Tuesday, April 28, 2009

p e r f e c t i o n


I just want to preface what I’m about to write by saying that God is asking me to share what’s on my heart.
Not because I’ve got it all figured out – I don’t.
Not because I’m incredibly eloquent – I’m not.
I would MUCH rather wait until I’m a little bit further on in my journey, but the Lord is asking me to share now…while I’m still messy…and have just as many questions as I do “answers”.
So please bear with me, it’s not going to be anything earth-shattering. But maybe what I’m going through will speak to just one person…and they will seek God…and they will ask Him to heal their heart the way I’m asking Him to heal mine. And that’s good enough for me.

Okay.

God has been doing a HUGE work in my heart in regards to PERFECTIONISM.

He has been showing me that, all my life, I have had an underlying belief system that “in order to be loved…I needed to be perfect”.
{By the way, I do not believe that this is the result of the way I was raised, or any other easily identifiable area – that’s not the point}
The point is, I have been asking Him to sift me, and expose areas in my heart that He wants to heal…and this is one area that He has made very clear that He wants to heal.

Of course, just like any false belief system, it didn’t just apply to me.
Unfortunately, if I required “perfection” of myself…I also had an underlying expectation for everyone else to be perfect too...
for crying out loud, if I was going to beat myself up daily for not being perfect, nobody else was gettin’ off the hook!

We all “know” that no human is perfect. But I guess that never stopped me from trying (I’m always up for a good challenge!).
To make matters worse, if everything came together at a particular time, and I was actually successful in “looking like I had it all together”…well, that just fueled my fire...
Sure enough”, I thought, “people like me sooooo much more when they don’t see my flaws, so I’m gonna have to try even harder to make sure that I don’t let them down.”

Oh, the weight of that is so heavy…way too heavy.

That desire for “perfection” has just led to all kinds of frustration & dissapointment with myself…and everybody else!
And when I am frustrated & dissapointed with people, it’s really hard to love them the way God asks me to.

Mark 12:28-31
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
There is no commandment greater than these."


A lightbulb went off for me, not too long ago, when my pastor was talking and said, “If you say you love God, but you ‘just can’t stand people’…something is wrong!”
Ouch!
Here we go.
I can feel a sifting coming on.

1 John 4:19-20
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.

I can absolutely see the danger in not loving others…and I really, really want to love them…but it’s so hard when they drive me nuts!

The Lord has been showing me that when I have been operating under a particular belief system all my life, it’s only through Him that I can get free from it!

In my own human strength, it’s just not possible.

The good news is that when I earnestly seek Him in prayer. And ask Him to change my heart. To soften me up and help me love people the way He would have me love them. Well, I know that He can…and He will!
How do I know?
Because He says so in the Bible.

1 John 5:14-15
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

There is not a doubt in my mind that He will answer this prayer of mine…because I KNOW that it IS “in accordance to His will”.

Sometimes I pray about stuff, and ask the Lord for something, but I don’t know for sure that it is His will. And that’s okay, that shouldn’t keep me from going to Him in prayer and asking.
However, this time, I am confident that what I’m asking for is His will…because He has commanded me to love other people. And if I can’t do it in my own strength, then I KNOW that He will help me…I just need to cooperate with Him!

So I’m excited. Excited that the Lord is freeing me up from “the need to be perfect”…and from expecting others to be perfect too!

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. THE ONE WHO CALLS YOU IS FAITHFUL AND HE WILL DO IT.”


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

an incredible weekend


I spent the weekend in Portland, Oregon at a Beth Moore - Living Proof Live event. I have so much that I want to share about it, but I am still processing.

All I can say right now is that it rocked my world!

It was INCREDIBLE!

The Holy Spirit fell so heavy on that Rose Garden Coliseum it wasn’t even funny!

The Lord spoke straight to the hearts of over 7000 women in ways that will leave them forever changed. I am pretty sure that every single woman there felt like the message that Beth Moore brought was “just for her”…I know I did!

Here is a slideshow that Beth Moore posted to her blog yesterday. (You might need to pause it to allow it to load for a few minutes, and then come back to watch it - it will play smoothly without stopping this way :)

(If you pay attention at the 5 minute 45 second point, you’ll see a picture of me with the sweet group of ladies I went with from my church. I was SO excited to see that we were in the slideshow!)



