Wednesday, June 27

Bending and Praising

Please Read John 13:1-17 

“We bend. I bend to sweep crumbs and I bend to wipe vomit and I bend to pick up little ones and wipe away tears... And at the end of these days I bend next to the bed and I ask only that I could bend more, bend lower. Because I serve a Savior who came to be a servant. He lived bent low. And bent down here is where I see His face. He lived, only to die. Could I? Die to self and just break open for love. This Savior, His one purpose to spend Himself on behalf of messy us. Will I spend myself on behalf of those in front of me? And people say, “Don’t you get tired?” and yes, I do. But I’m face to face with Jesus in the dirt, and the more I bend the harder and better and fuller this life gets. And sure, we are tired, but oh we are happy. Because bent down low is where we find fullness of Joy.”

--Katie Davis, mom of 14 girls in Uganda. She blogs at Kisses from Katie, and has written a book of the same title, which I cannot wait to read.

Please, take the time to follow the link to Kisses from Katie. No matter where in life you are right now, a few things might slide into focus for you.

Monday, June 25

Time For Change?

Read Isaiah 40:28-31

 Have you ever wanted to "freeze" a moment and make it last a lifetime? I have. I have also lived through certain moments that I wish I could change or even delete and pretend they never happened. But change is a natural part of life. We can embrace it, or we can fight it.

 My husband often says that the only people who really like change are wet babies. However, I have discovered that some people thrive and live for change to the point that they are "change junkies" and have little stability in life. Others dig in their heels and refuse to change a thing and ultimately become prisoners of old habits – good and bad.

 When it comes to change, we have a decision to make – just like the eagle. The eagle has the longest life-span among birds. It can live up to 70 years, but to reach this age, the eagle has to make a hard decision. In its' 40s, the eagle's long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey, which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent and its old and heavy wings, covered with feathers that have grown thick over the years, become stuck to its chest, making it difficult to fly. The eagle is then left with only two options: die or go through a painful process of change, which lasts 150 days.

 The difficult process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until the beak falls off. The eagle will then wait for a new beak to grow back and use the new beak to pluck out its talons. When the new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking out all of the old feathers. After five months, the eagle takes a famous flight of rebirth and lives 30 more years.

 Change is sometimes needed to survive. God may be asking you to step out in faith and make a change in your life. He has already been where He is asking you to go and prepared every step of the way for you. You don't have to be afraid of the unknown. It is unknown only to you. God is well aware of where you are and of every step He is asking you to take. He may be asking you to get rid of old memories, eliminate destructive habits and forsake lifeless traditions. He is waiting for you to take one step.

 Faith in God does not come all at once. Faith is a step-by-step process that begins with one small step and increases as we go. An Old Testament story found in Joshua 3 illustrates this truth. The Israelites are camped on the bank of the Jordan River. Forty years earlier, they had escaped from Egypt and have been wandering around in the wilderness ever since. All of their needs have been met by God. They have seen miracle after miracle and now they can see Canaan, the Promised Land. However, there is a problem.

 A huge river stands between them and the Promised Land, and there is no way around it. God told His people that He would make a dry path through the river, but the priests had never seen that happen. In fact, they hadn't even been born when the Red Sea was parted and there were no reruns of the Ten Commandments at the local Wilderness Theatre. The Israelites had spent their entire adult lives in the wilderness and finally, they could see a way out. Oh, and one more problem -- the priests couldn't swim. This was probably the first river they had even been close to in their lives. I can imagine their fear and questions. God was asking them to step out in faith as never before.

 I don't imagine the Israelites had a great deal of faith in God at that moment, but they had just enough faith to take that first step. And that was enough.

During harvest the Jordan overflows its banks. 

When the priests carrying the Ark came to the edge 

of the river and stepped into the water,

the water upstream stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap. 

So the people crossed over.  

