Back to the beginning

I have been thinking of the movie The Princess Bride (1987) when Inigo is in the Forbidden Forest and says, “You told me to go back to the beginning… so I have.”  Inigo is at the end of himself and his leader, Vizzini, told him to go back to the beginning. Inigo’s Barnabbas-like friend, Fezzik, comes to him and encourages him to continue on the journey. So it is with us.

We have gone back to the beginning and are awaiting further instructions.  We have Barnabbas-like friends, who have also gone back to the beginning and are now seeing the fruition of obedience, encouraging us to be faithful.

Isaiah 46:9-11 says the very words that provide me comfort.

     “remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
 declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
 calling a bird of prey from the east,
    the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
    I have purposed, and I will do it.”

 

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Glorious Unfolding

As I was driving a load of boxes from our storage unit to our new apartment yesterday, I heard Steven Curtis Chapman’s new song “Glorious Unfolding.” I loved the lyrics and how they fit our present journey. I was reminded that what looks like crazy from a human point-of-view, really is something amazing from Heaven’s point-of-view.
I hope these lyrics encourage you, too.
Blessings
Glorious Unfolding
Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart
‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true
There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold

And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding

God’s plan from the start
For this world and your heart
Has been to show His glory and His grace
Forever revealing the depth and the beauty of
His unfailing Love
And the story has only begun

We were made to run through fields of forever
Singing songs to our Savior and King
So let us remember this life we’re living
Is just the beginning of the beginning

Of this glorious unfolding
We will watch and see and we will be amazed
If we just keep on believing the story is so far from over
And hold on to every promise God has made to us
We’ll see the glorious unfolding

Just watch and see (unfolding)
This is just the beginning of the beginning (unfolding)

Writer(s): Steven Curtis Chapman

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24 little hours

On Monday we went apartment hunting. It has been a slow process and a potentially discouraging one. My husband and I changed our search area and immediately found a place. We filled out the paperwork and waited. The next day, we received a call, we had been approved. Our move-in-date happens as soon as the landlord puts in the new carpeting.
Amazing, within 24 hours we went from discouraged to encouraged. I love it.

Yesterday evening I received a phone call–one I had been waiting for with some anxiety. The enemy as I have said, has been hitting some crazy line drives at me, trying to convince me that important relationships are/were in jeopardy since I moved. It has made me anxious, losing sleep, worrying, having imaginary conversations with these important people in my head. Just crazy. Two minutes into the conversation and I realized all was fine. Nothing to fret or worry about. Again, just 24 hours from fretting to fine.

It made me think about the disciples during the weekend between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Scripture tells us nothing about Saturday. Saturday is silent because nothing happened.
For 24 hours men and women wept, worried, feared, and wondered about their Teacher and Lord and all He had taught them. What they didn’t know was that Sunday was coming. In 24 hours, angels would sing and Heaven would rejoice because Jesus had conquered the grave. But they didn’t know that on Saturday. (Read John chapters 19 & 20 for more details).

Are you struggling and feeling like there is no hope, no end, no resolution, no understanding in sight? Could it be that you are in the midst of your 24 hours? Could it be that you are waiting for God to “show up?” Don’t lose hope. Hold on. It has been my experience that when God does “show up” He also “shows off”** all of His amazing love, grace, mercies, and His plan for your next steps.
Hang in there, your Sunday is coming!!

**”show up and show off” are from Jerry Jenkins’ book Hometown Legend. A great read and that line had always stuck with me. (Jerry Jenkins is also the co-author of the Left Behind series).

