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08. Mar, 2013

Facing Your Giants

Facing Your Giants

RocksAs I sit here with my second cup of coffee this morning (or is it my third??),  I am facing a new day. A new day that will be filled with joys, sorrows, ups, downs, and with giants that seem to be lurking around the corner.

Giants. They mock you, they taunt you, they scare you and make you run away. They parade up and down your school rooms, your youth group, your sport teams, your band, your bedroom and your heart. They tell you you’re not good enough, not talented enough and not brave enough, that you’re not smart enough, or loved enough. They tell you that you won’t make the team, or get the part or make the band or get the grade, that you won’t get “those” friends, (or really.. ANY friends for that matter). They tell you not to try, or entice you to give up or scream that you will fail. Your giants.

A lot of us face them in our lives, although they may not be ones that are standing physically before us, you need to know that they are still there. We face them in our lives. Yet they are not meant to make us run the other way or shrink back in fear. I want you to take a look at the life of David who went up against the biggest giant….that physically was standing in front of him. Talk about scary, knee-knocking scary. Yet David didn’t shrink back in fear, he didn’t run in the opposite direction, no David went head on. He ran at the giant with the strength of God. He faced the giant face to face, man to boy. Yet he knew he wasn’t standing alone.

“You come at me with swords and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”-1 Samuel 17:45

David knew he wasn’t facing his giant alone.  He knew that he was strong and mighty because of the God that he represented. He knew that he had all he needed, when he used the Name of Almighty God as his defense.  You and I need to know the same. We need to know that we don’t face our giants of loneliness, depression, fear, anxiety, unworthiness, or of guilt from your past, alone. We have the Lord of Angel Armies fighting with us; you and I have the Lord of hosts on OUR side!! That alone should make us want to rush at our giants head on with full force, with the purpose of taking them down.  David knew where his strength came from and he stepped into it. Not just “stepped” into it, in fact, ran at full force into it! You and I can do the same.

Your giant does not get to rule your life if you don’t let it. You know what your giant is.  You have felt your giant glaring down on you, but the question is, is that all you see? You know the voice of your giant as it mocks you, but do you hear the still small voice that whispers Truth to your heart? Do you hear God as He calls you to step out, do you hear Him as He says He is with you, that He loves you? David took on the giant with full force. He slung the rock and hit the giant and killed him. In a split second the giant went from taunting, scary and pacing, to dead on the ground in the blink of an eye. David had the courage to throw a stone.

And you do to. You have the same power that David has. You have the power to take on your giant, you get to say “Giant of depression it may take a while but you won’t conquer me!” “Giant of unworthiness, my God died for me, your voice will no longer rule me!.” “Giant of broken heartedness, you aren’t entering this house anymore!” “Giant of insecurity you no longer reign over me!” “Giant of loneliness you go away, for my God is ALWAYS with me!” You have the stones, God given Truths that you can sling at your giant. Sometimes it takes constant slinging of stones, constant truth being thrown at your giant, but sooner or later the giant will fall, the taunting voices will stop and the fear will no longer be present. But it takes you…to step out, to take on the giant. You know where your strength lies, you know where your victory comes from, but you need to claim it.

“Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David.  He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. He said to David, ‘Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. ‘Come here,’ he said, ‘and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!’ David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.’ As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.”  -1 Samuel 17:41-51

31. May, 2012

I am not who I used to be….

I am not who I used to be….

“What this means is that those who become  Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”- 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But forget all of that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness for my people to come home. I will create rivers for them in the desert!”-Isaiah 43:18-19

The purpose of this blog is different then most that I have written. So bear with me as it might get a bit long (sorry to some of you who hate reading but stick with me!) I guess this blog has kind of formed out of a really interesting week for me. This week, I had the most amazing encounter with God that I would never have expected to have in a million years. Not only that but I preached my second sermon so far and had kind of an update meeting with my wonderful teacher Chris Opie from Pathways college. This blog is coming from a heart that can not stop from giving thanks to God and not stop falling on my face before Him.

I know some of you knew back in my darker days and saw that ugly side of me, and some of you have thankfully not had to witness that, but have only begun to see the transformed me that God is continually working. But I wanted to start by saying God has not done a tweak in my life, He has completely transformed my life. Some of you here in NZ who know me now might not have noticed me if you had passed me on the shops three years ago. And as I have been thinking about it the last couple of weeks, I am so continually blown away that I keep hitting my knees in awe and thankfulness as I look around me and see the amazing works that God has done in my life. What really hit it all home was when I sat down on Saturday morning with my Mug&Muffin girls and watched one of my favorite Bible teachers Beth Moore, share about a life transformed in David. And I seriously wanted to break down and cry right then (tears of joy). I sit here at the end of a very full week and I look back, I see the faithfulness and fingerprints of God all the way through it. For me, I know I am not the same girl I used to be and I can not take any credit for that. Because I know if I did that I would need to be struck down with lighting (hahaha Peyton) or something. For me tonight this has been my wake up moment and I have realized that I know I am not where I used to be, not by a long shot. I am very thankful and humbled and happy to say that as much as the enemy tried, he did not get all that he wanted from me.

