“I Will Rise”

Every once in a while, a memory of hard, traumatic, unexplainable events of the past will raise its ugly head inside of me. It tends to rock me to the core. Sometimes taking a while to get my mind off of it.

Today I was reading in Luke 24:1-12. It is the account of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary Mother of James going to the tomb of Jesus to put burial spices on His body. They find He isn’t there. Suddenly, Angels appear and one says “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” This phrase resounds in my heart today. The women had seen some of the most traumatic events of a brutal death of a loved one. They surely were processing what had happened trying to make sense. But they were instructed that there wasn’t anything there for them in the dead things of the past. Jesus was living! He wasn’t in the past He has risen!

Whatever we have walked through that was hard, painful, and death to us is not where Jesus is. He has risen!! He is not in the dead things of the past. He is alive now and forever more!

The song “I Will Rise” by Bethel has been on my play list this week. This morning has been a morning that I have it on repeat. It speaks of what I read in Luke.

“Beyond the burial, there's a resurrection
Your will be done in me
Oh-oh, Let my roots go deep
And I will rise, I will rise
He holds the time that I will rise”

Jesus calls us out of our graves of the past to stand in the present with Him! “I will Rise! God through my life be lifted high!” We have no time to be looking intently into the graves of our lives! Jesus is not there! The living life of Christ cannot be found in the graves of failure and pain! He is risen and we are seated with Him in the heavenly places of His victorious Kingdom! I will rise! Let Jesus rise in me!

Name Drop, A Brush with the Greatness, Relationship

I’m not what I would consider a musician. I can play the piano some. I have family members that are musicians, which is how I became familiar with a phenomenon of the musician’s world, “Name dropping”. Name dropping is naming someone you have played music with while in a conversation with someone who may not know what level of a musician you are. The more popular or talented the musician is that you can name you have played music with/ the more talented you appear to be because of the association. All it takes is one performance/ gig with the mentioned musician and you have developed your cred.

Another game people who want to impress another might play is talking about your “brushes with greatness” Here’s a couple of mine… prepare to be blown away… #1. When I was in college I went to church with the “Miss America” of that year. She was super sweet and I’m sure she still is. #2. When my husband and I were first married and poor, we had a small duplex we rented. One time we had the then House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt’s daughter over for dinner that I cooked a meal for her in our humble abode. Long story, but she was a friend of a friend and the friend asked if I cared if she came along for the meal. Now I know you are hooked with all the credibility I have since I have spent time with some pretty famous people and on one occasion cooked for one. . Ha Ha.

I’ve been involved in this Bible study about “Abiding in Christ”. After reading today’s study on what it really means to “Abide”- live in Christ, close relationship, tight with Him, it occurred to me, so many “Christians”,including me at times, are content to “Name Drop” God instead of living in the relationship with Him. Or throw Him into the category of one of your “brushes with greatness”.

Here’s how I would define “Name Dropping God”- Saying “Yes, I believe In Jesus, I go to church at such and such place, I am most definitely there on Easter or Christmas… ” Maybe even having some religious artwork hanging around your house. OR “Brushes with greatness with God” – When I was nine, I had an experience with God, I prayed a prayer. Or 5 years ago I prayed, and God did a miracle for me, but those are my only experiences with God.” All of these are good things, but God wants to go past our “Name dropping” and “Brushes with greatness” that we have with Him. He wants us to experience Him on the regular/ daily. He wants relationship. He wants to take us from knowing of Him, to knowing Him, from feeling His occasional touch to being connected with Him like Jesus talked about in John 17:33 When He said He wanted us to realize the “I in them, and You in Me”, the interconnectedness of truly finding ourselves living in Him.

Maybe a more practical illustration would help to wrap this all up. I’ve been married for 29 years, not an easy feat in today’s world, but it has been a great 29 years, because of the “relationship” I have with my husband. We’ve been together long enough that I often know what he is thinking, finish his sentences, can predict what he will do next. And the same goes for Him with me. Now imagine if all our relationship revolved around was “Name dropping”. “My husband has street cred for being the best husband, because he can mention knowing me, but he hasn’t ever hung out with me… or “My husband is legit! One time he met “the most famous husband in the world” But he rarely sits next to me in our living room.

