Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Expectant Believer

I keep coming back to the Message Bible describing Joseph of Arimathea as an "expectant believer". He lived expectantly, on the lookout for the Kingdom of God.

Am I? Am I abiding in Him in such a way that I am expectant of His presence, of His promise, made real? Am I phoning it in, or taking the easy skimming way? Am I expecting to see Jesus in my life in real ways, or am I 'hoping He has time for me'?

In a world of negative, of looking for the worst, we need to be expectant more of God. It is an active faith, a living faith. One that seeks. One that searches. One that lives.

I am learning, slowly, that this walk of faith has so many layers. We talk about going deeper like we would the ocean, assuming there is a bottom. A depth where we stop. I think there is no bottom. The deeper is like going deeper into space - we keep going and going. Closer and closer to Him to be sure, but how can there be limits with a limitless God?
I rest in my faith, right now I have to.  No rock of 'a map'. Just Him. And taking the next step even though I can't see the one after. (and the planner in me HATES that sometimes, most of the time. But we are learning to trust.).
That not having a Plan B or Plan C, but going all in for Plan A terrifies and thrills me. Win, lose or draw I'm going with God. He has this. And I just need to saddle up and ride.

As our Pastor Kevin Weatherby of Save The Cowboy says, you have to choose to tie on hard and fast to Jesus. We can have a looser dally for somethings, but our faith needs to to tied on. Don't let go. Don't lose your stirrups or drop the reins.

And the post that got this one going is found here: http://www.joannfore.com/intimacy-with-god/ 
Stop by and have a read. And be blessed. Don't miss the great conversations happening in the comments.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Seasons and voices






So far I've written and deleted this post twice three times. I wanted to write a sweet tie up to our journey with Jo Ann and the amazing #VoiceBloggers.

But that isn't what God wants me to share today.

And the more I struggle to NOT share it, the more deleting and retyping I have to do.

Not everyone is happy when we find our voice. They don't like their comfort being upset by growth. By change. By something new.

Some are happy for the change. But not for us. They see our voice as something to use. To manage. To own. They are watching for us to fall back on old habits. Their quiet cynicism a sharp barb. They expect us to fall. We are fallen people.  

So they wait. 

And watch.

And sharpen their barbs.

I KNEW you couldn't keep it up. A tiger can't change it's stripes.

I KNEW you'd lose your cool.

Can't you just________________for once?

They miss the transformation. They miss the change in our hearts. The voice is only part of what we have found. 

I will mutter. I will growl at inanimate objects. I will probably take a computer crash personally. That isn't my transformation. That isn't my voice.

I will see where my voice is not needed, and speak love as I leave.

I will refrain from going to an argument I've been invited to, and speak peace as I walk away.

I will brush away the cynical barb and instead of tossing it back, I will give it to Jesus.

These stripes are mine baby. No one really cares if a tiger is black on orange or orange on black. 

I wrote a poem last week.  This is part of it:

I don’t know where we are going, or when, limbo is so strange.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t miss this adventure for anything!
Praying for broken hearts and praising in the hallway.
On the other hand we have much to be thankful for.
Thankful for what makes us stronger, what passes us by.
On the other hand I fight against that which I can’t change.
It’s futile, I know, running back to a closed gate.
On the other hand sometimes I can be a hard learner.
We are told to praise in the hallway, waiting can be so hard!
On the other hand He never said not to make windows.

I am not a pretty church girl from a poster. 
I'm standing in the hallway dreaming of a chainsaw to make some windows. 
To cut a new door. To move this thing along. 
I wanted to use my voice like a chainsaw the other day. I am so thankful God stayed my hand. Quieted my voice. Stilled my heart.
I wanted to know why I was no longer wanted. Why I was reduced to thanks for your interest. Why I wasn't worthy of more information. Better communication. I wanted to stomp my feet and toss some barbs of my own.
Ugh. Ugly, no? Yeah. But I didn't. That's the transformation. I didn't.
I accepted them for where they were at. I asked the questions. I left the answering to God. 
And walked away.  Unfollowed the page. Restricted their access to my life. 
Guess what? They haven't noticed. And guess what else? That's okay.  It isn't about me. It's about them. And God. And God working on them. 
Mostly though. It's about me. And God working on me. 
Come over and see what the other amazing #VoiceBloggers are sharing today on our last link up with Jo Ann. Don't worry though, there are more amazing things coming that we will do together! Promise. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Paper tiger teeth



