Want JOY?

How many have sown tears in the last year? Surely there’s a harvest of JOY coming!!!

Me. Me. Me. In my life I have sown bountifully in tears. Tears of failure. Tears of sadness and regret. Tears of fear and anguish and despair.

Tears of surrender.

How about you?n the last year, I’ve begun to reap in JOY. Tears of joy. Lately, it seems the tears suddenly bubble up from a deep place. Like a tiny seed, after rooting deep in the soil, sends a green shoot through the crust of earth, these tears erupt through my eyes and down my face.

In the last year, though, I’ve begun to reap in JOY. Tears of joy.

Lately, it seems the tears suddenly bubble up from a deep place. Like a tiny seed, after rooting deep in the soil, sends a green shoot through the crust of earth, these tears erupt through my eyes and down my face.

These deep tears pouring forth are a refreshing. They’re tears of relief. Tears that wash fear and doubt away. They cleanse my soul.

Purification.

My words for 2021 are watch/weep/whisper and I think I’m beginning to understand.

The more I watch what God is doing all around me, the more I weep over the recognition He’s heard every single one of my prayers for help.

The more I weep over what I’m watching Him do, the more I whisper my thanksgiving to my Good Good God. He is my Shepherd and I shall not be in want.

And now, God, do it again— bring rains to our drought-stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing. 

Psalm 126:4‭-‬6 MSG

I give thanks to You, my God, for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever!

Thank you, Father, for letting me live to experience this great harvest of JOY. Hear, o Lord, my songs and whispers and shouts of JOY as I receive Your great harvest. I will testify of Your greatness and love. You alone are good and worthy of all praise!

Amen.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Being Prepared for Harvest

Day 129. Psalm 129.
Though the enemy of God means destruction for God’s people, God is Sovereign over His enemy.

God is powerful. Almighty. Greater. Already victorious. God has already won our victory. Join Him in it!

The enemy of God still attempts to overcome the Kingdom knowing full well he’s defeated. His design is to deceive as many souls as possible while he still has time. He is successful at taking people and regions captive to his schemes. People, even those belonging to God, find themselves in bondage to lies and defilement.

Just take a look around you…

However, God, Who is only Righteous and Mighty to save, is jealous for His own. Ultimately every knee will bend in the presence of King Jesus and every tongue will confess His Majesty. All people alive and dead. All people on earth, above and below. All souls will bow and confess the name of Jesus Christ as King and sovereign victor over all of creation.

Maybe we should all sit with that realization for awhile.

Reading this psalm reminds me of Jesus’ parables regarding farming and sowing seed. {Matthew 13 & Mark 4 are good places to begin reading}

The earth must be turned, shredded, and purified from rocks, weeds and other contaminants. The soil is made ready, defiled soil made clean, to receive the seed and bring a hearty harvest in due time.

It is the diligent, caring and responsible farmer who allows the tearing up of the soil. He desires the best production from his seed and works tirelessly to make sure that the good harvest will come to fruition. He tends, he waits and waters and watches over the miracle of death becoming life!

God will allow the tearing up of our soil – even at times by the hand of His enemy – and God uses it for His good purposes in our lives.

So if you’re feeling scourged and raw, take heart. God will use this soil purification process for your good. If you, and I, will yield to the process of preparation, allowing God’s good seed of His Word to be sown in our newly opened hearts; we will experience a great harvest.

Christ, Living Water, will nourish the seed sown if we’ll let Him. He is Light and protection for our growth. Let us yield and turn our faces to His attention. May we surrender to His care for our good and His glory.

Let us not forget Jesus, most of all, gave His back for us. He knows. He’s received the worst on our behalf. He’s been where you are, and He endured it all for God’s glory. With the Joy of the harvest ahead, seeing you and me as His victorious inheritance, Jesus endured the ripping and tearing. Jesus trusted His physical body, and His spirit to His Father knowing the temporary scourging and humiliation of obedience would produce a glorious harvest for The Kingdom of God.

