An Eternity of Agains.

Yesterday my youngest and I were on a lonely, deserted stretch of I-25 in northern Wyoming. If you know anything northern Wyoming geography you know that between Casper and Buffalo there is a whole lot of nothing. And that is right where we were when the storms hit us.

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We’d been watching them build in the distance, and this storm loving woman was in her element, praying we’d run right into them.

And we did.

And I changed my mind very quickly when I started to hydroplane at 75mph and nearly lost control of Lucy. (Yes, I name my cars.) I looked out the window and could only see a wall of water the front tire was skimming off. And I knew we were in trouble.

We were heading south, the wind was fierce and blowing from the west. The water on the road was deep and rushing. It was almost like driving through a stream at flood stage.

Or maybe a river with whitecaps. The wind would push me one way, the water would push me the other.

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It was scary. My body was trembling with the exertion of just trying to keep us on the road. I knew enough to reduce my speed and turn into the hydroplaning swerves and not fight against that.

At one point I was driving 50 mph in an 80 mph zone. The water was so deep on the road I was having trouble accelerating.

I know our life was spared yesterday.

I also know I want to hydroplane in the sweet grace of Jesus. I want to know in the marrow of my soul that He is, that He is good, and that He is in control of life, because He is my life.

Then I want to crash headlong into His throne and say, “Whooooaaaaa!!! Jesus! What a crazy, thrilling ride that was!!!”

And then I want to do it again. And again. And all over again.

For an eternity of agains.

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God is no gentleman

Have you ever heard that saying? “God is a gentleman. He waits to be invited in. He doesn’t barge in where you don’t want Him.”

I’m convinced that statement is a lie. Yes, it’s true He does not force anyone to accept Him, so in that regard He is a gentleman. But I’m here to tell you, when you give Him your heart, He takes your life!

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Just take a look at this:

“Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:13-14 nasb)

We are redeemed and purified, why? To be a people of His own possession! He fully possesses us! There is no part of our body, no part of our life He does not see and where He is not! Every place we want to hide from Him because we think it’s too evil, to beyond the scope of grace, to beyond the reach of His blood, He is there! He possesses those parts too.

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The parts of ourselves that are hidden from us, the parts we aren’t even fully aware of are fully possessed by Him.

No, God’s no gentleman, but He is good. That is what we must realize and trust in. His very goodness. Because He isn’t a gentleman. He goes places we don’t want Him to go, He messes with things we don’t want Him to mess with, He changes things we don’t want changed.  Yes, we can resist Him and make futile attempts to thwart Him but guess what? He always wins.

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So just give it up right here and right now. That fight you’re fighting? Just give it up. Give in to Him. Partner with Him to work in you, even in those hidden places. You can’t hide from Him. He possesses you fully.

Let’s unpack this verse a little more. It is such a treasure trove of Truth!

It is the grace of God that instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. It’s His grace! We can’t do it on our own. He does it through us and uses grace to teach us! It teaches us how to live sensibly, righteously, and godly in the present age. It points the way to the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus. His grace points the way to Him!

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And that is glory!

Jesus gave Himself for us to:

  • Redeem us from every lawless deed.
  • Purify for Himself a people for His own possession!
  • Possess us,
  • Make us zealous for good deeds.

This means we are:

  • Redeemed from every lawless deed and every violation of the law–wickedness. This means our old is gone (2 Corinthians 5:17) and our new is here. The old way was wicked and in constant violation of the law. Every intent of our heart was only evil all the time. But He redeemed us from that and He paid our penalty! We are no longer unwanted children, we are redeemed!  Camp on this for a pair of moments. He went to the slave auction of the enemy, and saw us there. We were over our head, drowning in a debt we couldn’t pay and He said, “I pick that one. I’m redeeming her.” He paid the price of our redemption. But He also paid the debt we owed that put us on that auction block in the first place! He paid our redemption and then He also paid the penalty, the debt we owed. Does anyone else want to shout, GLORY, or is it just me?
  • Purified. He not only redeemed our lawless ways but He purified us. He made us pure because He is pure. He didn’t just buy us from our old way of living, He stripped us and cleansed us completely! We are completely clean, undefiled before Him. We are no longer the bad girls (or boys!) we are purified as He is pure!
  • His own possession. He fully possesses us. There is no part of us that He does not possess–even those parts we try to hide because we think they are too wicked, to outside of grace for Him to see, too beyond the power and reach of His blood–He possesses those parts too. Even the parts we don’t know about ourselves, the parts hidden from our own eyes, He possesses them, because He redeemed and purified them.  We are completely clean before Him! We are completely His.
  • Zealous for good deeds. Our desire is to work for Him, not to pay for our redemption and purification because that just can’t be done and it’s a slap in God’s face when we try. Rather it is because of our redemption and purification, and being fully possessed by Him, that makes us want to work for Him. But it isn’t us working at all. It is Him working in and through us. He not only gives us the desire and the ability, He does the work. We just have to submit to Him.