Joshua 3:15-17 (NCV) 

 Notice that God did nothing until those toes touched the water. That first step was all God needed to see. Many times, we won't take the first step of change because we're afraid we won't be able to make the whole journey. Don't wait until you believe it all. Don't wait until you can see it all. Don't wait until you understand it all.

 Trust God and step out in faith. He will meet you there.

Borrowed from Girlfriends In God (a free daily devotional from, as written by Mary Sutherland, published on June 5, 2012.

Friday, June 22

The Honeymoon Is Over

The first few months of a relationship are so exciting.  It's when you try and impress each other and showcase all of your strengths.  Giggling, flirting, and heart racing joy when he calls you just to say "hi."

That was fun.

But that doesn't last forever.  Can you imagine how shallow our relationships would be if we were constantly in the honeymoon stage?

I'm somewhat new to this whole Christian thing.  I grew up believing in God and was taught right from wrong at a young age.  Don't be mislead, just because I knew right and wrong doesn't mean that I behaved like I should.  I was a handful!  It wasn't until about five years ago that I realized that I needed a personal relationship with God.  It wasn't enough to sit in church and make the right decisions.  He called me into a close and intimate relationship with Him.

When God and I first started dating I was obnoxious!  I gushed about our love for each other and told people that weren't believers that they were missing out.  I did it in a way that probably turned a lot of people off.

Now here I am, five years later.  I feel like God and I have settled in together.  We are no longer getting to know each other and trying to figure out how to communicate with one another.  We get each other.  It's nice.

He doesn't move me to tears or give me the goosebumps every day anymore, but that's ok.  Now I look out the window and glance at the sunset and feel like that is God's way of giving me a little wink.  I no longer require grand gestures from Him.  Don't get me wrong, the big blessings are greatly appreciated, but I don't need as much attention from Him as I used to.  I'm confident in our relationship and I like the stage we have settled into.

God is still the same man that I fell in love with.  He always remains the same in His character and he always follows through with His promises.  He's given me five years to get to know Him and I'm blessed to be connected to Him the way that I am.

One of the things I love the most about my relationship with my husband is that when something funny happens, we just look at each other and we know exactly what the other is thinking.  We find humor in the same things and it's comforting to know that all I have to do is give him a little look.  This look didn't happen on our first date.  It took time and an understanding to get to where we are.

That is how I feel about my relationship with God.  In the last five years I've figured out how God speaks to me, how He loves me, and how He aligned my instincts with His purpose.  I now know that those tingles I get in my gut are God's way of saying, "No ma'am."

Don't go chasing goosebumps friends.  You don't need to hop from church to church or from bible study to bible study to ride some religious high.  God isn't always going to direct all of His attention on you.  Sometimes the sermons are meant for someone else.  There are times when He calls us to wait on Him and His direction.  Don't go rushing God or trying to pressure Him into His plan.  Instead, rest delightfully under His arm and appreciate the phase you are in.  Be confident in your God and wait patiently for Him to move you.  The honeymoon may have passed, but sister, the best is yet to come!

-Ashley K.

Wednesday, June 20

The Space Between

Read Psalm 33

Israel had begged for a king, and God had allowed it. He chose a man the people would have been proud of. Tall, dark and handsome, he was the ideal candidate. But the people rejected him. Samuel presented him to the people, and they said, “Are you kidding? No way will Saul become king.”

Next time we see Saul, he is not leading the country, but plowing the fields. I wonder if he doubted God’s call. I wonder if he went over and over that scene with the wizened old prophet and considered insanity. I wonder if he felt foolish. He certainly didn’t feel convicted enough to fight for the place God had promised him. Instead, he went back to work.

It wasn’t until “God’s spirit came upon him in power,” there in the middle of plowing a field that he felt compelled to act. When he heard the news of countrymen under attack, he burned with anger and acted swiftly to assemble an army and sweep in to the rescue. He behaved like a king in that moment, and the people loved him for it. He finally became their king.

