Tag Archives: Lessons Learned
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

05. Sep, 2012

The Sand

The Sand

If you know me well, you would know that I don’t like the beach. So you would probably think this is me venting about how much I hate the beach. WRONG. For once, I am using the beach for good.

I had an encounter with my pride the other day. I realized that pride can get you in a LOT of trouble.

Recently I have been really trying to strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I would say that I have been doing pretty well!!! I would say I am pretty PROUD  of how far I’ve come in my walk with God. I’m starting to read my bible every day. All I ever really want to listen to is good Christian music. I have started trying to love people unconditionally. I have been trying to get the group I hang out with to start re-evaluating their lives and think about how they have been acting. I’ve done pretty good just striving to live a godly life.

But then enemy of my soul hit me. I was knocked down at the knees. I feel on my face. The darkness surrounded and I had NO idea what the heck was happening!!! It all happened so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to prepare. I kept thinking, “But I was doing so well! This can’t be happening! I’ve come so far! I’m doing pretty darn good. I want good things!” Do you see the problem??? It’s pretty clear afterwards. *I* am the problem. My pride over ruled me. Let me ask you this:

Can *I* have done all that “good” by myself???

HECK NO!!! There is no way on this  earth that I can come so far and have no help from anyone. I was carried through some bits. Maybe dragged here and there but I hardly used my own two feet at all. God. God carried me. Maybe dragged me, but He did it. Just because I was the one reading my bible, listening to encouraging music and proclaiming God’s love to everyone doesn’t mean I was alone.

Now don’t get me wrong. Doing all of these things are great! They are AMAZING! It’s so wonderful to dig deeper into God. But when you do it for yourself, not because you love God and just want to become more like Him, then you can end up in a bad place.

Here’s where the sand comes in. You were too busy looking at your footprints in the sand behind you that you didn’t see the storm that was beginning to build steam in front of you. You didn’t know to get your armor on for the storm. You weren’t paying attention to the battles in front of you because you were just looking behind you. Stop looking at your own footprints!!! Turn around get your feet back walking forward and put on the armor because your journey isn’t over yet.

That reminds me of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman call Long Way Home. The chorus goes like this:

“But I know we’re gonna make it
And I know we’re gonna get there soon
And I know sometimes it feels like we’re going the wrong way
But it’s just the long way home”

We are gonna make it. It may be a long hard journey to get there, but when you ask God to help us and be with us on this journey, NOTHING can cut us at our knees.

05. Sep, 2012

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

I sit down at my computer this morning, staring at the blank page seeing the blinking cursor.  It seems to be mocking me… challenging me, “do you REALLY wanna go there”??!!

But, as I smile, I know that I have never been one who is good at backing down at speaking Truth, even if it goes against the flow, or rubs people the wrong way.  Ultimately, I am not really here to please people, I am to be living my life as a pleasing aroma to my King, and willing to use whatever gifts He has given me, to help speak Truth in love, encouragement, challenges, and a loving desire for my brothers and sisters to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Being a bit of a “word-buff”, I decided to go to the dictionary and look up a few words that seem to be floating around me recently.  Words that said by themselves, seem to be words that we sorta slide over, rush past knowing their meaning isn’t really nice, but not really wanting to spend too much time looking deeper into them, and see the blackness behind their true definition. Now, being a tactile person, words are just words to me, unless I have a way to FEEL them, resonate with them somehow, or have personally seen them played out both positively OR negatively in the lives of my family and friends.  So, I want you to, if you will, stop with each word and think.  THINK how you maybe have been impacted by them, seen them used in your family or friend’s life, or… if you will be willing to be very honest, be willing to admit that you have been the one to speak them yourself.

Definition of SLANDER : to utter slander against : defame

Definition of DEFAME 1archaic : disgrace; 2: to harm the reputation of by libel or slander; 3archaic : accuse

Definition of DISGRACE 1archaic : to humiliate by a superior showing; 2: to be a source of shame to disgraced the family; 3: to cause to lose favor or standing disgraced by the hint of scandal

Definition of GOSSIP 1: a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others; 2a : rumor or report of an intimate nature

21 years of ministry, and 42 years of living, and I have to tell you I have been on the receiving end of these words on more than one occasion.  I personally had great pain from the impact of these words.  We have seen loss of friendships, ministries, and family because them.  I have seen how turning a blind eye and allowing the cancer of these words to spread, can become so damaging all you long for is Heaven and the perfection of the Holy and Righteous God who Judges according to His goodness, Love and Truth.