{The Lord reminded me this morning that PICTURES are one of *my* love languages. He let me come away from this very special weekend with a picture…and I was actually IN it this time!}

Okay, and I just have to share this song with you that we sang more than once at the conference. It is now officially my all-time-favorite song (that happens to be a very big deal)! Travis Cottrell and the rest of the worship team did an amazing job with this song…seriously…they were rockin’ that coliseum!!


I came home singing this song and I haven’t stopped. My little Isabelle is hooked on it now too.
A couple times a day we just crank it up and DANCE…oh ya…it’s a sight to see!
Our boys think we’re a little crazy…but we don’t care!!
Get out of our way when we’re worshippin’ Jesus!!

“Take the shackles off my feet
So I can dance
I just wanna praise You
I just wanna praise You
You broke the chains
Now I can lift my hands
And I´m gonna praise You
I’m gonna praise You”

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Am Second


I ran across an INCREDIBLE website today, and I wanted to share it with you.

It is called I Am Second.


So far, I’ve listened to the testimonies of Ashley, Brian Welch (from Korn) and Jason Castro (my all-time favorite American Idol…oh ya!!) – every single one made me cry. I'm excited to watch the rest!

One of the tabs at the bottom of the page is called “Struggles”.
When you click on it, it brings up a list of struggles that the individuals featured have dealt with (pride, sex addiction, selfishness, etc.). When you click on one of the “struggles”, it then brings up the video testimonies to choose from.

Here are some direct links to videos that do a wonderful job of answering some very important questions:

How can I become second?

Who is first?

More questions - This is a list of commonly asked questions about Christianity with answers in video or written form – I like the videos best! :)

Everything I’ve listened to lines up directly with what the Bible says…VERY important!!

Anyway, when you have time, you should check it out. Go listen to what they have to say about “being second”.

Good Stuff!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

the pearl necklace


A cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.

"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face.

"A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.

On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story.

One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess-- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And, when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace.
With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of beautiful genuine pearls.

He had had them all the time.

He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.

~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

birthday boy

Today is my sweet Austin's 12th birthday.

We celebrated his birthday a little early, on Easter Sunday, with family. It was lots of fun!

Austin was thrilled to get the "airsoft gun of his dreams" and, as you can see below, he put it to good use right away!

video

Of course, he had to get his camo Army jacket on first to make the whole thing much more realistic!

I just love this video. It seems to sum up Austin so well. He looks so tough with the Army gear & gun, but when that smile breaks across his face...all I can see is little boy (shhh...don't tell him I said that)!

Austin is rough, tough & "manly" on the exterior.

But, on the inside, he is just a big teddy bear.

He loves to laugh. He loves his family. He loves his little sister - and sometimes he'll even come home early from playing with friends because he knows she is wanting to play with him too. He loves hanging out with his dad, and learning what it looks like to be a Godly man. He always tells me he loves me...even in front of his friends! If we're texting back and forth, his last text to me is always "love u". He is friends with everybody.

But most importantly, he loves Jesus.

I don't know how the Lord is going to use Austin's life, but I am certain, it's going to be powerful!


(By the way, I feel the need to apologize for the poor quality picture. I was using my point-n-shoot that can take video too...so it's worth the cruddy pictures sometimes!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

conversation with death

I ran across this “Conversation with Death” on John Piper’s blog last week.

I haven’t stopped thinking about it. It is SO good!

**************************************************

CHRISTIAN:

Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?
I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.
Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.

CHRISTIAN:

I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?
Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?
O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be His servant. For me, you will have no sting.



1 Corinthians 15:55-57
"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


**************************************************

I really love that last line of the conversation. It reminds me of something that Beth Moore said in the Bible study I recently did, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things”.

She was talking about the sifting of Peter…


Luke 22:31-32
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Beth Moore writes…

“Satan had a sieve. Christ had a purpose. The two collided. Satan got used.”

Oh ya, that makes me want to jump up and down…I love it when Satan gets used!!
For the Glory of our God!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is risen!