I want to share with some of you who haven’t seen me in a year or two (or who have facebook stalked me via photos and what not) what has been going down on my side of the world. At the beginning of this year, I have had the amazing privilege to be accepted into Pathways Bible College, and am working part time on a certificate in Worship Leading. Never in a million years would I have ever believed that God would do such a thing for me. Not even when I was a little girl singing worship songs with my dad on stage at summer camp would I believe that something like this would be part of my life at 18. Pathways has already begun to stretch me and change me in ways I would never have thought possible. (thanks Chris Opie and Craig Barrow) but the things I am learning, I continue to be blown away by. The people that I have been able to come into contact with because of this program blow my socks off. I am so glad I am not the only weird one out there, but there are others like me. I find myself growing in my knowledge and area of worship, in my walk with God, and in my prayer life.

The other thing that has happened is that God has continued to allow me to be apart of an amazing, growing, blossoming youth group that has God’s fingerprints all over it. Now if you had asked me three years ago if I would ever be apart of a youth group that was so on fire I would say no. This youth group has challenged me in so many areas that I can’t even begin to name them all. But the few that stick out as the most prominate is that I have had the privilege of having amazing youth pastors and leaders around me who have encouraged me to step up and use my gifts when I have wanted to shy away and just ignore the fact that I might have any to begin with. For me I am really insecure person (just being honest.) So to even think about getting up and sticking up my hand and saying “ya I will do that” scares the crap out of me! But in the last year, I have not only seen my guitar/singing abilities change and grow slowly, but I have had the opportunity of being able to preach two messages on things that God has been teaching me. I never would have even imagined doing something like that……EVER!!! But God has decided other wise. 😉 funny that ey. But I haven’t gotten up there doing it by myself, but I know that I have had not only the backing of a youth pastor who has looked over my sermon and my academic advisor (AKA my dad) but I have had the surrounding and prayer of people around the world. That in and of itself has allowed me to fall back into knowing I am not doing my life on my own and it isn’t me against the world like I used to think.

The other really neat God thing is that God has opened the door and allowed me to be able to, is as 1 Corinthians 11:1 says “Follow my example as I follow Christ’s” with some girls. I have had the the most knee knocking, scaring me half to death, but oh so rewarding opportunity to speak into the lives of some girls at my youth group as well as some that have been coming to the girls Bible study I have been holding in my house. To watch as the girls wrestle with God, and seek God and finally hit that point of surrendering to God has been amazing. And the fact that God doesn’t waste anything and has continued to use bits of my story to be a sign post to these girls has blown my mind to no end.

And as I sit here tonight I realized that all of those months of me saying “there has got to be a reason why Satan is attacking me so hard right now, there has got to be something in New Zealand that Satan isn’t happy about” is now all starting to make sense. As I was drifting off to sleep its like a light bulb went off in my head. Some of these things began to make sense, and it is like the veil of heaven got pulled back for a split second and some stuff finally started clicking. God has absolutely done a 180 with my life that I can take no credit for it, and I hope that I am becoming a woman that when people see me, they see nothing of me but every ounce of me gets to point back to God and His glory. No I am not writing this to say look at how great I am, but merely to humbly say that I am not who I used to be. I made a conscious decision to obey my God rather than my fear and insecurity and sin. Just like I chose to walk away, I also chose to walk back and say “actually God, You take back over my life because I did a messy job of it by my own hands”. So I guess what I wanted to communicate is that God was good and so faithful and so mind blowing and so merciful. God is good, when there was nothing good in me. He was hope, and He cover all of my sin. He was peace, when my fear was crippling. And I can now stand on this side of my battle and crap and look back and see how God is beginning to redeem my junk and strength gifts and talents I didn’t even know I had. 😛 I want to humbly say to you guys that I am not who I used to be, to that God gets all of the glory. I guess each time I have hit my knees that last couple of weeks, I feel an overwhelming sense of thankfulness and gratitude to God.

I know that God is still working on me. I am after all, human. And I know that I still have a long way to go, but I know that greater things are still yet to come in my own life. I am now excited for whatever is next (after I get through this crazy year!) I am no longer afraid of the future, or feel a need to control certain things in my life. I am merely grabbing God’s hands and walking this path with him. Or as I preached on Friday night, I am excited, to get in the boat with God and push out into the middle of the lake. I know that I still have my moments, I know I still make mistakes, but I know that in the end God still uses it, and I am continuing to seek after Him and whatever and however that may be.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well I say it takes a global village to raise a missionary kid. So I want to stop and thank all of you who have prayed over me and for me. I want to thank those of you who have added so much laughter to my life. Thank you for making me laugh when I have wanted to punch walls in. Thank you for those of you who have believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you to those of you who have pushed me to seek God or pushed me harder so that I can become better and stronger in some areas of my life. Thank you to some of you who I have been able to lean on when things have gotten tough or I have felt weak. You are all so important to me and I know I don’t say it enough or appreciate it enough. Thank you…each and every one of you. I don’t think I have big enough or long enough or even enough words to describe my thanks.