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Being and Doing

My family and I have been looking for housing for the past week. Everyday we go online and do a search, drive around in neighborhoods we think we’d like to live in, looking for “for rent” signs. We’ve contacted numerous landlords, but we’ve had only a handful return our calls. We’ve had a couple very good leads, including one that was “perfect” and they would take our dogs too, but then she called a couple hours after our walk through to say she went with another renter.
Add to this, my anxiety and restlessness from things I left unfinished when we moved, and it would be easy to understand why I only get a few hours of sleep at night.
The struggles and trials we are experiencing seem to be insurmountable. Yet, I know the truth. God is able to handle this situation too.
In Exodus 14 the Israelites, newly freed from slavery, arrive at the Red Sea. News comes quickly that the Pharaoh and his army with chariots are coming to kill them. Naturally, they panic. Turning to Moses, they demand to know what he is going to do to keep them from being killed. Moses, who can do nothing, turns to God. “Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (‭Exodus‬ ‭14‬:‭13-14‬ NIV)
God tells Moses, Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.” (‭Exodus‬ ‭14‬:‭15-18‬ NIV)
In two moments God says to be still and to get moving. It seems contradictory, but then I realized that God is telling them– ” You can’t do this, so rest in me– I’ve got this, and in the meantime, here is something you can do- so go do it.”
Our inability to find something in one major town, led us to look in another one, which is where we would prefer to live. Within minutes of arriving in the second town, we found an apartment complex that would meet our needs for the next year.
I need to “be still” with God (Psalm 46). Trusting Him to take care of the details. I also need to be ready to move when He gives us direction.
How are you doing with stillness and action? Do you need to talk with God about it, like I do?
Ask Him to help you calm your spirit and rest in Him. He cares about you, more than you know.

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Pop flies and line drives

I am supposed to be asleep, but all I can do is toss and turn. I am fighting self-doubt. Self-doubt is one of the enemy’s favorite weapons. He uses it to make us second-guess decisions we have made, to make us worry about things we have no control over, and to basically incapacitate us.

In this crazy journey my family and I are on, we have seen God show up in huge, amazing, incredible ways. Yet, somehow the enemy is trying to get me to see the decisions we have made as bad ones, wrong ones, “were-those-really-the-best-choices-you-could-have-made” ones.

As I toss and turn tonight, the enemy is tossing ideas and thoughts into my head, “what if you had waited until everything was all settled to move?”
“What if this person thinks that you are a fool to move?”
“What if that person does such-and-such and you are too far away to fix it?”
“What if? What if? What if?”
ARGGGHHH!!!

Scripture says we are to “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
(‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10‬:‭5‬ NIV). So every time the enemy tries to attack me, I am to capture what he is throwing and demolish it. I am striving to imagine myself with a huge baseball mitt on my hand, snagging all of the pop flies and line drives the enemy is hitting to me– ultimately getting him”out” every time.

Father, you promise to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). I need you tonight Father, to help calm my spirit, protect my mind, and prepare my heart and soul for a restful sleep (Ephesians 6). Please be my shield and protector from all he throws at me (Psalm 119:114). Thank you for being the God who protects, loves and provides for His children. I love you so much.
Your Daughter,
Amen.

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Independence

July is not just when my country celebrates it’s birthday; it is also when I celebrate my birthday, the day I chose the freedom offered by Christ. It has been 24 years since I reached out to the God who loved me enough to give His Son in my place to cover all of my sins, foolishness, and stupidity. Jesus filled all of my pits, holes, and crevices with His grace, His love, His healing, and His amazing mercies.

Scripture says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
Because the LORD has anointed me
to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,”
(Isaiah 61:1).

As Christ stood in the synagogue in Nazareth and read Isaiah 61:1,2 to the people in the congregation, he was declaring the opportunity for independence from bondage, from sin, from sorrow and grief, from loss and from hopelessness. He told them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus told them in essence, “I am declaring your freedom– available through me.”

How do you need to declare independence? Is it from regret? Guilt? Sorrow? An addiction? An unspoken sin? What is stopping you? If you cannot do it on your own, ask for help. Talk to someone who can walk with you through the steps of declaring independence. A pastor, a trusted friend, a mentor, a teacher, someone who will help you see you are not alone.

Make today your day of independence.

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Pay attention!

Whenever there is a lot of disorganization in life, there is a tendency to want to jump in -right away- to put things back into order. I have this compulsion for sure. But, I am learning in this topsy-turvy season, if I don’t have my time with God first– before anything else– no amount of work with my hands will be able to fix the disconnect from God in my heart.

The enemy is hungry for us. John 10:10 says that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”. In 1 Peter 5:8 it says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” If this is how the enemy of God feels about us, what are we to do?

Scripture is clear, we are to “seek first, the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

The first words in 1 Peter 5:8 tell us, “Be self-controlled and alert.” If we are “too busy” to get our focus on God, then we do not have steady footing for our day. Ephesians 6 talks all about our need to prepare for battle. In the ancient world, the key to any soldier’s success was to still be standing at the end of the battle. One pastor said it like this, “To stand is to live.”

If we are not taking ten minutes, fifteen minutes, however long we have in our schedule, to stop, sit still, pray, and listen for leading from God, then we are losing our footing and may lose the battle. Don’t allow the days worries and woes sweep you out and away from the one thing you need most (see Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus.

