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.


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.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Small Beginnings


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. :)


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. 


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.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Press On


"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. 


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

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.


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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I Want God

It arrived on a hot July afternoon just after I arrived home from a day at the beach.

When I saw the package in my mail box, I literally had to make myself not jump up and down in front of my neighbor's house. Melissa, walk back to your house calmly and girlie squeal when you get inside. That's what I told myself. :)

I immediately rip open the envelope and flip to the back of the book and I read the last part of the last sentence that says, "...and how to find our way back to the God we want most." 


See, The Lord knows exactly what we need and when we need it. He's kinda amazing like that.

Something you may or may not know about me, but I absolutely love reading the book thank-yous and dedications. It's when I get to see a different side of the author. I think of it as a picture of their heart. The names of complete strangers to me, but so precious to Lisa and I instantly think of people I would list if ever I was given the opportunity to write.

More tears.

I spend the rest of my Friday with my new book, my red pen, my bright yellow highlighter, and my wide-ruled loose leaf notebook paper and I am ready to dive in. I have been w a i t i n g for Lisa to write another book. I mean, her book, w(hole) messed me up in the best way so as you can imagine I counted down the days until I received this baby.  Perhaps, I should learn patience. But God saw fit to get this new book into my hands before the October 1st release date. Hallelu!

The highlighter quickly comes out on page eight.

Hello, introduction.

Allow me to quote her, "We need more of God, but we do not really want Him. The truth is, until the want matches the need, nothing will ever change." 

And I was hooked.

I guess I've never looked at it that way before. I always need God to help me. I always need God to guide me. I always need God to go before me. But do I want Him?

Like r e a l l y want Him?

I keep reading.

Through the course of this book, Lisa shares about wanting God more. More than what?

More than Comfort. More than Logic and Reason. More than Popularity. More than Blessing. And finally she shares about wanting God most.

This isn't about trying harder. I like those words because I sort of fall into that group. I feel like if I can just try harder, everything will be fine. No, the theme of this book is wanting God more than anything else.

Like water to a thirsty soul, are her words to me. I say me because I feel like she wrote this book for me....either that or she has a copy of my journal. Smile. I am so thankful to authors who can put into words things that are on their heart in such a beautiful way.  Lisa does it extremely well in this book.

As a result of reading, I begin asking myself hard questions. What can I give up? Is there anything I want more than God? Because when we give up something we are doing so to make room for what we really want.


I could go on and on but I don't want to give anymore away about this wonderful book. It seriously challenged me to examine my heart to see if I truly have a Christ-first heart. It is challenging me still to remember....to remember when I fell in love with Him... to remember why. Oh, it is super important to remember those things. The landmarks of our saving faith journey.

Side note: I asked the Lord on July 19, 2014 to help me remember. You can see the neat way it all tied together on my Instagram here.

And slowly but surely He is helping me remember. He is leading me on a narrow path to truly want Him most. For so long I thought I knew what I wanted. And I humbly submit, that I was wrong.

But in His gentle Jesus way, He is showing me that it's Him. He's the One I've always wanted and He's ever faithful to stay beside me as I take the long road home.

"What do you want?" John 1:38

I pray its Jesus.

I want Jesus. All of Jesus. And nothing but Jesus.

So help me God.


*PS: If you are interested, I wrote a review on Amazon giving the book five out of five stars. I hope you'll go ahead and pre-ordered yourself a copy here.

Jesus is worth the time it takes to read this short book. You'll be so glad you did.

God's best to you!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This Hope

I just finished my She Reads Truth journal page, took a picture of it for Instagram, and told the Lord that it was all for Him.

And then I walked to the bathroom and changed out of my pajamas into my junky house cleaning clothes...that I wore yesterday. Anyway. It was at that moment the Lord told me to write.

"Write what, Lord?  You know that I am the best infrequent blogger out there." I say.

"Elaborate." He tells my heart.

