Category Archives: Journalings of my life

I Love You More & I Choose You

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photo credit @Fathers Heart Ranch

*******I wrote this post towards the end of 2012 and realized this morning that I never published it because it was choppy and still needed lots of editing. And as I read it this morning I realized I have to post this before I share what has transpired over the past 24 hours. So I’m going against all the writing rules and sharing this with you- sometimes when you share your heart it’s not going to be perfect and clean.. it will be messy. So here’s my messy, transparent heart from 3 years ago. Updated blog post to follow. ***

I put out my final holiday (fall) decor, before possibly moving out of our home. It’s been wonderful living in a brand new 2 story, spacious home. We have really enjoyed it. But sometimes, when God places a dream on your heart, you will have to lay some things down in order to see the bigger picture. We’re laying down our positions as Children’s Pastors which has in some strange way been a part of our identity for more than 15 years. We are going to be without a set paycheck starting in January, and will be pursuing our Fathers heart, Father’s Heart Ranch. That being said, we will be putting our new home for sale, moving in with my in laws, and.. pulling our kids out of private Christian School to home school for a season (we think). Are we crazy? Quite possibly.

After a recent talk with our children about the possible changes, my daughter approached my husband in the kitchen. “Why can’t we just be like other normal people and just work at the same place and live in the same house and go to the same school forever?” Her question was innocent enough. Kind of made me chuckle- normal people. Huh. And then my husband told her that sometimes in order to follow God, there will be things we will have to sacrifice. We always seem to want God to drop this huge thing in our life, but are we really able to give up our lives to follow after Him?

My boys will have to move away from a neighbor that is like a brother to them (Carlos). Joel has the best little friends he’s ever had and will not be able to see them everyday anymore. My daughter has a best friend she is inseparable with. I love living one house down from my brother and sister in law and baby niece. We go for the occasional walk, we drive to the gym together 3 times a week (at 5:30 am), we are always exchanging coffee, cheese, or sugar. And I love our neighborhood- it’s all new.

And as all of my crafty friends are working on fun things from Pinterest for their home, I can’t right now. No more adding holes in the wall, no painting fun designs from those cute Martha Stewart stencils. No more worrying about trying to decorate my naked wall. In a matter of months, everything will be put into storage.

I’ve always wondered if I had minor ADD, but these particular changes have sent my brain into overdrive, where I actually feel like I’m getting less done than more. This is my brain on change: Ranch, speaking, media kit, writing, kickstarter, boxes, home-school, moving, kids choir, kids choir (see?!), kids church, my children, curriculum, teaching, homework, meals, writing (or lack there of), Jesus, help me… You see what I’m saying here? Over load. 🙂

And my mother in law was a teacher for over 15 years and at different points in their lives home-schooled her kids. My sister in law was an amazing teacher. I think if I need it, my support is there. Honestly, I heard very clearly from Him that this home school season wasn’t just about finances, it was about their hearts. I feel I’m fighting for their hearts.This is a part of our story.

And no one told my husband to quit his job, or told us to sell our house. We are just realistic and know it’s going to take some laying down of things to get there. Some sacrifices. And really, if we didn’t sacrifice anything, then our level of gratitude wouldn’t be very high. Cool- Got a ranch. Right on. But, man, when you give up something- to follow after what God is calling you to, how much sweeter will the reward be? How much more do we appreciate something God has done, when we allowed Him to take us through the process of building our faith. And that’s where we’re at. Faith is being built. We believe that God has been preparing us our entire lives for this (that will be a whole other blog) and this is way bigger than us.

So, are we crazy? Maybe. This is part of our story that God is writing for our whole family. It’s bigger than us. And I believe it will not only cause our faith to increase, but many others- to start believing God truly is who He says He is. This is a chapter that will have lots of stickie notes and yellow highlighter on it. The pages will be worn. But the story will be worth it.

What about you? What dreams has God placed on your heart? A dream is like a relationship. Sometimes, It can be kind of scary to open your heart back up if you’ve been hurt or let down by the way things turned out. But I believe God has placed it deep with in us to dream- and that our dreams are things that will bring Him glory and further the kingdom- deep desires, tucked away beneath our hearts. Ask Him today to show you if there’s something still locked up in the chambers of your heart that you’re afraid to let out. What if people laugh? What if people think you’re crazy? Or (and this is big) what if we thought we heard from God and put it all out there, and God didn’t show up? What if….. Just remember dear ones, God is always using our situations for the good as we keep our hearts on him (and continually, ask Him to check our hearts & motives). Romans 8:28- And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.    

So here goes everything, we’re diving in- keeping our eyes firmly focused on Him, trusting in faith that He has good things planned for us and will cause our faith to grow even more through all of this.

Mark 9:23- “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Yes, do it Lord.

My Prayer…

Lord, I love you more. I love you more than this temporary discomfort. I love you more than wanting to decorate and fix up my house. I love you more than wanting to stay comfortable and in the same place. I love you more than the need to buy new things or buy clothes. I love you more than this world although I will be the first to admit I am often lulled in at the first sight of color and the smells of seasons. At times I give in to the lie that “this new item is all I need” when I know you are vying for my heart. I choose you- even though the distractions are loud and they come from every direction. I choose you. It’s a daily choice. But since you are the author of this story, every time I try to take the pen, will you gently remove the pen out of my hand, and allow your Holy Spirit to write a far better story than any I can write.

I choose you.

Brave Retreat/Brave Journal

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“I don’t feel very brave,” was a comment I found myself hearing more and more. I speak. I haven’t spoken a ton, but more and more doors have been opening lately. I feel really blessed. And I also along with the feelings of joy and nervousness meshed together, I feel fear. I use to wonder how can something I absolutely know I’m called to do make me so anxious. And then it clicked. A calling isn’t a feeling. It’s something we know, something that’s been confirmed in our hearts and spirit that we’re supposed to be doing. And honestly, if I waited to feel brave (courageous) before I did anything- well, I wouldn’t do very much. Being brave isn’t a feeling. Let me repeat that in case you’re just waking up… brave isn’t a feeling. Brave is something you do.

I was invited to speak at a church this month in New York. I’ve known about this opportunity for a while and had much time to prepare and pray. I felt ready- yet still not feeling particularly brave. But I know it’s what I’m supposed to do. And I stepped out into the deep waters. I left behind the shallow shores and was obedient. And here’s the thing- I loved it. I really did! But I still get nervous and have to silence the enemy’s voice daily. All the ‘what-ifs’ swirl through my head: “What if I look at my notes too much?”, “What if it’s too serious?”, “What if Gods anointing doesn’t show up?”  And I have to get back into His Word and remind myself of His promises. That song by Bethel is right on, He Makes me Brave. It’s His Word and His presence and His voice inside of me that makes me step out and have courage (bravery).

I am still reveling about the ‘Be Your Best Brave’ Women’s Retreat. God reminded me during that time that my job is to be obedient and step out. That’s it. And He takes over. He’s just looking for a willing and obedient vessel- willing to step out into the deep, regardless of our feelings. Brave is definitely not a feeling.

