I Want Something Better!

Galatians 4:8-9

Paul says, “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn your back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”

Wow.  How many times have I turned my back on being known, on being whole, and given in to temptations?  To want I wanted in the moment, rather than what I want eternally?  How could I ever let the temporary outweigh the eternal?

When images and smells and tastes and feelings slam into me all day long, day after day, week after week, it’s hard to remind myself of who God is and that there is something more, something better out there.

But I do know when it happens.  It’s when I let those things that are from this world take the place of Kingship in my heart and my mind.  Like the game of King-of-the-hill, where one thing will be on top of the hill until another slams it down and overthrows it, my heart because a game-piece.  My mind becomes a war-zone.

It happens when I am not in God’s living Word everyday, seeing the ways that he is speaking to me.  Wen I stop believing, even for a moment, that he is everything and he is alive and always good.  When I stop trusting that he wants the best for me, and that his Word is full of his breath, and that he protects it and always will.  When I push the knowledge of being known out of the way, and stop remembering that I don’t have to do anything more than long for the lover of my soul.

When I choose slavery over freedom simply because I can.  When I choose temporary pleasure that leads to guilt and pain, instead of heavenly joy.  When I do that, I am turning my back again to the weak and worthless world.

It is so important to stay vigilant.  It is so vital to put on my armor everyday and not let myself forget that I am battling, every single hour, for my King.  And that I have His authority and power, as an heir to His Kingdom, and a Helper by my side to fight.  To press on.  To run that race with absolutely everything I have in me so that my Father in heaven says, “well done, daughter, well done.”

In moments like these, where I see how easily I can slip from living for Christ to living for myself, I want to just scream and shout to the God that cares!  Cry out to him and say, “My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you!” (Is. 26:9)

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength!” Mark 12:30

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:33

Only you, God, can satisfy me.  My soul clings to you!

Brush Lettering Gold Foil Fight the apathy

My Soul Thirsts for You

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

63 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek to destroy my life
    shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
    they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
    all who swear by him shall exult,
    for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

IMG_0053-0.JPG

Enough

Oh there’s that word again.  Enough.

Am I enough for God?  Am I enough for the plans He has for me?  Can I be stretched that far without breaking?

IMG_0054.JPG

Is He enough for me?  Well, the answer to that question is obvious.

For I know the plans you have for me, to prosper me and not harm me.  To give me a hope and a future.  Jesus is my hope and future.

IMG_0055.JPG

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  All things.

I am more than enough.  I am His daughter, a child of the King, a lover of His heart.  I’ve fought doggedly to get where I am, I’ve gone through hell to get where I am.  To know Him more, to find out what relationship with God means, to fight for more and more and more, and I know it’s nothing compared to what He has done for me.

IMG_0057.JPG

So why do I still struggle so much with who I am?  With the mistakes I’ve made in the past?

Why do I feel like they are right behind me, nipping at my heels?  Why do I feel such shame when I think of them?  Why do they define me?

IMG_0056.JPG

The mistakes I’ve made have been washed clean, but there are still earthly traces left that remind me.  That I feel like I haven’t dealt with right.  I start to get trapped in that place where I’m feeling guilty and shameful.  Where I am living in this legalistic rut, and I can’t climb out on my own because my arms aren’t strong enough, and God is no where to be seen.

But He is there, trying to show me the way out.  I’m blinded by my feelings, my thoughts, my self-righteousness.

Instead, I choose to trust Him.  I choose to believe that when He forgave my sins, He forgave them all.  He gave me freedom from them, and no matter what is happening on this earth, I will NOT be conformed to the pattern of this world.  I’m made for bigger and better things!  I am made new, I am something entirely different than I was before!

I choose life in Christ over despair.  I choose it!  After all, He chose me first!

Somehow, it’s easy to see who I am in Christ right now, to see how I am made new.  But there are parts of me that remember the mistakes I’ve made, and I feel like I will never be able to shake them.  It’s a strange thing.  Like feeling judged for those things, even though who is judging me?  Just me.  Just me, judging myself because I think I should have lived up to a higher standard when I didn’t understand what grace was.