David received the same call on his life. Israel was his. He was God’s chosen one. But Saul was still on the throne. And David was hardly more than a boy. And Saul was trying to kill him. I wonder what confusion assaulted him in the space between the call and the fulfillment.

Sarah was creeping up on the century mark. She must have given up the dream of holding a precious baby of her own decades ago. God had promised her husband descendants more vast than the stars in the sky, but he must have meant figuratively. I wonder what doubts assailed her in the space between the promise of an heir and the birth of her only son Isaac.

We are all well aware that God’s timing and our timing don’t always line up perfectly. We’ve experienced it in our own lives time and time again. Many times God whispers promises, or plants dreams and we see nothing. No results. No call backs. No anything. Does lack of results invalidate promises?

Ask Saul. Ask David. Ask Sarah. God came through, despite the space between. Hold on. “abide in me and I will abide in you,” Jesus said. Hold on.

I promise my children dinner every night. Every night I enter the kitchen and begin preparing food. And when my kids were a bit younger, most nights at least one child, faint with exaggerated hunger would sprawl at my feet begging for food. My track record is a good one. I have always provided something. I’ve been known to present popcorn, yogurt and carrot sticks a meal. But they always get something to eat. But still they cry and wail because this may be the one time I fail them.

They lose hope in the space between the promise of supper and the act of eating it. They don’t take into account that I am busy in the kitchen getting thing ready.

Ever wonder what is going on in heaven between now and what's next? I wager God's not going to let us down this time either.

We should not let doubts, confusion or general busyness distract us from the promise. We need to do our best with what we have in the short term while God works on the details of the long term.

Doing our best in the short term might mean returning to a menial job when you feel called to something better. It may mean working for an enemy. It may mean knitting another pair of booties for someone else’s newborn bundle of joy….

Just remember, God is cooking up something amazing in the long term.

Sunday, June 17

Stuck. Where Does My Help Come From?

Read Psalm 121

One of my first early childhood memories is of manure. Pleasant, right?

Like other memories from when I was young, the details are hazy. The crazy things my 5 year old brain chose to hold on to... it's like watching a short, grainy video clip from my past. In this "manure memory," I am looking down at my own skinny legs, buried to the knees in barnyard poo and I can't move my feet. I try and try, but all I can see in my periphery is more poo and I am stuck.

Because I was young and this event tramatic, I forgot some important facts. How did I get in the manure? Why was I there? I remember eventually being rescued by my dad and him saying, "Those boots are staying there," as my boots disappeared completely, buried in the mire while my little legs and feet were lifted free. How did I get home without shoes? Did I get in trouble for losing my boots?

And most importantly, could this be why I don't like barnyard animals? I don't have the answers to these puzzling questions because all I can recall is staring down and being scared and clueless of a way to get out of that sticky situation.

When we are stuck, whether physically or in our personal lives, our tendency is to look down. How am I going to get out of this mess? It might be real manure or a relationship drama that only reminds us of the stench of it.

Stuck knee-deep with no end in sight.

We fixate on where we are stuck. Everything around us is frustration, poo perhaps. But looking down makes it impossible to see the possible solutions. Even obvious blessings will be ignored because, like my little-girl self, I couldn't take my eyes off my problem.

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains,

where does my help come from? 

My help comes from the Lord, 

 the Maker of heaven and earth."

Psalm 121:1-2

What happens when we lift our eyes? Our focus changes. Instead of mire as far as the eye can see, we see help is on the way.

A greeting card I had pinned to my bulletin board in my college dorm room said, "ship happens." Oh yes, yes it does. I appreciate the ironic sentiment and the twist of words that makes it a lot less like swearing, yet still descriptive. We aren't going to sail through life without a care just because we have God watching over us. Actually, the Bible tells us that "trials" (read, sucky stuff) will happen. But our comfort is knowing we are never, never alone.

