Grace to You Hands

Grace to You Hands

Sunday, March 31, 2013

New Blog

Check out latest blog entry at www.gracebrakes.com

http://gracebrakes.com/2013/03/31/eyes/

Encourage you to follow me for all blog updates.

You never know what God can speak.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Father and Son

CHECK OUT MY NEW BLOG @ www.gracebrakes.com
This will be my last post to this blog but signup for alerts at my new blog...
Hope this blesses...


Growing up, there was a song that my dad would always play on his guitar. I knew the words to it before I could walk. It’s a Cat Stevens song called “Father and Son”. It’s about a dad letting his son go be a man and a son’s want to leave and be a better man. You may know it. Every time I hear it, I am filled with a barrage of emotion. It reminds me of SO many memories but the one memory it conjures the most were those times I began to get to know my dad as a little girl. Every time he played and sang it, I would listen to more than just the lyrics. I would hear what made my dad think, feel and dream. It was like every note offered me a tiny fragment of his innermost thoughts. My relationship with my dad has taken on many forms since I was a young girl. We have shared many conversations and many arguments. However, my dad and I are tethered to one another. I can talk to him for hours and it feels like 10 minutes. I know my Father. I get him. We are connected somehow as all children are to their parents (whether they want to be or not-lol).
Recently, my dad stunned me with insight I had never grasped on the phone the other night. It stimulated a path to revelation I had not even begun to consider. Revelation that has truly, instantly changed me. As my dad spoke and I listened, I began to understand how the Father of all creation relates to His son, Jesus. I began to understand how they are tethered and how I am invited in to that union. I am one with the Father through the son. I began to know what my Father God thinks, feels and dreams by listening. The Word of God is his song and you are a child invited to listen to the innermost thoughts of God the Father.
I don’t know about you but the Bible confuses me. If the Bible has all the answers, then why don’t they organize it differently with tabs that answer a direct problem. Like a tab for “debt, sickness, depression, marriage, weight loss, etc. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. Bam-instant answers. Sometimes I just see my Bible on my coffee table or ignore my BibleGateway app because it’s just not something I have the time to dissect. Lately, I have approached God and His word a bit differently. I have been directly asking for answers. I have boldly entered the throne room of Grace that I might obtain mercy and help in a time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) I boldly asked God to give me the Bible tabs that meet my need.
See…I want a place to live. My house was foreclosed on in 2011. I left for VA and left my home to renters. I lost a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house because 4 tenants ran out on rent, never paid a power bill and the recession worsened. I was left with nothing to pay a $985 mortgage that had backed up by 3 months. I had to let the house go. Losing that house damaged me. It made me feel embarrassed and irresponsible. I live in 700 square feet now and am ready to expand. Getting married and want to get back what was stolen from me. Right now, my living conditions are wild and I need more space. For the last 3 three months, I have complained. I have made everyone miserable. On top of that, I decided to fix it. I scoured Craiglist, Trulia, Hotpads, etc for hours. Made appointments with realtors, completed applications for 3 houses and was denied all of them. I complained the entire time until one day I got God involved. I asked him, “Why has my situation not changed?” and he led me to Hebrews 4:10. He said my labors were not to fix my situation but to labor to enter His rest. I told God his “tabs” were broken. I wanted John 14:14. I wanted a “anything I ask in His name and it will be done for me” answer. God said we were getting to that but I was thinking wrong. God revealed to me that I was trying to fix my situation and muster up options that would make me feel more stable. All I was saying aloud was my circumstance. I was constantly complaining and looking for ways to make it better. As soon as Hebrews 4:10 landed in my spirit, I began to see my situation differently. I began to see a way of escape and note the positive. I asked God to put positive words on my lips and to change my outlook. Get this-the situation got better. My prayers became praises and I began to find rest despite dramatic changes to the circumstances. However, I still live in the same space. I want a better space. I know God has better for me.
My colleague (the most dynamic woman I know) shared Isaiah 32:15-20 with me:
Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured
down on us from above (weep and grieve in the flesh, receive blessing by the spirit, not by might)
And the badlands desert grows crops
and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert. (It was unjust that 4 people did not pay me rent.)
Right will build a home in the fertile field. (Righteousness declares that I will be given what the evil one stole.)
And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace
and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood— (Been robbed 4 times where I currently live.)
in safe houses, in quiet gardens. (I can never keep flowers alive on my balcony.)
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut,
the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a blessed life,
planting well-watered fields and gardens,
with your farm animals grazing freely. (I have 2 dogs that deserve a yard to play in.)
God gave me a specific scripture for my situation. God was telling me two things: 1.) Let me turn your complaining into promises. 2.) Let me turn your schemes into visions.
The promise in Isaiah proclaims that I live in undisturbed places of rest. However, I still have another question for God-”How do I believe for this?” He said, “you don’t, it’s who you are.”
My dad and I are chatting. He knows nothing about the house or me plotting to move. He is just talking about what God is showing him and he says, “Brittany, the precious promises of God are yes and amen for your life. God wants you to live in ”a peaceful neighborhood—in safe houses, in quiet gardens…” I stopped him immediately. I said how did you know that scripture? He said, “it’s a sure promise for your life.” It was the same dang scripture. Seems to me God wants to give me John 14:14. He needed me to stop complaining, stop laboring and start accessing my God-given right to the best!
What is our God-given right as followers of Christ? How vast is our birthright, our inheritance? It’s more than what Jesus experienced on Earth as the Son of Man. John 14:12 says, “The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing.” We are carrying on the Father’s mission he started in the Son (John 17:18-19). We are here to reveal the Father, to bring Him glory. What did Jesus say to his mother and father when he was supposedly lost? “I am about my Father’s business.” We are about the Father’s business and we do business the way Jesus did business. We come into the realization of who we are in Christ. We are led by the Way, the Truth and the Life to the Father. The more we understand our identity in Christ, we begin to understand who we are and our purpose. Colossians blatantly defines our connection to Christ by saying in verse 19 of chapter 2: “Christ, who puts us together in one piece, whose very breath and blood flow through us.”
I was confused. I asked God, ” How can we be children of God and ‘in Christ’ at the same time? Either we are one with Christ or we are children.” God answered me immediately and it stunned me. “Brittany, you are to me what Jesus is to me. The same relationship I have to the Son of God seated on my right is the same relationship I have with you.”
Selah.
Stay there a minute. Let that marinate and saturate your spirit. God is saying throughout the New Testament that we are one with Christ. He is literally saying that you are a participant in the relationship between Father and Son. You are to live in that union and your life be a living representation of what that unity creates. When knowing and accessing by faith your birthright, you are entering into the possibility, the reality of a life’s mission that mirrors the life of Christ. Jesus lived it. Proof. You and I can live it too and see “greater works” because he sits at the right hand of the Father with death as His footstool. Every promise, every decree to obey, every dream, every obstacle, every unknown begins and ends in Jesus, the author and finisher, Alpha and Omega.
My life is changed. How did Paul write Colossians in a jail cell and be filled with untold, unspeakable joy? How did Jesus for the joy that was set before Him endure the cross? How do I have joy and expectation for a peaceful neighborhood and a safe house? How do you receive this unspeakable joy and unswerving faith in the midst of a daunting, treacherous situation?
Sit at His feet. Listen to him speak and sing over you. Listen to His heart. Ask him questions. Wait. Listen. Speak. Receive. See!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pieces of Peace

