Monthly Archives: September 2012

His Love is Sufficient – But, Do You Believe It?

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“His love is sufficient.”  That is a phrase many people know, or at least have heard many, many times. It speaks of God and his love for all of humanity. It speaks of the overwhelming love that He so freely offers and wants us to have. We are quick to mention that it is sufficient, but let me ask – do you really believe that?

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it really is something to ponder. Do you really believe that His love truly is sufficient? Or, are you like many other people (myself included) who tend to think such sentiments are fine and good for everyone else – while somehow being unworthy? Do you really ALLOW his love to be sufficient? Do you believe that you are a child of our God, loved and adored by Him? If you do, then His love IS and WILL REMAIN sufficient. His love will cover all – all your needs, wants, desires.

I have had the pleasure of many thought-provoking conversations recently. A friend pointed something out and asked a question that should make anyone think. “Do you love God?” Well, yes. Of course I do. “Why do you love God?” (Think on that one for a quick reply – I had lots of reasons, many of which were hard to verbalize.) My friend then mentioned that, in His word, God says, “If you love me, you will follow my commands.”  Okay, I get that. He gives us directives – and to show our love means listening to those and living by them. But, my friend also brought up another point. “To love Him means you KNOW Him.” Then followed that with, “…and how do you really KNOW Him?” You talk to Him, you share your heart, and open yourself to knowing His. In doing this, you also study His Word – you open up and emerse yourself in the Bible. It is not something you do out of some man-made requirement. Instead, you read it to KNOW God – to learn all you can about His character, and who He truly is. That line of thinking was very powerful for me. It is a no-brainer to/for some, but I needed this reminder. Yes, I know what the Bible is. Yes, I do read it. But, it is not – nor has it been – my lifeline, my method of getting to know my Father.

Another reminder God shared through a friend today was that God truly loves each and every one of us – simply because we are His children. Do we deserve it? Are we worthy? Absolutely not. But, remember that NOTHING you did yesterday, today, or will do tomorrow will keep His love from you. He went to the cross and died so that you and I could be forgiven. We are not expected to be perfect, and it is – once again – okay to NOT be okay!

Having A Church Family – Priceless!

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I just wanted to share something with all who take the time to read this.  I’ve been thinking, and something really touched me last night.  I have realized what having a church FAMILY really means.  As I mentioned in a recent entry, I have recently (end of April, 2012) started attending Skyline Church.  Being a part of a church family is about so much more than I am used to. It’s so much more than just the four walls of a church building.  It’s so much more than all the members you see once a week.  It’s about being there for other people, and about allowing them to be there for you.  It’s about doing this thing called life together – every day of the week, not just on Sunday mornings. It’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus – with each other, well as with our greater community and beyond. I just haven’t ever been a part of a church family that I have connected with and allowed to become family.

Yesterday, I spent the greater part of the day in the emergency room.  I was having random chest pain, was a bit light-headed, and my pulse and blood pressure were fairly elevated.  So, I reached out and asked for prayer.  The first reply was, “of course” but then what quickly followed was “what can we do to help?”  They asked if I needed help with the kids, etc.  Several people also reached back to let me know they’re praying for me, and asked just showed love.  I realized right then and there, how much this is more than people I see each week – it’s the body of Christ, and a true family.

I’m floored by the amount of love God has for me, as is evident in the people He has in my life.  I’m blessed to do life with them.  Thanking God for the passion and love for people, as displayed by my church family – for me, for each other, and for the community – reaching the world.

I said all that to just say something I’ve touched on before.  If you are not a part of a church family, I highly suggest you make it a priority to find one.  Don’t just go to a church, be a active part of the church.  Get involved.  Reach out to others, and allow them to reach back. It’ll change your life.

The Mindset of a Child

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Sometimes being a parent can be all sorts of delightful fun – full of good times and bad. I would like to explore the reasoning of / from a child. Recently, one of my children had a small meltdown of sorts. It is not “the norm” for him, but here is how our morning went for a little while… “Mom, you’re just so mean….Mom you just don’t GET me…Mom it’s not fair….you’re always asking me to do things I don’t want to do!” It started off with a simple request on my part, which was followed by his being disobedient and not following simple directives. As I assured him that privelages (such as TV, playing with friends, etc.) would be taken away if his attitude and choices did not change, he assured me he did not care. It was hard to sit back and allow him to make his own choices. But, I did. And, I let him figure out the hard way, that there are consequences to those same choices. It is all about self control, and taking responsibility to / for your own actions.