Thank you also to those of my friends both new and old. I know some of you might not realize the impact you have had on my life or how much you might have altered it and changed it, but you have. Some of you so dramatically changed it and some of you have sprinkled it. To each I am eternally grateful.

I wanted to close with this verse cause it kind of sums this all up:

Psalms 116:1-7

I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath! Death wrapped its ropes around me; the terrors of the grave overtook me. I saw only trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Please, Lord, save me!” How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! The Lord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.

31. Dec, 2011

Thought Life

Thought Life

Thought LifeHave you ever had those days where your thoughts just seem to be bombarded? Or you just feel like you are getting those constant negative thoughts? Those dripping thoughts that say things like “you’re worthless”, or “you’re inadequate”, “you’re dumb”, “you’re _____” (fill in the blank). I get so annoyed with myself when that happens. I am like “Really? I am back here again? Why is this happening?” But something I am learning is that it is in those times when Satan is trying to destroy you, it is in those times that you need to realize that Satan would not be trying to take you out if something great was going to happen to further God’s kingdom.

A wise man once said “If you are not feeling Satan’s attacks then either he is really gearing up, or he doesn’t consider you a threat.” (Thanks Dad :) ) I have been growing so much in these last few months that honestly at times it is felt like God has backed a dump truck up on me and just dumped Truth and opened my eyes to new things. (Sorry to all of you who I have gotten quiet and withdrawn on… just trying to process.) But something that I have been learning in my personal Bible study time, is that Satan WANTS to take us out, not only that, but he wants to make us unusable for the Kingdom. He wants to take away our testimony because he knows that it could be so powerful and it will bring bring people to God.  He comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) Satan isn’t going to give up when you have won one victory in your life; if that was the case I would have been out of my “pit” months ago. Satan knows that God has already won the battle, he just doesn’t to give up the battle. He wants to take down as many people as possible and because he takes out so many Christian’s, he thinks he might eventually win. But here is the great thing about God that I know you already know……GOD HAS WON THE VICTORY!!!! No matter how dark your pit may seem, God has already won, and that in and of itself should make you want to laugh in Satan’s face!

But it is not an easy path. It is a moment by moment; hour by hour; minute by minute battle. You have to constantly fill your head with Truth; you have to constantly tell Satan to shut his face. You have to command him, in the name and blood of Christ who ransomed you and purchased you, to be gone! You can’t think that just because you won one victory he won’t come back. No you have to be ready for attack #2 and #3 and #4, #444, #5,555….Only this time you better be on guard because you can bet that he is gonna switch tactics.  Satan is too cleaver to continue to attack the same way, because he knows you know how to get rid of him that way; no he will have another side attack, maybe through someone else, what they did or said, maybe through something that you feel like you screwed up on. Whatever it is, you gotta check yourself, make sure that that Satan is not behind this thought.

But that only comes from knowing your Word, your Sword is your best weapon. You can’t just command him to be gone and think you are sweet from there on out. No, you need to fill your head with Truth with praise and thanksgiving, because if your head and your heart are full of praises to God, then there is no room left for Satan and his thoughts and strong holds. Satan is the hater of your soul, the one who wants to destroy you, the one who wants to make you turn your back on God. He could do it any number of ways. It could be through depression, or obsessing about something that someone said, it could be memories that haunt you, or things that you feel you could do better, or constantly putting yourself down, even to the point of self-hatred, or isolating yourself, etc. But you know what…..GOD HAS ALREADY WON THE VICTORY! All you have to do is walk in faithful obedience. You have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. God is not going to leave you in the pit. No, He is going to lovingly pull you out of that pit, put your feet on solid ground, cleaning you off with such a tenderness and compassion, and make something beautiful of your life. But YOU have the choice, you can wallow in your self-pity and self-hatred and self …..or you can fill your head with God’s Truth and take God at His word. Yes I know it is not easy, it takes a lot of energy and strength and effort, but God never said our Christian walk is gonna be easy, but He DID say it was gonna be worth it. As a wonderful godly man once told me “The Devil plays games, but he plays for keeps.”

So tonight, as I struggle with my head space and my thoughts, I am excited. You might be at this point thinking I am crazy, but you know what I am excited about? I’m excited because it means that Satan sees me as a big enough threat that he feels like he has to take me out. And that is exciting. Knowing that something in my life is going to be used soon for God’s Kingdom that Satan is not happy about.  To me, that is exciting. So yes, I am tired and exhausted from constantly moment by moment having to battle and fill my head with Truth, but at the end of the day, I know it is going to be worth it, I trust God to use it and I thank God for using me. Me…..someone who has messed up and screwed up so much that at times I wondered if I was ever going to live through it. But in this moment, in this hour, in this minute, when the storms of my head our raging, I choose to praise God, to come back to His Word and curl up in His arms, knowing He has my tomorrows sorted.

