How You Know When God is Speaking to You

Lots of people want to know what God has to say to them specifically about the details of their lives.  Sometimes we would be happy with a general direction.  I have never been spoken to audibly, but the Holy Spirit speaks to my heart, and many times it is at the weirdest times. That is how I know it is Him.  I could not come up with such genius and wisdom when I’m in that place between sleep and awake, running, in the green bean isle at Target or reading a children’s devotion to my daughter. Maybe you can relate?  I have friends who say they have clearly heard from Him in the shower or some other happy place where no one else is demanding their attention.

Here is an example.  I have been praying like CRAZY lately.  It’s this whole new world.  I grew up in a pastor’s home, and they talked about praying all the time, and we prayed all of the time.  But, somewhere along the line there was a disconnect.  I had in my mind that God was really going to do whatever He wanted to anyway, so my prayers were very wimpy and served little purpose.  On the other hand, my husband has been praying all of our married lives.  He always prays on his way to work – faithfully every morning.  He believes in it, and knows it can change an outcome.  He always says, “If you don’t ask, why should God give it to you?”  He has been carrying this family for 20 years.

So back to my praying.  I read Circle Maker and was totally inspired to seriously begin praying.  What did I have to lose?  I began a prayer journal.  I would simply “talk” with God.  I would ask Him for very specific things, and He began answering left and right.  He has helped my daughter transition into a new school beautifully, He has helped my dad with a health issue, I sold my parents’ home in 30 days without a realtor.  I know they seem like tiny things, but they are big deals in my life.  He has been so good,  that I talked with my husband about it.  I was worried – almost feeling guilty that things were going to good.  What?!?  God is answering too many of my prayers?  He said that was ridiculous (I like the way he says things).

Two hours later, my daughter and I were doing a devotion from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling.  Let me give you a little portion, “This is a time of plenty in your life.  Your cup overflows with blessings.  Enjoy this time – it is My gift to you.  Don’t feel guilty when everything is going well.  Don’t turn away from My blessings because you think you don’t deserve to be so blessed.  That is nonsense.  The truth is no one deserves anything from me.  Instead of trying towork for My blessings, I want you to receive them thankfully.  I give you good gifts becasue I love to see your joy wehn you recieve them.  So open your hands and your heart, and accept My blessings gratefully.  This brings Joy to you and to Me!”

OK, wow!  Got that one loud and clear during my daughter’s devotion at 9:00 when I really just wanted to go watch tv.

God speaks.  We just have to be open to what He says and available to hear when He wants to reveal it to us.  He is full of surprises, wisdom, and answers when we least expect it.  I love that about Him

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Strength Will Be Given

I hate running.   I do it so I can have good legs,  eat ice cream and be somewhat healthy.  My husband and I run at the same time but not together because we can’t stand the thought of running and talking.  We can barely breathe – let alone talk.  What is so interesting is that this is the time God choses to talk to me.  I know it is Him because I am in so much pain, there is no way I could come up with this stuff.  Today I was running and having a very difficult time.  I usually never have to walk, but I just couldn’t run another step.  The Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit and said “Run back the way you just came.”  I wanted to laugh out loud.  If I was to run back the way I just came, that would include a huge hill.  I totally ignored the thought. He said it again, “Run back the way you just came.  I obeyed.  I thought if I can’t trust Him in the little, how will I ever trust Him with the big?  The verse I have been memorizing this week is, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all day.”  Psalm 25:4-5.   What a perfect time to put it into practice.

I did it.  I ran back the way  I had just come.  I ate the hill for breakfast!  And, it was horrible every second.  Sometimes God allows the difficult and hard times so we have no where to turn but Him.  We have to be utterly dependent on Him and have constant communication with Him.  As I was running back the way I came, I was praying for help and strength every second.  But, I knew He would give it, because He was the one Who had asked me of it in the first place.

 

Puppy Love

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We wanted our daughter to switch schools, and that is the last thing in the world she wanted to do.  So, with a little prodding and a new puppy, we are finally convincing her. (Oh, just call it what it is – bribery.)  None of the two practical, experienced, or wise people in our home wanted a dog because they were in fact aware of what would happen approximately three hours after the precious puppy’s arrival.    About 2 hours after our blessed new arrival, everything unravelled.  There was poop!  There was pee!  It looked like the toy department at Petland had thrown up in our family room.

