Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Love That Won't Let Go

"And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the]testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God."

The way I have lived my life is to pull up my boots and make life work.

Over half of my life was spent in trying to find a set of rules and follow them. One of the rules I have strived to know and understand is how to be submissive to my husband.

All I knew what to do was to do what Danny said, not make any waves and be happy all the time.  After all, I was to have a quiet and gentle Spirit.

Of course no one can do this all the time so I had to pretend.

When my family and my marriage fell apart and I came out of my pretend world--that I was not this perfect wife and mother--knowing I had failed, I turned inward.  I had given it my best shot and I had still failed.  So all I knew to do was go into isolation and solitude.  Without realizing it, I separated myself from the world and my family.  I could not face my failure.

Danny was completely oblivious to my feelings.  To him we had a great marriage and I was very happy.  He was caught completely off guard by my illness.  He was wrapped up in his work and thought the family was doing fine.  After all, I had not told him anything different.

I went from trying hard to not trying at all.  From living under the law to having no law at all.  I was like a wild buck, trying to find my freedom.  Not that I did anything bad.  I just did nothing at all.  I let my marriage go, my children and my home.  I would come in and out of wellness and do a little with the world, even Bible studies, but for the most part all I did was sit in a daze or sleep for 17 years.  I spent hours upon hours with God.  I know.  I meditated, had solitude, and made my world a world I could control.  It was getting smaller and smaller all the time.  My life was a mess and I was a mess.  I was lonely and alone in a family full of people, a world I had created.

Then last year, actually Sept 2012, I began reading articles that applied the gospel to your everyday life.  I had studied this for years but God still had lots He had to do in my heart to bring me to a point of seeing.  I had not understood it in the way Rick Thomas wrote about it in his ministry, "Counseling Solutions."  I began to surround myself with people that knew about grace and who I was in Christ.  I began to see myself as Jesus saw me. Faithful friends and mentors had prayed for me for all these years. 

Yes I am a sinner saved by grace, but now a saint dearly loved and forgiven. I did a study on Ephesians.  It all started to click.  Just as Paul saw, so did I see.  It was Christ and Him crucified, but oh, the depths of how far this would go into my struggles, my depression, my seeking approval and people pleasing, the idols of my husband and my children.  The scales began to fall off my eyes and I began to see God's love for me in new and exciting ways.

I just wish you were here with me in my den, in my spot, everybody needs a spot to meet with God. I have a friend who just goes and works outside.  It doesn't have to be anything like mine, but we all need a place to meet with Him.  Yes God is with you all the time.  He lives in you, but you need a spot with things you love.  Mine has  reminders to me of the ones I love, to pray for them, with the things I enjoy, like a good cup of coffee, that I am to be a blessing to others and love them as Jesus and the Father and Spirit love me; of ministry.  All the things I love, my study Bibles and creative things are near me.  My heart longs to tell you so much He has taught me.

Submission is a law and Christ came to fulfill the law, but to also increase the law.  He said it is to love God and love people.  Danny thought things were ok because what I was doing was not all bad. But I left out the relationship. 
What Jesus is all about.  It was my heart.  My heart longed for approval not to love my husband as Christ had loved me, selflessly.  I didn't know how to want the best for him and honor him for him.  It was for me.  

I didn't know how to shepherd my children's hearts.  All I knew was to do for them.  This is only a taste of what it is to be a parent.  What God has been teaching me that it is Christ and Him crucified.  It is about relationships and loving and being ok when things don't go my way because I have a Father in control of my family and my life, and I can do my best but mess up and still trust Him to bring good out of it.  He is teaching me new and better ways to love all the time and it is exciting.

God does not need us to redeem the world.  He gives us the joy of being a part of it.  We can choose to remove ourselves from life or to join in with what He is doing.  I wrote a little devotional book mostly for my family.  While I was off the computer and very sick God got it to 150 women in prison and who struggle with addictions.  He did that without me.  The blog grew unbelievable while I was gone.  He is giving me the opportunity to continue with Him what He has done.  I don't want to miss out anymore of my life to others and my family's life.

I am ashamed of what I have done, now that I see it, but Christ died and bore my shame on the cross.  So I can live a life full of joy and peace and happiness even in the tough times.  I have not stopped the work of God, He has worked in my family and others, I just chose not to be a part.  The funny thing is He even worked on me.  We cannot stop what God is going to do in us.  "It is finished," Jesus said.  We do not limit God but we can limit our participation with Him.  But He restores even that.  One of my favorite verses is that He restores the years the locus have eaten.  

