What are you waiting for, faith? (speak your mind ~ there’s a poll!)

We’re in transition. Living here in the Austin area was something we had no real choice in ~ we were continually praying for provision in Southern Oregon while trying to keep a home-business afloat, & then we got a the call… to move to Texas for a great opportunity in Ricky’s field. He’s learned so much & we are so grateful.

But ever since the move back in late August of ’07, we have both had a sense that although we were content, our stay in Texas would be temporary. But again, we left that up to the Lord, as to when would be the best time to return to the Great Northwest and its beloved inhabitants (namely, my entire original & extended family, some of my husband’s,  & our old, but constant friends).

I’m learning a few things during the wait:

  • that my body doesn’t deal well with stress and anxiety when dealing with distance from my family. I had painful & daily stomach problems for over a month just after the move. 
  • God isn’t a one-shot deal, my way or the highway kinda Guy. He understands when we don’t know which way to go, or when. So if you pray for his will & your will to match up, he gently nudges you toward his ideal path. Desires change. Complacency dissapates. Faith emerges, and decisions can be made with clarity and assurance that if He knows our hearts are to just be closer to Him, and to our family, He’ll make a way. Doors will continually open (kinda like the intro to that old sitcom, Get Smart) …or they’ll continually shut.
  • Either way, He will provide. And I will trust in Him. I say that today, but yesterday I was wavering. Tomorrow, who knows how my emotions, faith and addiction to security will play out.
  • There’s always a Plan B with God. Yeah, yeah, He knows the plans He has for me (declares the Lord…) but wait – is that an “S” after plan? I’m thinkin’ that could mean He’s got all kinds of plans for me – not chronologically in place, but like, many plans for every single predicament I find myself in. So if my heart is to 1st glorify Him in my choices, and thankful to be a part of His plan, I really can’t go wrong with any of mine! Oh, cool – here’s a verse that backs me up – one of my moms’ faves – Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. (Amplified vsn adds, “…and secret petitions of your heart”). There’s also that one I love about seeking first the Kingdon of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.

But wait! There’s more!

I’m learning a lot about faith (growing in it, and living it out), and not conforming to patterns of this present age… and about the doctrines that separated the 1st real Christ followers (of the Reformation) from the rest of the world and how in living for others… we are dying to ourselves which makes us an increasingly unique people…and…well, I could write a dozen more things I’m learning & working through & song-writing about. But you’d be here for hours.

I’m just curious…(feel free to fill in the dot AND comment w/the details)

24 ~ in three different lights

I love “24”. Jack can save the world – save “millions” of lives in just 24 hours.

My last 24 hours wasn’t as exciting. Yesterday was long. Work went well, but kind of stressful. I was feeling stuffy trying to fight off a chest-cold with air-borne, and neither my little girl nor myself could take a nap, because she had just learned how to escape her ‘sleeping quarters’ . It’s finally time to graduate to her big-girl bed. I couldn’t find my wallet or my phone – it’s goin’ on a week now. And I found out I need a crown and my son has no enamel on his teeth due to a high fever he had when he was 2, so he has many cavities, and we have no insurance.

But it all seems a little insignificant in light of what I recently read happens in the span of 24 hours elsewhere:

  • Over 13,000 children age 5 & younger will die of hunger
  • About 3,000 children will die of diseases caused by unclean water & poor sanitation
  • Nearly 3,000 children will die from malaria

These stats blow my mind. Nearly 20k kids dead, in 24 hours. It seems so senseless! But in one day, we can help turn these numbers around. We really, really can.

Ricky & I have been able to make a dent in the numbers by reaching out to even one 6-yr. old child, Jhonatan. It doesn’t seem like a big impact (just one child), but I know that our $32., the letters from his American friend, Braylon, & our prayers really do make a big impact on Jhonatan and his family. Would you join us? Those who have a little bit extra are called to give to those who do not. But ya know, those who do not have a little extra are also called to give to those who are suffering from poverty. When you answer, God will more than step up to your level of faith and provide for you. Faith can do wonders. He’ll reward every effort. It is his very nature, as our Provider & Father…and we will know in our hearts that we obeyed.