I love to put puzzles together. Geeky hobby, I know. But, I am not ashamed to say I find it fulfilling.

Puzzle How-To:

Step 1:
Choosing the puzzle.
This is the best part. Your puzzle choice depends on two key factors: difficulty and reward. You choose the number of pieces and the design that will be the final product. HUGE decision.

Step 2:
Lay out the pieces, one by one. Sort them into similar patterns, colors or shapes.

Step 3:
Begin framing the puzzle with only end pieces.

Step 4:
Fill in the gaps.

Step 5:
Search for the lost puzzle piece under the table, chair or rug that has inconveniently ruined your perfect picture.

Step 6:
View your masterpiece.

Question: Why would anyone want to subject themselves to this process? It's tedious, cumbersome, frustrating and impossible. When you are staring at 1000 mismatched shapes that swarm your card table, you begin to question your excitement in Step 1. You begin to feel overwhelmed. However, nothing will interrupt your commitment to making all the pieces make sense. You will make it work. You will make sense of the chaos. You will put in the hours, lose the sleep and turn off the cell phone. All for what? The brief 30 seconds you admire the product and then think what to do with it. Who created puzzles, anyway?

But...that moment when you match a piece to another. That moment when the chaos becomes order and it all makes sense. Wow, that's beautiful. It's a moment where you succeeded. You made sense of the disorder and begin to see the big picture. You immediately return to the chaos to find another "matching" piece. You know it's out there. You know this becomes something beautiful. It has to. You look at the cover of the box and believe, hope even, that the irregular shape in your hand has a partner, has a purpose.

You're thinking, "Blah, blah, blah. Ok, I get it. My life is like a puzzle and I need to find my purpose and allow God to make me a beautiful masterpiece. Heard it before."

Look at the word "Masterpiece". Compound word. "Master" and "Piece". There are a lot of pieces to you. A lot of pieces organized into neat piles, processed and identified. There are many pieces of you that are lost under the card table hoping to find their way back. There are many pieces of you that are ready to conform and some that are unwilling to fit. Yet, the pieces all do make sense. Your disconnected, broken places make sense to the "master" of it all. He takes pleasure in your chaos. He marvels at your disarray and delights in the creation of you. No matter how broken you are.

Be at peace tonight that the pieces that comprise the whole of you are beautiful, dynamic and perfect. You are quite a masterpiece. Your purpose is found in the broken, lost places. That is when the Master can put you together. Make perfect sense of it all. Enjoy the process of you. The process to determining "what its all about."

I told me dear friend today that I am a "need to see the big picture" kind of person. I like knowing why, how and when.

You know, I won't see the big picture until I take my last breath or hear the trumpet sound. I might as well enjoy the quiet, miraculous moments when one piece meets another and I begin to know myself, trust myself and love myself a little more. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Change

My conversation with God today...

ME: I want to give up. God, I just want to quit. Please, get me out of this? 

GOD: You don't have to quit.

ME: I did last time and it made me feel better.

GOD: For a moment. 

ME: This one is too hard.

GOD: Do you really want to quit? 

ME: No

GOD: What if I told you that the situation can change?

ME: I would like that very much but how?

GOD: You don't have to quit because you hold the power to change the situation.

ME: Don't you just miraculously change things?

GOD: Yes

ME: So do that...

GOD: I have...in you.

ME: (silence)

GOD: (silence)

ME: For this situation to change, I need people to change. You and I know that is not happening. 

GOD: Then the situation will definitely change.

ME: How?

GOD: Because you will change.

ME: How?

GOD: Through me

ME: (silence)

GOD: This is an opportunity for you to change. When you change the world changes. Let me change you into a person who does not care what people think. This is just one more step on the journey.

