Need a little laughter? Need a little encouragement to keep going forward? I would invite you to read my recent post and feel free to leave a message about how God is helping you in your journey!! What ever you are facing please know, “this too shall pass”. Continue reading
As the year is ending, and a new year begins, my life continues….and so does yours. This past Christmas season has been a tough one for me, to say the least…for now. While children were excited to make wish lists … Continue reading
Shout, Shout, let it all out
These are the things we can do without
Come on, I’m talking to you, Come on!!!
Yes, these are the lyrics from an 80’s band that inspired the title of this post by the same name. If you aren’t familiar with them, you might be too young to be reading this blog.
NOTE: some of the following fears are ones I have had personally while others I have shared by permission from friends.
I have a fear of failure.
I have a fear of success.
I have a fear of marriage.
I have a fear of divorce.
I have a fear of staying single forever.
I have a fear of failing my children.
I have a fear of losing it with my children.
I have a fear of failing my husband.
I have a fear of failing my friends.
I have a fear of spiders and other crawly things.
I have a fear of getting into a car accident.
I have a fear of getting cancer.
I have a fear of rejection.
I have a fear of acceptance.
I have a fear of being real in case I get rejected.
I have a fear of peanut butter.
I have a fear of thunderstorms.
I have a fear of the dark.
I have a fear of confined spaces.
I have a fear of death.
I have a fear of heights.
I have a fear of sharks while swimming in fresh water.
I have a fear of underwater things.
I have a fear of financial ruin.
I have a fear of snakes.
Is your fear listed?
Shout, shout, let it all out!!!!
I don’t know about you, but I have had a lot of tears for a lot of fears over the years. (I know, too many rhymes!!!). Many a pillow has been soaked, tissues drenched and shoulders anointed with those tears.
There is good news…..
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “for God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind”.
Since God doesn’t give us that fear, then it is the Enemy who does. The more space you allow him in your life, the more he will take. Don’t embrace that fear, dear one.
1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
That Perfect Love is Jesus. It is only by His hand that the fear leaves us. If you are a follower of Jesus, don’t allow that fear to keep you trapped. If you don’t understand what it means to trust in Jesus and you are reading this, perhaps it is God’s way of pursuing you to let you know that you also don’t need to carry that fear around in your soul.
So shout, shout and let it all out. These are the fears we can do without. Come on, I AM talking to you.
You know who you are.
I know who I was when I carried these fears deep in my soul. They kept me trapped and caused me to struggle in just about every situation. I found myself making excuses instead of learning to make a way through those debilitating moments that seemed to go on for months.
Don’t make the same mistake….only you can choose to get free from the fears that keep you trapped.
How, you ask?
Confession and surrender.
Are you a believer? Then stop allowing your fears to rule your life. Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
The Enemy’s job isn’t to convince us not to believe in God but to keep us bound up in our fear trap so we won’t serve The King of kings and Lord of lords. If he can succeed in keeping us distracted by our fears we do little to nothing for the Kingdom.
The Enemy wants you to think you are a “good for nothing” person. But once you become a follower of Christ, you become a “good for something” person. You are God’s purposes!!
Ephesians 2:10, “you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works that He planned in advance for you to do.” Don’t let fear have more power in your life than Jesus.
How long, dear friend, will you allow your fears to control you?
Will you join me? Will you shout, shout and let it all out? Leave the fear and doubt at the foot of the Cross once and for all and move forward on the path God has for you!!
I need you to be fear-less. I need your help in the Kingdom. You need me to be fear-less. With God’s help we both can be fear-free!!!
BTW – from the list above, did you catch the one about “sharks in fresh water”? Totally unfounded. Sharks live in salt water. Some fears can be dispelled by shear knowledge and information around them.
What do you fear?
How do you respond to a fear?
What has helped you get over your fears?
1 Peter 1:5, “…who through faith are shielded by God’s power”.
My iPad screen shattered. The worst part was that it happened a few days before we left for a vacation and an already expensive week of the summer.
The shattered glass was held safely behind the screen protector my son insisted I buy a few months prior. (Lesson #1: Parents listen to your tech savvy kids). As I slid my finger across the screen to access my accounts, I felt miniscule shards of glass slipping out from under the on/off button.