It was during all of this that I drew a parallel. I took the time, and thought things through on an entirely different level. I looked at how many people, myself included, are often inclined to talk and react to God – the creator of the Heavens and the Earth – the One who gave His only son to die on a cross, so that we might live – the One who loved us THAT much – – Yes, Him! I began thinking of Him in that loving role as our Father, our Daddy. And, upon thinking, I realized a great deal.

Just as I struggle sometimes as a parent to instill morals, values, ethics, etc. in my children, He struggles much in the same way. In one way or another, we (as children of the Most High God) rebel. In some way, we scream at Him – saying that He just doesn’t GET us. We turn our backs on Him, thinking that He is not concerned with our feelings. We get downright angry, letting him know that we do not think it’s fair that He is always daring to ask us to do things we don’t or might not want to do! I mean, how dare He!? And why?

Well, what I realized is that, much in the same way (but only on such a greater scale) that I love my own children, He loves us. So much. In the same way that I assure my children that nothing they can do or say will ever make me stop loving them, He does the same thing. His love for us is truly unconditional. He loves us with such a passion that it is hard to comprehend – even a fraction of that love. He yearns to share with us the same love we have for our children, only on such a greater more impressive scale. No one is capable of understanding His love. But, when you have gotten a glimpse at even a fraction of it, it is nothing short of life-changing. You cannot experience the presence of God and not be touched in some way, shape or form.

God loves us with a never-ending love. He KNOWS we will mess up, and loves us all the same. He understands that we are not perfect – but loves us simply because we are His kids. The mindset of a child can sometimes be “fun,” but the love of a parent to that same child – and the parallels it shows with our truly loving God is amazing.

Take the time today to get back to that child-like innocence in the eyes of your Heavenly Father. Open your heart, and cry out to God. Know that, no matter what, He is there, and He will listen.

The Next Time Someone Needs You – Just Be There!

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The following is a story I read online, author unknown.  I wanted to share – not because it’s an amazing and beautiful story (because it is) – but because it’s the way we should all strive to be.  To care that much…

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. “Your son is here,” she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened.Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s …

limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man’s hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused.

Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.

Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.

Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her, “Who was that man?” he asked.

The nurse was startled, “He was your father,” she answered.

“No, he wasn’t,” the Marine replied. “I never saw him before in my life.”

“Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?”

“I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed. I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His Son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this Gentleman’s Name? “

The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey………”

The next time someone needs you … just be there. Stay.

Let Him Lead You

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I am constantly reminded of how grateful I am to be in a place (church) that I am. I feel confident that God led me there, at the very time He did, for His own reasons. It’s called life change.

Now, I have no idea why it took so long for me to realize that now is the time, and to get real with God again.  Whatever the reasons may be, God lead me there recently – and I am SO grateful that He did. I have learned and grown SO much in the relatively short time I’ve been there.  I have been excitedly attending church week after week. God is a faithful God, and His presence fills the church service. It is my prayer that he touches every single person in attendence, as well as those unable to attend. May His fire burn with intensity in our hearts. But, more than that – I pray that I am able to take that same fire, intensity and passion with me daily. I mean on church days and non-church days alike. I want to share His true heart-warming, life changing love with the world. I know I am only one person, but I know God has called each and every person alive to Himself. He gives us free will to choose, but wants us to be a part of His family. We are His children, and He loves us with a greater passion than any of us can relate to or even understand.

I constantly see the hand of God, and the heart of God poured out in a very real way. This church is on fire. If we are seeking Him, and want to be closer, there is a fire that burns away the mediocrity. It burns away complacency. It burns away all the impurities that would keep us from drawing closer to God. It helps us be pure vessels that He can work through.

I want nothing more than to be real. I want nothing more to be in the hands of my Creator. I want to be a vessel that He can work through. When others see me, I want them to be able to know Him. I want Him to be apparent to those who know and see me. I want to be available to Him, to do with me anything He chooses – and in His own time. I believe it’s all about knowing that God is God, and He knows what he is doing. Trusting Him is paramount to walking everyday in His plan.

With regards to His plan, today was “bring a friend weekend” at church. No one I invited was able to attend (and that’s okay) but today I had a very proud Mama moment.