Gone were the days when I was trying to stuff toddler toys in a bin in the corner of the family room, but here were the days I was stuffing dog toys in a bin in the corner of the family room.  THIS IS LIKE HAVING A NEWBORN.  There is no rest or peace.  I am waiting for nap time and tip toeing around when it happens.  I took her for her first walk.  Please note that I took her and not one of the three kids that begged to have her.  She nipped and bit at my neon shoe strings.  She would stop and try to eat those dead dried up worms that couldn’t quite make it across that black hot pavement,  she would pull at the leash and try to wander away.

The next morning when I was running alone (ALL ALONE), the song, “I Can Only Imagine”, came on.  I usually skip this song because I have heard it 7 million times, but it hit me in a fresh way.  The first  line is, “I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side.”  And, it hit me.  Sometimes, I am like my puppy when it comes to walking with Jesus.  I will nip and bite at Him with my worries and concerns.  I get distracted with with things that have absolutely no eternal value.  He will try to draw me in and pull me away to walk with Him, but I will tug at that leash and attempt to go a different direction.

He continues to invest in me and shower me with grace.  I look forward to that day where I can finally meet Him face to face and walk with Him.  But, I want to do that before I’m dead.  I want to be able to walk with Him now.  I want to follow His lead without the questions, doubt, and stopping for things that just don’t count.  I want to walk beside Him like the beautiful, loyal and trusting daughter He created me to be.  It is a continuous journey and process that I wouldn’t want to miss for the world. One day my puppy will walk by my side like the beautiful, regal, and  strong German Shepherd she was born to be.

I wrote this in August.  It is now January, and I’m not exactly where I want to be with our walks, but it’s way better.  I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Lucy has happily and successfully completed her first semester.  Queens the puppy helped her all the way.

Do It Scared

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I came to a writer’s conference with a book proposal in hand. A publisher loved (maybe that’s a strong word) my concept. The interview was going superbly until she asked THAT question, “Do you have a platform?”  Stammering around, I informed her I had a blog with approximately one follower who was also my best friend.

Done. I was done.  Put a fork in me.

She asked me, “So, why don’t you get more?”

In my logical safe head, I don’t have any other followers because I don’t attempt to get them.  Getting followers would require that I post my posts to social media.  I would have to expose myself and be vulnerable. That sounds horrible!

I’m afraid I’ll sound stupid. I’m afraid of rejection. It’s junior high all over again with added weight and a few wrinkles.

Why do we do this?  The message is not ours to give. The message comes from God. They are His words, encouragement and hope that He wants to give to the ones He loves with all His heart.  We maybe the only connection to just that one.

We may be uncomfortable and exposed, but what a tiny price for such a marvelous privilege.

I answered that publisher honestly.  She said what I knew to be true, and it’s something we have to apply to most of life. She said, “Do it scared.”

Behind the Pulpit

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Behind the pulpit, you usually find a great man.  Behind the great man, you usually find a great woman.  This is what you expect.  This is what you hope for.  This post is for the pastor’s wife.

You have a special place in my heart because my mom is one of you.  I recently spoke at a conference for pastors’ wives.  It was supposed to be from a pastor’s kid’s perspective.  I thought it would be fairly easy.  As I was preparing, I was finding out more and more about these sweet women.  Their stories reminded me of ours.  Their homes were like the one I grew up in.  My dad was a pastor at a larger church, but they were experiencing the same pain and difficulties that we did.

My heart was broken for them.  You see, more than anything, the devil wants to take away our faith.  He would love to have our marriages, our children and our churches, but the greatest prize would be our faith.  You think it would be harder to tear away our faith living in a pastor’s home.  But, many times that is the easiest place.  When you live so connected with that occupation you see things that are unthinkable.  They are things you would expect to see out in the world, but not taking place in God’s precious church.   The people that are put so high up on pedestals in our congregations seem to fall the hardest.  Every time we don’t see it coming, but it does.  It knocks the wind out of us.  It takes a little bit of our faith because we are utterly confused and completely stumped that someone that makes the claims that they do would participate in the behaviors that they do.

We ask ourselves, “Is this it?  Are these the best people Christianity has to offer?”  I struggled with this so much.  I still hear stories that blow me away.  But, I prayed.  I shared my frustration with Christ.  This is what was pointed out to me.  Colossians 3:1-2 says, “He is your life.  So, if you’re serious about living this new resection life with Christ, act like it.  Pursue the things over which Christ presides.  Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is.”

I have to look up.  I can’t get caught up in the challenges, questions and difficult things right in front of me.  It is imperative that I change my perspective to God’s perspective and focus on eternity.  I will think on what is lovely, noble and pure.  I will look at people through Christ’s perspective and with his love instead of the devil’s judgement, accusation and hate.