With a sick feeling in my gut because of the damage, I talked it over with my husband and decided to get it fixed before leaving on vacation. After paying the $135, I left the store with a brand new screen and a tempered glass screen protector. Not only was I relieved but I was also ready to be even more careful with my treasured device.
A few days later I was still plagued by the whole thing. I kept reliving the whole situation over and over in my mind – from the accident of dropping my iPad, to the unexpected dollar amount, the timing, and the fact that I’m so attached to it. Don’t judge. I know – not healthy.
That’s when the Holy Spirit intervened for some much needed teaching.
Brokenness. We all have it. Whether we want to admit it or not.
Mine is shielded. Not to be mistaken for hidden. There is a difference you know. Let me explain.
If we hide our brokenness (aka. Flaws, weaknesses), we are quicker to get defensive when it is threatened to be exposed. Several blogs ago I shared about having an anger problem. Appropriately titled, “Anger Management”. Back then, I was hiding my brokenness and my struggle. The Enemy knew it and pushed harder on my weaknesses. My flesh followed suit and I sinned in my anger. Leaving shards of pain with my words and sometimes my actions.
With God’s help, I learned that I needed to allow Him to shield my brokenness, allowing Him to protect and guard my heart. So when I did get angry and felt weak, I knew that He was my Shield who was covering me and I could endure whatever the situation at hand.
In essence, He holds my broken pieces together. He will hold yours together too, if you let Him.
Once in awhile, when my spiritual armor (Ephesians 6) is not fitting properly (probably because of unconfessed sin in my life), a small shard of brokenness breaks away and falls into your life.
I am sorry. It is sharp and imperfect and it might make you say more than “ouch” or “eww”. But don’t worry, others have had a front row seat to your brokenness. You may need to ask God to help you love your pieces back into place.
Our brokenness is God’s job to keep together. He is my Shield. Is He yours?
Over the years as the LORD has revealed my brokenness to me, I have come to recognize Him as the more-improved “tempered glass” kind of Shield.
Remember my shattered screen from my iPad? Yes, the store did replace the broken screen and the tempered glass screen protector. When I got home, I noticed a fingerprint that wouldn’t come off. I quickly realized that it was under the protective screen. As I was tempted to get angry, the Holy Spirit calmed me and gave me this idea – the fingerprint would be a reminder of God’s Fingerprint in my life because it is by His Hand I am put back together, shielded and protected.
When does your brokenness show up the most?
What or who is your shield?
How do you feel when your brokenness spills out?
How do you respond when your brokenness is exposed?
Thank you for accepting me in my brokenness.
While vacationing at a friend’s cottage for a few days up in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, my devotions were centered around Matthew 11. Specifically verse 28.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.
I love how God times His Word to be the exact thing I needed on this vacation. We were entering this vacation after a several exhausting few months for our family. I was continuing the work of recovering from the effects of the Nepal earthquake. We had recently buried my sister after she lost her battle to brain cancer. My first book, “I Am Hagar: Forgotten No More,” was published and released (you can find it on Amazon.com). And a plethera of other situations that required my attention. The ups and downs of my emotions and the hard work I had done to cope has been exhausting, to say the least. This road, amidst it’s great joys and disappointments has been very treacherous!!
Without my supportive and loving husband, my children and friends who have been genuinely walking this journey with me, I think I would have been fit-to-be-tied months ago.
There was actually a time during those weeks where the “ride” seemed fast and furious and left my head spinning. I remember just closing my eyes and asking God to show me where He was in the midst of all this. At that precise moment, He gave me a picture of me sitting on a roller-coaster chair/bench and the lap bar was His arm. As I held on to His arm (the lap bar), I began to stroke it and had peace that He was holding me in place. I was assured that He would not let me go and would see me through to the end. That day (and since) He gave me an inexplicable peace that I was going to make it.
Back to the verse…I love this verse because it is very direct. For those who know me personally, I love direct communication. When I hear indirect communication it makes my brain work harder to have to decipher what looks like hidden meanings.
Jesus says, “Come to Me”….not, take a bunch of detours and then come. Yet, even if we have taken those detours, He still wants us to come to Him. If Nike was the speaker, they would say, “just do it!!”.
