating to look at. . . I am not talking about those hidden behind layers of make-up, clothing that hides every aspect of creation or shields that block the sun from shining upon the very heart of a woman. We all deeply doubt that there is anything beautiful about us, ladies. We began to harbor that doubt at the Fall. As women, we are probably more aware than any of our shortcomings, of our imperfections. And even more so, we let those shortcomings swallow our beliefs and tint our eyes to see only the defects. We believe our shortcomings to be all one will see, and we try to hide ourselves all the more.

We ask aching questions. . . we ask ‘am I pretty?’ ‘Do I matter?’ ‘Where can I fit in?’ *smiles* We want to be loved and pursued and told we matter all the more.

Read that sentence again. And again. And again.

Remember when I said that women were made in the image of God, embodied with His spirit? Think of that and read that sentence in the above paragraph again. What does it tell you?

The Lord wants to be loved by us. He wants to be chosen by us. He wants to be pursued by us. He wants to be told He matters more than any other by us. The Lord’s heart cry is a woman’s heart cry.

Wow. And we all wonder how we can truly be beautiful? The Lord tells us how and reassures us how every day we look in the mirror, every single time we give our all to Him. He longs for us. And that longing. . . is the heart cry of women. It magnifies just how much God loves us, wants us, and wants us to relentlessly pursue Him.

That’s what a woman is. A woman is mystery. A woman is beauty. A woman is desire. A woman is passion. A woman is tender. A woman is vulnerable. A woman is heartbreaking.

And for all those women out there who doubt even a piece of this post. . . just think about it. Look at nature. Look at the world. This world was not complete without you. Man was lonely without you. God’s passion overflows through you. You. Are. Gorgeous. Magnificent. Treasured. Desired. Precious. YOU ARE HIS!

Read A Woman's Heart Part Two: Abandonment

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Everything Will Be Okay . . . Not Really

Have you ever had a friend say "Oh, don't worry about that. Everything will work out! It always does!" Maybe it is just me, but I have always felt such statements to be rather. . . disheartening. I mean, what are you supposed to say to such a statement? You can assure people about how non-worried you are and how confident you are that God will always direct your life, but the moment you start listing off serious things on your mind, they pull out that line. I've been around so many people that just simply tell me life is great and everything will go as planned.

Well, yes, I know everything will go as He plans. But, is it not healthy to have apprehension for alternative plans? Is it not healthy to feel pressure to do what we are called to do in this life? 

I get it. I am one of the most optimistic people you can find. . . not caring about alternative plans or even thinking about them until the only plan I had doesn't work out. I am a dreamer, but I am also a reality-liver. Back-up plans have always given me a blanket of security that I am not called to have. I am called to go all out for Christ and to trust that He will get me to wherever He needs to be.

Mind you, I am not talking about absolute recklessness. You can be pursuing multiple paths at one time, all within His calling for your life. I'm talking about people who plan to be a lawyer but worry if they can make it through law school. So, instead of devoting all their time to studying for law school and honing their studying skills, they dedicate and wear themselves out by pursuing other jobs and working themselves into the ground. In the end, they end up where they never wanted to be because that is what came easiest. 

Dreams. . . plans. . . pressures. . . they are not easy. Let me tell you that much. I want to be a writer and a wife/mother. But, I sure ain't going to sit around and wait for that dream to drop in my lap; no way! I am working at a job, going to college, and writing all I can on the side. I invest in things I love, but always pray and focus my heart on the two things I believe God has called me to. If that calling changes, then I'll follow. But, my dream is clear. My focus is clear. 

However. . . just saying one's focus is clear and they know where they are going does not in any way mean the road will not be tough and full of obstacles. Remember those friends that say everything is alright and will work out? Anyone who very seriously has a dream knows such things do not represent focusing. They represent forgetting and laziness. 

It is true: God says do not be anxious but be prayerful. Just because we feel the need to get things accomplished does not mean we are worried. It means we have a plan we are pursuing and we are working on accomplishing. If you want a life of no pressure and a life of continual 'working out,' it's not the life God calls us to. 

He calls us to a life of faith. Faith that He will always be next to us and supporting us. Faith that we can jump and can look down the whole time. Faith is a serious endeavor. We cannot just sit back and say things will work out. We need to work harder than ever to get where we need to go. . . having faith that our efforts are never in vain. That's life. 

Life is hard work. It is full of trials, pressures, and obstacles. You can avoid that truth all you want, comfort others that everything will be alright. . . but, when it comes down to your own life, does it ever work? True friends do not simply state everything is cool. . . let's go have fun. They support each other, talk with each other, stand by each other. 