God has been teaching me to learn to walk by faith, to trust Him and not myself.  To depend on Him and hear His voice.  He works in our weakness to bring about good and His strength.  I have prayed "God, would you heal my mind?" many times, and He hasn't.  I have ask myself, "Do I still trust You, Lord?"  And the answer today is, "Yes!"  The answer is "yes" to Him, and to this life He has given me.  He is more than enough for me and I am realizing and accepting it more every day.  

So now I can love my husband and children and others with all my might.  Not to get what I think I need.  I go to Jesus and the Father and Spirit for that. But to love them to give them Jesus and to give them me!  I still fail at this but Jesus didn't fail.  His righteousness is mine.  His life is lived through me. His forgiveness and love is mine.  My challenge is to live this life out of what He has already done and is doing.  It is not about me but yet He desires that I be with Him as He is with the Father and the Spirit.  It is a beautiful thing. We are all one.  I am to relate to Danny as Jesus does the Father in some ways, they are equal but Jesus is in submission to the Father.  But I am to Danny as the church is to Jesus.  He is my picture of submission and a love that just won't let go.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beauty Illuminates Beauty

 Exodus 34:29  It came about when Moses was coming down from Mount Sinai, that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him.

My son is a horse trainer.  He has been trained to train horses but he has a natural gift from God to train horses and to train others to ride well.  Over the years I have watched him, do his work, and have been amazed at the lessons of God in life, that my son displays in his training of these animals and people to ride.

I remember such a time...he was breaking a very strong willed horse.  As he came out of the shoot of the horse arena, I noticed he had one of the horses legs tied up toward the horses chest.  The very strong horse came out limping, soon to fall on the ground.  My son got on this huge, beautiful animal and stood on his back hips.  As the horse struggled against my sons weight and the horses own weight it could not get up.  My son just remained as the struggle went on for quiet a while.  He did not leave him alone to struggle.

When the horse stopped the struggle my son got off the horse.  Untied the horses leg and rode him off.  The horse followed my sons lead.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.  The horse was a reflection of my sons training.  He had become the beautiful horse he was meant to be.  I don't know if my son still breaks wild bucks this way. He has gotten other training since that time when he was young.  I have not seen him do it since but it was a valuable lesson I don't want to forget.

So are we when we go through suffering and hardship.  God is always training us, but I believe especially during these times of pain and finding our own weakness, does He do His greatest work in our lives to break our strength and cause us to depend or to lean into Him.  C.S.Lewis says something like God whispers in our good times but shouts in our suffering.  

It is a beautiful thing God has done in me through my suffering with the mental disorder and my relationships. I have such a peace and joy and love I have never had before. I would never have said that before for fear it sounds prideful.  But I am boasting in my weakness, and in the glory of God. I know it is not of me but of Him, who lives in me. 

When God does such a work of taking a strong, dependent person and walks them through the valley of the shadow of death, He goes with them.  He never leaves them.  He is training them, breaking them, making them all they can be to the glory of God.  He is teaching them, like my son did his horse, He can be trusted.  We can follow Him.  That our pain and suffering is actually for our good and for the glory of God.  We may not see this in the midst of the suffering but it will become evident, in times of suffering.

When this happens it is like the very face of God has shinned on us.  When we are transformed and being transformed our face shines as did Moses because we have had such an encounter with the living God.  We are changed.  We shine with the light of Jesus.  We are told to let our light shine before men.  This is the very light and glory of God that is illuminated in us to love others.  It is a transformation. He takes us from glory to glory.  We radiate, gleam, glow, glisten, sparkle, we actually glimmer with the love of Christ.  We reflect His glory, His love.  We are the reflection of Christ.  We begin to love as He has loved us and we wonder...where does this love and humility come from.  It comes from our great rider and trainer, the Lord.

We are actually dying to ourselves so more of the Jesus who lives in us shines through us and not our strong wills or selfish ways.  It is a changing into the very likeness of Christ.  This is an on going process throughout our lives until we see Him face to face.  We are in the presence and direction of the great rider, the Holy Spirit.  We are becoming who we are truly meant to be, to love God and others and enjoy God all to His glory.  We begin to live for God instead of ourselves.  We actually lose ourselves in Him and at the same time find who we are meant to be, created in His image.

