Vows Spoken Lived Not Broken

This day 15 years ago I woke in wonder…everything buzzed around me but it was as if life had slowed to a crawl. It was REALLY happening that very hot and humid day late July…I am to marry. For the first time sitting in the wing back chair of my parents, I felt beautiful. The first time.ever. that I can remember actually feeling beauty. Nothing but pure joy and anticipation filled me that day…that forever long morning of not seeing him and getting ready. I was surrounded by friends and family but only could think of ONE. The One that chose me. The One who would vow in sickness and health, for richer or poorer…until death…vow to stay with me.

The full reality of those vows that were mere words of tradition knitted into a ceremony that would end with a shared last name became words knitted into the fabric of our lives as we faced.each.one and chose to remain.ONE.

I, Stephanie, take you Jeffery, to be my wedded husband

to have and to hold from this day forward

for better for worse

for richer for poorer

in sickness and in health

to love and to cherish

’til death do us part: according to God’s holy ordinance

and thereto I pledge you my love and faithfulness.

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As we had to choose to remain in the thick of ugly…selfishness…doubt…fear and life just being that hard…Something happened…We made those vows in ignorant bliss and lived them in painful reality…and what were mere good intentions became a deep well of life giving beauty…a love tried and true. Keeping…standing…staying…even though…even IF…choosing to keep a vow even if it was just that, keeping your word…transform naive innocent dreams into deep intimate reality…each year deeper…each year more beautiful.

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Honestly in ourselves saying words just is not enough for how good.it.is. There is something greater at work. A vow made to love…cherish…and stay with us by the Giver Of Life…the King of Kings…The Lover of our Souls…before the world was made. That VOW preceded all vows to abide and makes it possible to overcome, withstand and stay true. He MAKES beautiful things…He makes us beautiful!! Thank You Jesus for making a way for US to enter into the greatest love and deepest intimacy of the Trinity…without it we would be broken, vows just words impossible to keep and we simply dust.

1218I take you Jeffrey, to be my husband, loving you now and as you grow and develop into all that God intends. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart; when our lives are at peace and when they are in turmoil; when I am proud of you and when I am disappointed in you; in times of rest and in times of work. I will honor your goals and dreams and help you to fulfill them. From the depth of my being, I will seek to be open and honest with you. I say these things believing that God is in the midst of them all.

Feeding False Hope

I woke up this morning thinking…I.have.so.much.to.learn. This thought was not cloaked in shame yet there was an urgency. What if I know too little. What if there are still too many lies imbedded deep in the dark and the light has not yet exposed them…What if I stumble over false hope, again. What if I do not see as clearly as I ‘think’ and am led into battle armed with false saviors and am exposed to darts that will open scarred wounds…What.If. Fear knocked at my hearts door. I grabbed His Word and leaned with all my might up against that door.

What I ‘see’ physically…here…there…is false hope…People believe and fail…fall…I ‘see’ darkness everywhere…people teaching freedom while still in chains. People leading the blind blinded. People teaching the promised land while living in the desert.  People proclaiming beauty while covered in dirt and rags. People praising in word and cursing in deed….What if I am one of those people…What.If.

False Hope

What if all the ‘what ifs’ end up true. Where would that leave me. Where would that leave us…I humble and simply listen…

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

(Romans 8:1-11 ESV)

IN FACT THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLS IN YOU…

Not hopefully…not maybe…not only if…not what if…IN FACT the SPIRIT of GOD.IN.ME.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing that can set itself up against THE TRUTH.

CHRIST.IN.ME.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:23-28 ESV)

The SPIRIT intercedes.

I groan. I hope. I wait.

GOD works together for good ALL THINGS.

That is another TRUTH, nothing can set itself against it. NOTHING. ALL THINGS.GOOD.

 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39 ESV)

IN ALL THINGS. CONQUERORS. THROUGH HIM. TRUTH.

So for me and all my ‘what ifs’…all things God will work for good…the BIG. the BAD. the UGLY. ANYTHING.EVERYTHING.WORKFORGOOD.