"The Lord will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore." (Psalm 121:7-8)

Lift you head and look up. Pray your way out of whatever mess you are in today.The Lord God, maker of heaven and earth sees where you are. He knows where you are stuck and He is the solution in your sight.

Written by Alysun P.

Friday, June 15

So Long Sinful Past.

"If we confess our sins, 

he is faithful and just 

and will forgive us our sins 

and purify us from all unrighteousness."

1 John:1:9

We all have things in our past that we aren't proud of.  Things that we've done and choices that we've made that we are embarrassed to admit.

Those moments pop into my brain more often than they need to and I let them upset me.  Our past sins have a mood crippling effect on us.  To some extent I think it is good to feel regret about bad decisions we've made.  That feeling reminds us that we aren't happy with how we behaved and that we shouldn't repeat it.

But God didn't create us to live in the past.  He didn't send His son to die for us so that we would sit and dwell on our mistakes.  Jesus came to save us from our sins and help us move toward being better people.

I was a very bratty little girl growing up.  I was sassy and bossy and I lost a lot of friends.  I treated people poorly and the thing I cared most about was benefiting myself.  I said horrible things to people and about people and I'm ashamed of the way I let my words hurt others.

When I think back to who I was, I feel a lot of regret and embarrassment.  Then satan sneaks in and tries to tell me that I haven't changed and to be honest, there are times that he convinces me that he's right.  I let him tell me that I'm still not very nice and that I don't deserve to have good friends.

Then God.

God in all of his magnificence scoops me up, dries my tears, and reminds me that I am a daughter of the King.  I'm washed of all of my past sins and I am worthy of the riches in heaven.

Do you ever live in the past?  Do you play something over and over again in your mind until you are convinced that you are the worst person on earth?

On Sunday my Pastor so beautifully said, "No one looks in the rearview mirror when they're driving.  You glance back every once in a while to see where you've gone, but you aren't going to get where you're going unless you are looking ahead."

It's true.  If we pay so much attention to the things that have gone wrong in our lives, we are missing the opportunity to look ahead and receive God's blessings.

My prayer today is that we stop lingering in our past scandals and pain.  That we whole heartedly believe God's promise that he forgives us and wants to create a beautiful future for us regardless of our former sins.  I pray that we take tomorrow and make it better than today.

Are you with me?

-Ashley K.

Wednesday, June 13

The Saver

Read Psalm 16

Have you heard about this Extreme Couponing craze? These people get pile and piles of stuff for free by clipping coupons. It’s crazy. I confess, I dabble in the art. And I do pretty well. I don’t pay money for shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper or toothpaste anymore. I’m not extreme by any means. But I manage to stretch my dollars pretty far.

I’m a saver, and I come from a long line of them. My mom reused her Ziplock bags and tin foil long before going green was cool. Waste is a bad thing as a general rule. Weather we waste money, resources or talent, waste just doesn’t do anyone any good.

You know who else can’t stand waste? Jesus. But while I clip coupons and shop Groupon, he is in the business of saving people. We all know this though, right? That Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That he is not willing for any to parish (read “be wasted”). People are incredibly valuable to him.

Many of us are walking wounded. Battered by the consequences of original sin, we suffer physical ills and emotional wounds. Frankly, we aren’t worth much to the outside observer.

Are you familiar with the term upcycling? It’s like recycling only cooler. It’s when you take something that’s over served it’s purpose—say an old t-shirt—and you tweak it a little to do something different and more awesome. Like turning it into a super cute and trendy scarf.

This is what Jesus does with us. He saves us from certain death and brings us into eternal life when we ask him to. But he’s not content with eternity. He saved us so we could survive certainly, but he also saved us so we could live abundantly.

Terrible stuff happens. Diseases torment us, cruel people abuse us, crime robs us, and the evil one tries his hardest to destroy us. But Jesus will not waste us. He picks up our pieces and makes us into something more. Something so much better than we imagined. If we let him.