And, to be brutally honest, I have been the one speaking these words from time to time.  I have done the unthinkable and opened my mouth to speak out against my brother or sister.  I don’t approach this subject with a blind eye, or a finger pointing at the splinter in someone else’s eye, when I KNOW that I have had not only logs, but full on forests growing in my eyes!

Our women’s group at Lifezone have been going through the Book of James and we have had 6 weeks so far, of hard hitting words from the half-brother of Christ.  He doesn’t seem to mince words, or beat around the bush.  He straight forwardly said:

 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” –James 4:11-12

In our study, this was said:

“Judgmental thoughts toward other believers put me at greater risk of trouble with God than those old sins I have committed”.  We then were encouraged to go read Luke 18:8-14. I spent time just reading and rereading this passage, particularly verse 14.

I see how these words of “slander, defame, disgrace, gossip” are really the negative outpouring of each of us standing in judgment over each other.  I can judge your actions based on my own personal information, and decide that I have the right to be judge and jury in your life. And you do the same in my life.  You stand in judgment over me.

I loved that we were hit full force with the clear understanding that God is the only One that is allowed to judge.  And what is the coolest thing is that God will judge based on Truth.  He sees the past, He sees the present, and MOST importantly He sees the future!  He knows what the real motivation of our hearts are, and He will judge accordingly. And when He Judges, there will never be slander or gossip from His Holy lips.  He will never disgrace or defame one of His Kids.  We are His Inheritance. We are part of His Royal Priesthood and are Princesses or Princes in His Kingdom.

But let me get back to James for a minute.  James seemed to be encountering a pretty yucky situation in his congregation, for him to feel the need to speak so strongly to his brothers and sisters.  It seems they too, were not acting like Princesses or Princes.  They might have let slide the understanding that they are part of the Royal Kingdom, and were allowing the “world’s” standards instead to begin to seep in. They might have been turning on one another, slandering, defaming, disgracing and gossiping, instead of seeking to reach a sick and dying world around them. Was he seeing what I have been seeing?  Did he feel the sting of gossip, slander, and defamation too?  Was he seeing his family and friends being affected by this cancer?

I wonder if it is that as believers of Jesus, we are seemingly not doing  a very good job of loving each other well.  Francis Chan’s book “Crazy Love” talks about how if we are loving God with every fiber of our being, we will not have room in our lives to be sinning.  We will be so filled up with love for God, that it will pour out of our lives into others around us.  And as we are loving God with all our hearts, souls and minds, we will naturally love our “neighbors” (both the non-Christians and Christians alike) as ourselves.  That in loving El Elyon with such devotion, that we become aware of how much grace we have been extended, and again, from that place of complete love for God, we naturally pour grace unto others around us.

Funny, as I was standing in the shower this morning, I was thinking about a conversation I had with my oldest on Monday.  She has been studying the Fruits of the Spirit, and she was on “Patience”.   Sis has also spent some time at the feet of a Bible Teacher learning the importance of having “porcupines” in our lives because by having the hard to love around us, we are being given real life examples of “practicing what we preach”.  If I say “I love you no matter what, because God has given me the greatest love of all”, then certainly we should expect He is going to allow us to have people to do that very thing with.  Or, if we say “I am SOSO overcome with God’s amazing Grace in my life, I just can’t imagine not showing it towards my brothers and sisters!”, then we should know that Adonai will place people in our lives that we need to give grace, grace and more grace to.

Peppa said her Bible Teacher encouraged us that we need these people to help us learn how to “die to self”.  The world says “if someone is making you miserable, get rid of them”, but God’s standards are different.  If someone is in your life that allows you “practice what you preach”, then maybe you and I need to spend more time thanking El Roi, who sees it all, and knows what the outcome of this situation will be. He is desiring to refine us, and that by turning up the fire in our lives, He wants to allow the imperfections to come to the surface so that He can scrape them off and we will become more and more in the image of His Son. Instead of fighting with His kids, and judging each other for this or for that, He wants to show the world that He is a God of love, and wants to use us to do that.