“All who are weary and burdened”, I think that everyone reading this and those we know have been weary and burdened at one time or another. I wonder what would happen if all of us who have obeyed this gentle command “Come to Me”, were to share with those who are currently weary and burdened, the Hope and rest they can find in Jesus?
“I will give you rest” is a promise from a promise-keeping God!! The kind of rest we can have in the midst of the fast and furiousness of our lives is uncompromising and available to all of us.
Our vacation ended with a day on Mackinaw Island. My time on the island started with a bike ride on a tandem bike with my husband. We rode the 8 miles around Mackinaw Island with the family and had a great time while learning a lot about us and other areas of our lives. Ken was in the front and I in the back. He did all the driving and I was along for the ride. I just held on. When he changed gears and went faster (than I would have liked), my heart raced and my muscle spasms (a result of the earthquake) kicked in with a vengeance. But I held on (perhaps muttering a thing or two under my breath). He would check on me every now and then and my answer was the same everytime. “I’m doing ok”. I’m not sure what He wanted me to say, because I really didn’t have a choice but to keep trusting him.
That gave me the beautiful picture of journeying with Jesus. I am doing ok and I don’t have a choice but to trust Him!!
He is leading, guiding and taking me on the ride of my life. I choose to rest in Him and hold on to see what other great adventures lie ahead. So, no matter how “fast” and “furious” your journey may be right now, know that God will lead you safely through it all.
What are you going through right now that needs more faith?
How do you respond when things don’t go your way?
How have you been responding to Jesus’ invitation to “Come to Him”?
Maybe you say that “God is leading” but are you following Him?
Thank you for joining me on this leg of my journey!
So it’s been over 2 months since the Nepal earthquake and I continue to heal. On that day(I discovered two weeks later), I had incurred a shoulder injury while I was helping a teammate up off the ground. I used … Continue reading
(I wrote this blog post for a women’s ministry site I used to write for a couple years ago and just felt the need to re-post it again here. Although it was written in 2013, I have been doing a … Continue reading
I have had many conversations over the past few weeks and there has been one recurring question in some of them.
“Why didn’t you stay and help?”. As innocent as that question is, at the time for me, it was accompanied with feelings of guilt that I didn’t stay in Nepal.
I had asked myself that question, several times, in the days and hours following the initial earthquake on April 25th. I wondered, in my heart, if that’s why the LORD had allowed me to be there during the quake. There were many questions that were swirling around in my head as I also just tried to cope with the constant aftershocks and tremors that continued long after the largest quake hit. (At the writing of this post, 6 weeks later, Nepal is still experiencing daily aftershocks, with some measuring up to 5.8 on the Richter scale)
Was I supposed to stay and encourage and help and be a support to the people?
How can I help? What about my family back at home? I am a wife and a mother.
As a follower of Jesus, shouldn’t I stay to support the work of my fellow Christians? Is this my decision or God’s decision? How would I answer if God asked me to stay?
To be completely honest, I didn’t want to stay. I wanted to leave. I think it was part shock, part responsibility for my team, and part “I’ve had enough”.
We had tickets booked and all the arrangements for this trip had been bathed in prayer. I trusted that God was “on top” of everything. Yet my heart was waffling. There was so much chaos and confusion and I needed rest. I needed a rescue.
I didn’t share any of this with my team because I knew they were dealing with this in their own way and I didn’t want to cause them more stress. Being the leader of the team I had to weigh all of it heavily and carefully, taking everything into account. Trusting God would allow me to hear Him more clearly than ever before……I DID!!! I HEARD HIM!!
You see, I had already done my part.
Our team was in Nepal for two weeks at that point and we had had some amazing days of ministry to women that were bought and freed from slavery. I spoke at women’s conferences in Biratnager (East Nepal), in Dhangahdi (West Nepal), and ended our time with an “Encouragement Retreat” for the women leaders of the churches, the day before the earthquake in Kathmandu. Ironically, during that retreat, I encouraged the leaders to be strong and trust in God for whatever lies ahead. Little did I know that a day later, it would be an earthquake that would require an extra measure of strength and tenacity for these leaders that God had called to build the church in Nepal.
As the keynote speaker at the conferences, I challenged and encouraged the women to take a close look at three things: their identity in Christ, God’s provision and protection through the Armour of God, and finally the Power of Prayer.