So what path are you going to choose? Or are you too weak that you think you have nothing left in you to fight? I have felt that, but here is what I say “God delights to meet the faith of the one who looks up to Him and says ‘Lord I know that I can’t do this-but I believe that you can’”- Amy Carmichael. God is never going to leave you and never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) So ask God for strength, command Satan to be gone, and then lay your weary head on your Papa’s chest, He won’t let anything destroy you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

08. Mar, 2011

A reason for my trials and sufferings…

A reason for my trials and sufferings…

How many of you have gone through a trial, or a suffering, or have just been so stressed that didn’t think that you would live to see the next season of your life, let along the next DAY of your life?  I bet you question God (as I have done) shook your fist at Him or turned your back because you were angry. I bet at one point or another you have shut your eyes and just sat in the corner waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the next season of life to beguine and for this part to be over with.  But the great thing about God is that He is still there for you, waiting with open arms for your return.

I have recently started a study by Kay Aurthur called Lord, give me a heart for you. And it is an AMAZING book. But day five of the first week really stood out to me, she had us read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11, and then she brought about 4 points from those 11 verse, and let me tell ya, it was a tough slug. I was just sitting there like “oh my goodness, make so much sense.” And I began to thank God for taking me through my trial even though it hurt. I know, I know, you must be thinking “this girl is CRAZY! She thanks God for her trials?” But I learned that because of those trials, I have been able to reach out and touch people and help encourage people in a way I wasn’t able to before because of my trial. If you knew me two years ago, you would see that I am not the same girl I used to be, in both good and bad ways. But God, who pulled me out of my pit, also worked everything in my life for His good. He took my muck and yuck and screw ups and has started to make something beautiful for His kingdom. But I will back up a bit and just get on with what Miss Kay was teaching, because it is amazing.

The first point she brought up was this “Whatever brings pressure, or burdens you, or in modern-day terminology whatever stresses you out-God is there with adequate comfort. Now just stop and think about that. So often when we are stressed or we go through a trial we miss that fact that God is subtly comforting us and there helping us and gently trying to get us out of the pit that we have dug for ourselves. Miss Kay said that we can never “out-suffer our God’s comfort”. And that is an incredible thing to think about. No matter how hard you have fallen, or how far or how fast or how deep, God is still there waiting to comfort you, and to heal you. You might at this point be saying “that is all fine and great Christina, but I can do without suffering.” I am here to tell you that Biblically, that is impossible. We can’t be a Christian and live happy chappy lives that are always perfect and full of good times, because if we don’t suffer, we miss out on God’s adequate comfort. You can’t get His comfort unless you suffer. Verse 5 of 2 Corinthians 1 says that.

You can be sure that that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ.”

Not only that but verse 7 also says “We are confident that as you share in suffering, you will also share in God’s comfort.” Did you hear that, CONFIDENT. Meaning without a shadow of doubt Paul is confident that you WILL share in God’s comfort, no questions asked, no ands, ifs, or buts.

The second point Miss Kay brought into light is that “our suffering always benefits others.”……..What the heck? Is this girl crazy? She must be on something right? Benefit others? YA RIGHT!  LOL…No I am not smoking anything funny, and yes I am crazy, but not when it comes to my Bible and the Truth of what God has said. It is so true, that when we suffer and go through a trial,  AND if we allow God to work in us and heal us,  we come out the other side WITH God.  Our experience, then  and the knowledge of what God has taught us we can turn around and help others with. Verse 6 of 2 Corinthians really spells it out.

“So when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your benefit and salvation! For when God comforts us, it is so that we in turn can be an encouragement to you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.”

I wish I had known this way back at the beginning of my trials. I wish that I had known that one day, all the crap I was going  through, would later help others to get through their trails as well. Miss Kay said it  in such a way that was so amazing I not only highlighted it, but I underlined it and asterisked it in my book. Let me ask you a question for a minute. Is there someone in your life right now, or in your past, that as you shared in their pain or suffering, you realized that because of what you had gone thru it had given you more understanding and compassion towards them? If you have, then I just want you to stop and think about that for a minute. How cool is God that He allowed you to be able to comfort, strengthen, and support all because you had journeyed  yourself in a dark time and understood pain? Other saw your example of endurance, and it caused them to endured.”

Here is the point that really gets me, ready for this? “What greater joy could there be than knowing that whatever your trial or tragedy you experienced under the hand of your sovereign God was not wasted but used.”  That truth right there is SO important. I know Romans 8:28 totally get’s over used but it is so true.  “And we KNOW that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” That little word “know” in your Bible means with absolute certainty.  Sometimes in the midst of our storm and our struggle we lose sight of that truth. God does not waste what you have gone through, no matter how dark it might seem.  In His time when He thinks you are ready He will bring someone along your path whom you can encourage just as God had encouraged you.

I have the NLT and love it, but in The Message I really liked how verse 4 of 2 Corinthians 1 stated it. “He comes along side us when we go through hard time and before you know it, he brings us along side someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just like God was there for us.” God is not going to let anything go to waste, so you can either take God at His word and know that Romans 8:28, and Jeremiah 29:11 is truth, or you can turn your back on God and think He doesn’t know what He is doing and why would He care about your trials.