So how do we do that?  Because, let’s be honest, there are people and situations that in my 42 years of living, that even now, in my mind’s eye I want to line up in front of a nice good old fashioned firing squad and will happily jump up to be the commanding officer that gets to count down the rifle bearers to shoot.  Come on, as you read this, I hope some of you are smiling and murmuring an “amen!” under your breath.  I HOPE that I am not the only one….  I see them as my “porcupines” and I struggle to WANT to love them, to extend grace to, when it seems like I have some deep wounds from their involvement in my life.  So, I go back to the only source that I know will speak Truth and be reliable to show me how to live in a such a way that won’t grieve the Spirit that is in me.  Because the reality is, the Holy Spirit really isn’t One to encourage firing squads!  I know that…….

James 1:22-25

Obey the Word of God. If you hear only and do not act, you are only fooling yourself. 23 Anyone who hears the Word of God and does not obey is like a man looking at his face in a mirror. 24 After he sees himself and goes away, he forgets what he looks like. 25 But the one who keeps looking into God’s perfect Law and does not forget it will do what it says and be happy as he does it. God’s Word makes men free.

I have seen this pattern in my life, where I will emotionally connect with a passage of scripture, or a message being spoken and go “Wow!!  That was really good!  I should try and remember that.”, but walk away and never seek to put into practice what I have learned.  James speaks to this… Being a “hearer” or an actual “doer” of the Word.

So, why does it seem like I am walking around in circles and not really “getting to the point”??  Let me try now to tie this all up by offering a personal testimony.  17 years ago, I was really burned by those words that we started to look at in the beginning of this blog.  Being a “artistic” person, and ADD to boot, music has always had great impact on me.  Words sung from a heart with different instruments used to add emphasis resonate deeply to my core.  A song that I would listen to over and over again during that painful time, was from a band called White Heart, entitled “Seventy Times Seven.” I just would sob, sing, sob, sing and sob some more.  I was young and naïve.  I was completely bowled over by the knowledge that believers in Jesus could so deeply wound one another.  People that I had respected, considered friends and counted on, left me bleeding in the dust.  I don’t for a minute believe that it was a coincidence that White Heart’s song was the newest released song getting massive air time on the Christian radio stations.  And whilst that song helped me cry out my pain in the moment, I don’t believe I did what Scripture says.  I didn’t really forgive seventy times seven. I just simply moved on from that pain, allowing the “past to be the past” and not ever really wanting to open that door to my heart again.

I have come full circle.  This morning I created a new play list on my Praisepod.  It’s simple title is “Forgiveness”.  The first song to go into that play list was White Heart’s song from so long ago, with several other new ones that K-Love is playing right now.  “Losing” by Tenth Avenue North, and “Forgiveness” by Mathew West just to name a few.

The point I am trying so desperately to make as I seek to close this circle of thought is that choosing to forgive is at the heart of being on the receiving end of all those awful words.

Definition of FORGIVING 1: willing or able to forgive; 2: allowing room for error or weakness

Definition of FORGIVE 1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for forgive an insult; 2: to cease to feel resentment against

This time around, I want to do differently than I did 17 years ago.  I want to forgive.  I want to give up resentment, and I want to allow room for error or weakness in other people’s lives. I want to turn up my Praisepod, sing the songs as my hearts cry, and stand in front of my 1 Corinthians 13 passage taped to my bathroom wall and choose to pray love into my situation.  I want to love as God has loved me.  I want to offer grace, to the same measure that I have been given.  And I want to forgive to the same measure of which I have been forgiven. I think in doing that, I am doing what James has said. I am looking into that mirror, and NOT walking away this time as if nothing is different.  I want to wake up tomorrow different.  I want to be dead to myself, and have more of Christ shining out of me.  I want to be one that the sick and dying world can look to and see someone that has offered grace and forgiveness to, NOT in my own strength, but because I am represent a God that has done it for me.

