Thursday, December 31, 2015

Finding Fulfillment & Avoiding Conflict

Hey Girls, 


As a kind of fresh start, I wanted to talk about the idea of why it is important to have a true relationship with Jesus before we can have healthy relationships with others. 
One of the most profound things I've ever heard Kayla G. talk about was the idea of Fulfillment. A few years ago she talked to us about the need for us to find Fulfillment in Jesus, not our spouse, significant, friends, or family. As awesome as those special people are, they do not have the ability to take care of our spiritual needs - only the Lord can do this. 

An engaged couple recently sought advice from my husband & me. As I prayed about what to say to them, this idea came back to me.
So many times I make problems in my own relationship. Problems that seem shallow, but that truly have a deeper, spiritual issue. For instance, if I feel uncertain about where the future will lead us, I go into over-planning mode to compensate - creating back-up plans for my back-up plans & having  a short temper when my husband doesn't share my level of pathological concern. At the end of the day, only God knows our path. & He has proven that He will guide our journey. As much as my husband loves me, he knows just as much as I do. He must put his trust in the Lord as well.
We all were made by God to be relational beings (God Himself is three different Entities in One Person). We were designed to FIRST have a relationship with the Almighty God, THEN have relationships with each other that is based on & strengthened by the Holy Spirit. When we deviate from this design, we create problems.

Our relationship with Jesus must be stronger than our relationship with our person (whatever context fits for you. Mine is a marriage). This means we have to talk to Him. A lot. Try something like this next time...

Whether you feel like it or not, THANK GOD FOR YOUR SPOUSE. Remember that marriage is a holy & sacred union, one that God does not take lightly. If you are Christians, God created you for each other. This can help you put things into perspective & can relieve resentment.

Even if you feel like the victim, ASK THE LORD FOR CONVICTION. This is the hard part. Are you doing something wrong? Are you asking them to carry a burden that is too heavy for them? No matter how deep their love is for you, there will be things that they simply won't understand because God made you differently - & perfectly. Ask for grace to not be offended when they don't share every opinion or feel every emotion. This will break through some of the pride we feel when we are hurt by others.

PRAY FOR EMPATHY FOR YOUR PERSON. What if the situation was reversed? What if they asked this of you? What if they said those words to you? I look at my husband like he is Superman, but I also have to remember that he is not invincible & that I have the ability to hurt him. Pray for a tender heart for your person - & for yourself.

Though you may have been wronged, INTERCEDE FOR THEM. Pray for God to grant wisdom, compassion, understanding, empathy to your spouse. Pray without bias, no matter how you feel. Don't tell God what to do or how to do it, but trust that He knows the answers.

Finally, whatever it is you are asking of your person, ASK JESUS INSTEAD. Don't separate the "spiritual things" from the "non-spiritual things - as Christians there is no differentiation. No matter how superficial it seems, ask Him. Are you seeking understanding? Jesus already knows the desires of your heart & hears the groaning of your spirit when we can't find the words. Are you seeking compassion and comfort? Jesus is touched by your infirmities & He weeps when you hurt. Are you seeking security & safety? Jesus promises to cover you with His feathers & to keep you from evil.

When we become truly vulnerable & ask Jesus for healing & not our spouse, we find the spiritual Fulfillment we need.
And we learn how to be a better help to others, as well.

I know that 2016 will hold great things for you! 
I pray that you all find true & complete Fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the only One who is truly able! 


The meek shall eat and be satisfied. They shall praise the Lord that seek Him. Your heart shall live for ever.     - Psalm 22.26

Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.     - Psalm 37.4 (Our Marriage Verse)

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.     - James 1.19

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.     - Philippians 2.4

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and glamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.     - Ephesians 4.31-32

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How to Biblically Pay it Forward

Hi Ladies,

Congratulations to Laura who is getting married this week!!
For those of you who didn't already know this about her, she has a passion and a burden for mission work. I can see the longing she has to go back to the people she ministered to and I can tell her heart breaks and is put back together by the love she has for them. There is something solemn and deeply stirring about living in someone else's reality, especially when they are in need. Not to mention when they live in a different culture than you do. I've also experienced mission work and that's something Laura and I have bonded over the last two years!

I was reminded of this when I read this verse about the Virtuous Woman...

Proverbs 31.20

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

"Stretcheth" This assumes that the poor are far away from her. Maybe they are physically far from her or maybe they live in a vastly different way.
How often do we go out of our comfort zone to help someone in need?
Are we willing to stretch ourselves to a place we never thought we would go in order to show God's Love?

"Reacheth" This assumes that she will then bring them in close to her.
Are we willing to open our homes, literally or metaphorically, to someone who may not be able to give anything in return?