That is His Word. That is TRUTH. That is my HOPE.

So how. How do I keep from feeding false hope. To myself. To others. To them?!?

Feed on TRUTH. Christ in me, my HOPE and GLORY. Christ the Word in ME!! The WORD is always TRUE!! True HOPE.

Shame is NOT Truth.

Guilt is NOT Truth. IN Christ NO GUILT. PAID in FULL…Truth SETS you FREE.

Fear IS NOT in Love…NOT Truth…Worries, NOT true.

Feed the spirit…True Hope.

Feed the flesh…True Despair.

Flesh=False

Spirit=Truth

May the Spirit intercede…interrupt…intertwine…IN me, through me…TRUTH…So I can feed True HOPE to others.

His WORD.FEED. HIS CHARACTER. FEED.True HOPE in Me.

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Praying Mondays: Identity

Who ARE you? Who does the world say you are? Who does GOD say YOU are? HOW DO THEY DIFFER???

Identity: the fact of who one is

Ideology: a system of ideas and ideals

Identify: establish or indicate who or what someone is; associate closely with; regard someone as having strong links with

Satan seeks to distort, distract and destroy what God intended for good rendering lives unfruitful and lacking in true victory and fulfillment that is GUARENTEED us as God’s children.

  1. Secrecy
  2. Shame
  3. Denial
  4. Distortion of Scriptures

We are BOUND, in bondage, if any of these things exist in us…living in a fallen world we believe the lies and they end up shaping our identity….

Sin: deviation from the truth, aberration: a departure from what is normal, usual, or expected

Do you know what God PROMISES is yours in Christ Jesus?? Often between knowing and believing there is a gap too big for us to cross…Christ came to bridge that gap…the gap from knowing but remaining in bondage and believing the TRUTH and being set free!!

Lets seek to enter into that PROMISED land that is ours…here…now!!

Is there a place in your life that you would like to bridge the gap into victory? Are there ideas or ideals that you believe that are NOT God’s design for you? The only way to know is to ASK HIM! He is the LIGHT, THE WAY, and THE TRUTH…and will show YOU!!

Galations 5:13-26

Praying over your Identity as God’s Child….

__________, even as the foundations of the earth were being set into place, Your Father purposed you to exist. Great thought and care was intentioned as He positioned you in the family and time you were born. The way you look, your personality, the natural gifts and talents were all chosen just for you. What the Enemy tries to steal and destroy within your past and present, Your Father purposes to transform into good. He has foreseen your pain and struggle as you wrestle with the hard parts of who you’ve become in this fallen world and longs to create beauty from ashes.

___________, I call your spirit to attention to hear God’s word for you. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16 ESV)

May your spirit, __________, bless the LORD, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your sin, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.(Psalm 103:2-5) I pray that you see what kind of love the Father has given to you, that you should be called His child; because that is WHO you are. The reason why the world does not know who you are is that ‘it’ does not know Him and His purpose and design for you. Beloved, you are God’s child now, and what you will be has not yet been completed; but know that when He appears you shall be like Jesus, because you see him as he is. And as you hope in Him you are purified as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 ESV) ___________, your world needs you. Your family needs you. I bless you with full knowledge of God’s design for you. I bless you with seeing what you believe that is NOT in God’s design for you! I bless you with a spirit of surrender as you put you hope in Him, that you may benefit from the riches of your inheritance as His child, as a co-heir with Jesus.  Pray with David, a man after God’s own heart: Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;

wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins,

and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,

and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from your presence,

and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation,

and uphold me with a willing spirit.(Psalm 51:7-12 ESV)

In Jesus Name I pray!! Amen.