And I never again want to allow slander, gossip, or defamation to come from my mouth.  Words hurt deeply.  Careless words spoken, divide.  And slander will destroy friendships and trust.  I don’t want that to be part of my list that God speaks to me about on my day of reckoning.  I have enough other issues we are still working on.

So, I will end this with a “Thank You”.  With not one little bit of sarcasm or bitterness in my voice (I pinky swear!) thank you to each one of you who have allowed me the opportunity to die to myself.  I have chosen to take Paul’s words one step farther, and say “I thank God for my remembrance of you”.  I can sit here this morning and think of each of your faces.  If I didn’t have you “porcupines” in my life, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be refined.  I wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow in Christ.  I really do need you.  Each of you have taught me more about myself, and shown me how much I long to be a girl that through thick and thin, good and bad, happy times and painful times, is growing to become more Christ like.

I will end with some of the lyrics from Mathew West’s song, “Forgiveness”

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
 
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness
 
It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you
 
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
09. Feb, 2012

Sex, Drugs and Skater Shoes

Sex, Drugs and Skater Shoes

Sex, Drugs and Skater Shoes

14 year old John sits under an oak tree, at school, studying for his exams.  Looking around while thinking through the answer to a problem, he sees Alexander, the “popular” kid, talking to his friends.  Making sure it looks like he is studying, John eavesdrops on Alexander’s conversation.

“Do you like my new shoes? My dad got them for me yesterday.  He paid $140 for them.  He said he got them so I will forget my parent’s divorce.  I swear, their divorcing is the BEST thing that happened to me!  I get all this cool stuff. They try and win me over, by buying me things, but I could care less who I live with!” Alexander says with a smirk.

While rolling his eyes, Alexander’s friend Samuel, informs his friends: “Dude! Those shoes are wicked!! I’ll ask my parents for some too.  They always get me whatever I want without a hesitation.”

The next day, John went to school and sees everyone wearing skater shoes.  Seeing that John wasn’t wearing any, Alexander walks up to him with an evil glimmer in his eyes…
“Nice Croc’s!” Alexander says while snickering at John.  “What?  Your family is too poor to buy you skater shoes? I bet you live in a shoe!”  Alexander then proceeds to run back to his “evil minions” (as John calls them) and tell them ALL about John’s shoes.

During dinner that night, John plucks up the courage to ask his mom and dad for some skater shoes.  “Mom, dad?”, John asks while chewing his rubbery meatloaf, “would it be alright if I got some skater shoes?”

“Well, you know we don’t consider buying something unless we know how much it costs first”, Mrs. Criff reminds her son.

“Well,” John says taking a bite of food to muffle his voice, “they are around $140.”

“FOR A PAIR OF SHOES?!?!?!?” Mr. Criff says raising his voice. “There is NO WAY I am paying that much for just a pair of shoes!”

Crying in bed that night, and talking to himself, John said “I.. I just want to fit in, is all.  I always get the cheap, hand-me-down clothes.  I don’t want to… to… to stick out like a sore thumb anymore!  I want to be in the popular group!!”

5 days later, John has stolen the $140 needed to buy the skater shoes.  He has gotten money from his parents wallets, strangers wallets, and even his neighbor’s piggy bank.  After buying the shoes, he heads to school and right up to Alexander to ask if he liked his new shoes.

“SWISH! I like ‘em.  Nice goin’ Criff!  Hey, you wanna hang with us during lunch?” Alexander said with an impressed look on his perfectly chiseled face.

“Of… Of course I would!  Thanks. See ya then!” John said while walking off to first period maths class.

7 years later, John is despondent.  He has just had his proposal to his sweetheart rejected and he takes a hard look at his life.  John is sitting on the edge of his bed grieving over his addiction to cocaine, heroin, and meths.  He is sick over the sex that he has had with 7 different girls.  Each time getting worse and worse.  He sits there, with his head in his hands crying and thinking about why de did all this, why he screwed up so badly.. why he had destroyed his life.  While searching his memory, he remembers the time when he started hanging out with “Mr. Popular” and his “Evil Minions”.  Remembering that he wanted to fit in so badly and be cool like they were, and he would do whatever it took.   Back then, the cool thing to do was have sex and drugs.  He remembered how he wanted to be a regular guy and not stick out like a sore thumb, that he decided to just go along with whatever they did or told him to do.  The final thought that he has, before he decided to overdose and end it all was how it all started with a pair of costly, deadly, and just plain ordinary leather skater shoes.