My question to you is. . . will you let life be a joy-ride and nothing more or will you dare to dig deep into your soul, finding God's calling on your heart and running with it? Are you willing to work harder than you have had to before? Be more diligent, honest, true. . . focused? Or do you see this time of life as a place to sit still? Which path do you think will be the path where blessings pour all over you? Which path will lead to a stronger and more joyful heart? 

You choose. Choose your life today. Choose between who you are and who you want to be. Choose. . . 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You Forgot the 'We'

Even a soldier's heart gets weary. Even a warrior becomes wounded and disheartened. Even a champion fails the famous match. Even . . . I lose my stamina. As much as I hate to admit it, there are nights when I just sit down and go "God, what in the world am I doing? I have so much to do and I feel like I have no time. I feel like I'm running, but in no direction. I just can't see where I'm going with all of this. . . "

It is on those nights that He whispers back "Daughter. . . you forgot the 'we.'" That single line, that line right there, can hit a heart like a ton of bricks. It seeps right through every clouded thought, right through every doubtful hope, right through every shadowed tear. It is the very thing that gets me through every day. It is the very thing that pushes my heart forward and keeps it going. For some strange reason, the nights that I simply fall at His feet are the nights that I feel the most strengthened. I mean, when I have to go and just fall into that position, no strength left to hold me upright or to keep my mind in order, how in the world do I kneel there and smile and praise Him? How in the world to I hear that one line and just about put my hands up in a joyous acclamation?

See, life is all about Him. When life gets you down, you are supposed to get back up, right? I say. . . when life gets you down, He'll pick you back up anyway. Our hearts were made to be stretched thin and pushed to the limits. Our hearts were made to grow and He fully intends to grow them. I know what some of you are thinking, "My heart sure isn't being stretched thin right now. I am bored out of my mind." Well, would you like to rephrase that? Whether you are bored, insanely busy, going through an extremely rough patch, waiting, running, hiding, or whatever it is you are doing, your heart is getting stretched. The question isn't so much of how your heart is getting stretched as much as it is what you are going to do about it.

So many people feel that tug in life that makes them uncomfortable and vulnerable. When they feel that tug, they stop pulling. They don't want to break it or to stretch it to a point of no return. They calculate the risk and find it to be far too high. They are not willing to gamble for the larger wager, knowing they can at least pocket the smaller wager in a greater deal of certainty. But, if God reminds us that it's 'we' every time we say 'I,' why are we worried about the size of the wager? Is not God bigger than any wager known to man? Cannot God overcome things deemed impossible and make them not only possible but probable?

I get stretched thin all the time. Some people cautiously suggest that I attempt to take on too much. But, in the end, I look at my life and go "No, I need more." Don't get me wrong here. I definitely don't need more 'stuff' or more money. I could careless about that aspect of life. I want to do more. I want to serve more. I want to bless more. I want to pour out my heart more.

It is only, and I mean only, when I pour out everything I have that I find out the pitcher is still full. The pitcher is still full because God never lets it drain and never wastes a drop. In everything there is to do in life, some seed gets watered and planted. Some seed gets buried in someone else's soil and the Lord is just waiting for the moment to be able to water those seeds with our pitchers, with our lives. He works through our lives in ways that we can't even fathom. He holds our hearts and keeps on stretching and filling.

Every now and then, He will blind us from the fact that our pitchers are full and that our hearts are still in tact. And do you know why He does that? He does that because He wants to remind us that He is there and He is in control. He wants us to feel like we run on empty sometimes so that we are reminded that we are only full because of Him. The times we kneel to pray, the times we stand to worship, the times we sit to read are all the things that fill us up. We are called to serve until we think we can no longer and then some. We are called to seek Him for our strength.

I wonder if a lot of you are like me. You feel like a weary soldier, like a wounded warrior, a defeated champion. But the moment you kneel down to pray, the only thing you can hear is His whispered reminder that the journey is a 'we' and not an 'I.' He is with you every step of the way. He is carrying you every time you can't walk. He is keeping your pitcher full, even when you are not looking. He is stretching your heart and keeping it in tact. He is the Lord of all.

I challenge you. . . in everything you do, call it a 'we' project and not an 'I' project, for the Lord is always and will always be with you.

