Memorial Day Tribute 2019

Gratitude gleams in the sunshine

Reflecting on tears that have fallen

Red, white, and blue, stripes given

From a hero who walks life uncommon

A call of the duty that beckons

Brothers and sisters in arms

They take up the cross that burdens

To protect and keep love from harm

Pause and reflect on the cost

Notice the eyes of those who have served

Join me and pause to see them

These warriors with hearts submerged

Sometimes the rough exterior

Will hide their hidden kindness

They deserve the searching

Treasures found in exteriors that blind us

Losses and pain kept secret

Heavy like balls and chains

Lets us be seekers with gracefulness

To bind mercy in the life unchanged

Honor to those who gave their lives

Forgiveness for those who remain

Hope in the promise of Jesus

Who’s love sacrifice was one in the same

He is the only Redeemer

The One who understands our pain

No matter the life we walk while on earth

His love and healing will stay

I lift my hope this Memorial Day

For those who are lost and alone

That the sadness you feel would be planted

Into beauty this fought for freedom can grow.

New Wings

With wings you can fly

Soaring from place to place

Nothing else but freedom

Discovering beauty and grace

Hungry storms crawl in

Glance behind your shoulder

Determined to stay on course

Freedom becomes bolder

Bliss is changed to forced

A door is opened wide

Unbeknownst it is cage

Decision based on pride

Enter through at will

Escape a painful chase

Giving up too soon

To find a friendly face

Joined by those in prison

Trapped by choices made

We are in this life together

I hear distant songs of praise

My heart of faith is willing

To step ahead with prayer

To sing the songs of a risen King

He will meet us here

When prison doors fling open

I will be here waiting

Do not fall upon your sword

New wings are for the taking.

Inspired by Acts 16:25-34 The Passion Translation (TPT)

25 Paul and Silas, undaunted, prayed in the middle of the night and sang songs of praise to God, while all the other prisoners listened to their worship.

26 Suddenly, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. All at once every prison door flung open and the chains of all the prisoners came loose.

27 Startled, the jailer awoke and saw every cell door standing open. Assuming that all the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself 28 when Paul shouted in the darkness, “Stop! Don’t hurt yourself. We’re all still here.”

29 The jailer called for a light. When he saw that they were still in their cells, he rushed in and fell trembling at their feet. 30 Then he led Paul and Silas outside and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

31 They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all your family.”32 Then they prophesied the word of the Lord over him and all his family. 33 Even though the hour was late, he washed their wounds. Then he and all his family were baptized. He took Paul and Silas into his home and set them at his table and fed them. 34 The jailer and all his family were filled with joy in their newfound faith in God.

Released- Thoughts on John 8:31-32

“When you continue to embrace all that I teach, you prove that you are My true followers. For if you embrace the truth, it will release more freedom into your lives.” Jesus (John 8:31-32)

Jesus is speaking to new believers here. Just before, in verse 30, “many came to believe” in Him as He was speaking in response to the question “Who are you?”. These people wondered how Jesus could speak with such authority. Their spirits were stirred at the realization that this “Father” who sent Him was in fact, God. They accepted Jesus at His word because their hearts discerned truth as they listened, and they were given the gift of understanding. And then Jesus lays out the path to freedom. To simply continue in His word. To abide, dwell, endure, remain, stand, and not depart from the living voice of Jesus.

Belief in Jesus is a beautiful and profound first step. I remember the desperate desire for light in my darkness when I had come to the end of myself. My heart was ready and the utter relief of salvation lit up my soul. My entire being felt seen, known, and loved. I felt washed and clean. And for a time, I followed hard after God. I wanted to continue in my newfound freedom. But I did not remain there. For many years I teetered on the precarious cliff between living and embracing sin in my life, while my heart still yearned for Jesus. I wrestled with the cycle of wanting to do right, doing wrong anyway, and then being enslaved by shame and guilt. Unhealthy choices and selfish pride were my own undoing. I allowed my life to be ruled by the unrelenting current of being unintentional and just letting my life unwind without the disciplines of Jesus.

I do not regret the years leading to my latter, more recent ones because the struggles have given me the sort of pain that produces humility and compassion. Jesus wanted me to abide in His word and experience the freedom from sin He promised, because He loves me. But I made other choices, or failed to choose at all while languishing in indecision that brought much despair. Love wants the best for someone. God is love and Jesus is His tangible attempt to prove how true that is. He did not leave us to stumble around on our own. We have a well defined road map leading us to freedom and peace. All we have to do is follow the true Leader who will take us where our pure hearts’ desire wants to be. He will use our detours and wrong turns for His good, and we have the choice to decide how long we are to remain lost. Once we ask for directions, the right way is made clear.