You may think: “Really?  Skater shoes??? I doubt it!!!!”  But really, there are so many people in this world who do anything to be cool.  It starts with something small like a toy or a game or an item of clothing that you want, and before you know it, you’re doing everything you said you wouldn’t when you were a child.  In fact, I bet that almost everyone in the western world has had trouble with wanting something just to fit in.

Do you know the one thing that aggravates me the most, that sets me off and makes me think that this “person” is trying to fit in?  I hate seeing when a boy, guy, or man wears his pants low and has to waddle like a penguin just from keeping them falling all the way down.  It may be something different for you.  Like a pair of shoes, or clothes or a game system or even stationary!!!

I don’t know if you have an issue, or what if you do, what it might be like for you.  But all it takes for me to snap out of my phase of wanting to fit in is remembering that God loves me just the way I am.  Funny, loony, crazy, serious and smart.  And if you don’t believe in God or trust in Him, remember that there are still people out there who will accept you for whom you are.  The people who like you for just you; not your money or hair style or clothes that you wear.  Those are not your true friends.  Friends are people who love you and accept you for who you are.

Another thing that helps me to remember that I don’t need to be like everyone else is a song by 33 Miles called “Underneath”.  The lyrics go like this: “Open up the heart that you hide, everything you’ve locked up inside.  It’s time to come clean, let mercy set you free.  Take off the heavy disguise; lay it all out in the light.  The good the bad the in between, God loves what’s underneath…. ….The smile you try to fake, to cover up the pain, He holds all your mistakes and then He washes them away…”

God loves us for who we are, the insides of us. The love and gifts that we have, He gave to us.  None of our outward appearances or earthly pleasures will ever satisfy our empty space inside.  We need to open up our hearts and show everything we hide away to make sure we fit in.  We need to pull away the duct tape and screws, nuts and bolts, and lay all our weird kookiness on the table.  You know how we make ourselves into something that we are not, just to fit in… That’s called a disguise.  Take it off.  Let all of your good things and bad things be seen to those that God has put in front of you to help you in your journey.

21. Jan, 2012

Waiting on a Lost Kitty…..

Waiting on a Lost Kitty…..

For those of you who know me well, you would know that I am an avid animal lover!  Having been raised with cats all of my life, I have grown to appreciate the value of having a furry critter in my  life. The comfort and warmth in the dark nights, the unconditional love and acceptance, the constant companion thru laughter and tears.  In fact, my ex-boyfriend can attest to the lengths I would go to, in rescuing a kitten that I found, from certain death.  Having had my fair share of furry bundles of joy through the years, I decided a long time ago that I would ever only have inside cats.  Lots of practical reasons why, but one emotional reason was that I had one too many heart breaks as a youngster of beloved kittens getting run over.

Well, this morning I have had time to reflect once again on not only the love of animals that I have deep within my soul, but the opportunity to see a new spiritual revelation.  Our kitty Ipo decided last night to find an escape route out of the house again.  Now you have to understand this kitten.  She is full of life and fun for her “People”, always making us crack up at one of her antics, (especially our very own bug catcher!) but she is always very warm and loving to anyone who comes thru our door.  “Stranger” is not in her vocabulary. She believes that everyone is her immediate new “best friend” and loves to spend time talking to, and sitting with them.

