February 27, 2014


I've been doing some thinking.  When I can.  Amidst this crazy little thing called life going on at my house.  I'm beginning to see things differently.  I'm not just running through my days, watching them tell me what to do.  I'm experiencing.  I'm seeing.  I'm feeling.  It's fascinating.

For a while now, I've been asking the Lord to help me to see, the way that He sees.  It's not enough to me that I have a happy husband, kids and home.  It's not even enough that I'm at church I love a few times a week, or that I read my Bible.  There's been a longing.  There's been a searching.  There's been a desperation.  And He is answering it all.  It's fascinating.

The opportunities are increasing.  The understanding within me is deepening.  The reach of my love is stretching.  The ideas in my heart and mind are coming quickly and clearly.  It's as if God is saying, "Here.  Here is purpose and here is ability and here is love and here is knowledge and here is understanding and here is wisdom and soooooo much more."  I'm grabbing it up like shoes on a clearance rack and clinging to it like my life depends on it.  Because, somehow, I feel that it does.  It's fascinating.

I can't tell you where a page turned or why.  Everything isn't perfect, but I asked Him to show me what He sees, and suddenly, my faith feels strong and heart feels big and I'm just simply less afraid.  It's what He sees, and it's how He feels.  I can't seem to conjure up judgement about things that are none of my business.  I'm more patient with my children.  I have a mouth full of words that are giving life and peace to those who seek counsel from me.  I have filled hands that have been reaching out to the needy, to feed their literal hunger.  My heart has been crying out, and now it feels like it's overflowing.  

I've actually been staying quiet...as evidenced by the recent break from blogging.  I simply didn't know what to say.  I'm still not certain that I have the right words, but I decided I should try.  Not for me.  Not to boast of myself.  All I did was ask.  But, allow me a moment to boast about Him.  He answers.  He miraculously provides.  He isn't finished with the works He has begun.  He knows no lack and is ready to provide what we ask of him.

Ask.  Ask.  Ask.  What is it that you don't know if you can handle, but you want to ask anyway?  What is it that you need?  What is it that will make you feel like the rest of life doesn't even matter if you can just have that one little piece of Him?  Ask.  That craving that's in you, that insatiable desire, that wondering that keeps you awake at night...He put it there.  He is a fascinating God, but more interesting than that, He is fascinated with YOU.  He sings over you.  He intercedes for you.  He dances over you with joy.  If you are a parent, you know exactly how that feels.  You find yourself staring at your child, you trace that subtle curve of their profiles, you smell their hair, you touch their ears and kiss their toes.  You are fascinated by them.  Please, dear reader, put yourself in a child's place when you think of your heavenly Father.  He marvels over every detail of you, inside and out.  He wants you to have all of Him, but more than that, He wants you to WANT to have all of Him.  He wants you to crave Him, to desire Him, to wonder about Him.  When He sees that you DO, His heart is full.  His faith in you is strong.  He has no fear that you will leave Him.

Today's Prayer:
Sweet Daddy God,
How precious to know that you are fascinated by us.  How unimaginable to know that you want to offer your best qualities and attributes as undeserved mercies and grace in our lives.  Your favor is nothing short of miraculous.  Your blessings are nothing short of amazing.  Your love for us...well, it's fascinating.  Let us never overlook the reality that you have placed desires in our hearts that, once fulfilled, are our way of blessing You back!  Give us opportunities Lord, to honor You.  Shine on us and let us all see what you see.  Let us not be afraid to ask for a deeper portion, a stronger faith, a secret desire.  Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable unto You, Oh Lord, our God.  We love you.  Amen.

February 21, 2014

Healing Scriptures

I have several loved ones who are currently fighting a battle in their bodies.  My grandmother has long been a student of the Word of God, and has researched, taught, prayed and shared as a true Warrior for Him.  She recently shared these scriptures with me, and this is the perfect season to pass them on to all of you.  If you are in need of a healing of any kind, I know a guy.  He's passionate about us being well, because we have a purpose to fulfill.  Fight with your Faith and believe that healing is yours!

I am in agreement with you, even those who I've yet to meet.  I pray for my readers and I offer these scriptures to you today, to build you up and give you the extra measure of Faith you need to continue.

