Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Does the Darkness Surround You?

Reading through Lamentations three, I am reminding of a very long and dark period in my life. So long. About 10 years. And oh, so dark. I remember, vividly reading through Lamentations three at many points during that time. One in particular, I can almost see where I was, what I was wearing and most definitely can feel what I was feeling.

I knew in my heart that God was not ‘causing’ this darkness, these horrendous situations. I knew it was the enemy, circumstances, my sinful choices, other’s sinful choices. I knew God does not ‘cause’ bad in our live. Perhaps He allows, but never causes. Definitely uses the darkness to ultimately bring glory to Him.

I remember weeping as I read. I could literally feel every emotion and description the writer of Lamentations described. The darkness was palpable, I couldn’t escape it. I felt the heavy chains, the hedged in feeling, unable to get free. I knew what the Word said about Him hearing my prayers, but it was as if I could scream at the top of my lungs and it wouldn’t be heard. The attacks from the enemy, the shame, the fear. I wondered if there would EVER be anything different than this hell we were living.

I can relate to verse 18, my strength and my hope is perished. Quite literally, my strength had perished. I am not talking just emotional and spiritual strength, that was long gone. No, physically, all strength was gone. It culminated with a complete collapse. Bedridden, no strength to push through the darkness anymore. I was strong and had pushed long and hard, but physically, it was gone. I had no more. Even walking to the bathroom seemed insurmountable. All hope of ever seeing the light again had vanished, or so it seemed.

The bitterness I felt toward God began to grow. I know, as a good little Christian girl we are not be angry with God or bitter towards Him. And honestly, I didn’t even know that I was at the time. I should have seen it, the thoughts the enemy planted and I grabbed hold of. ‘Why did you let this happen’? ‘I trusted You with this womb! Is this how you reward me?’ ‘How could you let this happen to our family?’ ‘Where are you?!” ‘If you really loved me, You would answer.’ These are not the half of it, I assure you. Oh, I pushed them down, these thoughts, these accusations. I pretended they weren’t there, I hid them instead of repenting of them. I am not saying that God is not big enough to take our fears and doubts and the little girl tantrums, the beating of our fists on His chest as we can’t take the devastation any longer. No, He can. He knows we are but dust and He scoops us up. I’m talking about a root of bitterness that you may not even know is growing deep in the heart. I didn’t know until much later that it was there.

But deep, deep inside me, there was a tiny, miniscule flicker of disbelief. I just could not believe that this was it. I could not believe that God was not going to, somehow, rescue me out of this. I couldn’t figure out how, I had exhausted any ideas I had. I had given Him so much time, yet still nothing.

But God! He did deliver. He did heal. He did answer prayers. He does hear. He never leaves us. He never forsakes. I don’t care what it feels like or what it seems like, HE NEVER LEAVES US. In that darkness, we have no clue what He is doing. In that darkness, we are all but sure He has left us alone. In that darkness, fear and doubt and accusation and bitterness seek to worm their way in. Be on the lookout for them. Take them captive, those lying thoughts. Be like the writer of Lamentations, ‘But this I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.’

You know the truth! It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness! Your ‘night’ might feel so long and unending, but morning really does come and His mercies really are new every morning.

I’m not sure what you are going through, what kind of darkness surrounds you this day, this year, this decade, but let me be the one calling from the other side of the darkness. I’m reaching my hand out to you and shouting, ‘hang on, sister, His mercies are new every morning. Morning will come. I promise, but don’t take my word for it, take His! The Lord is your portion, hope in Him’

Sunday, February 22, 2015

His Incredible Faithfulness

Exactly 14 years ago, I gave birth to this precious gift. Sarah Grace was actually the fulfillment to a promise God had given me one year earlier.

You see, February of 2000 was the second February in a row that I had lost a baby at 17 weeks. Both losses were traumatic, but the second one, even more so. How can this happen twice, in a row, exactly the same amount of weeks, the same time of year? To say that my faith in God was challenged during that loss would be a gross understatement. I'll save the details for another time, but during that trying time, while I was carrying my dead baby, still in my womb, God healed my heart. I will never forget the morning, it was Valentine's Day, Brian had made me a fire in the morning. He pushed a chair in front of the hearth, made my tea and set me before the Lord. In part, I think, because he didn't know what to do for me anymore, the grief and heartache was hard for him to see in me, especially because there was nothing he could do to make it better. Besides, he was working through his own grief.