Thank You, Father, for turning our eyes to Your dear Son. Thank You, Jesus, for setting the example of endurance and victory. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for coming to invade our vessels and empower our obedience to God.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Eyes on Jesus. Focus – Jesus. Following Jesus.
#eyesonjesusandshine
#day129 #harvest #joy #endured

FMF {inspire} Self, what inspires you to write?

More-FMF-Square-Images-inspireThis post is written in conjunction with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday community of faith writers.  Thank you, Kate, for inspiring us to write for five minutes each week on your word prompt selection, which I believe is divinely inspired.

Please join me for FMF {inspire}

Five minutes on the timer.  Ready, set GO…

 

Self, what inspires you to write?

Every person with breath in their lungs is a living story which needs to be shared with someone.  The Scripture which best paints this picture for me is this one – Hebrews 12:1-3 in the Message translation.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

 

 

all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? 

There are people watching.  People have already lived out their race, persevered, crossed the finish line and received their prize.  There are those in the past who served God with their whole heart (not perfectly, but well) never intending to be a story written, but God felt it was important for their story to be recorded.  Abram, Moses, David, Esther, King Jehoshaphat, and Mary.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God

And Jesus, He set the example.  He is the greatest inspiration of all.  Because He made the narrow way for me… because He promises to be with me always… because He makes me an overcomer by His blood-bought sacrifice and the story He’s given me to run to the finish line.

When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Trusting God Amazing PlacesAnd this inspires me too.  I’m not supposed to be a writer.  At least that’s what I’ve been told by so many people in my life.  Teachers and friends have often told me to stick to numbers.  I never earned above a “B-” on any writing assignment in any language arts class…EVER.

However, I stubbornly hold to the belief that other people shouldn’t get to decide if I am a writer or not. I have a passion for words and a passion for encouraging others.  I take great delight in sharing my real life scenarios, which paint word pictures to help me and others understand the truth of God’s word.  Assisting others in sharing their stories fills my heart with JOY.

It’s the real life stories, as we race together, spurring one another on to the finish line, which inspires me to write.  It’s exciting to think that through our stories someone who is losing steam might receive a shot of adrenaline to press on and win the prize of their inheritance.

Stop. (pictures added after the 5-minute timer)

Ponder:

  1. What (or who) inspires you?
  2. Inspiration leads you to do or to be what?
  3. What would you love to try except that you believe you wouldn’t be good at it?
  4. Will you try anyway?

 

Saturday Share: True Gold Magazine with Chloe

Thank you for joining me for Saturday Share.  Today I want to feature my friend, Chloe, creator of True Gold Magazine.

First, I want to tell you how I met Chloe and why I think she is a gem of a woman.  And then I want you to go to her website and read her story of birthing True Gold Magazine in her own words.

Chloe True Gold Mag

Though True Gold is taking a summer break from submissions, I feel sure they will be looking for more creative investments soon.   So for all of you creative people of God I hope you will become inspired to submit something to Chloe at True Gold Magazine – something creative you have birthed – for inclusion in her publication.

(By the way, if you are a vessel for Holy Spirit, you ARE creative.  Just ponder that for a moment…)

I met Chloe on a Friday night at Grace Midtown in Atlanta when we both providentially showed up for an evening of prayer and ministry to sexually exploited people of our city. I was familiar with this regular ministry event, and as prepared as one can possibly be for what and who we might encounter.  However, this was Chloe’s first opportunity to serve.

As I was the first time I walked into an establishment of sexual exploitation, Chloe had the deer in the headlight look of, “I had no idea!”  I wasn’t completely sure, as we had just met in prayer a couple of hours previous, but I felt fairly sure Chloe was not much older than my oldest son.  It seemed natural to me to feel a motherly protection for her.

I remember walking up alongside this precious young woman and putting my arm around her shoulder as we walked inside the darkness and smoke.  It’s unsettling to say the least, and nearly impossible to comprehend the lack of respect for human dignity in this environment.  Even though we, neither one, consider ourselves naive to the depravity of the flesh; eyes must avert and it is difficult to find a cheerful voice with which to minister God’s love to the women and men under these circumstances.