Healing Scriptures

Romans 8:31
What shall we then say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?

Psalm 103:3-4
Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.

Romans 4:17
in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.

Mark 11:23-24
For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore, I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Matthew 8:17
He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.

1 Peter 2:24
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

Isaiah 53:5
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Mark 1:41
Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing’ be cleansed.”

Acts 10:38
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

III John 1:2
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

John 10:10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Colossians 2:10
and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

Matthew 21:21-22
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

Proverbs 4:20-22
My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.

I John 5:14-15
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Acts 8:6-7
And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.

Today's Prayer:
Father, I thank you for the ultimate sacrifice you gave, allowing your son to be sacrificed, for the health and salvation of us all.  I pray now for my family and friends who are fighting frightening battles in their bodies.  I thank you that they have your peace which passes understanding as they undergo medical procedures.  Thank you that they are able to be a beacon of light in the midst of their circumstances.  Encourage them, Lord!  Send laborers across their paths who will be constantly interceding for them, as well as being there to personally lift them up.  Help us to trust in your TRUTH, Lord, and not to doubt your perfect will for a single second.  I join hands with my brothers and sisters and I lift up their arms when they feel weary.  Remind us of our purposes and give us the strength to fight!  In your holy name, Amen.

February 7, 2014

For the Shepherds. For the Sheep.

Grug Crood

Pastor David Houtsma

(Any resemblance shared between Grug Crood and my Pastor, David Houtsma, is purely coincidental.  But, seriously???  That's awesome!  And, it only helps to reinforce my point in this blog!)

Have you watched The Croods?  I mean, ahem, have your kids watched The Croods?  My little boy received the DVD as a Christmas gift and we watched it as a family.  In the film, there's a great deal of teen rebellion from a know-it-all daughter, but our family doesn't mind using those issues as a teaching moment, so all in all, we like the movie.

I haven't seen it in a few weeks, but for some reason, I began thinking about it this morning.  I was thinking about how protective the dad, Grug, is in the story.  His family thinks of him as over-the-top, too strict, unreasonably overprotective...and they're right.  He's REALLY determined to see his family live, and succeed, and have a future.  And to the best of his knowledge, his family comprises the only humans remaining in the world.  However, his daughter meets a Guy.  No seriously, the kid's name is Guy.  Guy is creative and brave and adventurous and...does not have any family of his own to tend to.  Guy has the time and energy to help the Croods.  The Crood family (with the exception of Daddy Grug) celebrates Guy and they readily follow him into situations that are completely NEW to them.  In fact, the other members of the family are SO deeply enamored by Guy and his ways, that Grug begins to see himself as worthless.  He knows how to keep his family safe.  He knows how to protect and how to grow them as a team and how to sacrifice his own meal to see that the family continues.  However, the daily life-saving of his family doesn't leave time for him to create fashionable clothing, or fast-moving vehicles, or just to have a lot of fun.  He has a calling.  It is important.  Without him doing what he's called to do, his family will fail.  They will scatter.  They will never get to their own callings.

Grug is like a shepherding pastor, protecting and tending his flock of sheep.

It isn't his job to be insanely creative.  It isn't his job to discover new ways to dye sheep's wool or to knit a sweater with it.  And, it isn't because he's incapable of being creative.  He has priorities.

His job is leading and guiding.  His job is fighting off those who would steal his sheep to bring harm to them.  He has a calling.  It is important.  Without him doing what he's called to do, his family of faith will fail.  They will scatter.  They will never get to their own callings.

If you ARE a pastor, prioritize what God has specifically called you to.  If a passion burns within you as a vision for your flock, but you don't know how to do it, it isn't YOURS to do.  Find the sheep/the member of your congregation who can be a team player.  Delegate those things that are important but that keep you from your focus.  

If you are a church member who sees a need in your church that you know how to fill, FILL IT!!!  If you're available, but not aware of the needs, ask your shepherd...or his wife.  They are undoubtedly a team with a vision and they know where you fit in the puzzle.