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar. 
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before there is a word on my tongue, 
Behold, O Lord, You know it all. 
You have enclosed me behind and before
And laid Your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn, 
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 
Even there Your hand will lead me, 
And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 
Psalm 139: 1-10

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Serving. . . Right Where You Are At

The content of this post was originally posted on the Rebelution in response to another's post. However, as I have discussed this subject recently with a few friends, I have found most to be asking the same question the young lady asked on the Rebelution. A lot of people struggle with the principle that God has placed them where they are at right now for a very specific reason and that such a place is in the center of God's will. We all envy something out there, some more than others. Most people long for purpose.

As a result, I have felt the need to post my response to this question publically. I have not revised it since I posted in on the Rebelution. I know now that there is so much more I could say on this subject, but, ironically, I believe the simplicity I spoke in this response is the best way to go. Therefore, without further to do, here is some food for thought.

Can you serve God in the place you're at?

The simple answer to this question is yes; we definitely can serve God any where we are placed, in any situation. But, this question contains far more behind it than what we often perceive. Why do we think like this? Why should we even feel bothered to ask such a question? Granted, asking this question can very well be a good exercise, but my challenge is to find out the "why" and not just the "how."

The "how" is a pretty simple answer, seeing as God has given us ample explanation within the pages of the Bible. But the "why" is a much different story. The "why" is different for each and every person. Each and every person will ask this question for a different reason, for a different purpose. And the answer to one person's "why" is often different from the answer to your specific "why." The best way to explain this situation is to tell you a bit about my personal experience in this area.

I have asked this question many times in my life, especially when I was younger. I felt that I was limited in what I was allowed to do, and this limitation sprung the feeling that I could not reach out or do the works that God had called me to do. I saw others doing so much more than I was able to do and often thought "Wow. If only I had the opportunities to serve like they do." What surprised me was God's question in answer to those thoughts: "Why are you comparing your life to others'?" That was a hard-hitting question. What I have come to learn is that the only thing preventing me from becoming all that God wants me to be is myself. I am the one who compares my actions to others; I am the one who compares my situations to others; I am the one who compares my opportunities to others; I am the one who compares my goals to others. But the earth-shattering truth, at least for me, was when I realized that God compares me to no one; that is right, not a single person in the world is compared with me.

So, then the question becomes why do I subject myself to comparing who I am with others if there was no legitimate reason to. The answer? It is rather simple. Basically, I was too concerned about how the world saw me, how others saw me. I was too focused on how much I could display the works of Christ in the obvious way. I was too worried that perhaps my serving was just not as good or not worth it.

However, upon realizing that I was really dwelling in a rather self-centered attitude, that thought process changed drastically. I realized that I was fighting to achieve blessings rather than counting my blessings. I realized that the ways in which I was able to serve meant a great deal to God as long as they were from my heart, a heart that was dedicated to letting Him make me all I could be. I learned that it is not how we serve that matters, but why we serve. Therefore, can I serve God right where I am at? You bet I can! But, I can only truly serve Him if I set my heart and my goals on not how I am serving Him or what I am doing to serve Him, but rather the why and the manner in which I am serving Him.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Loneliness: A Loving Reminder

Lonely. I think we all get this way sometimes. I know I have especially for the past few months. It is absolutely true that I am an independent girl; I prefer to go my own direction rather than having to follow others. You will never catch me at a party. In fact, I am reluctant to even hang out with people I consider 'friends' outside of the work or school environment I know them in. I am very strict in defining people in the categories of acquaintances and of friends. My friends are personal, close, know a great deal about me, and on my 'talk to whenever I can catch them list.' And honestly, not many people make that list. Only recently has that list bloomed into a size far beyond what it ever has. Ironically, all the people on that list I have yet to meet in person.

I think it is only fair I admit this: I am caught in a whirlwind of culture verses my beliefs. There are so many times when I look at the lives of others with longing, as they seemingly possess something I don't have. They hang out with people at parties, and they are constantly calling one another with updates about their lives. But, most importantly, they get to see each other face-to-face all the time, a luxury I don't have. There are days when I just come home and sit down in my favorite rocker and think. I think about the life I could have. I wrestle with the thoughts of giving in just slightly to taste the lives other people have. I attack the feelings of loneliness, combating them with the same defenses I have used for years. Eventually, I give up, shove my feelings back into their box and move on with my day. I don't have time to sit and ponder the pros and cons of life with the world or life with others who don't entirely share my values. I have people who depend on me to be there and depend on me to get things done. And I need to get those things done.