"Her hands..." This assumes that the Virtuous Woman was actively engaged with those in need.
Anyone who has experienced mission work understands the blessings YOU receive when you personally touch someone else's life.

For example, my family has sponsored a little girl in El Salvador for years. We feel so much joy in reading her letters and sending love through our words and assistance. Yet, even that does not compare to the feeling of holding a small child in Honduras, telling them about Jesus and hearing them talk about His blessings. There is something profoundly different about the experience of Giving when it is through your hands.

Disclaimer: I used to have grand ideas of "mission work", thinking I had to go to seminary, learn another language, and travel the world to do this. God has shown me what it looks like to minister where I am. Our Bible study the last few years is the perfect example. Being able to share what God has shown me and hearing your amazing stories has given me that same awe-struck wonder in God that I felt in a third-world country.
The idea is to ask the Lord where He wants you to stretch forth your hand. Who does He want you to reach out for? Think about those Gifts He has given and pray about how you can use them!

Who are the Poor and Needy?

  • Those with a disability or affliction, someone in distress. 
    • For the girls in our Bible study, we have been given a gift to help those who are  physically oppressed through our education and skill set as physical therapists. Read Ashton's Story for an example.
"... But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee..."     - Jesus, Luke 14.13-14

  • Those who are defenseless, e.g. widows and orphans.
    • Solomon's mother advises him to care for the defenseless though judgment (fairly assessing and acting upon a need). 
"Open thy mouth for the dumb (unable to speak) in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."     - Solomon's mother, Proverbs 31.8-9

  • Those considered social outcasts.
    • Jesus was known for hanging with the "outcasts." Remember that the person sitting across from you or standing on the street corner is also God's creation. He loves them with an infinite and unapproachable Love, the same way He loves you. 
"For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, 'Sit thou here in a good place,' and say to the poor, 'Stand thou there,' or 'Sit here under my footstool,' are ye not then partial in yourselves and are become judges of evil thoughts?"     - James 2.2-4

  • Those who are spiritually oppressed. 
    • You may not be materially rich, but you may be richly blessed in a spiritual sense. If you know Jesus Christ, no amount of worldly possessions can equal the Love and Security of a relationship with Him. It's our job to minister to the spiritual needs of others, sharing what He has done for us.
"The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."     - Jesus, Matthew 11.5
It was just as important to Jesus to give the gospel as it was to give life.

What if we, as PTs, only allowed patients with no comorbidities and no physical impairments onto our caseload. It would not make sense at all. Our job is to help those with limitations, those who are in pain. Jesus was the same way...

"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."     - Jesus, Mark 2.17

To those who know Jesus, remember that we were once poor and needy in a spiritual sense. Jesus has saved us, given us eternity and peace for the moment.
Now it's our turn to pay it forward!

"... For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."     - Jesus, Luke 12.48


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gifts are Meant to be Given

Hello Girls,

A sweet lady at my church recently started a ministry with the teenage girls - a sewing ministry! They get together once a week and learned how to use a sewing machine while they heard about Jesus. After a month or so they all came to church wearing the skirts they made with their own hands! What a unique way for my sweet friend to use a God-given gift to bless those girls...and teach them a skill!

Did you know that sewing is actually Biblical...

Proverbs 31.19
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

Definition: A spindle is used to spin thread from wool or flax (link), which is held on a distaff.

In a spiritual sense, the Virtuous Woman has progressed from obtaining the wool, symbolizing the sacrifice Jesus made, to creating something beautiful to show others the Beauty of her Savior.

The Virtuous Woman is creative.
"Oh no," some of you are thinking. "Give me a math equation any day, but not a paintbrush." For those sisters out there who have never been to Michael's, look a little deeper into these verses - you might be more creative than you think...

And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.     - Exodus 35.25

This is recounting the acts of the Jewish women when the first tabernacle was being made for God. Does this mean that to be a wise woman we should all start spinning with our hands? Knowing the character of our Lord, I think there is a deeper meaning here...

Their creations were BLUE...
Blue represents service to God and godly living.

Purple represents royalty, prosperity, and wealth, both materially and spiritually.

Scarlet represents blood from Jesus sacrifice that cleanses our sin and makes us pure.

and made of FINE LINEN...
Fine linen represents God's truth and purity that comes from accepting Him.

These women were intentional in creating adornments for the Lord's house, everything had a meaning. They used their gifts wisely. As the people entered the tabernacle and admired the fine linen dyed scarlet they remembered the greatest truth, that God has covered their sin and there is now no condemnation.* As they see the ornate purple curtains they realize that, though they may be wandering in the wilderness, they are still part of God's royal family and they lack nothing. Finally, the blue wall hangings encourage them to remember their loyalty to the One who gave them Life.