ME: The journey to what...

GOD: Knowing me more

ME: That is all I want

GOD: That is all I want

ME: I love you

GOD: I love you more


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weakness

It's 4:13 am. Couldn't sleep.

Events of the day were swarming, robbing me of peace. Each problem was being rehashed in my mind and I would attempt to find a solution or allow the emotion to consume me. After about an hour of this cyclical event, I began to hear the words of an old song:

Think about His love
Think about His goodness
Think about His grace that brought us through
For as high as the heavens above
So great is the measure of our Father's love

These song lyrics invaded my pondering and fears. The reality of His love, goodness and grace transformed me into a new place of faith. He is enough. His love covers a multitude of sin, weaknesses and failures. His grace is sufficient in our weakness. His love changes, alters and secures us in a new place of favor and righteousness despite our failures.

In late September, I was driving home from working out and I felt the spirit of God speak to me as I was driving down the road. I had experienced yet another tough day at work. I have a job that requires a lot of me. It demands more than I knew I had and never relinquishes. I am constantly being faced with new problems that I fail in my own understanding or training to know how to fix. My job requires Jesus every second. I need His grace to deal with people, solve problems, meet deadlines and generate revenue. I make mistakes constantly and I am finding my inability or ineptitude a stumbling block. I want to be brilliant, loved and adored. I want everyone to like me and dote on me. When I am not in constant favor, I wear it as a shroud and crumble at the pressure. I take it too seriously and spend too much time lamenting my failure. So, here I am trying to process yet another failure at work and God tells me to record my voice on my iPhone.

At 9:08 pm on Sept. 27, 2012, God spoke these words to me:
"I delight in what I can't change. I delight in what I can't see. I delight in what I can't fix because I can't get in the way. I can't make my way. I can only trust in the way, the truth, the life."

At 9:10, I recorded the next phase of revelation:
"I delight in what I don't know. I take pleasure in my weakness. I revel in my faults. It's ok that I don't know. It's ok that I need to learn and ask questions. It's ok that I make mistakes. Because I will grow, evolve, and expand. I will build relationships in the process. I will be truthful, vulnerable, honest and open. In the end, I will be different and my world will be different around me. The people I know will be better for it. It's ok that I don't know because I delight in my weakness. In my weakness, God is His strongest. He takes pleasure in what I cannot do and He becomes what I cannot be. So, the weaker I am, the stronger I am. I delight in my weakness."

At 9:14, God finishes His thought:
"The change I want to see in this world starts with me. It starts with my decisions to walk in integrity. The world is not impressed with my good behavior, my abstaining from sin. What makes change happen, what opens eyes, what gets people to pay attention is when people, in the heat of battle, choose to walk in love. When our flesh rises and wants to defend or retaliate, we choose love. We choose to put the other person before ourselves. Our need to prove and flaunt is swallowed in the necessity to love. This is what changes hearts. When we seek to be better at all costs or when we take responsibility for our actions, we are walking in love. When we take criticism or reach out to others to offer our services as a gift, we walk in love. A leader is a servant. A Christian leader is someone who trusts God to be their everything in the heat of the moment. Even when warring, demanding or battling seems the best way to "win", God's way is always love. It is to wait, surrender, let go and watch Him be integrity for you. That is strength in your weakness. That is shutting up and not settling for your flesh to rule but allowing your spirit to WIN."

I listened to these words today with my dear friend Aleasha and allowed them to wash over me. They literally wiped the tears from my eyes and became a warm blanket of truth that reached into my innermost and rearranged me. My mind was renewed to the reality that weakness is beautiful and precious to God. It allows Him to be the King and savior of our lives. He gets to be daddy. He gets to repair and bind our broken heart. He gets to create in us renewed vigor and strength to continue. He leads us into a new capacity of faith and action that transcends our abilities, strengths and talents. He becomes what we cannot be in all capacities. He becomes an interchange with a client or meets an impossible deadline. He becomes the fight with the spouse, the lawsuit, the tough chat with a family member, friend or co-worker. He becomes a strategy to get out of debt or gifts you with a long awaited prayer request. Today, I learned to celebrate my failure; to relish my inability. I get to allow my Father to create in me a new reality. I get to be changed from the inside-out. That change will empower those around me. As I am changed, my world changes. Those around me see that my change is not because of my holiness or efforts but simply the result of a God who loves me enough to change me.

Weakness is not an embarrassment or something that needs to be hid. It is meant to be celebrated and shared because Jesus is glorified. He gets to be the God who created the universe. Creator God gets to create in me a new woman of faith, accomplishment and vision.

Today, I immediately felt as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. I was fighting today. I felt paralyzed by my failure. Here is a recap of what God spoke to Paul following several requests for the "thorn in the flesh" to be removed:

9. But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
10. So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength).
Paul was struggling. He was wrestling with anguish and despair or dare I say, depression. Maybe he was afflicted with a sickness. The thorn is not specified but we know that it was an attack that can be likened to attacks we feel daily. Events arise from either outside forces or from our own doings, yet they mean to kill, steal and destroy. However, in the midst of this painful attack and Paul's constant pleas for rescue, God replies "My grace is sufficient." God did not want Paul to wallow in His suffering and take it like a man. God wanted to infuse Paul with a renewed sense of strength, ability and power to do more than ever before. His weakness is only an opportunity to be more dynamic and effective. The weaker I am, the less I try to make my way of escape. God is glorified as I am strengthened by His grace. I am then changed and brought to a new level of ability. Now, I can glory in what I cannot change, do or fix. I can glory in what I do not know. It's a chance to see His grace interrupt my wallowing and place my feet on solid ground. He works in me a new reality. 
God does not ask us to revel in our depravity but receive Him as our escape, our sufficiency. Trouble, weakness or failure is to be relished because we will see God be explosive. I welcome Him, I invite Him into my failure. When a thorn buffets your flesh, God wants to turn your eyes from your trouble to our savior who conquered death with the phrase "It is finished."
Here is my prayer. Feel free to adopt it as your own.
God, I failed today. I hurt today. I made a lot of mistakes. I need you to be what I cannot be. I need you to help me to forgive myself and give me joy. I need you to tell me, show me your love. Help me to love myself. Help me to love you. I want your love to change me. Make me into who you want me to be. I need you more than ever before. I cannot do this life one more second without you. Your strength is perfected in my weakness. I exchange my way of doing for your way of done. Fix this mess I made and put me back on solid ground. I love you Jesus. Wrap your arms around me. Make me new. 
Think about His love. Think about His goodness. You are meant to lavishly abound in God's grace. Lift your head to the hills. Your help comes from above. He is the lifter of your head. God is for you. Receive His love. Let it change you.
Great is the measure of our Father's love.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Struggle

I am in a battle. 

When I was in high school, I read a lot of historical novels that dealt with the Civil War. I have no idea why I was fascinated by that era or why I found that content engaging. Yet, I read and allowed myself to picture the smoke covered hills of Gettysburg and smell the stench of death wafting from the tired paperback. I heard the agonized cries of anguish, dying soldiers cut through the darkness as I turned each page. The reality of war is unconscionable and paralyzes me to think that men looked at death's face and continued to fight. It astounds me. 

Yet, we are all fighting a battle right now. A battle that leaves us wounded and alone. We sometimes have blind courage while other days we lack the ability to get out of bed for fear of the unknown. I have fought many battles and won but this fight seems different. It feels like the stakes are higher. It feels that this is the battle that will claim victory over the war. 

I have always believed that to change you must change the way you think. 

I am vigorously attacking the word of God, trying to make sense of my situation and make a way of escape. I feel I must do something to overcome my situation. Force myself into a new way of thinking. What do I need to "do" differently? What do I need to change about myself? 

I need to know now and I need to know quick. I am in the midst of battle and I can't find my weapon to attack the oncoming enemy.

God is calling me into a new way of thinking about him. A new place of trust. He is asking me to live by faith. I don't think I have ever known what that means nor (honestly) ever wanted to. Why can't I live to make more money? I know the formula. I work harder and I get paid more. What about living for my spouse? What if I live for others? That seems pretty selfless. Honestly, I have been trying to put a plan together for my life and it is coming down to one fact. Live by faith and lose your life. 

Do I need to quit my job? Do I need to have no need for income and trust that my bills are paid by God and not my boss? What do I need to "do" to live by faith?

Every time God propels me into a new understanding, I ask what I need to "do" to get there. Any time a bad situation arises and I am seriously in trouble with someone, work or financially, I ask what I need to "do" to fix it. I am literally realizing this as I am typing. 

But, I hear my spirit becoming excited. I hear God in me saying, "Now, we are getting somewhere. Now, I am going to get a chance to really show you who I am."

My spirit knows that the battle is won and my fight is over. My flesh thinks I need to "do" more to get there. The flesh invites me into a need to please and forfeits the grace that is found only in Christ. I remove Christ when I say I can "do" to get there. 

I have no control. No control over the outcome of my life. I can take back my life but why did I invite Him in when I was a little girl just to say I am boss. Thanks for saving me from hell but I got this. I can be spiritual, holy, prosperous and successful without you.

I am in real trouble. All I want to do is strategize an escape route and God has me doing the opposite. I have been painting pumpkins, listening to preaching podcasts and taking a full lunch break. I am not figuring a way of escape right now. Right now, my feet are propped on the coffee table and  I am writing a blog. How stupid. I am really in trouble and I am not doing anything to fix it. All I am hearing God say to "do" is rest. How can I rest? I can't pay my bills. Here is the worst thought I am having, "I should be further along than this". That is a like a shot to the heart. That one is keeping me tightly bound in feelings of failure and loss. 

Why is living in Father so different from the world?

I cried out to God today as I was eating my frozen yogurt (which I am not supposed to eat on my diet) and said to God with tears of frustration streaming down my face, "All I want to do is live in you. That is all I want." The world pressures you into conformity. It pressures you into ideals. I think I need to be the following:

Thinner
Richer
Better person morally

I will be happier when I am thinner, richer, and do the right thing. I need my events in my life to be more fulfilling and I need more accolades to be successful. I need to do more to get more so this void will leave. 

I get people. I get why they just stop trying to lose weight or stay in a job they hate. I get why they just say "screw it." The main thing I see in people is that they just focus on one or two things and give up on the rest. It's exhausting. Think about it. In one day, you are supposed to eat healthy, exercise, work an 8-10 hour day, spend time with friends and family, spend an hour on yourself, and include God in all you do. That has to happen in the 14-16 hours we are awake. We feel a strong unction to do this regimen of perfection every day for the rest of our lives. That is impossible. How can we juggle all these important tasks and maintain healthy, moral choices in our own ability? 

We all think we must do these things and not fail. That lasts about 3 days and then we get tired of trying. We quit and hate ourselves for failing. We chase our tails trying to measure up to ideals. I asked myself if I really wanted to be thinner and richer. I asked myself what I really wanted out of life. It was a hard question to answer. I still haven't answered it. In all honesty, I would like to lose a few pounds but I actually like my weight right now. I could be a lot thinner but I am kind of content. OMG! Does that make me lazy? 

