Category Archives: Christian Growth

To See the Sea

“Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,” 

Psalm 148:7 NIV

For five days I have lingered, listening to the sound of the ocean, watching the waves that are never and always the same dance to their self perpetuated music.  Calming, peaceful, constant… I am conscious of my every effort to open up, take it all in and tuck it away for safe keeping for the days that I will not have the pleasure or ability to do so.

The ocean.  I’ve walked beside it, waded into it, sat in front of it and stared for countless hours upon it. It is beautiful and soothing to my inward most parts.   I’ve pondered it’s depths and width and length.  The sheer vastness of it is humbling, reminding me in one swift glance of the greatness of  our God.    Surely the ocean is an adequate earthly reflection of the power, glory and majesty of the Lord.  And even as I walked upon the shore discussing these things with Him, He reminded me that this is only one of many beaches, shores and oceans that exist by His creative power.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Isaiah 40:12

Spending time at the ocean causes me to become quiet and introspective- at rest.  I am visually reminded in splendor that there is so much that is bigger than me and beyond my ability to fathom, comprehend or understand. When I am beside the ocean, I find that I am able to let go of the wrestling that so often occurs in my head and my heart ever striving to try to understand everything that I do not,  working to try to figure everything out and trying to be in control of everything that I’m really not.

When keeping company with the sea, I am able to just let go and “be.”

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10 

The truth, is that I’m no more capable of “figuring it all” out in the throes of everyday life than I am here in the presence of the sand, seashells and sound of ocean waves roaring in my ears.  Somehow though, I forget.

I can spend countless hours thinking…about how to get things to work out the way I want them to.

I have spent countless hours worrying…about how it will be if they don’t.

So much wasted time and energy on that which is unproductive.

And so, today I am thankful for the ocean.  I am thankful that it stretches so far out that I cannot see the end of it.  I’m thankful that it is so deep, even at it’s beginnings, that my toes cannot touch the bottom.   I’m thankful for the way that it tosses and turns, as if it has a schedule of its own rising  higher or diminishing as the day grows long.  I’m thankful that I have no control over the sea.

This truth offers me a life-giving reminder that it really isn’t my job to be “in control.”  It is only my job to BE.

To BE still and know that He is God.

To BE obedient to His every leading.

To BE quick to hear and obey His voice.

To BE diligent to hide His Word in my heart.

To BE His daughter and everything that that means.

Father, thank you for the beauty of the ocean.  Thank you for the beauty of the truth that all that I must BE is a child of the King.  

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Filed under Christian Growth, fear, worry

A Year in Review

2012 in reviewwho comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Cor. 1:4

Recently on Face Book I was offered the opportunity to click a tab and in return have my photos and posts summarized from 2012.  They coined it my “Year in Review.”  It was fun to scroll back through the year and view computer friendly memories.  Memories of trips taken, sweet times with friends and goals accomplished.

At the end of my scrolling however I couldn’t help but ponder all that was not posted.

~ The day I sat across from the concerned pediatrician who gently placed in my hands the x-ray results which revealed a tumor filling my 13 year old daughter’s entire chest cavity.

~ The day we sat with the Oncologists as they explained the Chemotherapy that would be coursing through her body, each medicine with its own set of potentially dreadful side effects.

~ The days spent eating in the hospital cafeteria, sleeping next to her hospital bed, emptying the puke pot, sobbing long distance to far away friends  and struggling to pray to a God who felt very far away.

~The day my daughter, balding and beautiful took my hand and reassured me that the Lord was faithful, that she felt closer to Him than she ever had and that it really was going to be okay.

~The day, months into the journey that the scans revealed the tumor was completely gone and we received the report that her bone marrow tested disease free.

~The day we exchanged tears for laughter on one of the many long rides to clinic and took flowers to cheer up others we knew we would see there.

These are only a few of the memories that were not posted on Face Book yet will forever be etched into my heart and mind.

My guess is that you too have memories, tears, heartache and stress that have not been displayed upon your Face Book page.  Parts of this year’s journey which simply did not mesh with the upbeat posts, smiling pictures and silly jokes scrolled through by the masses.

Moments of fear, vulnerability and weakness that didn’t make the cut for social media.

Moments unshared that have impacted forever the person you are and will forever be.

Moments when you felt so utterly alone in your pain that nothing by way of a human being could touch it.

And I am confident, that in these moments, He spoke to you too.

His comfort soothed your aching heart.

His peace calmed your inner storm.