So here I am. The blogger who only blogs when she has something to share. And I recently have come to terms with that. I want God more than I want this blog. But when I receive a prompting from Him to write, I write.

Because, disobeying God?

I want no part of that.

When I started to study this morning, I read Hosea 2.

And nothing jumped off the page to me. I wasn't sure what I was going to share. So I read the text again.

And this time I notice "For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more." (v.17)

I am a forever-student so I begin searching what this verse means. And I find this gem: "But usually the LORD drives us to despair of earthly joy, and help from ourselves that, being shut from every other door, we may knock at Mercy's gate." MacLaren

I quickly grabbed my personal study notebook and wrote down, "In my unfaithfulness (idolatry) You spoke tenderly to me and provided for me a door of hope. When I cried out to You when I had no mercy and was a foreigner to you, You answered my cry for help. And when You responded, I attached myself to You, forsaking all others; clinging only to You. When I walk in unfaithfulness I dishonor You; the One who declares that I will call You My Husband and no longer 'My Baal'." 

It was in the my wilderness of self, and discontent, envy, excess and sloth that He spoke to my barrenness. Because we all know that when The Lord is last on your list, life is...well...empty. I lived an empty life for a while. Hello, my roaring 20's. I made statements that proved I was living out of my own strength. I wasn't sure of my identity as one who had a saving faith of The Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn't fun to be with. I was living in a rut of my own idolatry. Yuck.

Alexander MacLaren writes "Sorrow helps us to see God."

I drank that right in. Sorrow helps us to see God. He goes on to say, "Swift, sharp, unrelenting justice must be done on the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, if our trials are ever to become doors of hope." 

Hope. It's the finished product of tribulation.


"Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character; hope; and this hope will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." Romans 5:3-5

This is where I stop trying to fill my heart with stuff; things that can't and won't be able to satisfy my relentless need. And this process started two years ago when He proved to me that He was to be my all in all. He wanted to fill my heart with His love so that I could stop stuffing myself with junk.

What is this hope? "Hope is but the brightness that goes before God's face, and if we would see it we must look at Him." writes MacLaren.

It's what I like to call saving knowledge. And by that I mean, I know that my Redeemer lives and I will spend eternity with Him. And I'm inspired to love God more and want God more than anything else.

It was two years ago that I experienced His goodness. And since that time He has opened my eyes wide to the revelation that He is all I need or want. He has sparked within me a love for Him like I've never experienced before.

And the best part of this whole thing?

"I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as The Lord." (v. 20)

I just turned 36 last month but I asked Jesus into my heart at the precious age of eight. It wasn't until I turned 30 that I truly started pursuing The Lord in new ways. And I've heard that old ways won't open new doors.  So there's that. Then on the second to last day of July I turned 34 and He walked with me while I began the {daily} process of laying down my idols. And as I began living it out,  He made me His own

"When the people were weaned from idols, and loved the Lord, no creature should do them any harm." Matthew Henry

This hope? It's my Jesus.

PS: Four books that have helped along this road (other than the Bible): One Thousand Gifts{W}hole, Love Idol , and this baby isn't available until October 1, 2014 but go and pre-order it now I Want God (blog post forthcoming when God gives me the words to share-that is, after I'm done processing it.) Thank you to Lisa for the Advance Reader Copy. xo

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Naomi Moments

I have Naomi moments.

Like how Naomi could not see past her circumstances. Sign me up.

When all hope seemed lost. Right here.

I feel that way.

When the budget works on paper but doesn't in real life. When I see the error of living financially un-responsible. I call myself undisciplined. What I once thought I needed has become complete rubbish to me.

Earlier today I called myself shameful. I was having a moment when our only car wouldn't start and I was thinking the absolute worst case scenario. It's a gift.

Like Naomi, I believe with my head that God is Sovereign. For others.

I believe that He will provide famously and work amazing, jaw dropping miracles. For others.

