Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word 2015

It all started with a simple text from me to my sister that went like this:

"What's the plan for 2015? Goals? Dreams?Let's talk!"

I knew I had a captive audience as she was traveling back home from Georgia. And I quickly received her response...and then she asked me:

"How about you?" 

I froze for a split second and then...

I quickly blurted out:

"Focus! I've been so distracted this year." (Insert 15,000 emojis) LOL

I began to wonder if maybe this was the Lord's way of telling me that would be my one word for 2015, but....

Last year, the Lord placed my one word on my heart in early November and here I was wondering on the last Saturday of 2014 what my word would be.

The Lord had been placing words like dream and faithful in my heart but I didn't have that familiar feeling of confirmation that I love. So,  I waited.

On Monday I got out my journal. I started copying down a few quotes I read on Jess Connolly's blog about dreaming and said this:

"Ask the Lord to be loud to you- and I dare you to believe that He might really desire for you to hear His voice, even more than you desire to hear His." 

Gulp.

So I prayed and asked Him to be loud to me. A few moments went by and I began searching the Scriptures. It's the place I go to for everything, really. And it was there, I saw a verse that pricked my heart.

"One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul." Acts 16:14

At first it was kind of funny. I was like, "cool, You want me to pay attention."  But as I continued to read the Scripture line by line, the word jumped off the page to my teary blue eyes.

Heart. 

I cried. Thank you Lord, from the bottom of my heart for showing me this Scripture that I have glanced over countless times before now.

Easton's Bible Dictionary provides this definition: "The heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The heart must be changed, regenerated before a man can willingly obey God." 

In the Greek language #2588 it is translated "kardia- the effective center of our being; desire-producer that makes us tick; our desire-decisions that establish who we really are."

Whoa.

I had asked the Lord to help me focus. I asked Him to be loud. I asked Him to give me a word for 2015 that would mean something to me.

And He did that. He did all of it. And as an added bonus, He showed me this Scripture as a way of solidifying what He placed inside my heart:

"My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed:  I will sing and give praise." Psalm 57:7

Hear: to listen; give or pay attention to.
Ear: keen/sensitive perception of the differences of sounds
Art: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful


Heart.

I think Ann Voskamp said it best when she said: 

"All the heart really knows-is what it knows by heart."

And that's my prayer for this year. To know in my heart and believe all that The Lord has for me. And I want to know Him more by paying attention to His Word and fixing my heart on the Truth of His promises. Not just when things are going splendidly but when things are hard and I have to choke back tears. 

"For a fixed heart I must have a fixed determination, and not a mere fluctuating and soon broken intention. And I must have a continuous realization of my dependence upon God, and of God's sweet sufficiency, going with me all through the dusty day." Alexander MacLaren

Lord, for 2015, I want to know you by heart. Let it be so. Amen.

*PS: If you are still reading this wordy post, I wanted to say that I'll be participating in Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team this year.  I will memorize two Scriptures per month for each month in 2015. I've done this a few years now and this is the first year the Lord gave me all 24 verses before the year began and they are all on...you guessed it...the heart because what the heart really nows, is what it knows by heart. Join me? Scripture Memory Team

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Next Step

                                                                           She Reads Truth

This might not make sense to anyone but I feel compelled to share what The Lord placed on my heart earlier today...something I don't want to forget because when The Lord speaks, it is precious and must be cherished and remembered. Forever.

While I was reading the text for today's devotional, I became obsessed with the story of the ten lepers. It was a story that I've heard many times. A familiar story. But different in how only one of the ten returned to offer thanks.

I had to know more.

I studied and wrote things in my journal and when I went to write my journal page for the #shereadstruth online community, my mind went blank. I just kept praying and asking The Lord to help me see what He would have me to share.

Finally. He showed me the route to take.

It was what I was initially drawn to. I was to write about the one who noticed his healing and offered thanks. While I was handwriting the words, Jesus spoke so tenderly to me. I wrote it in my Bible and dated it November 18, 2014.