It’s easier to hold onto pain and tragedy. It defines many of us. As Christians, we believe in heaven and forever, but steeped in trauma, it’s difficult to imagine a life that is more than just getting through today. I believe this is one of the devil’s trickiest lies. That it’s always going to be this way. That things will never change. Mucking through this life is not what he meant when he said, “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.”

He will not waste circumstances. He is crafty enough to work glory out of every circumstance we can hand over to him. He will stretch us, he might even break us, but on the other side, we come out just dazzling. Because his business is saving people.

Sunday, June 10

Days Ordained

Read Psalm 139:7-18

Borrowed with permission from Esther at Full Hands. For Daniel Joshua "Scooby" who left the darkness and the imperfection of this earth and went into the glorious light of seeing God face to face on Monday, May 21, 2012. 

 Some days are manageable – in fact, some days have really surprised me at how much joy there is in them. It helps so much that at the moment we are living in a beautiful place with lots of family around.

There have been days full of sunshine, friends, barbeques, swimming, walking and laughing so hard there have been tears. These are the moments when I think the cheesy thought: ‘This is what Scooby would’ve wanted. He wouldn’t want us all to sit here moping about him when he’s having the best time ever.’

There are other days when the ache won’t go and little tiny things that by-pass everyone else make me think of moments with him that I’ll never have again. Too many memories are surrounded by hospital visits, and other times that are clouded by just how difficult the last two and a half years have been.

In my weakest moments, I feel so much self-pity not just that we lost him, but that we had to go through too darned much in the time leading up to losing him. I wonder if every single happy event in the future will be overshadowed by the lack of his presence. In these moments, although I do let myself cry when I need to cry, I also need to give myself the ‘It’s no use wishing things were different, because they’re not’ speech.

I remind myself that the time for fighting to keep him is over. I tell myself it’s no use in doing the whole ‘What would he be doing if he were here now?’ thing, because there are too many scenarios to choose from – the ‘what if he’d never been ill?’ one, the ‘what if the brain disease had been stopped and he was on his way to recovery now?’ one, the ‘what if the final deterioration hadn’t been so fast and we’d managed to bring him home for a bit?’ one, etc etc. There were so many different stages to his illness that ‘what would he be doing now?’ is an unanswerable one anyway. Occasionally it makes us smile as we imagine his reaction to a certain thing, but most of the time it’s not a fun game to play.

There is one overriding thought that brings me back to a place of peace though, and that is Psalm 139:16. Growing up, I’d always wanted four children, and so when we found out we were expecting a fifth, I joked that Baby was our ‘bonus child’. That’s how I thought of her. But since losing Scooby, I’ve begun to realize that maybe he was our ‘bonus child’. Because the verse says, ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’

Even after so long an illness, we are still in disbelief that Scooby has actually died and we will never see him here again. But it is no surprise to God. He knew all along exactly how many days Scooby would have on this earth, despite his induced early birth and the medical treatment that kept him going for so long at the end.

It was three thousand, one hundred and seventy. God had them all in His book.

We could have gone through life never having known Scooby, but instead God gave him to us for 3170 days. When I think of this, it reminds me not to be overwhelmed with sadness, or to try and work out what he would’ve done if he was here today, because he was never designed to be here today. It wasn’t in the book. His time was perfectly set out by a perfect heavenly Father, who knows far better than us, despite the many times I want to tell Him otherwise.

That is why, between the moments of heaviness and disbelief, I also have moments of extreme joy, because God could’ve picked anyone to look after Scooby for his 3170 earthly days, and it was us He chose. Wow.

 "For you created my inmost being; 

 you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

 your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made 

in the secret place, when I was woven together 

in the depths of the earth. 

Your eyes saw my unformed body; 

 all the days ordained for me were written in your 

book before one of them came to be."

Psalm 139:13-18

Friday, June 8

Training Up A Child: Easier Said Than Done

Parenting is so hard. Some days I wonder what my kids are going to think of me when they are adults. What kind of stories are they going to tell? Are they even going to like me?

