Ballroom Dance, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, sacred romance, spiritual warfare

What Is Being Revealed?

I firmly believe that every trial, struggle, and difficulty has lessons to teach us if we will only choose to find them. No matter the size of them in reality or the size they appear to be in our mind, there is a message in them.

We’ve been ballroom dancing students for 10 months now and we’ve learned a lot.  We can competently dance steps to about seven different dances – Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Rumba, East Coast Swing and are learning steps to two more.  But competency isn’t what makes anyone want to watch someone else dance, nor is it the end goal of our lessons.  The goal and what makes dance grab your attention is the beauty and grace of the dancers.

In order for a dance to be beautiful and graceful, the dancers must create that picture on the floor.  Our instructors remind us that the gentleman creates the frame, but the lady creates the picture and this spring our studio began to offer “Guys Night” and “Ladies Night” classes to help us do just that.  I’ll be honest, I HATED most of those Ladies Night classes.  It was irrational how much I hated them, and after several of them, I literally drove home in tears. For several weeks, I couldn’t even explain why I hated them so much, but something made me keep going back.

At the same time, I had been studying Brent Curtis’s and John Eldredge’s book, The Sacred Romance, with a friend.  We were in chapter ten, when I found this:

“In the day-to-day pattern of things, our journey is shaped more often by dragons and nits–crises that shake us to the core and persistent troubles that threaten to nag us to death. Dragons and nits: Are they tragic events and random inconveniences, or are they part of the plot through which God redeems our heart in very personal ways?” (p. 150)

They go on to tell the story of Mary, a woman who lost her permanent teeth in an accident and had trouble replacing them for years with a permanent solution.

“Her teeth were a source of shameful arrows lodged deep.  A seemingly irrelevant nit that God refused to take away became an opportunity to face a fundamental question the heart of every woman asks: Am I lovely? Without the nit, the deeper issue of her heart would never have come up. Once it did, the real battle began.”

Why were these classes so difficult for me?  It was because the whole point of them was to help me create a picture of beauty and grace which ran counter to a core lie that I had believed for most of my life – I am not beautiful, I am not graceful, I am less than.

There are a few times that I could point to in the last 40 years where I felt beautiful. They were fleeting and usually tied to some sort of event, but day to day, more often than not, I believed that lie. Even now, looking at pictures of those events, that lie colors my recollection of those events. I nitpick every picture and find fault with myself in nearly every one.

“Both dragons and nits take us into the deep places of the soul, uncovering the sentences we have long lived by.” (Curtis and Eldredge, The Sacred Romance, p. 154)

My nit, Ladies Night, revealed the “sentence” that I had “long lived by”, and I began to want to believe something different.

I don’t remember where I found this verse, but it’s been helping me counter that lie every time it pops into my head.  Psalm 45:10-11 NIV says:

“Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

God doesn’t see me the way I see myself.  He sees me as his creation, “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  He is enthralled by the beauty of whom he created me to be.  As I repeat this verse over and over, I am beginning to see myself through his eyes.  And this last Ladies Night?  Well, I danced to enthrall my King, because he finds me beautiful.

 

What long-held belief might your “dragons and nits” be attempting to reveal?

 

 

 

Bible Study, faith, kingdom living

Keep Calm and….

You’ve seen these little quotes, probably everywhere! I know I have. Apparently, it began as a propaganda slogan in Britain at the beginning of the second world war.  If you want to read more about it click here.  Anyway, my mind has been kind of stuck on it as a result of my bible study this morning.

I’ve been studying 1 Thessalonians with a group of other women and today I was writing about 1 Thess 4:9-12. Here’s the text.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

New Living Translation (NLT)

But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other,[a] for God himself has taught you to love one another. 10 Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers[b] throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.

11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

So I was pondering on Paul’s meaning when he said “Live a quiet life”, because mine is definitely anything but quiet!  What did he really mean?  So I looked up several other translations of verse 11.  Here’s the one from The Message version:

11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends.

Obviously this is where the Keep Calm and…. came into play.  I had to laugh at the thought of a sign that would read like this one:

1155472

 

Ok, now that I have that out of my system, I can focus on the real thing I learned from my studying this morning.  How many people do I know that stay calm? I’m often found running around like the proverbial chicken with its head removed?  I’m often hassled, harried, stressed as is most of the world.  What would my life speak to others if I were able to stay calm?  I know if I were outside looking in on a mom with four adopted kids who somehow managed to keep calm even 75% of the time, I’d be asking how she would be doing it.

The fact is, I’m failing miserably at staying calm – at least on the inside.  I don’t know how many of those who see me regularly are noticing.  But if we read on to verse 12, the reason Paul commands us to do just that so that those who are not Christians who look at our lives will respect us.

If I do not have peace in my life, it’s not a life that someone else would respect or be drawn to.

I’m spending sometime in Psalm 119 in my study time as well and found this little gem.

v25 I lie in the dust, completely discouraged; revive me by your word.

For me, the key to staying calm is staying grounded in God’s word and lots of worship cds!

How do you stay calm when life is chaotic around you?

