Saturday, May 29, 2010

Grace flows down and covers me

The more you think about grace, the more amazing it becomes. Your mind cannot truly conceive it. It is something that must be taken in through the heart.

Grace is better than "the benefit of the doubt." When someone gives you the benefit of the doubt, they are choosing to turn a blind eye and allow for excuses why you act a certain way. A person giving you the benefit of the doubt is overlooking something you have said or done because they want to believe you're really a good person down deep in there somewhere. Grace, on the other hand, knows exactly the reasons you said something or behaved a certain way...and makes a covenant to love you and cover you anyway.

That's what Jesus did. That's who Jesus is.

Years ago, I used to drive down to Waco every Monday night during the school year with friends so we could attend Choice, a night of worship and teaching with Louie Giglio. Choice was the place I first learned what it meant to be a worshipper. It is where I first abandoned myself in worship to my Lord, so I have very fond memories of that place and that time in my life. One of the songs that came out of Choice was "Grace Flows Down." I haven't been able to find the original recording, but here's a version of Christy Nockels singing it in one of the Passion conferences: Grace Flows Down.

Amazing Grace - how sweet the sound
Amazing Love now flowing down
From hands and feet that were nailed to the tree
His grace flows down and covers me

And covers me
And covers me
And covers me
And covers me

I love that! It covers me...and covers me...and covers me. It never stops. I could spend hours and days thinking about that fact.

But, that brings me back to reality...and how grace works in my life. The concept and the experience are so moving, so powerful - but if I just receive grace, I have not fully grasped it. Once you have been freed by grace, you have a mandate to then free others by grace. "What do you mean?" you might be thinking. Well, I'm glad you asked.

Now that Tim and I have been married for several years, we know each other pretty well. I know that he leaves his clothes on the floor in our room, and he knows that I leave all my shoes in the front living room. He knows that cleaning is not my favorite thing, and I know that changing diapers is not his favorite thing. He knows that I spend too much time on the computer and I know that he does, too, sometimes. There are many other worse things, but you catch my drift. In marriage, there are so many little, piddly things that can eat at you. The clothes on the floor, the mess left behind, the way he says something to you repeatedly, the little STUFF. Then, when something big comes against you - financial trouble, an affair, a loss of a child, a death in the family - something really big, you have no reserves to deal with the situation. This is why GRACE is so absolutely important in your marriage and in your family relationships. It covers...and covers...and covers...and covers...and doesn't stop.

In case you didn't know, we're all really messed up! We have quirks, flaws and serious issues that we're not free from yet. But grace can cover over those things - and can actually transform us and set us free. When Jesus let His blood flow out of His mortal body, He saw every nasty sin from every person from all of time. He grabbed on to that burden of sin from all of humanity, carried it in His body and did away with it - so He could extend grace to us. He knew the reality and loved us anyway. He loved us enough to let it kill that we could be transformed through His grace.

When your husband is irking you by the same old pattern of behavior, grace can transform him. When you find yourself cursing under your breath that you have to pick up dirty laundry off the floor for the thousandth time, grace can transform you. When you feel like verbally lashing out at your husband for something stupid he just did, grace can transform the situation. When you respond out of grace, the atmosphere changes.

Grace knows what the reality is - that your husband leaves his underwear on the floor two feet in front of the hamper. But grace says, "I love you anyway," and picks it up for him. It covers him. And it keeps covering him.

Grace is not something you can muster up or clench your jaw tight enough to create. Grace is received - and then grace can be extended. Grace must dwell in you for grace to flow out of you. If you have given your life to Jesus, then Grace does dwell in you! Now you have the choice to let that grace flow or not. Nobody else on earth has been given the role of covering your husband like you. You have a precious and valuable role to play: grace-giver. The next time you feel your blood start to boil or your eye start to twitch like a crazy person, ask the Holy Spirit to stir up grace in you and let it flow out. Be the grace-giver the Lord designed you to be - and watch the amazing transformation.

...and grace flows down and covers me...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

But joy....

"I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord, my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.

"Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me. Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save me for Your mercies' sake.

"Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord."