The third point is that “God carries us beyond what we would otherwise be able to endure.”  Verse 9 states-“In fact  we expected to die. But as a result we learned not to rely on ourselves, but on God who can raise the dead.” God can carry you beyond your trials. It’s funny, as I was reading this it was the day after the women’s bible study video and Pricilla Shirer was preaching out of Ephesians 4:20-21 and this is what she said “God is able to do beyond your beyond. You dream and you say, “God this would be cool”, and that is your line or what you think is beyond your wildest dreams. But God can go beyond your beyond, and He can go beyond your beyond and ‘beyond’!” And it is so true. We are mere humans and cannot even comprehend all that God could and would do.  Our small “insignificant” brains as Louie Gigilo would say, cannot wrap around the greatness and the awesome dynamite power that God possess. To further illustrate her point Miss Kay says this “When we go beyond our limit, than we experience the supernatural intervention of God and we know that it’s God. And we’ll never forget it. It will be a genuine experience that will always remind us of that total sufficiency of His grace, grace perfected, brought to completion in our weakness.” You might be sitting there today thinking, “I wish God would just stop my storm now, I want it to be over and done and I don’t want to deal with this crap anymore.” But sometimes, we have to get to the very bottom of the pit, the deepest darkest place before we can look up and see God and believe God, and once we hit that place God says “Finally my child, you see me.” And I am not saying that God likes it when this happens. His heart breaks every time one of his children steps outside of the comfort of their God box, and freely chooses to walk in sin, His heart breaks. But sometimes we stubborn sinful humans have to reach the very bottom of that pit before we look up and realize that His grace is sufficient, and we have to say “God I am not strong enough to deal with this, but I know you are, so please help me, and heal me.” I would have loved it if God had pulled me out of my pit sooner. I would have loved it if God had calmed the storm sooner then what he did. But He didn’t and I know now that if He had pulled me out sooner, I would not have learned about His amazing grace and fallen more deeply in love with Him.

The final point is that affliction produces corporate prayer. Verse 11 “He will rescue us because you are helping by praying for us. As a result, many will give thanks for God because so many people’s prayers for our safety have been answered.”  My family has a network of prayer warriors, people we ask in specific to pray for us for certain things in our lives that are going on. When I was going through my trial, we had people around the world praying for me, and for my mom and dad and brother and sister. As I stand on this side of my storm, I can look back and see the power of prayer and how it totally helped.  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.”

I want to ask you, do you have someone that you can grab and link up arms when you are weak? Do you have someone that you can go to when you know that you are struggling that you can get prayer from? If you don’t I want to encourage you to find someone or multiple someone’s that you can ask when things get rough to pray for you. As Ephesians 6:18 says “Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.” The power of prayer is very powerful and sometimes we water it down or we use it as a flippant statement of “oh I will pray for you.” But I am standing before you today because of the power of prayer that was never ceasing.  Prayer is our best and most powerful weapon of defense against the devil. If I can, I really really want to encourage you to find someone to link up arms with. To travel through the storm with you loving, encouraging and praying for you. So that maybe, just maybe you won’t have the same pain and heartache that I have experienced.

I know this had become a long note, but I just wanted to share some of the things that God has taught me, in hopes that they might encourage you as well.

04. Feb, 2011

Ponderings through my tears…

Ponderings through my tears…

Just when I had thought I had no more tears to cry, a fresh round started. I sat on the floor and cried some more. “How long had I been sitting here”, I wondered to myself.  “How long has my hurts plagued me?”   As I sat there, I thought about all the people who had hurt me, who had wounded me, and I even thought about how I had hurt myself.   As I looked around I suddenly began to feel very alone, very unloved, and uncared for. “Papa, why have you let me go through this? Why have you abandoned me?” I asked meekly as a young child would her earthly daddy.

“My daughter, I have never left, and I am still here for you. I am standing right here, in this very room, watching you shed each of these tears that I keep capturing and holding in My hand.  Why don’t you trust Me.” I got up and looked around and realized that my Papa was indeed standing right beside me with outstretched arms. I ran to Him and cried even more on His shoulder as He gently fingered my hair. “My sweet daughter, what troubles you?” He asked taking my face in His strong hands, wiping the tears from my eyes.

“Papa I have messed up so bad, and I have hurt You!  Why do You still choose me?” I asked. “My heart has been broken. I’m no longer focusing on running the race that You have desired for me to run, but I chosen to look behind me to all the things I have done wrong.  I also see all the things people have done to me that I feel wronged by.  I feel so hurt, and not like I am worth anyone’s time.”

But as I looked into my Papa’s eyes, I realized something.  He wasn’t hurt, He wasn’t mad, in fact a smile played on His lips and His eyes twinkled as if He were laughing. “My sweet daughter, I chose you for a purpose. Don’t you see? Your hurt, well that is just part of My story that I am writing in you. Those people who you feel had hurt you were all part of My plan. Nothing that has happened in your life, has not been filtered first thru My fingers of love.  I am teaching you, and training you. But you have to trust me.”