What has God gifted you with?
Whatever that awesome gift is, figure out how you can use it to show Love to others, and ultimately to God! **
That gift is meant to be given :)


* There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.     Romans 8.1

** Neglect not the gift that is in thee...     1 Timothy 4.14

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Power Lifting Taught Me Contentment

Hello Girls,

Many of you may not know this, but I was on the power weightlifting team in high school... and I was actually decent! However, I did not start out decently.
After watching me lose my first weightlifting match while my adversaries were lifting their body weight, my mother took me to eat a huge meal and have a serious discussion about my future as a power lifter. I was scrawny. There was no way around it. And unlike the other girls in my weight class, I was not pure muscle, I was just scrawny. So we decided to start adding some protein and healthfully build myself up to a competitive level.
I improved to the point where I had to start weighing in to compete. And I wish I could say I was always healthful about making weight (don't tell my mom.) One year I tried to gain weight and ended up almost throwing up a big mac before competing. The next year I tried to lose weight and ended up running laps in sweats and an empty stomach before competing. Needless to say those were not my best lifts.
You know, maybe I would have been better off just staying in my own weight class and not trying to be anything other than what I was...

Anyway, I was reminded of this story when I read this verse...

Proverbs 31.17

She girdeth her loins with strength and strengtheneth her arms.
Deborah was a prophetess and an Israelite judge, a leader before they had kings, during a time of war. She went into battle with the men of Israel and her prophecy that "the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman" came true!  In the end this was her song, "The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel," and she ended her song with a tribute to the Lord:  "So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord, but let them that love Him be as the sun when He goeth forth in His might. and the land had rest forty years." 
She stood when no one else stood. But she did it in His might. Everyone looked to her for strength, but she knew where her strength came from.*

We cannot do things in our own Strength.
This is a humbling truth, but also an empowering one. No, we are not invincible. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we cannot overcome what is in front of us. We can avoid, we can redirect, we can ignore, and pretend we succeeded. But to truly have the strength to overcome, we need someone stronger than the situation. We need God.
God did not create us to be weak, He created us to be in a relationship with Him. So naturally when we are apart from Him we lack strength. Simple but life-changing! It will change the "Why is God allowing this to happen to me?" question into the "Thank You, Father, for helping me through that trial and bringing me closer to you." moments.
We all love Philippians 4.13 that says "I can do all things..." but we must not forget the last qualifier, "through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Our strength comes from the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told His disciples to go into the world and be witnesses of Him. But first, He told them to wait! They were to wait for the Holy Spirit to be given to them, to empower them and strengthen them, just as the Father had promised.**  
As Christians we have the Holy Spirit within us. This means we have the same power the disciples had! This is our source of strength if we would only tap into it. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and He will never fail you.^

God gives us strength for the moment, not for the imagination.

God provided manna (bread that fell from heaven) every morning for the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness, without fail.^^ He gave only as much as was needed for each person that day, no more and no less.  
When we are hungry and weak and we ask the Lord to sustain us, He provides us with strength enough for that day, for that situation, no more and no less. We want strength for the next day, too, but God wants us to rest in Him, knowing that in the morning, our strength will be renewed, just like it was yesterday. Just like the new manna they received each morning. Today's strength is not sufficient for tomorrow. Tomorrow's strength is useless today.

For all you Type A's like me out there, don't be discouraged when God doesn't seem to be providing strength for tomorrow. Learn from my power lifting mistakes and be content with where God has you, even if it's challenging. Like the Virtuous Woman, strengthen yourselves for battle! But instead of trying to do it in your own strength, but find solace in knowing that you can do all things through Christ!

* Judges 4-5
** Luke 24.46-49, Acts 1.3-8
^ He will keep the feet of the saints and the wicked shall be silent in darkness, for by strength shall no man prevail.     - Hannah, 1 Samuel 2.9
Our own strength is not enough for the battles. We need Him to fight with us.

For Thou hast girded me with strength to battle. Them that rose up against me hast Thou subdued under me.     - David, 2 Samuel 22.40

God equipped David for battle spiritually, and he was victorious in all that he did.
^^ Exodus 16

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Counting Up the Cost

Hello girls,

It is April 2013 and I am holding a contract faxed over from the manager of what would soon be our first apartment. I am walking past the sporting goods where I just got my fiance's signature, so proud of myself for the adult step that we were in the midst of taking. Since he was working full time to pay for the upcoming honeymoon, I was given the responsibility of settling on an apartment and all the administrative duties that go along with that. I remember looking down at that contract and thinking of this verse...