Psalm 30:1-5, 11-12; 31:14-16, 19-20, 24

Wow, I love the Word! When my heart is hurting or is anguishing over something, my soul yearns for the Word. And I usually hit the Psalms the lengthy passage above. The Word brings such comfort, such healing, such perspective. It clears out my ears so I can hear what the Lord is saying to me about my circumstances. The Word lifts my eyes UP, so that I can see the Father and realize that my circumstances are not in control of me.

Most of you know, but for the sake of those who do not, let me share our employment situation: My husband Tim is a freelance commercial photographer. He is very artistic and has an amazingly creative "eye" in photography. He would really like to devote himself to art, but has made a very responsible and admirable decision to find a more lucrative means of supporting his little family. He is still in photography, just a more commercial vein. The interesting part of his employment is that he is a freelancer - meaning he takes contract jobs and is not an employee on anyone's payroll. The freelance world can be amazingly fruitful - just depending on how things line up. For our family, we have settled into a roller coaster rhythm of BIG paychecks from a long job.....then NO paychecks from the lagtime in between jobs. It is difficult, I'm not going to lie! Over the past 8 years of our marriage, we have learned a lot about money, about each other, about contentment, about failure, and about God's faithfulness. This has been God's path for us - and we look back and see His goodness and mercy following us for sure!

Today just happens to be one of those days where there is more month at the end of the money. I know you can all identify to some extent. This is the kind of day where I have to choose to plug my faith into the Provider and let Him work the knots out of my stomach with a large dose of His peace. And I get plugged in and dosed up through the Word. As I sat on my couch and read those passages in Psalms earlier, tears welled up in my eyes as I felt the Holy Spirit massaging my heart with His truth. I felt the sweet, comforting presence of my Savior surrounding me, protecting me and reassuring me. He is faithful! He is good! I can trust Him!

Your Savior can do this for you, too. Whatever is weighing on your shoulders or causing you distress....God can lift it. Find a spot on YOUR couch and invite Him to come sit with you as you open the Word. And I'm just sayin' - the Psalms are a great place to begin!

"For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace..." Is. 55:12a

Friday, May 21, 2010


O Sleep, Sleep, wherefore art thou, Sleep? Seems like everyone in the mom category could use a few more winks, and I'm talkin' 'bout NOW. Wouldn't motherhood be so much easier if we all just got enough uninterrupted sleep?!

There are seasons of life where sleep is elusive for whatever reason - having an infant is high on the list, but other things affect your sleep, too. Things like stress, anxiety, illness, worry, fatigue, insomnia, fill in the blank... And when your sleep is affected, your life is affected. That's why as moms we not only need sleep, but we need the rest the Lord gives. Rest and sleep sometimes coincide, but they can be separated. That is good news for you, my friend, because when you cannot sleep, you can always go to the Lord for rest. I woke up the other morning with the Lord pressing this on my heart:

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

It's like I could hear God's voice in my heart saying this to me. Even though I knew this verse and had committed it to memory, it was fresh and alive for that moment in time. I needed my sweet Father to remind me that I am restored in His presence. That is where I will truly find rest for my soul. When I am at my wits' end with my daughter's emotional freak-outs, I can switch instantly into God's throne room and find rest there. I can be standing IN Claire's room WHILE she is screaming and crying, but be drawing on the peaceful rest He is providing for me at the same time. I don't have to respond to Claire's behavior from my lack of sleep - because I have a Source of rest that will sustain me.

As I go along in this life, I am learning more and more that I can draw on the Lord in every situation. Yeah, that sounds like something we all know, but this is where the rubber meets the road, people. If I can quiet my emotions and let my spirit dial the "red phone" to the throne room of heaven, I will be able to appropriate the fullness of the Lord for my situation. My tiredness tells me that I am running on empty, but the truth is, my Source never runs out.

And...there is a really cool byproduct of experiencing the rest God gives: joy. When you have been in the manifest presence of Father God and have received the sweetness of the rest He offers, you come away with joy. Joy in knowing that He is faithful and true and that He never lets you go. Joy in feeling His love and approval. Deep-seated soul-joy that is watered with the rains of heaven.

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul..." Ps. 23:1-3a (NAS)

So, get some sleep whenever you can - take care of your body. And when you can't sleep, visit with your Daddy and get some rest.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Speak LIFE

"...I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live..." Deuteronomy 30:19

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:21

Powerful, huh? Can you imagine if we actually lived like we believed those verses? Our words carry so much weight that God went so far as to say we can cause life or death by the words that come out of our mouths. God also spoke through Moses to tell His people that they had a choice: life or death. Blessing or cursing. When you put it that way, it's like, "Duh!" Of course we WANT life. Of course we choose blessings and not curses! But do we really?