A dear friend of mine broached this subject with me just a night ago, asking if I ever felt lonely. I was so tempted to say I didn't, honestly. I am the type of person that tends to shove those things under the rug and move on. There are more important things in life. But, I think the Lord has an amazing way of bringing up un-addressed topics among friends so that the person avoiding it gets to be the one that provides the comfort and the answers. And I responded with the answers that first popped into my mind, only to realize they were the words I needed to hear. See, the moment I spoke the words I did, I realized I had just switched sides. I was no longer on defense, but on offense, where I always should have been.

Loneliness is a healthy feeling. It is a feeling that reminds us that we are only a small part of this world. It reminds us that we need to fellowship with other Christians and that God works through other Christians to keep our souls alive and healthy. It is not a feeling to shy away from so much as it is one to welcome. But, one needs to approach the feeling of loneliness with the right attitude. The people who are out there hanging out with friends and attending parties absent of healthy Christian fellowship are more empty than you are without the fellowship. The activity of others is a disillusion that Satan wants us to buy into. Satan wants us to long for more and question what we are currently doing or advocating that moment. It is his job to get us to think that way. Yet, it is in these moments that we need to realize how blessed we really are. You don't have to have a whole list of people to call friends in order to be content or to have your heart filled with joy; you only need a few who love you just as much as you love them and are willing to listen to you at any point and time. You don't need to be around those people all the time to be able to truly discuss life with them or develop an even deeper friendship through prayer. The hearts of two people who pray for each other on a daily basis and truly care about one another will honestly watch their friendship grow stronger, no matter how many miles separate them.

My list of friends remains mostly online. Though the list is much longer than it used to be, it is still short. But, the fact of the matter is that every time I look at that list, I realize just how much God has answered my prayers. I had prayed for years to have people I could call friends. I had miraculously been spared the predicted path of the typical public-schooled child, who experimented in just about every area and tried to gain approval. How I ever had patience and headstrong spirit enough to endure and overcome those temptations before I was a Christian is far beyond me. My decisions to avoid those possibilities lead me to have very few friends, and what friends I did have were people searching for a way to use me for their own purposes. So, when I look at who I have in my life today, my brothers and sisters in Christ I had given up hope of existing years before, I realize how rich I really am. He has given me far more than I deserved and answered my prayers far beyond what I would have imagined.

Yet, what do I do? I forget. I forget what it was like years ago and set goals based off of today. I see my life as lacking, as lonely, as empty. And I face the same temptations and struggles I faced years ago because I allow my heart to focus on what I don't have rather than what I do have. As much as you may not want to hear this, let it be known that loneliness is not a reminder of what you don't have or what you need to achieve. That prick of destitute and inferiority is your reminder that you have more than you need because you are wanting more. We, as richly blessed sons and daughters of the Lord, have more than we need. I do not want you to compare yourself to the people out there who are in situations where they have no friends. We are not to compare ourselves to others in order to measure our reapings. Instead, we are to look at what we do have and realize how much extra we have, realize how much He has blessed us with.

See, in my eyes, we aren't all that lonely. We have a Father who loves us, many of us have family that love us, and many of us have people that care deeply about us in our lives. We are blessed with more than we need, with extra love and extra reminders of how much He wishes to pour into our lives. And yes, we will forget this or ignore it or both numerous times throughout our lives. The point is the more we learn to recognize it, the more we can take offense against it. We no longer have to defend ourselves from the attack in listing all the friends we have and counteracting all the statements our hearts tell us. Instead, we can simply smile and say "He has blessed me beyond measure" and thank Him for the reminder. This life is too short to spend our days worrying about our social life. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. And with that calling comes the most satisfying days we could ever wish for. Live in them; dwell in them; love them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cross the Line

You know that mysterious line in the sand that you were ordered to never cross? It mocks you, doesn't it? It frightens and entices you, doesn't it? Right beyond that line of sand stands a ledge of some sort. You can't see over the ledge, no matter how close to the line you lean. That mocks you too doesn't it? You just want to see beyond; you want to see what you are not allowed to see. You want to know what is so dangerous over there, what screams for you but tells you never to go. Conflicting, but nevertheless, amazing. I see the cocked head; the tip toe steps over to that line; the temptation to peer over that ledge, just to see what's beyond it. I can see your eyes meet mine and tell me to get to the point through gritted teeth. Well, the point is. . . run and jump. What in the world are you waiting for, afraid of, backing away from? I mean it is calling your name right? So, jump. Cross the line. Take a flying leap over that ledge. Go!