But even more than just seeing God bring me through and confirm the call, He touched my heart through these women. These women that I was sent to encourage, encouraged me. Leaving that retreat, I was encouraged more than anything to be my best brave in the area of my family- my first ministry. And these aren’t major things here people, but they are important! These are things like making sure I’m available more to my kids, especially the evenings & weekends and being fully present (intentional). Taking care of my house, making it a peaceful home, not a cluttered, chaotic home. Being more of help mate for my husband. Sometimes I’m so focused on encouraging other people, I forget my husband and kids need it most from me. One girl said her husband is in the navy and they just moved (again), and she’s not working and people keep asking her, “So, did you find a job yet.” Or they ask her, “So, what do you do?” God was asking her, “What if your only job was to take care of your home and your husband and be the best (brave) wife that you could be?” In other words, if that was her only ministry at this moment, could God be enough for her in that? I just sat there, totally blown away by her heart.
‘Brave Girls Wait’ really hit home with a lot of the women. Some are feeling restless, wondering what’s next. I talked about what it looked like to wait on the Lord. Waiting isn’t sitting around eating bon-bons while waiting for Jesus to fly in and deliver our next mission. Waiting for us is a verb. It means reading His Word, studying His Word, journaling and writing down what He’s speaking to us, spending time in our prayer closets, turning up the praise & worship and just worshiping Him. That is our Brave Wait. And not feeling guilty about it, you know, about not knowing what’s next. It’s all part of the plan. Allow yourself to wait on the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart (or change your desires to line up with His desires).

Last story (there are so many, I could write for days). One sweet girl was a new Christian. She said she realized that she’s been dating guys because she’s attracted to their parents. What I mean is, she has some abandonment issues with her biological parents and if she was dating a guy that maybe wasn’t so good to her, but she loved the parents, she might stick around longer. She craved that parental attention. And as we were all talking, in comes Mrs. P. Mr’s P and I could relate because of something that happened to both of us in our past. I really like Mrs. P. An older woman, very loving and kind and nurturing. She looked at this young girl, who so desperately needed a mother figure in her life and said, “Would you let me love you and be that for you?” Who does that?! Tears fell (from all of us!) and she said, “Will you let me just hug you.” And as they embraced I felt like God was pouring out His healing balm all over this young girls heart. And I later told Mrs.P, “You are my hero.” (and she said she didn’t feel like a hero, because we never do, do we?) Something I told the ladies that weekend was this- “The place of your greatest pain will be the place of your greatest ministry.” Mrs. P lives this out every day.

Thank you ladies for causing my heart to overflow with love, gratitude, and joy!

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This retreat in a few words….

To God be all the glory.

He makes us Brave.

 

 

 

 

Now for my special announcement if you haven’t heard already!!!! Our Be Your Best Brave Journal!!!

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In March, the Lord gave me a theme for this year. I journaled my little heart out, researching brave songs, brave scriptures, brave definitions, and brave quotes. And then I had an idea. We all do things everyday that are brave for us. I wrote my most popular blog ever, ‘Be Your Best Brave‘ (realizing that this topic struck a chord for a lot of us). The Lord was moving me to do things that were brave for me. They might not have necessarily been brave for someone else, but they were brave for me. And I wanted a special place to document my brave, where it wouldn’t just get lost in the lines of my journal. That way, whenever I was feeling especially timid and not very brave, or discouraged, feeling like I should be farther along in my journey, I could go back and see see how the Lord has made me brave and He has me in my journey, right where I need to be. From that place was birthed my Brave Journal. And I have to say- this is me stepping out and being brave. At no point did I feel qualified or that I am the final authority on being brave. It’s me stepping out and being obedient. I could not have done it without my husband (who typed in everything for me and made sure the format was correct and supported me) and my crazy talented graphic designer Jen Wagner who did all the brave graphics throughout this journal and the cover. I was able to finish this journal in time for my Brave Retreat and was so excited to get them in the hands of many ladies. It is my prayer that you would get this journal, and get them into the hands of your friends, daughters, aunts, sisters- and I even made these journals gender neutral for guys too! If you’re local, I am doing a book signing at Starbucks (on Morrison) on Sunday Nov. 2nd from 4-6pm, or I can sign and ship directly to you. Private message me your address and how many you want, or you can just order them directly from Amazon! (Oh, and if you’ve started yours, can you pretty please go to Amazon to leave a review… this really helps a sister out!) Or you can order direct from the publishing company CreateSpace.

My friend just received hers last week and this is what I told her-

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Honesty, when I run, when I speak, when I write and spill my guts, when I clean the house sometimes, I don’t do it because its easy and I just happen to have all this free time. Hahaha… no. I do it because Greater is He that is in me, and the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. And because He makes me brave!!

So go get your Brave on!!! And get your Brave Journals!! If you’re interested in me selling them at an event or a craft fair, doing a signing, or me bringing them and speaking at your group (Mops, church brunch/event, women’s event), just use the contact form on my website.

Let’s all go out and not only be our own best brave, but encourage others to be their own best brave too!!!  And when you share your stories of you doing something brave (stepping out of your comfort zone) please hashtag #BeYourBestBrave on facebook, twitter, or Instagram so I can find you being Brave and we can all encourage each other!

Your Best Brave is on the other side of your fear.

Be Brave. Be Strong. Don’t Give up. Expect God to get here soon.

Psalms 31:24 (MSG)

 

I’m 40

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It’s not getting older that scares me. I’m actually okay with that. Do you want to know what really scares me? It’s getting to the end of my race and not making a difference in peoples lives. We were born to make a difference.

Had a light bulb moment today. My husband sent me off to Barnes & Noble for my 40th birthday (he is a good man). I’m driving along the freeway in my mini-van listening to the radio and an old familiar song came on. Just like certain foods can stir up a childhood memory, a familiar song can also bring about an emotion. ‘I don’t want to go through the motions’ by Matthew West. I was reminded of a few years back singing this song with such passion and conviction. And even as the years have passed, I hear it fresh all over again. I don’t want to go through the motions. I don’t want to get through another 5 years and ask myself if I’ve made a difference. Since it’s my 40th birthday today and I consider this a milestone, I have chosen to take some time to self-reflect.

I have been to my share of funerals and weddings over the past few years. I leave both feeling inspired- A celebration of the beginning together and a celebration of a life well lived. It’s the life well lived part that has been swirling around in my brain lately. And let’s just say (hypothetically) I live until around 80ish. Folks, I’m around the halfway mark. I want my life to matter. I want my life to make a difference. And what I’ve come to realize over the years is that we need to imagine how we see our lives in another 20, 25, 30 years down the line and envision what we hope people will say about us and begin to live it today.

Here’s my list that holds me accountable for how I ought to be living today. Some of these things I’m already doing and some of them I’m not. I encourage you to write your own list because if affects how you choose to live each day.