I would love to be richer but is that really what I want right now. If I got it would I be fulfilled. Ever long for something unattainable, a few months or years pass and you receive the unattainable. There you are with everything you wanted and there is something else you want. 

I watched that Katy Perry movie. I know. Don't say anything. It was free and I was bored at 11:00 on a friday night. It chronicles her year of utter explosion as a pop star and yet she fights through intense sadness as she loses Russell Brand. It was startling to me that she could not perform to 10's of thousands screaming her name because of the hurt inside her heart. She had it all and yet her commitment to love until "death do you part" was crumbling. She had it all. How could she be depressed? I can't imagine that type of success. She was experiencing what only 1% of humanity get to experience and she still had daily hurts and anxieties that needed ministry. 

No matter where we are circumstantially, we need the spirit of God to minister to us. Whether we are rich, poor, fat, thin, successful or unemployed, we need Jesus to minister to our hurts, fears and loneliness. It's the emotions that are stirred from the events that require His love and constant ministry.

What if we could live in a place where circumstances fail to vary our faith and we are comfortable in the uncertainty of living? We are comfortable with our financial status and see God move miraculously on our behalf. I can't change people and I can't change my circumstance. However, I can know God on such an intimate level that He becomes my faith, my certainty that all my needs are met. God is bringing me to a reality that basks continually in the knowing that I am beautiful and wealthy. God is my source of self-esteem and provision. As certain as the sun rises, he performs on my behalf and gives me profound blessing. 

I was walking on the beach earlier and God said very clearly, "I do. I do it all."

Ever since I had been awakened by God's love, I have gone through an evolution of refusing to do more to fix my life. God took the "do" out of our relationship. I know I don't have to pray, read his Bible or tithe more to get God to love me. He took the "do" out of going to church. He took the "do" out of believing God for victory in relationships and removed the need to fix people. Now, he is taking the "do" out of needing to fix my financial circumstances. 

I am realizing that the struggle I am in is not the circumstance but the unwillingness to allow God to will and do of His good pleasure in me. I feel it irresponsible to spend time with people, craft or get on Facebook when I am in the financial trouble I am in. 

I feel the spirit of God saying to me: You thought you knew how much I loved you. Now, see how lavish and reckless my love is for you!

That is all I know and that is all I need to know. I know in Him, the struggle is over. All I can do is surrender and watch him do in me a new work. He gives me the ability to trust him. I don't have to make a decision or do something drastic to prove my trust. I just surrender and tell God my struggle. He tells me "it is finished" and I get to play while daddy fixes it. 

Irresponsible? No, just a child who loves her daddy and believes He loves me enough to fix it. 

Miracles await.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

My Place Called There

Life is hard moment to moment. I am talking about those moments on a Monday morning when you can't even open your eyes until the second cup of coffee or Thursday night when you have a big deadline and no one is at the office but you. There are wonderful, amazing moments. Saying "I do" or looking at the scale and its 5 pounds less than last time or watching the sunset because it was impossible to look away because of its majestic wonder. Life connects wonderful moments that we remember and cherish. However, sometimes the daily grind of life can be exhausting, grueling and downright overwhelming. It's in these moments that we think "pull it together", "get over it" or "why did I do that?" We blame ourselves for not being on top of it or handling it better. We take on the pressure of the moment or accept anxiety. We yell back in anger or refuse to let it go. We stress. We gripe and complain. We think we fail God in our flesh and then we accept guilt for not being more together, more spiritual. Then we fake it and act like we got it together, which in my case, has not done anything but exacerbate my anxiety, stress and fatigue.

We react to life as any human is created to do and then we punish ourselves for not being more together like "so and so" or "what's his face".

Don't you think that God knew that we would follow this cycle each moment of every day? Don't you think that when he loved the world so much he gave his one and only son that He did not consider you enduring life's trivial moments? Like when you are in traffic 15 minutes late for a huge client meeting or when you are looking at your bank account and you see a negative in front of the balance. When He was on the cross, He was thinking of the monotonous, chaos of daily life that would be our downfall. Why do we not access what is ours and take a stand against anxiety, stress and fatigue? Don't you think his grace is sufficient for the chaos of life?

I always think that "if I just get a better job or make more money or get married or get a new outfit, I will not feel this way." I really think that one day I will not feel stress. That something external will change my internal. I am doomed before I take my first step.

What if the design was not attaining a certain goal but attaining a certain identity?

We are always wanting more...better cars, bigger house, more education, etc. We are taught to pursue. What we attain is our identity, our purpose. We do it for 30 years and we spend retirement reflecting on the pursuit. Yet, in retirement, you are still living, loving and thriving. Just because there are more wrinkles and more visits to the doctor does not mean that you stop wanting that place called there. That place of peace and purpose where you are content, whole and satisfied. The external will never guarantee that peace.

How many of you attain a goal and then your immediate thought is the next pursuit? You will always want more and you are created that way. What if our design was not to pursue but to receive? To embrace and settle, not demand and attack. We pursue constantly in our day to day doings but what are we stressing about? What are we worrying over?

What if we could pursue our goals and build relationship in perfect peace? Our place called there is in Him, where perfect peace is the only way of thinking.

Crazy, impossible thought, right? Living in perfect peace in the middle of getting fired or losing a loved one or watching your house go into foreclosure? Are you kidding me? Perfect peace in the middle of a divorce or saying goodbye to a pet? Sorry, but no thanks.  Life is hard and the only way to get through it is to endure until heaven says c'mon.