**for help in the area of busyness and prayer check out the book Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels.

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Singing souls

There are many mornings when I wake up with a song playing in my head. What I love about this experience is how the words always fit my situation. I don’t listen to the radio when I go to bed or to wake up, so that isn’t the influence. I believe it is my soul singing, subconsciously, to God in response to His actions.

This morning I woke to an old Darlene Zschech song called Love You So Much. With all of the crazy things we’ve gone through, I love that my soul, at its deepest level, still sings praises to the God who has carried us through. May these words bring your soul peace and remind you of WHO is in charge.

Blessings.

Hear these praises from a grateful heart
each time I think of You the praises start
love You so much, Jesus, love You so much

Lord, I love You, my soul sings
in Your presence carried on your wings
love You so much, Jesus, love You so much

how my soul longs for You
longs to worship You for ever
in Your Power and Majesty
lift my hands, lift my heart,
lift my voice towards the heavens
for You are my sun and shield

hear these praises from a grateful heart
each time I think of You the praises start
love You so much, Jesus, love You so much

Lord, I love You, my soul sings
in Your presence carried on your wings
love You so much, Jesus, love You so much

how my soul longs for You
longs to worship You for ever
in Your Power and Majesty
lift my hands, lift my heart,
lift my voice towards the heavens
for You are my sun and shield

how my soul longs for You
longs to worship You for ever
in Your Power and Majesty
lift my hands, lift my heart,
lift my voice towards the heavens
for You are my sun and shield

hear these praises from a grateful heart
each time I think of You the praises start
love You so much, Jesus, love You so much

love You so much, Jesus, love You so much

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Not “super”

One of the hardest lessons in my life is that I cannot do it all. I grew up striving for excellence and a well-earned “atta girl” at the end of the day. This work ethic is fabulous when it comes to the career arena, but it can be debilitating when it comes to trying to “do it all.”
The more headway I thought I made while packing, sorting, and tossing, the more I saw as incomplete, unfinished, and undone. It was daunting. My oldest son said one day, “Mom, don’t look at what you have to do, look at what you have done.” Wise words indeed.
Somehow, my work ethic has gone from being a positive thing to being a Simon Legree kind of task master. No matter how much I try to meet the self-made “to-do” list I cannot accomplish it.
This came to full bloom on Saturday as I tried to get out of the house and on the road. I was looking around the house and thinking of all that needed to happen to make it “perfect” before I left. I called my mom and when I heard the kindness in her voice I lost any composure I had left. She listened, encouraged me, made me laugh, and gave me “permission” to leave what needed to be left and get on the road. I spoke with my brother too, who said, “Perfect went out the window weeks ago.”

The word part “super” means “over and above.” So Superman was literally and figuratively “super.” I am not. I am finite, human, breakable. But my God is not. Let me say that again, But my God is not.
Yesterday at our new church, the song by Chris Tomlin, Our God is Greater, came to mind. I love it when I get this kind of encouragement.

Our God is greater, our God is stronger,
God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other.
Our God is Healer, Awesome in Power, Our God! Our God!

I am finite, God isn’t, and that is why I don’t have to be super or perfect. God already is.

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Thanks be to God

My family has arrived in our new state. It has been an exhausting, frustrating, emotional journey, but we are here. We have been covered in prayer and supported by so many, who came to help pack and spend time with us. We have even been blessed by unexpected gifts from friends– that can only be paid forward.
Throughout the past eight weeks my husband and have been discussing the spiritual battle described in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” It may seem extreme, but Scripture says the enemy is here to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) in all sorts of ways. I have described our losses in previous posts. Yesterday proved this was no different.
While driving on the interstate, just twenty miles from our destination, the hood of our minivan flew up and hit the windshield. I was able to get off the road safely and no one was hurt. I was extremely rattled by the “what could have happened” and it took time to emotionally regroup. Our van presently sits in a towing yard until we can get it repaired. We may have lost some things but they are just that– things. My sons are fine, I am fine. My husband was rattled too, since he was driving our u-haul truck and was not there when it happened. But God is good. He protected us (Psalm 91).
Today my family went to the new church where we want to become involved and found more abundant and unexpected blessings from our new friends.
My day is one where I could lament the struggles or rejoice in the blessings, I choose to say “Thanks be to God” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

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