I’m no Jack Bauer, but I can help save one life, and I can’t think of a better feeling.

jack

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For more info, or if you want to choose a child to impact as well, just click over to C.I. (Compassion International) & start your search.

a new name

his ankles and feet were severely deformed. guess he thought church folk would be more generous, so he had friends that towed him there. but he always stayed outside the entrance. everyone who went through that beautiful entrance, if they bothered to look his way, would see the top of his head, worn pants and the palms of his hands. he was out of place, without a name. he didn’t need one. appearance was his name.

Continue reading

worship to a new song…from hillsong: “HEALER”

UPDATED 8/21: what i’ve learned about this song’s writer is disappointing…but it doesn’t change the fact that God doesn’t change. the lyrics still ring true. the most impacting way to glorify God is through our lifestyles. and the most impacting time? when we are in our most broken state.

i’m praying that through this controversy, the essence of true grace be realized in churches & Christians worldwide. for more on this story, i’ll just “ping” you over to chris from canada who’s posted some really great thoughts & discussion…and has more time than myself, to write on this.

how ’bout this week, let’s think about what God’s Word says: pray for those who hurt you.

7/9: how can we not worship HIM!? every time we do, truth rings in our hearts & our faith is strengthened.

shoplift a heavy burden

it was a rush. my mind would go a hundred miles an hour (to keep up with my heart) as i walked the isles of the store. it could be any store…or house. it could be any thing. lipstick, underwear, a toy for my son, a ring, a birthday gift, a grape, a coke…you get the idea. my objective was to try & find a way to get out of that store without paying for it…without a soul noticing it was gone. it was kind of a ‘lets see how far i can push the limits’ game i played. the anxiety was actually exciting while i shopped. maybe since i never really went thru a drinkin’ & druggin’ phase, this was my version of a “high” i missed out on. the pinnacle was always at checkout. i thought if i got past checkout, i’d probably be safe…beyond suspicion. sometimes i’d use coy conversation & flattery to distract the cashier. i was dang good.

rolling cameras, electronic machines, magnetic strips, return policies ~ i thought i could beat them all. for example, if i got hungry, i’d head over to the protein bar section, open one up, eat it slowly while i ‘shopped’, as to not seem paranoid & then leave the wrapper on the bottom of the cart at check out. if they asked, i’d say, ‘oh, that’s just garbage’. a thief and a liar.

sometimes i’d be at home, bored w/an overdrawn bank account & have an intense desire to shop…or should i say, attain something new. once the urge got in my brain, it was like nothin’ could stop me. i’d take little items easy to hide in my purse. if i didn’t have the money (i read shoplifting rarely has to do with the lack of money), i’d think, ‘there’s got to be somethin’ around the house i can return. then w/that cash or credit, i can buy something else.’ i’d frantically search the house for items or search my purse for a good receipt & then look for an item listed on it. in essence, i used the socially acceptable & legal right to return things, so as to justify it. i’d take back all kinds of things i’d had for up to 9 months, clothes worn & washed countless times…i’d literally break things, un-stitch a hem to make it seem defective, even hot-glue a plastic price-tag loop back onto a garment so it looked never worn.

one time i even returned a dress jacket i gave to my husband for his birthday. it had a small rip in the armpit & i made it bigger, stating it was defective. originally i paid $29. @ fred meyer…& i got credit for it, but not before several cashiers looked at it with an ‘oh my god.’ examining me & then the botched receipt (another trick i was fond of ~ i’d make the purchase date illegible w/water stains or just just rip it). they had a small debate team meeting as i stood there with a long line of people behind me. yeah, it was embarrassing. am i really writing all this? my gosh, it still is. but at the time, all that was worth a $13. gift card to me so i could get something new. to this day i can’t believe it ‘worked’. in fact, to this day, i can’t believe i was never caught.