29 years together requires lots of time, weekends away, old people dates to Menards together, holding hands- my favorite 🙂 , working through arguments- not my favorite, being together, etc. A “name drop” or “brush with greatness” simply is not enough. We have to be as the Bible describes it “ONE”. And this is what Jesus desires from us as well. He wants us to “be in Him, and He be in Us” not just conveniently bearing His name so we some how seem “legit” spiritually and have heavenly “cred” with Him. He loves us! He wants more and may the cry of our hearts be “more of Him”!

The Deep (poem 2006)

“Busted!!”

Years ago, when I was smack dab in the middle of the years, I spent homeschooling my four kids, we started our day with a daily devotion. I would read a story or two from the “Egermeiers Bible Story Book” then we would talk about it. One day I was describing to the best of my finite capabilities the Greatness of God. I told my kids; God is like an ocean you can explore. You think you have seen it all and there is soooo much more out there of Him.” As soon as I spoke those words, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Yes, and you are content to just dip your toes while sitting on the edge of the shoreline of ME”. “Busted!!”

This morning as I have been praying and reading my Bible the Song “Rest on Us” by Maverick City Music has been going through my mind. Actually, this started yesterday in my living room, while cleaning. This song came on and I was captivated by its words. (Gotta love a time of living room worship 😉)

Rest on Us
"Come down
Spirit, when You move, You make my heart pound
When You fill the room
You're here and I know You are moving
I'm here and I know You will fill me
'Cause You love to meet us here
He-hey, baptize us afresh tonight
Baptize us afresh tonight"

God is an experiencial God. He wants us to feel Him. Case in Point: Thomas and Jesus after the resurrection. “Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:26-27. Acts 2 is definitely an account of the disciples experiencing God. The Holy Spirit comes, people hear the sound of a “mighty rushing wind”, the disciples feel joy, so much so that the people around think they are drunk. Acts 2:15. God talks about in His word that we are to “TASTE and SEE that the Lord is good.” Psalm 34:8. Sounds like an experience to me… The cool thing about God is that He’s not about just one good experience of Him, then endure til Heaven. He desires a vibrant, living relationship with us on the daily! BUT so often I find myself like I was telling my kids that school day long ago, “Dangling my toes on the edge of the ocean of God’s Goodness!” AND He is inviting me to SOOOOO much more!

His desire is for us to dive in and to explore the depths of HIs love, His Joy, His Peace, His Patience, His Kindness, His Goodness, His Self-Control! The question is “Will I dive in?” “Will I explore the depths of His love and His wisdom in HIs Word?” The invitation has been sent out. His depths are calling out to the deep.

"Deep calls to deep
  in the roar of your waterfalls;
  all your waves and breakers
  have swept over me."
  Psalm 42:7 NIV 

Proof that this pursuit is not a onetime occurrence, but a lifetime endeavor of seeking Him, searching out His word, communion/ experiencing His Spirit’s presence.

Years ago, February 4, 2006, to be exact I was contemplating all this and I wrote a Poem

The Deep (written 2/4/2006) 
I can't go deep enough when i dive into You.
I think I arrive, but the hunger returns. 
Your deep calls to deep and I am moved. 
I follow You on and chase after You. 

My heart cries out. "How long until I am consumed?" 
You alone I desire. You alone satisfy. 
"Fill me with you:" Is my hearts Cry. 

Just one taste will NEVER satisfy! More of Jesus! More of the Holy Spirit filling us to the overflowing!

Held

My favorite picture of my dad and me.

Psalm 27:10 “… the Lord will hold me close.”

