Archive | September, 2009

Who do you see?

15 Sep

I am certain that one of the greatest strongholds that Satan has in the lives of women (and many men) today is in regards to our perception. More specifically, our perception of ourselves. Many times when we look in the mirror, we are blind to what is actually staring back at us. It’s almost as if we look into a mirror that has been distorted.

Instead of seeing our kindness through our smile, we see teeth that could be more straight…whiter.

Instead of seeing hair that the Bible talks about being a woman’s glory, we notice the split ends and roots.

Instead of seeing our integrity through our eyes, we see the bags and black circles.

Instead of seeing our hands that have the ability to give and give generously, we see unfinished nails and dry skin.

Instead of patting our stomach and being thankful for food to eat, we pull at it in utter disgust.

Instead of standing in confidence, we slouch in discontent.

And instead of believing who God, our creator, tells us we are….we believe the lies Satan tells us.

Did you know that before Satan fell from heaven, he was known as one of the most beautiful angels of all? Ironic how we struggle with that today, huh? Because if we truly knew how beautiful we were….think of how Satan would feel. And we wouldn’t want him to feel bad would we?! (enter sarcasm)

We have got in to the vicious cycle of comparing, competing and complacency. We are literally self-destructing and allowing Satan to take away who we truly are. Don’t be defeated. Don’t give up and don’t give in. FIGHT. The bible says that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are held responsible, not only for what we physically put into our bodies, but also for what we emotionally and spiritually do to our bodies.

The first step is realizing the stronghold that Satan has in our lives when it comes to who we are believing ourselves to be. For some of us, he has got a hold on our perception. Some have said that the eyes are the windows of the soul….

I have to be completely honest and say that this blog and the words that are flowing from my fingertips and speaking to a struggle that I have and have had. I realize that it is a daily struggle for me….to accept who God says I am and to take my perception and put it back in the hands of the one who created it in the first place. It’s kind of like putting on spiritual contacts. Every morning when I wake up, everything is distorted and blurry until I put my contacts in and I see things for what they truly are. Its interesting how everything changes when my contacts go in. Without them, my face is scrunched up and I am constantly glaring because I can’t truly see…I looked upset and frustrated (which eventually I become). Then, when my contacts go in, my face literally changes, along with my attitude and perception. I am finding out that the same is true when we choose to put on our “spiritual contacts” and allow God to change our perception.

I realize that if I do not choose to make an effort and change my perception of myself and learn to be happy with who God created me to be, then not only am I miserable and not living life the way God intended me to live, but I am also setting an example for the young women God has entrusted me with. If only they could see how beautiful they truly are, inside and out. If only we could see how beautiful we are. Beautiful. Created with a purpose and passion in the image of God himself.

I am reminding myself this morning that:

I am born of God, and the evil one cannot harm me. (1 John 5:18)

I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected. (Philippians 1:6)

I am free from any condemning charges against me. (Romans 8:31)

I can find grace and mercy in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

I am hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

I cannot be separated from the love of God. (Romans 8:35)

I am a citizen of heaven. (Philippians 3:20)

I am free forever from condemnation. (Romans 8:1-2)

I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

God’s grace is amazing.

15 Sep

Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be-
you get a fresh start,

your slate’s wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky-
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside,
my bones turned to powder,
my words became daylong groans.

The pressure never let up;
all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out;
I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God.”

Suddenly the pressure was gone-
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.

(Psalm 32:1-20ish the message version)

Don’t ever let Satan take away what Christ did on the cross for you. Don’t ever let him steal your joy, your purpose and your forgiveness. When you make the choice to lay your guilt, fear, sin, shame, etc. at the foot of the cross, don’t let satan steal that moment from you. Instead, go to the cross with confidence. Let the tears of Jesus mix with yours as you humbly kneel at his feet. There is no greater feeling than the release of sin into the arms of the one whom died to take it for you. God’s grace is amazing and everyday I am reminded how i dont deserve it but that its freely given.

YOU are a mighty warrior.

15 Sep

Ministry is a war zone. The moment you accept the challenge, and it is a challenge, you find yourself deeply emerged, smack dab, on the frontlines of an ageless war. Don’t be deceived, ministry is not limited to those with titles, prestigious positions, or heaven forbid; talent. Ministry is those who find themselves standing, looking at the world (who sits “content & empty”), they stand with hope and determination and their hand sticking out to help them up, instead of walking over them with ignorance. Ignorance is not bliss; in this case, ignorance is direct disobedience to the call of God on our lives.