 These are words I hope will be spoken at the end of my race (or perhaps just a birthday party when I’m much older) from my kids, my husband, my friends, and my family:

She put God first.

She inspired me to live for God.

She would always talk about God- not her religion, but her relationship with Him.

She wasn’t perfect, and she showed me that it’s okay to not be perfect.

She showed unconditional love.

We always knew that we were loved.

She was always there for us. We knew we were important to her.

She didn’t take herself too seriously.

She made me laugh.

She enjoyed the journey.

She was real.

She did things even if they scared her.

She pursued God for herself and for her family.

She was so encouraging.

She lived an authentic, vulnerable life.

Her stories made it okay to tell my stories.

She would always steer me back to God’s Word.

Even when she didn’t know how things would turn out, she trusted God.

She always tried to be there for me.

She was a great listener.

She used the gifts God gave her for His glory.

I don’t want to go through the motions. As I was driving in the car, listening to my song, I said, “God, I just want to make a difference, whatever that looks like for me.” I want to push myself and do things I’m afraid of, so that others would be challenged and inspired to truly live this life to the fullest, being all that they were called to be. I want to leave a legacy. I want to be a lover of life. I want to stay amazed at the miracle of life and the miracles that are in our everyday.

We are called to be a light and make a difference. I don’t want to wake up in 20 years with regrets of what I wished I had done. I want to do it- even if it scares the snot out of me. Romans 8:31- What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

So what’s going to be my focus in the coming years? Well, spending time with the Lord of course, but after that? People. Because I believe that just like time with the Lord is never wasted time, time with people is also never wasted time. And honestly, people make my life rich. I love my husband, my kids, my family, and my friends so much. Every time I’m able to have a connection with someone, I feel refreshed. When I speak, I feel such love for God’s people. When I write, I write with people on my heart- to bring hope. When I think about my husband and I having a Ranch, a place of ministry, I think about the people and the lives that God’s going to change. You see, I have my own stories of people that have come into my life when I was a wild, rebellious young thing and the mark those people left on my life. I am forever changed because someone decided to invest into my life. Those stories are a part of who I am. And I hope at the end of my journey that people will stand and say the same thing. “Her story affected my story…”

At the end of this crazy life, I’m not going to wish I had more things to clutter up my house, more cute outfits, a big house or a super nice car. Nope. I’m going to hope that I have made a difference in the lives of others. I’m going to hope that I had valued my family more than all of my projects and made them feel important. It’s the relationships here on this earth that have eternal value, not the stuff, not the projects. Because really, what is the greatest of all commandments? Matthew 22:37-40 (MSG)-Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

…..everything in God’s Law and Prophets hangs from them….

So here’s to the second half of this crazy, amazing, messy miracle called life. May we all love well.

Now get out there and live!

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

Psalms 90:12- Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

Our Trip to Colorado

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Have you ever revisited a childhood home or place that instantly brought back familiar memories? Instantly you’re brought back to comforts of familiar territory. This was our week in Colorado.

It didn’t take a few days to get adjusted to everyone again. It was just like home. My kids stayed with their closest friends for most of our visit. You see, something happened to us when we lived in Colorado for almost 6 years. Our friends had become like our family, and visiting them is as familiar as spending time with family. We didn’t have to go over the past 2½ years to get reacquainted; we just picked up from right where we left off.

We were hired to minister to the kids during the churches Danny Silk Conference. It was so fun together doing praise and worship for the kids, Big Red skits, and Bible lessons. As many people thanked us for ministering to the kids, we both agreed that we felt like we received more blessings than we gave.

In the short time we were there, Gods favor and love overflowed through His people. We shared our heart with so many beautiful families, sat and soaked up advice from godly business men, people stopped us after church service and spoke life into our lives and prayed a blessing over us and the dreams in our heart, people loved our children as if they were their own. We got to spend some time catching up with special friends and even made a few new friends! Friends opened up their home for us to invite others to fellowship with us. A family made my son a birthday cake. My best friends husband planned her surprise birthday party two weeks early just so I could be there. I got much needed home-school advice from several ladies. The wonderful ladies of my writing group welcomed me back with open arms. I cannot even explain to you the many God appointments that followed us. A few people planted seed into Big Reds Ranch, and we were definitely not expecting that. We were and are humbled and blown away by the hands and feet of Jesus that we experienced. We came with no expectations other than to be a blessing to others. We head home with our hearts full.

Thank you friends of Colorado, you will always have a piece of us there with you. We ask God to give you the desires of your heart, fill your cup to overflowing with more of Him, and continue the work that He has started in you. Until next time!

Phil. 1:6- And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 

God Never Changes- Even When Life Does

Christmas 2012

To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance.  Philip Andrew Adams

I’ve always felt like a big kid during the holidays. I’m a huge fan of having family traditions. Maybe it’s because life always seemed so hard and chaotic as a child. Being an adult and passing on the wonder to my children has been a gift for me. This year has been especially hard. I do not recommend moving during December to anyone! To pack or unpack- that is the question.

I still want our kids to have excitement for this holiday season, with the joy and the magic it always brings. But what I didn’t anticipate was what this transition in December was going to do to my own emotions. Can we say roller-coaster?! This is probably the first time in the history of Christmas where I have had to work at getting excited- I don’t like that. Even though we’re moving, we hesitantly purchased a real tree, and only because we will be taking it to the church to use in our Christmas play in one week. My daughter was persistent in asking when we would decorate. Things have just been hectic with the kids school play, last couple of weeks before we home-school, our church play, and us going through things and packing. We finally nailed down a night- but also had one other thing planned that night, so it was going to be a bit rushed. Hope said, “But mom, will we have enough time to decorate the tree?” “Will we have Christmas music?” “Are we making hot cocoa?” I didn’t realize how much she had picked up of some of my own favorite things. And then the lights were up on the tree and we plugged them in. I wish I had a camera at that moment to capture her joy. It was beautiful… magical. We were able to do it all in a short time, unfortunately sipping the cocoa quickly!

On our way to church the other night she said, “Mom, we’re still going to do our tradition and drive around and look at Christmas lights and see how many reindeer we can count, right?” “Sure hunny, but I’m thinking we might change it snowman because there’s not enough reindeer around here.”

Traditions- in spite of transitions. If you think transition and change are hard, try making sense of everything as a child. Hope once asked why we can’t just be like regular people and live in the same house and work the same job forever! I guess God just didn’t make us ‘regular’.

I feel like my daughter is trying to hold on some normal. Something that stays consistent, even when things around her are not. Some sense of security. As we all are. It’s not an easy pill to swallow that your parents, who have been your children’s pastors for 12 years will no longer be, and that you will be packing up your things and moving in with family members temporarily smack in the middle of Christmas, or that when Christmas break is over you will not be returning to your friends. My son Joel won 1st place in the spelling bee and was suppose to compete in January but we were told this week that he has to be registered with the school to compete. I understood and Joel was okay with it. The boys were thrilled that at least they could sign up for basketball and still see their friends while playing in a sport starting in January. I received a call today that unfortunately they have to be registered with the school to play on the team. I know they are going to be extremely disappointed. Thankfully my husband said he would talk to them tonight. We understand- it doesn’t make it any easier.