Life is either a great adventure....Daybook!!

Warrior

When you change tactics in prayer and move from a defensive position to an offensive one, things in the unseen world start to happen. Things change. Before there was no real threat and now there is.

And no one likes to be threatened.

Not even the enemy. Not even your own self and mind. When you declare yourself to be under new management and you kick out the old, this is threatening and brings on heavy artillery attacks.

Are you going to tuck tail and run or are you going to stand and fight? Are you going to take the coward’s way out and quit before you’ve tasted the thrill of victory? Jesus already won this battle against the enemy of your soul, so what are you going to do? Cower in the corner whimpering or come out fighting in the strength His grace provides?

The warrior never forgets the battle and she never quits the battle. When it’s the fiercest she arms herself with His strength and fiercely battles on.

Never in her own strength.

No, she battles on against her own strength because that is dead, weak, and powerless. But His strength infuses her with life and that life is inexhaustible because He is. 

So go ahead, rely fully on His life, His strength, and battle on, my warrior friend, battle on in Jesus.

Because everything you battle is already dead. It just doesn’t know it yet.  But you’re alive, you just don’t realize it yet. 

So kill those giants in Jesus name. Declare your heart, your life, your mind, your whole self, your husband, your children, your relationships, your friendships are under new management and then fight–battle on in the name and power of Jesus.

Strap on your helmet. It protects your mind with the true, deep-seated knowledge that you are His.

Put on the breastplate of His righteousness. It covers your heart, protecting it from false loves and keeps it intact–unbroken.

Step in to the girdle of truth. It squashes the lies so they are not allowed to take root and move to your heart and mind. This means they cannot be believed. Which means they cannot become a part of who you are, they are not your identity any longer. Throw them away.

Then slide your feet into your shoes of peace. His peace that passes all understanding. The peace that allows you to stand firm in Him though the battle rages all around you. You know true, lasting forever peace.

Now, stand firm. You are rooted and established in Him. Stand firm and see the salvation. Watch the deliverance of Jesus. Watch! See there, on the far horizon, now moving closer, now standing next to you, now surrounding you. That is your Deliverer and He is battling for you.

For you.

Yes, for You. Yes, you. He is battling for you.

So, Warrior, rest in Him. Stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.

Some days

Some days I really think I’m going crazy. And then I stop and think for a pair of moments and realize I no longer just think it, I am.

This journey I’m on is both exhilarating and exhausting. Soul-satisfying and soul sucking dry.  It’s like a walk in the park with a chocolate ice cream cone with a panther.  Who is hungry, ravenous really.  It’s as easy-as-pie and terrifying all at the same time.  It produces great trust and great fear.

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I know God isn’t an oxymoron. I know it sounds like He is. Or like I am.  This journey is the absolute hardest thing I have ever attempted in my life to this moment.

Seventeen years ago today I was enormously fat. I mean. I’m 5’3″ and I weighed in at a whopping 175 pounds.   Of course in about 36 hours from right now, right this very second, I would be in labor with my first child.

I remember the agony, the pain. But I never wanted to quit. I didn’t want the pain to stop because I knew something good was coming and I wouldn’t be in torment forever. Soon my baby would be here and it would all be worth it.

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Right now, my soul is contracting, and I’m in labor. Only I see no end in sight. No woman is pregnant forever. But this feels like it will go on forever. and ever. and ever. and ever.

I know it won’t end. In my heart I know that. I know it. But I don’t KNOW it. My head tells me it will never end, it’s best to just quit right now. Because it’s never getting better.