 

Bible Study, faith, kingdom living

I Have Hidden Your Word in My Heart

I am in three bible studies this fall, all of them have memory verses associated with them.  I have to say that I am am loving the saturation of His word in my life.  Here are some of my favorite scriptures coming from these studies.

PSALM 119:89-91 – THE MESSAGE (MSG)

89-96 What you say goes, God,
and stays, as permanent as the heavens.
Your truth never goes out of fashion;
it’s as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up.
Your Word and truth are dependable as ever;
that’s what you ordered—you set the earth going.
If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
But I’ll never forget the advice you gave me;
you saved my life with those wise words.
Save me! I’m all yours.
I look high and low for your words of wisdom.
The wicked lie in ambush to destroy me,
but I’m only concerned with your plans for me.
I see the limits to everything human,
but the horizons can’t contain your commands!

 

1 CORINTHIANS 10:13 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984 (NIV1984)

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

PHILIPPIANS 3:10 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984 (NIV1984)

10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

PSALM 1:1-3 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984 (NIV1984)

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

 

COLOSSIANS 3:12-16 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1984 (NIV1984)

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

COLOSSIANS 3:1-4 – NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (NASB)

3 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [a]Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

 

 

 

Bible Study, faith

Some Encouragement

A friend encouraged me to read this passage for a reminder of how God is at work in my life.  I hope it encourages you too.

Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can’t quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you! We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians. The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.

5-8The Message is as true among you today as when you first heard it. It doesn’t diminish or weaken over time. It’s the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more. It’s as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him. He’s the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.

9-12Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

13-14God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

Christ Holds It All Together

15-18We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

18-20He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

21-23You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.” Colossians 1:3-25

adoption, Bible Study, faith

This One is a Reminder to Me.

The last year has been an emotional roller coaster and at times, it has seemed almost too much to bear.  I’d really like August to come around so a fresh year can start.

Through it all, I’ve learned some valuable lessons.  The first, and for me, the most important, was I have absolutely no control over life.  Second, I can handle anything because I have a God who is so much bigger than me.  Third, worrying is useless because of lesson #1 and lesson #2. Fourth, sometimes compartmentalization is the only way to survive emotionally.

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17 NIV1984

20-22 We’re depending on God;
he’s everything we need.
What’s more, our hearts brim with joy
since we’ve taken for our own his holy name.
Love us, God, with all you’ve got—
that’s what we’re depending on. –Psalm 33:20-22 The Message

adoption, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, spiritual warfare, Uncategorized

Answered Prayer

I was doing a study this morning as part of facilitator training for our church’s women’s ministry called Friend 2 Friend.  We’re going through a book called “Growing in Christ” by the Navpress. I’ll be willing to confess that I wasn’t all that thrilled to be asked to go through it.  I mean, I’ve been a Christian since I was 19 (wow, is it really almost 30 years). This is pretty basic stuff, I thought. I was reminded that even the most basic stuff is what we need sometimes.

We’re still anxiously awaiting news from Haiti. We know that four or five dossiers from our orphanage have received presidential dispensation in the last two weeks.  We still do not know which dossiers. Why? Because as soon as this news was received, Haiti began to erupt in political violence. A prominent police officer was killed prompting riots throughout Port au Prince. In addition, seven kidnappings took place. A group of 50 ex-military men stormed parliament demanding back pay. A prominent governmental official was accused of killing a store owner. The list just goes on and on…..

As I went through this study this morning, I was reminded again of the battle that is taking place in the spiritual realm in Haiti.  There is active opposition to children coming home both spiritually and in the natural world. As much as I have written about this spiritual battle, you would think that I would have been girded and praying and engaging in that battle. Instead, I heard these were signed and have been fretting and pestering the director of the orphanage trying to get any information at all, to no avail.

Lessons from today:

1. Don’t stop asking in Jesus’s name

John 16:24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

2. Ask according to His will – I John 5:14-15

3. Abide in Jesus, trusting in Him, reading and applying His words. – John 15:7

4. God’s answers to my prayers will be great and mighty, beyond what I ask – Jeremiah 33:3 and Ephesians 3:20

5. The wrong reaction to this uncertainty is for me to become anxious; the right reaction is to keep asking God with thanksgiving. – Philippians 4:7

6. When I do, He will give me peace and guard my heart and mind. Philippians 4:7

I’m thanking God today for the reminder.

Prayer Requests for the adoption this week:

  • Those with dispensation will be told this week.
  • Dispensations will be published in Le Moniteur even this week.
  • Files will exit IBESR by Friday next week.
adoption, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living

Hope

One of my favorite daily devotionals is Jesus Calling written by Sarah Young. Every day that I remember to open it (I wish it were every day), it seems as if the daily entry had been written directly for me. Today’s (March 26) entry begins with three small words that I have come to know so well over the last year, “Waiting on Me…”

Would that we would all learn how to patiently wait on Him.

In yesterday’s blog, I posted the verses from Isaiah 40:30-31. But there are some other great verses about learning to wait on Him. Like this one from Lamentations 3:24-26, “I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

As I looked for more verses today on waiting, I was blessed when I looked again at Isaiah 40.  Starting at verse 21:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He (our God) sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”?