Before I tell that story, let me rewind and share what led up to today’s proud moment. My (10 year old) son and I had a conversation that went something like this:
Him: You know how that invite a friend thing is coming up at church?
Me: Yes I do…why do you ask?
Him: Well, first, does our church allow Baptists to come?
(Maintaining my composure because it was just too cute)
Me: Yes, of course they do. Why are you asking?
Him: Because there is this new kid at school and I asked him if he wanted to come to church with me…and he said his family is Baptist but that they haven’t found a church to go to yet.
Me: That’s pretty awesome buddy.
Him: But what if his parents don’t want to go, do you think we can bring him with us?
Me: Yes I’m sure we can take him if his parents allow that.
**end conversation**

So now fast forward to today’s service. My sons friend and parents came and attended today’s service. What I also found out was that his friends father made the decision to give his life to Jesus today. Talk about God’s timing in connection with the faith of a child.

This story blessed me and just further instills in me the fact that I am where God called me for this season of my life. (Hoping its a very long season!) It just makes my heart happy to see life change happen in such a real way. God moves and lives are changed.

The Forever Quest – Finding Your Calling

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I’m sure I’m not alone in my thoughts. So many people, myself included, are on that quest in life seeking purpose, something more, what they are destined for, etc. And, when it’s not found, or not immediately revealed, it can be discouraging…or lead to a person thinking they aren’t good enough, and will never make it. People judge their own success based on some superficial idea of what they *should* be doing.

I’d argue this – success is a very different picture for everyone. What may be your ultimate success may not phase me in the least. What I may see as successful may not mean beans in the eyes of the world. What I want to stress is that success, and feeling that sense of accomplishment is very individual.

Let’s look at me, for example. I am a stay at home mom to my beautiful children. So, my picture of success is watching my children grow up, knowing I’m doing my best to instill in them morals and values. Seeing them make the right choices, grow up, and just be the amazing little blessings from God that they are- that is one ideal picture of success– at least in my head. I don’t have that successful career, or a lifetime of accolades that tell me I’m great. But, I have the laughter, smiles and hugs that do just that. See, it’s all in perspective.

But, it goes further and deeper than that. I’ve often wondered what “my calling” in life is. I want to live life to the fullest, and to reach that aforementioned purpose. However, for me at least, that purpose has been a part of me, right under my nose the whole entire time. I have recently come to realize that who I am IS important – and that I AM living God’s purpose for MY life. You’ll notice I emphasize the word MY…because God does not expect us all to do the same things, or to respond to the same call. He gives us all strengths, passions, reasons for being. I have come to realize that one of (if not THE) most important things for me right now is people. I have a passion for other people. I have experienced life on many levels. I have had good, and bad times. In the midst of it all, I have learned what it’s like to hurt – but also what it’s like to be loved, and find that hope. My sole purpose in life – at least right now – is to share that same love and hope with others. To encourage the world. To let people know that they aren’t alone. To let them know they are important, and that their life matters. To just be a friend to the friendless. To care for the hopeless. To share hope. That is the recurring theme here. Now, that may not seem like much to you, but it is the world to me. To reach out in love is truly life-changing….to the person you reach out to, but also within.

I say all that to just encourage you – don’t live your life on an ever growing quest to find your purpose. Take a moment to reflect – realizing that you may already be living your greatest gift. No matter who you are, have faith in yourself. Love you for you. You ARE special. You ARE important. Your life matters beyond what you may ever know.

What Are You Reflecting???

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When people look at you, what do they see staring back?  What qualities do people see in you?

As followers of Christ, we are called to act as the hands and feet of Jesus.  To be a representative of Him in all we do, and to all we are in contact with.  So, if you’re the only “Jesus” some people might see, what will their picture of Jesus look like?  Are you reflecting Him in your actions?

I know this is a hard thing for me to swallow at times.  Do I truly reflect Jesus well?  No, not all the time.  Does this mean our lives are going to be perfect 100% of the time? Absolutely not.  However, what we ARE promised is One who is, and always will remain faithful.  We should strive to act as He would act, and treat others with the grace he so often displays for each and every one of us.

When you don’t agree with someone, take a brief pause and ask yourself how Jesus might respond.  Would He respond in anger, ensuring He got the last word, and was right – no matter the consequence?  You see, I don’t think so. I think Jesus operates in more grace than we can fathom.  I, for one, am beyond grateful for His never-ending love and grace.  A practical example of this would be peoples thoughts and opinions during these upcoming elections.   Simply log into Twitter, or go play on Facebook.  You, if you’re anything like me, will see countless posts about whichever convention was being watched at the time – and consequently the follies of either side.  If you wear the name of a Christ Follower, take a brief moment to just ponder how your post and/or reply to others will look.  With regards to all things religion, don’t engage in heated, divisive, and at times hurtful debates.  Let the truths of His word speak for itself.  Let Jesus shine through you, not in spite of you!

