Saturday, April 4, 2009

eternal perspective

I've always loved the idea of Philippians 3:20,21:

"But we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body." (CEV)

However, it wasn't until just recently that I began to really understand how doing so can give me freedom in my life today.

Living on earth as a citizen of heaven allows me to really experience the "peace which passes all understanding." (Philippians 4:7) It helps me to let go of my own agenda and really rest in the knowledge that God (1) does indeed have a plan for my life (2) His plan is good, and (3) His plan will prevail.

This new revelation is certainly not one that I uncovered on my own. Honestly, one day God simply unlocked the hidden meaning of His Word and the light bulb went on. I still don't think that I have the full understanding of all that this means. But, I will say that my vision is much, much clearer.

Looking back at all of the earthly matters that used to cause me severe stress and turmoil seem so small now. I feel so much more free to enjoy the gift of today and to truly rejoice in life's trials. Having my own way, regardless of what's at stake, actually seems quite laughable.

But, before I come across as a saint, please note that just because I am starting to understand what it means to live "as a citizen of heaven," it doesn't mean that therefore every word and action I choose are godly. Oh, how I wish that were true!

I can sense that God has actually raised the bar for me and given me a new standard to live by. In the past, this would have been incredibly scary for me as I know that in my own right, I'm unable to go a day without sinning or making a mistake. Fortunately, I've learned that He doesn't expect me to live perfectly or to change myself. He simply wants me to be willing to change and to acknowledge that I need His help.

So, what was the key that opened this new level of awareness for me? I think it was a combination of things, really. My kids and I just finished listening to Randy Alcorn's Heaven for Kids book on CD. I highly recommend it; especially if your family happens to be big Narnia fans like us. :) I admit, I used to be worried about being bored in Heaven. Ha. Little did I know! Now I can't wait to get God's time, of course.

Tom Davis' books Fields of the Fatherless and Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds and Francis Chen's book Crazy Love have most definitely inspired and transformed my heart. God is doing BIG things right now. I can sense it and I'm hearing/reading about it more and more through others who are following Jesus.

The biggest impact, of course, has simply been spending time with my Creator. Reading His Word, pouring my heart out to Him throughout my day (both in praise and in prayer) and keeping my spirit sensitive to His Holy Spirit.

Again, please don't think I've figured it all out. I'm still, thankfully, a work in progress. I love this adventure I'm on and the fact that I still have so much more to learn. :-) God's wisdom is available to each and every one of us. Are you hungry for it? Have you tasted it yet? It is oh-so-sweet, my Friend!

Praying you are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With joy,

Friday, April 3, 2009

ten percent

I was reading a few more pages today in Crazy Love this morning and a couple of the Scriptures Francis mentioned really hit home. Especially after what He was speaking to my spirit last night.

"I am the LORD All-Powerful, and I challenge you to put me to the test. Bring the entire ten percent into the storehouse, so there will be food in my house. Then I will open the windows of heaven and flood you with blessing after blessing. I will also stop locusts from destroying your crops and keeping your vineyards from producing. Everyone of every nation will talk about how I have blessed you and about your wonderful land. I, the LORD All-Powerful, have spoken!" (Malachi 3:10-12, CEV)

"David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided." " (1 Chronicles 29:10-19, CEV)

These verses really put things into perspective for me, and again, reminded me of why I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Enjoy your weekend,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

More from Katie Rowland

I just published the post below and then kept reading on Katie's blog. As I'm typing this, I have tears streaming down my face. Just didn't want anyone to miss THIS video. Wow.

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE and thankful for beautiful, selfless people like Katie Rowland and her team.

Grace & peace,

the legacy of baby Moses

Have you ever wandered if sponsoring a widow, orphan or missionary actually does make a difference? I know I have. I've wondered if I, one solitary person, could actually make a difference. The thing I'm learning is that none of this is about me and what I can do. It's all about what God can and will do through me when I am sensitive to His Spirit and choose to live a life of love.