Where I get myself into trouble is in the nitty gritty details of my day: being perturbed with my kids for whatever reason, having the twelfth thing in a row go wrong while I'm trying to accomplish a long list of to-do's, or just being tired. During those moments, my guard is down and I respond with a fleshly remark or attitude. I can reason it away or overlook those words I spoke over my kids - but the reality is, I just sucked the air out of the room by letting death escape my lips. If I am not speaking life, then I am speaking death. DEATH. That's horrible! And it seems so harsh! But we have a great mantle of responsibility on us as God's people. He created humanity to have dominion over the earth. Having dominion meant that humans were God's super-charged managers on the earth, acting in His authority, and whatever they said was the way it would be. Of course, everything got royally messed up when Adam and Eve forfeited their relationship with God for the knowledge of Him... But that did not alter the pattern God set in motion for dominion. What we say carries weight.

Think about it - if you spend a week consciously praising and encouraging your child, what are the results? That child will rise to the words spoken over him. If you spend a week dedicated to speaking loving things to your husband and telling him how amazing he is, what are the results? You grow closer together, you love him more, and he rises up into the place you have created for him with your words. I'm not suggesting that you refrain from correction or discipline with your kids - far from it! Your children need your guidance in those ways, for sure. But, what if you set a guard on your lips and only let life-filled things come out? Would anything change in your world?

A few years ago, I first heard Jimmy Evans teach his marriage seminar called Marriage on the Rock. He was one of the first people who helped me understand how very powerful my words were over my husband. I remember him saying something about finding one good thing your husband does and praising him for it. "Even if it's just, 'Honey, I love the way you put your socks on in the morning. Nobody puts their socks on better than you do.' " I thought that was hysterical...because I was in a funky place and couldn't really come up with anything to praise Tim for at the time. But that gave me such hope. To know that if I would start speaking life to Tim, life would come. So, I tried it. I made a point of keeping anything negative to myself and only speaking out good things to Tim. When I started doing that, a bridge was built over the black chasm that had separated us for quite a while. And we began to live again. I could see a glimmer in his eyes again. So, I kept speaking life....even when I didn't fully buy it or didn't fully believe it, I spoke it in faith that it could be. And to my amazement, Tim started to grow into himself as the head of our home! Not because I was trying to manipulate him or change him...simply because I was speaking words that created life in his soul.

We have got to get over ourselves and be willing to let things go. We have got to choose the better way - the way of life. Yes, we need to discuss things and yes, we sometimes will have opposing viewpoints, but the bottom line is that I will not use my words to bring death to my husband in any way. I refuse to speak death over my precious children whom God entrusted to me to water and tend and train up.

God isn't joking about this! We have the power to speak LIFE - real life - into a husband, a child, a situation, a people group, a nation, a job, a physical body... Consider the ramifications!

I'm making a renewed commitment today to choose life for myself and my house! Join me!

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

Friday, May 14, 2010


So, as I entered the world of all things iPhone, I discovered this really cool little app (application, in iPhone-speak) called Shazam. It seems like such magic. You open it up, hold your phone toward any source of recorded music being played and hit the "Tag Now" button...and in a few seconds, it tells you exactly what song you're listening to and who is playing/singing it!

I was sitting in Barnes & Noble with a friend last week when she abruptly dropped her line of thought and said, "What is this song? It's something famous, like from an opera..." So, I whipped out my phone, punched up Mr. Shazam and put him to work. In about 4.5 seconds, he came back with the results: Nessun Dorma, Jeff Beck. And my friend promptly marched herself to the music counter and bought the CD. (Way to go, Shazam - you're really just an evil marketing ploy, aren't you...) Even though I have used Shazam many times, I am still so impressed and amazed that the little chip in my phone can connect with the soundwaves from a single song being played, match those notes and phrases with an expansive database somewhere and tell me with pinpoint accuracy the very song I am hearing at any moment. Genius.

It kind of reminds me of one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit....have you ever heard of the "discerning of spirits"? It's kind of like Shazam - except better.