This is what I wrote on page 1993 of my ESV Study Bible right next to the subtitle: Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers -- "The day my life changed as a writer." 

Today is a significant day. My husband's beautiful God-fearing Grandmother would have been 97. This is her first birthday celebrating with the One she lived her whole life for. Before she passed away on July 4, 2014, (and we miss her everyday) she confirmed to me that the dreams I have for myself and family would come to pass. I will cherish forever those intimate moments we shared when she spoke truth and life into my spirit. I love that God would speak to me on her birthday. 

So I take what He gave me and I say Hallelujah, Amen and Thank You Lord.

I don't have to have it all figured out. All I have to do is say yes to taking the next step which is to start writing...however small it may be and for however long without people seeing the words. He wants me to be faithful in the little things of writing a little something each day. That's all I know so far.

And I respond and whisper a prayer:

Yes, Lord. I am willing to do what seems impossible (and is) on my own. I feel so ill-equipped to write. It's obvious that I will need You in ways like never before to share the words that in Your timing, You will give to me. 


It's kind of like homeschooling. I need You Jesus more than ever now that I'm a homeschooling mama. 


The enemy of my soul would like me to think that maybe I didn't hear you right; that maybe you spoke those words for someone else and that I'm the wrong girl. 


But then I remember, You are the LORD. And You shall reign...in the next step.

xo


Friday, October 10, 2014

Sweet 16










Dear Bryan,

From beginnin' to end, 365 days of the year
I want your same ole love, baby
And all I wanna do is share my life with you
I want your same ole love...

Thank you for 16 beautiful years of marriage. I didn't want to share my life with anyone but you. God gave me the desire of my heart when He gave you to me.

I look forward to our future with great joy.

Love, 
Melissa

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Small Beginnings


                                 Source                                            


The first few months of marriage.

Morning, midday and evening sickness.

Starting a budget/working on the debt snowball.

Establishing an exercise regimen or eating plan.

Praying for a loved one who desperately needs Jesus.

Beginning work at a new job.

Small beginnings. 

What I love about this Scripture:

"....for The Lord rejoices to see the work begin." 

Fifteen years and 364 days later we worked through those first few months of marriage and now, although, not perfect, it is more beautiful than that rainy night when we exchanged our vows.  He is faithful.

Seeing my boys beautiful faces when they were born made every time I could only eat Lucky Charms or Saltine crackers worth it. I didn't despise it, per se, I just wasn't a fan of the not being able to even look at food for a time. Homegirl loves to eat!  :) He is faithful.

I have to confess with budgeting, I can be all or nothing. I sometimes say, "why bother?" Like Dave Ramsey says, "All the money comes in and all the money goes out, only the names are changed to protect the innocent." But as the Lord provides extra sources of income, I remind myself that it will be worth it one day to be faithful now and work with what we have available.  He is faithful.

Oh the joy of when a loved one that you've been praying for tells you out of the blue they are reading your blog. You know what they say, people are watching and we may be the only 'Jesus' they see. He is faithful.

Small beginnings. I think I love you.

Seriously though, The Lord rejoices to see the work begin. Why? Because He made this day. And He wants us to just start somewhere.  To be faithful in the little and the big. To little by little move forward. 

"God's work always begins with little seeds." MacLaren

Think about it. Jesus is into small beginnings.

The tiny seed at conception. He takes His time to fashion us and form us in the depths; and at the perfect time, He releases us from the womb. 

The sparrow. He cares for and provides for it so gently and He knows where and when it falls. He takes great delight in His creation.

He is the Master Builder and the greatest mathematician of all time. I can't explain Jesus math but I do know its supernatural and He can make things multiply faster than the speed of light. He's always making something out of nothing. And that's a beautiful thing. 

"Satan does not despise the day of small things. Satan fears the day of small things in our life because he sees what great things God does in them and brings out of them." Guzik

God is always watching us. The Bible says His eyes are over the whole earth searching for those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. Whether we are just beginning something or nearing the end, His eyes are everywhere and He is watching to see if we will be faithful to Him. His eyes are on all our ways and nothing is hidden from Him.