So I call myself discontented. Wasteful. Lazy. Broken. Lonely. Lost. In debt.

I too, like Naomi am soul-weary. I'm weary. Like for real... so weary. Weary from the struggle.

The head to heart struggle.

That kind of soul-weary.

Just the other day I was having a heart to heart conversation with my sister-in-love. She was telling me of an awesome financial miracle she and her husband received. I was then and continue to be so happy for them and how God provided in their time of great need. So she asked me point blank, "Do you think God can provide for you like He did for us?"

I said no.

Not the best time to just blurt out what comes to mind because truly that is not how I feel. I have seen and experienced God providing for us and taking care of us with out of the blue, jaw dropping miracles.

This is the time that I need to refocus my wild and run-away thoughts. This is the time to stand on His promises for me and my family. This is the time to call to mind those treasures hidden in darkness so that I know He is The Lord!

And then I come back to life and remind myself that He has names for me, too. Names that I find my identity in. Names that I read about in His Word that apply to me. He knows my name, calls me by name and made me His very own.

He calls me friend. Beautiful Daughter. Beloved. Chosen. Accepted. Redeemed. Whole.

I call Him Altogether Lovely.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On Every Occasion

The Lord, in His beautiful way demonstrated His relentless love through His servant Nehemiah.

I believe that The Lord saw something in Nehemiah because his heart was for the people from the first day. A people that needed "a great work" in their own hearts and lives.

I love how Jesus makes things lovely even in the midst of hurt and brokenness. In order for us to see this in action, our focus needs to shift from self to Savior. Like Nehemiah, it is time to respond in full obedience to whatever He has for us.

So with that said, I would like to share a brief quote from David Guzik.

"But the real test of revival-the real test of God's work in our lives-is the long term. It is seeing where we are with the Lord ten years after a season of great work."

If that doesn't sum up the story of Nehemiah then I don't know what does.

We saw right out of the gate (no pun intended) that things were a big ol' mess. He immediately went to God in prayer with weeping, mourning and fasting. Not Facebook. Not Twitter. That. will. preach. Y'all.

And awkward silence.

You know I'm preaching to myself up in here.

See, Nehemiah was a mission to reform. By definition, the word 'reform' means 'the improvement of what is wrong; to form again.' And that's exactly what he did.

When we have Jesus, we can do anything because He enables us for His glory. I believe Nehemiah knew that to his core.

In the book of Nehemiah we saw several different types of reform: building reform, financial reform, priority reform (amen) and relationship reform (amen and amen).

Rather than trying to orchestrate everything just so, he just believed in his heart that prayer would change everything and so he left the outcome in the Lord's capable hands.

How could he do this? The Bible says in Proverbs 8:34, "Blessed is the one who listens to Me watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors."  Nehemiah had peace.  Even in chaos. Here's what I love about him:

"Nehemiah on every occasion looked up to God, and committed himself and his affairs to Him." (Matthew Henry)

He looked up to God on every occasion. Not just when things were going great but also when times were less than ideal.

I sometimes hide. I think I've said that before. Call it fear of failure, call it shame. Call it pride. Eew.

If we as the church, could just come to terms with Jesus, The One and Only, The Creator who sees everything. I mean, why do we continue to complicate things and pretend He doesn't see us?

News Flash! He does see. He does care. He will gladly do for me what I can't do for myself.

So Melissa, put your big girl pants on and let Him work.

He's just waiting for me to say, "Lord, I commit myself and all my affairs to You. Have your way." 

One last thing about Nehemiah that is worth noting: how beautiful his heart was for the Lord.

His heart wasn't for himself. It was fixed on The Lord.

"Remember me, O my God, for good." Nehemiah 13:31

Matthew Henry says it best, "He prays, remember me; not reward me. Wipe not out my good deeds, not publish them, or record them. Yet he was rewarded, and his good deeds recorded. God does more than we are able to ask." 