I feel like I've been busy pulling teeth from paper tigers - the words, lessons and false messages of my past ambush me in the strangest ways. Less than before for which I am so thankful to Jesus. But still when that acid hits my stomach and the FIGHT defense comes up so fast I hardly know what to do.
And I instantly regret it. The outburst. The frustration. The hard face and harsh voice. It seems all my life I have failed in those areas, like God gave me a short fuse and said, "Okay have fun with that!" knowing it would take me 30 some years to figure out I need to stay away from people with matches. And lighters. And other open flames. Even if they are family. Even if they are friends. Even if they say they mean well or they are doing God's work. And I need to stop lighting them when I feel frustrated and want to blow it all up. BOOM.
Sharing my story, well honestly parts of my story, has been done to share my healing journey not because I did anything special but because God did. To share my beliefs that we need to speak up. To advocate for those with no voice. And encourage them in finding their voice. And then listening when they do. Giving them ownership of it. Building them up like the walls in Nehemiah and guarding them.
I'm a much better encourager than a sharer. There are two kinds of unhealthy responses to sharing our hurts: the drama lovers. They want the details, every blood smear and tear drop. They don't want to hear the healing but have you relive the hurt. For their entertainment. The others are the 'get over its' when they hear you have a story their response is: It's in the past, let it go. Move on. Leave that ____ behind. They don't care to get messy. Or involved. They want you as is comfortable for them. Not you.
God brought me through. I'm on the healing path. I'm an encourager and advocate. I'm a reforming (daily? minute by minute more likely) ogress. I love passionately and lean on my Lord, unworthy and yet completely redeemed and loved. Yeah it makes me cry. And yeah I fear moving forward with story, sharing and *gasp* community where all the vulnerabilities come out. But God moves me and I'm learning to go. Sometimes dragging my feet, sometimes making excuses but I go.
I am thankful for this community, for these women. We laugh together, create and pray. It is a huge blessing to me. A life changer.

~  ~  ~

This post was originally a comment here: http://www.joannfore.com/online-study-9  Jo Ann said in her reply it was a post on it's own. So I decided to give it some wings and let it fly!  This is raw. This is real. This is right now.

Want to know more about this story, and the stories of other women who are Finding Their Voice?  Join us at JoAnnFore.com for the ongoing study of her amazing book When A Woman Finds Her Voice.

Join in for the blog prompts, leap in for the study, join us on Facebook, read posts by the encouraging and real #VoiceBloggers and be encouraged. Be real. Be loved.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Guest Post: Carey Scott, Lord Help Me

For the Lord watches over the righteous and listens to their prayers… (1 Peter 3:2)

Sometimes praying for your husband is hard to do.

You have thoughts in your head and emotions in your heart, but the words don’t come.

Other times, you get tripped up with details. Am I praying enough? Am I saying the right things? Am I asking too much? Can I even ask God for this?

And sometimes, you feel like your prayers aren’t acceptable. You believe, based on your past choices or current struggles, God won’t listen to you. Instead, you’re certain He is angry and has turned His back.

Anyone?

Oh the enemy does all he can to discourage and destroy your prayer life. Why? Because he knows its power, and he doesn’t want you to discover it.

Without a doubt, your husband needs a wife that prays.

Think about it. Each morning, he walks into a world that continues to move farther away from God. Morals are flexible. Sexual temptations are everywhere. Family values are considered old-fashioned. And the sanctity of marriage looks much different today than even a few years ago.

We can’t hide in a bubble.

We can’t live tucked away from the world.

But we can pray.

We can always pray.

Prayer can change a heart, shift a circumstance, and bring victory to a situation. It’s one of the most powerful weapons you have in your arsenal.