However, one thing Ipo has struggled with, that her sister doesn’t seem too concerned about is that by being asked to stay in the safety of her home it really is for her protection, not our desire to kill her fun. She can be often found watching doors and windows to see if someone, ANYone might have given her a escape route.  Over the course of the 1 ½ she has lived with us, she has made her way outside on several occasions.  One time, late last year, she did it at night, and ended up being out all night.  What we found in the morning was a really scared and pretty beat up cowering little quivering ball of fur.  I can only imagine her glee as she *finally* made it to what she perceived as “FREEDOM”, and was quite excited to head off on an adventure.  I am sure, she ran up to someone that looked an awful lot like her, and immediately believed she had found another “new best friend”.  But, I am afraid what she found in the  Big World is that just because something or someone LOOKS like you, does not mean that they are friendly or receptive to your desire to be buddies.  There are a lot of bullies and meanies out there, and they don’t fight fair.  In fact, I remember talking to my family about seeing this really great blog forming in my head about the lessons that Ipo would have learned that night.  The spiritual truths of how the “World” can look so warm and inviting and full of adventures to be had.   God our Protector has asked us to willingly and submissively stay within the safety of His “house”.  That He has set up boundaries for our protection and safety, not to kill our fun.  And yet, how often do we look for that escape route?  That we think that it would be MUCH more fun out “there” and we flee the warm and safety of His presence to go have our fun.  And, not surprisingly, we end up getting really wounded.  The scar on Ipo’s nose is a living testimony of her belief that her way was better than our way.  The scars in my life, are simply the same thing.  The living testimony that *I* have chosen to try and go my own way also, instead of listening to Adonai, my Loving Master and believing that He has my best at heart.

Over the next few months, she seemed to settle back into realizing that INside was safer than outside, and never once looked twice at a open door.  She would quiver at loud sounds and wasn’t as quick to love on new people that came through our door.  But, what they say is true.  Time really DOES heal all wounds.  It seems to dull the memory of pains of the past. And the mind makes foggy the reality of what really happens when we try and escape the safety of our protective boundaries.  Ipo, once again last night, decided that she would rather try again to live her life in the wonder of the big world.  She left sometime in the evening, and as the writing of this pondering, she still hasn’t come back.  Bubbie and I both have been out looking all through the neighborhood for her, calling her out again and again.  Seeing if we could find her and entice her to come back to us.  Wondering if she was wounded or worse yet, dead.  But, as I walked and called…. Called and walked this morning I was struck with a new side to this story.  I had a real intimate moment with the Prodigal son’s dad.  (yes, I *do* know this was just a story that Jesus used to try and share spiritual truths with not only a crowd of people, but also the Pharisees and Religious Rulers that would have been in the crowd that day. If you will permit me, I would like to share my musings………)

I can imagine what the father must have felt like wandering around looking for his son.  Wondering what kinds of things that his son might be involved in.  All the possible dangers that he must be being exposed to. Praying for him, longing to see him again, remembering all the good times of the past they had together.  The late night chats, the snuggles and cuddles of his younger years. I wonder if he would wander around his town, looking for his son, under cars and in yards, particularly areas where there is tall grasses that could cover a hurt or broken body. I wonder if he even tried to peek into people’s windows to see if he could get a glimpse of his son, maybe having fallen prey to a stranger with not good motives. If he did, I know now what that feels like now.    As I walked around our neighborhood this morning, I felt a kinship with this father.  I saw thru his eyes, the longing he must have felt, and the sense of loss at having no idea what has happened to his beloved son.  And then, as God usually does, allowed my thoughts to drift to Him.  As I walked and called for my sweet Ipo, and longing for her to answer back to me, He allowed me a small glimpse of what it must be like for Him when I do this very thing that Ipo has done. Interestingly enough, I was struck with this thought earlier in the week, and put it on my Facebook status…

“Jesus never imposed His will, virtues, or ethics on anyone. He presented Himself, along with the offer of abundant life and freedom made possible by abiding in the truth He offers. We have an invitation from Almighty God, our heavenly Father, to live in His shadow and His shelter while following the Lord, who is our Shepherd. Refusing this invitation is like shouting, “Bring on the consequences!”