That morning, my Father met me in a way He had never done so in the past. Scripture after scripture ministered to my heart. I wept with deep sobs. His Word washed over me again and again. By the time I was finished with my quiet time, the pain was gone. My heart was healed. Later that morning I sat down at the computer to type all that I had read and experienced that morning. While doing so, I felt in my heart, the Lord say, 'you will have another child'. I was terrified to believe it. Surely it was just my mind playing tricks on me or the enemy tormenting me, I said, 'really, God, is that You or just me?' I heard it again in my heart, 'you will have another child.' I tucked that away, deep in my heart.

As I mentioned, I was still carrying the body of my baby, who was in heaven. This is a very difficult thing to do. I still looked pregnant, people still thought I was pregnant and commented. Finally, eight days later, it was time to go deliver this baby. We had waited, hoping it would happen naturally, but my doctor was concerned and didn't want to wait any longer.

I will share the incredible beauty of that experience at another time, but on February 22, 2000, I delivered a perfectly formed, and oh so teeny little boy, we name Ephraim, meaning fruitful, God will make you fruitful.

Fast forward to February of 2001, I was pregnant and due on Valentine's day. That day came and went. I, of course thought that would be the coolest day to have my baby, the day God promised me I would have another child. I began to get anxious and frustrated, as pregnant women can past their due date. Finally, on February 22nd, I delivered our sweet Sarah Grace (God has promised Sarah that she would have a child) I had totally forgotten when we delivered Ephraim. Weeks after Sarah Grace's birth, I stumbled on some hospital papers and the date February 22 popped off the page. I realized that even though I was impatient for our Sarah Grace to be born, God had her birth date planned long ago. One year, from the day I delivered Ephraim, our Sarah Grace was born.

Our God is so incredibly faithful and true. His Word and love is a healing balm for our broken hearts. Today I rejoice in the gift of my Sarah Grace. She is funny and VERY tender hearted. God has gifted her with the ability to memorize vast amounts of scripture. She is beautiful and graceful and feminine. She is incredibly gifted on the piano and has taught herself how to paint with water color. She leaves encouraging notes, tells me how proud she is of me and how much I inspire her. Really, sweet Sarah Grace??? You have no idea how much YOU inspire me. I love you, my sweet.

 

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dear Husband . . .

I almost always share my heart with women, that is my ministry. But today, I have the men on my heart. Not to chastise them, not to tell them what to do, but to encourage them, from a woman’s perspective. Ladies, if you feel safe in doing so, feel free to share this with your husband.

Dear Husband,

You may not know me, but your wife does. I have asked her to bring this to you to read, please don’t feel ganged up on. I thought it might help you to see something from an outside perspective. No one is accusing you or telling you ‘you are doing it wrong’. I want to encourage you, in the meekest of ways, what YOUR love does for your wife. To encourage you to love her with the love of Christ. You probably already know it is your ‘duty’ your ‘calling’, your scriptural mandate, but here is a picture of what you love can do. Happy Valentine’s Day, Husband. I know your role is the most difficult role, we appreciate you!!!

couples hands love

When a man loves a woman . . . maybe you know the how the song goes. It’s one that is on our playlist of romantic songs. You know, for special date nights where we dance in the candlelight. I am continually in awe of how much this man loves this woman. I can assure you, he is far from perfect, and he would tell you too. But he loves me. He lays down his life for me. He listens to me. He encourages me. He picks me up when I am down. He supports my crazy ideas. He tells me ‘no’ when he should be telling me no. He believes I am beautiful and tells me so. He loves to spend time with me. He loves ‘us’. He cherishes me. He pampers me. He loves me in my imperfectness. He sees in me what I do not see.

What happens ‘when a man loves a woman’? I’d like to rewrite that song. If I had a musical bone in my body I would. But here’s what I know.