Lord, I am grateful for this journey. Thank you for the grace to let me take the messy way. Your unchanging truth always leads me back to You. Help me to continue in Your word. May Your truth set and keep me free to love and share Your way with others. I am grateful for the community of believers You have surrounded me with. Help me to love the way you do. Help me to live in obedience and follow where You lead. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Hearts in the Harvest- Thoughts on 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

Paul puts into words so beautifully why we do not lose heart. We- meaning those who have surrendered our lives and hearts completely to Jesus. He speaks of being afflicted, crushed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, and then points to the miracle of being renewed day by day. This is the opposite of what makes sense in the face of so much hardship. A full surrender to the eternal hope of God’s care is the key that unlocks the chains of trouble in the physical world. There is an eternal glory without end on the other side of this world, and our current troubles can be viewed as light and fleeting when we believe this truth, and let our faith guide and guard our hearts.

I find myself struggling to communicate the depth of my hope sometimes. To say I have surrendered my heart fully to Jesus seems to fall with flippancy on the hearts of those in the midst of despair. I feel the need to explain my own pain I have walked through to justify my hope journey and faith walk now. I was gently reminded this morning that my first commitment is to God. My own disciplines and cultivation of the intimacy and relationship with Jesus is where my hope springs from. I must tend to this and let God tend to the ways He uses me in the lives of others. I can’t save the world on my own, but I can live my life as a testimony of God’s saving grace. I can love and I can speak of the wonder of God’s power in my life. I can stand in the gap, lifting prayer as the bridge for those who so desperately seek answers to their pain and hardship. It is only when you choose to surrender fully to God that freedom will come. This is a personal choice, and one I have to make day after day.

Lord, thank You for the hope You have planted deep in my heart. Let the harvest come. Thank You for the renewing power of Your love. Let the harvest come. Help me to guard my own heart and cultivate the tenderness of compassion and humility while serving the needs of others. Let the harvest come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Called- Thoughts on Isaiah 43

“Everyone who is called by my name, and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” Isaiah 43:7

This chapter of Isaiah begins with the beauty of comfort only God can give. “Fear not… you are Mine… I have redeemed you.” It is a command not to fear, not a suggestion- followed by a promise. We will never be abandoned by God. When we answer the call of His name, our souls are safe even if our bodies are in danger. There is victory in the battlefield of the mind when God fills us and we allow Him access to our fears. This is where the peace that transcends all understanding resides.

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ. So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always. Follow the example of all that we have imparted to you and the God of peace will be with you in all things.” Philippians 4:6-9

I’ve seen and experienced how fear can shackle and bind, yet I have also seen and experienced how God frees. Jesus came to set us free from sin and death. Fear kills everything in it’s path when we let it have it’s way in us. Isaiah 43 is a reminder that no matter what scatters us, God will gather us. No matter what binds us, Jesus holds the keys to free us. Fear creeps in, yes, but we are held by the almighty Creator of the universe. His Kingdom holds a place for each of us at His table. The reservation is good for life. No matter how dark, His light makes me see the way to Him because I was created by Him and for His glory. Keeping my thoughts fixed on what is true of God, true of me, and the beauty I find around me has given me access to real peace.

Lord, I am aware of what unhealthy fear can do. I have known intense fear and I know others who struggle with anxiety. Pierce through the fears that entangle and imprison our minds and let us feel Your presence and safety in Your arms. Fill our minds with Your truth and beauty. Thank You for Your promises to never leave us. Thank you for the strength to endure and thrive in the face of evil. Let freedom reign in our lives so that we can glorify You through good works and serving others for Your Kingdom. I am Yours, and You are mine. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Lead me

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:4-5 NASB

“Become intimate with Him in whatever you do and He will lead you wherever you go.” v. 5 TPT

When walking a dog, you shorten the lead when you want to gain more control. The longer the lead, the more freedom for the dog to do whatever he wants. The freedom of a longer lead seems like the desired choice. More freedom is what the world says we deserve. But, I know all too well when my freedom to choose has landed me in a bad spot.

I love verse 6 of this scripture from The Passion Translation. Being intimate with God is a close and knowing posture. There is pure love there and not restriction in a negative sense. But rather, by trusting God completely I know His best for me will supercede anything I could come up with or desire. I have known the joy that comes from a powerful dog in complete obedience to my command. I wanted the best for my dog. I wanted his mind at ease and not in chaos with all the stimulants of sight and smell. I wanted a peaceful and enjoyable walk with him. Such strength and safety came out of that companionship. This is a beautiful picture of the kind of strength and companionship I desire with God.

Lord, Thank you for the path of humility you have led me on. The more control I give you, the more peace I have. I trust you Lord. Guide me and strengthen me as I lean on your wisdom and plan for my life. Bring me in closer to your heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Memorial Day 2018

The call of duty’s pull is strong

Honor loads the machine gun

Love divided between home and field

Multiplies sacrificial freedom

Dust covered boots trek minefields

Thrashing through thickets to save

Mission minded courage takes hold

Together as one of the brave

Living to live, but ready to die

Soldiers face what we can ignore

Deep calls to deep, forging for life

Pure love pays the ultimate price

All give some, and some gave all

We wave the Red, White, and Blue

Colors that fly for our freedom

For America, for me, and for you.

