Category: Count it all joy

HER OWN SPACE IN MY HEART


Haylie Anne.
Her name means Hero of Grace.

Baby girl would be 32 today. I imagine she’d be a mix of my other two daughters—beautiful, kind, tender hearted, loving, aggressive, God loving—an amazing vibrant woman.

30 years ago I held her for the last time. Sometimes it seems like yesterday.

After she died I wanted another baby so bad, my arms literally ached. One year later I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. It was then I realized, each child has their own space in my heart. He had his place and it was overflowing. Haylie’s place  was still empty. Over time I learned to let Jesus fill this space in my heart.

Today, August 11th, I woke up to that tug of emptiness. Come Jesus.

As I sipped my cup of tea, I reflected on her and the last 30 years—I cried. I am always amazed that there are those moments that I still cry. But then, sweet Jesus reminds me of that place in my heart owned by her. And whispers “it’s okay.”

I am honored that I was chosen to be her mother. This “Hero of Grace” swept through my life and changed me forever. And I am grateful.

The three most dominant things that were gifted to me by her life and death are:

One:  The awareness that everyday—every person—my family, is a gift to enjoy to the fullest. I never know about tomorrow, so I won’t waste today.
Two:  Only Jesus can fill and heal my empty brokenness.
Three:  To live with passion against the enemy of my soul. After Haylie died I was angry at God. I saw myself shaking my fist at Him. In His faithfulness He addressed my anger. He gently said “Why don’t you shake your fist at your enemy, where it will do you some good.” Since then I am beyond passionate to stand in faith for what I believe in, to fight for my family’s destiny and not give in—not one inch, to the plan of darkness that comes to kill, steal and destroy.

In so many ways I have been given beauty for ashes.

Isaiah 61:3 says
To comfort those who mourn
To give them beauty for ashes
Joy for mourning,
Praise for heaviness;
They will be called trees of righteousness—the planting of the Lord, for His glory.

fam pic

Look at all this beauty—all these trees! Thankful, I am.

Today please be encouraged to seize the day! Hug your kids, hug your parents! Tell them you love them! And please give Jesus every empty place in your heart. Lastly, stand in faith for your family’s destiny—it’s worth it!

 

 

 

Our Current Trial

What trial are you currently in? I want to share with you the one I just went through. As I eluded in my last blog Embrace the Unknown, God was calling me to step out onto the waters of the unknown. He wasn’t calming the storm before me—He wasn’t changing my circumstance then asking me to come. No, the wind was blowing and the waves were tossing!

The funny thing (it’s funny now) is the trail I was in was nothing I hadn’t experienced before. I’ve been in literal devastation—and lived tell of God’s faithfulness. In one summer not only did my childhood hero—my brother—die, but my two-year old daughter as well (read about it here Hero of Grace—Finding Treasure). Many times my marriage dangled by a mere thread. I’ve had three miscarriages, and been on the verge of death myself. We’ve lost our home and our business-starting over many times. I’ve had three of my dear sons walk away from the Lord—very heartbreaking—to say the least. I’ve been disowned by my family. And these are just the major events after marriage.

So I’m no stranger to suffering, what was so different about my current trial? I believe it was different because this time I knew (sort of) what I was fighting for. And as I look back over all the years, I see I was always fighting for the same thing.

It was a fight for my faith.

Your current trial is a fight for your faith.

For about the last year I’ve been in a season of purposefully strengthening my faith—my goal is to be fully convinced without wavering, (Romans 4:20). Therefore in this trial I was fighting to believe God’s Word and the devil was fighting for his ground of unbelief in my heart. God was purposing to remove a deeper layer of fear in my life—namely the fear-of-lack. Fear rooted it’s self in my life when I was a child. It makes sense—God’s plan for my life is that I’d be a person of deep, unwavering faith—the devil’s plan—just the opposite—fear.

Throughout my years of suffering I could feel God’s comfort, and even when the sea of the unknown tossed, as I remember it now, I felt I was in the boat. This time He stood out on the frenzied ocean, extending His hand, asking me to step out on a sea of unknown waters—to trust Him even as it raged.

I’m sure He’s always wanted this scenario and every battle I’ve fought has brought me nearer to this. And while I’m embarrassed to just now, decades after becoming a Christian, come to this place, on the other hand God is ecstatic with me!

I really thought I failed in this current trial, because my head continually bobbed in and out of the water. The heavy hand of the enemy’s oppression—the spirit of unbelief—continually tried to push my head under. I couldn’t sleep and when I did, I’d wake in panic. Worry overwhelming me like never before. The difference was—I fought tooth and nail to believe God’s promises. The harder I fought the heavier it got. Some days I sat all day just reading the Word or listening to worship music, continually praying—determined to own what I claim to believe.

