Sunday, September 12, 2010

Glass Houses and a FULL Heart

Romans 5:8 (The Message) "6-8Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him."

I am not only a word girl, I'm a theme girl, patterns, themes, threads, and the like. It's how God speaks to me and teaches me. I am sure I'm not unique in that. Our church family has had a series of messages lately born out of real life experiences living out God's word, in lives of our Pastors and in our congregation.

Through it all, a whisper in our ears is shouting "Love them, love them, love them, like I have loved you! Don't give up, don't be turned off, don't walk away, don't shut the door, don't hang up. have I ever walked away from you? Have I ever turned away from YOU?"

After reading Pam's Face Book post today, and hearing the pastor's message and news today in my home church, I am thrilled to see the Holy Spirit (of course) leading those who are willing to be led all over our country (and I am sure the world as well, it's just the right now, our own country gives me enough to pray about! :) to be willing to engage the messy, the difficult, the unpredictable, the unlovely, the untamed-never gonna be tamed.

Before you say, "Awww, that is good. Jesus loves - so should we." Well yes, true enough. And in theory that is wonderful and pretty. But, in practice - it is messy! People are quirky. I know I am, and I LOVE my family dearly, but each member is quirky, too. And though we all love Jesus in my immediate family, into every life a little mess will come from time to time. Never doubt it!

Jesus' ministry had it's messes
, and it certainly was through no fault of His. His family seemed to struggle with their perception of him, having grown up with Him. His disciples, good as they were, jockeyed for position. Judas betrayed Him, and stole from the ministry. His closest ones let Him down in His darkest hour.

Recently the Lord put something in our Pastor's heart
, that for the people and the churches who would, there would be great opportunities to reach people. People who are in all different stages, unchurched and unsaved, backslid, offended, dissatisfied...in this world that is ....whooooweeee...under some serious birth pains, people who ARE thirsty for the Living Waters, ARE hungry for the Bread of Life...need to be able to find people who live in glass houses, just like them. They live in glass houses, and they KNOW they live in glass houses and wouldn't throw a stone for anything (or at least it is their heart's desire to not throw stones and they would quickly repent should they stumble). People who not only are aware they are fallen and redeemed Christians, with no claim to fame, except that Christ died and rose again for them and saved them from themselves, and filled their heart's with love. Love that makes them humble (not smug) and not willing that any should perish, for lack of having the opportunity to meet people filled with Christ. If they can't find that in the church - I ask you, where will they go?

In a world that is shaking,
can people find some other people who are are grounded in Christ? In a world that is obsessed with fame and superficial relationships, can people find some other people who care what The Lord thinks, much, much more than what man thinks. People who actually, actually listen to the answer of the question "How are you?" and don't try to instantly "fix" them, rather they LISTEN to them, love them and do not serve them platitudes. Sometimes a kind listening heart and a hug and a smile does a heart good!

People who won't whisper, won't roll their eyes. People who at least will be sorry when they do, and say so, and then try, try again to let God's love flow through them to others!

Mercy is messy. Success isn't sanitary. But it IS worth it ALL!

Thanks for letting me share some of my thoughts with you all. I pray your week brings you words from our King! Strength to keep on! Love to overcome and endure! and MUCH Joy!
Maria

1 John 3:2-3 "Beloved, we are [even here and] now God's children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall [as God's children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is. And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure (chaste, undefiled, guiltless).

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Listening, Loving, Believing

I LOVE Photobucket! I'm at a place where I have to choose my words carefully. But, feel the prompting, the nudging, to put my thoughts here today. This picture is titled Solitude. To me it shows the warmth of The Father's glowing, golden love and light for us...coupled with the sometimes occurring lowering, heavy dark clouds. You are not sure if it's your sunny day or not. But, you know He is with you in any event. You can't see much of, or far into, the horizon, But this one thing you hold onto, the horizon may look hidden from you, but, His light, His love, is warmer and more powerful, and reaches further and is positioned BEYOND the horizon and reaches PAST it, and BEYOND you. You are surrounded by His love and His good plans for your life. Like Frodo and Sam, you must keep putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward. Listen to His softly spoken words. Love Him, Thank Him, BELIEVE. Believe that though the way may not be clear, left foot, right foot will get you there, as you trust in His work to be completed in your life.

I am thankful for Photobucket, for the power His warm and golden love in us and for us, for the knowledge and the FACT that though the horizon may be dim and hidden, His loving light knows it and is positioned to illuminate it, at just the proper time! I am thankful for blogging and how writing heals me, strengthens me and begins to cause the horizon to lighten, as it seems to draw some of that golden light through the horizon and to me. I am thankful that my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. I'm thankful for Grace Alone, where you may go to find many more thanks to comfort you and provide light for your path, or you can add some of your own!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Job's Wife


"Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die." Off the top of my head, four of the most despicable people in the Bible are (in no particular order): Cane, Jezebel, Judas, and Job's wife.