The Lord has reminded me that even though we are going through more changes than seem desirable at times, that He stays the same NO MATTER WHAT.  Hebrews 13:8- Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

I’m not sure what changes you might be going through or what the Lord has asked you to let go of and your really struggling to let it go. All I know is that when we walk in obedience to Him that He will be faithful to give us the grace to walk out whatever it is. I’m not sure what tomorrow looks like but I do know that His grace is sufficient for today.

Lord I thank you for your Word today that reminds me that no matter what happens, you always stay the same. I know your ways are higher than my ways and that through these transitions you are not only making me who you want me to be but that my children are also learning to lean and walk and rely on You. Fill me with joy in spite of my circumstances, for joy comes from you and you alone- regardless of what’s happening around me. Help me to always hold the things of this world lightly and with an open hand. I love you Lord, and I want to walk this out faithfully. At the end of my journey, if intimacy and closeness with you is gained, then nothing- absolutely nothing was done in vain.  amen.

Malachi 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.

Keep Your Eyes on Him

This is just my heart. Something the Lord is working out in my own life. I pray it is also a blessing to you.

Can I choose to praise Him, even when I am uncertain of what lies ahead? Oh saints, that is when I need to praise Him most.

Can I carry the joy of the Lord with me at all times even when circumstances are less that joyful? Yes, because my eyes are on Him, not on my circumstances. I lift my eyes, from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.

The enemy is the king of distraction, and I have allowed him too many times to distract me from seeing this world with kingdom eyes.

If I walk out of this house today defeated, I will surely help no one. And my eyes will only be on me. But if I lift my eyes to Him, my focus shifts.

I have purpose today. My purpose is to walk in the promises of the Lord. He has called me to be a light in a dark place.

What about when we’re just not feeling it? What if we are tired and weary from battle? What if we are empty and feel the weight of the world? Can we still step out of these doors carrying a joy and offering hope to a broken world?

My God has promised to meet my EVERY need. He has promised to be my portion today. He has promised to hear my prayers. He has promised to be my more than enough.

Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in Him.

Today I choose to spend time worshipping Him, allowing Him to fill me up. I choose to read and believe His Word, because His Word is truth. His Word is more powerful than the sharpest 2-edged sword.

I challenge you today (and myself), do not let the enemy take your peace. Do not let the enemy distract you because your eyes are on your own problems. Let go and worship Him.

Today you will come in contact with many people. Does your life resemble that of joy, peace, patience, and self-control? Is His fruit evident regardless of your circumstances? He sent His Holy Spirit to live and breathe and move inside of you and to help you.

“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

Lord today I choose to trust You, I am completely dependent on you to meet my every need and to be my more than enough. I choose to keep my eyes focused on you and not on my circumstances. The enemy is a liar and the king of distractions. I choose You today- not in my own strength, but by the power of your Holy Spirit. I ask that you would use me today to bring joy and hope to a dark world. Whatever my mission is today with my family, friends, and strangers, show me. I am yours. I not only say I trust You, but I choose to walk out what that trust looks like. My life is not my own, but yours. Use me to bring glory to your kingdom and to stir up the faith of the saints.

Great love, your daughter.

I John 4:4-  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

The Last Basket

IMG_3277The sweet prayer ladies at our church gave each of the pastors these amazing baskets filled with goodies and a gorgeous bouquet of colorful flowers. October was pastor appreciation month, and they all signed a card to let us know that they appreciated us. Jon brought it in after work, and I squealed with delight. Literally. Ask my husband. But after a few moments of chocolate bliss, a realization hit me. This is our last pastor’s appreciation day. Not because we got fired, but because we feel like God is calling us to a different area of ministry. We have been in ministry together since before we were ever dating. Almost 16 years. And full time pastors since Hope was born, so 12 years now. It has been all we know. Our kids have grown up in the church with us as their only Children’s pastors.

It truly is a new and strange season. I say strange because for the first time (possibly ever) we drove to church together today to attend ‘adult’ service. Ever since Hope was born Jon has left early on Sunday mornings, and I would bring the kid(s) for service. For the next two months, we are stepping away from Children’s Ministry even though the end of December is our actual final month. By doing this, people begin to go to the others in charge for any Children’s Ministry needs, yet we are still here if they have any questions. It will help with the transition so by January they will have a well-oiled machine and be able to run things smoothly. And it will also give Jon the time to work on things to come starting in January. So last week was our official last kid’s service. Weird.

Hope asks, “So…what are you guys going to do?” Ha! Not totally sure. All the way to church today I kept telling the boys, “Look, daddy’s in the car!” And of course, they all just looked at me like I was crazy- maybe it’s a bigger deal for me, I don’t know.  But it is. It is kind of surreal.

So for now, I savor each day of lasts, because that means that we are going to experience many firsts in the future. Last few months in our house, last time as Children’s Pastors, last few months of living next door to my brother & sister in law, last time as a kids choir director, and there’s one more big one, but I can’t announce it yet.

I know, as our pastor preached today, God is up to something good. Stepping out in faith is scary. We could have stayed in this position, but we felt like God was going to start a new chapter in our lives that looks nothing like the previous chapters. I’ve always loved a good story that had an unexpected twist! It just happens to be our story. I pray that as our kids see us step out in faith, that they too will be people that step out wherever God leads them. Because He is life, and apart from Him, there is no life. I want to be smack dab in the middle of His will, no matter what it looks like.

So for now, that is where we are at, at last! (get it?!)

Lord, I pray that you would help us to be a people that step out in faith. That we wouldn’t stay so comfortable that we would be afraid to take risks. I know that you have placed dreams deep in our hearts. You have an amazing plan and a purpose for everyone reading this. Now show us the steps we need to take to step out of the boat. May our lives bring you glory in all we do! Amen.

If you have no idea why we’re stepping down and into our next chapter, read this: http://celestebarnard.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/fathers-heart/

You are the Light of the World

Everybody has a story, sometimes we’re just in too much of a hurry to hear it. Oh Lord, give us ears to hear.

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It was a cool Saturday morning. My boys each had a friend over. The natives were getting restless, so I decided to get them out for a bit. A quick stop at an estate sale, then off to get some sweet mexican bread (Pan Dulce). The boys enjoyed getting to pick out a couple of delicious breakfast treats. The shop was about a block away from our church. The woman knew little english, but we tried our best to communicate. I asked where they were from and she said Matamoros, Mexico. She asked where we were from (what, do I not look like I’m from here?!) It could be the little blonde haired children with me. I told her we go to church right down the street. She said she went there like three years ago, and I told her (in my best broken down spanglish), you should come back, you would love it. She smiled.

With that, we continued on our journey to the lovely Dean Porter Park. The boys enjoyed sitting on the pick-nick benches, eating the their bread and cookies. Well, until the bees came that is. And off the boys went to play.