i watched a dr. phil called, ‘can’t stop stealing’. i completely related to this woman. only she’d been arrested 4 or 5 times & was still addicted. he basically used her kids’ innocence & the threat of prison to scare & shame her into accepting the gift of cognitive therapy he offered to pay for “in her own home town”.

it was far from a message of grace & forgiveness. now that’s a real gift.

i thought getting caught just one time would break me. the sheer humiliation of being hauled off in from of my toddler while he waits for his daddy to come for him…or the thought of being handcuffed in public…it still scares me. but that’s not what helped me stop. dr. phil’s guest made me feel less alone in my addiction, but that wasn’t it either.

i read that confessing something to God with your mouth – it cleanses & saves you. confessing it to someone close you can trust is what starts the healing process. i believed that. i finally told my husband last year, then later my mom, that i had struggled with this compulsion for several years. like food addicts who have to eat to live & are therefore continually faced w/temptation to overeat as they stand in front of their fridge, i had to shop for necessities & groceries weekly. the temptation was always there.

but after confessing to God & someone who could hold me immediately accountable, my urges to “lift” started…lifting. when i’m tempted to steal (yeah, i’m still tempted), i ask myself, ‘self, why!?! do u need that? what kind of example are u setting? would it be worth getting caught? do u think you’re more special or entitled than others who actually pay? get over your…self.’ or i’ll just say a simple prayer for the strength i need; recalling that there’s One who promises to supply all my needs, when i need them. sometimes i don’t do either, & end up taking something anyway. the last thing i can remember lifting was a birthday card that played ‘who let the dogs out’ when you opened it. angel had used it as entertainment while @ wal mart, even during self-check out. that was 3 or 4 months ago.

i’ve been thinkin’ about it lately. my reasons for doin’ it & for me, it comes down to three things ~ not trusting God nearly enough, refusing to die to my selfish desires, & clutching a perverted sense of self-entitlement.

today as i type this, i am nearly free of that issue. not because i tried hard, faithfully attended a 12-step klepto program, or was caught in the act. instead, thank God grace was poured out on me.

before it got worse, i was shown in my heart how confession & reliance {on strength greater than my own} can join forces to really change a person ~ from the inside out.

does the blood of Jesus cover the blood of suicide?

thanks, dad, for your permission to write about gramma.

my gramma was so wonderful to be around. she was kind, always had a hug. she loved “the peoples’ court’ and ‘hee-haw’ and ‘mama’s family’. we used to camp with her in her pop-up at wallowa lake & roller skate on her wood floor. she nursed my first bee sting i got (in my belly button) while lounging in a hammock in her backyard. she baked us a bunny shaped coconutty cake every easter. she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind & boy, could she be blunt (i got that gene). she doted on her weiner dog, trudy (sister to ours) was devoted to the Lord & loved her husband. she lost grampa ted after over 50 years of marriage. that next year brought with it the greatest test of endurance.

emotional stress turned physical & chemicals in her brain started getting off-balance. no one knew her depression had gotten severe. no one knew about the thoughts. not the cuban refugee family she took in to her home, not her pastor, not even her two sons. they would’ve removed the guns from the home.

i was called with the request to drive to her house as “there had been an accident”. i pulled up in my white vw jetta & my mom held me & told me then…gramma was gone. i was confused. i sat on top my car hood with my knees up to my chin & rocked back & forth. there was no accident. she’d stripped her life from herself probably not b/c she wanted to die, but b/c she no longer wanted to live…and in doing so, stripped her life from everyone else who loved her. the tears just streamed as i watched her pastor & the elders haul off the carpet they’d ripped out of that tiny room. i’m just glad it was dark out. i’m even more grateful i wasn’t the one to discover her. i loved my gramma & respected her. i honor her even today. i just wish she was still with me & i could share my life & family with her, like we do w/rick’s grandmas (that seems like a selfish reason, doesn’t it). she sure loved family. there are so many great memories i can recount, that the awful details are usually overshadowed in my mind…

but for the sake of discussion, honest reflection, & hopefully peace to a reader who’s lost someone this way, let’s bring the topic out into the light.