And while scripture assures us God knows the desire of our heart even when our words lack eloquence… sometimes we just need a little help.

I wrote Lord Help Me: 32 Ways to Pray for Your Husband with that in mind.


My book offers 32 different prayersall backed with scripture – surrounding four important areas: his career, his relationships, his faith, and his character.

You’ll find sample prayers on topics like:
  • Safety as he travels
  • Financial wisdom
  • Leading the family
  • Modeling godliness to his children
  • Being a godly husband
  • His salvation
  • A Christ-centered identity
  • Protection from sexual temptation
  • Taming his tongue
  • Integrity
  • Contentment
  • …and much more
But wait! There’s more! (Read with cheesy infomercial voice)
~ At the beginning of the book, my husband shares his experience of being on the receiving end of a wife’s prayers, and how it’s affected his life and our marriage. I think it will really encourage you.
~ There’s a prayer just for you to prepare your heart for this journey.
~ Each section ends with “My Thoughts” offering a few of my personal experiences, struggles and victories in our marriage.
~ You’ll find “Your Turn” challenge questions throughout the book designed to help you better focus your prayers.

Listen girls, I’m not a prayer expert. My words aren’t more important than yours. God doesn't consider my prayers more holy. But so often, I hear from women who say they just need a little help.

And honestly, aren't we in this together?

The prayers in Lord Help Me are tools to guide you as you become a powerful praying wife.

 And now thru Thursday, January 23… you can get your eBook copy for only $.99

 After that, it will be available on Kindle for $2.99 and paperback for $9.99.

And, it’s your chance to own a copy before it’s available to the public. Oh, and please pass this along to your friends and family so they can get their copy, too!


Girls, my greatest hope and prayer is that this book gives words to your thoughts… tenders your heart… strengthens your resolve… heals your marriage… rekindles your love… awakens your inner prayer-warrior… and connects you to the only One who can answer the prayers you pray for your husband.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks Carey for joining us with such a powerful and encouraging guest post. And for sharing your book with us, a welcome addition to the titles of yours I already have. I appreciate and am thankful for your heart for your sisters in Christ, and for the families we all love.

If you want to read more visit Carey at: CareyScottTalks.com or catch up to her on Facebook!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Shut up, please

Yesterday I wrote about trusting God, letting Him take care of things. Trusting. Check it out here: Why I Don't Worry About Birds Anymore

Today I am linking up with the lovely #VoiceBloggers and Jo Ann Fore at: http://joannfore.com/unraveling-the-lies-we-tell-ourselves/


What happens when it is our own voice that hurts us most? How to we silence the inner bully, the inner critic, the fault-finding-keeping-track-of-how-you-fail record keeper?  This is where I struggle, and confess, do not prevail as often as I would like.

It is easier for me to speak up for someone else. To pray for someone else. To advocate for someone else. For me? Not so much.

I watched a TV show today, and part of the mystery was solved when they realized that on a video tape (yep old school tape!) there was a video ghost where the eraser heads did not fully record over an older event. So it showed up as a ghost. Not really there. Not really part of the current recording but still impacting it.

Those old voices that shout negative things at me, at us, are like those video ghosts. They are not really there.

THEY ARE NOT REALLY THERE!

Even our own voices, reading back to us our failures, are not really there. They are not current. They are not a part of the now we live in. They are a lie. And the devil loves to use them against us.

He would rather us be caught up in the past and hurting. Ineffective. Impotent. Not praying. Not living the gospel. 

He would rather we be worried about the old ghost soundtrack than hearing God speak to us in the now. In the people, and life, around us. In God's word.

Do these lies sound familiar? 

You aren't smart enough to read the Bible.

 God won't hear a sinner like you praying.

Get it together you pathetic loser, God doesn't want you.

You don't have a place in ministry, you were so bad/fat/wounded/homeless/scared/scarred before.

And the truth is you can read God's word. Anyone can!  And He is faithful and speaks to us. We are so blessed to have apps and Bible cases to carry The Word with us everywhere.