Truth be told, I am struggling to think of what the consequences of Ipo’s chose will be.  I am pushing down, even now, the reality that we might not see our sweet kitty again.  Ipo was named by my mother-in-love when we first brought her home.  Her name means “Sweatheart”, and she has been true to her name the last year and a half.  But, just like Jesus, we can’t impose our will on her.  Whilst El Roi  is all knowing, and ever present, *I* am not.  I can’t see where she is.  I don’t know her fate. I can’t force her to come home.   I am left to understand the reality of her decision will have consequences on not only me, but my family.  We have offered her a life full of health, safety, happiness, adventure (bugs are ALWAYS being shown to her, so that she can have her fun!) and comfort, but it ultimately has to be her decision to choose it.  Her sister Mo has been wandering around, calling for her, and seeking us to give her even greater comfort right now in our loss. (THAT, in of its self has a WHOLE NEW BLOG begging to be written! 😉 But, right now is not the time.)  I am left to grapple with the idea that our “tomorrow” might be without the presence of this amazingly sweet ball of fur, and all we will be left with is our photos and memories.  Interestingly enough, even THAT thought isn’t left without Jesus’ whispers of Truths also.  “He presented Himself, along with the offer of abundant life…. Refusing this invitation is like shouting, “Bring on the consequences!”

My life has had to bear the scars of my “consequences”. I have people who have been, and still are journeying with me, that can give testimony to that fact. In my early years I chose to refuse His invitation and decided that I could do a better job at living my life.  Whilst I know without a shadow of doubt that my sins have been forgiven, I still bear the responsibility of the consequences of those sins.  And yet, even in those consequences, God has been ever gracious, ever loving and ever present.  I know that I am welcome exceedingly abundantly MORE than I can imagine, at His table.  He calls me Princess.  He places a Crown of Righteousness on my head.  I am worthy to be His child.  And my consequences are really only woven into a robe of beauty as He fulfills His promise that He “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”

Should Ipo decide to return home, she will be shown no less consideration.  She will be warmly welcomed.  She will be smothered in love and kisses.  I am sure that Bubbie will spend a lot of time walking around, holding her and whispering quiet words of love and comfort into her ears.  I might even open a can of tuna and allow her the honor of licking it clean! =)  She will be cuddled throughout the evening and I bet we might fight over which bed she will get to sleep on. (Well, not Sis, she likes a kitty-free sleeping arrangement!)  My mind is FULL of all the things we can do for her!  Once again, my thoughts drift to the Prodigal son’s father.  I bet he too, mentally planned all kinds of celebration parties for his son if he was ever allowed to see him again.  Playing it over and over in his mind for all the years his son was gone. So much so, that when the day finally came and he saw his son staggering down the road towards him, that he picked up his cloak and RAN to him!!  He grabbed up his son in a warm embrace and held him tightly. He carried him home, and dusted him off and put into motion all the things he had been planning for so long.  The joy!!! The excitement!!! The fullness!!!  His son was *finally* home.

Ipo, still has a decision to make, if she can……………………………

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)

24. Jul, 2011

Precious Moments

Precious Moments

I had an amazing God moment this morning when He splashed His creative beauty across the Kaimais and I was reminded who He is. He is Elohim, the brilliant Creator of this earth and of me. He is El-Roi, the God who sees me. He is Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals not only physically but emotionally. He is the first, the last, the beginning and the end. He is my strong tower, the fortress I run to when I need shelter. He is stronger than any power or authority in the seen and unseen world. He is my King, the One who I pledge allegiance to. He is the Author of my days, He knows my todays and my tomorrows. He is my Abba, Father, my Papa, my Daddy who comforts me and disciplines me in His ways. I am His child, adopted into His kingdom and He turns His ear to me to hear my cries. He is love beyond anything I can ever imagine, all of Heaven stops when I call upon His name. My God is powerful and personal. My God is forever. He is the whisper in the wind and the rhythm in the rain. He is the light in the darkness, guiding me home. He is the keeper of His promises, never will He break them. He is worthy of all praise and honor. He is not silenced by the world’s demands, for He is greater than the world and the prince that rules it. He is the air that I breathe in the morning for He is the giver of life. He is the one I will bend my knee to, falling flat on my face. He is the one who reminds me of a greater calling and purpose. He is the one who wraps me in His arms and comforts me. He is Victory. He is GOD and He is my Master, I no longer have to serve another. THANK YOU PAPA!!!!! Thank You for being good. Thank You for taking a chance on me. Thank You for never letting me go. Thank You for drawing back to You arms. Thank You for the hard lessons. Thank You for allowing me the chance to start again. Thank You Papa for being my King….