When a man loves a woman, her confidence grows.

When a man loves a woman, she begins to love herself.

When a man loves a woman she sees a little glimpse of how much her Jesus loves her.

When a man loves a woman, she feels safe and secure.

When a man loves a woman, she blossoms into who she was created to be.

When a man loves a woman, she sees beauty in herself.

When a man loves a woman, her heart heals more and more each day.

When a man loves a woman, no matter what comes her way, she can handle it because he loves her.

When a man loves a woman, he might not know it, but he is loving her whole.

What a beautiful opportunity you men have. To be the hands and heart of your Savior to your wife. May God bless you and equip you. May YOU know the healing love of Jesus in your heart as well. We thank you and commend you for all you do!!

Sincerely yours,

A LOVED wife

swans love

Friday, February 6, 2015

When You Want To Run Away

Do you ever feel like you just want to run away? Like, if you could just get away from this circumstance, or that one, all would be fine? Yeah, me too.{sigh} But here is what I quickly realized. No matter where I could run, "I" would still be there. I have this a lot. I feel like God is saying, oh, you could run away, but sweet Michelle, YOU will still be there. The struggles you are dealing with are not so much outside circumstances, but are heart issues.

I'm reminded, once again . . .

that His grace is always sufficient
that He is ALWAYS with me
that He loves me with an ever-lasting love
that I am safe under the shadow of His wings
that He ALWAYS leads me in triumph
that NOTHING can separate me from His love
that He hears my cry
that He answers the cry of my heart
that He is my help and my shield
that the Lord is on my side
that He is my refuge and strength
that the Lord of hosts is with me

I am reminded that discouragement, despair, hopelessness, fear, doubt, feeling 'ugly' inside, self hatred, insecurity, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, anxiety, joylessness, lost-ness, unrest, turmoil, discord, agitation, rejection, obsession, drivenness, pushed, unhappy, unloved, feeling unimportant, irrelevant, worthless, bound, broken-hearted, heavy-hearted . . .

NONE of these are apparel fit for or heart conditions or mind-controlling thoughts for a Daughter of God. They are ALL from the father of lies. Every-single-one of them are from the enemy. We get to choose, walk in them today, or not. They only have the power over us that we let them. This is a hard one for me to swallow, 'yeah, but' rises up in my heart, but I know it is true, WE CAN CHOOSE.

Father, helps us to discern YOUR voice today and that of the enemy. Thank you that You lead us in victory, that You paid for our freedom, that You love us, have chosen us, have made us holy and blameless in YOUR sight. Helps us to see that our 'feelings' are just that, feelings. We can take them captive just like we can take our thoughts captive. I pray, Father, that You would be the lifter of our heads and hearts today, and that You would open our eyes to the true beauty You surround us with. Strengthen us, O Lord, to walk in Truth today. In Jesus name!

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

He is Your Anchor

 

Not sure what you might be going through today, but NOTHING can separate you from the love of Christ! Those voices in your head, the ones spewing lies of despair and hopelessness, yeah, those. Read this out loud, right now, and watch them flee. I'm not kidding, right now, OUR LOUD, so all of hell can hear the Words of Truth!

What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Not sure what you might be going through today, but NOTHING can separate you from the love of Christ! Those voices in your head, the ones spewing lies of despair and hopelessness, yeah, those. Read this out loud, right now, and watch them flee. I'm not kidding, right now, OUR LOUD, so all of hell can hear the Words of Truth!<br /><br />What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?<br /><br />He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?<br /><br />Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.<br /><br />Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.<br /><br />Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?<br /><br />As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.<br /><br />Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.<br /><br />For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,<br /><br />Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What If . . . ?

 

What if it is already done?

What if you really just love me?

What if I don’t need to flounder and question my path or journey?

What if I knew you were, all along, leading me by the hand out of my Egypt?

What if I knew that You don’t see me the way that I do?

What if I knew that you are merciful to my unrighteousness and that those sins I see and struggle with, well, what if I knew You don’t remember them?what if

What if I knew that your love was already written into my mind and heart?

That I don’t need to wrestle and try so hard to know it, but that it is already there.