True.

But...what if life could be about peace and rest in the middle of life's storms? Jesus said, waking from a deep slumber, "Peace, Be still" to a hurricane. Maybe it was a Category 1 or a repeat of Katrina. Who knows? The threat was eminent and Jesus' only response to a sinking ship was three tiny words.

Your confession is the gateway to peace. Make a trade. The blood of Jesus gave you this entry into peace. Open your mouth. Staying quiet would have drowned the Son of God and his followers. Don't drown in stress and worry. Speak and know who is speaking through you.

Here is a quick phrase: Lord, I make an exchange for my doubt for your faith.

Plug in anything you need:
Lies for truth
beauty for ashes
lack for wealth
wholeness for brokenness
favor for ruined reputation
joy for pain
light for darkness
peace for stress
peace for anxiety
peace for depression
strength for weakness

This is the work of the cross. Speaking those things that be not as though they were. Declaring who you are despite the moments of life telling you a different feeling.

Your feelings are real but make an exchange for a place called there. A place of peace that is constant 24/7/365. We are meant to do greater things than these. These greater things are accomplished in knowing who you are and what is your rightful place as a child of God. You are not meant to feel depraved or ruined. You are not meant to feel broken or lost. You are meant to be a stand-out, a dynamic leader who thrives and overcomes. You are allowed to cry and vent. You are meant to be human. You can cry, laugh or scream. The moment these feelings become your identity, the moment the stress or fear dictate your personality and your choices is the moment an exchange is the only answer. There is nothing wrong with feeling. Feel and enjoy the moment. If you feel guilty for being human, make an exchange of that guilt for his righteousness. 

Talk it out to walk it out. Don't try and make yourself anything. Receive who you are in Christ and accept nothing else. Let the Lord love you. Let him grace you with who He is.









Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Other Side

Whew! The last few weeks have taken my breath away. In the last four weeks I have let go. I have surrendered. I have failed. I have cried. I have laughed. This is what happens when you choose to be free. It can be terrifying and blissful. I wasn't happy and it was time to change that.

Ever feel like that? Ever feel that if you don't change something, you are going to lose yourself or worse stop dreaming. Life was becoming habitual and mediocre. In simplest form, it was wrong. I was not living the life I was meant to live. It was easy and comfortable but in no way fulfilling.

Ever been in the wrong relationship or the wrong job and realize "this is not who I am". If I don't let go, I will lose myself. Sometimes salvaging who you were created to be is worth the risk. Sure, if you quit your job, you won't have an income. If you break off that relationship, you will be lonely.

Are we staying in the wrong job or wrong relationship because we think God is not big enough to be our income and interrupt our loneliness? Do we settle for mediocre because we think we will fail? Of course, we will fail. We will utterly crash and burn...without Jesus. But, who lives on the inside of us? Who breathes a new reality, a new hope into our being? Who whispers our dreams? What voice is ALWAYS contradicting our insecurity and fear? That is the voice of truth telling you a different story. The voice of truth that says do not be afraid. Out of all the voices calling out your name, choose to listen to the voice of truth.

FOLLOW THE HUNGER!

Your appetite for more is swelling within you. Your taste buds are desperately craving more.

If fear is your only obstacle, then you have nothing to fear. Power, love and a sound mind are your guide. Jesus destroyed, utterly annihilated fear at the cross. It has no place or power over your life. The anointed one and his anointing, Christ, lives within you beckoning you to a new reality of living in the kingdom and watching Him work in you.

The will of God is simple. It's that dream within you that puts you to bed and wakes you for another day. It's that constant thought that keeps you breathing. You seem to only be existing because that dream might be possible one day. In the meantime, you are busily serving a life that offers you no joy or life. If you have no dream or thought that intoxicates, you really have been in the wrong place for too long.

Jesus wants you to love your job and love your relationships. Trust me, if those two things are not in order than you are not happy. You can't be. Commitment is a real problem for most of us. We are forced to be committed to a job and a significant other. When we are committed to the wrong person and the wrong job, we will begin to self-destruct. You know why you will self-destruct? It all begins with Jesus. Who we are IS Jesus. That is who we are as children of God. We receive Jesus as our way, truth and life. Our path to the Father. God sees His son when He sees us. When we are committed to something that is stifling our true nature in Christ, we will begin to deteriorate and wonder why we are not happy. We will try to change ourselves and modify to make a wrong relationship or wrong job work. You will tire quickly and grow extremely bitter because you are trying to do something in your own efforts to fix your life.

You cannot walk away from a wrong job or wrong relationship by yourself just because you are unhappy. That is why men and women are unfaithful or why someone doesn't have money to pay their bills after walking out on the boss.

Be still and know that He is God. Wait and allow him to lift you on the wings of eagles as you let go from your way of doing to His way of done. Receive His ability to do the impossible. Letting go is slow. You have to grow and refuse to do it yourself. It is a process of receiving strength for your weakness and loving people when it is impossible. The reason why you are hating your job or wanting a way out of a wrong relationship is because you are not seeing that job or that person as Christ sees them. So, two things will happen, as you begin to see Christ in your relationship and in your co-workers you will either forgive and release them or forgive and change yourself. God rescues people all the time without removing them. He just changes them from the inside and they begin to love their spouse again or their job. He also rescues by removing and taking them from the pit to the palace.

Many of you are staying because you feel that it is your duty. Why would God make you do something that you hate and tell you it is your duty. Your duty is to love and be loved. Jesus loves through us. God wants you to be happy. Stop being religious when it comes to your happiness. Living in Him is only joy and when it becomes duty it becomes a prison.