There's a short video floating around the blog world titled The Legacy of Baby Moses. If you haven't seen it yet, I hope you have six minutes in your day to watch it.

God does work miracles. Sometimes they don't happen the way we hope or expect them to, like with Baby Moses. But when they happen in His way and His timing, the results are far more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

One of the statements that really stood out to me in this video was a comment made by Moses' mother. She said that she wanted her older children to go to school in order for them to be able to stand on their own and not depend on other people. This is a woman who is battling AIDS. She has received financial and medical support. She has experienced the incredible transformation that support can bring. And yet.

This passion to live a life of integrity and persevere through difficult times is one of the core things that draws me to the people of Africa. Their living conditions and daily struggles are far greater than what we in America could ever imagine. Africans will accept support as a stepping stone in order to gain back their independence. However, they do not receive support in order to get comfortable and live their lives dependent upon others.

What a contrast between what I have observed here in America. There's a woman that my children and I see when we drive by our local C*stco and McD*nald's. She has been standing on the same corner for about 2.5 years now holding up a sign asking for food and money. My children have commented that every time they see this woman, her girth appears to be growing increasingly larger. She is not starving. And yet.

She continues to receive support on a daily basis. From what we can see, aside from standing on the corner holding a sign, she is doing nothing else to better her own cause. I feel incredibly sad whenever I see her. I have given her food and money in the past. In my heart, I had truly hoped that she would be someone who would receive the emergency help she was seeking, better her situation, and then move on. Unfortunately, it appears that she hasn't.

I want to be careful in sharing this story. I do not personally know this woman or the details of her life. My view from the outside could be completely incorrect. It is never our place to pass judgement on others. When I drive by this woman begging for food and money, I pray for her heart need. Because, clearly, there is one. I have never been in a position to beg for money, so truly, it's not my place to assume to know what her circumstances are. I imagine it must feel incredibly humiliating to be in her position. When I drive by, I do pray that God will meet her wherever she is at and bless her abundantly.

My heart's desire is to truly help all people in need, whether it is the woman on the corner in my own city or the one halfway across the world in a village in Swaziland. We are all humans with unique needs. However, I do think that as privileged Americans, where even our poorest citizens are considered wealthy when compared to other countries, we have a LOT to learn.

Again, I'm not trying to point fingers, because I know that in many ways I can be like the woman holding up a sign. How many times do I ask God to work a miracle in my life so that I can skip over the hard work that the change might otherwise entail? Ouch. Oh, I have so much to learn...

I pray that you will watch Katie's video and be very, very blessed. You can also visit Katie's blog. Be sure to watched the 2 minute video titled "Gone to School in Swaziland." (Grab tissue.)

May we all be willing to step outside of our own daily struggles and be willing to help someone in need. Regardless of whether they use our help as a stepping stone or simply a stone to sit upon. May we choose to help because it is what God calls us to do and allow Him to address the deeper heart issues we all struggle with.

Once again, I feel very humbled to be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE. I pray that I would have the courage and integrity to follow the path of stepping stones that others have graciously left before me, leaving the comfortable seat behind me. :-)

With grace,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

blood:water mission

There are so many stellar organizations out there doing good work. Last night, I fell upon Blood:Water Mission's website and watched this powerful video (click on "watch the video") put together by Jars of Clay.

As Geoff and I fell asleep talking last night, he shared with me why he is so passionate about helping to build wells in Africa (and anywhere else they are needed.) When women don't have a local water source, they are forced to walk miles, sometimes hours to fetch water. Oftentimes, the water they bring home is bacteria-ridden. Those two facts alone are heartbreaking. And yet, the one fact that moves my man the most is that when women have to go on those long treks in search of water, they often have to leave behind their children.