When your life has been filled up with the Holy Spirit, He releases gifts in you that provide you power for living and accomplishing God's purposes. There's a list of all the gifts the Holy Spirit gives us in I Corinthians 12:7-11. But I just want to talk about "discerning of spirits" for today.

Sometimes when people talk about this gift, they mistakenly call it the gift of discernment. While discernment is important, this is not really what the Scripture says. It says discerning of spirits - implying that there are different spirits at work around us and we need to know how to identify them. (Shazam!) And the Scripture says this is a gift. When you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, you have a toolbelt of gifts bestowed upon you. This is available to everyone who has given their lives to Jesus and has recognized Him as Savior and Lord. All you have to do is ask for it! I came from a church background that did not believe in this third baptism, so I was leery about it and tried to skirt the Scriptures that talked about it for a large part of my life.

(Third baptism: First is the baptism into the Body in salvation; second is baptism in water; third is baptism in the Holy Spirit. Helpful resources on this topic: Jack Hayford's books and Robert Morris's sermon series My Best Friend: The Holy Spirit and The Holy Spirit Revealed)

After some face-in-the-carpet time with God while I was in college, I became convinced that there was definitely something missing in my Christianity. I found myself desiring the intimacy with God that I observed in friends who told me they had received baptism in the Holy Spirit. So I grappled with the Lord over it for a long time. I pored over the Scriptures and fasted and prayed for several days to try to get to the bottom of the whole subject with God. Long story short, I prayed and asked Jesus to baptize me in His Holy Spirit - all alone in my apartment in Nashville one night as a 20 year old college student. And everything began to change...

One of the things I noticed was that I had these new "antennae" that were very sensitive to unseen things going on. I could walk into a group of people in the middle of a conversation and have a sense of what was really going on - whether I belonged in that conversation or not, whether I had an assignment from the Lord with one of those people...and so on and so forth. This was the gift of discerning of spirits being activated in me.

One of the best examples I have from personal experience is watching a cartoon with my daughter a couple of years ago. We watched this cute little show with a bear and all his animal friends for months thinking it was harmless. But whenever I would sit down to watch it with Claire, it made me feel weird for some reason. I repeatedly dismissed it, thinking I was just annoyed with the writing or the voices or whatever. (I'm kind of critical at times...) Then one day, we were watching the show and the bear was in the woods painting a picture. He took great care to paint an ugly monster with fangs and spikes and scary eyes...and then he laughed out loud and said, "That's funny! It makes me laugh!" and proceeded to laugh some more.

And something clicked.

I stopped the recording and looked at Claire and said, "I'm so sorry, honey, but we can't watch this show anymore." I went on to explain to her that the bear was trying to make her think that a bad thing was actually good and funny. Without a major back story, we had worked through a lot of fear with Claire over "monsters" when she was 2 and 3. So, when I saw that monster being painted and then condoned and accepted as something okay and even fun and funny, a fire shot through my bones. My antennae were on point. Shazam gave me the results. The gift of discerning of spirits identified an intruder in my home - a spirit that was NOT the Holy Spirit.

Can you see how valuable this gift is?! Can you see that we all need it? I never knew how much I needed it until I became a mom and felt such fierce guardian instincts over my children. Being able to discern what kind of spirit is behind something enables you to protect your little ones like a sentinel in your home. You're the one who lets things in and out. You're the one who has authority to bind and to loose what you want in your home. Jesus bestowed this authority on you and the Holy Spirit gave you the tools to enforce it.

Call me crazy. Call me what you will. But you'd better believe I'm serious about knowing what is influencing my children - and ME, for that matter. The spirit realm is real and there is a battle going on all the time. The cool thing is, we can influence that battle by our participation! The final result is already established - Jesus wins. But we get to enforce His victory by pushing back the darkness. We push back the darkness with Light. And we wield that Light through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Out of Whack

Ahhh, the chiropractor. Have you ever been to one? I first experienced the joy of a spinal adjustment in high school after I injured my lower back playing basketball. I was experiencing sharp, intense pain in my back when I sat in my school desk and it became too much to endure. My parents ended up going the chiropractic route for treatment...and I was hooked! It was working for me and I became a huge fan! I still love learning how all the organs, functions and systems of our bodies are connected to our spine. Amazing! Anyway, after a few months of treatment, my back was totally better, had restoration of motion and everything. I was about fifteen years old and I felt great! Funny thing was, I didn't stay that way. I found that as I exerted myself in sports, my back would get out of alignment again and again. I had to keep getting adjusted so that my body would function properly... Hmmm. What a correlation.