"Lord, my heart is fixed on You...remember me."

Friday, May 2, 2014

This Way of Life

Today's question from She Reads Truth is this: "Why do we live in the tension of worship and doubt that disables us to share the truth of God's love?"

Ever had the words to say but not know how to put the words into grown up sentences that make sense?

Story of my life. And here I am blogging for Jesus. 

Each time I sit down to write my blog post, I get out my notebook and put pen to paper. (Old school, I know.) And then my mind goes blank. I have to physically sit down at the computer with my notes, pray and begin typing. Otherwise, I am not writing authentically because everything seems so rehearsed...So this goes here; then say this. I want to share from a heart that is transparent. Which, by the way, is hard. 

I think I've been avoiding this question all week. I considered not posting and pretending like the question wasn't asked. Why?

Because I know what my answer is. 

I was worshipping me.

"The moment they saw Him they worshipped Him. Some, though, held back, not sure about worship, about risking themselves totally." (v. 17 MSG)

I have, in times past, hung back from things. For example, when we used to go door-to-door selling things for school, I'd send my friend to go ahead of me. Probably because I feared being rejected. I've held back from people, for quite possibly, the same reason. *This is all changing now that I know He already approves of me. Thanks for sharing the message, Jennifer.*

But holding back from worship?  Afraid to risk themselves totally? 

I like what Beth Moore says, "Misplaced worship is at the heart of all bondage."

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave His charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism, in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." (v.18-19 MSG)

This is a way of life. Living for Jesus. Serving Jesus. Telling others about Jesus. Displaying Jesus.

The reason why I live in the tension of worship and doubt that disables is because I've tried to win souls and make disciples in my own strength. I've gone in my name and not His. 

I've worshipped self and not the Savior. And landed myself in a huge heap of religious bondage. The truth of God's love is that He rescued me and opened my blinded eyes. 

He didn't ask me to carry His name by promoting my name. 

He asked me to display and demonstrate His amazing love and His Good News by declaring what He's done for me and to make it my way of life. 

"Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." (v. 20 MSG)

Before I would go and do in my strength and in my name. Now I go in Jesus name. I represent Him. I work for Him. And He's with me every single step along the way. 

He opens our hearts so we can respond to His message. (Acts 16:14)

First Jesus.
Then Jesus.
Respond to His message.

I love living like this. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A New Name

This morning, a friend wrote on Facebook that she read a quote somewhere that said, "Satan knows our name, but calls us by our sin. God knows our sin, but He calls us by our name."

When I finished reading that quote, this beautiful Scripture was in my heart and I responded to her with, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." Isaiah 43:1 ESV

I am His.

He knows my name.

I have struggled from time to time with knowing who I am in Christ. But, I love the faithfulness of God and how He never gives up on me. And He never allows me to just get by with things in life. 

Here's an example of His relentless love. He wants us to know that we are His and He is ours.  And He will do whatever it takes.

I pulled the book "Captivating" by John & Stasi Eldredge off my shelf last week and decided to work through the workbook since I only read the book last time. *If you haven't ever read this book, I highly recommend you buy it immediately.* 

Anyway, it's been a few years since I read it. By nature, I'm a note taker and I highlight and journal in my books all. the. time. I opened to the introduction page and I see a passage of Scripture and nothing was highlighted. Weird for me. I quickly opened my Bible to Isaiah 62:1-5 to see if maybe I highlighted it there. Nope. 

This is what I mean when God doesn't give up on us when He's trying to send a message. I read the passage a few times and I see this phrase: 

"you will be called by a new name"

Funny, it took me two years to see that. 

I quickly made a note card with Isaiah 62:2, 4 and posted it to my Instagram account with the caption: "When God speaks loudly: listen." 