Please don’t think I’m pointing fingers at anyone, or at any group.  I am not.  I’m merely sharing what’s on my heart, as it relates to me.  I know I’ve been guilty as charged time and time again.  All I can do is pray God can use whatever situation to shine His light, and to share His love and hope to a hurting, hungry and thirsty world!

A Call to Action – Be Intentional!!!

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On the coattails of Sunday’s post, I would like to issue a challenge.  It’s a personal challenge for me, and for anyone else who would like to respond.  I want to also share my thoughts on giving cheerfully.

Take the time today to consciously do something, no strings attached, for a friend, for family, or especially for a complete stranger.  It can be something simple like a smile.  Say hi to a stranger who looks sad, or like they need to know they aren’t alone in the world.  Buy someone’s food, coffee, etc in the drive thru.  Just search your own heart.  Ask yourself the kinds of things that would make a difference to you.  Put yourself in the shoes of that homeless person.  What would make their day?  Just get out there and do SOMETHING.  Be intentional with it.

Back to my last statement, I want to address something that I’ve had to personally deal with:  Being a cheerful giver.  With reference to this idea being played out, let’s think about that homeless person I just referenced.  You know the one – the one you see in Wal-Mart’s parking lot – with the sign, begging to work for food while you know deep down he’s just trying to scam for money.  Have you ever had those sort of thoughts?  I know I have.  However, I was recently convicted.  I realized that if I am doing something with a cheerful heart, and I believe God was leading me to be a blessing in someone’s life, why then should it matter?  Give cheerfully, be a blessing – and let God take care of those trying to get over.  Maybe they are there for free food, or to scam.  Even so, they deserve to know Jesus.  Grace is theirs, just as much as it is yours or mine.

As your day continues, make notes (even mental notes) of the things you did with no strings attached.  If you saw their reaction, what was it?  If you simply did a kind gesture anonymously, how did it make you feel?  What have your experiences with this been?

National Suicide Prevention Week 2012

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This blog post is being started with a warning.  It will be long, and it will likely be pretty personal.  I aim to share some personal thoughts regarding the topic suicide, and specifically this week.  Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day – where people around the globe stood together to raise awareness.  Similarly, this week is national suicide prevention week.  It bothers me that there is even the need for such a day, week and month.

If there is one thing I am learning, it’s that NOTHING will change unless we are honest about it…unless we talk about it.  The ONLY way we can diminish the stigma that surrounds mental illness and suicide is by talking about it.  This is the first time that raising awareness and prevention hasn’t personally taken a depressing toll on me. Previously, it would depress me more than it would do good (for me) by raising said awareness.  This year, through much of life’s circumstances, and with God’s help (and the help of the people He has blessed me with) I am experiencing peace and more strength than I can imagine by sharing my own story, by talking about it, and by reaching out and walking this life with others.

I was recently posed a question that asked what I was doing in my community to raise awareness, and to bring hope.  This is urgently on my heart.  So, I’ve started talking about it.  I may be just one person, but I am going to start a revolution.  Not really – but as just one person, I CAN make an impact.  I plan on approaching our city to see if we can schedule an event to talk about it – to bring awareness – and be proactive with prevention.  Also today, I spoke randomly with six different people.  The people I talked to had varying occupations, ages and were both male and female – from stay at home moms to corporate executives. (And, no – I’m not exaggerating.)  The first person is a grown man who first experienced suicide the end of 2011, just after Thanksgiving when his friend took his own life.  The next person knew people who struggled with suicidal thoughts, and had experienced a loss to suicide during high school.  The next person was a young college student who had a really good friend (one known since kindergarten) commit suicide just after high school graduation.  This person also said goodbye to a friend in college – another suicide.  The next was a grown man who still showed much emotion over having lost a really good friend in junior high – also to suicide.  He still grieves.  He has never forgotten. The next is a sweet young college student who has struggled with depression since a young age – and was finally diagnosed at the age of 14.  She struggles with suicidal thoughts, and has attempted suicide before.  The next was a college aged young man who said he had experienced suicide way too much.  Too many people he has known or been acquainted with have taken their own life.  One is too many.