My most vivid memory of sharing ministry time with Chloe is that she carried a pocket-sized artist pad of paper and an artist’s pencil.  She sat quietly on a stool in the dressing room crowded with more flesh than clothing and sketched a picture of God’s love.  There was a specific woman she felt Holy Spirit was guiding her to bless with her picture.

With the amazing tenderness of Jesus in her eyes, Chloe asked me if it was appropriate to give her sketch to the woman.  I encouraged her to be bold and brave with her message of God’s bountiful grace and unfailing love.  She did.  Chloe reached out with the gift, and was met with tearful thanksgiving from the unsuspecting woman.

Life

We spent the rest of the night sitting way in the back seat sharing our life stories and traveling to various establishments chosen for ministry that evening.  I knew as we finished with prayer in the wee hours of the morning just before daylight I had met one of Father’s anointed daughters.  We’ve stayed in touch since then.  I’ve been watching and waiting.  I’m standing on tiptoes of anticipation as Chloe’s God-infused creativity takes deep root and produces a harvest of huge and beautiful fruit beyond her wildest imagination! (Mark 4:20 msg)

Please bless Chloe, as you peruse her work at True Gold Magazine, with a comment of encouragement to persevere in following the path Jesus is cutting for her – the path which will lead to the exact ministry He created her to accomplish.

(Click here to read Chloe’s story about the creation of True Gold Magazine – the inspiration, her passion and her intent for this publication.)

Chloe is on her way!  Bravo, young friend… do it scared!!

…What I have I give you

I wonder, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the needs of the people in your circle of influence?

I do.

And I have good news!

We, who are adopted children of God, have received the gift of God in the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, we have ALL we need to enable us to minister to every person in every situation of life.  This is good news!  We don’t ever have to feel overwhelmed by the brokenness of our world.  Nor do we ever have to feel at a loss for resources by which to offer assistance.

Why shouldn’t we feel overwhelmed?

And why should we not feel lacking in resources?

Living within the believer is the full power and unlimited resources of Creator God.  We are supplied with a garden of fruit trees capable of producing a harvest of God’s character – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Fruits of the spirit equip us for ministry.

fruits of the spirit

Because we belong to Jesus (we are His and He is ours) we are able to meet overwhelming circumstances face to face with confidence and bold JOY.  Jesus is our example.  He encountered crowds of physically, emotionally and mentally broken and hurting people who pressed in on Him everywhere He traveled.  We carry God’s compassion, just as Jesus did; so we don’t have to duck from any person in distress.

Jesus Himself said that His disciples would do even greater acts of ministry than He accomplished because Father would send His Spirit to help, equip and empower disciples of Christ.  The word of God assures us through the resurrection of Christ we are recipients of an unfathomable inheritance and the fullness of power for this present life by which we are able to accomplish the work prepared for us before the foundation of the world.

This is good news!

How do I know this is for regular people like me?

Peter and John give us an excellent portrayal of bold ministry in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances.  Let’s catch up with these 1st century preachers of the gospel as they headed for the Temple in Jerusalem one day…

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold,

but what I do have I give to you.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,

rise up and walk!”

Acts 3:6

Will you go with me in your Bible to Acts 3?  As you read along, let your imagination paint a picture of the scene.  Allow yourself to use the fullness of your senses to interact with the text of God’s word.

As we ponder this scene together, let’s keep in mind Peter and John have recently experienced the resurrection of Jesus, Messiah, and they have already watched Him ascend to heaven with the promise they will not be abandoned.  Holy Spirit will come to them.

Jesus Himself told them to wait in Jerusalem.  They waited.

They received the filling of Holy Spirit.

Every promise Jesus made was being fulfilled and people of The Way were growing in number daily.

And yet…there were still problems…in Jerusalem.  And on this particular day, on the way to the Temple, Peter and John saw a crippled man being placed at the Beautiful Gate to beg for money from those entering the Temple.  Their eyes met, these three men, each going about the usual of their lives and business of the day, and then something amazing happened!empty change purse

Perhaps the crippled man thought he found a couple of sympathetic donors in Peter and John.  Certainly he believed he would receive from them the money for which he begged.  Or did he suddenly fear he was about to be rebuked and silenced?