“But Daddy, I am so unqualified and I have messed up so badly. No one will want to listen to me. Why use me? Why did you let those people hurt me? I feel so alone and so unloved.” I said pointing behind me as if pointing to my past.

“Honey, if you love Me, you will have to trust that Daddy knows what’s best for you. Nothing that happened was outside of My master plan for your life.”  Papa took me lovingly by the hand, walking me over to one of the walls that a beautiful tapestry was hanging from. He took it down from its hook and turned it over, showing me the back where it looked like a big mess of strings and knots. “You see My daughter, you see your life like this, a big mess of knots and tangled string. You think nothing good could ever be made from it, that you are too messed up and to knotted to be used. But I see you and your life like this”, Papa said as He turned it back over to the front. As I looked at the tapestry, it took my breath away to see the wonderful landscape of trees and a river with flowers of all kinds and butterflies flittering off into the sky. “I see your life as beautiful, and I chose to use you. But you have to trust that I know what’s best for your life. You have to trust Me. And when the time is right you must not be afraid to share My story that I have written in you and for you.” Taking my face in His hands again, He looked me in the eyes and said “I love you!! Trust Me to know what is best for you.”

I nodded my head knowing that He was right. “Give Me your hurts, your pain and your bitterness. Give them to Me so you can live in peace.” He said. I sighed and looked up at Him. I just wasn’t ready to let go of the hurt.  I guess it was because I was too afraid. Afraid to step out and trust Him, afraid to take on a new life that He was so freely wanting to give to me. “Come on My beautiful daughter. This is not the life I have designed for you, sitting in this dark room crying and hiding. Honestly, it is not what is best for you. Trust Me, trust that I know what really is best.”

“But Papa if I give you my hurt, then I have to give You my dreams, my insecurities, my ambitions and my expectations. What am I going to do if I give You all of that?”

“I will give you”, He said, “MY dreams, and MY ambitions. I will give you a new life and a fresh start.  All you have to do is release everything to Me, and trust Me to give you what I want to give you.”

I looked down at the ground, knowing it was going to be a tough and long, painful road I had to travel to release everything. But I decided then and there that it would be better then hiding out for the rest of my life. “Okay Daddy, I give you everything. Take it all because I don’t want to deal with it any more. Take from me and make me new. I choose to trust You.” I said. My Daddy grabbed me up in His arms and in great delight spun me around and around until I laughed. And I have to say, it was not the fake laugh I had laughed for so long, but I real bubbly kind of laugh, that came from deep inside me,  that made me truly joyful. He set me down and took my hand as we began walking away from that room, “Now my child, about your hurt….”

16. Jan, 2011

Lessons from a Cliff Edge

Lessons from a Cliff Edge

I had made the climb, I stood at the top, looking into the some what murky water. Sure I had lost my balance a couple of times, and looked to others for help, but I now stood at the top. “Jump Christina, you can do it, JUMP!” I heard my friends say. I looked below me and felt the fear consume me. What am I doing up here? I can’t jump, it is too high! I thought to myself. “Jump Christina, JUMP!” Do I trust them? Do I trust those who have jumped before me and know that I will be safe in the jump? Or do I listen to the fear, do I listen to self doubt? I look one more time, and with a shaky step I leep over the edge and finally hit the cold water, which takes my breath away.  I resurface a moment later trying to catch my breath, and I look up into my friends faces as they cheer me on. I swim over to the bank with a exhilarating sense of accomplishment. I DID IT!  I made the jump,  I took a leap of faith and conquered my fear!

In some ways I have been pondering that this is a lot like our relationship with God. God is cheering us on from the other side of the bank, telling us to jump. Encouraging us that if we jump we will not be hurt, that we will be safe. He wont push us over the edge and He wont command us to jump. He leaves the decision to us. He lets us decide what we want to do. He just encourages us from the bank. (sometimes the landing may take our breath away but we are still in God’s arms, but more on this in a minute…….)

Some of us may still be standing on that cliff edge of faith. Unable to let go of the safety of the tree branch beside us, and just push off and jump. We let fear, self defeat, and lies about who we are or aren’t, get to us. Keeping us frozen and unable to move. Knees shaking, and body trembling,  we think that maybe if we just stare down at the water, maybe if we just look at it long enough we will psych ourselves into jumping. Most of the time it doesn’t work, we still stand there, frozen, because we are too afraid to jump but too proud to turn around and walk back down, letting someone else jump. We think we can do it, we mentally go through all the steps that we need to take to jump. But it all avails to nothing and we still stand there holding up the line, and trembling in fear.

Some of us get to the top, take one look and turn right back around and go to the bottom. Fear became too predominate in our lives that we let it rule us. We miss out on the great things in life because we are too afraid to do take the leap of faith. We are too afraid that no one will like us, we  are too afraid of messing up, we are too afraid of being alone, we are all too afraid of failing. But here is the funny part, that once we walk back down to the bottom, we begin to get angry with ourselves. We are angry that we couldn’t jump, we are angry that we look like a wuss, we are angry that we couldn’t look cool and strong and confident. And so we beat ourselves up, thinking “if only I was like “so-and-so, they seem to have it all together, they could make the jump.” Before we know it, we are wallowing in a pool of self-pity, hatred toward ourselves and it is all self inflicted. Self loathing becomes our identity and we wear it like a protective coat. Not letting any one get close because we are AFRAID of what they might say at our lack of faith.