 

Ministry is a war zone. It’s easier said than experienced. For many of us who stand on the frontlines, the moments leading up to faithfully engaging ourselves, we find security and confidence in our “well-trained” anthem. An anthem of courage, fearlessness, humility, strength and trust; trust in our God to lead us into His calling coming out successful and unwounded. However, it is the latter part of the trust that combats the first. How can one truly enter and engage in warfare and come out with no evidence of the battle? For all the skeptics, critics and all others, who could well be mentioned here, I am sure you are quick to say, “It is possible with God.” And you’re right it is. God can and will lead you into the war zone of ministry and could lead you through untouched, unhurt…., but it is the battle wounds, the discomfort, the pain, the loneliness, the fear, the doubt that leads you to grasp His hands even tighter. And it is there, when you grasp his hands, that you feel his wounds and suddenly it happens. It is in that very moment that, I believe, you change from a solider to a warrior, a mighty warrior at that.

 

Picture it. You’ve come to the pivotal point in your life where you’ve answered the call; you’ve entered into God’s purpose and not just your own. You immediately find yourself on the front lines and it is here where you fall in the deepest of pits. Maybe it’s the pit of pride. The pit of fear. The pit of doubt. You realize that you are in the pit because you have let go, or you are barely hanging on to His hand. In the midst of the war you found yourself dodging, and running, and astonished of how you came to this place, that your hands let go of His and you begin to shield yourself and hide. You’re in the pit, but your hand is never far from grasping back on to his. And when you do, when you let go of what got you in the pit in the first place, and when you move your hands away from shielding yourself and you reach up and grab a hold of His….it’s powerful. Life-changing! No words can express the rush of emotions that you feel as you reach out and feel the nail pierced hands of the one who has been in your place and has taken your place. It’s instantaneous…you become a warrior, a mighty warrior.

 

And it doesn’t end there. It’s truly, only the beginning. As your lifted out of the pit and back on the frontlines. The dirt that you are now covered in, your feet marked with lines from your tears, resemble the one leading you. Your attitude is different. Your perspective is different. More importantly, your mannerisms are different. Your hands no longer shield your face. Your eyes are no longer gazing from left to right with fear gauging where the next bullet is coming from. You are no longer running, looking for a place to hide, contemplating if you had made a mistake engaging yourself. Instead, you move forward with confidence. As you grasp His hand, your wounds touch His wounds, and its powerful. Your perspective is different, as you look past the “bullets” into the eyes and souls of those firing. You don’t know how the “bullets” pass you by, but they do. As you follow in line, you find yourself chanting, “I’m a warrior, a mighty warrior”, “I’m a warrior, a mighty warrior.” You find yourself getting louder and louder, but it is in those words where you begin to believe that your purpose is found in the midst of the war zone. You are where you belong. There are times where you trip, you may even fall back into a pit, or even be nicked by a bullet, but you find the strength to connect your wounded hand with His and your chant gets louder. You move forward with confidence and you notice that every step you take, the enemy is not one more step ahead, but one more step behind. Did you catch that? In case you didn’t, I will rephrase…As you move forward, as you continue to fight (wounded and all), you find that your enemy (your failures, your struggles, your hardships, your “pits”) are NOT one more step ahead of you, but one more step behind.  

 

Mighty Warrior, continue to walk. Christ says, my yolk is easy and my burden is light, but you will never find the truth in those words, if you don’t reach out and grab a hold of his wounded, but never forsaking, hands. You ARE a mighty warrior, yes YOU are.

 

Mighty Warrior, stay strong. Be encouraged. This is only the beginning. Mighty Warriors do not merely impact the world, but change it. A noted biblical professor once proclaimed to me and an entire class of mighty warriors, that not one whole city can truly be changed for Christ. It can not happen (according to him). I disagree….strongly. The hand that I hold, for dear life, not only changed a city, a country, a people, but the world. It is not that it is impossible to change a city for the cause of Christ, it is that he is calling out for His mighty warriors to go out and let the people know that it already happened and that they can be apart of it. Will you stick out your other hand and join with those who have yet to feel and have yet to understand that there is One who understands their wounds and hears their cries from the pit. Will you be the link? Mighty Warrior, the time is now. Go, but don’t let go. Hear my anthem, “You are a Mighty Warrior, you are a Mighty Warrior…….”

For better, For worse.