Something I have been learning is the connection between body, soul and spirit - and the order in which God intended for them to work. If you have been around me for long, I'm sure you have heard me talk about this subject. It is so essential to living fully and living in the flow of God's plan for you.

The Scripture gives reference to our being having three parts: a body, a soul and a spirit. (I Thess. 5:23, Is. 26:9, Heb. 4:12) The reference in Hebrews 4 even mentions that the Word of God is able to separate between soul and spirit. We were created in such an amazing way by a detailed, loving Creator. We are made in His image. There has been much speculation, debate and frustration over that statement, but I'm buying it! I believe we look like our Creator, but our being is like Him, too. He is Triune - three in one - Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I have learned to perk my ears up whenever there is a pattern in Scripture or in God's dealings with humanity. Groups of three are important. Don't you think it is interesting that we are also triune beings? Body, soul, spirit. Not an accident. And if it's not an accident, then all those parts are important. And all those parts have a function and an order.

We all know what a body is. That is probably the one part of us we truly "get." We see it, we feel it, we manage it (or not) and it interfaces us to the world and the world to us. It is a complex system, but it is not who we are.

Our soul is made up of our will, our thoughts, our emotions. It is the inside place where we process our world. Where we evaluate, contemplate, structure, reason, feel. This part throws us for a loop because we think this is who we are. We think that we are what we know. We think that we are how we feel. If it's in my mind, then it must be true. If I feel this way, then that's how it is. Well, to borrow a phrase from the esteemed Bob Hamp, "What if it's not? What if that's not true?" We'll come back to this in a minute...

The spirit - this is the real you. When you were physically born into this world, you were born dead. You had a body and a soul that were working quite well, but your spirit was stillborn. Because of the curse that came with the first choice of death in the Garden of Eden, all of us were born dead. This is what grieved our Father! His expansive family that He planned from the beginning would all be stillborn...unless He intervened. And so He sent His only Son into this place to make a way for us to have life. The moment you believed on Jesus and gave yourself to Him, God's breath (the Holy Spirit) brought life into your spirit. That is when you began to TRULY live. If you think back, I'm sure you can remember how things began to change for you - certain things were no longer appealing to you...certain people made you feel strange all of a sudden...and you had a new appetite for things of God. Your demeanor changed, your attitudes changed, YOU changed. There was a new person inside you that perfectly filled in the shell of who you were.

God's intention is for alignment. That firstly, life springs from the deepest part of us, our spirit. Our spirit is where we connect with the Holy Spirit, where we hear God's voice, where we sense and discern and deal in spiritual things. His order for our being is spirit, soul, body. The spirit is supposed to be in charge, driving the soul and the body to accomplish what the spirit chooses. MOST of the time, we don't operate that way - it is too easy for us to let our soul take the wheel and steer us off a cliff. That is the path of least resistance if we are left to ourselves! After driving myself off an emotional cliff the last time, I started to realize there was a better way...I knew there was a sweetness to life that I clearly was not experiencing in my mangled state of wreckage. I realized that I cannot trust my emotions or even my own thoughts! Without the life that flows from the Holy Spirit into my spirit, and without my yielding to that life, I will be deceived and will end up a wreck in every situation. I must force my soul to yield to my spirit. I must silence my natural thoughts and feelings to hear what God is saying to me about my situation. I must crush the old self - or like the Scripture puts it - I must die to self. Self is not welcome in the seat of authority any longer! My thoughts, will and emotions will take a back seat to my spirit and I will keep slapping them back in their place until it becomes a habit and my spirit doesn't have to struggle with them any more. Then, when my soul is accustomed to its new seat, all of a sudden it begins to function properly! It is transformed under the direction of my spirit, connected to the Holy Spirit! My thoughts are changed and my feelings line up with the truth. And THEN, my body can fall in line with truth from the top down.