Proverbs 31.16

She considereth a field and buyeth it. With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 

Not exactly the same thing, but close! The Virtuous Woman was also given the responsibility of procuring property for her family. 
Look at her process - First, she consideredThen, she purchasedFinally, she was productive
Jesus did this too, didn't He? 
First, He considered us and our inability overcome sin by ourselves. 
Then He purchased our redemption from sin by dying on the Cross. 
Finally, He rose from the dead, overcoming death itself, and bridging the gap between God and man so that we can now go to heaven simply by believing this and asking Him to be Lord of our lives. Without this purchase, the rest of this is meaningless. 
Some of you may hear others talk about heaven and eternal life and you think to yourself, I have so much to worry about here on earth in my every day life that I can't wrap my mind around what happens after this. But the wonderful thing is that God meets us where we are. He not only cares about where you spend eternity, but where you spend the rest of the day, how you will get through tomorrow. He wants to be your Every Day, as well as your Eternity.

"... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."                         - Jesus, John 10.10

Sometimes the burden of life overwhelms us, but just as you are more than just a physical body, your life consists of more than just temporal and material things. Don't ignore those calls from Jesus inviting you to lay your burdens upon Him.* 

"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."     - Romans 15.13

God desires you. He wants a relationship with you. He has considered who you are and where you are. He made the purchase so your sins could be forgiven and now nothing stands between you and Him. The fruit of His hand is hope and peace here on earth, and eternal life in heaven. He counted up the cost, and you were worth it! Thank you Jesus!

So, now it's time for us to count the cost. Is Jesus worth it to us? 
Worth giving our time, our talent, our treasure? 
Is His sacrifice worth our service? 
Are you ready to surrender your life to Him? 
Many of you may be saved. You have given Him your Eternity, but not your Everyday. 
Some of you may not be saved. 
Just like the Virtuous Woman, it is time for you to consider Jesus, accept that free gift, and be fruitful for Him. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Those moments when the Holy Spirit says, Hey, write about the Power of Prayer!

Hello Girls, 

When I say I grew up in the woods, I don't mean I grew up in a rural town with lots of trees. No, I literally grew up in the woods, half a mile down a tractor trail to an acre of my Grandpa's land that was cleared out by a hurricane. (Just ask Karletta and Kayla G.) You either had to drive a truck or be really skilled at driving a car in order to get to our house. So you understand why we had mandatory evacuations during every major storm and hurricane since there are about 1000 trees that had the ability to come crashing down on our home.                                                               But, oddly enough, that never happened. 
One night we were coming home during a Rainstorm with a capital R, one that renders our dirt road nearly impossible to take, my mom prayed on the way home that God would just allow us to get home without ending up in the cornfield. When we reached our dirt road, it was as if it wasn't even raining. This is when I started realizing that my mother had a superpower...

One of my Mother's favorite prayers is Psalm 91. She told me she prayed this over our home growing up, even walking around the house before evacuating for hurricanes, claiming God's promise that no evil shall befall us, neither shall any plague come near our dwelling (paraphrased).* When we returned after Hurricane Ivan, we didn't recognize our dirt road entrance for the debris. As my Dad and I looked for a way to our home through the woods on our 4-wheeler as our family waited on the main road, we were all wondering what we would find. If the woods were unrecognizable, what would our home look like? What we found was an answer to prayer...

The trees around our home looked like a game of Pick Up Sticks. There were distinct paths through the woods where trees had been twisted off by tornadoes. But our home stood untouched. I could go on about many of our friends who lived in "safer" areas and sustained massive physical damage to their home and property, but you all probably grasp the miraculousness of this event.

Besides losing power during rainstorms and never having decent internet service, we never had any damage to our home. This phenomenon goes beyond having good home insurance, which is a reactive service. This was a proactive measure called Prayer... My mother prayed over our home. 

This is a mosaic of a blog, but the Holy Spirit led me to this story and these verses with urgency today. Many of you may remember times during our Bible studies where I shared some really random stories or thoughts and often they were unplanned. These ended up being the times where someone would say, Wow, God spoke to me, He knew I needed that when I just knew I needed something. I learned to listen to those urgent bits of randomness. This is one of those times. This topic of powerful prayer may just be for me. But maybe it is for you too. So many times God meets us where we are even when we aren't looking for Him. 
Is He meeting you right now? 
Sometimes God goes ahead of us and prepares us for the future. Either way, you don't have to fear. You can have joy in knowing that your prayers are heard and that they are powerful. God is in control. When we are covered by His blood and clothed in His Word, just like my family and my home, God will protect you. He will keep you. He will strengthen you. 

Look at these examples of powerful prayer from the Bible.

Esther and her people prayed for the salvation of the Hebrew people in the face death. Because of the strength Esther found through personal prayer and the intercession of her friend's prayer on her behalf, the Jews now celebrate Purim every year! God even gave us the alternate ending to this story - if Esther didn't rise up, someone else would save her nation, but at the cost of many lives including her own. God's Will will be done, but our faithfulness has an impact on the process.**
Without my Mother claiming the promises of God and displaying faith, God may have allowed an alternate ending in order to lead us closer to him at the cost of our home. 