15 Sep

We have officially entered wedding season! Yikes! I actually don’t mind the occasional wedding and I enjoy seeing how drastically different each one is from the others. I have been to the most extravagent weddings, destination weddings, backyard weddings, simple weddings, dramatic weddings….you name it! I have been the candle lighter, flower girl, bridesmaid, behind the scenes hair and make-up and for the first time this summer, I will be the officiant. It will be a change for sure! As I attend all these weddings, the most intriguing part to me, is the vows. Sitting or standing or doing whatever it is I am asked to do at any specific wedding, I listen, as two people committ to each other, their life. Two very different people, from different backgrounds, promising to give up “I” and become “We”…..with a smile on their face! At that moment, on their wedding day, the couple seems so confident in the words they exchange…so sincere. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. In that moment, many couples do not understand the depths of that committment. In our world today, marriages have tweaked their committments and “we” switches to “I” only to remember the “for better, for richer, for health…” and seem unwilling to fight through the “for worse, for poorer, in sickness…”. Marriages are under attack, now more than ever before. I write this blog, not as a discouragement, but quite the opposite. I encourage you to fight for your marriage. Pray hard and when nothing seems to change, pray harder. Seek Godly wisdom, don’t ever be too proud to fight for your marriage. Come together with your spouse and learn to listen and actually hear what it is they need and want. Take time to rearrange your priorities and put God in the center of your marriage, come together as man and wife and make each other a priority. I challenge you during this “wedding season”, as you hear couples exchange their vows…recommitt to yours. Fight for your marriage, don’t give up. Every good and perfect gift (marraige) comes from God, who is our strength when we are weak.

God, use my sandwich. Amen.

15 Sep

A professor at college once told me, “If you ask God to be his hands and feet each day, he will give you an opportunity every day to do so.”

I believed him.

..

….

It was just a normal Tuesday at the office…everybody locked up in their offices, working on their projects as Praise 106.5 hummed in the background. As my stomach began to compete with the musical stylings of Brandon Heath on the radio, I finally caved and drove myself to Subway. As I drove back into the church parking lot, realizing I only had 20 minutes til staff meeting, I parked my car and jolted for the door…nearly missing, what I now see as, opportunity #1. There was a street lady approaching me, carrying her life in a worn-out duffle bag on her back and she was yelling something at me. As my hearing competed with the wind storm that day, I walked towards her to see what she was saying. As she got closer, my eyes gazed from the huge duffel bag on her back, to the worn-out beanie covering her bald head, and then finally landed on her contagious smile.

“Do you mind if I sit on one of your benches outside? My feet are tired. It will just be for a moment,” she asked. “Of course!” I answered, feeling quite proud that I had done a great deed for the day. As I walked inside, thankful to be out of the freezing cold wind, I quickly became annoyed as I battled with God in my head. He won, however, my stubbornness almost made me miss what I now see as, opportunity #2. “Fine, I’ll give her my sandwich,” I mumbled under my breath. As I walked out the doors to the bench she was sitting on, I asked her if she would like my sandwich. Grateful, she accepted. As I turned and walked away, feeling even more proud at that moment that I had listened to what I thought God was asking of me, her voice made my feet stop. “Would you mind sitting with me while I eat” she asked. Reviewing all the things I had to accomplish before my staff meeting that took place in 15 minutes, I nearly missed opportunity #3. As I walked her inside, assuring her I only had but a few minutes, her face lit up as we sat across the table from each other.

As we began to talk, the young, bald, street lady became known as TJ. She looked to be in her late 20’s, yet her tired eyes and fragile figure aged her quite a bit. As I sat at the table, praying in my head that God would give me the words to say to this lady (I mean….that is why I was there right?) the minutes rolled by and she continued to tell me about Jesus. Not even touching her sandwich, she went on and on about the joy and love she had found in Jesus, relating it with stories in the Bible that put my Bible school education to shame. As she paused for a minute, her eyes piercing into my soul, she then spoke to me a phrase that made my eyes well up with tears. “Thank you for being His hands and feet,” she said humbly. What she didn’t know in that moment, is that that very phrase has been my very specific prayer for quite sometime. I was quickly noticing all the opportunities I had almost missed and all the good deeds I thought God was asking me to do, but yet all He needed of me was to be his ears. To listen. To take a few minutes out of my hectic, scheduled, routine day…and just listen.