"On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.' " Then they remembered his words."
Luke 24:1-8

Friday, April 10, 2009

Beautiful Scandalous Night


"It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last."
Luke 23:44-45


Beautiful Scandalous Night

by Sixpence None The Richer & Bebo Norman

Go on up to the mountain of mercy,
To the crimson perpetual tide.
Kneel down on the shore,
Be thirsty no more,
Go under and be purified.

Follow Christ to the Holy Mountain,
Sinner, sorry and wrecked by the fall,
Cleanse your heart and your soul.
In the fountain that flows,
For you and for me and for all

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree,
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me,
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white,
On that beautiful scandalous night.

On the hillside you will be delivered,
At the foot of the cross, justified.
And your spirit restored,
By the river that pours,
From our blessed Saviour's side

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree,
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me,
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white,
On that beautiful scandalous night.

You carry the sin of mankind on your back,
And the sky went black.
Go on up to the mountain of mercy,
Go the crimson perpetual tide.
Kneel down on the shore,
Be thirsty no more,
Go under and be purified.

At the wonderful tragic mysterious tree,
On that beautiful scandalous night you and me,
Were atoned by His blood and forever washed white,
On that beautiful scandalous night.

f r u i t



I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away;
and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in Me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you,
unless you abide in Me
.”

John 15:1-4 (NKJV)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

choose life

It’s spring break this week for Austin and Isabelle.

We can’t really go anywhere because Jamin (my hubby) has to work all week.
In lieu of a “real vacation”, we decided to hit up the huge, local, indoor water park…spend one night…and play as hard as possible for two days straight.
If we headed down right after church on Sunday, we would have Sunday and most of Monday before Jamin had to go to work…perfect!

The first day, I was completely content doing my “usual” - sitting back, relaxing, taking it all in AND documenting every second on camera…so everyone could remember all the fun they had.

As I was taking it all in, the words from a verse in Deuteronomy kept going through my head … "choose life”.

The next morning, we woke up and the kids were going on and on about a ride called “The Howlin’ Tornado”. How it was SO much fun. They were begging me to do it with them!

I had EVERY excuse in the book.

First of all, I’ve heard from plenty of people that it’s really, really scary…
I don’t do “scary”!

“choose life”

Second, the narrow flight of stairs (3-4 stories high) that you have to stand on while you wait in line (for who knows how long?) looks terrifying to me…
I do NOT do “heights”!

“choose life”

Third, everyone says the “best” part is when you drop suddenly and have to hang on super tight to your inner tube or you could fly out (great!).
They say it’s just like a roller-coaster. Guess what…
I don’t do roller coasters either!

“choose life”




Well, I gave in.

I was shaking so hard standing on those stairs, I thought my legs were going to give out.
I was gripping onto that stair railing so tight, my knuckles were white.
When it was time to get in our inner tube, instead of just holding on to the handles, I shoved my entire hand through and made a fist so they couldn’t slip out. (Oh ya, you should of seen my wrists when we got through…ouch!)

But I did it.

Yep, it was scary. But it was worth it.

My kids and my hubby laughed so hard. I think the visual of me on that ride will make them laugh for a very long time.

I stayed in the water the rest of the day. I played with my kids instead of just watching.
I don’t have any pictures from the second day, but that’s okay.

I chose life.

And I’m glad I did!

Deuteronomy 30:19-20a
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him
.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

If My Words Abide In You


I know that the odds of very many of you taking the time to watch this video are slim, but I’m going to encourage you to do it anyway.

I am usually very reluctant to take the time to read or watch anything online that takes too much time, so I don't blame you if you are hesitant. ;)
But I am so thankful that I took the time to watch this incredible video from John Piper on the importance of memorizing scripture.

It has served as a great reminder to me of the how important (necessary!) it is to memorize God's word...and definitely renewed my passion!

When I get busy, one of the first things to go seems to be my time alone with the Lord…and scripture memorization. When I stop meditating on God’s word, day and night, it is so apparent in my thoughts, feelings and actions!! Not good.

Anyway, I pray that you will be as blessed in watching this as I was…and that it will light a fire in you for memorizing God’s word!

(The first 16 minutes is John Piper reciting scripture. Such a blessing to listen to!
Ahhh, just soak it in
!)