I was most definitely a daddy’s girl. I held the title of baby of the family for the first 9 years of my life, until our family became a Foster Family, and my little sister, who my family adopted later, came to live with us. Up until that point it was my two older brothers and me, and you better believe that I milked my youngest and only girl for all that it was worth. Probably my earliest memories of my dad were being held by him. I can remember sitting in the wooden pews of church during service, trying very hard to not to get in trouble with my older brother Joe on one side of dad, me on the other, and our little hands going behind dad’s waist against the pew trying to reach each other. After a little bit of that, my dad would cross his leg and there would suddenly appear the perfect little seat in the bend of his knee and the place where his ankle met his other leg’s thigh. I just had to crawl up and sit. It wouldn’t be long I would rest my head on his chest. Awww… that was comfy. Then there was the weekly trip to my grandparent’s house in the country. After an evening of cracking peanut shells and eating them with my grandpa and walking around looking at my grandma’s iris beds along her fence row, I would be pretty tired. So, I begged for my dad to pick me up and carry me to the car. I can almost hear my Grandma’s voice saying to my dad, “I believe you will have to carry that girl down the aisle to the altar when she gets married. She needs you to carry her all the time.”

I loved to be held.

This morning as I spent time praying and listening to God, I thought about how much I love to be held still. I’m probably about 130 more pounds than I was back when I was constantly looking for a way to be held by my Dad, so he probably would not appreciate it today as much as he did 48 years ago. And him carrying me is, shall we say… “Out”. Not gonna happen… However, NOTHING can compare to the warmth of being up close to the chest of someone stronger than you, listening to their heartbeat, feeling safe and secure. I may have outgrown my earthly Daddy, but my Heavenly Daddy is impossible to outgrow. So, back to this morning, I found myself telling God how much I wanted to be held by Him. Just to be so close, I could nestle up against Him and listen to His heartbeat and truly realize the reality of His love that wraps around me and holds me.

There are a lot of things in life that try to separate me from knowing I am held by God. It’s 6:52 in the morning here, and my busy day is already trying to whisk me away from the time I am able to spend with God, close to Him. That is just part of being on planet earth. But today as I have been reflecting on how I can take this short time of devotion in the morning when I feel so close to God and make that my entire day, I am reminded that my Heavenly Daddy has no limits of “just this time, just this place is the only way to be held by me.” He is always there. I am always “the apple of His eye”. I may not fully grasp the reality of just how Big He is and how Strong He is. But He never puts me down. I am always carried by Him, I am always Held. God give me eyes to see and a heart to understand how treasured I am.

Held!

1 John 3:1 "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!..." 
Psalm 27:10 "... the Lord will hold me close." 
Psalm 17:8 AMP  "Keep me [in Your affectionate care, protect me] a the apple of Your eye; Hide me in the [protective] shadow of Your wings." 
Deuteronomy 7:6 "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession."

Be Content- The Antidote for Disappointment

“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.(Jesus)”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13 MSG

Life seldom goes the way we have it planned. That is something I should get used to. I can’t count how many times when my kids were growing up that my husband and I would plan the perfect camping trip. Hours of packing, preparing, and then driving, only to find the first night is a night when one of the kids came down with the croup, or threw up all over our pop up camper. There was the first trip to the ocean, only to discover it was jelly fish mating season and several jelly fish stings to be dealt with in the hotel, or we also had the long planned trip to Disney World that was interrupted with a short lived bout of head lice. That was a real treat… I should not be surprised when circumstances are not the glorious picture I had weeks before the actual experience.

I guess I had it in my mind that since our kids are all adults, I would be immune to the disappointment of a planned getaway going south. But here I sit in the most perfect March weather literally yards from one of my favorite trout fishing parks with a sick husband. (The stomach bug had to be going around). Bummer… disappointment.

This disappointment is minor in the scheme of things. Lay around, eat junk food, watch Westerns on the cabin’s tv, and play the occasional game of solitaire. I’ve weathered far worse.

As I’ve sat here this evening on our front porch watching the cars go by our cabin, I thought about Paul saying “I have learned the secret of being content” in Philippians 4. Contentment is not easy to gain. It requires a focus on Jesus and a trust in His plan. Both of which are hard to come by if you’ve lived an anxious life. Self-focus and self preserving protection are what seems right in our world, but it is far from God’s greater plan of our total trust(dependence), total submission, and total obedience as He provides all we need for our life and directs us in His good plan for us.