Then there is the final group that get to the top and look down, but instead of standing there frozen, or turning around and going back to the bottom, they take a shaky step toward the edge, and then, just like that, they jump. Leaving the fear on the cliff, they let go. They trust the Voice of their Creator, and know that He would never lead them astray. That He would never ask them to jump into something that will harm them.  They leave everything that would hold them back up on the cliff edge, and they jump. When they hit the water they can hear God clapping and cheering them on. They hear Him praising them, telling them that He is proud of them. And they look back up to the cliff and are humbly proud of themselves. They feel a sense of accomplishment. Whatever the situation was, it didn’t rule them. As they climb up onto the bank, God wraps them in a huge hug and whispers tenderly in their ear “well done good and faithful servant.”

I don’t know where you stand today, I know that before I wrote this, I would have been one of those people who walked up looked down, and turned back around to to back to the bottom. But on Friday Jan 14, 2011,  I had the privilege to actually walk a path that lead me to a cliff edge, and  jump from a huge height (for me anyway). I was shaking so bad and scared to death that I was going to kill myself.  I thought that I wouldn’t push out far enough or that I would find the one shallow spot and end up breaking my legs. But instead of letting that paralyzing fear rule me, I  made the overwhelming decision to jump. I stood on the cliff edge, looked down at the murky water and pushed off, listening to the voices of those who had jumped before me. I don’t remember much of those few seconds that it took for me to hit the waters surface, but when I resurfaced, I was overwhelmed with the sense of pride that I had just done that!!!! I was amazed at myself, as I looked back up at the height of my jump. And as treaded water there, looking at that cliff face, I was struck with the idea that if I can leap into a murky watering hole like I just did, then I can take a leap of faith in other areas of my life. I could leave my fear behind and just jump. I don’t know what that looks like exactly yet, but I trust God and I want to listen to His voice, knowing He wouldn’t lead me astray.

I guess as I wrap up, I just want to leave you with one final thought…..where do you stand? If I were to take you to the cliffs edge of your faith and said jump, what would you do? Would you be frozen in fear? Unable to take the leap, yet to proud to let someone else jump? Would you be the one to take one look down and high tail it back down the path? Or would you be the one to trust those who have jumped before you, step out onto the cliffs edge and jump?

If you happen to be in the first two categories, what do you suppose it is that is holding you back in fear?  Forgiving someone who has wronged you? Letting go of something that controls you? Not trusting your Creator to take care of you? Fear of the unknown? What will it take to trust?

I would encourage you to YOUTUBE Steven Curtis Capman’s song called Dive. Spend the time listening to him sing, and pray about what his lyrics are saying.

2 Corinthians 5:7

“For we live by faith, not by sight”

10. Jan, 2011

Innocent Princess

Innocent Princess

Once I was little girl who dreamed of princesses and castles in far off lands. Who thought she could conquer the world one day, and that life was full of joy. With my hair in pony tails and ribbon, my big blue eyes undaunted, and dancing feet,  I approached life with ease and poise.  I was naive and innocent, blind to the cruel dark world and its heartache.

Then one day I grew up and the dark world swallowed me whole. Robbing me of my innocents, beating me up, breaking and twisting my heart. The world told me lies, lies that were so loud that I couldn’t ignore them. The world told me that I wasn’t good enough, that I was ugly, and that I was a failure. Then it spit me back out and left me to fend for myself in my weakened state. I barely recognized who I was, and I began to wonder if I was even the same person. My view on life changed and I feared the world more then ever before. I was afraid of people, of situations and even afraid of how my life might end up.

But a gentle touch and a kind smile came along. He offered me a hand. He took my heart and began the work of mending it, He took my cuts and scrapes and bandaged them. He took my fear and cast it into the sea. He took me to a far off castle and told me that I was His princess. He told me that I am loved, that I matter, that I am beautiful, and that I am good enough. He restored a crown to my head, a smile to my face, and a spring in my step.

And you know what?……I actually believe Him,and I trust Him. Sure, I wont be as naive as when when I was a child, and I know that everything wont always be happy chappy and full of sunshine. But I know that at least someone cares. No matter what, I know that a gentle touch and a kind smile is not far off.  So I feel safe, safe to be an innocent Princess again.

23. Dec, 2010

My Faith: Fake or Real?

I find myself yet again falling face first…..not sure what to do. One moment I can feel fine and happy chappy, and the next I feel alone, hurt and confused. But I know this time I have a choice, I can choose to share what I am feeling…confess and invite others to pray for me and with me, or I can paint on a fake grin and go about life pretending that I am fine when really I am dying inside….only I can choose, the fate is in my own hands.