As I prayed with TJ and led her out the door, back on her way, I waved goodbye, thanking God that He would use a wretch like me. Heading into staff meeting, I dropped to my knees, humbled by God’s patience for me. So many missed opportunities, yet He was unwilling to pass me by. The situation quickly reminded me of when Jesus used the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread to feed over 5000 people. Many Pastors preach that story out of the book of Luke reflecting on the miracle that took place that day, but in that moment, I was reminded of the missed opportunities the disciples had that day. They put Jesus in a box that day and they allowed their idea and perception of how He could use them to limit the magnitude of the miracle that was about to take place, much like myself. When they told Jesus to send the crowd away for food, they missed their 1st opportunity. When they questioned Jesus when He asked them to feed the crowd, the missed yet another opportunity. As they walked through the crowds searching for food, yet all the while knowing they would never come up with enough, the missed it again. However, Jesus will further His kingdom no matter how foolish his vessels sometimes are. He will use the misguided, the stubborn, the critics, the foolish….the disciples and even, me. That day, on the hill with the disciples and the crowd of over 5000, he used a young boy and his sack lunch.

That encounter with TJ on the Tuesday afternoon, that story in the book of Luke, has challenged me to not limit my prayer for God to use me to be just His hands and feet, but also His ears, His smile, His voice, His perception. Don’t ever put God in a box, He doesn’t fit. Don’t ever limit the ways and depths that God can and will use you. No matter how many missed opportunities you may come across in your lifetime, God is still God and if you seek Him, He will be faithful to not pass you by.

Just be happy!

15 Sep

“Just Be Happy”…one of the most annoying, yet simplest pieces of advice I have received in my life. This little piece of advice was given to me about a year ago from my father when I was going through a pretty difficult time in my life. As I laid out my troubled heart at the dinner table, feeling as though no one could possibly know what I was going through, I stubbornly rambled on and on about how my life was in shambles. As the stories continued to flow from my lips and then suddenly stop, moments of silence filled the room, as if my father was trying to compress his profound thoughts. As I sat in anger, wallowing in my sorrows, I perked up a bit as my father began to speak. The following words that came from his mouth, made the anger in my heart rise to my eyes making them glare. “Just be happy,” my father said and continued to finish his dinner.

I remember leaving the table that evening thinking, “what a novel idea (in my most sarcastic tone).” Why hadn’t I thought of that! Just be happy.

As the weeks passed and the anger and bitterness in my heart helped to brighten peoples days (did I mention I was sarcastic?), those three little words scrolled through my mind. Finally, when the bitterness overflowed in my heart and finally made me drop to my knees, as I cried out to the only one I knew truly understood the heart of the matter, I realized that being happy was a choice. Choosing to be happy & claim joy in all circumstances is a choice I have been given to make on a daily basis and in every situation. Such simple advice, yet so profound.

At church this past sunday, Pastor continued his series on “Joy in the Journey”, as he talked about having ‘Joy in Suffering’. The heart of the message came out of the book of Philippians chapter 1, where Paul was encouraging the church in Philipi to press through. Paul is not telling the church to be happy, but because joy is apart of his lifestyle and not just an emotion, happiness becomes infectious. As Paul was writing this letter from his jail cell, in which he was placed for sharing his joy he had found in Jesus, you can just picture his gleaming face as he encourages the church that although things aren’t looking up for him, the message of Christ is spreading and what some people meant for destruction, God has turned into utter joy.

The key line that struck my heart this past sunday was when Pastor softly said, “Joy is our birth right…. in the midst of the worst situation or circumstance, YOU can find joy, not as an emotion, but a lifestyle.” Joy is our birth right. Freely given and can never run out. Jesus died on the cross so that we could have life and life to the fullest and as far as I’m concerned, you are not fully experiencing life until you allow joy to become part of your lifestyle. The Devil would love nothing less than to steal our joy and make us miserable. In the book of Deuteronomy, there’s a verse that says, “Today I lay before you life and death, blessing and a curse….choose life, choose blessings!” (my paraphrase) God has given us free will…..choices. Nehemiah 8:10 proclaims, “the joy of the Lord is YOUR strength”. When you feel you can’t go on, when life gets too tough, when circumstances arise….JUST BE HAPPY! It’s your choice, His joy will give you strength to press on and get you through.

August 30th, 1985

3 Sep

1 year ago I was juggling 5 jobs and extremely unhappy and wasn’t sure why. . . now I know and would take that ignorance any day. It’s been a hard year, but I take joy in knowing that when we are in our weakest moments that the God inside of us is strong!

2 years ago I was still working for Dream Dinners, coaching, doing Children’s Ministy, planning for my 1st Trunk or Treat event, moving into my new apartment and dating a man who ended up to be a boy.