Peter, however, emboldened by the Spirit of God, not rich with gold or silver, addressed the deeper need of the crippled man.

He needed an encounter with the Living God.  So, Peter spoke directly into the man’s circumstances with the “all” he had to offer.

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.  He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.  (Acts 3:6-8 nlt)

More and more, day by day, I realize (like Peter and John) Jesus Christ of Nazareth is Who (rather than what) I have to offer.  Jesus is the solution for every need.  He’s not just enough.  Our Triune Creator is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)  He is God of unlimited resources.  In fact, God created every resource in existence. (Genesis 1-2)

This is indeed good news!

I might not know what to do, but God does.  I might not have the ability to heal a person help up 2017or improve their circumstances significantly, but God does.  I might not be able to set a person free from bondage, but God is able.

Better yet, God wants hurting people to know Him, and He wants regular disciples like you and me to make the introduction.  God desires to impact people for their good, and His desire is for them to be uplifted through simple people like you and me.  Again, there is no need to feel disqualified, discouraged, incapable or overwhelmed.  We are not alone.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

2 Corinthians 4:7-8

Fortunately, I live in a neighborhood of diverse generations.  Right next door, behind and across the street there are homes filled with people who are hurting on various levels. People are ill, out of work, have broken relationships, or have recently buried a loved one.  You see it too, don’t you, in your neighborhood?

I am encouraged to look my neighbor in the eye and say,

“What I have I give to you.”

My office is located in a middle school.  A few thousand people surround me daily with seemingly impossible situations – some details known, but what of all the stuff of life buried within their shattered hearts.  Don’t you feel it too in your work place?

I am emboldened to stretch out a hand to a person in my work place and say,

“What I have I give to you.”

I attend a radiant church full of desire for mission – people wanting to make a difference in our 5 mile circle of influence.  And yet the prayer list of our own sick and wounded seems insurmountable on any given day.  You recognize it too, don’t you?  Wounded warriors on the battlefield?

I am energized to speak up in my church congregation,

“What I have I give to you.”

 

My apologies to anyone who might feel I’ve oversimplified suffering and compassionate Greater is HEassistance, please forgive me.  My intent is not to over-simplify or gloss over pain and suffering.  Rather to take the focus off of my lack, which sidelines me from service, and place the focus squarely on God for He is all-sufficient.

My intent is to:

  1. embolden you to make eye contact with people God has purposely placed in your path.
  2. encourage you to engage hurting people with confidence knowing Christ is in you as you are in Him.
  3. energize and equip you to offer the very best (Jesus) of all the resources you have to every wounded person you meet.
  4. empower you to use the fullness of the gifts of the Spirit given to you for the purpose of ministry.

What I do have I give to you.  His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth…

Ponders:

  • Will you seek to remember Acts 3:6 the next time your tempted to avert your gaze from a “crippled” person on your path?
  • Do you feel emboldened to minister as you reflect on the unlimited resources of God available to us as His Spirit indwells us? (Ephesians 3:20, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • What most often causes you to feel overwhelmed in the presence of hurting and wounded people?
  • Do you believe as a spirit filled follower of Jesus you have received power to be a witness and a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world, especially in your local community?  (Acts 1:8)
  • Are you able to say like Peter?  I have no silver or gold for you, but what I have I give to you.  His name is Jesus…

 

 

 

Saturday Share: Brad Milford – the miracle of a captive set free

So, who is Brad?  Brad is my nephew – third son of my brother, Jeff.  Brad is coming into his middle twenties and writing with the wisdom of a forty year old.

By way of various detours along his short journey through life, Brad is father to precious son, Elias!

Brad's Bible

Brad and Elias do not currently live in the same household much to the sadness and frustration of his father.  However, it may be that God has most precisely used these circumstances for Brad’s ultimate good and God’s glory.