Corrie Ten Boom

There’s a lot of things in my world that are disappointing right now. There are the global things, the National things, the local, and the personal. Plus this minor fishing trip thing. There are a lot of things that beg for me to pay attention to them and live in discouragement, apprehension, and fear. Not to mention the temptation to walk in distrust, unforgiveness, etc. The list could go on and on. But God knew there would be times like this- the one we live in. He also knew there would be months like this, weeks like this and days like this one. Whether the situation is a minor disappointment or a large earth shaking one, He tells me how to be content. I am to hang as close to Jesus as I possibly can. Listen to His voice alone, and be faithful to what I know He has told me to be obedient in.

The old Hymn I sang as a girl in the small country church I grew up in says it best,”Trust and Obey. There is no other way to be Happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

His Joy conquers all disappointment. Gigantic ones or small ones like a sick hubby on a get away. My God is good! All the time!

Teatime With Satan

The Tea- “Gossip or personal information belonging to someone else; the scoop, the news …” -Urban Dictionary

Conversations with my 21-year-old daughter tend to prove to me just how old I am getting:

  • Faith: “Here’s the tea Mom…”
  • ME: “The what?”
  • Faith: “The tea… Gosh MOM! The tea, It means, the scoop on, what’s up with so and so, the…” and on and on…
  • My mind goes to “I am getting old.” But I assure you the next conversation I was asking, “What’s the tea on…?”

“The Tea” that was probably started due to tea parties or teatime where people sat together and talked about other people and all kinds of subjects.

It’s taken me awhile, but I am learning. We need to be careful of what voices we allow ourselves to listen to. This morning my Bible reading was in John 10. Jesus is describing the Good Shepherd and His relationship with His sheep. One thing that has been sticking out to me more and more lately is how the sheep know the Good Shepherd’s voice, and how they listen to it. They won’t follow another voice. In John 3:5 Jesus says, ” they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” It occurred to me that not only do I not run away at times, there are times I sit down and have a regular old “Tea Party with Satan” where I listen to him fill me “Spill the tea” on others around me with accusations and assumptions. Or I listen to him give me “the tea” on myself: What I am, What I am not, what I’ve done or did not do. He is a very chatty “Tea Party” host if I allow him to be. Unfortunately, I had been attending Tea Parties with him, frequently. Here is where I make a very bold statement… I’m pretty sure the source of much of the anxiety and depression I have suffered is my frequent attendance to “ALL DAY LONG Tea Parties with Satan.” That he throws. He pulls out a chair, whispers a juicy lie, and offers me a seat to a morning, noon, and night, sometimes all night Spilling of the Tea. It usually starts with, “You know you are not enough for X,Y,Z you face.” “You know so and so doesn’t really like you, they tolerate you…” “You know, If your friends only knew this and such about you…” On and on and on…If I accept his invitation, and sit down for a listen, I find myself drowning in all the fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy, etc. That he wants me to be overcome with. His Tea Party is a success.

Jesus said, “His Sheep run away from a strangers voice.” This has been resounding in my soul today. It is time to not only decline an initiation to Satan’s Tea Party, but to run. I must run away from his voice and run straight to Jesus’ voice. Jesus declares the truth. He declares the truth about who I am and who He and the Father are. His voice is there calling out. It truly is a question of “Who will I listen to?” and to “Who’s table will I run?” Jesus offers me a banqueting table, full of delights, that the Word says has “Banner of me of Love”. It is there that I find myself fulfilled, at peace, and with joy. But it requires that I decline my invitation to Teatime with Satan, that comes frequently throughout my day. And that I run from the tantalizing whisper of the lies he spews. Focusing instead on the feast of the truth and promises in God’s word regarding who He is and who I am. Positioning myself close to His heart. Where I can clearly hear Jesus. It is there that I am safe from the tea of anxiety and depression, and whatever other flavors of his deadly teas, Satan wants to serve.

Invitation to Teatime with Satan Declined!

 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:7-8

Too Many Voices

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say…?”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭3:1‬ NIV

We all hear “voices”. Before you think I’ve jumped off the deep end, let me clarify that statement. We are surrounded/ bombarded by so many opinions, statements, ideas every day. These are the voices that shout at us from the moment our eyes open until we close them in sleep, and if we are lucky, they don’t come to us at night in our dreams as well… nightmares. These voices are liars. They want to get us off course from the only way to get them to shut up, the Peace found only in Jesus.