Abraham prayed that God would spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, even though they were ungodly and they mistreated His children. Instead of telling Abraham to back off because he didn't understand, God allowed Abraham to pray on their behalf, not once, but six times! In the end, God's Will was done and those cities were destroyed because they were purely evil. But God allowed Abraham to get to know His character in the process. Abe could have watched passively and thought, How can God be so cruel as to let people die? Instead, he interceded on behalf of the people and realized, there was no good that could come from them, their free will was set on destruction of Godliness.^ Because God is a loving Father and protective of His children, He did away with what was harmful. We see sorrow and wickedness in the world from afar and wonder, How can God allow this? But remember, God hates it as much as we do, and though it may look different than what you think it should be, He is handling it.  Spend some time praying for others and asking God for understanding, and just like Abraham, your faith will be strengthened.
Without the miracle of our intact home because of prayer, we could have looked at the destruction surrounding us and felt despair, not realizing the work God allowed destruction of what was not needed and sustained what was needed. Don't let our human emotion, even precious things like empathy, cause us to judge God and blame him for evilness that Satan brings into this world. Rather, look at the beauty that God brings despite the ugliness. 

Then there is Jacob who wrestled an Angel of God (Jesus before He was flesh) all night in order to obtain a blessing from God, not knowing that God had already planned for him to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel! As a child reading this you think, Man, I bet he got a spanking for being mean to an angel. But, this actually represents the idea of praying without ceasing and being persistent in your search for God. He gained spiritual maturity, learned perseverance in prayer, and experienced the strength of God with a limp as a daily reminder of this.^^ Who knows, without this he may credit himself and his wives with the conception of God's chosen nation instead of God Himself.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.     - Hebrews 4:16

Esther approached the Throne of Grace before approaching the throne of Xerxes.
Abraham approached the Throne of Grace with intercession or others, only to find peace with God's perfect justice.
Jacob approached the Throne of Grace and found an answer to his prayer above and beyond what he could imagine.

Don't discount prayer. Clothe yourself in His Word. Claim His promises. Intercede for others. Know that God's Will is perfect even when we don't understand. Rejoice in the future knowing that you are in the Father's hands! 

Love you girls, 

* Psalm 91... Read it1 Memorize it! Claim it! Look up the book Psalm 91 by Peggy Joyce Ruth.                      

**  ... Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed... Then Esther bade them return to Mordecai this answer, Go, gather all the Jews that are present in Shushan and fast ye for me... I also with my maidens will fast likewise, and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.     - Esther 4.14-16 

^ And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is to come unto me, and if not, I will know... And Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?... And he said, Oh let no the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: peradventure  ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.     - Genesis 18.20,23,32 

^^ And Jacob was left alone and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of they day. And when He saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the hollow of this thigh and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with Him. And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let ghee go, except thou bless me... And He blessed him there.     - Genesis 32. 24-26, 29

Other verses on prayer

If ye abide in Me and My Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.     - Jesus, John 15.7

Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe ye receive them, and ye shall have them.     - Jesus, Mark 11.24

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you. Seek, and ye shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.     - Jesus, Luke 11.9

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.     - Romans 8.26

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.     - James 5.16

Friday, July 17, 2015

While it is Yet Night

Hello Girls,

On Saturday mornings at 7:30 am I do hot yoga with my sisters.
Before work my husband wakes up early so he can go to the gym before work.
On any given morning half the guys in my hometown are in a deer stand by 5 AM.
Kayla P. and I get to school 3 hours early on the morning of any and every competency.

What do all these scenarios have in common?
Someone is waking up while it is still dark in order to be prepared for the coming day.

Believe it or not, my sisters and I are actually refreshed after sweating a puddle while holding a head stand. We are ready to brave the Florida heat.
My husband is wide awake and prepared for any challenge the next 8 hours may hold.
Those camouflaged sportsmen are ready and waiting for cute animals to awaken.
Kayla and I have studied all of our notes from the past semester before the first professor arrives to turn the lights on. (They always start to say something, then shake their heads in defeat, knowing it's useless to tell us that sleep would do us more good than last-minute studying. Hey, just because you have 2 doctorate degrees doesn't mean you get to mess with our system, ok?)

Besides the practical applications of rising with the sun, there is a spiritual application as well. Just like every facet of our life, our walk with God requires set apart time of separation and quiet. Moments of stillness, like the night.