This is how Jesus works. We have to be faithful in the little things before He will grant us more. Remember, this day, and every day is the day that He has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. We are to give thanks in all things because this is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus.

Don't believe the lie that bigger is better. Jesus values substance over size. Give all that you have to Him, commit your works (beginning, middle and end) to Jesus and watch Him respond to you.

"God often chooses weak instruments to bring about mighty things: and tho' the beginnings be small, He can make the latter end greatly to increase." Wesley

Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet. :)

Prayer:

Lord, help us to not despise these small beginnings especially now that we know you delight to see the work begin. Help us remember that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Grant us the grace to receive Your mercy to just begin. Help us even today, to move forward, knowing that You have great things ahead. We love you so much Jesus. Amen.








Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What We Are


Disclaimer: I cut a huge chunk out of my right index finger while making dinner so I'm really only able to type with nine fingers. Sigh. :)

Moving on. 

"Consider this: The Father has given us His love.  He loves us so much that we are actually called God's dear children. And that's what we are." (GWT)

What I love about this Scripture:

The love of God. I have to have a Selah moment.

Do you believe the love of God?

Pause and ponder this beautiful gift that is lavished upon us as His dear children. The way He loves us is unmatched. The manner of love that is freely given to us. It isn't a love that we have to strive to earn or perform for. This love isn't something that we can go out and get. It is freely given out of His rich storehouse of mercy. He made us and loves us and wants to lavish it on us.

The perfect love of God being lavished on me? On me.  It blows my mind; that God would want to profusely pour out His never ending supply of love that He has for us in abundance on someone like me. 

But then I quickly remember that this perfect love also comes with a new name for each one of His children.  Allow me to make it personal, and I hope that you'll do the same with your name as way of reminder of who we are in Him.

Melissa, child of God. I've been adopted into the family of God. My identity is now in Christ and I belong to Him. He lavishes His love on me because I'm His. All I have to do is receive. 

"What is it that makes us slow to believe the love of God? Sometimes it is pride, which demands to prove itself worthy of the love of God before we will receive it. Sometimes it is unbelief, which cannot trust the love of God when it sees the hurt and pain of life. And sometimes it just takes time for a person to come to a fuller understanding of the greatness of God's love." Guzik

And now I have a fuller understanding of His love. Thank you, Lord.

I get to call Him Master. Savior. Father. Friend. I find my greatest source of joy in belonging to the King of Kings. The Creator of the entire Universe. The soon coming King who holds the keys to death, hell and the grave. The One who will right every wrong. The One who gives me a million chances to make things right. 

He proved to me His perfect love when He died so that I could live. What other proof is necessary? His perfect life proved His perfect love and when I received Him as Lord He made His home in me and I exchanged my unworthiness for His great love. He calls me worthy. Selah. :) 

So when He sees me now, He sees His daughter. I love that. I am God's daughter. No matter what kind of relationship you might have with your parents here on earth, if you have accepted Him as Lord, you are God's daughter. You belong to Him and He loves you without condition. No strings attached.  

He created you. And God wants, more than anything, to be in relationship with you. This is what we were created for. He displays to us His unspeakable, incomparable and immeasurable love so that we'll one day take notice of Him and fall to our knees and cry out "Abba, Father." 

Let His love fill your heart. Let His Word fill your mind. And be changed forever. He's worth that!

You are God's daughter and He loves you fiercely. 

Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for Your love. Thank you for rescuing us from a life of not knowing You. You gently scooped us up and mended our broken hearts and we are forever grateful. Help us to receive Your love and in turn display Your love to a lost and dying world. We need You more than anything. Amen.

"Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on you, and belonging, you will become the sons and daughters of The Lord God Almighty." MacLaren

And that's what we are.

xo


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Press On

Source

"But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who so wondrously reached out for me." The Message

What I love about this Scripture:

The beautiful imagery. I can see Him standing there on the other side of the canyon. He's not passive in His waiting for me to get to Him. He's active while He waits...reaching out for me. For you. 