What if I knew when discouragement and confusion sweeps over me that it’s not You and that I’m not doing anything wrong, it’s just a scheme of the enemy?

What if I knew I don’t actually need to listen to it, be affected by it or panic. And wonder what I need to change. What if I just rested under the shadow of your wings? Safe and secure.

What if I knew it was lie and not some default in me? That I am Chosen, Hand -Picked by You. That I am Holy, and Blameless before you. And that above all I am Dearly Loved.

What if I knew I could just step out from under his lies and not be swallowed up by them?

What if I just go about my day and not have to try so hard to do better, but know right here, right now, I am loved and safe and all is well. I can smile. I can just breathe. And be okay.

Friday, January 16, 2015

You Are Chosen

In the last post, Jesus Knew, Do You, we talked about how Jesus knew who He was and how He was able to face what was before Him because of it.

Therefore, as those who have been chosen by God, holy and dearly loved . . . Colossians 3:12

Knowing who we are how very loved we are is what enables us to live in freedom from the lies of the enemy. It heals us from the dreaded syndrome I call, the ‘Do More, Be Better, Try Harder Syndrome’.

The above text says that we are Chosen, Holy an Dearly Loved.

Let’s delve into, “chosen” today. Do you really comprehend what that means? That means God picked you. He didn’t get stuck with you, He picked you.

I picture myself at the roller rink on Friday night. The dreaded ‘boys choice’ skate was called. I couldn’t get to the bathroom fast enough and found myself standing against the wall with all the other girls. The trauma of watching the boys skate by, passing me. Around again. Maybe picking the girl next to me, but passing me by. Over and over again, I was not picked. Rejection stings, doesn’t it? Maybe you have been passed over or ‘not picked’ in your lifetime and you can still feel the pain. Doesn’t being ‘not picked’ make you feel unworthy? Unlovable, in some way? Like there is something wrong with you?

Guess what. God’s word assures us that He picked us! We are chosen by Him. Does it matter if the pimple-faced geeky boy on skates picked me when the God of the universe, the lover and creator of all things beautiful picked me??? No, not when you really let that truth go deep. I’d be rejected a thousand times to be picked by Him just once!

I used what seems like a trite example of ‘not being picked’, but you know as well as I do that rejection and circumstances that would cause one to feel unworthy and unloved comes in many sizes and colors. They can be seemingly silly things to deep, traumatic and abusive situations. We often put on our ‘brave’ face and say, well, that wasn’t ‘that’ big of a deal, or stuff it down. But in reality, the wound is still there and the enemy of our souls only makes it go deeper, until we are so trained to think we are unworthy, unlovable, awkward, definitely one to be ‘not picked’ because we ‘know’, really know, deep down just how awful we are.

Do you recognize the lies? Pause for a moment and see if the Holy Spirit would bring to your mind some of the lies you have believed that keep you bound and wounded.  Anything, whatsoever, that comes to your mind that does not line up with scripture is a lie!  Take those thoughts out for a moment and examine them. Do they fit with the following? I have placed my own emphasis on these verses, can’t help myself. Winking smile I encourage you to meditate on these. Turn them into your own words, what I like to call ‘My Beliefs’

“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” Ephesians 1:4-5

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day John 6:44

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesian 2:10

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9

"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. John 15:16

"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. John 6:37

"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth Deuteronomy 7:6

"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 14:2

But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth – 2 Thessalonians 2:13

An example of ‘My Beliefs’ might be,

Thank You, Father, that from the very beginning YOU have chosen me for salvation. You love me and chose me. Picked me. I am ‘pickable’

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If you have any hope of being free from the lies and really living in the freedom Christ paid for, you are going to need to put some effort in it. Meditate on the truth. Take the lies captive.  It’s worth it, I promise!

Next time, Holy.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jesus Knew, Do You?

I was struck by a phrase in the Gospel of John, chapter 13:3.

Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God’.

Jesus knowing. It popped off the page to me. Jesus knew who He was, what His purpose was, how much He was loved by the Father and He could face, even the unthinkable, because He knew this.