Proverbs 31.15

She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

This doesn't say what the Virtuous Woman was doing when she rose during the night, but whatever she did prepared her to be effective. By her preparation in the night, she fed her family and those who worked for her.                                                                           What does that role mean for you? Every day we are called to serve our patients, our husbands, boyfriends, family, and our friends with our love, our talents, our time, you fill in the blanks. But how can we feed others if we are not being fed?
Jesus, God in the flesh, even took time away in the night to commune with His Heavenly Father. Then amazing things happened.* 

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up unto a mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea... Jesus spoke unto them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.                                           - Matthew 14.23-24,26

Night is a beautiful time of quiet, stillness, preparation, rejuvenation.

I call to remembrance my song in the night, I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search.     - Psalm 77.6

Any one who has experienced a true friendship or true love understand those times in a relationship where words are not needed. You both find comfort in silence. Your bond is strengthened by the ability to share the quiet part of yourself with them. Being able to share stillness with another person creates the steadfastness to handle the ever-changing needs you both have in life.
Being quiet with God is hard. We feel like we always need to be talking. Or we are searching for Him to reveal something novel and groundbreaking to us. But every now and then we should stop talking and craving words. Read a passage you have read a thousand times before and just dwell on it. Go back and read your prayer journal or think of those times He has come through for you and answered your prayers. Turn everything off and just listen to Jesus music (for me that is Bethel Music or Rend Collective, who will probably make it into every post from here on out) or better yet, sit in silence with your mind on Jesus, asking Him to just be with you, content that He knows all of your requests anyway. 
Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.     - Psalm 42.8

Just like the virtuous woman, you will be ready to attend to the day when you rise in the night to prepare your heart and just be with Jesus. 
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips when I remember Thee upon my bed and meditate on Thee in the night watches.     - Psalm 63.5-6

Maybe we are struggling to be effective. Maybe we see people everyday who need to be fed spiritually, physically, emotionally and we don't know how to fill that need.
Maybe this is because we are not stopping to be filled spiritually.

David wrote that God's Word was sweeter than honey to him.**
Jesus said He was the Bread of Life and the Living Water.^
Give Jesus your stillness, your quiet hour this week and let Him fill you so that you can't help but overflow love to those around you.
Just like the Virtuous Woman did.
Just like Jesus did.

* And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto Him His disciples...     - Luke 6.12-13 
And in the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him.     - Luke 21.37-38
 And He came out, and went as He was wont, to the Mount of Olives and His disciples also followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.     - Luke 22.39-43
** More to be desired are they (the Words of God) than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.     - Psalm 19.10 
^ And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.     - John 6.35

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Beauty of A Blank Canvas

Hello Ladies,

I received this text the other day from our lovely friend Ashton...

"Hey girl... I HAVE to tell you about a moment in clinic!!!! I was working with a patient and I walked in for the second treatment and she saw my Cross necklace and asked if I could pray with her!!! Coolest thing I've ever done with my faith like that, I had to share with you..."

Wow!! Teary-eyed, I asked her permission to use this (please don't freak out thinking that every cool moment you share with me will end up on the Internet :) ) 
Remember the last post that talked about the Virtuous Woman being clothed in scarlet? This is an example of how the material things we bear can lead someone to connect with us on a spiritual level and we can bless them through it. If we give God room to work, He will definitely take advantage of our willingness. Ashton, you go girl.

This story fit perfectly with the next portion of the Virtuous Woman's chapter in the Bible...

Proverbs 31.14

She is like the merchants' ships, she bringeth her food from afar.
Upon reading this verse to my husband, he proceeded to make fun of me for 5 minutes about my "eat seasonal" and "shop local" mantra that I preach to him, stating that the Bible is commanding me to go to Walmart and get those strawberries from California and buy only clothes with the Made in China tag. 
After pretend-laughing with him and wondering what in the world this could actually mean, God shed some enlightening comfort on the subject. 
In true Proverbs 31 fashion, this woman will go to great lengths to acquire what is needful for her family. She will search to the ends of the earth to sustain herself and her family. She goes the distance, just like the merchant's ships that bring her her food. And after she deals with the merchants...

Proverbs 31.18

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good, and her candle goeth not out by night.
 Nowadays Good is a down-played, overused word that adults always tell children to replace with something better, like Excellent, Marvelous, or Superb. In the Bible, however, Good was used to describe God's satisfaction with His Creation and Martha's choice to sit at Jesus' feet instead of host a party.* Good means Favorable, Best, Right. 
(Right now you are anxiously awaiting the connection between the opening God Moment and this piece of scripture...)
The Virtuous Woman was seeking to buy that which would do her Good. The most valuable gift we can attain is the gift of eternal life.** Just like the merchant brings the Virtuous Woman the best of the world, Jesus has brought this precious gift to our feet, and it is paid in full, bought with the highest price, and ours to claim for free. There is nothing more marvelous than that. 