 

For this nephew, as well as his three brothers and my own two sons, I have prayed. Specifically for these young men a prayer found in Psalm 103:1-5 has been a prayer on my lips and settled in my heart.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  Psalm 103:1-5

I am delighted to read these precious words written by Brad – a testament to God’s grace and great LOVE and Brad’s surrender.  My faith soars with these direct answers to my  prayers for Brad. (I know many other people have been praying too)

I want you to be encouraged to trust God in a new way, and emboldened in your prayers. This is why I have chosen Brad’s blog post in Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way as this week’s Saturday Share.  I pray you will be set free as well as you read Brad’s unpolished words – just straight from his gut through fingers on a keyboard – raw honesty!

Welcome Brad… I love you and continue to cheer you on in Christ.  Keep picking up your cross and following right on Jesus’ heels…wait on the Lord and trust Him more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brad and EliasDear Elias,

Your dads a control freak in recovery. I say this because the first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem right? All jokes aside, God has really opened my eyes to this problem.

For such a long time I thought the opposite, I thought that everyone else had this problem. That everyone else were the ones trying to control everything. I pointed fingers, I tried “helping” others by telling them to let God handle it, and to trust him. But I was telling them what they needed to do without removing the big ol plank out of my own eye.

Many recognized a cycle I was in. It goes like this, I want something from God, I pray for it, I tell God I trust him, I believe he’s going to give me what I’m asking for, then I get upset when it doesn’t happen. I shake my fist at him as if he doesn’t care because I haven’t seen instant change, and I try to make things happen on my own. I take ahold of the wheel after a period of time as if…  click here to continue with Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way

Drop what you hold…

…follow Me

As I began a study through the book of Mark, these words dug deep “…follow Me,” Jesus said.  (Mark 1:17)  Jesus was speaking to two fishermen – Simon and his brother, Andrew. He had asked them to open their fingers and drop their nets.  Drop the familiar.  Drop their livelihood.  Drop all they were dependent on.  Follow Him.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

“Come, follow Me, ” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  Mark 1:17

It sounds so simple until I use my imagination to put myself on that shoreline, with nets in my hand, standing next to my brother and my Dad. This is our livelihood – fishing. This is what we do.  It’s what we’ve always done.  Fishing is how we feed our family.

Wait, leave fishing?  Leave?  My brother and I should leave dad here to fish alone and care for the family?  Follow you, Jesus, with the promise that you will teach us to fish for men?

Isn’t that how most people would respond?  At least think it, right?

Once I ponder the Scripture more deeply, I am amazed to realize Simon and Andrew agreed with Jesus.  They took Him at His word.  They dropped their nets and they followed Him.

crowd watching sunrise

It wasn’t just that they needed to drop their nets so that they could leave the shoreline and their fishing career behind in order to follow Jesus.  Their hands had to be free.  I feel sure these budding disciples had no idea Jesus would ask them to trade nets for a cross.  Yet, eventually, He did.

Later in Mark, Jesus dug deeper with His requirements, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34)  Same truth – drop what you hold onto for security – deny yourself the choices of your will – fill your hands with a cross – and then follow Me – Jesus.

This was a command not only for His twelve disciples, but for all who would desire to follow after Jesus.  It’s for me!

It was January and for some reason only God knows, my husband and I needed to fly all the way from Atlanta to Colorado Springs to hear a devotional about letting go of what we hold in our hands.  Even before we arrived at the conference I knew that I would be dropping something very dear to me.  The only reason I could see myself opening my hands and let the calling slip to the ground was because Jesus was directing me to let go and follow Him.

If it wasn’t for the promise, I might not drop what I held in my hands.

Yes, Jesus had called me to those nets, and He taught me for two years more than I could have ever imagined.  I was stretched and I developed muscles of perseverance and boldness I never knew I could achieve.  And just as He called me into that place of training, Jesus was confirming it was time to let go of those nets and follow Him to the next place on our journey.