It’s interesting.  How many times have people seen me fall off my pedestal?  God always picks me right back up.  It is so easy to see someone else’s sin as worse than ours.  I thank Him for His constant grace, forgiveness and love.

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Every Little Thing is Going to be Alright

It is amazing how much I love my husband.  Some never get to experience that, “blow me away I would die for you in a heart beat love”.  It is a gift and it is incredible.  But, even better than that, and this just hit me really hard this morning, is the love I share with Christ.  There is nothing like it!  I am head over heels in love with Someone I have never met in person.  And when I begin to worry about things, take my eyes off of Him and let to do lists and worries overshadow Him I almost just fall to pieces.  I was reminded this morning that every little thing is going to be ok because I have Him.  The other things don’t matter.  For real, my eternal security is set.  I might mess up today as a wife and mom (most likely I will).  I might have the dreaded disease I found on Web M.D.  (crossing my fingers I don’t).   I might not get that stupid to do list done (not going to happen).  But, I have Him always and forever.

Colossians 3:1-2 says, “He is your life.  So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.  Pursue the things over which Christ presides.  Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.  Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is.

We Don’t Have To Be Right. We Have To Do Right.

Anything regarding my family and kids or Monopoly I’m just right about.  Don’t question me.  This was my take until just this weekend.  After 39 years of living I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I just don’t have to be right.  But, I do have to do right.  In Numbers 20, Moses sent messengers to the King of Edom to ask if he and the Israelites could pass through their country.  He made it clear that they would only pass through and pay for anything that they might have to have.

The King of Edom said absolutely not, and if you do, we will come and try to kill you.  Moses asked once more and this must have really ticked the King off because he came out against them with a huge powerful army.  Then, the Bible says, “Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.”  That’s it.  They just turned away.

YOU KNOW MOSES WAS RIGHT!!  He could have so taken them down.  He had fought a billion (well a bunch) of battles and God was with him.  He could have taken Edom, but he chose not to.  Because Edom was a country that had come from Esau – the brother of Jacob (Israel), he chose to DO right.  He let it go.

How hard it is to just let it go.  But, we are called to do right and have the same attitude of Christ Jesus.  I will remember this the next time we are involved in an ugly game of Monopoly.

Release Creates Peace

Starting is the hardest part of anything.  Go ahead.  Think of anything that seems a little overwhelming (my teenage son’s bathroom), a bit difficult (getting a  13.1 sticker on my back car window), or challenging (coming up with an awesome secret #13).

There are things that are overwhelming because they have to get done.  My son’s bathroom comes to mind.  Then, there are things that are dreams for us – the somethings we wake up thinking about and have a passion to do.  These dreams are mostly hidden and just for us.  Your parents might know because it’s been on your heart since you were three.  Your husband might know because you have to share it with someone or you might explode!  One or a few of your closest friends might know because you are that fortunate to have someone you can trust with your deepest secrets, hopes, fears and dreams.

But, we all have a hidden something – a dream that gets lost in our everyday lives.  We don’t want to pursue this dream because it’s a risk.  The older we get, the more control and assurances we want that what we will attempt will succeed.  Failure is not an option because we  cannot afford the time and money that could potentially be lost on our dream – time that we could spend doing something practical like cleaning the bathroom.

Christmas of 2013, I decided I was going to make some drastic changes.  Perfect timing with the new year in front of me and resolutions to be made.  I’m still not on time – ever.

I was in fact a hoarder (not quite like the tv show).  I am a sucker for sentimental.  I can attach a memory to a paper clip.  If you are one as well, then you know what I mean.  I had a storage tub (the $20 one – so you know I am talking big tub) of clothes that I wore from our dating season and first year of marriage.  I wanted to start somewhere and create a home of peace and space.  So, I decided to start with this tub.  Rip the bandaid off.  I had all of those clothes chopped up and made into a quilt.  I love this quilt!  And, whenever I USE it, I have the warmest feeling and I tell my kids about it- even though they could care less.

Next, I went through the tubs of my kids’ school years and threw away stuff and put the keepers in the largest 3 ring binder I could find for each of them.  It felt great!  It feels great!  I still have a LONG way to go.  But, I started.  You have to start where you are.  Ghandi said, “The best way to get something done is to begin.”  So the year of 2014 was the year of decrease instead of increase.

The best way to begin is to release.  Release creates peace.  Go ahead. Put that motto on anything you’ve got going, and it is true.  Let’s start with the closet.  Jam packed and full of crap.  It is crap that could become someone else’s blessing…except maybe the pajama pants.  Why, oh why, do we hold on to that shirt we will probably might wear?