It doesn’t make sense.  And it’s not from Christ.

So I shake those shackles free.  I give it up.  Lord, I give it up!  I refuse to live a life in bondage, when He has already paid for every bit of debt I’ve ever owed and ever will.  Christ died and paid it, and then defeated it once and for all!  No more!  No more will I live feeling like I’m constantly doing something wrong.  The Lord will guide my steps, He will alert me when there’s trouble, when something needs my attention.  All I need is to trust Him with everything.  My King gave me deliverance from those patterns of behavior and the bondage I have felt.

IMG_0053.JPG

Lord, I choose freedom!  I choose to love wholeheartedly, to live in the adventurous unknown of radical obedience and radical love.  I choose everything You have for me.  I am more than enough, chosen, royalty and an heir to the Kingdom.  And You, Lord, You fulfill not just every need, but You go further, and You delight in giving me the desires of my heart.  How good and faithful You are!  How good and faithful!

What is waiting?

Wait on the Lord.  Something that appears over, and over, and over in the Bible.  Wait on Him.

Is that the same thing as patience?  I say a little bit yes, but mostly no.  Patience doesn’t mean to wait.  The dictionary definition defines patiences this way: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.  The Bible defines it this way: endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance…

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been told not to ever ask God for patience.  “Don’t ask for patience,” they’d say in a joking tone, “because God will give it to you.”

I heard that from the time I was a little girl, and it made me terrified to ask God for things…are my requests double edged?  Is there always something to fear in the gifts God gives us?  Is it because God will make me wait forever to give me the desires of my heart?  I wondered about His character…this loving God who gave His son for me, did He have a dark side?

This past year I’ve finally developed my own understanding of patience.  We took our family to Oregon, only to feel our dreams fall out of the bottom of the boat when Jon’s illness seemingly took control of our lives.  There we were, 1900 miles away from home, at a crisis point.  One of those things in your life you don’t see coming, one of those places that can derail your faith and send you spinning off into a totally unknown place.

I knew in my heart without a doubt that God had taken us to Oregon.  However, I felt the need to almost defend that to my friends and family, and sometimes even to myself.  I had to remind myself of His goodness and the things He had done to get us there.  In my mind it didn’t make sense that we were going home.  It didn’t make sense that God made it clear that there was work to be done in Brookings, Oregon only to take us out of it before much was accomplished.  Still, I trusted Him.  I sought Him in the midst of our hurricane.

What I can see now is that He was also starting a work in our lives, and it was something that could have taken us a lifetime to learn.  Instead, because of the wholehearted leap of faith we took when we let our Jesus carry our weight across deserts and mountains and to the coast and then back again, we gave Him an opportunity to do something mighty in a short amount of time.

At home we rested.  The foundation that had been completed in Oregon was now being built upon.  We were learning what it means to seek out the Kingdom of God, to seek out heaven on earth.  Lessons I’m sure we will continue to learn all of our lives, but they all started connecting and weaving into a beautiful entanglement of God’s plan, of God’s love.  Then came the healing.

Jon’s horrible affliction was gone in a moment.  Scars and wounds supernaturally healed, God the Father taking them and feeling them for me, instantly healing my heart.  Sweetly and intimately showing me who He is and how much He wants more of me.  Why?  Because my deepest and most passionate desire is to know His heart, to know Him more.  To be set ablaze.

This journey has taught me what patience really is.  The Lord calls me to wait on Him, He wants me to wait because I’m antsy and as a human being I’m restless.  My mind continually is thinking of the things I need to do, the kids next meal, the messes that are being made, work and relationships and so much more.  I flit from one thing to another and could easily be described as ADHD but I refuse to wear that label, to own that name, because I know that the Lord is calling me, calling me to wait on Him.  In that waiting place, He speaks.  In that waiting place, He fills.

How can I have a conversation with my very alive and powerful and full of grace God if all I do is talk to Him and then leave His presence to go about my day?  How can I truly live a Spirit-filled life if I only enter His presence to do my morning devotion and then go back to living in the flesh when I’m actually living?  Waiting on the Lord is conversation.  Waiting on Him means I want a relationship, not religion…I’m not going through the motions to avoid feeling guilty.  No.  I am waiting for Him to move and trusting that He will.  He never disapoints.