The principle of alignment is so vital. Just like your physical spine must be in alignment for your body to function properly, so must your being be in alignment for you to function properly. If one vertebra moves even slightly out of line, your body experiences intense pain and individual systems start malfunctioning. If you sever your spinal cord, you lose mobility altogether, if not your life. Do you see the correlation to the idea of spirit/soul/body? If your soul shifts over and gets out of whack, you suffer. If your allow your body to rule you, you are out of alignment. The way God intended for you to live is UPRIGHT - standing tall, with the spirit in charge, the soul and the body falling in line, all in agreement with the Truth.

Are you tired of being out of whack? Give your spirit the keys and drive on up to get yourself an adjustment! Here's your prescription for maintenance:

1. Present yourself to God
2. Listen to hear what He is saying
3. Get a heavy dose of His Word
4. Pray the Word back to Him
5. Praise Him
6. Repeat often

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Rock Star/Magician/Pack Mule/Event Planner/Chef/Referee/Stabilizing Force in the Universe Day!

For real, though! Moms are amazing.

I hope you know how amazing you are. You've got it going on! Whether you birthed your children, adopted them or somehow woke up with small humans in your life, you're an amazing person for loving them. You press on through endless whining, long stretches of sickness, the "phase" your child is currently in...and you make a world for those little ones. You ARE their world for the first years of life! You are their sun as they orbit around you and grow from your warmth. On days when you'd rather just stay in bed and think of your own wishes, you still spend your energy to love, serve and nurture those precious ones. You are awesome!

Sometimes I look around at the mothers I know and am confounded by their capacity to get things done. Some women have a grace on them to have large families, where everyone is dressed properly, uses flawless manners, can speak a second language and has a super-suit with heroic powers... If that's you, then just know that the rest of us are in awe.

I, on the other hand, am fine if my kids are just dressed - doesn't have to be "properly" - and if they can just remember to come to me when I call them. I do have a Responsibilities Chart for my daughter, and she gets a sticker for certain things we ask of her each far, we're really striving hard to get the teeth brushed on a consistent basis. Ugh. But, just when it has been one of those days, Claire will come to me, curl up in my lap with her arms around my neck and say, "I love you, Mommy." Then I remember how precious this little one is! And how important my patient involvement with her really is.

Last year, during a study on the Holy Spirit, I fell into a new definition of LONGSUFFERING, which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. (also listed as "patience" in certain translations) Longsuffering is, yes, "to suffer long." But to bring it down to a more practical understanding, here's my definition: to be graciously "in it" for the long-haul. To have a long-term view of the relationship or situation that is anchored by peace.

Boy, do I need that in my life as a mom! If I could just remember that my daughter's memory lapse on the thing I have repeatedly told her to do is only a pixel in the big picture. If I could just take a step back and see that my frustrations with my two-year-old are just a quick blip on the screen of his life. My children need me to have the big picture in front of me. They need me to be their navigator because I'm the one who has already passed this way before. Too many times, I let my response to my kids come from a place of self - telling them how annoyed I am with them or how they are constantly messing up. Turning my attention and my heart away from them. Hiding the warmth of their sun. And I can see their little hearts go limp and the light drain out of their eyes. Thank God for amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. I NEED the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life! I can't do this mom thing out of the storehouse of my flesh! I know that I will utterly fail my children if my source of power is me.

That's why I'm so grateful for another option - the Holy Spirit's power in me!!! I can choose the source from which I live - and I MUST choose. The default setting is my own abilities and my own thoughts and my own endurance, and I know those don't get me very I choose LIFE. I'm making a decision to plug into LIFE by ingesting the Word, praising my amazing God and letting Him fill me up with His river of living water so that it springs out of me. I know this will be a moment-by-moment decision since life is fast and unpredictable. But I'm going to choose LIFE over and over again. I'm declaring it by faith.


So....back to celebrating! Today I raise my glass (of decaf iced tea) to all you moms out there! We're going to raise up a generation of people who love God and know how to love others from the true Source of LIFE! Cheers!!!


For the mother that you are - you are fabulous! For the guardian and protector that you are - you are fierce! For the teacher and guide that you are - you are honored! For the time you invest - you are rewarded! For the tears you shed - you are understood! For the prayers you pray - you are fruitful! For the love you give - you're amazing.

Happy Mother's Day to YOU!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Like Breathing Out and Breathing In

Today is the National Day of Prayer! For those of you with infants: if you can just manage to eek out "Help!" in prayer today, then you have succeeded!