There were only a small handful of families out, but one family in particular caught my eye. I quietly observed without looking like a stalker. The couple looked tired. The woman yelled often at her three small children. I could hear the rage and turmoil in her voice. My eyes met the mans. They were empty; shallow. I wonder what their story is? I watched the woman with sad eyes cover her face with her hands with a look of defeat. Yelled again, overpowering the small boy. Her voice had the power to wake sleeping birds in the neighboring tree nearby. And the small child cried. It was a cry of fear and sadness.

This is where my heart shifted. My heart is extra sensitive to kids being mistreated. Because of my own scars I bear from childhood, it is my natural instinct to rise up against the injustice of a child.

But something shifted in my vision. I saw past the empty man who showed no response to his surroundings. I looked past the woman shouting uncontrollably at her children. And I saw. I saw two broken people that looked as if the pain and suffering of this world was almost too much to bare.

In the past, I might have shaken my head as I walked by, as if to say, “You evil lady, don’t you know you’re hurting them by your overpowering shouting?!” And what would that have done? Would that one judgmental moment make her realize she needs Jesus and that her life is spiraling out of control? We both know the answer to that. She would have continued to sink down that same self-destructive path and those precious children would be no better off because of my self-righteous judgement. It’s the attitude that says, “Surely, I’ve got it all together, but you, well, you’re a mess.” Might I say that we are all a mess at times and in desperate need of a Savior?

I walked up to the table. I can only wonder what they were thinking. Surely the woman who has it all together has come to condemn. “I hope this doesn’t sound strange,” I said, “but I would love to invite ya’ll to our church.” I felt the Holy Spirit on me so strongly, that I thought my heart might burst. I felt compassion for this family instead of judgement. This family. Broken before me. I gave them the details- time, address, etc. And that I felt like God was going to do something in their family. The woman offered a polite smile. The man repeatedly thanked me. And I walked off. Even if they thought I was crazy, it’s okay. People thought Jesus was crazy.

As the woman and children got up and walked past me, the man stopped. “Tell me again where your church is?” I tore out a piece of paper and wrote the address with some more detail. The man looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes. “You see, my family and I have been separated. My wife and our children are living with her mother, but her mother won’t let me stay. Coming to the park is the only way I can spend time with my children. I have no job, no money, no car. Sometimes I sleep on these park benches. Last night I slept downtown at the shelter.” I handed him the only cash I had, which wasn’t much. He said, “Oh no, are you sure?” It was the first and only time a homeless man asked me if I was sure when offering money.

Then he asked me if I would say a blessing for him and his family. “Sir, is it alright if I pray with you?” “Oh yes, please, I would like that.” And we prayed. And at that moment, I saw it for what it was. Holy. I was once again reminded that we are standing on holy ground. We prayed. I offered hope. To me, it was just a few moments out of my life, a few dollars, and a prayer. But to him I offered hope from a God who sees; a God who loves; and a God who cares.

God saw this family for what they were. Not with eyes of judgment and distaste, but  with the eyes of a loving Savior, who offers nothing short of hope to a dying and broken world.

You my friends are filled with hope. The hope of a Savior. You have the power inside of you to pour out living water to a hopeless generation. You don’t have to go far, and you don’t have to be something that you are not. It’s in you. The power of the Holy Spirit resides in you, living and breathing. The world already has  judgment. It’s easy for me to judge. But God, in His infinite mercy asks us to change the way we view the sinner. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). See them for what they are- broken and desperate. They know anger, pain, loss, and judgment. My goodness, their cup is full of that.

Offer hope instead of judgement

Matthew 5:14-16- 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. Be exactly who God has called you to be- a light in a dark world. Not sure what to say to someone? Invite them to church! Offer hope to a hopeless generation. And watch God change our city, one family at a time.

Freddie, this is dedicated to you. I hope and pray I will see you at church today, because I believe God is doing something in your family.  Amen.

Oh Summer… You’re So Hot!

I LOVE summer. I love everything (with the exception of Texas humidity) about summer. When I think about summer, I think about watermelon, and chicken salad sandwiches, and juice boxes, and chips, and swimming (lots of swimming), and movies, and ice pops- I  could go on, I’m sure. I also love tank tops and flip flops, but those are almost year round here in South Texas. 🙂

I also love a little more freedom to enjoy the kids in the summer. Don’t get me wrong- we still stay busy. As Children’s Pastors, one of our highlights of the summer is 2 weeks of Vacation Bible School. But, with no more uniforms to wash, or lunches to make, or homework for hours, there’s just something about summer that allows you to let your guard down a little and enjoy the season of sunshine.

This summer, I am trying to be a little more intentional. The Lord has really put it on my heart to pour a little more into my kids, especially my Noah. I have a friend who has a journal and writes in it to her kids and will read from it every now and then. I made my journals today- one for the boys and one for Hope, my 12 year old. For the boys I really want to encourage them in their walk with the Lord- with scriptures and also just write stuff from my heart to them. I want to touch on peer pressure, how to treat girls, being respectful, and different things like that. Here’s the boys journal:

For Hope, I want to write things to encourage her in her walk with the Lord, I want her to know Gods love for her and for her to realize the beautiful gem she is. I will also encourage her in lots of other girl stuff! And share my heart a little about some stuff I had to go through, so that hopefully she doesn’t make some of the same mistakes. I’m so excited about how hers turned out!

I also made 3 smaller individual journals that we are simply calling their Summer Journals. I got inspired from Ann Voskamp’s book ‘One Thousand Gifts‘ and wanted them to at least write one thing per day that they’re thankful for this summer. At first when I told the kids I was making them a thankful journal, Noah, my 10 year old said, “huh?” He asked if he could journal about ‘regular’ stuff too (he’s my writer). So I added in a section for journaling too. And the 3rd and final section is a special spot for them to write to mom & dad (us) if they want to say or ask something. I told them we would randomly check it through-out the summer and write them back. On these, I simply glued cardstock with mod podge and used tabs from Smashbox (Bought both at Michaels). Tomorrow night I’m going to let them decorate however they want with stamps & stickers. Here are our summer journals before the kids decorate them:

And these are the Smashbox tabs:

Here’s section one, Journal:

Here’s section two, Thankful Heart:

And third and final section, Talk to Us:

Okay- and final Summer Fun Project. I love reading and my kids seem to enjoy it too! This year Noah got nominated highest reading points in ALL of Elementary. Let’s just say, I was one proud mamma! I really wanted to encourage them to read over the summer without them feeling like, oh, more work, ya know? So I came up with a plan. We have our own Summer Reading Program! Every time they read an age appropriate chapter book, they get to pick out a toy from the reading treasure box. I went to Michaels and rummaged through their dollar bins. No prize was over $2.00. Then I made a checklist where they write down the books as they read them (simple on Word document). They have already started their summer reading!