do people who do this go to heaven? to seek some answers (cause i know i have far from all the answers), i went to the Bible, God’s Word. it says that to be absent from our bodies is to be present with the Lord, and there are so many that display his abounding mercy…but i didn’t take much comfort in this passage: he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. ~ 1 Corintians 3:15-17.

this is the only place in the Bible where it refers to what may be suicide, although, it doesn’t even state it as such, specifically. no where else in the Word {Christians’ one & only true source of God-breathed, Holy Spirit inspired ancient text} does it state or even imply that suicide in & of itself, is a sin worthy of eternal damnation…an unpardonable sin. sheesh, even in judges 16:28-30, samson is granted by God the strength to do this. suicide, if unpardonable, would be not just mentioned as such, but woven throughout text.

i know from experience about the kind of God i serve. i don’t care if people call me biased or subjective. everyone of us is, really. God is just & merciful & kind. he is the essence & exemplification of love. he reaches to us beyond the point of our carnal death & gives us a chance to be judged, for the good, bad & ugly. not one of his kids will escape accountability. committing suicide? yeah, that too. they’ll have to answer for it to their Creator himself. sin cannot go unpunished. it was his life to make, & his to take, in his time. but for him to ‘sentence’ hell because of this would be unjust & uncharacteristic.

our lives are so valuable…often underestimated…& extremely important to God! read Psalm 139. to me, suicide can be the ultimate act of selfishness…but i think our Father looks beyond the sin at the time of death, & sees what mere man cannot: the whole person, their lifestyle, their love for him. he takes into account their suffering from mental illness or severe depression & applies the blood of his Son, Jesus to that final sin. so what if they aren’t alive to ask for it!?! his grace reaches beyond that technicality. his grace always looks at the heart.

his blood is not partial. it does not flow down our hearts full of sin avoiding a few choice acts. it cleanses all. that’s why i love to sing songs about it. the suffering & the blood of Jesus is worth squat if we humans can determine that some sins it does not cover (“how could he forgive a child molester or murderer?” “how could he forgive one who doesn’t ask for it because they’re dead now?”), & some it does cover. what if i’m saved, (i’ll use a lame example for lack of time) i’m driving & completely envying the person driving next to me. i end up rubber-neckin’ & crashing into a pole & i die? would a gracious God just look at my last sin of envy & say to me at the throne, ‘well in spite of your life of obedience & humility and your heart of love toward me & toward the least of these, you never repented of that last sin…so, since the wages of sin is death…’

absurd. that clearly goes completely against his character displayed throughout the entire Bible.

we all tend to ‘heirarchy’ the wrong we commit to help us feel better about our ‘little pet sins’, but to God, it is what it is ≈ that which separates us from him, and calls for a perfect atonement. envy, greed, suicide, homosexuality (sexual sin is different, but not worse to God. see 1 corinthians 6:18-20), disobedience, slander, drunkenness…you name it, it’s all sin. if we live this way, refusing to acknowledge/accept Christ’s atonement, it is serious business (see 1 corinthians 6:9-11).

the Word states there is o n e sin that’s unforgivable, unpardonable & results in hell: blaspheming the Holy Spirit ~ (my paraphrase: completely & permanently denying Christ, even after you know the truth in your spirit). this may seem contradictory to the scripture above naming many sins that can lead to eternal separation from God, but this one refers to a blanket statement, covering all of those listed, as examples. hell is for the unrepentant of heart that denies Christ. anyone who has guilt for their sin, confesses with humility & repents…(“such WERE some of you” oh, please don’t miss that part!)…he is immediately restored to right standing with God. my heart leaps for joy to read this again.