During my time in Nepal, I have learned, through many stories, that many women feel very devalued in that culture. These women feel like they don’t matter to anyone. So when the LORD laid on my heart to encourage them in their Identity in Christ, I was able to encourage and empower them to live fully for Jesus while He healed their woundedness.
I remember vividly teaching the women how to put on their armour every day as a way of seeing God protecting them. I used daily items to illustrate each piece of the armour. At the end of each demonstration I had the women hold up their sword of the Spirit (raising their hand) and say, “I am ready for the battle”.
In the “Power in Prayer” segment, I encouraged them to grow in intimacy with Jesus through prayer, having face time with Him. In reality, on several occasions, they taught me about prayer through their passion and desire for prayer.
For me personally, the Leadership Retreat was the most powerful. It was an oppportunity to encourage those on the road of ministry and also many who have been on the road longer than I have. It was a humbling experience and yet, one I would love to do again in a heartbeat. As a leader, I understand the loneliness we feel from time to time. I understand the responsibility and accountability we have to those we serve and also to God. We weren’t put in our positions by chance but by God’s call on our lives. We need encouragement to “press on” from time to time. We don’t have all the answers but we welcome the questions.
Given that we held that retreat for leaders the day before the earthquake made it even more powerful!!
We all have a part to play in this life. If you know what your’s is, go for it. Live it well and fully!!
If you don’t, then ask God to show you where He wants you, which is not to be mistaken with “where do you want to be?” All the while we need to keep in mind that our calling can look different from season to season.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you Hope and a future”.
Whether you agree or disagree, God has a plan for each of us. His plan for me was to be in Nepal for the two weeks to teach, admonish, encourage, provide leadership and empower the women in the church with the power of the Gospel. His plan for me here at home is unfolding one day at a time. I continue to blog as therapy for myself, encouragement to my readers and glory to God for not only saving me from the tragic earthquake but for holding me and using me during the days before, during, and after the whole experience!!
Romans 12:3-8 says it better than I ever could.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully”.
How has God nudged you to get involved in the aftermath of the tragedy in Nepal?
Have you ever been in a place of great debate about whether you should “stay or go”?
How is God using you right where you are?
Where do you sense God wants to use you today?
Do an inventory of the gifts you have and ask God to show you where He wants to use them.
Thank you joining me in my journey.
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money”.
Saturday April 25th, 2015 will forever remain in my story for many reasons. That was the day of the tragic earthquake in Nepal that killed over eight thousand people and rendered millions homeless, not to forget all the people that will live with the trauma of that day in the deepest parts of their soul for months and maybe years to come. I am discovering that being a survivor of a tragedy like that challenges me to think about “what is really important to me”.
Since my conversion to Jesus Christ at the age of 14, I have grown to really love the LORD and have chosen to serve Him ONLY. Like most relationships, there have also been ups and downs in my relationship with Him. There have been times when I have grown in trust, faith, understanding and strength while at other times I was afraid, doubted, or held on to fear, pride, self-protection or other things that I believed were important to me. Yet, time and time again, God would bring me to scripture passages that would gently turn my heart away from those ups and downs and help me to focus the eyes of my heart on Him.
That day when the LORD shifted the tectonic plates, ultimately destroying physical Hindu idols and monuments made and worshiped by man, I believe He also crushed my idol of self-protection.
You see, protecting myself (aka: porcupine – see “blog post called “Anger Management”) was what was very important to me leading up to that day. You could call it my idol. Although I had confessed and surrendered it on several occasions, I guess it was never completely gone.
That day not only did the earthquake take down physical idols that were important to Hindus, my idol of self-protection was crushed – permanently.
Idols can be defined as things that are so important to us that we would be devastated if they were gone. They block our view of Jehovah Jireh (God as Provider). We then run the risk of missing the way He is providing for us in our crisis.
At noon on the day of the earthquake, the Hindu “rain god” was to be paraded through the streets of Kathmandu. The Hindus had prepared a way for the 7-story-tall rain god to move through the city by taking power lines down and blocking area roadways for it’s safe passing. The earthquake hit at 11:56 and was so powerful it toppled and destroyed that structure. To me that was a wake-up call to the church (Church = who we are not just where we go), the Body of Christ, the Body of believers to acknowledge our idols.