“Is there anyone that fails/is there anyone that falls/am I the only one in church today feeling so small/cause when I take a look around/everybody seems so strong/I know they’ll soon discover that I don’t belong”–sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who is struggling, am I the only one who really just wants to run away from life rather than face it head on. As I look around me everyone seems to have it together….and I wonder what in the world am I doing here in this seat at church. Why would God still loved messed up me? Why does He continue to choose me even though I fall? Am I really doing the right thing being on this stage? Singing for everyone and being an example of Christ? Am I really cut out for this? Or will I make a bigger mess of things then I already have?

“So I tuck it all away/like every things okay/if I make them all believe it/maybe I’ll believe it too/so with a painted grin/I’ll play the part again/so everyone will see me the way I see them”–Most of the time I know that when we feel down we tend to hide it, we say we are fine. We paint a fake grin on our face and go on with our lives, not letting anyone in on our struggle. And this can be destructive. Not only does it isolate us, but it also goes against what James 5:16 says.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” If we continue to hide what we are feeling, we might miss out on the chance of finding someone who is going through the same thing.

“Are we happy plastic people/Under shiny plastic steeples/With walls around our weakness/And smiles to hide our pain/But if the invitation’s open/To every heart that has been broken/Maybe then we close the curtain/On our stained glass masquerade”–Too often we try to hide that we are struggling, we pretend that we don’t have weakness and we go to Church and smile and sing the songs and listen to the message and take notes but all the while we are dying and hiding that we are dying. Why can’t we just step up and be honest with each other? Why can the body of Christ not stop and say “No how are you REALLY feeling” and pray…earnest and heartfelt prayer for each other? More often then not we just go through the motions and we don’t notice that woman who has been crying because her husband is non-existent, or that teenager who is falling hard and facing Satan’s lies. Sometimes we are too busy with our own lives and problems to realize that there is a bigger picture and there are people who are struggling just like us.

“Is there anyone who’s been there/Are there any hands to raise/Am I the only one who’s traded/In the altar for a stage/ The performance is CONVINCING/And we know every line by heart/Only when no one is watching/Can we really fall apart”–We sing the song because we know the lyrics  by heart, but does it mean anything or are we just doing our ‘Christian-thing’. We are raising our hands because everyone else is and we don’t want them to know something is wrong…but does it mean anything? Are we just going through the motions, going to youth, going to church and church related activities?

“But would it set me free/If I dared to let you see/The truth behind the person/That you imagine me to be/Would your arms be open/Or would you walk away/Would the love of Jesus/Be enough to make you stay”–I think most of the time we so desperately want to be seen, we desperately want people to notice us that we believe the only way to do that is too seem like we have it all together. We act strong and like nothing could take us down when really the opposite is happening. But most of the time we don’t want to let our guard down because if we do then people will know our struggle and judge us. We don’t let people in because we are afraid. ‘What if they judge me? What will they think? Will they still want to be my friend?’ Sometimes we act differently then who we truly are because we think that is who people want us to see.

I am not trying to condemn anyone, actually the opposite. I want to step outside of myself and outside of the fake plastic personality that I portray to others and say I am failing, I am failing and I know it. I am far from perfect and I am still trying to figure out who I am in Christ. I have struggles that sometimes come back full blown, but the thing is that I know God doesn’t care about how strong I am, God doesn’t care if I am not the typical “good Christian”. God cares about what I will do with my struggle. Will it rule me? Or will I give it back over to God. God doesn’t want me to be perfect, because if I am perfect how can He teach me things? How can He grow me into the person that He wants me to be?  I think more often then not we think that in order for us to be good examples we have to have it all together and be strong. My challenge to you… me….lets get real with each other. Lets James 5:16 our lives. Lets confess and commit to praying for each other. Lets leave the fake smile at the door. Lets cry with one another, and share in each others’ joy and laugh over each others’ funny times. Lets not have a plastic steeple, but lets be a real body of Christ, and lets care more about each others heart then what we are seeming to be on the outside.

Stain Glass Masquerade-Casting Crowns

04. Jun, 2010

Do You See Me?

Do you see me? Do you really see me? Look past the hair, the blue eyes, the freckled face, the cloths. Look beyond what the outside portrays. Look into the dark abyss that my heart contains. Would you stay? Would you dare stay? Would you accept me? I mean truly accept me. Every part of me? Every hurt, every doubt, every fear. Would you love me no matter what you find? Or would you run away. Would you pretend you didn’t know me as we passed by in the mall. Am I too much, is my problem to big, to scary? To deep? OR would you pretend my problem isn’t there.

Do you see me? I mean really see me? Do you see the hurt in my eyes? The desperate, silent plea for love, acceptance, for help. Would you try to break through my walls? Would you love me enough to try? Or would you give up, label me as a hopeless case, a hopeless cause? Would you try to make me smile? Would you try to stop the tears? Would you try to make me laugh just to see the twinkle in my eyes? Do you care? Do you want to care about me? Would you accept my broken heart and shaky outreach of a hand? But do you see me? Would you choose me out of a crowd? Would you try to get to know me? Every part of me? Or would you turn your face and walk on by me?