 

Praying Mondays: Suffering

I know you seasoned in faith will chuckle at this post…like ‘duh’. But we wee seeds take time to root, grow and gain strength enough to bear fruit. Just a sapling, most of time, I feel like I am flailing back and forth in a great thunderstorm threatening to SNAP! Non-the-less this little sapling made it through the squall that was last Thursday. It was National Day of Prayer and I did just that. PRAYED. After the sweetest night of music watching my daughter glow on stage and do what seems to come so naturally, she did not get that from me btw, just as we pulled into the garage pain overcame me within so much so that I could barely walk inside. Laying down did not ease the pain and it took my breath away and made me cry out all at the same time. We were all concerned and after just 20 minutes of unrelenting I wanted RELIEF!! (I know I am such a baby, ha) I have been having pain for a few months now and it has been bearable…this though, was UN-bearable!! I seriously thought something was short of exploding inside me, so I went to get things checked out.

The pain stirred up dirt that was laying at the bottom of the peaceful sea of my mind.

“Why?! WHY NOW?!”

“But I have been doing SO well!!”

“What did I do wrong?”

“Just when I have been praying ALL DAY and taking LEAPS of FAITH…and now THIS????”

Its as if those dirty specks swirling in my mind were ‘Remanent’ of a lie that I THOUGHT no longer existed in me. It was the lie of: I will be suffer-less, be in better health, organize my life painless as long as I follow God’s will and remain in His presence. Dirty little lie. Sneaky how it settles to the bottom in pieces only to cloud the mind when suffering ENTERS IN…and it will because…LIFE.IS.SUFFERING.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:12-17 ESV)

So I had a choice even before results…curse or praise…I chose PRAISE. All the way to the hospital praise. All the way to the ultra-sound PRAISE (although by then I had a lovely thing call pain medication and I was feeling quite chatty). All the way home PRAISE. The Sifter sifted out those specks of dirt and reveal a solid Rock at the bottom. Suffering will come even with GREAT faith. And I am learning.just.that.

Through the night PRAISE and when pain took my breath away the next morning, praise and a call to my doctor. I sobbed like silly in the doctors office as he tried to explain that pain ‘flares’ are really high this time of year and I could have surgery or just manage the pain…and with some fresh air and sunshine the pain will be much more manageable. I sobbed because what I heard was “its all in your head, this gut-wrentching-pain go get some fresh air you NUT!” Okay, that is what I HEARD out of fear that is what the doctor was ‘THINKING’. He and my husband assured me that there WAS obviously evidence of the source to my pain. I sobbed, heaving and all, sobbed. Gathering pieces of my dignity, there was not much left, I left the doctors office with my pain-killer script all puffy faced and pathetic. Shut the truck door and in my mind tried my hardest. PRAISE.

Bad news: Pelvic pain exasperated by bad abdominal flu causing a migraine= one.sick.Mama. Good new: I am not going to die!!!

So for you dear brother or sister suffering great pain, grief, sickness, loneliness or mockery KNOW THIS…Christ came in POWER to bring JOY into suffering!! Did you hear that…JOY.IN.SUFFERING. The impossible possible through Christ.

CAM00146At this point I felt SO awful…

“Okay, Lord you have my attention…GLORY all over this place I am in!!” He laid this book, buried under a giant pile of children’s books, on my mind. I dug it out and read.every.page. It was wonderful on SO many levels. You see God has been teaching me about faith.word.joy. and how they are intertwine. How words accomplish ONLY through the Spirit and how it takes faith to HEAR them!! This book was a precious example of it all…

CAM00148 This song also poured through my mind…whatever is in front of me I choose to sing Hallelujah!!

I Just Can Not Protect Them

In this fallen place of destruction and decay there is a darkness that tries to add to its heaping mess by threading lies in us and through us that ultimately debilitate and destroy us. No one born of Adam can avoid such state. Just a few years ago I cried out hurting and blind. Hearing my cry the Lord unveiled my eyes to see the ruins of my life and those around me. It was devastating. I sat in a pit of muck and mire for sometime assessing the damage. All the while, with eyes seeing what I already knew deep in my spirit, I wrestled with why God leaves children unprotected, even when their parents claim Him. Yet He does…and His is still loving…He is still good…He is still all powerful and all knowing…

Since being pulled from the pit and allowing the Re-builder to create beauty from ashes, trust has been growing. Still, out of desperation, my Mama’s heart tries to put a “hedge” around my children to protect them. I hover over them with a watchful eye to snatch the lies before they penetrate deep and to keep harmful others AWAY. Something else comes with sight…that is truth. The truth that brought light into my darkness exposes the fact that I can not protect…I can not save…That the enemy can use my effort to protect and turn it into lies that will bind my “un-blemished” children. He is that creatively evil. I humble powerless to spare them and weep.