Here’s the Reading Treasure Chest:

And here’s our sheet where they log their books:

And here’s the inside of the Reading Treasure Chest. This might also be used if they do something above and beyond this summer- but for now, it’s reading:

Anywho- I’ve rambled enough about my excitement for summer. Be blessed and visit me again soon for my list of kids books for the summer and my own personal summer reading books!

Get Er’ Done!

I found myself in quite a mess today. You see, I have one of those swimming pools that you blow up- but it’s a good size. Looks so easy on the box. Just blow up the top and fill with water. “I can do that,” I thought. So we set it up. Not quite as easy as they make it out to be. Nonetheless, we did it. My husband and I figured out how to add the chemicals. It worked well the first few weeks. Then, we got busy. Before we knew it our pool turned green! We kept putting it off. “Oh, we’ll get to it later,” we would say. But later never came.

So today, after many weeks of neglect, I set out to clean the pool. The kids were having their friends over, and I told them they could swim! I knew it was a green, nasty mess. I was avoiding this project at all costs. Let me just tell you, I scrubbed, and scrubbed and scrubbed. I was on my hands and knees in green yucky mess- scrub, drain. Scrub, drain. This continued for over 3 hours. Then with the wet vac. I sucked all that murky mess up. And wouldn’t you know it, learned a very valuable lesson today. (My lessons are usually learned this way).

Do you ever have things to get done, that you put off until the last minute?  You know, the stuff we dread doing, but need to get done. If you are anything like me you will get easily distracted (by the stuff you want to do) and find there’s no time left to do what you really needed to do. It could be calling people back, putting away laundry, and possibly going to the dreaded grocery store. The problem is, if I wait too long to do what I was suppose to do, sometimes I can have a mess on my hands! Bills get paid late, people start thinking your avoiding them, no dinner in the fridge to make, etc. etc.

Truth is, as I was scrubbing the pool today, I realized I should have done this when I noticed the waters starting to get green- not when the swampness monster moved in. I could have had it knocked out in less than an hour. Lesson learned… lesson learned.

Never put off tomorrow, what can be done today~ Thomas Jefferson

If You Want Me To

Well, here I am, In Brownsville Texas. The Lord spoke to me this morning through this song. I must tell you how fitting this song is for me right now. The song has a line that says ‘I’m gonna walk through the valley If You want me to’. Where I now live is actually called ‘The Valley’. Here’s the thing you need to understand, I’m not in a ‘bad’ place- just an unfamiliar place. Someone asked me the other day, “What are you doing tomorrow?”. By no means a strange question or even insensitive. But in my particular transition into ‘The Valley’ I had to say “I don’t know”. Now, if you are reading this and know me very well, you would know that I haven’t said I don’t know about my days in a very long time. And it caught me off guard. I need a part time job, I want to sit and write for hours and start submitting for stuff, I have paperwork I need to fill out, oh..I have laundry to do. But I’m feeling a little out of sorts if you will. I don’t have my set routines yet, no close girlfriends (yet) to call up for coffee, not in my own house (yet), and even my first grocery shopping experience was a bit strange. Don’t get me wrong, I love being here and having all this amazing family close by. I am writing this for anyone who is in a new and unfamiliar place. Your surroundings have changed and it might take you a while to find your spot. Just remember, as this song says, “You never said it would be easy, You only said I’d never go alone”. That’s comforting to know that even when we feel like our life is unfamiliar and out of sorts, we will never have to go in it alone. Pray this video ministers to you, as it did me.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtNzOpKvPfw]

Hebrews 13:5 . . . God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Lord, for those of us going through change in our lives right now, help us to seek You for direction, show us which way to walk, open the doors you want us to walk in, and close those doors that are not of You. Help us to be true to the person you have called us to be. Give us strength as we forge a new path; a new adventure with You Lord. Thank you for leading and guiding us and causing us to depend on You and trust You more than ever. Our lives are in Your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Nest

As we are preparing to move, I’ve been thinking about our new home we will move into in October. I’ve been dreaming a little. And I sometimes find myself getting a little frustrated when my husband doesn’t seem to share the same..enthusiasm should we say. So today’s blog is devoted to our home, our nest.

What is it about a woman’s heart that is so greatly linked to her home? Our home is not just a place to lay our heads at night, although we do. It is much more than that. Our home is place where we take refuge from the world when we are feeling weary. Our home is a place that in some ways takes on a part of us. Is it warm? Is it perky? Is it cozy? We like to surround ourselves with items that inspire us and bring us to a happy place. We like to add a piece of ourselves in every room. Our home is also a place of refuge for others. Do you love to invite others over and sit and talk and share a warm cup of coffee together? Do you love to have barbecues and allow your home to be a place for others to unwind and relax? For some of us, we have a special spot where we write. A special little space where we can get inspired. Others of us have a special little craft room with some of our favorite things. Or what about your favorite spot to pull up a cozy blanket and escape in a good book?

No, our home isn’t just a place to store our things and rest our head at night. As women, this is a place of great joy and retreat.We spend hours and weeks making this a place, our place; a place of  rest, peace, and shelter. Many a talks happen here, many a prayers are said under this roof, many memories are made within these walls. And even many a tears are shed here. As women, there are many things we are passionate about. And that’s great. It’s those kinds of things (like our homes) that give us pleasure and enjoyment. I think of how excited my husband gets when there’s a new Mac out or the latest Iphone. He is excited about something that he enjoys. Maybe that’s how I need to explain my nest next time to my husband. “Hunny, This house is my Mac”. We just need to speak their lingo!

“There is a magic in that little world, home; it is a mystic circle that surrounds comforts and virtues never known beyond its hallowed limits”

Robert Southey

In 2010, Lord Make Me New Again!

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It’s the last day of the 2009 year. I always like to take inventory of my previous year and reflect. I like to look at the areas where I have done well and continue to do well. And then of course, I look at those areas where I fell oh so short! And pray about doing better in the coming year. Stepping it up.

And then I like to dream. I dream of a new year. I like new years. I like new beginnings. I like fresh starts. I think of the scripture found in Lamentations 3:22-23  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his com passions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” New every morning. I like that. Brand new mercies every morning I rise to forgive me of my yesterdays and try it all over again!

We all have areas where we are weak. We all have things we ‘wished’ we had done. We all have something we regret or regret not doing. So instead of wallowing in the many areas where we were weak in 2009, what if we took this new year as God’s fresh start for us? What if we woke up tomorrow and said “today is the first day of my brand new start!”  Today is a chance to do things a little differently. Today is a day of a paradigm shift in my thinking. It’s not about getting ourselves motivated, it’s about God inspiring us to do things with fresh eyes. And I think if we could look at our end results, we will be glad we didn’t give up. Walk with me if you will. It’s the last day of 2010- that’s right, I said it, 2010. Look at your year in a glance. What will we have hoped to accomplish? What personal goals will we have hoped to have met? What do we want our relationships to look like at the end of the year? What areas do we hope to grow in?  Sometimes when we have the end in mind, we have clear eyes to see with. Fresh vision.