By drilling wells in the communities, Geoff pointed out, we can help mothers stay at home with their children. They aren't able to love on them, play with them and care for them if they have to walk miles to bring home water. (I don't have to point out the obvious that oftentimes, the water they bring home to their precious children can be deadly. Especially when someone in the family is battling HIV/AIDS. It's not right, is it?)

We can make a difference. This is what it can look like. If you watch 5 minutes into the video, you can be inspired by a sweet little boy desiring to "help Africans that he doesn't even know." Beautiful, eh?

Honestly, it doesn't have to be thousands of dollars (although that would be AWESOME!) Every little bit makes a difference. Our job is to not just close our eyes and plug our ears. Our job is to let the stories into our hearts. Allow our hearts to physically ache when we hear the real life stories of suffering, death and disease. Our responsibility is to pray and seek God's direction on how much we give and to whom we give it.

The mind blowing thing is that we can never out give God...after all, the money in our pockets and all the beautiful things we own, ALL belong to Him. Really, it's just a matter of opening up our hands (and hearts) and allowing Him to bless others through His incredible generosity. In God's beautiful economy, we in turn, are also blessed. It really doesn't get much better than this.

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE and thankful for the fresh, clean, temperature-regulated water I enjoy 24x7.

Sweet blessings,

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

crazy love

After reading about this book on several different blogs, I finally bought a copy. I had read some of the mixed reviews on Amazon and wasn't sure if the book would resonate with me or not. However, the three people who recommended the book are people whose lives reflect the glory and love of God in a most beautiful way. And so, I stopped procrastinating and bought my own copy.

So far, I have not been disappointed.

Does the author make me feel comfortable about my life today? No way.
Does he challenging my current thinking? Absolutely!
Does he make me feel good about myself and my faith? In some ways, yes.
Does he make me what to be a better person? Definitely.
Does he tell me what I should believe, or does he challenge me to dig deeper into Scripture and pray? The latter; every chance he can get! :-)

I just finished reading a chapter on "lukewarm Christians." Oh my. Talk about convicting. Some of his descriptions of one hit home. Ouch. God has been challenging me in the area of not just loving those who love and are kind to me.

This is my new (daily) prayer. I'm thankful that God is both forgiving and patient. I'm also thankful that once I make myself available to Him, He begins to change me in ways I never thought possible.

I admit that the chapter took me two days to read--and I'm not a slow reader. Yesterday I closed the book and couldn't gather the courage to read any more. Sometimes the big things just need to sit for a bit. (i.e., I needed the Holy Spirit needs to do some rototilling of the soil before my brain was ready to accept new seed.) Today, accompanied by a freshly brewed cup of coffee, I sat down to read on. I'm so glad I did.

When the light bulb finally went on, I couldn't believe the knowledge that God was bringing to life within me. It's one of those foundational truths that once you get, so many other things start to make sense. Oh, if I could only pass on all that I learned in a short (LONG) blog post. If only wisdom was so accessible. But I guess if it was, we wouldn't desire it so. ;-)

I haven't finished the book yet, but I agree with my three friends (aka "real life heroes), it's a good book. Very good. to ruminate (germinate?) some more. :-)

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE and growing a tiny bit more every day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

are you kidding me?!?

It's news stories like this that just make me feel so very, very sad. My brain can't even begin to process why C*ca-C*la is actually a topic in times of draught and extreme starvation.

I admit that I have overcome (and occasionally still feel drawn back to) a personal dependence upon the no-cal variety. It tastes good. :-) However, the fact that it's made up of mostly chemicals that will likely lead to scary symptoms and/or disease, makes me strongly question it's value in my life.

That said, I think that the Ethi*pian authorities were right to actually make critical items such as wheat and fuel their top priority. Sadly enough, when it comes to this particular product (and it's competitors), it's not about what's right for the people--it all comes down to p*litics. :-(

When I travel to that beautiful country to bring my beautiful son home, I for one will not complain if I'm not able to find a cold (or hot) can of D*et-C*ke. Some things are just far more important. Like life.

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE, even when things just don't make sense.