Yesterday, I was scrolling through Facebook, something I do way too much of… But I happened upon a post a friend had reposted of someone who is struggling with Anxiety. As I read it, it was like looking of a reflection of something I was a few months ago. Statements like: “I need a break from my mind itself which isn’t possible.” “My mind is traumatized my memory is foggy and absolutely full of triggers” “I am actually just busy trying to hold it together in my safe box.” Stuck out to me. I’ve been blogging for quite a while. This all started because writing has been an outlet for me, a stuffer of emotions… Anxiety has been one of the hot topics for my blog. I have several entries if you go back and look at the history of what I have written. It has been a lifelong struggle, but I would say the most intense battles have been the past 4 years. But God has worked a miracle in my life since around September/ October. It’s one of those kinds of miracles that it sometimes seems like it is too good to be true. You know, “pinch me” so I can make sure this is real kind of deals. With each passing day, I am convinced all the more of how real it is. I am walking free! So when I read the post like I saw yesterday, or I hear of someone who is struggling with anxiety, my heart aches. Because I know just how many voices I listened to and how many lies I believed.

Satan is deliberate in his onslaught of anxiety that he has unleashed in my generation and the generations after me. From the first twinge of it until you find yourself being squeezed to death by it, he has a purpose and a lie that is not new at all that is the root of all anxiety. “Did God really say…?” I believe anxiety is satan’s way of getting us to doubt God, His goodness, His provision, His Love. I would not be surprised if it is the very force driving the “deconstruction of Christian faith” movement we hear about frequently in the news. If anxiety is ruling in your head and your heart, doubts begin.

Deconstruction Christianity is a false religion. You cannot have Jesus and not have the truth of the Bible. There is no me making a “better version of myself”

Then begins all the futile attempts to “fix ourselves”. Believe me, I tried them. Self help books galore, Headspace meditation app- started by a Buddhist monk, trying new hobbies (not a bad thing as long as it isn’t a replacement for crying out to Jesus), numbing it all with medicine, etc. The truth of it all is “I CANNOT FIX MYSELF!!!” All my attempts to fix my anxiety, outside of getting my eyes off of me and onto Jesus, only served to dig me deeper into a pit, a very ugly pit… The truth in the lyrics of the Switchfoot song “Mess of Me” rings truer to me every day.

“I am my own affliction
I am my own disease
There ain’t no drug that they could sell
Ah there ain’t no drugs to make me well
There ain’t no drug
It’s not enough
There ain’t no drug
The sickness is myself
I made a mess of me I wanna get back the rest of me
I’ve made a mess of me I wanna spend the rest of my life alive”

About a year ago, I made contact with an old friend from my college days. We began talking about some mutual experiences of abuse that opened us up to lies. One thing stuck out to me that she said in the beginning of our weekly conversations. “Janet, you have the Holy Spirit within you. You can hear the truth. You know the truth.” She had hit the nail on the head. I have been listening to WAY TOO MANY VOICES! (ME, a seasoned Christian of 39 years…”) Whether it was the lies of “what you have been will never change”, the lies of “You call yourself a Christian, yet you think these horrible things”, “try to find your ZEN”, “make a better version of yourself each day”, “the Bible does not hold the answer to what you are struggling with”, etc. Those voices only lead to one thing “DESTRUCTION”. Let me be so bold as to say that “Deconstruction of faith” is not a brave move. It is an opening to the very “destruction of ourselves”.

Here’s the deal. I cannot say do x,y,and z and you will find yourself free. I’m not 100% sure how I have ended up in this place of peace I am in today. The one thing I did do was I decided my listening to “too many voices” was not working. I needed to listen to ONE voice, JESUS. Tune yourself daily into that voice and refuse to allow even the hint of a whisper of the lying voice of anxiety to enter your ears. Let desperation for freedom cause you to RUN as hard as you can into your Heavenly Father’s arms. It is only there that refuge is found from all the voices that come against you. God is no respecter of persons, granting freedom to one and then not to another. If He has answered the cry for freedom that I uttered, He will answer you! He is just that Good!