It is not a pastor's heart to micro-manage his people.  It's not his plan to direct your every step.  There is freedom in knowing the Lord, and there is freedom to make Him known.  Your pastor is there to shepherd you.  With shepherding comes guidance, protection, food and drink, and above all, Love.  Allow your pastor to love and guide you.  Seek wisdom and then heed it.  Follow through.  Serve in the capacity of your talents.  Help that vision to grow so that more and more lost sheep make it to their callings as well.

Today's Prayer:
Father, thank you for my pastor and for those who have pastored me throughout my life.  Thank you that you've placed leaders around me who have led well, families who have honored you and taught me how to lead, yet also how to serve.  Keep me mindful of your vision, your purpose for my pastor and his wife, and for the future of our church.  Help me to observe and act on the details that I know I can support, repair or maintain within our church family.  Thank you for giving me a heart that loves to help.  Help all of our pastors to be fully aware of their specific callings, giftings and anointings, and empower them to see those things through, whether by their own hands, or to know how and which things to delegate to those who have the time and resources to complete it.  Your joy is our strength and we are humbled to be able to serve you in our local churches, as we welcome your sheep into our lives.  Amen.

February 6, 2014

That Girl is on Fire!

Sing it with me now, "That girl is on Fiyahhhhh"!  (Thank you, Alicia Keys, for penning that song especially for the "Living the Good Life" blog over here.  Ok, maybe that isn't exactly why she wrote it, but...you never know.)

When I was growing up, our church youth group went to summer camp events called "Acquire the Fire".  We were taught about how we should all leave that camp "On fire for Jesus", "fired up about our salvation", "ready to let our light shine for the rest of the world"!!!  Oh, it was exciting.  And we were on fire.  And we were fired up.  And we were ready to let our lights shine.  Until Monday morning.  Something about walking those huge high school halls packed with intimidating teenagers, feeling unsure of exactly how and what to say...and then... Algebra class.  Well, let's face it, Algebra is of the devil and is a quick extinguisher of any deeply premeditated thoughts about sharing Jesus with the cheer captain.

I never knew where that term "fired up" or "on fire for Jesus" came from.  I actually never really thought about it, until tonight.  It's been one of those crazy days that I have somewhere around 5-6 days each week, and I didn't get a moment alone with the Lord (aka...the Bible app on my phone) until 7:50 tonight when I escaped the beautiful madness that is my family, and took a bath.  The "verse of the day" was somewhere in Luke, chapter 12, and it was a good one, but not anything that I felt enthralled about.  I opened the rest of the chapter and kept reading.  I read down to verse 49.  And I stopped.  And I read it again.

Luke 12:49 "I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it was already burning!"

Would you like to know who said that?  It wasn't a grumpy 2 year old.  It wasn't an angst-filled teen.  It was our own passionate, desperate savior.  That's right, folks.  Jesus said it.  Jesus came to set the world on fire and he wishes it was already burning.  That stops me in my tracks.

He's not here in person anymore.  He left that job to me.  I'm here as his representative.  I'm here as an embodiment of his purposes.  To continue what he began, as he lives in me and through me.  I'm here to set the world on fire.  And I wish it was already burning!  I wish I was already burning!

How complacent have I become?  How settled into my happy little life am I?  How deceived have I been to feel that I am accomplishing my full purpose by serving in my church and asking my occasional waitress how she's doing?  I gotta tell ya, at times, I disgust me.  My fire can start as a spark within my home, where my very literal mission field is in 5 perfect little faces that God has entrusted me with.  But it shouldn't stop there.  Fire is all-consuming.  It is relentless.  It is  raging and beautiful, all at once.  It can be contained, and set in a jar and it will bring some light to those in the room...but that's not what Jesus said.  That little candle on my kitchen counter is NOT setting the WORLD on fire.  My pleasantness and Christian meekness are NOT setting the WORLD on fire.

There is a strangeness within me.  (My children will agree to that statement wholeheartedly, but that's not the strange I'm referring to.)  I once had a woman say to me "There is STRONG in you."  It's an odd sounding statement, but I knew exactly what she meant.  My husband feels the same way.  Strange.  No matter what we're doing, no matter the job, the lifestyle, the ministry opportunity, it always feels to us like there is a MUCH bigger purpose and calling.  We serve with fervency and we are thrilled to do it, because we know that whatever we're doing and wherever we are, it's a training ground.  There is more for us, bigger for us, and we are NOT ready for it yet!  We are on a path, but we mustn't forget to set even that little PATH on fire!  Every step should leave a spark, every breath should fan a flame.  We have come to set the world on fire!