Through the tears I feel His presence and comfort wrap around me warm. I see again my ruins being restore, trust growing and trees growing fruitful. It is then that I realize that if I had not ruins and wounds that I would need not the Godhead to save and complete me. There is nothing I want more for my children that to be adopted, loved, restored and treasured by the Almighty Father. Nothing I want more that for them to be saved and redeemed by the Savior Jesus. Only then to be gifted and empowered by the Spirit. That would NOT be necessary if my efforts to protect them actually did and my efforts wont.

As a Mama this is the only thing I can do. Shed light into their darkness. Be love in their loneliness. And take every opportunity to sow truth among the lies. Never fearful, always hopeful, persevering in Grace. IN ALL THINGS PRAY…continuously bringing them before the throne with confidence that HE SEES THEM and LOVES THEM!!

prayer-on-my-knees4

Praying Mondays: Faith

It is the day after all the excitement! Can you imagine the let down the disciples must have experience going from doom and despair to triumph and PRESENCE!! Maybe they greatly anticipated a moment with Him alone. To touch the scars and embrace Him, just to be sure. To listen knowing now that His Words matter and they needed to remember.each.one. I can only imagine they took a few days to soak it all in…and when it did a fire was lit inside them, a burning passion to do what Christ said to do…

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:15-16 ESV)

Today I needed some quiet moments to soak.it.all.in!! There has been a leading for me to walk in faith and that requires trust and letting go of all that would cause me to stumble or distract. That last part seems so mountainous and monstrous to me that I am tempted to doubt collapsed in a heap of ‘I am to tired and weak to walk this walk’. Like Peter I came to the beach this morning for a glimpse of my Savior. I wasn’t as enthusiastic as to jump into freezing morning water to get to him faster.

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter,  “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, He put hes outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. (John 21:7 ESV)

Yet I came groggy eyed and achy from food hangover. The only thing I had to offer my Lord was an expectation to meet me where I was. He did and I will keep taking small steps…choice by choice steps…for good choices are steps to victorious living. That is what I long for most…to overcome the death and decay of my life through the POWER that raised Christ victorious over death itself!! I want to go where ever He leads…even over mountains and valleys to the land He promises…That journey…that taking steps, takes faith. Faith is the steps to believe in what I don’t know or understand because He knows and says. That….

God is who He says He IS

That God can do what He promises

I am who God SAYS I am

I can do all things through Christ

God’s Word is alive and active in me!!

(From Believing God by Beth Moore)

So I assess what God is asking me to do in this part of my journey. Clarity comes with each moment spent deliberate with Him. I write things down, or I will forget. I pray over His words to activate faith in me. It is a process that I am not great at. But He is greater…the greatest. I take steps. One step at a time. And in time of doubt and the tripping stumbling steps darken to just the step my feet are on, bending in prayer I will pray “Forgive me for not having enough faith, help me in my unbelief!!”

Pray in and for more FAITH:

Lord help me to hear Your Word know that it is only effective if combined with faith.  (Heb. 4:2)

Help me to draw near to your throne with confidence to receive mercy and find grace in my time of need because I have a great high priest, Jesus Christ, who can not sympathize with my weakness but who himself was tempted in every way. (Heb. 4:15-16)

Let me draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that my faith gives, since my heart is sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and my body washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:22)

Let me hold on to the confession of hope without wavering, because the One who made the promises is reliable! (Heb. 10:23)

Help me Lord to not draw back timidly and end up destroyed but instead live by faith! Lord, I desire to live a life pleasing to you, knowing that You will pour out blessing! (Heb. 10:38)