I had a thought today, I thought to myself that Job's wife was very likely in peri-menopause, that lovely stage of life where you don't suffer fools easily, are prone to take no prisoners, and realize that time is running out. It'd be a bad time, real bad time to have all heck break loose in your life. I'm not going to offer science or deep truths here. Just the facts as I know them...as we experience this season of life, it is important to know ourselves, our limitations and weaknesses and submit them to God and His leadership of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 12) If regular sleep helps, do it. If fresh air helps do it. Healthier eating helps, do that too, exercise in all it's varied forms, from gardening to the tred mill, don't overlook what can help keep you grounded and on the right track. Prayer is a given. The Word is a given. Quiet time - given. Fellowship with other believers - you got it, a given.

For me all those things I have learned about myself, and I recognized over this weekend I was at the 4-7 day span of time that for me occurs every 23-24 days, where I DISlike people, Face Book, people, and The Big W! (Yep, I mentioned people twice, it's worth repeating!)

Today as I left The Big W, and tried to navigate the ridiculous obstacle course of places where vehicles are to stop for other cars and pedestrians, I realized I would rather go hungry than EEEVVVEERRR go back to The Big W, yet, I also know, that I will most likely be back there in just a few short days.

Know yourself, KNOW Your Lord! Hold on! Breathe, Seasons pass! Until then pray, give thanks, chew the Word, eat your chocolate, and smell the sunshine!

Love,
Maria

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Choosing

Hey, Everybody! Many of you already know that my oldest, James came to live with us for a little while at the beginning of the year. He needed to prepare for his military entrance test to get a good score, and also to spend some time with family while he waited for the date to come for him to be sent to boot camp. Now days they only have so many dates in a year and his date is next Sunday. He married while here and leaves for the Army next Sunday.

We have loved on him and made memories, celebrated his successes, his birthday, and watched him get married. We pray and believe this is his vocation, and as such trust that God's equipping and his hard work will cause him to flourish and be a good provider for his bride
That's our oldest. This time last year, our youngest was planning to enlist this year under the Army's delayed entry program. Then life threw him a curve and he saw an old friend, actually the sister of a friend in a new light! When Jason and Becca started picturing their future, it looked like maybe the military would perhaps wait for a couple years, while he worked and she went to college. As the fall approaches though, Jason got itchy feet. Ready to work, sweat, invest in his future for himself and for Becca.




Tuesday morning as I be-bopped around the house content and peaceful, with an eye towards the future, I heard a terrible news story. The Iranians had provocatively announced they have dug mass graves for American soldiers, in case they need them. There were pictures, but, I won't honor them with such attention. It disturbed me, even though, I understand that's the only reason they did it, they WANT us to be disturbed. What REALLY disturbed me was when our youngest, Jason came to me and said, Becca and I have talked and I'm going to enlist with this month, they won't send me until January or later (he turns 18 in January). I'm so excited, ready to do this.

I smiled, and was very quiet. Once we had said all the appropriate things to each other I went to my bedroom and cried and sobbed and sobbed some more! Texted my husband, he called from the school he was in, and then scrubbed all the bathrooms shiny clean!

I kept thinking of how young he was, what I was having to let go of as far as thoughts for the coming year. Did I mention how young he was? I admit to thinking our Commander in Chief was not worthy of our fine young men, but, then I am sure we are not the first to feel that way. And that's not why they serve. As Christians they serve as unto the Lord, or should, and as Americans they serve as unto their country, with honor, pride and love.

I thought of the ugly truth of how surrounded by enemies that America is right now. Never have we been so isolated, so precariously perched. Lord help us. Lord, may we be worthy of Your help.

By the evening I was over my vapors, well and good. I came to realize that this was a new reality, and I will now cry at odd moments when I would never have done so before, and I don't know when that won't be true. But, I am not gloom and doom, it is just a tenderhearted recognition of the reality that life is wild, short and powerful...each moment matters so much, is to be highly valued and treasured. The three main men in life, my husband, and our two sons spent the evening in the living room that night. Father and youngest looking up the appropriate MOSs for Jason to choose from, discussing pros and cons. Oldest son nearby chiming in. I was in the room, but just keeping myself occupied so I would not spoil this important time between them.
We all went to bed happy, hopeful and at peace. With faith for the future that The Lord was and IS indeed at work in and through us. As Jerry and I prepared for bed, he told me that Jason asked him to go to the recruiters with him. This was HUGE for both of them. We both acknowledged the great progress that The Lord had made in a short period of time in us all, because this had been a point of contention this past spring. God is so faithful.