He's willing to stretch out His arms, take me by my hands and guide me to where He is. 

I mean, isn't that our hope? The hope of Heaven to be where He is.  We are His possession; His peculiar people; set apart for His good purpose and pleasure. 

"Believers make Christ all in all, and set their hearts upon another world." Matthew Henry

This isn't some grand ordeal. It is so basic, really. He is simply reaching out to me and me clinging onto Christ (who is my life) in total dependence and wholly surrender. 

That's the goal for me; to be like Christ is every way; to give up self (daily) in total surrender to what He has for me. To reach out for Him with everything that is within me. To know Him and make Him known.

This is my constant endeavor.

I know His ways are higher than mine and He can be trusted with all the cares of my heart. He even can be trusted with my whole heart because He is gentle and trustworthy. He makes my life have meaning.

On my own I am imperfect but in Christ He covers me with His perfection (Hebrews 10:14). I am justified in Him, His law is now written on my heart and He has promised to remember my sins no more.

The Result?

He has made me His very own.  No longer am I wondering who I am and who I belong to. No longer living to please and serve self.  I'm living now for Jesus who paid it all for me to live with Him and love Him for all of eternity. 

 I am worth something to Him and He is worth everything to me. 

Prayer:

Captivate us, Lord Jesus, set our hearts on You. Devastate us with Your Presence, falling down, and Rushing River, draw us nearer, Holy Fountain consume us with You, captivate us, Lord Jesus, with You. *Amen. 

(*Lyrics: Captivate Us by Watermark)



Monday, October 6, 2014

One Year Later: #write31days




31 Days  (26 Days)
of sharing what I love about 
some of my favorite
Scriptures 


via Pinterest

What I love about this Scripture:

"Those who look to Him..." if I'm looking to Him, that means I'm not focusing on self. Winning! I want to live that way; with my eyes and heart fixed on Jesus Christ as the focal point of my life. He is what this life is all about for me. 

When I look to Him, He calms all my anxious fears, He quiets my heart with His truth and His love. What else could be better than that? I see myself with a laser beam focus. Jesus takes a step. I take a step. If He tells me to stay, I stay. 

When my eyes are locked in on Jesus, the things of this earth grow strangely dim. This is when I am trusting Him to provide, waiting for Him to move, fixing my gaze in His direction. I see in my mind an image of a tight rope across a canyon. For me, I would be totally freaked out if I had to cross that. I would absolutely need a focal point on the other side of it. That and a harness! Smile.

Jesus is my focal point on the every side of what I'm going through. He keeps me grounded. No pun intended! :)

The Result?

A radiant and unashamed face. This is what knowing, loving and serving Jesus provides. But I can remember a time of walking around this life with a shadow of shame. And that wasn't fun. It was when I learned that my identity is found in Christ, and all that He says I am, that's when the veil of shame began to lift. It was then that my focus began to shift from self to Savior.  Best day ever! 

I wrote about this Scripture in my journal on July 16, 2012:

"Thank You that because I look to You I am radiant and have no reason to be ashamed. I long to emit rays of light, bright with joy and hope-the kind that can only be found in You. Your Word says that as I look to You, my face will never be ashamed. In You, I don't have to feel shame..."

A few days later, on July 24, 2012, I felt Jesus say to me, "Melissa, I see you. Look to Me. Let Me do it." It was the confirmation I asked God for and it forever sealed Psalm 34:5 in my heart while I was standing at my kitchen sink doing the dishes. 

I say that I love Jesus Christ and that I want to live for Him for all my days, but if my countenance is always sad, what kind of testimony is that? 

Radiant, by definition, is shining bright with joy, hope, etc. Jesus does that to me. He makes me shine bright with His joy so that I can share with others about the hope I have.

Prayer:

Lord, let our eyes be fixed on You. You lead us into all truth; You show us the way. You remove our shame and cover us with Your radiance. You are The Light and in You there is no darkness at all. Amen.