I felt like I wavered, (I’m always way harder on myself than God is). He told me I won the battle the moment I determined to believe—the moment I chose to sit all day reading His Word instead of escaping by sleeping or watching a movie.

The bummer to pressing in while in battle with the enemy is that he presses harder. But God came running to save me the moment I began to falter. And in His faithful love He waited, watching and interceding for my success, holding back breakthrough—until just the right hour, knowing stronger unwavering faith was my real need.

What’s your real need? Breakthrough or stronger faith?

Have you ever read the book of Job? God allowed catastrophes (plural) to strike him. In it the enemy of his soul had a plan, which was to steal Job’s faith and get Him to curse God. God’s plan for Job was that he would not just know about Him but for Job to actually know Him, making God Lord of all—this meant Job’s faith would have to be foolproof.

Over the years God has delivered me from many aspects of fear and I’m very happy to say I am now on the other side of this battle—the fear-of-lack and the spirit of lack its self are broken off my life! You have got to love the faithfulness of God!

This is my song of thanksgiving to God! Psalm 34:1-7,

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Please be encouraged in your current trial to understand it’s more about your faith than your need.

James 1:2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Embrace the Unknown

Do you ever find yourself facing the unknown? For people who live by faith this really is the norm. Whether we like it or not, no matter how much we think we are in control, we never know what’s around the corner.

When we embrace the unknown of tomorrow, we are in essence accepting the out stretched hand of God as Peter did (Matthew 14:22-33). He’s saying “come with Me” He’s inviting us to dwell on the sea of the unknown—inviting us to live a life of audacious faith.

In following God the one decision we are always faced with is trust. Will we trust even when we can’t see? Will we embrace the unknown with fully abandoned trust in God—releasing our life into His hands, believing He has good planned for us, or will we worry about tomorrow?

Will we say no to fear and yes to stepping out of our comfort zone and be the people God has called us to be?

When Peter accepted God’s invitation the wind was blowing and the sea tossing. And yes—the unknown looks a lot like that sea, and the question “What if I sink” always arises. Likewise the temptation to shrink back into the familiar, even if it’s not ideal, continually tries to threaten us.

The unknown that God is calling us to is a deep sea, and our feet will slip and sometimes we will be overwhelmed and even begin to sink—but if we keep our focus on Jesus and not our circumstances—we will never drown.

The beauty of the unknown is that though it be a deep sea—this sea is where the depth of God’s grace abounds, the place we experience His glory—where our faith is made stronger—this place in which His presence dwells.

What unknown is God asking you to embrace?

As for me it’s a deeper level of submission along with new levels of trust. And I honestly have to say I’m being stretched way beyond my comfort levels. But as I speak God’s word to my soul and allow Him to change my heart, I am certain I will prosper in this new season.

No matter what our unknown may be, at the end of the day we are all faced with the same question—will we rest and find our peace in God’s sovereignty?

Please be encouraged to ask God to change your heart so that you may embrace the great unknown—living a life of reckless faith.

Change Your Situation!

Life is full of ups and downs—some big, others small. That’s just life—no need for anxiety! The questions are—how do we manage life in the seemingly dry or difficult times? How do we turn a desert place into a spring? Make a dead place alive? How do I change my situation???

Psalm 84 has the answer,

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring.

1.      1.  We are blessed when we find our strength in God. Blessed doesn’t mean we won’t have ups and downs—no, it simply means we are never alone or left without solutions in our ups and downs.

Finding our strength in God is a trade—we give Him our weakness in exchange for His incomprehensible strength. Acknowledging our weakness—basically humbling our self—makes way for a flood of God’s grace, strengthening us to get through any situation.

2.       2. We set our heart on eternity—ever looking forward. As long as we focus on this world and all the fulfillment it can bring—we will come up empty. We must set our focus on Jesus, knowing we are on pilgrimage—a journey—always moving forward—constantly drawing nearer.

3.     (Next is the answer to the big question…”How do I change my situation?”)

3. When we pass through a desert place, we determine—resolve in our self to make it a spring.

You can change your situation. How? By calling God into it. As God’s presence fills our heart, soul and life even the driest of times are refreshed.The dead places are made alive by His very life in ours.

I love how verse 6 of Psalm 84 says “they” make it a spring. It’s a choice. We can wallow in the dust of our hard place, whining to God or worse accusing Him of unfaithfulness, or we can choose to make it a spring. Yes it’s hard. But worth it! Remember; the purest gold is wrought from the hottest fire!