Patience can happen during the waiting.  You can endure and persevere while waiting.  But you can also endure and persevere while walking.  There are so many crisis points…so many moments we don’t see coming that can throw our spiritual lives into a blender.  Patience happens when you trust the Lord completely, when your faith is strong even when you feel like everything is coming apart.  No matter where He’s taking you, you know you want to be with Him.  Patience is getting through that crisis point and pressing in, letting Him take you deeper when it hurts.  Letting Him in when your instincts tell you to close everything and everyone off and protect yourself at all costs.  Patience is clinging to Him with all you have, your fingers white with the effort of holding on.

Patience is what I learned about when I went to Oregon and back.  Patience is trusting God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and leaping into a different kind of living.  My advice from this journey is this: never, ever be afraid to ask for patience.  Always desire more of Him, more of the fruits of the Spirit, more of God’s presence.  Always ask for more.

patience

 

Stirring things up…

I know that there are some people that followed us through this blog while we went to Oregon.  Followed our spiritual journey, and prayed for us.  I am so grateful for that!  I have been blogging more candidly on my business page (Homespun Branding Studio) and because of that, I haven’t had time or felt like I could unload enough onto here.  However, lately things have changed in me and so I thought I’d ramble about it a little bit and share with those that don’t follow my business blog, but do want to know.

I went to North Dakota last week to serve on a Dakota reservation.  What I saw and experienced was heart-breaking, and it was good for me to see.  Good to be used and to be ministering everyday, to be on the front lines and exercising my faith much more than I normally do.  I found it to be pretty sad that it’s not like that everyday for me.

Something else happened as well.  The Holy Spirit was really at work on me.  I’ve experienced some awesome things in the last few months.  I experienced the beginning of what this was over a year ago.  Alone in a loft in a beach house with no connections to the outside world, I had a conversation with God that, boiled down, went like this: God, if you want me to do this, you’re going to have to give me the ability because otherwise I can’t do it.  I won’t be a distraction from You.  So I need you to give me more, to give me more natural ability, and more of You.

In the two weeks after that, He poured out His grace on me and did what I asked.  In the year and handful of months since, He has continued to do so.  This last week though, He continued it in another way.  I can’t really explain it because I really don’t understand it, but God put something more in me.  It was all Him, His timing and His Holy Spirit in me that just went to town doing His thing.  I don’t have to understand it, at least, not yet.  All I know is that He gave me something I didn’t have before, and something has changed in me.  And I sit here, grateful, and yet wanting more.  Every taste leaves me wanting more.

My epiphany from all of this is that there is an inheritance for those that love the Lord, that follow Christ unabashedly and wholeheartedly.  It is greater than we can imagine, and through the Holy Spirit, we can taste it now.  Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t just to save us from going to hell, it was the beginning of something.  We are perfected in the resurrection, and we are constantly being transformed and completed.  The more we love Him, the more we pursue Him, the more power, love, and presence we get.  Because the more affection we have for Him, the greater our capacity to hold Him and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Eph. 1:10-24 talks about the inheritance we gain in Christ through the Holy Spirit.  Of course, there are tons of passages like this in the New Testament that show us these kinds of promises.  For most of my life, I’ve read over them and not gotten it.  Now I read and I see and I’m floored at what God has in store for us as Christians if we just take ahold of it. Instead of being satisfied with the way things are (and honestly, how many of us are afraid of getting more of Him?), our souls and hearts should be crying out for more and more and more.  When we do, He gives it to us.  Why?  Because He desires intimacy with us.  He gives us the mind of Christ so we can know Him, and do His work.  Intimacy is a path…it isn’t “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross and rising from the dead, I believe I am saved through Your sacrifice.”  That is just the very beginning!

So that’s where I’m at.  Our church in Mead is really revolutionizing my walk with Christ, really showing me how alive God actually is, and I am so grateful for so many of the people in my life and how their obedience has allowed me to walk this path.  Now that my eyes have been opened and I’ve experienced His loving presence so tangibly, I could never go back to the way things were in me, the way I used to live.  There is so much peace to be had, so much love and so much real life!