Looking back at Mark 1, the words of Jesus to the fishermen comforted me most because of His promise to them. They would let go of what they knew, and Jesus promised to take what they knew and teach them to do something different with those skills.  It was His plan and all for the Glory of God.  They would be stretched and develop muscles of perseverance in faith, but they could trust the promise of Jesus.

Sand Dollar Birthday

And so with the limited vision of standing at the beginning of something new, I am determined to let go and follow Jesus wherever He leads.  I feel the security of remembering His past faithfulness.  And yet, I am fully aware of the ambivalence of knowing not the path nor the destination of His leading.

Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

What I know for sure:  All of my experiences of living – the beautiful and the ugly and all that lies in between – have been purposeful and will be useful on the next leg of my journey.  Whatever Jesus calls me to do next, His promise is secure.  However if I cling to anything more than I cling to Him, Jesus will remind me to drop what I hold – deny myself – take up my cross and follow Him.

Ponders:

  1. Are you standing at the edge of something new?
  2. Is Jesus asking you to drop something precious from your hands?
  3. Will you ask Him to remind you of His promise as you drop what’s in your hands?
  4. What will it take for you to deny yourself, take up a cross and follow Jesus?

 

Five Minute Friday: Steady

Friends, this post, Steady, is written in conjunction with the five minute friday community.  Our leader, Kate Motaung, chooses a word (a theme for our writing), we set our timers for five minutes, and then we write.  The original intent was to write (just five minutes) on the theme word for the week without edits or corrections.  So here we go…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

coffee anchor

Steady. Steady as she goes. Steady Eddie.

These are all the words which initially ran through my thinking as I saw the five minute friday word for this week. Steady…

Well, my life has been anything, but steady over the last 3 or 4 years.  Actually, as I think about that statement I’m not sure my life has ever been steady.  Is life even supposed to be steady?

I’m thinking of a friend of mine, sweet Ruthie, who reminds me often that a straightline on a heart monitor means you’re dead.

So, maybe I am glad that my life hasn’t (probably never has) been steady.  At first glance, steady sounds good.  Even keel.  But then again where’s the fun in that.

Steady (in terms of even keel) would negate fun things like roller coasters and waves and see saws and swings and cartwheels.

Steady is not my life, but steady is my God.  Steady as a rock is another phrase that comes to mind, and He is Jesus.  Jesus is my Rock. My Foundation.  The Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?  (Psalm 27)

Trust is the anchor holding me in the boat

 

I imagine a crusty white-bearded fisherman searching the horizon from high above the deck, and suddenly he yells comforting words:

Two years out and all’s well!

100_5330

 

With the new year, my husband and I embarked on our third year of his involuntary retirement.  I have no words to describe how grateful I am (still) for his discipline to store away savings in times of abundance.  Without his ‘Joseph-like’ dedication to prepare ahead for a coming famine, I don’t know where we would be right now.

God, by His grace, had prepared our hearts for a lean time.  Through prayerful listening I felt it would be at least two years before we would experience a breakthrough. We’ve several times before traveled this road of job change and loss through buy-outs and acquisitions.  This fork in the road, however, has some additional obstacles otherwise known as age and health.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of  hope before us.  And nothing, not aging or health challenges, are too hard for God!

When I focus my eyes on Jesus, I do feel calm.  I do feel secure in His presence.  As I spend time with Jesus, in His Word and in our conversations, He assures me that we (my husband and I) are right where we are supposed to be.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of hope before us.

Yet, one moment out in the world, with all the voices and choices and recommendations from all well meaning people who care about us, and I can easily find myself – well, honestly, bothered!  Then I find myself wanting to know, “How much longer, Lord?”.

Maybe people are right. Maybe I need to do something more.  Maybe I should look for more professional employment.  Maybe I should… What if…  And the wrestling begins all over again.

I wonder… have you ever been here?  Are you now?  Well, here’s what I did…

Jesus, where are You?

I grew weary of the wrestling and spinning and the voices and the questions and doubts. Honestly, I love that place of surrender!  As difficult as it is for me to get there sometimes, it is the best feeling to drop all the baggage I’ve agreed to carry and crumple at the feet of Jesus.