God sent His Son to save sinners like me. Like you. He loved us enough to leave heaven, to bear our burdens and DIE for us. He loved us enough to RISE again, washed clean of OUR sin, to open the door to heaven. 

God doesn't just want you. He desires you. He loves you. He seeks you. He truly knows every hair on your head, and crafted you in the womb. You are precious.

We all have a place in ministry. We all have a story to share. We survived. We can be a witness to those struggling on a similar path to ours. We can be a witness to those who would disparage anyone whom they think of as less than.

Don't forget, EVER, that you are beloved. Precious. Your voice has value. Your scars have value.

And on those days when we celebrate the small victories against the negative voices God celebrates with us. 

And on those days when they cause us to fight with our loved ones, when they cause us to be flooded with bitter, acrid memories, God comforts us. IF WE LET HIM.

I once asked someone why they disliked me my whole life. (I am not exaggerating). They didn't like how I looked at birth.  And that colored their entire view of me for almost 30 years of my life. And I tried to make them love me. I served them. I did my best. 

Mary was pregnant with Jesus. Herod was so afraid of the child he was willing to murder a whole town's worth of babies to kill one. He hated him before birth. He saw him as a threat.

We are in good company on this healing path. Jesus walked it before we did. He knows the negative voices (didn't the devil throw them back at him in the wilderness? Yep he did!). He knows the sound of disbelief from family and friends when we seek God's will in our lives. He walked that walk. He knows when we cry out to Him in our hurt. He hears us. 

I wanted to join in on the link up, and another one, this week. I was trying to write yesterday. Yesterday was not a good day for that. God knew better.  Today, however, was the day He wanted me to write.

Take heart dear souls, God is not only with us, but He has gone before us. He knows this path. Those voices. He knows, and in that knowing we can rest in Him. He can calm the voices, and fully erase the ghost videos in our mind.

We only need to let Him.

Are you willing? Can we pray together?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Why I don't worry about birds anymore


Matthew 10:29-31

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 6:28
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Luke 12:27
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

I used to worry about our birds. When we moved I prayed the new owners would love our home and yard as much as we had. We had put a lot of work into it. It took a year for us to get more than one bird at the feeder, and when we moved we had many dozens filling the yard with song and color.

I forgot something important - as much as I loved those birds they were not my birds.  They belong to God. And as His, they are cared for outside of my human hands. I was a way He provided for them, but not the only way they were fed.

Matthew 6:26
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?


If God loves His creatures so much, how much more does He love us?

And He loves those we don't love. And those we love best. And those we don't know. They, we, are all His.

I used to worry about doing enough. Being enough. And I would fail. Every time. And with good reason. I am not enough. Never will be. Neither will you.  We aren't meant to be. 

God asks us to walk humbly with Him. To love Him fully (mind, body, spirit). To love one another as we love Him. (yeah He does). He asks us to trust Him. Faith, Hope and Love.

It is easier to worry about those birds. To fret about them. To be angry that we had to leave them behind. Easier to try and take something that isn't mine.

We drove past our old place. It was not lived in full time. But the yard was full of birds! Every plant we had grown had reseeded from fallen or stashed seeds. They had so much and many varities of food and shelter. All from the work we had done before we left. And all without us being there in the present.

The trees we planted. The flowers that went to seed. They all grew, bloomed and bore fruit under the watchful eye of God. Their master. We were good stewards for a few seasons, and what we left flourished.

It can be that way in relationships - we can be close to someone for a reason or for a season. We can be present in big ways or small. What we should not do is discount the presence of God there. 

When the relationship changes, or ends, God's presence does not leave when we physically do.  And even when we are not there in the same way, our prayers can be there. We can intercede for them, praying over the seeds we planted in our time together. For the fruit that can ripen and mature in them, and in us.

God desires unity in the Church, the body of believers, and desires reconciliation between us and to Himself.  How we think that should work or look is often very different than His plan!  Letting go of our ownership of the situation, and giving it to the rightful owner God, lets us approach it with prayer. With love. In grace. So that God can work in their hearts and ours.