HBSSealedQuoteblog

A lot.

A lot has happened since I last posted on here.  So much.  I’m full of all of the things that have happened.  They overflow from me, and they pour back into me.

It’s hard to explain it all, and of course, I can’t just do that on this blog.  There’s too much.

We are out in the sea, our little family, in our little boat.  At the mercy of God, sailing after him with everything we have.  Our meager rations, our little sail.  It’s all we have to give towards following Him, but it’s everything, and so it is so much.

There are storms on top of storms out here.  But we are in a column of calm.  The chaos is coming against us from every angle, from below, trying to sink us and confuse us.  Trying to destroy us, but we are not worried because we know, we KNOW that we have a Victor that has already won.  There’s nothing that can harm us.  We are this little boat in this ocean of the unknown, caught in a current that is heading somewhere we can’t see, but we can look up.  We have thankfulness.  We have Christ.

A lot of people have been praying for us, and we can feel your arms around us.  We can feel the love you are sending us, the whispered prayers from your hearts to God’s.  Your hands are steadying our boat in the waves.  Your prayers mean everything to us.

i lift my eyes unto the hills verse

On Sunday I closed worship with Praise You In This Storm (Casting Crowns) after Jon preached a sermon about Amen.  It was so powerful to me, a song Jon had requested two weeks before because of his sermon, but it had so much more meaning to me than it normally does.  Which is saying a lot.  This song was my anthem when my Gramma died.  It was her anthem when she was dying.  It stirs deep emotions that have been trying to heal and scar.  Normally, I wouldn’t have gone near it, I wouldn’t have been able to.  But God-things abound here, and it was just what I was supposed to do.  When singing it, I just kept singing the bridge over and over…

I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth.

It wasn’t planned, but the Holy Spirit led me there and the words sunk into my spirit like rays of light through the clouds and radiated through me, warmed me.  I know where my help comes from, and I look to Him expectantly.  A gentle reminder that He is here, Jon’s mom sent me a message telling me that she is praying Psalm 121 over us, and asking us to read it and meditate on it.  Guess what it says….

My Help Comes from the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Take heart, friends.  We are alive, we are standing firm.  When all we can do is stand, then still, we stand firm.  Our cleated warrior boots are dug into the ground, and He will not let our feet be moved.

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, quite literally we could be in a thousand different places doing a thousand different things.  We don’t know what is happening with Jon’s health, and that is our biggest concern, so we are working on figuring out a diagnosis as soon as possible.  We are considering every option and the hows of every option, we are in flux.  We have a solid God that does not change, and He is always good and He is always faithful.  He has plans for us, we know.  He is not done with us, He has just finished building His foundation in us and that means something.  He has plans to prosper us and not harm us.  He is our Protector, our Refuge.  We are residing in Him.

Please, do not stop praying on our behalf.  We need it, desperately.  We love you all, our hearts are so filled with our love for you.  Thank you.  Each day, everything seems to flip a 180, everything we considered the day before seems to fly out the window, and sometimes new options cross our path, and we really have no idea where we are headed, but things are moving fast and it’s dizzying, and we are clinging to the hand of our Creator.  He is in control, and we trust Him completely.

 

More fun times for EJ

E is now just shy of 2 1/2 and things have changed a bit from last year.  We recently allowed him to eat too much soy, without realizing it.  When he gets bits of it in his diet over a period of time, then he doesn’t sleep.  We’ve known this from the beginning.  What’s new is that we have finally figured out the link.  Why do his food intolerances make him not sleep?  He doesn’t seem in a lot of pain.  Sometimes we can still hear him refluxing, we know that dairy and soy make that worse.  We always thought that the reflux made it hard for him to sleep.  But in the back of my mind, I knew there was something more.  He was too fidgety for it to be just that.  Almost hyperactive and on those nights, he adamantly will not sleep.  Hates laying down.  This lasts three hours or more, sometimes all night long.

On normal nights, though, he goes down perfectly.  Says his prayer, says, “goodnight, sweet dreams Mommy” and rolls onto his side and goes to sleep.