Finally, submitted deep in my soul, I asked Jesus to give me His perspective – as much as my finite mind can comprehend.  I asked Him to draw me a picture of how He sees our current circumstances.

Jesus answered this request almost immediately.  I began to see, in my mind’s eye, a boat bobbing on the water.  There was no storm, no daunting waves or howling wind, and in the back of the boat I sat.  My husband was seated at the front of the boat.  We were just bobbing on the calm water.

Droid2012 to 2015 2542

Yes, that’s it!  That is exactly what my life feels like right now!

However, the longer I pondered this picture in my mind, the frustration welled up inside me again.  That bothered feeling came welling up from deep within even as I sat with Jesus and His picture.  Soon I heard myself asking, “How long, O Lord, are we going to bob on this water not really going anywhere?”

This was it.  This was my life in a picture – feelings and all.  After a few days of thinking on this picture I began to see water splashing about my feet inside the boat.

Again, I picked up my conversation with Jesus.  Anxiety, fear, and frustration began to increase as I talked with Him…

Jesus there’s water coming in the bottom of the boat.  Doesn’t my husband know there’s water coming in the boat?  Are we going to sink?  Is he just going to sit in the front of the boat and let us go under?

I felt anger rising from that deep place in my soul.  I recognized the symptoms; that old ouchy place that’s been torn open once again by current circumstances.  So, I went to visit my flesh and blood Dad for advice.

“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20

St Augustine fort

Godly sorrow…

As I sat with my Dad over lunch recounting this vision of my husband and I in the boat, my dad responded with truth; “You don’t trust him to take care of you.”  The words to match the emotion had been eluding me, but when my Dad spoke it, I knew it was true.

I was ashamed to admit it.  I was afraid our boat was sinking and I didn’t trust my husband to save me.  There it was – the response I learned as a young child – fight for myself.

I confessed to my Dad (as if he didn’t know), “I’m not very good at sitting on my hands. I’m a fighter!”  My Dad grinned ear to ear and proudly confirmed, “And you’re a good one too.”  Beyond that my Dad hugged me and assured me, “God’s got this.  You’re going to be OK – eventually!”

Sunset Key LargoAs I drove home from my parents’ house I once again took the picture back to Jesus.  I told Him it was true what my Dad said, and I was sorry.  I didn’t want to feel that way about my husband.  In my spirit I felt a nudge, “Look again at the boat, Lisa.”

Oh yes!  There You are Jesus; You’re in the boat!  You’re standing right up there next to my man.  We’re not alone!

It was an amazing revelation.  And then again, in my spirit, this quiet voice – His voice coaxing me to listen and obey.  “Sit in the boat, Lisa.  Be still and watch.  Watch Me teach My man how to sail this boat.”

 An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  It is my trust in Jesus…which anchors me in the boat.

I wish I had the words to describe the incredible peace of that moment.  The presence of Jesus in the midst of our trial is priceless.  He knows us.  He is with us.  He is good and He knows what He is doing.  Jesus has a good plan for us, and He is not worried.  In fact, every once in awhile I remind Jesus,

You know water is coming in the boat still?

Jesus reminds me to look at the picture; He’s in the boat.  Jesus reminds me my trust is rightly placed in Him, and not on my husband to be my savior.  He also reminds me He’s given me a cup (my little job with my little pay), with which I am able to scoop water and throw it over the side.  Otherwise I am to be still, stay in the boat and watch.

I’m watching You; eyes on You, Jesus, as You teach my man how to sail.

anchor

Today I saw something, looking at pictures of anchors, that I’ve never recognized before.  An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  Catching this visual I hold fast to this truth:

It is my trust in Jesus (because of all the times in my life when I have experienced His faithfulness) which anchors me in the boat.

…(Jesus said)“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Mark 8:34

Ponders:

  1. How about you, friend?  Are you facing an uncertain situation?
  2. Are you able to identify any controlling emotions?
  3. Would you be willing to enter an ongoing conversation with Jesus about the inward wrestling match?
  4. Would you ask Jesus to paint a picture?  Sing you a song? Write you a poem?  What other form of communication might Jesus use to make His truth more clear to you?
  5. Proverbs 16:20 reminds us: “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.”  Do you have a safe person who will offer Godly instruction?  Perhaps you will seek them out today. 
  6. Will you allow trust to be your anchor to help you obey the Lord?