You cannot make that decision to leave or to stay. You will fail at the decision and all will fall apart because you tried to make a decision when you had no right. You have no right to your life. It was freely given. Receive His abundant life to make the decision for you. If you feel like you need to make a decision, by all means, don't. It will only cause you failure. Making the right decision always happens before you realized it happened. Most of the wrong decisions in your life were because you thought you were doing the right thing but in reality you were only doing it because it seemed right not because peace made the decision for you.

Colossians 3:15 says this from the Amplified Bible: "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts (deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state) to which as [members of Christ's] body you were also called [to live]."

There it is. God talks through peace. Peace is God saying "yes" and no peace is God saying "wait". God took the confusion out of life at the cross. It's in His son. You can trust yourself because who you are is Christ.

The grass is greener on the other side. We were promised a land flowing with milk and honey. Caleb and Joshua were not scared of the Philistines and Amorites in the land. They knew they could take the land. They knew God had defeated their foe. They knew it was a done deal.

Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Broken

Read a book. James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. I am different for having read it. Even if the book made Oprah mad. It taught me. It was a textbook that made the world more sensible yet chaotic at the same time. It scared me and shocked me and disturbed while it soothed and quieted my soul. If I never meet James Frey face to face, I know him. I know him because he is all of us. A man who fought and sometimes won and sometimes lost. When he lost, he lost big. To us, his addiction cost him his sanity, security and sense but to him it was survival.

I think the more we screw up, the less we have to lose so we keep screwing up. The moment love enters the picture, the stakes get high and we are at a crossroads. One arrow points to change, the other to death. The guy holding the signs is an old, familiar friend who has been waiting, waiting on your realization. The awareness that your day of reckoning was on its way, it was inevitable. It will hit you fast and hard. You know that Voice. It's that part of you that is always opposing the wrong you do, that familiar Voice. The Voice that quietly speaks. Some of you stopped hearing it decades ago. Your sensitivity and awareness of Truth within you has been drowned in bad decisions, fear and shame. That Voice never left and never stopped speaking. It's just that the "Fury" in you was louder. The shame and self-hatred's rage drowned the Truth.

When I read Frey's "thanks page" I cried. The horror of Frey's life and his actions didn't make me cry until I read who helped him. Those that loved him when he didn't love himself. Those that saw the Truth within Him and forgave and saved. 

As I held the book close, I thought about the broken, the lost and lonely. I felt their plea and their plight. It broke my heart. 

On St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, I was surrounded by revelry and mayhem. Some were innocently watching the festivities with their families while others were abusing it. It was an event that drew all and those that wanted release for just one day suffered for their cause. One in particular, one sight specifically, has haunted me. I saw the broken-up close and personal-and it haunted me. I thought of James and Roy and Leonard and Miles and Lilly. I realized I was watching true, unadulterated suffering in its most tragic form and I could do nothing. He was a man of 22 or 27 (his face was so marred that I really couldn't tell). He was sitting on a parking tile with a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper in one hand and a handle of Whiskey in the other. He was alone. His only objective was to get one sip of Whiskey and chase it with Dr. Pepper. He was unsuccessful. He could not find his mouth and he fell quickly against the pavement spilling his precious liquid. He was so battered and swollen, not from a fight but from his own stumbling and disillusionment. Everyone surrounding him did not watch in horror but with reckless beguiling and laughter. He was a nuisance that was embarrassing himself and providing wonderful entertainment to the passerby's. I stopped and gawked myself, a simple Christian girl seeing something she had never seen. My naiveté was blatant and nauseating.

I have never seen the inside of a crack house or whore house or jail house. I have seen the aftermath of these perilous behaviors but never seen them in real time. I wanted to go to him and save him and be the Good Samaritan that I knew I could be but instead I kept walking. I passed him by as we all did, just like the Priest and the Levite in the story. Yes. It was obvious. He had done it to himself but maybe that didn't/shouldn't matter. He was my neighbor and he needed me.

What could I have done? I am a 28 year old female who can barely lift my couch when I need to vacuum the floor but what do I have? I have a heart that breaks for you. A heart that weeps for you. 

His memory, him wasting away on the street haunted me the entire day. That night, my boyfriend Jason and I were watching March Madness and I was memorizing my words to the kids for church and I had to stop. I looked over at Jason who was yelling at VCU and Indiana and asked him if we could pray. He smirked. He put out his hand. I know what he is thinking or...maybe I don't. He says, "Absolutely." I pray for that son or brother or husband or nephew or grandson who was withering away on the street. I cry for him and I ask God to give him a bed and blanket and heat for the night because I knew it was getting colder. I prayed that someone who could would love him and remind him not to hate himself. I wanted him to know Love, real perfect love that cast out fear and saves. I said Amen and I went back to my task of memorizing.

I may have passed him by but I will never forget what He taught me. He taught me to never dismiss the broken.