The past couple of years have been an intense schooling for me in prayer. And I'm hearing so many people lately have a deep stirring in their core about prayer - the desire for prayer, understanding prayer, touching the Father through prayer and being transformed through prayer.

I took a class this spring at church called Prayer Tools and was so privileged to sit under the teaching of Carin Prickett. Wow. This woman has insight and experience in prayer and the Word like no one I have ever known. After every class (for 12 straight weeks), Tim and I would look at each other and say, "I don't think I have ever actually prayed before..." And we eventually were so floored by the revelation we received, we decided "Maybe we just need to get saved!"

Here are some of the amazing things I took away from that class:

We are positioned IN CHRIST. Yeah, we've all heard that and we kind of grasp what it means, but the imagery of the Old Testament high priestly garments reveals such a deep, poetic truth about our position in Christ.

The high priest had specific clothing and adornments he had to wear according to God's command. (see Exodus 28) The priest wore onyx stones on his shoulders, representing the Israelites as a nation - six tribes represented on one shoulder and six on the other. This was "the government" resting on the priest's shoulders. (does that phrase ring any bells for you? Is. 9:6 ) Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament high priest - and He bears us on His shoulders before the Father.

The priest also wore a breastplate displaying twelve precious stones - one for each tribe of Israelites by name. Jesus not only represents us as a whole group (the Church) before God, but He represents us INDIVIDUALLY. Your name is written across His chest when He goes before the Father.

Now here's where it gets really good... in Old Testament times, when people would come to the Temple to seek counsel from God on a matter, they would bring a sacrifice. A dove was the lowliest sacrifice, but was common. Someone seeking an answer from God would present a dove to the priest; the priest would look it over, brush the dirt off of it, pluck out any imperfect feathers or blemishes and then perfume the dove with a sweet-smelling oil or fragrance. At that point, the priest would then hear the person's request. He would write it down (in the form of a 'yes' or 'no' question for God to answer) on a paper and tuck it behind the ephod of 12 stones up against his chest. Then the priest went into the Temple before God with the dove in his hands and the request pressed close to his heart. He offered the sacrifice to God and then waited for God's response to the question. Imagine...being in a holy place where only one man was ever allowed to go....appearing before the presence of Almighty God... The glory of God would light up the room and the stones in the ephod would reflect His light - then, either the Hebrew word for "yes" or for "no" would reflect from the ephod on to the wall and was considered God's response to the person's question of Him.

Do you see the imagery here?! This floored me. Jesus is the eternal High Priest for us. We don't have any other go-betweens since Jesus paid the price to reconcile us to God. And because He is the High Priest, He bears us on His heart before the Father as individuals. He knows that we need to hear from God. He hears the cries of our hearts. He hears our prayers. Jesus takes our prayer - like the dove sacrifice - brushes the dirt off of it, plucks out any impurities, makes it a fragrant, pleasing offering to God...and then presents it before the Father. The high priest made the ordinary dove pleasing to God, and Jesus makes us and our prayers pleasing to God. He TRANSFORMS our prayers into what they should be. He is our Advocate before God - He speaks on our behalf. He presents us pressed up close to His heart and probably says something like, "Father, here is Crista. I died for her and she is covered by my blood. I hold her here in my heart. She has a need from you and here it is." And as Jesus presents us before the Father, the light of God's glory shines on us and reflects from the stone with our name on it. We magnify His glory.

THEN....get this! Remember that verse that says "For all the promises of God in Him (Jesus) are 'Yes' and in Him 'Amen' to the glory of God through us"? (II Cor. 1:20) Apply it in this imagery! Our requests, pressed up close to Jesus' heart as He represents us before the Father...are met with a YES from God! And He says 'yes' to the purified prayer that Jesus presents with our name on it.

I think I might need to get saved. (that's only funny because I know I am...don't get me wrong!)

I love discovering these amazing things about Scripture - how God had an intricate plan from the beginning - and how Jesus is the fulfillment of every promise and intention of the Father laid out in the Old Testament. Man, I love Him!

The revelation that my prayers don't have to be perfect is so freeing! I just have to bring myself to God. I just have to come into His presence under the Blood. And sometimes, I don't even know what to say - but it's okay. The Holy Spirit prays in me and through me, even when I don't have words.