Now, before some of you panic and say I have gone off the deep end in advocating that we cross lines and go against His word and all of those accusations, let me just set this straight. You are thinking of the wrong line. I am not talking about temptation. In fact, I'm talking about something completely opposite. That line in the sand was not drawn by the Lord, but was drawn by yourself. That ledge and barrier was created by yourself, not the Lord. That cliff was made to take a flying leap off. But, is it not rather amusing how similar that line looks to every other line drawn in the sand? The same reaction to it, yet so different in its purpose. I'm telling you to take a flying leap into the unknown, into a life of chaos and trust, into a life filled with decisions and answers, into a life that He calls us to. See, our mission, as Christians, is to touch the lives of people, to touch nations. We want to carry the message of Christ anywhere and everywhere we can. We want to shout it to the nations and fill the world with its echo. There is no doubt about that.

Yet, so many of us draw lines in the sand when it comes to this calling. We limit what we can do and what we can't do. We put all the uncomfortable or overwhelming situations on the other side of that line. We can see everything we shove over that line and stay away from, but we can't see over the ledge where all the amazing opportunities lie. We are too afraid to cross that line so we can't see what is beyond the possibilities we shove over that line. You can't get over the cliff until you get over the line. And you can't get over the line until you can admit that you are limiting yourself. It is that simple. I don't care who you are or who you think you are. You are limiting yourself. There is not a single person I know, myself included, that has given their all to Jesus. There is still more to give, still more to run with. New opportunities are created every day, new opportunities to give Jesus something you didn't know you previously had. Don't you dare think you are done yet; you have a long way to go.

Of all the lines drawn in the sand around you, this one needs to be crossed, needs to be pushed. You need to go beyond your comfort zone, reaching levels of busyness or serving that you never thought possible. We avoid this line and will at all costs, but we will run across the lines of temptation? If you need a line to run over and feel victorious over, pick this one. You won't want to go back. You will be so lost, yet so found. You will learn that the strength you live with is not yours and never was. It is the Lord's. If you expect to give it all to the Lord or you want to give it all to the Lord, you are going to have to push your endurance in this life. You are going to have to go to depths you never thought possible.

See, I'm what most people would call insane. I have always found joy in building up busyness in my life to a level that I no longer have free time. With over fifteen major projects/organizations I am apart of and two part-time jobs and full time college and my friends and family and my writing endeavors and everything in between, I am anything but sane. I know that. But, ironically, I can handle it. I know I can handle it. If the Lord did not want me to do all of this, I wouldn't have the strength to do it all. If I didn't complete everything in the timely manner I do, the Lord is telling me I need to reset my priorities. To me, I feel incomplete unless I am giving more than I think I can give. I am that way as a person. So, for me, jumping over that cliff or crossing that line seems so extreme to other people. But, He is calling me there. He gives me the rest I need, the refreshment, the strength. I am learning more and more what it means to live a life of a servant; it is giving until you have nothing left and then giving more. You will never run dry when you are running on the Lord's strength.

I realize that some of you may not be called to my life, to the life of doing absolutely everything known to man. Some of you have been called to wait, and in that waiting, it is giving Him your all. That is good; it is absolutely vital that we do not compare lives with others as a measure of how much we are giving the Lord. Our hearts and our consciences direct that and hold us to a higher standard. But, even those of us who are being called to wait, you can give more than what you are. All those days of waiting wear a person out just as much as my busyness can. The attitude in which you wait and what you do while you wait are exactly what determines whether you are crossing the line or not. That line still holds those little opportunities and refinements you refuse to go through while waiting. Waiting is not the lack of doing; it is doing while waiting on His timing.

You have the capability to go far beyond what you are doing now. But you've got to be willing to do it. See, I'm telling you to run and jump. I'm telling you to stop avoiding this. I'm telling you that you want it, no matter how much you try to deny it. I'm telling you that you will love it. There is something about free-falling into the complete unknown with nothing but Him keeping you steady that brings joy and laughter. It is breath-taking. It is tiring. It is genuine. I love simple lives, but I love doing a lot of things. I don't need things to complete my life, but I do need to do things. I want to reach nations. I want to reach hearts. I want to touch lives. And, I know you do too. So, jump. Give up that calm, steady life and take a wild ride. The Lord is waiting for you to give your all to Him, continually and in every way. Your way may not be my way, but the calling is the same.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How He Loves Us: Moments of Grace

My blog has been getting awfully quiet lately, it seems. The busier I get, the more responsibilities I have, the more opportunities I have, the less I seem to find time to write. I cannot write when my heart is tired and heavy. I cannot write when my mind seems to be spinning in a million different directions. But, there are times when I am in the middle of things, thinking, hoping, creating, dreaming, and all of a sudden, the words of the song I am currently listening to as background music register. They slice through the haze of my to-do list and explode as a canopy over a weary heart. Sure, I could very well flip the switch and tell myself that I have more things to do. I could tell the Lord that I already spent time with Him this morning and just cannot listen now because my time is precious. But, the amazing thing is. . . I don't. I don't flip the switch. I don't shake my head in His direction. I don't deny the work He is attempting to do. I just listen.