And finally- and most importantly, what do we want for our own personal relationship to look like with the Lord? Are we happy with our end results from 2009 or do we see ourselves pursuing Him even more next year? Are we happy with our little religious church services or do we want Him to consume our everyday thoughts and lives? Living a life filled and overflowing with His grace, love, and mercy for others. That’s what I want. I say bring it Lord in 2010. Make me new again. Bring on the adventure that You have created me for! I am Yours and I am willing. And Lord, renew our lives for you and restore hope.

In 2010, Lord, make me new again!


Here’s my scripture and my hearts cry for each of us in 2010

Psalms 51:10-12

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

May your 2010 take you to new places, new adventures, a year of renewing and restoring. As you put Him first, everything else will fall into place. Blessings!

Breakthrough Comes in The Morning

Sunrise at Yumigahama Beach

I can’t tell you how strong I felt it today. God is calling me to rise early. 5:30 am early. I use to get up at 5 and have quickly found myself out of this habit. I really feel strongly that the Lord will bring breakthrough in some areas early, when I start my day off with a sacrifice. I actually set the alarm for 5 but was awake at 4:30. I have to tell you, this is more than a physical battle. This is spiritual. I was mentally awake. I could have gotten up. I didn’t. I even remember the alarm went off at 5am. I was awake. But something inside stayed where it was warm and comfortable. I kept hearing a still small voice and inside I heard “Breakthrough is coming”. I know this is a spiritual battle. I know the Lord is going to use me to write and because of my schedule and work and kids and kids choir, my breakthrough has to come in the morning. I know that’s when I have the sweetest time with Him, before the sun rises, I will choose to fight this battle- no the Lord will fight my battles, but nothing comes without a price. A sacrifice. I need to choose to get out of my comfort zone and do what it takes before my day gets busy and everything else fights for my attention. My breakthroughs will come in the morning.  I am excited about what the Lord will do with this willing heart. I have some big decisions to make and don’t want to take one step without the Lord.

Jesus Example:

Mark 1:35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Luke 21:38 And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.

John 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

For Our Devotion times:

Psalms 5:3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

Psalms 63:1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

Psalms 88:13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.

Isaiah 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

So what is it the Lords been asking you to do? Is there something that requires dying to self or crucifying the flesh? I encourage you as we are about to start a brand new year- Ask the Lord what breakthroughs He wants to do in your life. And then ask for His strength to do whatever is required of you. I promise, It will be well worth the sacrifice.

For additional reading, read one of my favorite blogs by Michael Hyatt

at http://michaelhyatt.com/2007/01/slay-your-dragons-before-breakfast.html

The Missing Iphone

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Last night, at about 10pm, my friend Lori came over to get a table for scrapbooking. I opened the garage and had my phone with me- just in case she was lost, she could call me. She pulled up. I set my phone on my bumper and helped her put the table in her truck. I then went on to close the garage and went to bed. The next morning I had to work at the Rec. Center. As always, I was in a hurry, jumped in my car and sped off to work promptly at 8am. As I pulled up into the parking lot, I felt like I was missing something. And then my mind began to race. Oh no, tell me I didn’t leave my Iphone on my bumper last night. Surely not! Not my brand new, only 1 1/2 months old, overpriced, hot pink cover Iphone?! Tell me this wasn’t happening! But it was happening. Could it be smashed on the side of the road somewhere? Or worse yet, what if some not-so-nice person has found it and proceeds to change the code on it and it ends up on Ebay somewhere?!

If only I could go home and search the streets that I have traveled on- but I can’t. I need to open up the childcare for the Rec. Center. Oh dear. What to do, what to do? In my heart I was praying to Jesus- “Please send me an angel, let some nice person find it and figure out a way to return it”. The second I walked in, I began making phone calls (from the work phone..of course!). First, I tried my husband about a zillion times. Unfortunately, we don’t have a home phone and his phone was off and being charged downstairs..as he slept. Ugg! I tried calling information to look up my neighbors numbers to see if they could comb the streets for me, but with no luck. I then tried all of my coworkers who I knew lived in our neighborhood. My friend Keira finally answered. “Keira, this is Celeste. My Iphone is somewhere between my house and the Rec center. Can you look for it for me please?!!” She could hear the panic and despair in my voice. “Sure”, she said. So I waited. With every ring my heart stopped. Was it my Iphone calling?! Could it be?

Nothing. Silence. “Lord” I prayed. “Why is this happening to me?” Has my Iphone become some sort of idol in my life? I mean- I like it. I really like it- a lot. Then, as time kept ticking, I had to surrender my Iphone in my heart. Okay- by now it’s either run over or stolen. I can just use one of our old phones and activate that. Yeah. That’s what I’ll do. Okay, I can check my emails at home like I use to. I’ll get use to it again. And just do my Facebook and Twitter from home. I can give up all my apps and the games on the phone that the kids like to play while we’re waiting in lines. I can do this.

Then I called my boss and proceeded to tell her about my emergency (Funny what we constitute as an ’emergency’). I explained my situation, and she told me I could leave around 9:30 when the next shift came in if I needed to.
Then after over an hour of pacing, frantic phone calls, feeling nauseous-all while trying to watch small children, my friend Keira finally called back. My heart stopped. Well, I said?! I could tell by her momentary silence that the phone was not found. “Sorry”, she said, “but no phone”.
When I was just about to give up, the phone rang. It was my husband. His voice was raspy and I could tell he just woke up. “Hey babe, Nicole has your phone”. Now Nicole is a friend who works at our church. He then proceeded to tell me how she got it.
Some guy almost ran it over on a street near the high school. He pulled over, picked it up and then dialed the last number that called my phone. It was Nicole. He then told her he found the phone in the road and was trying to figure out who it belonged to. She said, “oh, this is my friend Celeste’s phone!” He said he was on his way to work and asked if she lived in the Meadows. She did, so he got her address and went to deliver the phone. He went to her house and she recognized him- he use to work at our church! Wow, it was an angel!

I knew the Lord was watching out for me that day. As He does each day. I’m not sure why I’m always so surprised when the Lord comes through. I know there are times when the lord tests our heart (motives). But there are also times when he just wants us to trust Him. I was reminded of this scripture: Because He cares so deeply for us, we can cast our anxiety upon Him (1 Peter 5:7). Yes, I was anxious! And sometimes you might wonder if your requests are too petty to concern the Lord. I mean, surely He has much more important things to do than take care of my Iphone, right? God cares about YOU! He cares about the day to day things that happen in your life and wants you to trust Him and pray about EVERYTHING!

Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen!