As you look at these pictures of Sarah, my sons finance, notice several things.  Notice her reins around the neck of the horse.  How she leads, tightens and lessons the pressure of the reins. Notice the obedience and beauty of the horse. How they are in step with each other as her motion coincides with the run of the horse. Notice the refection of the Son on them both.  The beauty of all around as the wind blows through her hair and how the horse runs into the wind.  How they both reflect the beauty of the Son and the training and hours they have spent together.  We reflect His beauty in such a way.  Notice their enjoyment of each other and how proud Sarah is of her horse.  Tim Keller says we will be put on display in heaven as we are trophies of His grace.  We become a thing of beauty because of the Great Rider we have.  So we are a person of beauty by His beauty...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Strive to Rest

Hebrews 4:11  We should do our best to enter that place of rest, so that none of us will disobey and miss going there, as they did.

Many times I find rest in the finished work of Christ but there are times...even after a sermon somewhere that seem to leave me with the feeling, you are not doing enough. You will never do enough. You will never be able to please God. You are never going to be able to get yourself fixed, together. When you look at you, you always come up lacking, short, something that needs changing. Am I truly valuable? Do I have worth? Why am I still struggling with the same sins? What is wrong with me?

This is contrary to the gospel...the gospel says, Jesus said, "it is finished". It says, He loves you just as you are. Not that He loves you too much to let you stay that way but that it is truly already done in Christ. If you never changed God would always be pleased with you. He loves you unconditionally. That means you cannot earn it or make it any more so. It is completely done in the eyes of God. When the Father looks at you He sees you finished because of Jesus Spirit living in you.

Do you find it hard to just do something that doesn't produce something and enjoy God and reconnect with yourself? Who you truly are in Him, loved, forgiven, completely righteous or do you hear the words already but not yet. If you died today you would look Jesus face to face and be just like him. I find it hard to do something just to enjoy God. I think I must do something to produce something of value, like better health, clean house, a product, or do something for someone, ministry. But just to draw something or color something, just enjoy music that is good for nothing but fun and loving being with God. Even my husband who goes fishing catches fish. We always look for something produced. 

This tells me I am not at rest during these times. That I am not seated in the heavens with Jesus at the right hand of the Father just enjoying Him. Sometimes I just like to pretend I am having a picnic with Jesus, flying a kite or dancing. I use to do it with a broom and just pretend I am in the presence of Jesus or the Father just delighting myself in their company and love. Just loving Him for Him. Not for what He has done for me, which is much, but just because He is awesome and my Dad.

This kind of thinking that I cannot measure up keeps me from changing. When the enemy even says, yes you are enough you don't need to change. You don't need to do anything. Just stay as you are or there is no need to change. Just be satisfied with you now and don't strive for holiness. You'll never arrive anyway. Just stay as you are with no change.  Brokenness is beautiful.  It is a place of grace.  But Jesus died to make us whole, to make us holy.  We are to strive to love more, to find a place of rest.  I think of a caterpillar in a cocoon.  From the outside it looks like nothing is happening, there is rest.  But in the inside there is a miracle going on.  There is being made a beautiful butterfly.  This is a picture of the beauty Christ is doing in us even in our struggles.

We may need to strive to resist the lies of you don't and can't measure up, you are not worth anything, you don't need to strive to rest, just quit.   Don't give up, persevere in doing good, in making peace, in dying to self, in laying down your life, in forgiving 70 times 7 as you are forgiven.  Great is your reward.  I think that reward is the peace, love and presence of God in you that has been given solely on the merit of grace.  We just have to get ourselves in a place of receiving it.  In knowing Jesus did it all then our life changes, we change and we have the peace that passes all understanding.

True rest brings rest and enjoyment but when we are in the presence of God we are changed from the inside out. It is not something we do but cooperate with what God is doing. He is loving us so we can first enjoy that love but then before we even realize it or think what we are doing we are humbling ourselves and loving others in ways we never thought possible. We are doing things we never thought possible. We are admitting we are wrong. We are finding good in other people. We are more interested in giving than what others can do for us. We look for opportunities to give others Jesus in their brokenness and pain. We pray from the heart of compassion and love like we know it is not of us but of Jesus living and loving through us to others. There is change but it is not out of a deficiency but out of an abundance. It is not a labor but a joyful resting and enjoyment and pleasure beyond anything we have ever know. We feel we may burst if we don't pass on this love that is so overflowing within us, we must give it away.