I never even noticed those Scriptures before but its the message He's been wanting me to understand for some time now. He has given me a new name.  He's been telling me this over and over and yet I didn't hear Him. I was too busy trying to perform and produce and calling myself names like:

-not good enough
-world's okayest mom :)

We don't have to answer to those names. Because we are His, we respond to:

-my darling
-my delight 

All we have to do is come to Him and surrender.

And listen. 

He's been trying to get me to hear His voice and His Words of life to me. This is why it is so important to spend time with the Lord daily and wait for His still small voice. Read the Word out loud. Confess who He is to you and then listen as He shares His heart. And then journal what you hear Him respond to you. Cling to those promises. 

We serve a relational God who wants to be in fellowship with us. We can get so caught up in the temporal everyday nonsense but what He desires is to share with us all that He has. Take the time to get to know Him more.

You belong to the King of Kings.

His delight is in you.

You are beautiful to Him. 

One Word

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Deliberate Purpose

I've been known to over complicate things a time or two...or ten. But one thing is for sure, I don't want to complicate The Gospel. I like the way The Message Bible unpacks verse two. Here it is:

"I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who He is, then Jesus and what He did-Jesus crucified." 

First Jesus: Who He Is.
Then Jesus: What He Did.
Jesus Crucified.

The crucifixion, the most humiliating way to die, was not in vain. Everything The LORD does has a purpose, and when we realize that the power of the cross transforms lives, we can't help live a different way. 

This is the plan of redemption. The crucifixion is His testimony of love; the greatest love story in all of His-story. This testimony changes hearts; restores lives; brings prodigals back; provides hope.

I like to call that God's power.

I'm a huge fan of song lyrics and I especially love singer/songwriters because I feel more connected to the song knowing the person singing it, wrote it and lived it out. Here are a few examples:

"That's the power of the cross, see the chains fall off..." (Power Of The Cross by Natalie Grant)

"There is freedom in the power of the cross, let the world see..." (In The Mystery by Hillsong)

"Mighty is the power of the cross..." (Mighty Is The Power Of The Cross by Chris Tomlin)

"There is hope in the promise of the cross, You gave everything to save the world You love..." (Anchor by Hillsong)

The power of the cross. It changes lives. The Message Bible says, "God's Spirit and God's power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God's power..." (v.4)

I'm fairly confident that I sound like a broken record, but I want to express that it is God's power that changes lives, redeems us and makes us whole.

Here's proof via a personal paraphrase of an Albert Barnes quote: 

"He converts sinners. He grants peace, joy, and happiness. He transforms lives, by making us different people: 

-drunkard sober
-the thief honest
-the licentious pure
-the profane reverent
-the harsh and unkind- gentle and kind
-the wretched happy

"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:26 NLT

This is my response to God's power. He changed my heart and transformed my life when He took my place on my cross. We have to make the cross personal to us. Had it not been for Jesus... O Lord have mercy.

I respond to Him by living a transformed life. Because I love Him. He made me different from what I once was. I now "carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives..." 2 Corinthians 4:7

Let's not rely on limited human knowledge. It's all about knowing Christ and making Him known.

"...to make Christ crucified the grand object of his attention, and seek always and everywhere to make Him known." Albert Barnes

The message of the cross is the power of God for those who are being saved. Remember to pray for those who think its message is foolishness because Jesus is not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

First Jesus.
Then Jesus.

"It was not a matter of accident, or chance, that I made Christ my great and constant theme, but it was my deliberate purpose." -Albert Barnes

Lord, let it be so.

Friday, April 4, 2014

What's In Your Heart?

The things on the inside of me come out through my mouth.

S C A R Y.

If I am being honest, I have not always been kind and loving. I've said ugly things. I've taken my anger out on people and have used less than stellar vernacular. And my Mom would always say...

"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Luke 6:45 ESV 

Everyone knows that. If I've heard it once, Mom, I've heard it a million times....and I love it because it is true.

The New Living Translation is my favorite. "What you say flows from what is in your heart."