His strength enabled you to continue moving forward into whatever lay before you.

I approach the new year with a sigh of relief. I’m thankful to leave behind this leg of our journey.  I’m thankful for what we have survived.  I’m thankful the majority of the hardest part of treatment is over.  I’m thankful for all that He has done and all I know He will continue to do.

My prayer is that as He has been faithful to minister strength, comfort, love and peace to me this year that He will give me opportunity to minister those very things to others in the upcoming year.

If there is any lesson that we have learned well,  it is that life is both precious and fleeting.  Each day is a gift.  Each moment an opportunity.

I pray, in this upcoming year that I recognize each and every opportunity to share this comfort He has offered me, with others.

I pray the same for you.

Father thank you for your comfort; thank you for allowing me the privilege of sharing that comfort with others.  Help me to always be both attentive and willing. 

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Filed under Testimony

Just Do It

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

(James 1:22) NIV

The sound of feet rhythmically meeting with the ground greets our ears before the image eases into focus. Slowly, as pixels unify we are offered the rear view image of a runner.  Stride after stride they move forward, arms and legs working together in perfect unison. With the backdrop of either beautiful mountains, lush green paths or maybe even a splendid seashore, sweat glistens pristinely upon the lean and muscular body offering proof of the energy sacrificed for the sake of the cause.  From nowhere in particular comes one voice, offering one line.  “Just do it.”  Nothing else needs to be said.

The marketers know what they are doing.  Just watching this runner, unhindered, with both strength and power causes me to feel empowered, inspired and motivated.  It makes me want to be a runner!

I have a pair of brand name tennis shoes.  I have “running” shorts with a nifty little pocket on the inside for my IPOD.  I have special running socks that are suppose to suck the moisture right off of my feet while I run to ensure comfort. I even have a heavy duty sports bra that mimics the runner on the commercial.  No one can ever accuse me of not being prepared to run.

I wish that all it took to be a runner was the equipment.  I can look like a runner all day long.  But it’s not enough to look like a runner.

I have a longing and desire to be a runner.  I love the idea of running.  It looks like a great way to relieve stress while at the same time live healthy. But it’s not enough to long and desire to be a runner.

I have learned that it takes a little bit more.  In order to be a runner, you actually have to run.

In both the life of a runner and the life of a believer there is an act of becoming.  No one starts out on their first day ready to run a marathon.  The same is true as a Believer.

There are many places I desire to be more fruitful as a Christian.  I desire to pray more, study more, worship more.  I long to walk in love better, forgive more freely, understand more deeply.  I desire for peace, patience and perseverance to be more evident in my life.

The only way to become stronger in any of these areas is to begin to walk in them more. Therein lies the process of becoming.

No one starts out as a runner.  They start out by running.  It is in the consistent act of running that they eventually are able to identify themselves as a runner.  The same is true with any aspect of the Christian Walk.

You want to have a closer relationship with the Lord?

Just do it.

You want to have a stronger prayer life?

Just do it.

You want to worship in both Spirit and Truth?

Just do it. 

You want to be a diligent student of the Word?

Just do it.

There is no shame in the process of becoming, for we are all in this process.  Day by day, step by step, choice by choice.  And in those places where we struggle, where fear failure, where we wonder if we will ever become that which we desire, we can be confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

What strides will you take today in the process of becoming who the Lord has called you to be?

Father, thank you for Your faithfulness in my process of becoming. 

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Filed under Christian Growth, Faith, obedience, Prayer

Should-Be

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Typically a fairly introspective person, twice a year I become especially so.  New Year’s Day and my birthday each have always served as bi-yearly evaluations for where I think I “should be.”

You see I’m a bit goal oriented.  Other appropriate words might be “focused”, “driven”, “passionate” um….”obsessed”.  I carry around with me an invisible measuring stick with which I constantly measure my life determining within my heart whether I have succeeded in living it to the fullest.  In the end, whenever it is that I find myself at the doorway of meeting my Lord face to face, I hope to be able to honestly say that I have no regrets.

I think I have come to recognize this trait as a mixed blessing.  Innocently bred, it originated from a heart of thankfulness for the life I have been given.  Realizing the abundance of the gift I didn’t want to spend one day wasting it.  Make every day count, reach for the stars, never give up, keep on keepin’ on…. motivational mottos are like fuel for my engine.

On the other hand, this constant need to evaluate growth toward goals set high leaves much room for the enemy to whisper in my ear.  A dog with no new tricks he has often found a foothold in my life with the “should-bes”

In His accusatory tone he offers:

“You should be further along than you are.” (in graduate school, in my career, in my walk with Christ).