We are told we are to strive sometimes to rest. To me this striving is a believing. Believing Jesus is enough and He did it all for us and we are already whole in His sight.  We are to ask for faith. We are to believe and trust to rest. We trust Him with even the hardest of circumstances and people in our lives.  We trust Him with us.  So the desperate find rest. The desperate find Jesus. Or rather Jesus finds them and sets their hearts at rest. It is the day of rest but this is just a picture of what the Lord wants for our hearts. To give up the labor but strive to rest, to believe.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Keep Hope Alive

Now these things remain, faith, hope, love.  But the greatest of these is love

Our failures do not thwart God's purposes. Rick Thomas with Counseling Solutions. Trust God and move forward or God maybe calling you to do the really hard thing and just wait on Him. Regret can keep you in bondage. The what if's and the if only's. God uses our sin even for our good and His glory. He restores the years the locus have eaten. We cannot take back yesterday. Do not live there it only robs you of today. Do not live in fear of tomorrow what may never happen but be intentional in the lives of the people you love and are around you. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Look to Him. He will give you the faith and wisdom you need to love others in a real, honest, truthful and selfless way. Love others as He has loved you. He laid down His life for you that you might have life and love others with the same kind of love. So you failed? So did I. You cannot drink spilt milk but you can pour another glass. Drink deeply of the grace of God and sit in His presence. Let Him heal you and give you hope that only He can give.

Be an encourager. Someone full of hope and life. Give the words of life. Point each other to Jesus. Find someone doing something good and tell them about it. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Seek to follow Him in all your ways and when you are not trusting Him repent. Ask others to forgive you for not loving them as you should and let Him pick you up and begin again. It is never too late for new beginnings. For there to be redemption in the life of another or our lives. For every one look at your sin take 10 looks at Jesus, Jack Miller. Grace is for the humble. Humble yourself and He will life you up. He is our hope. He loves you with an everlasting love that does not give up. Don't you give up but let go. Surrender. Know the things that have happened in your life are as they were meant to be. Learn from them and go forward resting in the finished work of Jesus.

We cannot get it right if we are going to live life. Loving people is risky business but it is worth the risk. Shake off your guilty stains and collapse into the arms of the One who cares and has compassion for you. The only One who can do anything about life or give life. He is the way, the truth and the life. His grace is ever flowing like the waves upon the seashore. It never ends. To the cross I cling. Lord Jesus nothing do I bring. It is all of His grace and mercy.

We are clay on the Potters Wheel. We have lumps and bumps and the wheel is turning but His hands are never taken off of it, the clay, us. He is creating and molding us in His image. A person of beauty and life full of laughter, and tears and joy and peace. We are that clay pot full of cracks, wounds. But there is a bright and glimmering and beautiful light shinning within and without and it is Jesus. His light gives us the beauty and purpose and value and love and belonging we long for. It all is mercy and His grace. We are His trophies of grace, Tim Keller. So go forth and let your light shine for others to see your hope and your King, for He reigns and will be faithful to us all in spite of ourselves. He is about rescuing us from us, from sin and death and giving us a life of love and purpose we cannot fathom nor create on our own.
Some of the things that help me keep hope alive is being in Gods creation and loving my friends and family.  These are some of our pictures that bring me hope.

I love hiking with friends to the nearby waterfalls...

Nothing like the friend and her newborn baby, at one of Lees rope ins, to bring hope

Friends at several parties, their dog and a crawfish lol.

Lee and Sarah doing what they love.  A newborn calf.

Danny and our grandson, Ford.

Lee, our son, doing what is his gift...



 My guys love being out in the cold in the early morning time, hunting...

 I love sunrises and sunsets.

 Our sweet granddaughter and her friend Georgia.

 Danny's best times with the Lord is on this tractor.

 I love being with friends and being encouraged in time with them.

 My friend Anglia greet me and Danny many mornings with a smile and a cup of coffee.

Do whatever you can to be with those you love, God and be encouraged, do today, don't wait.  God maybe calling you to just be still and be with Him and listen.  Whatever the case He will guide you.  Our hearts and the hearts of others depend on not loosing hope in Christ.  He is our hope.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but longings fulfilled brings a tree of life.