We have to get words on the inside of us in order for them to come out of our mouths. This is why it is extremely important to fill our souls with Truth, words of life, Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Otherwise, things can and will get ugly in a hurry.

If left to my own devices and neglecting what the Scriptures say, I might be found "meditating" on our bills or how I messed up with my boys or said something I shouldn't have....again.

Sometimes I don't know what to say. Sometimes I know what to say and I don't say it. But my prayer has always been that when I do say something, it would be from a heart that is full of truth, full of The Word, full of Jesus.

But we can't say something that's not in our hearts. For example, I tell Jesus, my husband and my boys that I love them because it is in my heart to love them. I spend time with them. I talk with them. I listen to them. I wouldn't go up to a complete stranger and say "I love you" because I don't know them. Does that make sense?

We have to think about what we are thinking about. In my world, that is meditation. I can get so caught up in thinking about me. Sad but true. But Jesus gives Joshua a new way. And that way is still relevant for us today.

"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it." (1:8 ESV)

The Book of the Law gives life. And:

direction: 2 Thessalonians 3:5

hope: Romans 5:5

freedom: Galatians 5:1

 joy: Acts 2:28

strength: 1 Corinthians 15:57

If I don't know these things in my "knower" I am prone to mess up.

Why? Because, then.

"For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (8b-9 ESV)

Only then.

We can do a lot of different things with our mouths, spiritually speaking. We can bless. We can curse, we can build up or tear down. (James 3:8-11)

We have to first fill our hearts with the Truth of His Word so that what flows out of us will be helpful to the people within earshot of us. We are called as His Daughters to encourage one another and build each other up.

But it all starts with meditating and confessing the Word of God. We have to eat His words. We talk about what we know. Do we really know and confess the Word? Or do we just read it? I like to read the Word quietly and then I like to read it aloud, put my name in the text, make it personal. We have to get it in on the inside of us.

Did you notice it?

We are to meditate on the Word (first) day (Psalm 119:147) and night (Psalm 63:6), so that we may be careful to do according to all that is written, so we can prosper and have good success.

But wait, there's more. (I've always wanted to say that).  :)

The Lord is commanding us to be strong and courageous. Because He knows all of the ways the enemy works. And he works hard to steal our joy, take away our peace, and to torment us with all manner of lies.

But, the Lord says to us, "Don't be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for I am with you wherever you go." What a promise!

He knows that we will be scared. And we will be frightened. But He doesn't want us to be dismayed (or to lose heart) because He is with us and He has given us His Word to quote in times when we are scared, frightened, overwhelmed, questioning, wondering, worried.

So if the Word is in us, it will come out of our mouth in confession. This is why it is mega important to think about what we are thinking about and make sure it lines up with the Word of God.

"When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear Your name, O LORD God of Heaven's Armies." Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Honesty of Jonah

So Jonah goes to Nineveh.

The people of the great city believe God.

God relented of the disaster He said He would do to them.

That's called mercy.

I need some of that.

I feel like I need to apologize to Jonah.

Last week, I wrote about how he disobeyed and a fish made him look bad.

This week, he's showing me how to be honest...even when it's not pretty.

Here's what I love about Jonah. He's being authentic; not hiding his thoughts, feelings or emotions. He's not saying to the Lord what he thinks He wants to hear. He's not saying one thing and secretly meaning the exact opposite. There's no mixing words or manipulation.

He's just being Jonah. Real. Raw. Authentic. Jonah.

He was angry. "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry." (v. 1)

Angry. Check.

And then he prays. "And he prayed to the Lord and said..." (v. 2)

In his anger, he talked to the Lord. He didn't pretend to be happy or fake smile his way out of the city.

Angry and not hiding. That's a new one for me.

I hate to admit this but prayer is not always my first response. Just for realness sake, take a look at a handful of my first responses:

"No, I'm good."

"It's fine."


"It's all good."

"It ain't nothing but a thang."

But it is.