As I went to bed and woke up my mind and heart had a bit of a struggle over whether I would remember that the day Jason told us he was enlisting, was the day the Iranians showed pictures of and announced mass graves for American soldiers, or rather, would I remember that the day Jason told us, he asked his Father to go to the Recruiter's with him and they had a great evening together with James, a night we will always remember. I guess you can see what I have decided to choose by the photos of this year I have shared with you today.

Life as I know it is in the process of an incredible transformation, but that pales in comparison to what life is preparing to do in their lives. As we in our family navigate, I am seeking to keep our eyes and hearts and minds on Jesus. How about you? I am sure many of you are facing uncertainty, challenges. You can CHOOSE what you will focus on. Choose life, not death! God bless!

Much love, Ya'll!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh, How I Love To Be in the Top of the Tree!!

Yesterday was one of those days where you are surrounded by reality that is contrary to what you are settling for, contrary to what will be in the future, contrary to what you would like to be enjoying at this point in life. Such is life! :) Thankfully, as people of faith, we are not limited to current circumstances, there is a reason for our hope, His Word does NOT return void, He is the Author and Finisher of our faith! His Word is alive! And it's powerful. Powerful to speak, to believe and to bring change. Change in us, in our loved ones, in our circumstances.

As my husband went to work last night, I retreated to my bedroom, to lick my wounds and dial spiritual 911. I knew the truth, I just was too besieged to speak it and I needed a grounded, faithful spiritual warrior. I Face Book messaged her and she didn't fail me! It is so important to have a few sisters in Christ to love and support and to love and support you! So grateful for strong Godly women!

Just reaching out to her, somehow made my spirit stir. By the time I heard back from her I was already starting to turn a corner (or climb a tree - I'll explain later!) By the time I went to bed late last night, I was in a much better place. When I woke up, I continued to poke and prod to see what the Spirit had for me to run with for the day, I prayed, and prayed and did my morning routine and God of course did not fail. He imparted revelation and exhortation to me. And I would like to share part of it with you!

Today, like little Zacchaeus (Luke 19) had to climb a tree to see Jesus (because all the people were in the way...hmmm, that's a whole OTHER post!), I've got a better perspective, AND focus! Jesus REALLY does make ALL the difference. He's the point, the edge, and the advantage. Because He matters, and because He IS, ALL these other things ALWAYS DO work out for our good (Romans 8:28). The good thing about my age is the ability to look back and SEE how He really DOES have a good plan and purpose, and even though we DO get in the way at times, and this fallen world tries and for a season sometimes appears to impede us...God is in the LONG game --- doing something FAR greater than we can think of!!

Bottom line? Stir up your gift of faith! Seek God while He may yet be found, reach out to a fellow warrior! Remind yourself of His faithfulness in the Word and in your life! Climb that tree so you can see Jesus! Just like Zacchaeus! Remember what Jesus told him once He spotted him up there? First HE went home with him (that'll preach!) THEN He told him that salvation came TODAY to his household, I looked it up, it means just what you think, all the members! I don't want to hear theology about this. I just want the Word! Thank you! Just Jesus! :)

Much love, Ya'll!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One of the Two


Today was and is a special day. Father's Day is a unique time to honor the men who are in our lives, and The Father who made us and gave us eternal life. I am grateful to my GrandDaddy who went home to be with the Lord when I was 17. To his Daddy (my Great GrandDaddy) who died when I was a little girl. To my Daddy, to the father's of two of my best friends. Because they had such a good impact on me. I am IMMENSELY thankful for my husband and the father that he is!

One of the first things I learned as a young Christian, was that our perceptions of God, Our Father, are influenced greatly by our fathers here in life, in the natural. This is an obstacle for many, and that makes me sad. I have to say, it was 1 of my saving graces. Because my Dad, was and is a remarkable man in so many ways. He's a man's man. Guys like working for him, bosses respected him, trusted him, but often didn't "like" him (which is highly overrated by the way, but that's a post for another day!). Bosses knew he was going to say what needed to be said. He was going to stand for what was right, and treat his men at the plant where he worked, the right way, the way he would like to be treated. That doesn't always make you popular with the higher ups! Women always liked him, because he was and is a gentleman, courteous, kind and courtly. Children liked him because he wasn't gruff or scary, always had a smile and a kind word, and he just had a way to make them feel better when he was around.

The qualities I want to focus on here though are his loyalty, integrity and pride (the good kind). My Dad, if he had a fault, it would be his loyalty. Whom he befriends, he sticks with, good times and bad. What he says he will do, he'll do, regardless of the personal cost. And his pride would be that you KNOW this about him, that you can TRUST him to do what he says he will do. Sound familiar? These qualities have made me able to identify with this part of God's character and nature in a way that shapes my worldview and faith. My God is TRULY not a God that He should lie.