"Likewise, the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26-27

There's so much more...but I think that about wraps it up for today. Like one of my all-time favorite Christian singers/songwriters says it: "Like breathing out and breathing in...oh, let us pray!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Make 'Em Laugh!

Humor is SUCH a God-thing! Even in my season of deep, dark depression, one laugh could carry me a long way.

After I had my first baby (my sweet little Claire-Bear, who is almost 6 years old now!), I plummeted into a spiral of depression like nothing else I had ever experienced. I no longer wanted to be around people. I wouldn't answer the door or the phone. I cried all the time. Everything seemed dark and empty. I retreated into a cocoon inside myself and was barely able to function or care for my newborn. Some other time I will tell you how the Lord brought me out of that horrible place...

BUT, even while I was in the midst of it, laughter was such medicine to my soul! My husband has this stupid little thing he does to make me laugh...that he invented during that hellish season of our lives. Back story: I have always thought it was so funny to watch our annoying little dog cough up a "furball" or whatever got stuck in his throat. Something about the way he craned his neck and tried so forcefully to hack up that nasty thing. Anyway, at one of my lowest points, Tim looked at me with a mischievous grin and said, "Look what I can do..." and proceeded to imitate Ollie (the dog) as he hacked up a fur ball. Sounds so stupid, but it made me laugh. And Tim has been able to lift burdens off my shoulders many times since then by that little routine. (Like, even last week!)

The point, you ask? Well, whatever your situation is today, I just want to encourage you to add a little humor into the mix. It will do your heart some good!

This little ditty always makes me laugh - it's old school and definitely for those with a theatrical flair, but good for a laugh, nonetheless:

Donald O'Connor "Make 'em Laugh" from Singing in the Rain

I'd love to hear some things that make you laugh...or some funny stories that would make the rest of us laugh! Post your humor "meds" in the comments!

Blessings to you today, friends!

Job 8:21 "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy!"

Proverbs 17:22 "A cheerful heart is good medicine..."

Saturday, May 1, 2010


You've lost something. Your heart has been ripped out, torn to shreds. You don't know if you will survive it.

Just this week I was made aware of two precious ladies I know who miscarried their babies. In fact, ALMOST ALL the moms I know have lost a baby in miscarriage. It is one of the most horrendous things to have to endure in this life. What makes it even worse is that there aren't any good answers. Sometimes it seems like if you can just find someone to blame or some reasonable explanation, you can weather the waves of emotions that flood your being.

Then, once you are able to even get out of bed again, you have to smile through all the idiotic things people say like, "you're going through this so you can help other people in the same situation," or "you'll have another one," and other insensitive and asinine statements like that. (Side note: "asinine" is a very good word. Word of the day, if I might suggest.)

The facts say that you have lost. The facts say that there is no life in you. The facts say that someone should be at fault. The facts come up empty.

But then, there's the TRUTH.

The truth is God has never left you or turned His heart away from you. (Deut. 31:6, Deut. 31:8, Josh. 1:5)
The truth is that you will have trouble in this life, but that you can take heart because Jesus has overcome this world. (John 16:33)
The truth is, when you pass through the waters, He is with you. (Is. 43:2)
The truth is, Jesus understands your deepest heartache and feels it with you. (Is. 53:4)
The truth is, He knows how you operate, He understands your limits and He gently leads you. (Ps. 103:14, Is. 40:11)
The truth is that NOTHING can separate you from His love. (Rom. 8:38-39) Not even the pains of losing a baby.

His love flows down and covers you. Even when you are not aware of it, even when you are not able to receive it, even when you are angry with God. Nothing can stop His love! God PURSUES you with His deep, passionate, wild love. His love will restore you. His love will bring you new life. His love will heal up your brokenness. His love will move you forward. His love will make you live.

When you find yourself stuck in the filth at the bottom of the lowest emotional cavern in the universe, let your Lover hold you and cry with you. He has been in that cavern before. He hated the idea of your being there so much that He died a cruel death, bore your darkness and death in his own body and then stormed into the Darkness to get the keys to that awful place. Jesus has the keys to that prison and He's opening the door for you. Go with him through the prison door and let Him lead you back into the light where you were meant to be.

If you can be quiet and just sense God's presence, you'll realize you are being held.