This is what I'm learning. God wants it all. The good, the bad and the ugly. What is the point of hiding stuff from an all-knowing, all-seeing, Creator?

He wants it all. Like all. Every bit. Not some pre-packaged pretty little "God, I'm good." 

He deserves realness. My authentic words. The real and raw words that I have crammed inside.

Jonah: "Lord, I'm so mad. Please just take my life from me." (v. 3)

Me: "Lord, I'm so mad. My life feels out of control. Finances are all jacked up. Lost a few hours at work.  Teaching math to my son is hard. I haven't been on a date with my husband in forever. I'm waking up in the middle of the night in fear from trying to fix everything. Trying to do it all, God, and doing nothing well." 

So Jonah, thank you and I'm sorry. Because of your example, I don't have to hide my thoughts, feelings and emotions from the Lord.

He created me and made me His own, not to make me look good, but for me to make Him look good.

We've got millions of souls on the line.

"And much cattle." (v. 11) :)

"Do we do well to be angry at that which is for the glory of God, and the advancement of His kingdom? Let the conversion of sinners, which is the joy of heaven, be our joy, and never our grief."
-Matthew Henry

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Voice of Thanksgiving

Jonah, Jonah, Jonah.

I mean really. The whale is making you look bad. He immediately obeyed by swallowing you up. 

Let me back up. 

I just want to talk with Jonah. He's at this critical point in his life. He has a choice; a decision to make; do I obey or do I do what I want. This choice is not exclusive to just Jonah. We all are faced with this opportunity moment by moment. 

And then I recall what Spurgeon wrote, "Remember that to do wrong will always be easy while our carnal nature is what it is. Man can always find ways of sinning against God." 

Oh Jonah. This is a heart matter. So I pretend he's standing before me and look him in the eye. I tell him what I say to my boys when they are contemplating disobeying: "Obey right away, all the way and in a happy way." Seems so simple... yet, the reality is, the temptation to consider disobedience is too great. We can't take time to ponder sin. 

In sin, a split second changes everything. Trust me. 

Jonah knows that now. He's found himself in the belly of a whale stewing in a slimy, stinky, sour state of sin.

"Our impulses are not to be depended on-our thoughts run wild. You must never obey an impulse to do wrong," writes Spurgeon. 

Sin will help us do and say more that we had originally planned. 
Life is a series of choices. Decisions. We choose. We decide. Do we realize what we are doing? Our responsibility is great. 

Matthew Henry says, "Sin is stupefying, and we are to take heed lest at anytime our hearts are hardened by the deceitfulness of it."

This explains our homeboy Jonah, with his hard heart, no compassion for the lost, thinking of only himself; his "what have you done for me lately?" attitude. He wasn't about to go to Ninevah to a people lost and dying. Too bad, so sad. This is the deceitfulness of sin. Yuck.

See, we can't follow Jesus and drag our sin behind us. 

He's looking for those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. We love the one and hate the other. And that is where our choice comes in. He's given us a free will. 

We have to cut off our sin in order to go forward with Jesus. 

All of us were created on purpose for a purpose. We were put on this earth to fulfill His will. This whole thing is for Him. 

And because God is Sovereign and He is God, He will bring us to the exact place He wants us to be....come heck or high water. (No pun intended).  :)

After the sin is committed, Jonah comes to his senses in Chapter 2 when he realizes it was the Lord that brought him up from the pit.

He remembers the Lord. 

Oh, that we would remember the Lord. How would things change for us if we remembered the Lord rather than cherishing sin and relying on our impulses? Or if we remember the Lord before paying regard to vain idols? 

"But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you;" v. 9

Sweet Sisters, let us remember the Lord with thankfulness. We thank Him because we love Him. We don't say thanks to manipulate Him so we can get what we want. We truly thank Him because our hearts are grateful. 