I thought of the blind beggar in the Bible who was begging for the Messiah. The nuisance on the street who all ignored, even the disciples. I thought of the woman with the issue of blood and the woman caught in adultery. I thought of the demon possessed man and the man who laid beside the pool of Bethesda for decades. I thought of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof and the rich young ruler and the ten lepers and those that cried "crucify Him!" I thought of the lame and the deaf and the dumb and the stupid and the irresponsible and the fool and the thief and the liar and the whore. I thought of the sinner. The broken and the lost imprisoned by their pain. Whether self-inflicted or victims of fate, they are enslaved by their circumstance and Jesus never passed them by. The only time he passed them by is when He was carrying their shame and guilt and mistakes and failures on an old, splintered cross that bore into His flesh and marred His frame, breaking him and ruining Him. He was scarred by harm and addiction and anger as He was hammered to wood left to die. As the darkness ensued, and the light left, He forgave and took it. He endured without blame or anger or resentment. He accepted and submitted to the fate of all our mistakes. All our stupidity and failure. He did it because You and I matter. Our lives matter and our futures matter. He wants us to love like that. Love our neighbor as ourself and forget the past. It hangs on a tree. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He died knowing we would fail over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. We would disgrace His name and His death. We would ignore it and spit on it and come back and ask for more. His answer is a smile and an outstretched hand that is marred with scars the size of a 9" nail. 

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement, our need to obtain peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes that wounded Him, we are healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:5

Jesus never passes you by. He never refuses His love no matter how many times you need it. 

I need it. I need it every second. I fail continually, say the wrong thing, judge another and speak without regard. I need Him. I shed my shame for His peace. I am made whole with blood that spilled so that it can cover and heal. Whether I am a victim or a initiator of my own demise, I submit to a God who IS love. 

If you believe in love than you believe in God. God is Love. 1 John 4:16. 

I cried today for the broken and the lost. I cried for you because you are loved. Crazy loved. I sang these words to Jesus as I cried...

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdoms cause
As I go from nothing to Eternity

I sang them over you. If you are lost or broken or searching, these words are sung for you. If you don't have the strength to sing or speak, know that there is a God who sings for you and is waiting to rescue.  holding that sign that says "change" or "die". Choose love. It will change you.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

The New Normal

I marvel at calm, demure people. Those people that seem to never be flustered or unaltered emotionally in intense, frustrating situations. I, myself, lack those endearing qualities and tend to react irrationally in frustrating situations. I am sometimes more like the Jesus who took the whip through the temple than the Jesus who simply walked away from the Pharisees that wanted to stone Him. At the end of the day when you are rehashing the events of the day and your involvement in its success or demise, it's tough to admit that Jesus still lives in you and loves you. Even when you do right and everyone you know celebrates you and your amazingness, it really is Jesus who did that through you too. 


Colossians 1:27-29 in The Message says this:
"The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me."


There are so many wonderful truths deeply submerged in this text. I am attempting to reveal but a few that will prove how beautiful and wonderful we are even when we are our worst.


I agree Eugene Peterson, it is common sense. We are Christ. We are mature beings, capable and kind people who desire to do right. That is who we are. Here is the best part...even when we fail...miserably...and appall even ourselves, God still lives in us and is beckoning us to a more mature life. I love what Paul says "with the energy God so GENEROUSLY gives me." Hallelujah. God gives me the energy to be better next time. It is God who lives in me even when I ignore Him and fail. It is God who wants me to share in His glory and daily require Him to bring me into an even better version of myself. 


When you are totaling all your wrongs at the end of the day, interrupt your self-deprecation with "Christ in me, the hope of glory." Allow God to interrupt your failure with His glory. Allow him to generously give you the strength to believe you can be better. 


One lesson I learned in the last three weeks is in Romans 12:18. The verse says. "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." How hard is this. My mom used to say, "This world would be a lot easier if there wasn't people on it." Sometimes you just want to fix your problems by blaming others or eradicating your opponent from your daily interactions. All of those desires are contrary to the word. "As far as it depends on you" forgive, let go, move on, and love. In order to accomplish this feat, you must receive God's strength. He is giving it out generously and all you need to do is make a simple request. 


Why is it that the Bible, the Word of God, is contrary to real life? When someone makes you angry, you want to tell them off. When your dog pees on the carpet, you want to back-hand it. When your spouse refuses to do the dishes, you want to storm into the bedroom and give the cold-shoulder. Satisfying our wants is our first instinct, our natural reaction. It's normal to be angry and react irrationally. We are human after all. It's not normal to bless those who curse you or not repay evil for evil. It's human nature to exact revenge. 


God calls us to a new normal. God's word is contrary to our flesh but to Him we are spirit beings created in His son. He sees us as mature, complete and entire. He sees us as He sees His son Jesus. We are complete in Jesus. Everything we want to be and need to be is found in Jesus. He calls us to a new normal, a new place of existence.


The new normal is not caring what people think. It's loving your enemies. Refusing to fix people and demanding the last word. It's denying yourself and living for others. It refuses to seek its own way and always let's others win. It's giving up your parking space or letting your child win checkers. It's paying someone's meal behind you in the drive -thru. It's refusing to defend yourself even when you have EVERY right. It listens. It supports. The new normal is comfortable in being behind the scenes and takes pleasure in someone taking the credit. The new normal will caterpault you to a place of leadership but you will only see yourself as a servant. Your greatest desire is for others even your haters to find success. You will lose the need to refute or prove your innocence. You will simply continue loving selflessly as you rise to prominence. Your newfound place of command is only meant for the other. It is not meant for your renown or reputation. It is simply a place of position where you die daily to live. The new normal is a life of unconditional love for all...even those who seek your downfall. Because in their attempts to destroy they will find their rescue. The new normal fails to follow the system.  God's system defies your normal. Pay little attention to those who will choose to resist. Stay true to truth. Love prevails.


The new normal invites those around you to be better. When you begin to love yourself unconditionally, you will begin to love others without conditions. They will become unconditional lovers of others and begin to spread the love. When we are loved unconditionally, we THRIVE!



It is time to thrive in the new normal and expect God to give you the strength to be the best you possible. 

This is why being a Christian is so awesome.