The only WAY of Peace, Love and Wholeness- JESUS!!

The God of a Billion Snowflakes

View off my front porch this morning.

The summer before my 8th grade year my mom talked me into going to church camp. She must have known it was exactly what I needed. Things weren’t easy for me my 7th grade year. There were the typical things: becoming a teenager, first year of junior high, trying to navigate all the changes of growing up. There were the hard things I went through too. The kind of stuff that sent me out for long bike rides on the regular each day after school. Blasting rock music into my ears as loud as I could to try to shut off my brain and deaden the feelings inside. I wanted to wear black all the time leaning toward going “Goth” when I didn’t even know Goth was a thing. Anyway, Mom convinced me to go to camp, though I protested much.

Camp Sharon held its evening worship services in what they called a tabernacle. It was a large open sided building with sawdust floors and rustic wooden pews for seats. I remember sitting through the first night of service feeling like God wanted me to come forward and pray during the altar call/ prayer time, but I was determined I would not go. The second night I sat there determined not to yield again, until they said service was over. Then I could take it no more. I went up to the front knelt in the saw dust and cried so hard I could not talk. The only thing I can remember thinking is, “God, IF you want me, you can have me.”

“IF”, I don’t know if you have ever approached God with the feeling of “If you want me” before, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there that have. I believe one of satan’s biggest lies he spews to try to get us to not turn to God in our time of need is the lie of, “God does not want you.” “You’ve fallen too far. You’re not good enough. God tolerates your existence. God doesn’t see you or care about you. etc. ” If satan can get you thinking about God in “if you want me…” terms, he has succeeded in propagating one of his biggest lies. Thankfully, God has His way of tearing down that lie and breaking through.

As I sit here this morning with my heated throw blanket, cup of coffee, and laptop on my lap, I am watching it snow. We’re getting quite a lot of it for my neck of the woods. It is beautiful. A few days ago, when the forecast started talking snow, I started thinking about snowflakes. When my kids were little, we would take a black piece of construction paper out on a snowy day and catch snowflakes so we could see the individual detail of each one. Each one was unique. I remember us talking about the God of details. Then it hit me, this current snowstorm has millions, maybe billions of flakes, much more than I can count. And God has given each tiny flake an individual identity. He knows their shape. He knows their size. He knows the moment they will form and the moment they will melt. God cares that much about detail, and all this fuss over a tiny snowflake. Yet He never took the time to send His one and only Son, Jesus to earth so the snowflake could experience Him and His goodness. Not so with us, You and I are exactly the reason Jesus came. How much more then does this God of a billion snowflakes, actually care about me. To say He wants me is an understatement. The God of that much detail, took the time to zero in on a 13 year old Missouri girl out of the billions of people on this planet, to draw me to a place that I could say, “If You want me, You can have me.” It was there at that point that the layers of lies began to peel off. Some of them still slowly being removed some 38 years later. The God of a billion snowflakes wanted the heart of this one Missouri Girl. That is good news! He not only wanted me, but He wanted to have me, to hold me, and to show me what a Good, Good Heavenly Father He is to me. You and I can both be assured if the God who takes the time to design a billion snowflakes can step into my, one in the billions of people, world, He can take the time to step into yours. He’s just that Big and yet He comes to us individually in just that small of a way! He not only Loves us, He wants us! He is good!

The God of a Billion Snowflakes, made me.

Sunrise and Sunset Experiencing Him

“You know, I never paid attention to sunrises and sunsets, until you brought me here.” – Angel “Redeeming Love” The Movie.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good” Psalm 34:8