The dream I have? It will never happen. The mental pictures of completeness will never become reality. The deepest desire of my deepest heart, the deep-seated desire to passionately love Jesus with a passion that surpasses all other passions in my life, will never happen. He won’t give it to me.

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I pray. Daily. Sometimes hourly, usually with greater frequency. But I doubt. I doubt He hears. I doubt His goodness. I doubt Him.

I. Freaking. Doubt. Him.

Him. The One who gave Himself for me so I could tell Him, “I doubt You. I doubt You love me. I doubt You. I doubt You want me. Everyone else in the world, except me.”

All the while I’m telling others, “He loves you so dearly!” “You are so dearly loved!” I’m telling others what my soul yearns to hear and doesn’t.

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I’m not asking anyone to tell me. I’m asking my soul to believe it, even when (or even because) no one tells me. You see, if you just told me right now, “Girlfriend, you are so dearly loved!” I wouldn’t believe you. My mind would automatically reject the thought as untrue because “they’re only saying that because you put it on the blog. They don’t mean it.”

This is what happens when little unloved and unwanted abused girls grow up. They grow up believing they are always unloved and unwanted. They reject anyone who tries to tell them differently.  My soul so desperate to hear it and believe it, rejects what it needs most.

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Which isn’t for man to tell it that it is loved. It is wanted.

No, what my soul needs most is simply Jesus.

Jesus. The One my soul craves, my life needs.

Like the helpless baby I gave birth to seventeen years ago, I cling to Him. Not because He’s helpless, but because I am.

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All the Runners Run

Boy that is profound, isn’t it? All the runners run. Duh. That’s why they’re runners.

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I’ve long been a runner. Not always physically, but I’m a runner nonetheless. All of my life I kept running. Running from the boogey man, from pain, from fears, from people, from love, from Jesus.

Almost ten years ago I also started running physically. What great bringing together of the inside and outside of my life. Run away on the inside, run away on the outside.

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I recently spent a glorious week in beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri. We used to always joke that Missouri was really spelling M-I-S-E-R-Y. This week was anything but misery.  I was attending a rather intensive retreat and Jesus exploded all over this woman.

By all over, I really mean All. Over. Completely.

My prayer going into the retreat was that Jesus would ruin me for life as normal. That I would  have zero desire to ever back to what my life had been like. He completely undid me!

I will never, ever forget my time there. I will never forget what He told me there. I will never forget the pictures He gave me.

I am ruined. Forever ruined by Him and for Him.

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If you were to zoom in on my necklace in the picture above you would find the pendant is a stick figure of a runner. Very much indicative of my life to date. I wore it with happiness.

Happiness but not joy.

I had been home for a just a couple of days at the most when I was putting the necklace back on one morning when I heard Jesus speak to my soul.

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

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I held it in my hands, looking at it. And again I heard Him speak,

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

My soul reacted with joyful abandonment. And I threw the necklace in the trash. I have been completely set free from my running from everything.

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Everything.

I still run. It just looks different now. Instead of running from, I run to. I run to Him. I run to life. I run to love. I run to joy. I run to friendships. I run and when I run I feel His pleasure.

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The Color Yellow

There was once a young girl who was unloved, unwanted, un-everything she should have been.

One day in late August of 1978 she was getting dressed for school and she chose a yellow dress. As she left for the third grade that day she thought to herself, “I look cute today!”  No one had ever told her she looked cute but still she reveled in the idea that she was cute on that day.

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Within 120 minutes of thinking that very thought she was being sexually molested.  She realized that thinking she looked cute and wearing yellow meant bad, horrible things happened to her. She chose to never again think she looked cute and never to wear the color yellow.

Several years passed and she kept the promise she made to herself that day.  Every day she even had the passing thought that she looked cute was disastrous.  While she seemed unable to completely prevent her thoughts from thinking on any particular day she looked cute, she was completely able to keep the promise to not wear yellow.

She did buy one yellow outfit, it was a completely different shade of yellow and she only wore it twice before giving it away.

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That little girl is now all grown up.  Married with children of her own, living in her own little house. Inside the little house all the main living areas are a bright, cheery shade of yellow.

Not only is her house yellow, this abused and abandoned little girl, just bought herself a pair of bright yellow sandals.

And she thinks she looks cute.

That is the grace and healing work of Jesus.