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and wear, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:21-31 NIV)

What a great picture of who it is I am waiting on!  Our God calls out the stars by name every night and because of His great power and mighty strength each one of them lights the sky!  How can I say that my cause (or in my case my dossier in Haiti) is disregarded by God?

For all my friends who are in the process of adopting from any country, who are growing weary and weak as the process drags on, I say this:Image

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Our God sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and our ways are not hidden from Him! He will not grow tired or weary and He will renew our strength. Lift up your heads and sing His praise!

adoption, Bible Study, faith, kingdom living, leadership, parenting, spiritual warfare, worshipping

Remember I Said, “Not My Will, But Only Yours, Lord”

Our lawyer essentially said tonight there was no way we’d be taking our boys home on Sunday.

We do not know anything beyond that, but nevertheless I am here, we’re making some important contacts and I will be eagerly waiting for God’s will.

Please keep praying. This is God’s fight to win, not ours, but we can keep praying.

Daniel 10:1-19 is a great picture of continuing to pray when prayers are not answered in time. Often we do not understand why there are not immediate answers to our prayers. This may be why:

Daniel 10

Daniel’s Vision of a Man

1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, a revelation was given to Daniel (who was called Belteshazzar). Its message was true and it concerned a great war.[a] The understanding of the message came to him in a vision.

2 At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. 3 I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.

4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, 5 I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. 6 His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

7 I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. 8 So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. 9 Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16Then one who looked like a man[b] touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

While I’m waiting, I’m going to be reading some books to pass the time.

  • A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
  • Norman Grubb, Rees Howell Intercessor
  • John Eldredge, Epic: The Story God is Telling

Your continued prayers for yesterday’s list is coveted, especially for my youngest son in the US.

adventure, Bible Study, kingdom living, sacred romance

A Memory of What I Am Called To Be

My husband and I are leading a growth group at our church and we are studying John Eldredge’s amazing book, The Sacred Romance. This is not a book on marriage as it’s title suggests, instead it is a book on “drawing closer to the heart of God”. It’s a book about discovering who and what you were made for. And the sacred romance is about the love God has for you.

We’re studying the second chapter and one of the assignments in the workbook is to write about one of your best memories from childhood, so I decided to share it with all of you.

Every summer at least from first grade on, my parents made the sacrifice of sending both my sister and I away to summer camp for a week with the Camp Fire Girls. By sacrifice, I mean it couldn’t have been cheap. We went to Camp Sealth on Vashon Island in the middle of Puget Sound and we had to ride a boat to get there. This is the place where I first remember hearing a call to a grand adventure.

I remember standing on the dock with suitcase and sleeping bag nearby. The air was salty and warm and the sun was out. I’d give Mom and Dad a hug and board the ship for the 45 min ride to the camp. The first time I went, I probably cried the whole way, but every year thereafter, it was like I was sailing off on my own adventure. As we docked at the camp and hefted our stuff to our cabins, the smell of Douglas fir and the crunch of the needles under foot accompanied us. My first cabin was on Blueberry Hill.

Camp Sealth was a magical place. Each year, I learned a different adventuring skill. One year it was how to ride horses, another was a week-long canoe trip, and another where I learned archery. I loved being under the canopy of trees where sunlight would reach down in shafts to kiss the ground, where the carpet I walked on was fir needles and where at night we sang songs about adventures we would have.

The roundhouse was our dining hall and it was the first place I learned that there are fairies on the edge of the table, so don’t squish them with your elbows. That Mr. Pepper was married to Mrs. Salt and so we always passed them together. I remember it’s warm, varnished cedar interior.

After dinner we would gather near the shore for campfire. One of my favorite songs was “Barges” and I sang it over and over again in my childhood, always at night and always with a longing for the lapping of waves on my barge as I went sailing along.

Barges, I would like to go with you, I would like to sail the ocean blue. Barges, are there treasures in your hold, Do you fight with pirates, brave and bold?

The Ship – The name was a promise!

Camp Sealth – View from the water

One of the Blueberry Hill cabins – nestled up under the trees.

The Roundhouse

The Campfire Setting

Where were you when you first remember hearing a call to a grand adventure?

P.S. – Many thanks to my parents for all the wonderful memories!! I love you!

Bible Study, faith, kingdom living

I Swear it Was Written Just for Me

Just now, based on a whisper, I picked up my Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young.  If you don’t have this great little devotional, stop by your nearest Christian bookstore, Barnes and Noble or buy it online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or CBD or get the iPhone or Android app. You won’t be sorry.

Here’s today’s entry which was written just for me.

February 29

YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH. Listen more to Me, and less to your doubts. I am leading you along the way I designed just for you. Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking. But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone. Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, any more than you can comprehend My dealings with others. I am revealing to you the path of Life day by day, and moment by moment. As I said to My disciple Peter, so I repeat to you: Follow Me.  Psalm 119:105 and John 21:22

This day’s entry just provides further confirmation that I am following Him. 

I am thankful that because of Jesus, I am able to relate to my God as a daughter does to a loving father and hear Him calling.