Dreams

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I can’t explain it, but God has impressed something on my heart and it’s been stirring in me for a few months. That 2009 would be a year of dreams becoming a reality. I see people pulling their dreams out, almost like they were taking out an old book they haven’t read in years, full of dust and cobwebs. See, those dreams were given to you for a reason. Some of us just thought we must have missed it somewhere along the way. And that dream was gone. Or for some of you, God had placed such a big dream in your heart, that you thought to yourself, “no way, this can’t be God”. “We must have made it all up in our heads!” There is nothing that satan would love more than for us to think that our dream isn’t really from God. There have been several different friends share what God has laid on their hearts. Dreams. God’s been preparing us for what He’s about to do. Have I made some mistakes over the past..oh, say..15 years? You betcha! I have learned many lessons because of my mistakes. Don’t let that hold you back. It’s kind of like my Body Pump instructor says when we are doing crunches.. “Let it marinate.. Marinate..” That gives me a visual picture. I feel like I’ve been marinating. I feel like I’m exactly where God knew I would be. I was going through some old papers the other day and I came across a file. It was an old creative writing class I signed up for while living in Palm Springs. As I went through it I realized just how much I use to love to write. Did I take that class for nothing? Nope, it’s all just part of the puzzle. Did I take Homiletics (preaching) at Bible college for nothing? Nope, it’s all just part of the puzzle. What about all that yucky stuff from my past that the Lord has so graciously healed me from?Is that it?! No way. Piece of the puzzle.
You see God has made us all unique. We all have different personalities, gifts, and talents- for a reason. I feel like God is going to be getting us out of our comfort zone in 2009– and that we need to step out in faith. It’s either fear or faith. You see, some fear is normal. What if I fail, what if people laugh at me, what if I bomb, what if I freeze up, what if no one needs what I have, what if..what if…what if… Okay, I’ve got one for you. What if I step out in faith, what if I do it afraid?
Read the story in Matthew 14:22-32. Peter and Jesus’ disciples were on a boat going to find Jesus. They saw Jesus walking towards them on the water! They saw this and were terrified- “Oh no, it’s a ghost” they thought. Jesus immediately told them to take courage. To not be afraid. So Peter said, “Okay Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” And the Lord told Peter to come (v.28-29). So Peter stepped out of the boat, walked on the water, and came towards Jesus (v.29). But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid and began to sink. He cried out to the Lord to save him, and immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Fear or faith?
It’s time to step out of the boat in faith- not focusing on the storms around us, but keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. And I’m not talking about vain dreams to build ‘our kingdom’. Not, “What can I do to get more things and money and notoriety”. I’m talking about the dreams that the Lord has placed deep within your heart- that some of you even forgot they were there! I’m talking about the dreams that add to Gods kingdom and give Him all the glory. The dreams that add another piece to the puzzle, to make us, the body of Christ, complete.
Will you take courage (Matt 14:27) with me in 2009 and step out of the boat? Begin to pray. Ask God what is your ‘baby step’ towards what He wants to accomplish through you. And remember, if we do begin to feel ourselves sinking, like Peter- Cry out to Jesus and He will be quick to reach out His hand.

Saying Good Bye To A Dream

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I started running track in High School. (9th grade). The thing was, my self esteem was so low I would have never joined anything. So one day I was in PE class doing a timed run and the track team was on the field and I was doing a lap and the coach said to one of the track guys, “She’s pretty good, go run with her”. And with him running next to me, pushing me- I did really good! The coach then invited me back to practice with them and then asked me to join the long distance running team. It was one of the first times to my memory that someone believed in me. My problems at home continued, but running became my outlet, my way of release. I remember the evening like it was yesterday- I asked my mom if I could have a pair of running shoes. She said, “Why, you probably won’t finish anyways?!” I can’t tell you how those words continue to haunt me to this day. And so those words became a prophesy- The coach sent someone to come and get me for track pictures and I told them I couldn’t, something about my grades were terrible.( Which they were but I still could have done track). And that was the end track for me. Never had the chance to compete. Still ran through the neighborhood when things got real bad at home.
So here I am, 18 years later- About a week before Thanksgiving I decide I want to pick up running again.And I run and I run and I run. And I realize, hey, I’m not bad. So I  totally feel like this is it. This is a passion, it’s more than a run. During my runs I felt like those words my mom spoke over me were broken- this time, I am going to finish something! And for the 1st time in a long time I had a dream of my own- Not just for my kids and our family- But for me. So I’ve marked my calender with all the 5 k’s I want to race this year, I subscribe to a running magazine, I invest in a new pair of running shoes with the Nike chip that helps me keep track of my miles. I’m ready to give it my all. But then, I think I over ran. I was in a friendly running competition with some family members to see who could get the most miles before Spring Break and I wasn’t going down without a fight. I should have stopped when I felt pain but I didn’t, I just ran even in intense pain (I think I’m invincible sometimes).
So here I sit, several Dr’s Appointment later, after X Rays and MRI’S. And yes, still some pain. And Then I get the news. I’m thinking therapy, rehab, whatever- I can handle it. Just don’t tell me I can’t run. And my Dr says I’ll need knee surgery. Ok, when can I run. A year.. 2?.. No. I have a large torn meniscus. The surgery will remove a lot of the cushion between my knee bones. My Dr says it is his recommendation that I not run again. Ever. Ouch. If I try later on in life the chances of me getting bad arthritis in my knee are most likely- Not to mention breaking down of the knee bone. So for now, I say good bye to a dream that was oh so short lived. My dreams of running through the finish line are done (for now). And hopefully I’ll stop crying every time I see a runner ( I know, that sounds strange). Pray that my surgery goes well May 3rd- I still believe in miracles!

One Of Those Mornings!

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It was one of those mornings! I got all 3 of the kids out of the house and off to look at some local thrift shops for ski pants for our whole family. The kids were a bit ‘active’ but did okay, until Noah and Hope decided they wanted the same toy! And then there was a break down (Noah) so I said that’s it, we’re leaving! ! Noah flipped. Joel was crying and Hope quietly followed. Noah begged to go back in the store to which I replied “no”. He was full of snot, and tears and his face was bright red. Some nice lady said “I don’t know how you do it”. I thought well, today I don’t feel like  I am “doing it”! So I held Noah down and strapped him in. I have to say at this point it truly would have been so much easier to just say ok, but be a good boy and we’ll go back in, but I knew that this was one battle I just had to win. I think sometimes we just give in because it’s easier (for the moment!). But what are we saying to our kids? That if you throw a big enough tantrum, I just might give in. It’s so hard sometimes. Then we moved on to Walmart- oh yeah, that’s fun with 3 little ones. I remember saying out loud, we’re almost done, as the kids we’re getting restless. Then there’s the infamous “check out”. Noah and Hope water but they each wanted to be the first one to drink from the water, Joel wanted out, and I just kept thinking we’ve come this far, just let me check out and make it to the car!! Ran home, made lunch, got Hope ready for kinder, loaded up the car again and off to school we went. Dropped her off, put Joel down for nap, and then read to Noah and laid down with him until he fell asleep. Ok, now its my time- or at least for about an hour :). Sometimes I just pray, Lord, please help me not to mess them up! Thank you Lord for my 3 little blessings from above, who although know how to press my every button, they are truly a gift from above. I know I can’t ‘give’ life to them until I have received life from You. Everyday- fill me that I might pour out to them and to my husband. Wow, I feel much better, this Blog thing is kind of cool! Celeste