Perceive: to know by experience and observation. 
She perceives this Goodness. How can she know what is Good without first experiencing Goodness and gaining wisdom from these experiences? I imagine that she experienced a lot of different merchants in her day. Some may have tried to sell her cheap wool full of burrs and jewelry that turned her skin green. But others took honor in their trade, making sure she got only the best, and showing her how valuable their merchandise is so that she will tell her friends to come to their table and experience it for themselves! 
Some of us have been spiritual shoppers. We may have looked in many different places, gone to many different tables to find something fulfilling and satisfying, but found that it was painful and dirty, it turned us green. 
Friends, only Jesus will satisfy us fully and completely. His Message is clear, uncomplicated, and honest. Knowing Him is to know Goodness itself. Our perceptions change. Our life and decisions will no longer be guided by those bad experiences in the market, but on the Holiness of Jesus Christ.^ Now that's Good. 
She perceived that it was good "*comma* and" her candle stayed lit all night. 
In other words, when she realized the gem she had in her hands, she could not set it down even to sleep. She stayed up all night weaving fine linen from the wool she bought so she could sell it back to the merchants and purchase necessities for her family, literally or spiritually... 

Proverbs 31.24

She taketh fine linen and selleth it, and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
When we really experience Jesus, we are bothered, we are changed. We have a purpose and it cannot wait until tomorrow. Even when it was dark, she did not put down her work. When she was tired she did not give up. In that stillness and with the light from a single candle, she kept at the work God had given her. And in the morning she is able to present the fruit of her work to the merchant. 
Nicole and her beautiful crocheted creation.

Can you imagine the thrill our Lord receives when He watches us use His gifts to create, to grow, to help others come to know Him? What are we doing with the good things He has given us?^^ 
The merchant gave her wool so she make linen to make girdles. Remember the wool spiel from before?
Jesus took us when we were stained and unfit to help ourselves and His blood, the blood of the Lamb, washed us white as now. He purified us and made us whole, useable. 
We are ready to be woven into beautiful cloth. Maybe it will be used to clothe the poor, or to wipe the tears of a struggling friend, or to bind a wound that hasn't been able to heal. 
Perhaps you have received that cleansing, but you don't know how to create anything for Him in all this darkness. Again, it's all about how you perceive the darkness...

The dark is just a canvas
for Your grace and brightness
You're the song, You're the song of our hearts
Though I'm broken, I am running
Into Your arms of love
The pain will not define us
Joy will reignite us
You're the song, You're the song of our hearts
                                        - Rend Collective
                                                                                      Music Video

Even when no one is beside us and darkness is around us, He is giving us a light to illuminate our heart and encourage our spirit. When you feel like there is nothing Good, keep searching for Him, keep bearing that Cross, and keep creating.                             You never know who else is looking for something Good. 

* And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good...     - Genesis 1.31
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His Word... But one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.     - Luke 10.39, 42
** For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.     - Ephesians 2.8-9
^ And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.     - 1 John 5.20
^^ As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.     - 1 Peter 4.10

Sunday, June 28, 2015

God Adds Meaning to Everything ... Even that Comfy Wool Sweater!

Hello Girls,

I am about to over-spiritualize your whole closet, and maybe even your pantry... 

This is coming from the girl who thinks that the Lord is trying to tell her to leave Target immediately, it's just not His Will for her to be there, because that super cute dress is not in her size. "There must be some supernatural meaning behind this!" screams my mind.

Ok, that may be a little dramatic, but there has to be a spiritual connection between the our passion for stylish clothing and fancy food and our desire to be close to God and our Christian sisters. 

What do we always spend the first 10 minutes of our Bible studies doing? Talking! Many times about our everyday life, the seemingly mundane but actually pretty important things that only us girls can understand. 

We crave that spiritual fellowship and often bond over the material. 

I back this up with the fact that a good portion of our passage on the Virtuous Woman deals with the everyday, material things that make up every woman's life.

We know Jesus can take the material and turn it into something spiritual. He can take the seemingly meaningless and make it glow with His purpose. And what man can defile, He can use to cleanse our hearts.

Let's look at some of the material things our Virtuous Woman used...

Proverbs 31.13

She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.

Wool and flax were highly prized commodities in Israel, used to make fine clothing. I won't relay all of the information I found on the different ways of obtaining high-class wool in the middle east, but in order to get thorn-less, dirt-free wool, it must be sought after. Hard. And as a bonus, she is creating her household's wardrobe by hand!        (Shout-out to Shelly, who is learning to sew!)
When dyed a scarlet red color, wool was used in the blood covenant ceremonies between Israel and God.* This was the Old Testament way of attaining forgiveness of sins. Now we have salvation through grace because of Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross, instead. For,  
... By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.     - Hebrews 9.11-12 

Incidentally, scarlet was a hot color in this woman's household as well...