Put that motto on something a little bigger – like that one room in your house that collects everything that you don’t know what to do with.  It houses items that you might one day pull out again to decorate with.  Honey, that ain’t coming out again.  It should have been given away in the 90’s.  And, why in the world do we need 27 half used seasonal Yankee candles?  I know the 2nd coming could be getting closer.  We might truly loose our electricity.  But, I am going to gamble a little bit and throw away 21 of them, so I can have some SPACE!

Isn’t space nice?  Freedom – you can stretch your legs and BREATHE.  Breathe peace and life into others.

Romans 5:1-2 says, “By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

God wants peace, space and freedom for us.  Release creates peace in the most important spots in our lives (not just our closets) – – our relationships and our souls.

When I release obligations that are not on track with my goals there is time for the ones I love most.  There is time to focus on the dream that God has placed inside of me. I can clearly see the next best thing I can do for Christ no matter how small because I have the time to be aware.

When I release bitterness and focus on what is good, noble and pure then loves exudes out of my heart.  I can forgive no matter how deep the wound. I can allow God to examine my heart. He can show me where I need to grow and change.

When I release fear I can experience living a life of surrender and freedom.  2 Timothy 1:12 says, ” …because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

When I release pride and insecurity I don’t have to take myself so seriously, and I can appreciate others for their gifts and talents.  I can learn and grow in wisdom.

When I release my perspective, I can look at people and things with God’s perspective.  I can pray for His love to abound in me.  I can pray for wisdom and understanding that He promises to give if I’ll just ask and believe Him for it.

When I release greed then contentment comes.  I am able to focus on treasures in Heaven instead of some more shoes on earth.  I am able to give to those who are in desperate need and pray they will come to know Him.

Release isn’t for sissies.  It’s for women who are serious about real change and making a colossal difference in the lives of those who intersect with theirs.  Release creates peace but also leaves a legacy.  I want my children to say about me that I wasn’t just a talker.  I want them to say she lived out what she read and said.  She put everything…no, she released everything, into the capable hands of her Father.

When I release all of these things, I’m simply obeying and trusting. The very thing I have always known to do.

 

 

 

 

Scripture Memorization

Scripture memorization is something we all long to do…  What if we really did it?!?!  Nothing crazy – 5 million verses.  Just 3 verses a month.  Chose three verses.  Take one verse a week.  During the last week of the month, review what you have learned.  During times of trouble they will come to you.  During times of doubt and fear you will be reminded of His words

 

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Grateful for His Faithfulness

I attended the funeral of a five month old baby girl.  Her parents stood just a few feet from her tiny casket with their children sandwiched in between them.  I watched in awe as they lifted their hands in surrender and praise as a time of worship was led.

In the face of brokenness and despair, worship and gratitude have the power to bring hope.  From Psalm 42, David cries out, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, the height of Hermon – from Mount Mizar”.  David remembered the faithfulness of God.  And, when you can recount His faithfulness you can’t help but be grateful. You are grateful for His presence and comfort that enshrouded you through previous trials.  You are keenly aware that you were never abandoned but held tightly because you are His.

I heard a great illustration.  When you face a colossal calling or a difficult circumstance it is as if you have been given a bigger pair of shoes.  You outgrew the previous ones and need a larger pair, but this new pair is just too big.  You have to grow into them just as you did the last time.  You will be able to fill them as you grow, learn, trust, remain obedient and, most importantly, as you remember and are grateful for His faithfulness.

I have watched the parents of this precious baby girl since childhood.  I have seen them get bigger shoes, and they have always managed to grow into each pair.  I can’t imagine the difficult journey they have in front of them, but I’m certain they will prevail with grace and courage because they have placed their everything into the hands of God.  I watched as the father of this sweet baby girl stood on stage and addressed those who attended his daughter’s funeral.   He mentioned that he didn’t wear his religion like a badge.  He said he knew God would give him the words he needed for that moment.  There was such power, strength and hope in his words when he said their desire was for everyone to know Christ.  He knew that his precious daughter would have fulfilled her purpose on earth if just one came to know Jesus in a personal way.

Their perspective is different.  They have suffered the greatest tragedy of all, yet choose to stand fast and trust in the sovereignty of God.  They choose to remember and be grateful for His faithfulness.

Most of us will never feel the horrific pain from the loss of a child.  But, trials and suffering deepen and refine our gratefulness.  We are more appreciative and learn to not take things for granted.  The small things become enormous and normalcy becomes a joy.

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