In those moments, the most relaxing feeling washes over me. I cannot explain how quickly the reality of life just fades. I cannot explain how real He seems; how I can almost feel His breath in my hair as He hugs me. When God meets you in the middle of your day, in the most routine way possible, and messes up the plans within seconds, it is a grace moment. See, I had heard the song over and over and over again during the last year or so. Yes, it is one of my favorite songs. I know the lyrics by heart, and I love the musicality of it. I know the meaning of the words and live by them. However, if any of you have ever had those favorite songs, unless you are really listening and there is nothing else running through your mind at the moment, the power behind the words only vaguely shines through. It does not impact you the same way. It does not shock your heart into existence all the time or steal your breath away. It is just there; it is there for comfort and familiarity and a reminder.

Yet, I have found that there are times when God choses to make those familiar songs the highlight of our day. He knows when we feel stressed, when we feel responsible for everything in the world. He knows when we are ignoring the signs of needing a recharge. He even knows when we are simply too focused and too tired to be able to get to the point of actually relaxing our mind and letting Him through fully. I believe it is in those moments that God says "Look, my child, you need a rest. So, I'm going to give you one." And folks, those are such powerful moments; they are breath-taking, filling. I can physically relax my mind and try to put away the thoughts of today and tomorrow and yesterday, but honestly, I never get completely to that point at times. But, when God says He's going to give me a rest, He really gives me a rest. If I give into simply listening to what He has to say in those moments (and trust me, you know when one of those moments arrive), I find myself so focused on Him and so wrapped up in Him, no matter how well I know the song or how long I have repeated the memorized Bible verses. When His spirit is truly moving inside those words and carrying them far more than just the simple message of the words, there is power there; there is grace.

My grace moment this week came in the middle of school work. It had been a crazy week to say the least. I ended up being called into work on days that I was not scheduled three days in a row, I simply could not find time to do my college work, my online duties and friends were getting neglected, one of the biggest blizzards in history was about to send white out conditions and feet of snow my way, and I just could not get my head wrapped around all the tasks still to do. As was tradition, I finally sat down Thursday evening, able to breathe for the first time all week and just turned on music. I immediately started tackling the remnants of uncompleted homework, letting the music drown out any other thoughts besides that of the court cases I was currently studying. And I can honestly say I heard not a word to any song until this one song came on. It shattered my concentration like never before, tugged at my heart like I had never heard it before, and completely whipped every other thought from my mind. Believe me, there was a little voice there saying that I need to focus again, but I just couldn't. It brought relief, reminders, love, hope, renewal all in one. It is How He Loves Us by David Crowder Band.

And I replayed that song and replayed it and replayed it. Because, in that moment, I was literally overwhelmed by the love He has for me, the grace I am literally drowning in every day. I am His portion and He is my prize. I am drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. My Lord is jealous for me; for me! He is beautiful. He is amazing. This is my Lord! The lyrics are so simple, but they are so true. They are the heart of our relationship with our Lord and Savior. And He chose, deliberately chose, to remind me that His love and His grace and His mercy are the very reason I am sitting here; the very reason I am alive; the very reason I am blessed with as much as I am.

I am passing on the message to each and every one of you today. We know, we all know, at the core that we are loved, that we are blessed, that we are held up by His grace. Yet, there are moments that the Lord choses to impress that one to our hearts more than ever before. Our relationships cannot always be based on feelings, but when we feel Him closer than ever before, it is a moment to treasure. It is a moment to hold on and cherish. Its value is far greater than any riches of this world. The fact that He choses to reach down to Earth to personally and deliberately shape our hearts and mold our lives can touch us in ways we not yet know. He is your Lord. He is your Father. He is your best Friend. Our hearts need grace moments; they need to be sensitive to grace moments. It is in those moments that He surprises us and blesses us in the most monumental ways. Don't miss them. Don't ignore them. Don't over think them. Let them happen; let them capture your heart to the very core; let them define your life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dare to Walk on Water

Confidence. One foot placed in front of the other with a resolve, a purpose, a hope, a passion. A list of goals representing decisions, not plans. Speech marked by discretion. A heart willing to take all consequences, no matter the costs. The ability to ground oneself in the truth of another and squash self-doubt. A smile challenging those who dare to investigate the present and past. Poise and steadiness shroud footsteps and shelter emotions. Is this you? I mean, is this really you? Can you honestly stand before me and say that this is your walk, your identity every second of every day, no matter what comes to pass?