I am constantly wondering if I'm doing it right. I have parental guilt one moment and feel like Supermom the next.

Will they think I was "Supermom" or will they refer to me as "Suckyparent"? I don't know. But what I do know is this...

"Train a child in the way he should go, 

and when he is old he will not turn from it." 

 (Proverbs 22:6)

Train them in what way? I'm still totally bad at this Lord....

A little help here would be nice.

Oh, the Bible, that's the way.

Thanks Lord.

When we raise our children in accordance to the Bible, God promises us that our children will not turn away from it when they are older. Well, what if we try to teach them in the way of the Bible, but we are human and screw up all the time?

Well, God knows we are going to screw up. He promises us...

"He has delivered us from the domain 

of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom 

of his beloved Son, 

in whom we have redemption, 

the forgiveness of sins." 

(Colossians 1:13-14.)

Here's the deal.  Your children need to know that you mess up, hear you apologize and repent for it and know that tomorrow is a new day. We are all a work in progress. In my opinion, one of the most important things that we can teach our children is that we are all vulnerable to sin. Yet, we have an avenue for forgiveness through our Lord, Jesus Christ. And that slowly, but surely we can allow Him to create better humans out of us.

My kids make me want to be a better human. They are the reason I am a saved woman today. I have a lot of work to do and they are going through this process of change with me. I am eternally grateful for my salvation. I can't even begin to imagine where I would be without it. I want my children to know that and to appreciate their salvation. I want my kids to know that they have a legacy to uphold here...their Mama was saved by the grace of GOD.

He's got a lot of work to do in me yet. Lord, please help me to raise my children under your care, that they may grow to honor the One that saved their Mom and Dad and who is carefully caring for them all their life.

Borrowed from Katie, aka The Hippy Chick and Jesus Freak, who tells it like it is and appreciates all of the wonderful benefits this earth has to offer.

Monday, June 4

Finding His Majesty

Read Psalm 8

Struck by Majesty. In awe of His greatness. It is not every moment or even every day that I consider glory.

Humbled to my knees? Not often.

"Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" Psalm 8:1

When was the last time I was bowed flat when I considered the work of His hand?

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place." (verse 3)

And taking the time to think on His awesomeness and be humbled that He cares for me?

"What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?" (verse 4)

It's actually all-together easy to neglect the awe-inspiring side of God. We cling eagerly to his friendly attributes, the ones that comfort and make us feel warm and loved.

But to be caught in exuberant praise? That takes something special.... doesn't it?

On a trek through the Redwoods, my husband and I searched for "the big tree." We drove from park to park asking, "Where is the big tree? You know, the really big one." We were searching for that one tree that would shock our socks off by its size. All around us were big trees. They were bigger than any we had seen before, but surely not what we were looking for.

We left that day disappointed to have missed out on grandeur. Come to find out, we were in the right area, even the right park, but we left our search too soon. The "big one" was there all along, but we never saw it.

Do we as Christians miss out too? Going through life without ever finding the knee trembling, awe inspiring, spectacular greatness of God's majesty?

What does it look like in every day life, surrounded by the mundane? How can we possibly grasp it?

Majesty isn't always found in the "huge." While gorgeous mountain ranges, crystal turquoise waters, and night skies will always inspire, majesty is found every day in the small things.

"Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." Hebrews 12:28

Let us be thankful. To worship with reverence and awe requires little things. Little bits of thankfulness that pile up until we see a glimpse of God, his glory so majestic it is blinding.

Let us live a normal life in the light of majesty by taking each moment to him in thanks. It sounds simple.... it is not. Until a habit is formed, hours or every days will go by without noticing the little things that are given in grace, accepted in faith, and promised as worship.

But this day we can start fresh, making a point to bow, to search.... to find His majesty.

Written by Alysun P. who blogs at Peters Paradise. Paradise not in a "palm tree" kind of way, but a contented, thankful, normal, but blessed life.