In the Hindu faith, the religion includes worship of stone gods and idols that are in plain view of passersby. In the Christian faith, however, as much as it is a religion, it is more specifically a relationship with a living God. This relationship with Jesus produces a transforming of our hearts and lives so we reflect a living God and not the things of this world.
Unfortunately, some Christians tend to hide idols (in their heart) while showing great commitment to God on the outside (perhaps through service or words). Let’s not forget that, “…The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). I assure you, I am not exempt from that. The Holy Spirit reminds me everyday to hold things loosely so as not turn them into idols.
I believe that Christians would experience the abundant life referred to in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly” more effectively if we grew in our understanding and awareness of our internal idols.
I like the way author and pastor Tim Keller says it. In his Epilogue, he writes, “…idolatry is always the reason we ever do anything wrong”. He then quotes Martin Luther, “the fundamental motivation behind lawbreaking is idolatry” (referring to the Ten Commandments). There is something you feel you must have to be happy, something that is more important to your heart than God Himself.” (pages 165-166; “Counterfeit Gods”)
All this might sound judgemental to you (believer) but the truth is, as we read in 1Corinthians 5:12 and 13, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside…”. We are also called to “build each other up in the faith” (1Thessalonians 5:11) and that is my hearts desire. In reality, when idols are brought into the light, they not only lose their power but we make more room for Jesus.
Want more Jesus?
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him….They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than The Creator”. (Romans 1:21, 25)
Hey believers, can we please stop feeding our idols and instead, can we be united in Christ and share Him with the world?
Ask God to show you the things or people that “if they are removed from your life” you would be devastated.
How powerful are the idols in your life?
What do you need to take down so you can make room for MORE God in your life?
Are you being lead by your idols or lead by Jesus?
Thank you for joining me on my journey. Blessings on yours.
(It has been three weeks since I have been home. Today in my devotions was Luke 21:19, “…by standing firm, you will gain life”. I wrote this blog post three days ago. I love how God keeps me on track)
As I write these blogs about my experience in Nepal, specifically during the time of the earthquake, I have been reviewing my journal entries leading up to that day. There was an undeniable connection between those entries and the day the ground shook beneath my feet. From Scriptures to Oswald Chambers’ comments, the LORD was preparing me for that day. Through the following scripture passages and quotes from Oswald Chambers, God was preparing my heart to, “stand firm” so that I wouldn’t give in to the chaos around me.
Oswald Chambers’ comments
— “the burden is lightened by the sense of companionship.” (with the Holy Spirit).
— (based on Matthew 11) – “No power on earth or in hell can conquer the Spirit of God in a human spirit, it is an inner unconquerableness.” (yes, that is a word).
— (based on 2 Kings 2) – “do not forecast where the temptation will come, it is the least likely thing.”
— “you have remained true to God under great and intense trials, now beware of the undercurrent.”
— “unguarded strength is double weakness.”
— “kept by the power of God” is the ONLY safety.”
— (based on 2 Corinthians 1) – “our capacity in spiritual matters is measured by the Promises of God and not by our education or intellect.”
– Psalm 55:9, “…destructive forces are at work in the city…”
— Psalm 55:16-18, “As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice. He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me”
2 Chronicles 15:7, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:15, “…they sought God eagerly and He was found by them. So the LORD gave them rest on every side”.
(Morning of the earthquake)
2 Timothy 2:3, “endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.
2 Timothy 2:4, “no one serving as a good soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer”.
2 Timothy 2:7, “reflect on what I am saying, for the LORD will give you insight into all of this”.
2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.
Practicing spiritual health, spending quality time with Jesus, is the only thing that can truly prepare us for a crisis. Be it physical, financial, emotional, relational, or whatever. Basically any kind of crisis.
With the help and companionship of the Holy Spirit we are able to see, with our own eyes, Christ in the middle of any crisis.
I write like this because I want to share what the LORD has done in my life and to give you an eternal Hope in your journey.
I don’t expect all my readers to agree with what I write, but I do expect that somehow what God poured into me and how He prepared me through Oswald Chambers’ words and various Scriptures, would also encourage you in your journey as you not only face the crisis in your story, but also live.
How do you prepare for what life throws at you?
What are some lessons you have learned from crisis’ that you have experienced?
How has God’s Word impacted your life?
Thank you for joining me on my journey. Blessings on yours.