I think not. Do not get me wrong here; I have no desire to bring your self-assurance crashing down or discourage you with this. But, in order to truly build a structure with the correct building code and to withstand the weather conditions, you have to start with a strong, solid foundation. And truly, not many of us start with this kind of foundation in regards to our self-assurance and confidence. Instead, we glean our foundation from our pasts, our friends, our families, our teachers, our homes, and our bosses. We forget Who really gave us life, gave us grace, gave His life so that we may live in confidence! I have seen so many confident people with wonderful jobs, beautiful homes, and amazing families; yet, when the fire burns the roof over their heads, when it spreads to consume the comfort of their marriages, and when it ignites their steady income, their confidence is shattered, lying scattered all around them. They no longer have the strength to pick up the shards nor do they have the ability put them back together. They lost the very thing that defined who they were: confident.

Now, I am not talking about pride here, though they do correlate with each other. There is a distinct difference between the two. Healthy and God-fearing people have pride in what He has done and what He will do. They are confident in His existence and His promises and this enables them to have pride in Who He is. Unhealthy pride festers far before confidence is developed, and therefore, relies entirely on the support of others. Not only will the foundation eventually give out, but it will give out completely when it does, shattering one's life. Godly confidence is not unlike faith; the similarities seem endless because you cannot be confident in what you do not fully believe. And faith, by definition, is the belief of something despite the lack of evidence and proof. There are just some things in this life that we will never know, never will understand. Therefore, we need to have faith. Once the foundation of faith and complete trust in the Lord can our ability to have a firm and trustworthy confidence even become a possibility.

Confidence is not a mystery, folks. The ability to bask in its lime light lies right in front of you. You just need to quit looking in all the wrong places. You know the saying that some people just cannot find the right solution until they have tried all the wrong ones? Guess what? The Lord blows that statement right out of the water because He gives you the right solutions all throughout His written word! Yet, we are still found chasing our tails and trying to build ourselves up through other means. Get over your need to go somewhere quickly and just let the Lord do it in the right way within you. Think of when Jesus walked on water. Peter stepped out of the boat, a faith and confidence exploding from his very being as he walked toward Jesus, knowing the waves would hold him as they did his Lord. Yet, his focus slipped, doubt undermined his confidence, and he slipped below the waves. Here is the amazing part though: Jesus went and picked him up and out of the waters. So many people look at Peter as the heart of the story when they think of confidence and faith because he was the one that dared to step out of the boat. But, did you ever think that maybe the punchline of the whole story wasn't Peter stepping out of the boat, but it was Peter getting fished out of the water?

See, confidence falters in real life. It is not a light that burns steadily and never goes out. It will flicker, and it will test you. You cannot just become confident; you build it over a life time. Yet, every time your faith, your confidence in the Lord, falters and you slip below the waves, God will fish you out! He will hold you above the waters and let you gasp in your needed air. Then, He will smile and go "Want to do it again?" That, my friends, is true confidence. It is the ability to trust and know that He will pick you back up. It is the ability to know that you can try again, have the same result, and still be picked back up. It is the ability to repeat the routine fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a million times and still know He will pull you back above water. Confidence is not thinking you will never fall, walking in a life where your decisions are perfect. Confidence is knowing that you will fail, you will slip, you will appear to be drowning, but knowing you will have the opportunity to do it again, and again, and again.

Furthermore, confidence is not based on this life or its promises. The Earth is unstable, shaky, deceiving, and would love nothing more than to have you trusting its whisperings. Society and culture exist amidst the devil and his deceiving lies. He loves to build false confidence in people. The Lord offers a way out. The Lord promises that He will return and conquer the world. He will triumph over the devil and his servants in the end. How, then, can we view this life as anything more than a building and honing experience? We know Who will win. We know Who will live on forever and ever. We know Who will take us home when it is time. What more do we need to know in order to live this life in full confidence, in full trust, in full faith? Our human natures may tell us we need money or we need food or we need a home to truly have a walk of confidence. But, He, our Father in Heaven, provides for even the smallest of birds so that they have more than enough. God will do the same for you; He will not abandon you in the midst of life. Again, I ask. . . what more do you need?