The other way today was special was that my dear friend's only sister, my good friend, and the sister-in-law of my Pastor, as well as being the Praise and Worship Pastor of our church family, came to church today. It was her first time in almost a month. One day she was fine, the next day she was dizzy while driving and hit a parked car while trying to park and get her bearings. Rescue wanted her to get checked out, which turned into having an MRI, which turned into a CAT scan (and if I have that backwards, please forgive me). This turned into cutting open her skull and removing a ping pong ball size tumor, not in her brain but just behind her ear towards the crown of her head. Surgery was very successful. Biopsy brought bad news. Glioblastoma. The most aggressive sort of brain cancer. I won't type the words of what that diagnosis means in the natural, scientifically. You can Google it.

She came and it was so good to see her and at the same time made your heart contract. How can someone who was the picture of health all the way to the 31st of May, by the 2nd of June have something go terribly awry?

After a great Father's Day service, Pastor let Owana come up to speak to us. Her husband gently and carefully led her up on the platform. She carefully spoke, and it hurt to hear how difficult it was for her to speak to us. But what she had to say...priceless. All glory to God. She led with the fact that she was glad that she was already a worshipper before she got sick, because she can honestly say and we know it's true, that she doesn't just worship to get well, She worships Him because He is Worthy! She said a few other things, very powerful. She even made us laugh (which is typical) but, mostly we cried and Amened. And at the end she turned to her daughter (who led worship today, and was on the piano) "Can you give me an 'F"?" and she actually opened her mouth and sang (beautifully, it was easier for her to sing than speak it sounded like - just shows her gift!) leading us in worship, in the song that she has always said this as a description of herself. "I vow to worship, through the good and the bad, I vow to worship, whether happy or sad. I vow to worship in all that we go through, Because praise is what I do, and I owe it all to You."

During service (I had hugged her before service) I would have periods during Praise and Worship where I was strong in faith and periods where I would just take the hurt and the pain of seeing the conditions she struggles with, I would take that to God and remind Him that I do trust Him, He is able. And He is willing. But my dilema was "Lord, it 's so much, it's so big, the statistics are awful. She's so fragile right now." Just being honest, Ya'll. All in my head, would never have spoken it out loud.

On the way home, as Jason drove, I thought to the Lord, in my mind about all this. What to take away from what we had just been privelged to witness. Here is what I felt the Lord impressing me with. The story of the 12 spies. They were honored, privleged to go scout out the Promised Land. However, 10 of them came back with an evil report. Rather than believe their Mighty God to make good on His Word, to give them that PROMISED LAND, and give them the victory over the enemy there, they chose instead to believe the giants were too big for them, and the walled cities too much. I received what He put in my spirit right away and without question. My response was and is, "Lord, let me always be 1 of those 2 spies, that believe You for the victory, for the Promised Land, for the enemy driven out! For Family Worship Center, the enemy is Glioblastoma, the Promised Land is Owana whole, healthy and leading us in Praise and Worship, and we willl already never be the same again."

"And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said "Let us go up at once, and possess it, for we are WEll ABLE TO OVERCOME IT." Numbers 13:30

I know what you are probably thinking, "But, Maria, sometimes God's plan doesn't mean recovery, sometimes at least not full recovery, in any case, He is good always, healing or no." and to that I would say, God IS ALWAYS GOOD. Always. I just know that it is a matter of honor to Him for me to believe Him for the whole thing and love Him no matter the outcome, that's why it's called FAITH! The phrase He has put in my spirit and DARED me to believe Him for is "In it to Win it". That's all I will believe for, why insult Him with anything less than who He has shown Himself to be to me? I already know that the outcome will be more beautiful and unfathomable than anything I could imagine or picture, so I am just believing Him for the best, our Promised Land, Owana healthy and whole!

Happy Father's Day, Ya'll!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's the Deal?

Well, almost as soon as I got high speed Internet I had to start sharing my laptop with the youngest son...as you can imagine, that doesn't leave lots of time for me to put thoughts together and grab photos and such, as the time I would most likely do that, is the same time he would most likely be on the net! But it is well with my soul! I haven't minded at all. Missed this, but, it felt good to share and not begrudge. Weird what love can do! Too bad I don't have that all the time!

Well, more and more I have been wanting to get back on here and viola, today I made it happen! And in my explorations I ruined my layout/design! It took so much time to fix that now I have to sign off until maybe...perchance, could it be that I might get to WRITE tomorrow? You know I can ONLY fit just so much on Face Book! :)

Love you all! And pray for you often!