The second house my husband and I owned was an earth contact (basement house). It was surrounded on three sides with dirt. It is super energy efficient, but if you’re a fan of having sunlight shining in your house, the lack of windows would not be your thing. This basement house was located in the middle of the woods with lots of trees around it. it was so shaded that we literally had no grass. It just would not grow. I have several happy memories in that house. It is where we lived when my kids were little before their teens. I would back the suburban out of the garage, crank the stereo in the living room and we had an instant roller-skating rink. We did nature walks in the woods identifying the trees that surrounded it, and probably one of the funniest memories was the deer running across our roof. An earth contact in the woods… makes perfect sense. Happy memories are a plus, but I really didn’t like that house. No windows in the bedrooms worked on my fear of house fires (my grandparent’s house burned to the ground when I was 11). And only 3 windows that were 2 sliding glass doors in the living room area and a kitchen sink window. This caused serious issues with my needing all the lights in the house turned on from the moment I woke up until I went to bed at night. Words could not express how happy I was when we moved to our current house, grass in the yard, windows everywhere. Since we live out in the middle of 23 acres, my first act as an official homeowner was to strip every curtain and shade off of every window with the exception of the bedrooms. I told my husband, “I don’t want any curtains. I haven’t seen outside for the past 7 years.” I didn’t put curtains up for 11 years. Three years ago, I put up some decorative ones much to my husband’s surprise, but they are never closed…

The two things that I had missed in the 7 years of living in our earth contact was sunrise and sunset. Quite honestly, I don’t remember watching a sunrise or sunset before that either. I just never noticed them. Maybe I was young, maybe I was busy, maybe I just didn’t care. I’m not really sure why I don’t remember really paying attention to them until I moved here. The view out of my dining room and also over my kitchen sink looks over our back field and faces west. It didn’t take too many evenings here to realize I had suddenly been given the most perfect premium seats for watching the sunset EVERY night. Then there is the front upstairs deck. It faces east. I quickly figured out I could put a chair out there, take a cup of coffee with me and enjoy God’s artistry of the sunrise EVERY morning too. The more I watched the sunrises and the sunsets, the more I began to appreciate how God made each one different and unique. I would contemplate how awesome it would be if I could paint such beauty. I’ve tried my hand at painting before, I’m pretty sure this is out of my expertise.

I’ve blogged quite a bit lately about the women’s Bible study I have been attending, WOW (Women on Wednesday). Today’s discussion in the class I am in got me to thinking about all this. We were talking about “Knowing God”. One of the aspects of knowing God was to “Experience Him”. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my life thinking that experiencing God was always related to a “Goosebump” moment. It was something very emotional. I am not opposed to the emotional/ goosebump experiences of God that do occur occasionally. However, some of my sweetest experiences with God have not involved goosebumps or exciting emotions. They have occurred when I have paused and looked at the sunrise or the sunset. It occurred to me back when I started pausing to gaze that God truly is an artist. He paints scenery that cannot be recreated by human hands. But more than that, when I pause and look at what He has made, I realize that very moment, that very combinations of colors and shades were placed in the sky for me to look at and to stand in awe and wonder of God, who wanted me to enjoy what He made for me. God orchestrated it right then just for me. I whispered, “Thank you God”. Right then I experienced God. It was beautiful and it was simple. For me, a person who tends to overcomplicate things when it comes to my relationship with God, experiencing Him is an area that I easily overcomplicate. Pausing to simply enjoy His blessing and thank Him has been a source of experiencing Him like none other. It is beautiful!

This past weekend I went to watch the new movie “Redeeming Love” at the movie theater twice. One of the scenes involves Angel, a prostitute that had endured horrendous abuse at the hands of men from a young age, and Michael Hosea, a farmer who loves Angel with a pure love as they watch a sunrise over the mountains near their home. Angel recalls that moment and the tenderness of sharing something so beautiful with someone who loved her. “You know, I never paid attention to sunrises and sunsets, until you brought me here.” It was the first experience she shared with the first person who loved her with a pure love. It hit me, that is me and God. I never paid attention to sunrises or sunsets either, until God blessed me with the home I now have that has windows facing east and west. It was then, I stopped for a moment to watch the beauty of them, and I experienced God’s tenderness with me. He did all this so I could know Him better and get another glimpse of His great love and I respond with “Thank you my heavenly Daddy, I worship you”.

Amazing Sunset not far from my home. God is Awesome!

Teenage Insecurity, The Brady Bunch, and Me

My 3 oldest leading worship as teens at youth group.