In my own walk and my experience in ministering to women, I think the foundational ‘flaw’, if you will, that we all have is a lack of knowing who we truly are. Without this foundation we are prone to the many lies of the enemy as to our value and purpose. Self-hatred, self-doubt, fear, doubts, unbelief, anxiety, self-rejection, so much of this stems from feelings of unworthiness.

We all know, ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’. But stop for a second, do you really know? I mean, know to your very core? One of my favorite scriptures that God has used to bring such healing to me in this area is, Colossians 3:12.

Therefore, as those who have been chosen by God, holy and dearly loved . . .

Stop right there! Three little words ministered to my heart for the better part of a year and still do whenever I see them.

Chosen, Holy, Loved.

Ask my children, they will tell you these three words will go with me until the day I die.

I am going to delve into each word, Chosen, Holy, Loved, in subsequent posts. I don’t want to rush through them. For today, meditate on this scripture.

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I pray, Father, that You would give us a revelation of how loved we are and that healing, wholeness and restoration was paid for by the blood of Your Son. Free us to walk in this healing in a greater way, day by day. I pray, also, that we would be able to recognize the lies we have believed about who we are and that our Father would give us a beautiful, full picture of who we are and how incredibly valuable and loved we are.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He Weeps With Us

When it is hard to believe ‘this will not end in death’ . . . He is there with you, and He will be glorified.
 
 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Has the Enemy Come Knocking Yet?

If you are going to make it to the end of this year with your dreams, goals and hopes still intact, you may just have to fight for your sanity along the way.

Usually, when you are a willing participant, there’s not much you can do to thwart God’s plan for you. Obviously, lack of obedience, fear, and things like that can get in the way or delay things a bit, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

I’m talking about when you are already a bit shaky in your dream or new goals. I mean, you know it’s from God, but you also know YOU. You’ve been here before, you have a history for messing things up, or so you think. So you’re shaky. You’re doing your best to get grounded and rooted in these new ‘digs’.

Be on the lookout for fear and doubt, ugly little demons that they are. It doesn’t take much. Oftentimes they come riding on the back of comparison. You know, you see someone else whose ‘dream’ (life) seems so much nobler than yours. Or perhaps, man, they sure are living their dream. It seems so effortless for them. I mean, you can barely stand up and they are running with theirs.

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes for me, it can take little more than a NANA-second, for me to be heaped in a pile under loads of fear and doubt. Seconds, and it is an all-out ‘crumble, tumble and tremble.

I’m giving you this warning so you know it is coming, or, maybe it already has. I know it has for me. Only took nine days. Nine days into the new year! But here is what is super cool. I recognized it immediately. God, in His great mercy, gave me quick discernment.

You know how sometimes, if the back door gets left open just a teensy tiny crack, somehow the cat’s radar goes off and she just quietly pushes through the door? Often times you may have to chase her around the house, under the table and behind the couch and by the time you get her you are all tuckered out? Is this just me? Not this time. I saw her immediately and caught her before she made it past the back hallway.

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I suppose the best case scenario would be for the door to never get left open. But, if it does, best to be ready with a plan and act immediately.

I began to see those thoughts come in.  I saw them for what they were, lies. I took them captive, after telling Brian, of course. Who proceeded to say, ‘woman, why are you even talking that trash, just stop and get them out of here and speak the truth.’ Such a practical guy. Isn’t it just like a woman to need to ‘talk about it’?

It all seemed so surreal and I felt like God was training me. I sensed in my spirit I was somehow getting a ‘do-over’, a chance to start from the beginning and get strong. Kind of like working out. You start with the basics and progress as you grow in strength. You see, God size dreams don’t come without a fight. Our enemy will fight tooth and nail to keep us from God’s best for us, and try to stop us from reaching others with His love!!

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Be ready!!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Has the enemy come in and tried to rob you of your hope for this season of your life? Pick yourself up, cry out for discernment and kick the devil to the curb! Maybe you are ‘holding your own’ (or, being held). Well, praise God for is mercy and keeping power! I’d love to hear what you might be going through and lift you in prayer. Some of you have done so privately and that is so fine. Either here in the comments, or always feel free to message me. Go forth in the strength of the Lord this week!