Do not waste your life in chasing after a confidence that breaks every time you make a wrong turn. Do not waste your life in chasing after a foundation that will only collapse one day on you. God has shown you the right solution; pursue it. Trust Him; hold His truth closer to your heart than anything else; dare to walk on water. Believe me, confidence, true confidence, does not begin until you step out of the boat. Do it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Letter from Caleb (Numbers 13)

Numbers 13:30: "Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

Dear Reader:

The rhythm of the wind hummed its awakening tune as my eyes fluttered open to greet the sunlight's caressing heat and welcome. With a smile curling upon the corners of my mouth, I took a deep breath of the amazing, life-giving air. I shifted my weight slightly as I became subdued to the expansion of my lungs. My eyes sought to take in the individual droplets that hung on the grass blades around me, the tiny insects that continued about their normal tasks, the dirt particles that steadied and protected the roots of the surrounding vegetation; I wanted to see His fingerprints, His awesomeness in even the smallest creation.

Slowly and deliberately, I rolled to my side and pushed myself off the ground. The imprint of my form dented the perfection found within the blades of grass, and I sighed at the sight; I knew the blades would once again reach towards the sun, but for the time being, they looked injured and pressured by the weight of what had burdened them for the past so many hours. I felt for the grass, for it mirrored my heart at the moment. This land, the same land I have been gifted with the privilege of exploring, carried beauty, eloquence, magnificence, and richness I had never seen the likes of before. The crops grew to heights that seemed to reach the sky with strong and steady stalks and stems supporting the fruits of their labor. The grapes hung in breath-taking abundance upon the vines of the vineyards that scattered the landscape. The juice simply filled every inch of the mouth with a desire that could not be quenched. Even the flowers displayed a wide arrange of color and shape. How amazing and simply divine the Lord reveals Himself to be. He made every piece of this, only to loan it to humans like myself.

The dizziness refused to dissipate from the presence of my mind. Taking a deep inhale of sweetly-scented air, I forced myself to embark upon my journey for the day. I knew not where I was headed; I only knew that my feet would carry me upon the roads and fields I was destined to travel. The dew droplets slowly evaporated from my rough clothing and fell from my hair as it swayed in the gentle breeze. My heart was already warming up and filling with praise. My sight strayed towards the Heavens and my whisper echoed in the solitude: "Thank You, my Lord. May Your hand guide me through the expanse of this day’s journey." I did not expect or know of the surprises and challenges He would reveal to me this particular day. Nonetheless, I trusted in His power and His plans; all I had to do was walk.

My feet padded the well-worn road before me. The few passersby cast weary glances my way, but I did not let them burden me. My eyes traveled up and down their forms: the muscles massively formed, the hands larger than my own, the mere height of them that made me appear to be only a child! Could it be? God had created these beings with such ferocity and smoothness at the same time. I could feel the seed of fear and worry weaving its way into my original excitement, but with great care, I shook it from me. Why should I be shocked and afraid of these massive humans? Did not God create and form them with His very hands? If He breathed life into them, surely He could destroy them just as easily.

The pounding of my heart quieted as I reached the grain fields ahead. My eyes swept the plains, catching only a glimpse of the sheer masses of food He had blessed this land with. The end of the field met a towering wall. I craned my neck as I tried to see the top of the walls. A slow gasp escaped my lips as the gate swung open; the question posed to me by the guard barely registered in my mind as I slipped through the opening, feeling as small as an ant in the menacing fortress I had stumbled upon. The streets weaved in between the buildings, all formed with delicate and intricate stone work. The people of the town shuffled in and out of entrances, carrying a plethora of items and goods. The enticing scent of food reached my nostrils, but I dared not satisfy my desires for fear of missing just the tiniest bit of detail.

The sun was setting upon the horizon, filling the skies with a vast array of colors and layers. I left the city and sought my bedding for the night. A small cave presented itself in a matter of a moment. Tears dripped from my eyes and cascaded down upon my cheeks and neck. My knees hit the cave floor below me as I sought to comprehend all that I had witnessed, all that I had experienced. I could feel the doubt and the fear hanging like a threatening cloud upon my heart, but I cast it away with a single swipe of my hand. I knew He was great. I knew He was all-powerful. I knew He was mighty. I knew He was truthful. I knew He would give all He had promised. The sights, smells, and textures of the land flooded my mind as I thought of Him. The only reason they were there was to magnify Him and glorify Him. I had seen the delicate and the powerful; I had seen the good and the bad; I had seen a land full of His fingerprints. With that thought, my eyelids blacked out the night sky and my heart rested in peace, knowing that the Lord would be with me and His people for the battles to come within this land.

In Him,