There were three women in the room. Two older women with another younger one sitting on the middle cot. One of the older women was the mother of the younger, a daughter who appeared to be in her late 20’s. … Continue reading
From my heart: It’s been awhile since I last wrote. Life has been very full and very complicated and I haven’t been able to blog the way I have wanted. I decided I wanted to finish out the year better than it started. I have many pieces waiting in the wings. I hope you will continue on this journey with me and that you will receive peace and insight for yours.
I love to write and share what God has put on my heart and I THANK YOU for joining me!!!!
“I’m looking at the man in mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways…”
You might recognize those lyrics if you, like me, are a child of the 80’s. “Man in the Mirror” was one of Michael Jackson’s most critically acclaimed songs released in 1988 and nominated for “record of the year” at the Grammy awards. Many radio stations continue to play it today, nostalgically taking me back in time.
A song I turn up in the car and sing along to my hearts delight.
Truth be told, I was a huge Michael fan growing up and even remember seeing him in concert when I turned 13. Sadly, his life ended at the age of 50 leaving behind a legacy of music, fashion and talent that no other artist has ever measured up to. He was aptly named “the king of Pop” for those reasons.
In the past several months, the lyrics of this song have taken me into deeper intimacy with Jesus causing me to have a lump in my throat and tears to follow.
Here’s why. I have been asking God to change His ways. I have had more requests for Him than affirmation, praise and gratitude for Him amidst the many storms surrounding me and many others in this country. I sat with these lyrics and God showed me something different. He changed the lyric for me to read, “I’m looking at the man in the mirror and He’s asking me to change my ways”. Who is this man you ask? Please read on.
I look in the mirror and see a woman. A woman of strong convictions that aren’t always received by those around her. A woman with scars, blemishes and character qualities that aren’t always welcomed, accepted or admired. That’s ok, because God isn’t finished with me yet. More importantly, He loves me just the way I am. I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror. But the glimpses I get I haven’t liked because the messages of rejection seem to be louder. I confess, surrender and ask God to show me what He wants me to see. To show me how He has created me and what He wants me to do with it all.
That’s when it happens….
Amidst the pain and struggle in my journey, I see the Man in the mirror. It is Jesus. The King of kings. I see the tenderness of His eyes and He is smiling and delighting in me. He tells me I’m beautiful and reminds me of His healing in my life. He shows me His scars, on his hands and feet as He reminds me that I have been crucified with Him, therefore I no longer live but He lives in me (Galatians 2:20). He reminds me that I have a Companion and Comforter in the Holy Spirit especially for all those times I feel alone. I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence while I look at this Man in the mirror and He has become my Advocate. He points me to the things I need to think on as He has written them in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”
Do you see what I see?
This Man in the mirror is asking me to change my ways. Not because He doesn’t love me just the way I am but because they aren’t ways that reflect Him. He loves me more than I will ever know yet for today I receive that correction and walk in the way He wants me to. I tell Him it is hard to change some of those ways in my own strength and He assures me that when I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). I need to surrender to Him and He will do the changing.
I am learning to sing out those verses to my heart’s delight as I grow forward (and older) on this journey to find Jesus in the small moments of life.
A song written the year I graduated from high-school has become a landmark in my heart for the woman I am and the woman I am becoming as God grows me to hopefully reflect Him more and more each day.
Look in the mirror.
What do you see?
Who do you see?
Is God asking you to change your ways? How will you answer Him?
Is God asking something of you that you feel is impossible to do / change?
“Be the change you want to see in the world” –Mahatma Ghandi
Thank you for taking this journey with me,
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.
“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” ~ Barbara De Angelis
I can’t believe it’s only the second week of summer vacation and I am already craving some alone time. I’m craving solitude and self-reflection. It might have something to do with the fact that all four of our offspring are home to make more messes, have more conversations, eat more food, make more messes, make more trouble, demand more of my time, take up more room in my shadow and require me to notify them when not one but three meals and snacks are ready…eat more food!!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. God has blessed me with four great reasons for me to need Him more. It is a privilege to be a parent, one I take very seriously. (Maybe sometimes too seriously, but He is working that out).
I am also growing to love my solitude and self-reflection time when I can get it. I haven’t been able to get it lately. I’m tired. I have a lot of thoughts that need reflection swirling around in my head. I know I’m not alone…I just told you my kids are all home. No really, I know I am not alone. There are a many parents who thought they had a plan about how this summer vacation was going to go and are probably facing similar situations. Maybe I should have started the summer break with time away by myself. Yeah, that would have been really loving of me, I know….NOT!! Don’t Judge!!
Today I had some real moments in getting my solitude and self-reflection….or so I thought. I decided to clean my kitchen in preparation for a party I’m going to host tomorrow evening. This was going to be a “very thorough cleaning!!”. I even decided to re-arrange some of the items in the cupboard before replacing them. By the time I was done, I sat back proudly and took notice of the fact that the microwave door was so clean, I could see my reflection!! Self-reflection achieved. The only way solitude was achieved was by the fact that I cleaned the kitchen by myself!! No shadow crashers then, go figure!!
(this was originally written during the summer of 2013 but since summer 2014 is more than half way done now, I thought I would post it to encourage you to try and find some self-reflection time, if you still can)
I will say that the author of the above quote got it right when she said, “balance how much of ourselves we give away”. I agree….sort of. So often we give, give, give but then somehow feel depleted. I sometimes question whether I am giving in the right spirit!!
Perhaps we even openly grumble about how much of ourselves we give away. Or we bury it, because (we believe the lie the enemy tells us) that it would be un-spiritual to express our frustrations in that way. Shoot, we have even memorized the phrase “it is better to GIVE than RECEIVE“, sometimes without even acknowledging Who did the giving to us in the first place.
If we GIVE out of a need for affirmation or a need for anything but the glory of God, we are not giving selflessly. Which gives room for the enemy to expose our fleshly desires. When we GIVE to fill a need (for ourselves) and the need is not met, we get discouraged and take it personally. Giving selflessly means we have RECEIVEd selflessly.
Here is the truth….we can’t GIVE what we haven’t RECEIVED.
How’s that for self-reflection?
If we have RECEIVED talents / gifts, we are encouraged to GIVE them away for the benefit of others.
If we have RECEIVED forgiveness, then we are to GIVE forgiveness freely and abundantly.
If we have RECEIVED grace, than we are to GIVE it freely.
If we have RECEIVED Christ, than we are to GIVE Christ to others in every situation.
If we haven’t RECEIVED any of these than perhaps we don’t GIVE as readily.
Either way, I believe it is still always better to GIVE than to RECEIVE.
The most important things were RECEIVED today while I had time alone with God. First thing in the morning before the children even got up. I RECEIVED His love letter to me while I paged through the scriptures. I RECEIVED a reminder of the forgiveness He gave me at the Cross after once again confessing my sin. I also RECEIVED peace about the work God is doing in my marriage.
I RECEIVED His Presence when I asked for it. I RECEIVED peace when I shared an anxiety and fear I was dealing with. I RECEIVED assurance when I stumbled through a request that sounded trivial. This morning, I RECEIVED a lot and it is only the second week of summer break.
1Corinthians 4:7 says, “For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
So out of what I RECEIVED……I GIVE to you!!
Thank you for joining me in my self-reflection. My prayer is that during whatever you are facing in your life, God would show you what you have RECEIVED and how, where and to whom He wants you to GIVE it!! I also hope that you find time for solitude with Jesus. With Him you are never alone.
How about you……
What do you need to GIVE that you have RECEIVED?
What are you waiting to RECEIVE so you can GIVE it?
Blessings on your journey.