Father, according to Your Word, Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we do not see. Build in me assurance and certainty of who You are and what You promise to do! (Heb. 11:1)

Lord God, You do not want m e to be persuaded just by the wise and persuasive words of men. You want me to be persuaded by the demonstration

of the Spirit’s power, so that my faith will not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s POWER! (I Cor. 2:4-5)

May my work come from faith, my effort come from love and my perseverance come from hope in Jesus in the presence of my God and Father. (1 Thess. 1:3)

Finally, Praise be to You, my God! In Your great mercy You have given me a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven for me, who through faith is shielded by God’s power! (1 Pet. 1:3-5)

May these things remain, FAITH, HOPE and LOVE!! IN Jesus’ Name. Amen

Stand on His promise:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want  and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples. (John 15:7-8)

 

 

Disciples In The Dark: Still Disciples, Still Dark

Still

This day.He.IS.STILL.DEAD. This day between Christ death and the Resurrection day. Still DEAD.

Those disciple that He chose and they followed, watched Him die. His body lifeless, they became defenseless.

Do you realize that there was a day they had NOT Jesus and they had not His Spirit!?!?! THAT DAY in the dark of defeat. They had only His death, His Words and their own belief in HIM.

Still His disciples clinging to His words, His life, His promises but could not deny that He was STILL DEAD.

When defenseless in that place, that day, still His disciples the Condemner must have had a hay day with them. Death is the Condemners specialty and his whole purpose is to keep Believers in the dark.

Did you hear that?!?! The Enemy’s whole existence is to KEEP Believers, Christ Believers, in the darkness of His death!

In the dark the Condemner whispers…

Defeat.

Doubt.

Fear.

Guilt.

Shame.

Confused.

They went into hiding these chosen ones. They were STILL His disciples. He had called them, they had followed. They remember His miracles, His power, His words. But now in the dark they struggled to grasp hope in death.

They believe Jesus was the Christ!! He HAD to be. Yet all they knew in that moment was His death.

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Dear friends…listen.please. Although we celebrate the Resurrection Day. We skip from His death to He.Is.RISEN. We forget that day, the disciples reality in the dark. The Condemner does NOT forget. That is his favorite part of the Easter story! How they hid in fear, wrestled with doubt, felt the shame! Their reality was at that moment DEFEAT. Death had not yet lost its sting. They were in heavy grief and pain.

I was one of them!! I confess that I was a disciple in the dark. Day after day I believed in Jesus! He called, I followed! I told the stories of His life! I celebrated His baptism. I believed He was God’s only Son, memorized John 3:16. I prayed in His name. All this but in the dark defeated. I lived in fear.doubt. shame. guilt. and the Condemner whispered lies to me over and over relentless in the dark. I was stuck there in that place of Jesus death, powerless.

At some point weary of the fighting death and dark, I realized I was not living proof of the POWER that raised CHRIST from the DEAD!! Perfect Love cast out fear, yet I was consumed by it. Anxiety was chocking me to death and I finally cried out into the tomb….”JESUS!! Are YOU THERE?? Where is the LIFE? Where is the POWER? Where is the LIGHT you PROMISED??? You said you would OVERCOME death…I want THAT JESUS. Not the Jesus on the cross lifeless.

I want to move past the tomb into the Resurrection Power and Presence of the Spirit!!”

tomb

Tears come to the surface remembering the wrestling, the condemning, the fear, the dark……Yet, He heard my cry….I knew His voice, because I was STILL.HIS.DISCIPLE.

Jesus brought me out of the dark of His death into the LIGHT and POWER of His RESURRECTION!!

Dark into Light.

Defeat into Victory.

Confusion into Clarity.

Shame into Claim.

Defenseless to Defended.

Orphaned to Adopted.

Guilt into PAID.IN.FULL.SALVATION.

Halleluiah!! HE is RISEN. IN ME. He is Risen Indeed.!!

Friend…where are you? Are you lost in unbelief? Did you follow the call but living in the defeat of death?? Or are you in the Light of Life moving in power, that raised Him from the dead, VICTORIOUS?

Hosanna