Saturday Share: Find Your Food with Jess Dudley

In this week’s Saturday Share I want to introduce my good friend and favorite doula (a person who assists in birthing), Jess Dudley.  You will find her at findyourfood.org where Jess transparently shares her journey out of obesity and now willingly and graciously extends her hand of assistance to all who are ready to say YES to life, abundant life by taking back control from controlling foods.  If this sounds like a journey you’d like to take I encourage you to go visit Jess Dudley today.

I’ve known Jess for nearly 20 years.  We were both moms of 2nd graders when she first caught my eye.  Her daughter and my oldest son were in different 2nd grade classrooms on the same hall.  I saw her as we each walked our children down that hall and into their classroom (back when we were allowed to do such a thing), but I did not know her.dare again

In those days of my early Christian walk my anxiety over leaving my children out in the world created in me a desire to learn how to pray.  I admit it – I was extremely fearful.  I no longer had my children continually under my wing.  I had the feeling of losing control (as if I had ever had complete control), and so prayers like “Now I lay me down to sleep…” were no longer cutting it for me.

 

I was crying out in my soul, “Lord, I need someone to teach me how to pray”!  One day I walked to my mailbox and inside was a Focus on the Family magazine highlighting on the cover (no, I’m not making this up) Moms in Touch – the power of praying moms for their children and their schools.  I held it in my hand in awe of God’s very clear and intentional answer to my cry for help.

The next day I carried the magazine with me to the school and down that same hallway with my son.  I saw Jess up ahead and Holy Spirit pointed her out as the woman who would teach me how to pray.  Please understand…I did not know her.  Nor had we ever spoken to one another.  We had no interaction which would assure me she was a follower of Jesus, but in complete terror and total faith I stepped forward.  Magazine out front I spoke up and told her I believed she was supposed to teach me how to pray.

Well, she looked at me and said, “No, I don’t think so.”  Had I gotten it wrong.  Was there someone else Holy Spirit was pointing out.  The next day I saw her again and similarly Holy Spirit pointed her out.  I approached her again, and she said, “No”.  This time I followed her all the way to the media center in the school where she was volunteering.  I continued telling her my story and how I thought she was supposed to teach me to pray.  Finally, recognizing I would continue to stalk her, Jess looked up at me and something similar to this, “Fine, I knew I was supposed to do it the first time you asked me”.

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And that’s how we began our friendship – a journey together in prayer for our very culturally diverse and transient public school families, teachers and administration.  Jess was my doula in prayer.  She held my hand and helped me to find my voice before the Throne of Grace.  Together we asked God to do what only He could do to encourage teachers and bring parents together in community to support the education of their children.  As a partnership we recruited other mothers to come and pray with us.  We became an official Moms in Touch prayer group.

Our children are grown and we’ve each moved to a different community, but we stay in touch.  Throughout these almost twenty years, the Lord has zig-zagged our paths to cross at times.  I’m delighted to see where the Lord has brought my friend – to take back her life and gain control over food.  I cheer her on personally, but also as an encourager – a doula for many who also want to get their lives back.

Jess, my friend, it is a pleasure to highlight you and the ministry you have with Find Your Food

What do you holdFind Your Food

What are you holding?

When…When we pick food over our faith, shame settles in and it’s not long before we disqualify ourselves and slip away.

So often in obesity we tend to disqualify ourselves and any calling on our lives.  We’re feel we don’t qualify…Failure=Disqualification, right?

Picking Food over our Faith to cope, to comfort, to even entertain. Well, we are sure that’s not right, right?

Well God showed up and started talking to me about this…

Please take time to click here for the rest of this inspirational post by Jessica Dudley.

Jess Dudley

You can also catch Jess Dudley on Facebook Live  9 a.m.