“You should be a better ____________ (wife, mother, Christian, friend, student)- fill in the blank with whatever I happen to be feeling least secure about that day.

“You should be beyond a place where that still bothers you.”  (anytime I’m flustered, frustrated or fearful).

“You should be everything you are not.”

How many times have I fallen into that hole and had to dig myself back out? I should have seen that coming!

It is important for both you and I to remember that goals are good, important even-  but only as long as they are balanced with truth.

When the enemy comes at me with his should -bes these days, I come back at him with some should-bes of my own.

I remind Him from where the Lord has brought me.  He has redeemed my life from destruction (Psalm 49:15).

You see, according to statistics:

I should be a high school dropout.

I should be married to someone who is unkind to me.

I should be a rotten mom.

I should be an addict.

I should be dead.

I should be going to hell.

Anytime the enemy tries to accuse me of not being where I should be, I now remind him of where I should be, where I could be but bless the Lord where I am not because of the abundant love, boundless grace and endless mercy of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How about you?  Are you too familiar with the should- bes?  Does this phrase threaten to light the fire of low self worth or value within your soul?

Perhaps the most important truth doesn’t lie in where you should be at all, but instead in who you are.

You are a Daughter of the King.  (1 John 3:2)

You are unconditionally loved and accepted by Him (Eph. 1:4-6)

You are chosen (1 Peter 2:9)

If we can keep in mind who we are we will be better prepared not to allow the should- bes to wreak havoc in our soul.

Father, thank you for who you have made me in and through Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful for your unconditional love and acceptance.  Thank you Lord that who I am is never overruled by who I should be.

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Filed under Christian Growth

Seashells

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NKJ)

I snuck away for some alone time with the Lord.  The clouds rolling in served as comrades, clearing the already sparsely populated beachfront.  The cool salty breeze coming off the ocean caused me to cinch my recently purchased tourist-shop “hoodie” a little tighter.

The weekend had been wonderful and the women’s retreat had gone as well as I could have  hoped for.  The stress of the planning and coordinating from melted away into thankfulness for all the Lord had done and was continuing to do.  It was beautiful seeing so many different women, from so many different places in general and places in their lives, find their love for Christ a common ground upon which to build the foundation of friendship.

As I walked, allowing my mind to rest and  my bare feet to leave imprints upon the wet sand, I felt prompted to collect seashells.  Not quite sure why, I began my search.  Instinctively I looked for shells that were whole rather than broken.  Those kind which you picture immediately upon someone saying the word “seashell.”  The same ones that look like a fan and double as a makeshift digging device in the building of sandcastles.  I collected them as I found them walking the stretch of the beach in my search.

As I walked I came across patches of sand completely covered by broken pieces of shell. Shells that were beautiful at one time, however, had broken down under the force of the wind and the waves of the storms they had encountered.  What was the difference I wondered, between those shells which had been destroyed and those which had not?

Within, in that familiar still small voice, I heard my reply.  “The shells which had endured the storm in tact were the ones that had rolled with the waves instead of against them.”  I contemplated in silence for a few moments continuing to gather.  My task complete I laid out my bounty before me examining each shell, still unsure exactly what their purpose would be.

They were all unique, varying in size, color and texture.  Various visible degrees of weathering had occurred however all remained whole.

I felt led to take the shells back to the retreat house where each of the women were gathered, eating dinner together.  The only one absent, I tread quietly upon the stairs tuning into the voice of one particular sister in Christ who was in the middle of sharing her testimony. Because I loved her,  a smile joined with a tinge of hurt arose as I knew the depths of her pain, courage in sharing and ashes exchanged for beauty within her life.

Rinsing the  shells clean, I placed them on a plate and passed them around the table instructing each beautiful woman of God to take one.  When the plate made its way back to me I shared with them what the Lord had shared with me.

Each beautiful woman of God, like the seashell they had chosen, had weathered the storm. Each one beautiful and unique, though there were visible signs of wear within their life, had remained in-tact and whole.  This was, the Lord had revealed to me, because they had chosen well in the midst of their storms and had chosen to ride with Him through the waves instead of fighting against them.

We all face wind, waves and storms.  Those who weather storms best are those who turn their face toward Him and offer their hand to Him to be led through.

Father, thank you for helping me stay in-tact despite the storms I’ve had to face.  I know that it is so, only because of You. 

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Filed under Christian Growth, healing