3 years ago I was starting my Senior year at Northwest University, working at Bonefish Grill, coaching cheer at Cedar Park, living with Jon and Stacey, and was a youth leader at Uprising!

4 years ago I was in my Junior year at NU, working at BG, working at youth secertary, living with V and Jen in a sweet 3 story condo!

5 years ago I was moved back from CA to help plant Canyon Creek Church while living with V, Jen and Lesha embarking on some crazy times and making some memorable moments!

6 years ago I had just graduated high school (by the skin of my teeth), moved to Modesto, CA with Tandra and enrolled in a youth ministry internship. Looking back, this year is what shaped the years to come. Some of the greatest times in my life! I worked at Express, lived in a filthy house with 9 girls and 1 bathroom and dated a guy that would lead to many jokes for years to come 😉

7 years ago I was starting my senior year at LHS, dating a loser of a guy whose life goal was to “pimp his ride” (should’ve known! :)), preparing for the opening of the 2nd Woods coffee and getting ready to cheer at the first football game of the season!

8 years ago I was excited to finally be an upper-classmen, a junior, at LHS. I finally got my license and my coveted spaceship of a car, VW BUG. I was scared to death of cheering at the first day of school assembly and was glad to be done working at the waterslides and started working at Woods coffee.

9 years ago I was a sophmore who spent my saturdays working at good ol’ papa murphys. We finally moved into the house of our dreams and I spent everyday after school playing volleyball, basketball and tennis.

10 years ago I timidly walked the halls of LHS for the first day as a student, praying to get through the day without getting stuffed in a trash can :). My biggest worry was figuring out what to wear for my first HS dance which usually led to Lacey and I’s weekly trips to the mall!

11 years ago I walked the halls of LMS as a proud 8th grader, ruler of the school! It’s funny to think about those times and remember how cool you thought you were and look back at pictures and see how untrue that really was! This was also the year I started my first real job at none other than, Papa Murphys! This is the most memorable year for me becuase it was after the summer I felt called into youth ministry. . . every year after has flowed from that calling.

12 years ago I was a 7th grader, madly in love with my brothers best friend and spent my weekends playing club volleyball. This is also the year John and Stacey moved to be our youth pastors…who knew that years later I would be their nanny and they would become my life-long friends!

13 years ago I made the exciting switch to middle school, got initiated into my first clique (seriously), punched a boy in the back and got sent to the principal’s office, regretably danced in the 3 hours too long talent show, embarassingly played the part as Mrs. Beaver in the Lion, the Witch and the wardrobe and started youth group for the first time!

14 years ago our family packed up and moved to Lynden with the Brants and Jen (cassie and brach at the time). I started 5th grade and realized that Mrs. Edmonds was truly the best teacher in the world. I met my best friend Hayley and slowly realized that moving to Lynden was so much better than yacolt!

15 years ago my parents built a house in the middle of nowhere with 3 other friends in Yacolt. My friends were all babies because there was no one else to play with except for boys and they had cooties at that stage in my life. Looking back at it now, this is the year I fell in love with children and is probably why I’m so good with them now!

16 years ago I lived in Vancover, WA on the “beautiful” street of Wintler Drive, attended my Grandpa’s church and spent the majority of my life playing with Barbies and building forts with Ashley and Holly or hanging out at my cousins house!

17 years ago I was a second grader with long blond hair down to my butt! 🙂 This is also the year my brother chased me around the house while babysitting me which led me to “hide” in our glass dinner table, which resulted in me getting stuck and my brother calling for help! Yeah…it really happended!

18 years ago I was in 1st grade, still a nerd, scared to death of everything, played soccer with my “boyfriend” Andrew. And by “played soccer” I mean sat on the grass with him by the goal.

19 years ago I started my first day in kindergarten. I still remember my mom making Jeremy stand by me in front of the school bus…of course, he was already a big 1st grader and too cool for school and I was a cheeseball who stood proudly with my purple and white striped/polka dotted outfit and pigtails. Note to parents: if you little girl is chubby…don’t enhance her chubbiness by putting pigtails on her…it’s not nice 🙂

20-24 years ago all blend together. I born into the world on August 30th, 1985 at 9:37 AM, as big as can be! Talk about giving birth to a watermelon! I can’t believe I am 24 and it’s hard to believe I have barely experienced what life has to offer. Next year I will turn a quarter of a century and fully plan to engage into my quarter-life crisis 🙂 Here’s to another year of experiences, unforgettable moments, successes, failures, millions of pictures, months of laughter and opportunities to grow in my relationships with people and, of course, Jesus. Happy 24 to me!

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