13. May, 2011

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

I’m about to head out to another airport to begin my trip home to see my family on the other side of the world. Airports are interesting places, wonderful places to people watch.

Lessons from a Luggage Cart

As I’ve watched folks, I’ve observed some broad generalities in people, particularly when it comes to their luggage and travel.

There are those that have luggage carts weighed down with multiple bags, often pushed by parents trying to figure out where to go, keeping the cart going straight and trying to keep their small children in tow. People that look exhausted, bogged down with the responsibilities and searching for the right direction.

Then there are those, often in business attire, pulling a lone rolling carry-on bag behind them. They are focused, know right where they are headed and moving with what appears to be purpose. They may be checking their messages on their phone or talking into their Bluetooth headset. They get frustrated with the luggage cart crowd and never slow down enough to notice let alone enjoy where they are.

Enjoy the ViewFinally, there are the backpackers. They typically stroll leisurely along, and all they need is on their back. They don’t mind stopping to enjoy the view or smell the flowers. They love to engage in conversation and connect with people as they travel. They are more interested in the journey than the destination.

To be honest, on various trips, I’ve fallen into each of those categories. When I traveled most weekends for ministry, I was the focused rolling carry-on person. When we’ve moving internationally, I was definitely the luggage cart Dad. And on some occasions, honestly not enough times, I just carry my backpack and enjoy the experience.

But the observations go beyond just traveling and apply to life. As you travel down life’s highway, are you bogged down by too much luggage and the cares of this world? Are you so focused and filled with agendas that you don’t even stop to notice people and enjoy life? Or do you realize that really, it is as much about the journey as it is the destination?

Might we all stop to enjoy the view, smell the flowers and invest in relationships as we journey through life.

06. Apr, 2011

Choices…

Choices…

There are moments in this life that stop you in your tracks; they can be beautiful moments, tragic moments, good news, bad news, an unexpected answer or a random turn of events. Life is defined by these moments and how you react to them often determines what you truly believe.

I was stopped in my tracks yesterday.  I have nine days left on my current visa to stay in New Zealand and I was told my application for a new visa will not be processed in time. After the initial shock and the tears that fell, I turned to Papa. We went through the range of emotions that come with news like this and He patiently listened to me until I ran out of steam and words and was willing to listen to Him. You know what Papa asked me? “You have two choices. You can try to control this situation yourself or you can turn to Me and trust My plan. It’s your choice. You get to choose how you will react to this and lay the foundation for how you will live your life when the unexpected happens. Do you choose Me or the world?”

Most of my life I have chosen the world’s way of dealing with things, even after I became a Christian. I wasn’t quite sure honestly that God could take care of it. I said with my mouth that I believed He could but my actions spoke the opposite. I would choose to control little things in my life in an attempt to feel some sense of security. The funny thing about trying to control things in your life is that it only makes things worse and the more you try to control the worse it gets. I have seen my life fall apart at the works of my own hands. In an attempt to control something I created more chaos. The AMAZING thing about God is that He continues to give me second chances. He loves me without failing and chooses to pour out unrelenting grace.  2 Corinthians 5:17 is an awesome promise, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” I no longer have to choose my old pattern of behavior because I have been made new in Christ.

I may not have all the answers, in fact I don’t. I don’t know what my tomorrow holds. I don’t know where I will be in nine days time, but I do know that I have made my choice. I choose God. I know without a shadow of doubt that Papa knew this would happen and that He has a plan. I trust that whatever the outcome is I won’t slip from His loving hands. I don’t need to know what happens next, yes it would be nice to know, but at the moment I don’t which means all I need to do is keep my gaze on Papa and not move from the path He has laid.

I’m not going to lie; it’s not easy at this point but who ever said it would be easy? If you were to walk into my room at any moment you would hear worship music blaring as I try to fill my mind and heart with praise and worship to God. I am determined to not allow Satan a foothold in my thoughts, so I am surrounding myself with Truth. Please pray for me as the battle is fierce for my loyalty.

P.S. this is the song I am singing at the moment :)

John Waller~ While I’m Waiting

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

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.