Awww the teen years, for a parent on the edge of their oldest child jumping into the dreaded unknown of hormones, the opposite sex, driving, moodiness, etc. It can be oh so intimidating. I can honestly say that for the most part I enjoyed my kid’s teen years. Even the year I had three teens at home:18, 15, 13, and another kid just itching to be one at the age of 9. I remember telling a friend that I felt like I was living an episode of “The Brady Bunch” all the time. Especially the one where Peter’s voice changed when they had a band. We could have had our very own “Johnny Bravo” here since we pretty well had a band when they all played their instruments together. Fun times… Most of the time… I’m down to one teen now, everyone’s moved on to their 20’s. So now I’m left to reminisce.

How it felt sometimes to raise my teens. 😂

Probably the one thing that I found the hardest to deal with when my kids were teens was their occasional broken heart. I’m not one to do well with any of my kids crying. Especially, if it’s something I can easily see is just one of the perceptions warped by hormones, lack of development of their brain, and no experience to temper them. My kids never knew how much I hurt for them when they hurt, and they probably never knew how much it bothered me when I would see them thinking that they were less than what I could easily see them as being. I could see how beautiful, talented, and smart they were, but most of the time they could not see it. Insecurity kept blinders tight on them so doubts abounded.

A perfect day to drum on the front porch

I was struck the other morning by my memories of their teen year’s insecurities and self-doubt, but this time it was kind of with the tables turned and the spot light blaring at me. I’ve mentioned several times in the past few months about my involvement in a Bible study on Wednesday mornings, and us discussing the Kendrick Brother’s book “Defined- Who God Says You Are”. It’s been a healthy dose of truth about just how valued I am by my Heavenly Abba -Daddy. The last chapter we went through talked about how God values us enough that He has sealed us with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30) They compared the Holy Spirit living in us to an engagement ring, a promise of the future and what is to come when we reach our Heavenly reward. There’s a lot of mind-blowing stuff there. Especially if you suffer from what my teenage kids occasionally did, low self-esteem- not always seeing just how valued by God you are.

I was reminded of the struggles one of my kids had had. This kid was so insecure about themself that they would say things like, “I’m stupid”. “I’m not good looking”. Etc. I would listen to that kid and my heart would be grieved by how wrong they were when they looked at themself. I would try so hard to convince them of just how wonderful they were. Then it hit me… “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with who you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. All my life I’ve thought of this verse in terms of willfully sinning and making the Holy Spirit angry at me for choosing to do wrong. But what if it was something more than just that… So I looked the verse up in my handy dandy Blue Letter Bible App where I can see the Greek definitions from the Strong’s concordance (a must for a Bible Nerd). Then I looked up the word “grieve” in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary App I have on my phone. (another must for a Bible Nerd). Low and behold there is another possibility to what the word “grieve” can mean in that particular place in scripture… “to make sorrowful”. Boom! One of those “I’m dropping something in your heart to really think about” moments. What if my inability to see myself as highly valued and treasured by God the Lover of my Soul could possibly “grieve- make sad” the Holy Spirit, who pours God’s love abroad into my heart? What if I am like that teenage kid of mine, unable to see just who I really am, and breaking the heart of the One who loves me most when He sees me struggle. God Help Me… Just like my teenage kids had so many voices shouting lies about their significance, I have listened to voices that have made me believe I am “less than”. Time to tune in to the right voice.

There’s a wonderful statement that Jesus made in John 10:27 “My sheep know my voice.” Or to put it into the whole “living with teens theme” of this blog, “my Kids know my voice too.” I’m fairly certain that if you blind folded one of them and had a hundred people say their name they would recognize when their mom called out to them. It’s just a matter of rejecting all the other noise and focusing in on the One Voice that matters. I’m fairly certain I am not the only one who has got caught up listening to all the accusing voices shouting lies at themselves. It’s time to refuse to listen to those liars anymore. The Holy Spirit wants for us to hear the truth. He’s the one who is to “guide us into all truth”. John 16:13. Far be it from us to “grieve Him- make Him sad” by refusing to listen to His still small voice whispering how loved and valued we are to the One who gave everything so we could be His beloved/ most treasured one.

Me