The link?  RLS.

I finally tried laying down with him during his most recent stint of not sleeping (it lasted about a week).  During that time, he wouldn’t stop moving around.  He finally fell asleep, and I could feel the bed shaking.  His legs were still moving, twitching, bouncing.  I couldn’t believe it.  I put my hands on them, and they still didn’t stop.  He stayed asleep though.

Every night when I put him down, I hold him and sing a song while pacing around.  It’s part of his routine, and it is the only thing that has ever worked for him.  Only this song and only a swinging motion.  Even while falling asleep or getting sleepy on me, he is kicking his legs.  I can’t remember when it started.  A long time ago.

When a child has food intolerances or allergies, their bodies don’t absorb nutrients efficiently.  Even when they eat well.  There is a very strong link between restless leg syndrome and nutrient deficiency.  I was shocked to find that out.  I don’t know why.

I know our food can have a tremendous impact on our health.  You eat to live, or you eat to die.

He is growing.  I think back two years ago, and I can’t believe we survived it.  It was awful.  Now, I believe he is catching up.  His height is closer to 50% than ever before.  He keeps getting taller, and his pants keep getting shorter, yet he’s so skinny they still fall off his hips.  I love that he is finally outgrowing clothes.  I thought he was going to be in 18-24 month clothes until he graduated high school.

Just kidding.  Mostly.

On top of the RLS stuff, a doctor thinks that E’s soy reactions sound more like allergies.  I don’t know about the dairy, it doesn’t seem to be worsening and I let him eat things with butter sometimes.  The soy is definitely getting worse.  He breaks out around his mouth now if he eats something with it, like eczema.  Bright red and irritated.  No hives though.  It only takes one consumption of it to mess up his sleep patterns.

He also still has the nastiest diapers ever.  I don’t know if he could fully potty train just because of that.

Prayers for this are always appreciated.  He is a healthy boy, and such a joy to us.  He is hilarious and loves to laugh.  It could be so much worse, it has been worse, and we can tackle these issues.

And you know what?  I’m still grateful.  I hate that he has gone through so much already in his life, but at the same time, his issues have had a huge impact on the health of all of us.  We have cut out all processed foods from our diets.  We don’t use refined sugar, only coconut sugar, raw honey, and grade B maple syrup.  We are in the process of cutting out wheat and many grains because of our gluten problems (it’s mostly me, but it affects us all).  We eat lots of good protein, veggies, good fats, and we are training our bodies to burn fat instead of carbs for energy.

It’s all because of E.

Then again, his problems probably come from the horrible food I was eating before he was born.  It’s a vicious cycle, but I’m glad to be awakened to it.

 

Spiritual Triage

Our churches meet once a week on Sunday.  Perhaps they have small groups throughout the week, maybe an event here and there.

What are we doing?  Who’s idea was it for churches to have one big meeting?  One day a week?  Large churches have Saturday services, sometimes they hold three or four during the week.  The same sermon preached four times, different people in each service.  How many people go to the same meal twice?  Where is the true community, the family, the unity of one body?

Churches aren’t just for feeding.  They are for equipping.  Leading.  Sending.  Utilizing.

Sending soldiers into battle.  There is a war on, and even though the battle is won, the battle is still going on.  For us, trapped by flesh and time, we are on the front lines.  But so many of us are sitting crouched in our bunkers, making ourselves comfortable, not even wearing our gear, our armor.

The church should look like a M.A.S.H. unit.  It takes in the hurting, the battered and bruised.  The leaders and pastors are there to assess, to perform triage.

Who needs help the most?  Who needs healing?  Who is ready for it?  Assess those wounds!  The battle rages around the church, the front line of the war is so near, but so is the Kingdom.

We have access to the Doctor, the great Healer, Jesus Christ.  And yet we walk by the wounded as though they are fine.  We see them, bleeding, curled into balls in the streets and we walk right by them.  We even share a smile.

Where is our sense of emergency?

Thought the battle is won, and we have a Victor, the souls still hang in the balance.  We are here to fight for those souls and save the lost.  We are here to love, to share Christ, and to be vigilant.

 

Christianity