My point of the last entire paragraph is that I am ONE person.  One person who talked to six people I’ve never talked to about this topic.  And, I learned that six out of six people have been in some way affected by suicide.  That, alone, is a pretty staggering statistic to me.  I know that many people (thank God) have not experienced suicide, or anything related to it – and you cannot imagine how happy this makes me.  I’d also like to tell you my story – as it relates to being affected by suicide specifically.  In high school, I had a really good friend who was suicidal.  I did not k now at first.  We knew she was not happy.  It was not until my mother called me at work, and told me that she needed help in a desperate way, and her family had reached out to ours to see if I could talk to her.  I spoke with my boss, who was really awesome about it, and I left to just go be with her.  She was in a really dark place, and was literally at the brink of taking her life.  I’ve been told later in life that, had I not been there that day, she would not be alive today.  I smile, knowing I made a difference.  She has three beautiful children, and is still alive.  About a year later, a friend in high school took his own life.  The odd thing about him (or at least it was odd to me at the time) was that no one knew.  Outwardly, he was successful in school, popular, had a good home life, and many people who loved him.  So, his suicide was heartbreaking and definitely unexpected.  About two years later, I had joined the military and was serving overseas.  I had a really good friend, and a member of my unit commit suicide.  I knew that he was hurting.  I knew that he was dealing with things on a personal level, and at home.  I knew that he was struggling – having gotten disciplinary action in the military.  What I did not know, was how much he was hurting.  I believe I did what I could do.  I was a friend, and cared about him very much.  But, there is always going to be that part of me that always wonders what I could have done differently.

In the coming years, I began volunteering with suicide intervention and prevention – reaching out to people in crisis.  I had training, and had been certified to know how to react.  Let me tell you, though, that there is nothing in this world that can adequately prepare you for when someone close to you is suicidal, or takes their own life.  Nothing. It’s not possible.  I believe that is a good thing though because I do not want to see the day that suicide just becomes and accepted problem.  That said, one of my very best friends struggles with mental illness, and has attempted suicide multiple times.  It breaks my heart watching her hurt.  It breaks my heart when I have more faith and see so much in her that she’s blind to – that she’s unable to see herself.  There were times that she was closer to death than she realizes, even today.  It hurts to think about it, but it hurts worse imagining if she had succeeded.  She has told me many times before how she wouldn’t be alive if not for me standing by her through the thick and the thin. What she doesn’t realize is that I need her as much as she needs me.  I need her to stay alive.  Well, truth be told, she does know this – because I’ve told her.  I cannot imagine life without her.  Through my own struggles over time, I know I have a friend in her.

In time, and in a different post, I will share my personal story.  I will share some of the struggles I’ve gone through, and the ways that I have found grace, love and hope.

I just said all that to say that this is real.  Suicide is a growing epidemic.  It breaks through all barriers.  Man, woman, young or old – or anywhere in between – are all affected.  It is my belief that if we begin talking about it, there will be less of a stigma related to depression, mental illness, suicide and addiction.

One thing I want to reiterate.  Your past does not define you.  No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what brings you to where you are today, you are loved.  You do not have to walk through life alone.  We were created as community people. People need people, plain and simple.  Do not sell yourself short.  Realize that hope IS real, and it is for you.  Don’t ever give up.  Your life is important, and your story matters.  More than that, your story isn’t finished being written yet.  Never for get that  hope is real.

Prayer and Remembrance ~ September 11, 2012

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For most people, well young adults and older, you can mention 9/11 and it will bring up some emotion, or memory of that day.  I personally remember where I was, what I was doing, and what emotions surrounded this day – as well as the days moving forward.  I remember every detail, and I will not ever forget.  As I sit here, I am just remembering the moments from that day that stick out in my head.  I was pregnant with our first child.  We had just moved to Washington DC, and my husband’s first day working at the Pentagon was September 11, 2001. What I vividly remember, though, is the pride and patriotism in the United States – this amazing country many of us call home.  In the days following, I would drive up the streets – any streets – and see flags adorning the roads.  Tears would well up in my eyes as I thought about the resolve that was on the forefronts of peoples minds that day.  We would not let that event tear us up, or bring us down.  We would fight back, and we would move forward – never forgetting.

Let the memory of this day prompt you to pray for all the families and friends of those who lost a spouse, family member or a friend that day.  They will not be forgotten.  This country will not forget.  As you pray, always remember to share gratitude for all the first-responder heroes of that day, as well as the “everyday” heroes all amongst us!

Do you have a “9/11” story to share?  Do you want to honor or remember anyone?  I’d love to hear, remember and pray for you today!