Please be encouraged—to determine—to make every dry, dead place in your life a spring.

 

Change of Season

When the beautiful leaves of fall begin to flood the ground—my heart twinges—it’ll soon be winter. Of all the season changes this one causes me—the born and raised southern California girl, to have to mentally prepare.

My heart and life are experiencing an even vaster season change. Just the term used to describe it sounds wrong. Empty nest.

Truly, it’s not the fact that the kids grew up that aches my heart—it’s the rending—the separation—the change of season it self.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m over being sad, excited for the next season and I am gladly letting go of last season, ready to move forward—I just didn’t realize the ache would be so deep.

Two weeks ago today we packed up our youngest child and moved him to California, where he will begin fulfilling his God designed destiny. Before we left I went into his room to make sure nothing was forgotten—just the sight of the emptiness brought tears. I said oh God—I’m in trouble—it’s not even 6 AM on the first day of the trip and I’m crying! Ten minutes later with tears in his eyes my husband asks if I’ll be okay—more tears—this only lasted a few hours—thankfully our son was in a different car than us!

The day before the trip I sat at mid-day, amongst the chaos of preparations, in my chair needing my Father to hold me. In His faithfulness and this is the gist of what I want to share with you, He showed me that my heart is securely in His hand and He is massaging it. He knows the ache, He understands the season change and He’s put my heart in his tender care.

How faithful is God that He would accept the gift of our heart and take charge of it? I’m so grateful to be in a relationship with the One who knows and understands the smallest to the largest of heartache. He knew this time would come—this ache—and He knew just what to do.

This was an anticipated season change—every parent knows its coming, at times we even long for it. We prepare our children for adulthood—we teach them to walk, talk, feed themselves, use the potty,  get dressed on their own, read and write, take chances, speak out, be who God created them to be—that’s what we do as parents—every step of the way teaching them to be independent of us. By the grace of God we teach them to be excellent, strong, mature, loving, kindhearted, God filled—world changers.

Why then are we so taken off guard when those taught excellence, walk in excellence?

Because we have dared to love.

Dared to take God’s charge of carrying, giving birth to, training and finally releasing—yet again into God’s loving hands.

Letting go—always letting go—such is life.

The night before we said goodbye we were at his new church where he will start an internship, I looked over at my man-child—so handsome and so grown. He was worshiping the Lord—just as I taught him to do—giving God his all. As I wiped my tears the Lord softly said “He also is in my Hand.”

Everyone—everything—every season—always in His faithful hand.

Life—but a vapor is always bursting with season changes—no need to fear, be encouraged in knowing—your heart is being held by the heartbeat of heaven Himself.

Isaiah 43:13 Indeed before the day was, I am He And there is no one who can deliver out of My hand, I work, and who will reverse it?”

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

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Divine Rearrangement

cs lewis

I was recently reminded of a time in my life where the landscape of my heart and soul were rearranged. Prior to this divine rearrangement I was unsatisfied with my life and my simple Christianity, I knew there had to be more.

In my thirst I cried out to the Lord asking for His rain, fire, wind and flood. I did this with an unpretentious understanding that He would come and bring something fresh. What I didn’t realize was that it would rearrange my entire life.

When we think of the rain of God—we picture Him showering us with His love, the fire of God is pictured as His intense presence, the wind—His Spirit flowing through us, the flood—an abundance of refreshing.

That’s very poetic, but in all reality when those four elements arrived they overwhelmed everything I knew, and when they left I was rearranged. Rearranged for the better of course—and in the end that’s all that really mattered.

I was reflecting on hurricanes and tsunamis, or storms of any kind—after their initial devastation the landscape, to say the least, is rearranged.

Most times we don’t understand why hardships are allowed to interrupt our life—but what I do know is—God is constantly good, and always has a beautiful purpose for divine rearrangement.

Even the simplest most sought after situations bring rearrangement. Take marriage for example—the young couple so excited to finally live together, embark on their new life and suddenly reality hits—they have to learn to live their life in a whole new manner. It’s no longer about one person, but about selflessly giving your whole self to the person who just invaded your space! Now life is rearranged.

Or how about having a new baby? The couple has hoped and prayed and imagined how wonderful this new precious life will be. And yes, this baby is the most perfect gift. But truth be told—this tiny, adorable child has many needs! And life as you know it is divinely rearranged!

In all situations it’s our heart that matters. We must keep a soft, pliable heart towards God. Embracing the good and the bad—seeking His divine, sovereign purpose—even in rearrangement.

Please be encouraged knowing that if God be for you who can be against you!

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:2-3