Proverbs 31.21

She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet.             

In my mind, I picture this as the antiquity version of dressing your children in T shirts from Bible camp, hanging Bible verses in your home, or wearing a Cross necklace. 
It's an unspoken statement of where your belief and hope lay. 
I believe this woman knew what that symbol of sacrifice meant, that her sins and the sins of her family were covered with the scarlet blood of that little lamb, just like our sins are covered with the scarlet blood of The Lamb, and because of this she has nothing to fear! 
Girls, if you are saved, you are clothed with scarlet too. You are washed in the blood, as the old hymn says, and there is nothing in this world to be afraid of anymore.** 

This next verse is speaking of Gomer, a prostitute whom God told the prophet Hosea to marry in order to create a powerful symbol of how Israel was essentially committing adultery against their First Love, God...

For their mother had played the harlot. She that conceiveth them hath done shamefully, for she said, I will go after my lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.     - Hosea 2.5

Gomer represents a woman obtaining material needs, the same commodities that the Virtuous Woman sought, by ungodly means.

Instead of seeking these things for the good of others, Gomer was given them for selfish gain and to the hurt of her husband and children.

Instead of willingly working for her goods, Gomer exploited herself to gain easy access to the things she desired.

Let's look at some other women who may look more like Gomer from the outside, but reveal a heart that appears more like the Virtuous Woman...

Rahab, the harlot, used flax stalks to hide the Hebrew spies in Jericho, then hung a scarlet cord from her window to show her allegiance to Israel and their God, causing her family's lives to be spared. (Joshua 2)

The woman at the well, with five husbands and one that was not her own, drew water for the Lord Jesus, and received the Living Water in return. (John 4.1-42)

Mary, a sinner who was told she was unfit to eat dinner at the same table as Jesus, washed His feet with her hair and anointed His head with oil to show her humility and her great love for Him. (Mark 14.1-9)

The widow woman who couldn't provide for her son put aside her own needs and supplied Elijah with water and bread and oil and then witnessed a miracle of healing from God. (1 Kings 17.8-24)

Please read more about each of these women this week, and if you are like me, you may relate to some of them, whether that be in word, deed, or thought. (See the Cool Story at the end of this post.)
Maybe you feel branded, unworthy of Christian fellowship, much less fellowship with God. If this is you, let me show you one last example of how the everyday commodities that we use to sustain life was used to sustain us spiritually and for eternity, given to us as a reminder of The Act that changed everything...

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat. This is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.     - Matthew 26.26-28

Remember the Last Supper? 

Bread represented Jesus' body that would soon be broken. 

Wine represented His blood that would soon be spilt.

Spices would soon be brought to Jesus' tomb to anoint Him, but He was not there!

 Yes, His body was broken, His blood was spilt, and He was laid in a tomb. 
But He rose from the dead, He conquered death and, just as death couldn't keep Him, sin doesn't have to keep us. 

He (God) causeth the grass to grow for the cattle... and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.     - Psalm 104.14-15

We have freedom in Christ! This truth should make our hearts glad and give us strength. Like Moses after meeting the Lord, His glory should cause our face to shine and reflect His love.*** 

So let the Lord turn your material things into spiritual things.                                                   Let Him make what you deem meaningless and make it glow with His purpose.                                              
Give Him what the world has defiled in your life and let Him cleanse it. Let Him cleanse you.

Now go forth and over-spiritualize!


Cool Story: As I walked out of Moe's I was livid that they messed up my order. "Hello, how hard is it to NOT put black beans on my burrito?!" was my un-Christian thought, and possibly words, as I hurried back to the Christian conference I was attending, a free burrito in my purse. That night I walked past a homeless man. My first thought was "Stranger danger!" and my next thought was, "Wow, I just left this crazy cool conference and learned all about God's love and desire for justice. Maybe I should talk to this guy." Then I remembered that black bean-laden Homewrecker in my purse... I was really convicted about my small circle of awareness and uncanny ability to take material things for granted. I approached him and gave him my former source of anger and saw the joy on his face. I asked him some questions, then we prayed together. As we finished praying I opened my eyes and looked behind me. There was a line of young adults waiting to give this man something. Yes, we were blessing this man with material things, but what brought more joy to his face was what we were giving him spiritually. Never underestimate the power of ministering to someone's material needs. And never miss the opportunity to use those needs to connect with someone spiritually. I thank God for that man and giving me that moment with him!

God moments. Brought to you be the Homewrecker.

^ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.     - John 1.29

* For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and toast, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and sprinkled both the book and the people... And almost all things are by the law purged with blood and without blood there is no redemption.     - Hebrews 9.19, 22

** Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday... Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation.     - David, Psalm 91.5-6, 10

*** And he (Moses) was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights... when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him.     - Exodus 34.28-30