My birds know I am the one who brings them food. They trust me to keep the feeders full. Ultimately if I have to leave God will still provide for them. They trust me. I trust Him.

I miss my friends who are moving to other places in their lives. I cherish the small and mighty steps a relationship is taking towards reconciliation. I am tenderly growing a garden of love with someone who is important in our lives, and not someone I am close to. In all of this I need to be humble (this isn't about me, but about God, the Kingdom) and I need to trust God. Totally trust God. Like a bird. Like a flower. Like a lamb. Like a child.

 And as a recovering control freak the trust factor is a daily battle. I want plans. I want back up plans. I want a bug out plan. I want a press release and sneak peeks. God wants my faith. He wants my prayers. He desires my full hearted trust.  

What worries don't belong to you? How can we pray together?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why I don't ask why


Jo Ann and the lovely Voice Bloggers are talking today about 'why' at Jo Ann's blog. Join us for the link up after you are done reading here if you like! 

I almost always get in hot water by asking too many questions. More often than not when someone says, NO my response is why?

No one likes that, but sometimes it is good to ask ourselves why we answer things the way we do. Is it a well thought out no or a knee-jerk no or a 'I don't know what else to say' no?  Maybe it is just NO - no way I'm going there!

When it comes to God I think sometimes I need to investigate the why a bit deeper. I love being able to rest on Him, and on my faith. That solid rock is what I cling to and what I reach for when I get into water that is too deep for me to walk upon.  

But I think I need to seek His will in the why and put that into action in my life. It is well, and good to rest but we also need to be faith in action. We need to put the boots in the stirrups and saddle up. We need to move knees to chest people! We need to speak using our out loud voices and risk being heard.

We need to be the answer when the world asks WHY. We need to be the WHY NOT when they wonder about being selfless instead of selfish.  

I used to ask God why. I used to wonder why things happened, or didn't happen. Then a time came when there was no 'why' but instead I asked 'what would You have me do?'

I started to grow deeper faith roots, stronger faith wings and a bigger heart outside of my own need to know. Sometimes we don't need to know. God doesn't want us knowing why when He wants us to be doing.   We can spend a lot of time sitting and talking about why or why not, and be distracted from doing.

Distracted from praying. From reaching out. From being present for someone. I learned that when you ask 'why' you have opened the door to the question 'why not'.  I have also learned that when I say, instead, What would you have me do? I am seeking guidance for action. And sometimes that action is to be still, and let God fight for me. Be at peace, let God work. Pray, surrender and stop mucking about!

Have you ever tried to fix something when someone is trying to help? When they don't know what you need, or haven't asked?  You want to smack their hands and say, Sit still, I've got this. or  I will let you know when I need your help.  Neither response really endears you to them, after all they are usually really trying to help!  But when I learned to say, You being here encourages me, thank you. and Thanks for offering to help, it makes it easier with you being here. Then I found myself understanding things a bit better in my walk with Jesus.

We cannot run ahead, shouting, LEAD ME LORD! and say we are following Christ.  If we are shouting, crying or chanting WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY we can't hear an answer. We can't hear a thing. And the devil wins another round in the battle to distract us.

There are thousand (okay maybe a dozen) why questions I could ask God right now. Right this minute! And like a loving parent who knows more than I do, He would be right in saying because I have plans for you. 

God has plans for you. And they won't change with the volume or frequency of our questions as to the why. Nor will they be any less, or more, than His will. What we do while we wait is where the blessings are found!

Why didn't the dream job happen? Why did the "I'm ready to go where you lead Lord" get answered with "stay"? Why did the I can do this ministry become "You aren't the right fit for us"? So many whys - why is this winter so danged cold? 

The 'dream job' may be the one I'm doing right now.

The place to be is in the now, where He is blessing us. Where if we were looking elsewhere with longing hearts we could be missing something amazing.

The ministry wasn't right for me - or for them. And it is all about Him, and He knows best.

As to winter, I don't know. It's just cold.

So instead we work on the doing, the being. Praying. Loving. Being present. Asking what we can do. Doing what we can. 



Jo Ann Fore