Thursday, May 21, 2009

remembering

Please join me in lifting up the Chapman family today in prayer. I cannot even begin to imagine the loss, pain and extreme grief they have been through and continue to process through.

I'm so thankful that this life is just the beginning. And yet, for those left behind, waiting for Heaven must seem like eternity.

(On a side note, God used Steven & MaryBeth to inspire our family to pursue adoption through China. Our own sweet Sara was also from Philip Hayden. We are so very grateful for all they have done to raise awareness and support for orphans worldwide.)

Even in the midst of sadness, His love and amazing plans for each of us allow us to continue LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Remembering beautiful Maria and her precious family today,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

following suit

wordless Wednesday...







LIVING A (VERY) BLESSED LIFE!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

and yet...

So, last week I wrote a post about some great advice my mentor gave me. I've spent the last week trying it out to see if it was truly the answer to my struggles.

Guess what? I have been absolutely miserable. No kidding.

Was the advice bad? Absolutely not. I completely agree that I am not a morning person. Well, my flesh is not. :-)

My spirit, however, longs to be all that God created me to be. My spirit longs to fully embrace everything He has for me.

And so I've spent the past couple of days trying to figure out what the solution to all of this could possibly be. I think I actually knew it last Monday night when we were talking about my struggles.

My flesh wants to do what it wants. Stay up late, sleep in late, skip the exercise and eat whatever looks good. My flesh has been getting whatever it wants and now both my flesh and my spirit are miserable. Crazy, huh?

One would think that if the flesh got what it wanted it would be happy. Ha ha. Unfortunately, that's not how God made us.

So, this morning I realized that God is the One that I always need to go to for His guidance, advice and clarity.

Today I found myself in the book of Mark. I was reading in my Everyday Life Amplified Bible about taking up our cross. Here's what the intro to Mark says:

"I do not believe the "cross" we are to carry is a burden of disaster, disease, and misery, but is a sacrificial life of allowing God to work through us to bless others. This kind of cross is the only way to truly experience the joy that Jesus gives."

Ding, ding, ding! Rings a bell, doesn't it? I know that God has been teaching many of us what He desires for our lives to be like (Crazy Love.)

The world tells us to live a life that feeds our flesh. God calls us to live of life feeding on Him and His Word. He desires for us to feed our spirits with His goodness and love. When we do, we automatically find that we are then pouring ourselves (and His love) lavishly upon others.

That's the life I long to live. It's no wonder this past week has stunk. :-)

So, if I'm not a morning person, does the profound lesson I wrote about last week become invalid? I don't think so. I think that what God was trying to teach me through my mentor was that I was struggling so much because I was holding myself up to a ridiculous standard. A standard He never gave me.

My value and worth as a person is not based up what time I wake up or how I closely I follow my dream schedule. I am valued simply because I am a child of God. The answer is always simpler than I expect it to be.

When I try to live by the world's standards of "good" and "perfect," I fail every single time.

When I press into my Creator and follow His ways, my life is full of joy, peace and grace. That's where I long to be. That's where my life clicks and God is glorified.

I found the key I was missing in Mark 8:34-37 (I like the Amplified version because it wraps more meat around it):

"And Jesus called [to Him] the throng with His disciples and said to them, If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me].

For whoever wants to save his higher, spiritual, eternal] life, will lose it [the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth]; and whoever gives up his life [which is lived only on earth] for My sake and the Gospel's will save it [his higher, spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God].

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his life in the eternal kingdom of God]?

For what can a man give as an exchange (a compensation, a ransom, in return) for his [blessed] life [in the eternal kingdom of God]?"

It's really all about denying myself (my flesh) and allowing God to grow within me His fruit of self-discipline. Ah. Still so much more learn...and I am so very excited about that!

Some lessons take longer than others to get. It is because my God is so very patient and gracious that I am still LIVING A BLESSED LIFE on the days when I don't quite get it right. :-)

Thankful for His mercies,

Monday, May 18, 2009

worn out

Do you ever wonder why some things in life have to be so complicated and difficult?

That's where I'm at today. A friend of mine just received word from Ethiopia regarding yet another delay on their adoption process. My heart is grieving with her and for her son as he has to wait longer to be united with his family.

It doesn't seem fair. It doesn't seem right. It's downright maddening.

And yet, she will keep pressing on, doing whatever is necessary to bring her sweet boy home.

Why? Because love keeps trusting. Love keeps going. Love is committed to going the distance. Love believes even when the situation seems impossible. Love does whatever is necessary.

Love is always the answer.

But what happens when we feel worn out? What if we get to the end of our rope, the end of ourselves and just can't go on?

Ah, that's the best part. That's when our faith is fully tested. When we get to the end of our rope and have nothing left to possibly give, the only thing we can do is let go.

And that's when we learn what faith is all about. Trusting in the One who created us, the One who calls us, the One who loves us to save the day. To hold us up. To spur us on.

Surrender can be a scary thing. Sometimes we choose to surrender because we know it's the best thing for us and understand how easy it actually is.

Other times, we surrender because it's the only option we have. And yet, it letting go can feel like the most difficult thing to do.

The challenging thing is that letting go of the rope can feel like we're giving up.

Really, though, it's a matter of giving in. It's letting go of our way and our will in order to allow God to have His way and His will with our lives.

Living our lives by faith is a crazy thing. Just when we think we have it all figured out, God throws us a curve ball.

Is it because He wants to drive us insane? No.

Is it because He wants to make us suffer? Absolutely not.

The truth is that He keeps us off balance in order to teach us to trust Him and rely solely upon Him for all things. We may think we know what is best for our selves, but there are so many things we don't know and aren't able to see.

God sees it all. God knows it all. He is working, even when it feels like He's MIA.

When a curve ball comes our way, God has something to show us, to teach us. All because He loves us.

I'm so blessed by my friend, Melissa, and her strong faith. Granted, she feels frustrated and discouraged today, and I don't blame her. However, instead of getting stuck in the pit of human knowledge and tying a knot in her rope, she is choosing to surrender.

She's letting go of that rope and is choosing instead to cling to the One who loves her. She is choosing to believe that God knows what's best for her, her family and her beautiful little boy. The best news of all. He does! :-)

As I watch my friend continue to press into the Lord and trust in His timing, I'm inspired to let go of a few ropes myself. Really, my Friend, it's the only way to keep LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With faith and hope,