 

THANK YOU.

 

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

(John 15:13)

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. (Psalm 82: 3-4)

Though a host encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. (Psalm 27:3)

Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Study Notes on James 3:8-10

…but the tongue is not able to be tamed. It’s a fickle, unrestrained evil that spews out words full of toxic poison! We use our tongue to praise God our Father and then turn around and curse a person who was made in his very image! Out of the same mouth we pour out words of praise one minute and curses the next. My brothers and sister, this should never be! James 3:8-10 TPT

The tongue is a sure sign of what is in our heart. There is no remedy offered here to tame the tongue, but rather a fact that it cannot be tamed. Blessing and cursing come from the same mouth. My mouth. Oh so true. So what do we do with this devastating fact?

We try to do better. We pay attention to our words. We draw close to God and let the Holy Spirit guide us. When my heart is unsettled it is usually due to the bitterness I have allowed to take root there. Tiny seeds of sadness can grow big defensive roots. Seeds of aggravation can grow a crop full of angry weeds. I need to take an active role in tending to my heart. Be aware of the bitterness that begins to grow and root it out. When I cultivate gratitude and kindness in my heart, my tongue will reflect the same. I believe God allows our tongue to be a barometer in our life, an indicator of how we are using the free will we possess. It is an instrument that measures the pressure in our heart. And like a barometer, our words can forecast our future, whether blessed or cursed. We should also pay attention to other’s words. When bitterness is spoken, I need to remember this is a clear sign of the pressure of life in their hearts as well. When I look at it this way, I have a better chance of offering grace rather than defensiveness. Kindness and patience offered in the face of bitterness will be a sure sign of God’s power in my life.

Lord, Reveal the bitterness in my heart and show me where it is rooted. Tend to my heart with Your loving hands and remind me to care for my soul. Help me to rid myself of malice and anger. Do not let me hide the pain I feel and bury it as a seed that grows the bitterness I want out of my life. Give me courage to honestly deal with it, letting Your light heal and soothe. Settle my heart so my words come out sweet rather than bitter. And help me to recognize words as the true indicators of other people’s hearts, and show me where I can step in for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thoughts on Genesis 16:1-16

9.29.15

As I think about the story of Sarai, yes I can see God’s promises revealed, yes I see His plan ultimately came through. And yet, I am stuck on the ways of the heart. I am aware of what was culturally acceptable. I am aware that it was not so outlandish for a wife to give her maidservant to her husband. But from one woman to another, how much pain do we not see in the story? How much pain do we not see in the faces of others in our own world? What I am discovering as I dig deeper into God’s Word, is comfort in knowing that I am truly not alone in my secret places. That God will use our pain to refine us, and our faith will be tested, but God does see our hearts. He knows when we choose badly, and He loves us even still. He comes to us softly when we need His comfort. He shakes us awake when we slumber in sin. It is His plan and His creation, we walk on holy ground, yet we feel like queens of the universe and take things into our own hands. Unless we are seeking God first, our eyes will fall on the best we can come up with in the moment, usually driven by emotion. Our emotions fuel us too quickly in the wrong direction many times. A decision made, done. And we are left with the consequences. We are left staring into something that can never be undone. But God. He is our rescuer. Our knight in shining armor. Our Prince. Our King. And His power is awesome. His love covers and conquers. Scars remain but life will be sweeter in the places He heals. We just have to accept what is, and lean into His arms, and let what will be, just be. His story for us will end well. And we will see that the end is not a stopping point, but the beginning of a beautiful ever after.

(Freedom Reigns)

Heart walks wild envisioning gladness

reaping rewards of following sadness

led through the mazes of beauty and pain

no rest for the weary, walk on through the rain

guided by glimpses, sun glowing above

journey again to a promise of Love

heart takes the challenge, risky and bold

fight through the darkness, fight through the cold

shedding the layers of envy and hate

bear only pure love, the hour is late

burning ablaze, stoking embers within

truth burning fire, freedom reigns once again.

http://www.ifequip.com

Thoughts on Genesis 4 (Eve)

Our faith journey. The journey. It is impossible to know someone’s full story. More than what we can share with each other is what is shared with God. In the deep and secret places where we sit with our thoughts. Our prayers. Only God can hear the joy of our heart praising. Our words cannot express. Only God knows the depths of pain we feel. Words cannot express. Only God hears our bitterness and doubt when loss rips away our life. Words cannot express. Only God can beckon us into the Light. Words cannot. It is in our spirit where the battle rages. Why me? Why her? Why not me? Why not her? In this life we are faced with too much to bear alone. Joy feels too much, our hearts feel too full sometimes, even when its good. Pain feels too much, our hearts too heavy to carry. And then we have Jesus. I cannot imagine Eve’s faith journey without knowing what we know now. We can rest assured that Jesus will walk us out into the unknown. Joy or pain. Faith or doubt. But Eve, to journey into a stronger faith after losing one son and being given another. A beautiful restoration story. A beautiful reminder.