Does this sound familiar to you?  Is it convicting to you?  Does it make you think, "Ok, but where do I start?"  Start here:
Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Turn to his word.  Just like me, tonight, the first verse you read may not be the one that sparks something within you.  Keep reading.  Turn to Luke, or to John, or to wherever.  Let him send you a spark, or a raging inferno.  He's really good at deciding which one you're ready for.

Jesus walked this earth with a purpose.  And he never intended to do it alone.  Will you join me?

Today's Prayer:
Holy Father, thank you for sharing your desperation with me tonight.  Hold my feet to your flame, Lord.  Touch your coal to my lips, and cleanse me.  Purify me, burning out all that displeases you, or does not bring you honor.  I yearn for you, I desire to continue to burn for you.  Let me light up a room with YOUR presence.  Keep me from any pride that would not boast your name.  There is strong in me.  You have a wise, perfect plan for me.  Keep me on the path that leads me to fulfillment of your purpose.  I love you.  Amen.

February 3, 2014

Leaning In.

My seasons are changing.  Not like, "a new thing is on the way and it's SO exciting".  More like, the new thing is that my roots are growing deep and things are settling in...for what feels like the first time.

I've been married for almost 15 years.

I haven't been pregnant in 7 years.

The kids are preparing to begin their soccer season, and ballet classes.

I already know what we're doing for school next year.

I know where we're going on vacation this summer.

I know what I'll be driving for many years to come.

I know what color I'm going to paint the guest room.

I know.

Does it sound crazy to say that all of this is actually very exciting to me?  I feel grown up.  I feel confident.  I feel like I can be still.  Be still and know.  It's odd for me, because I like change.  I like to rearrange the furniture, I like to repaint the walls, I like to go new places, I love to taste new flavors.  But lately, I just like being home, being still.  Now, mind you, I'm only 36 years old, so I don't want this to sound like I'm throwing in the towel and sitting in a rocking chair, watching the years go by!  I'm entering some very busy seasons, but for the first time, maybe EVER, I just feel peaceful.  I'm able to be still even while I'm going.  I'm leaning into my God, leaning into my family, leaning into my church, leaning into an awareness of the needs around me.

Psalm 46:10  "Be still and know that I am God.  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world."

How can I honor Him if I'm always moving at lightning speed?  I like to say that I'm learning to live at the speed of love.  I can't honor my God, myself, my family, my church, or anyone else, if I'm just running around and filling my life with meaningless things.  All of these relationships are so precious, so very important, that I MUST take the time and make the time to observe them, to lean into them, to let them fill the places in me and in my life that I have purposely decluttered, just for them.

Did you catch that phrase?  "Purposely declutter" your life.  I'm not referring to that cabinet under the bathroom sink.  You'll get to that eventually, so stop beating yourself up over it.  I'm talking about the things in your life that you really could do without.  Maybe it's a TV show, maybe it's time on Facebook or even just reading something that isn't uplifting to your life.  Whatever it is, would you set it aside if you knew that it gave you an opportunity to lean in?  A chance to honor your God, by the way you treated His children?

The truth is, this isn't just a new season for me.  It's a new season for all of us.  Choose your season.  Choose to be still and know what it is that honors our Father.  Choose to declutter, to make space in your life for one new thing right now.  One new relationship.  One new volunteer service.  One new way to love yourself.

Today's Prayer:
Sweet Father, thank you for your patience with me as I traverse the many hills and valleys that I call life.  You've been so good to me and you know me best.  Help me to know you better.  Help me to be still and know that you are God.  That you have my best interest at heart.  Give me peace in my purpose.  Open my eyes to reach out to those who are in my steady path, my everyday life.  Show me their needs and then show me how to meet them.  Fill my hands with prosperity and blessing so that I can easily offer it when I see an empty hand.  I want to honor you.  I want to represent a nation of those who love you, and who send your love throughout the world.  Help me to declutter this busy life, and to recognize those things that hinder me.  Give me courage to reach out.