Christ words on this sin can be read in mark 3:22-30 & matthew 12:30-33 . dr. henry morris & author & theologian, dr. f.f. bruce shed some further light on that ‘unpardonable’ sin ~ to read their insights on the subject, click here (but come back!).

so yeah, i’m biased here. i miss her. but not so biased, i’m blind. i have faith (evidence of what i can’t see) that the saved don’t have to worry about heaven vs. hell when they die. they are free of every pain in their new bodies, enjoying the gift of eternal life. in my humble opinion, this is the bottom line: whether it was a life of a Christian taken by God in his timing, by someone else or by their own hand, that life…that blood is covered by the blood of their Savior. period.

oh…my gramma’s name?

grace.

now, as for whether or not we know if someone’s really saved before they die?! …well, that’s a topic for another day. i’m way past my wordcount on this one, but i’d loooove to read any comments on today’s.

thanks

thanks, God, for loving me. thanks for accepting me. i love that i don’t have to pretend around you; i couldn’t if i tried. my flaws and sins are before you every day. you created me, developed me, changed me, have given me a new name. i am yours.

you wrap your arms around me when i feel lonely. your presence calms me, & at the same time lifts me up, taking me far beyond the joys of a man’s touch, the taste of a perfectly made ‘americano with cream’ or the fleeting burst of creative passion i feel when i listen to a really great song. your presence in & around me is the best thing i can think of. period.

i can be myself, with unwashed hair, no make up, dressed in outdated clothes & come to you with my ever-changing fears & questions, struggles with selfishness & pride and still know…that no matter what, there are two things that will not change:

you love me.

you accept me.

a call to action

i am on a small quest to let the Lord enlarge my territory by reaching out to those in need. he has given me too many hints in the last months or so, to ignore his voice. i am realizing that too much of my time is spent to better myself and my own family & not enough to bring encouragement, comfort & blessing to those whom we are all supposed to reach out…specifically the widows (or elderly), orphans (or at-risk youth), prisoners (or people in bondage), hungry & poor.

this week i’m focusing on prisoners. in matt. 25 Jesus said, ‘i was in prison & you didn’t visit me…when you refused to help the least of these…you were refusing to help me’. and hebrew 13:2 “Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you” (msg).

memories of the women ‘on the inside’ at coffee creek correctional facility in oregon keep coming back to me – their bright faces & eager spirits, as our little team visited them each month. how they looked forward to our coming. how they longed to share w/us what the Lord had done for them that month, what their plans were upon release, prayer requests for their children & their children’s caregivers. many didn’t quite get the idea that you don’t have to keep raising your hand to receive salvation over & over, each month. perhaps they thought their sins had brought them to a place where a once-&-for-all pardon was inconceivable. living out your punishment behind bars walls and wires, i can imagine, would make it tough to understand how God’s mercies really are new every morning…and how the blood of Jesus was all we have ever needed & will ever need for a clean record in His sight. yet in their circumstances, many would raise their hands with the faith of a little girl. some would sing super loud, some off-key; others would clap with no rhythm or speed up a worship song in anticipation of the next. none of that mattered. it was the heart.

they were just like me & you, but made a few more wrong choices & were caught. hearts pure & hopeful, & no less deserving of love and forgiveness than ours. i may not be able to visit them in person here in austin, tx, but i can sure write letters to one. if you’d like to join me in this endeavor, it would be so wonderful & God would surely bless it. i asked the director, beth if there were hundreds waiting for someone who cares, to write them, and Beth told me, no…thousands. in this nation’s prison system, thousands await (most for over 1 year) to connect with another in the free world. i urge to email beth & jesse michael, exec. directors of Christian Pen Pals at: cppnews@hotmail.com

take 6 min. to sign up via email, & you can make a ginormous difference in an inmate’s life (not to mention be blessed by them). ricky & i just started last night & can’t wait til we meet each of our new friends. lets make an impact & let God’s light shine in the darker places, together.