It's no secret that I love Albert Barnes. He wrote, "But Jonah's was that special character of thankfulness, which thanks God in the midst of calamities from which there is no human exit; (hello, belly of the whale) and God set His seal on this sort of thankfulness, by annexing this deliverance..." (parenthesis mine).

"And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land." v. 10

Ann Voskamp said it best when she said, "Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle."

Let's raise our voices in thankfulness to the Lord, even in the midst of calamities. We serve a great God and nothing is too hard for Him.

"I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD." Psalm 116:17

Friday, March 14, 2014

When Nothing Is Hidden

“He reads the longings of our hearts; nothing can be hidden from Him; what we cannot tell to Him He perfectly understands.”-The Treasury of David

Secret keeper.
Heart knower.
Mind reader.
Heart searcher.
Word hearer.
Desire giver.
El Roi.
This is my God. 

When I read Psalm 38 on Monday, I asked the Lord to open my eyes to see what He wanted me to share. I’m extremely visual, a total right-brainer and so when verse 9 was the only one highlighted in a group of Scriptures, I took that as my cue. 

Lord, all my desire is before You; and my sighing is not hidden from You.” Psalm 38:9

Have you ever kept something inside for so long knowing that if you didn’t release the words in the next second, your heart might explode? So you blurt out words, longings, desires, groans and suddenly waves of emotions surround you. That is confession. 

Don’t you feel better when you make a confession? I think of those feelings I had when I confessed Jesus to be The LORD of my life. Freedom. I confessed my sin to Him. Peace. I confessed that I couldn’t be, do or say anything without His hand upon me. Strength. 

I love that I don’t have to hide from God. Even if I wanted to. Even when I pretend He’s not watching me “right now.” He is. His eyes roam the earth looking for a heart that’s fully committed to him. 

The Lord is not unfamiliar with our ways. We can’t keep anything from you nor does He want us to. We are asked by our Holy Father to lay it all out: our secrets, fears, anxieties, sins. Yes, those are the things I’m aware of. So what happens to those things I am not prone to share because of fear?

What do I do with my longings and the desires of my heart?

Naturally, I hide them. I can’t seem to find the words to utter. I’m all, “O Lord, You know.” 

Yes, yes He does but I keep those words inside because I feel unworthy; almost like, ‘Did You give me this desire or am I making it up?’ And saying the desires of my heart out loud almost feels like when you say something you shouldn’t have and then can’t take back those words.

And then it hits me. It’s so obvious and simple that I’m almost embarrassed to admit it. 

It’s funny how my one word for 2014 is delight and it’s taken me almost three months to realize a Scripture that was placed in my heart last November. I recall now that in January I was going to write about why that word is so significant but I let fear keep those words locked up tight inside.

“Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

The desires I have come from God; so when I remind myself of that, I’m not sure why I try to hide them. When all is before Him and nothing is hidden from Him, why do I still hide?

 I remind myself that my Heavenly Father wants me. He wants to hear the words that are in my heart, the ones that I am so afraid to share. Those are the words He wants to come out of my mouth.

Even though God already knows everything; He still wants me to use my words and tell Him. He knows my heartaches, shortcomings, wants, fears, and yes, my desires. We have to give Him the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help us God.  

We can speak openly and freely, sharing the whole story with Him. He won’t expose us but will wrap us up in His arms of love and He will listen. John Gill writes, “It is His delight to hear.”  

So I confess to Him:

Lord, I want to be a writer. 

The thought of writing about Jesus and for Jesus makes my blissfully giddy. God wants to see our faces light up, our souls renewed and refreshed. He takes joy when we delight in Him. I remember that He created me. 

He created you.

What are the desires and longings of your heart? Will you let Him fulfill them? 

Don’t rob Jesus of the joy of giving you your hearts desire by keeping silent. I let fear rob me of writing on my blog for months. Remind yourself that nothing is hidden from Him. 

Say what you need to say.

“If God delights to fulfill our desires, let us not be slack in desiring.”-Spurgeon