I don’t actually like puzzles

I don’t actually like puzzles. But sometimes I forget that because they look interesting. So I get one again.

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…Then I curse the process.

Can’t stop going back to figure it out.

Feel angry when I can’t make it work.

It’s taking too long.

It’s all I can think about.

I’m obsessing over it.

Wrestling with it.

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Then I thought it’s kind of like how we do life.

We argue with God a lot and probably don’t even realize how much we do it.

Sometimes we sound like kids just complaining.

But Lord, the pieces don’t fit.”

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The colors are all blending together.”

There aren’t enough pieces!”

There are too many!”

I can’t figure it out.”

I can’t tell what goes where.”

But that piece looks like it almost fits.”

I’ll just MAKE this piece fit there.”

I know what I’m doing.”

I don’t need anyone’s help.”

I want to do it my way.”

It’s taking too long.”

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Finally…. we get to:

This… isn’t working.”

I think maybe I need to ask for help.”

But if I’m too close I can’t see the big picture.

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If I look carefully I can see there are slight variations in the shades.

Sometimes I try to decide where something goes before seeing the other side.

If I wait a while it will reveal itself. Be still. Psalm 46:10 

And sometimes I can find where something fits just because I “know” because there are some pieces that fit so effortlessly that even if they’re upside down I don’t have to even turn them over to know that’s where they go.

And I’ve learned things are most frustrating when I’ve been trying to take control of something.  My way. My time… but control is NOT to be our God.

Sometimes I need to take a step back and take a breath.

Then I can see better with new eyes.

Life tries to rush us.

But love is patient. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

Sometimes the only thing I CAN do –

The only thing I actually NEED to do –

is to focus on the ONE PIECE in front of me right now.

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Please hear me. And I know this sounds crazy because it goes against our race through the gotta-get-as-much-stuff-done-today-as-possible-or-else-and-no-time-to-think-packed-days culture – but

–  y o u    h a v e    p e r m i s s i o n  

 

       t o      b    r    e    a    t    h    e   .

 

 

Give it ALL (good and bad) to Him in prayer

and in return

HE

WILL

give

you

rest.

Matthew 11:28

 

If ALL you can do today is see the one piece and pray and praise for the day you are doing enough.

While we are trying to understand, we praise Him; we worship Him instead of worshiping the picture perfect life we’re trying to design.

That’s when you find all the pieces are there. Everything you need is there – in Him.

The Creator is so wise and He’ll reveal everything you’ll need to finish what He started in you.

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That’s really why I’m here.

I was sitting in a dining room when I (thought it was safe and) told a man who had taught Bible class that I felt I’d be speaking on stage.

He tilted his head and patted me on the shoulder, “Yeah… but if He’s not….”

I was only asking for prayers. That’s the only reason I told him. It was a small group meeting and – prayer is part of it, right?

But when he didn’t believe me, I was faced with another situation entirely: A test of faith.

Did I actually believe what I was saying I know? Or did I not?

I looked at him (not aware back then of his condescending tone) and after deep thought a minute, I said again, “But… He is.” I just …knew.

And again, this faith-lacking, prideful, young Bible class teacher looked into my eyes, shook his head and said with a smirk (clearly now I realize it was proof he didn’t believe me) and patted me again on the shoulder, “Yeahh….but if He’s NOT….”

What I read from Genesis to Revelation is that God has always used lesser known messy people with messy lives to carry out His Divine purpose.

I’ve had something like 7 years to think about that moment. He didn’t seem to believe God would choose someone like me (clearly nobody in this man’s eyes) to share God’s Word, my faith, and my story.

 

It’s funny how some moments seem to last so much longer than others.

 

I believe God allows and purposely tests our faith with moments like these.

People everywhere are constantly demanding field- and factory-tested products but they are the same people who tend to shake their fist in defiant anger when anyone tests or challenges their beliefs.

That’s a bit of a double standard.

God humbles and tests us, refines us, and He says He will finish what He starts.

And it turns out it doesn’t matter who else believes what He’s doing with you but you.

If someone isn’t tested then how will he or she stand when things seem unfair?

What about when things seem to take a long time? (“Too long” according to people watching your life. Too long? Oh my word! What does that even MEAN when The One we serve is The Author of time, itself?)

What about when other people mock your faith?

What about when it’s people closest to you who mock your faith?

People don’t like flimsy products.

Oh! How much MORE does God not want a luke-warm follower?!

Two things just happened.

This past month AS the final legal procedures of my second divorce happen, the doors have been opened for more platforms to share my faith – and my story.

Share my story — every messy broken part of it.

Yes, you read that right… second: one marriage was 7 years and one has been almost 19 by the time divorce is final… though possibly both were broken from the start. But I’ve learned a lot. And forget divorce! What about the hundred other ways God has had to be sad about me? There are so many other things! But God!

Imagine a redeeming God who uses messy people’s messy lives to share in HIS purpose?!

The thing is I knew you’d be reading this. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. But I knew somehow in my spirit a few years ago that I’d be here writing about this someday.

I had told my kids I felt someone would come ask me to write with a group of other Christian writers.

This just happened.

Jennie Louwes, who felt God lead her to start MomPro – Teach The Way, contacted me to join her along with several other writers.

I also knew I’d be speaking on stage at some point. This also isn’t good or bad. It just is.

I was actually afraid to ever speak back then.

Mostly I was afraid because someone too close to me kept telling me in so many ways that I was never going to be enough.

The beautiful Truth is that God takes what little I have to offer and HE makes it – and He makes me – enough.

But what ever would I speak about exactly? That part wasn’t clear at that time, which again is why I had been asking for prayers already all those years ago in that small group meeting.

This just happened too.

Last week I was asked to speak at an event. I believe this is the first of many.

And guess what? I’m not afraid anymore.

In the mess…in the questions…in the middle, God gives a firm place to stand in Him.

That’s really why I’m here today: to ask you.

What do you do when your faith is tested?

Do you recognize when it happens?

When people tell you something isn’t… but God shows you it very much IS, perhaps that’s a test of your faith.

What you DO with each test of faith is up to you.

God likes to know what you’ll do and He tests you and allows you to be tested. Because… well, maybe He also wants YOU to know what you’ll do.

 

Do you complain?

Do you immediately go to Him in prayer for answers and to praise Him out loud?

Do you get mad and let pride grab a place in your spirit?

 

I believe what you do in that moment IS a part of the test.

It doesn’t matter what someone else believes. It matters what YOU believe.

Want to have some fun? Just watch God use something that someone meant to harm you, instead for HIS good. He is a good God! NOTHING is wasted. HE makes beauty from ashes. I believe in you, you believe, and God believes. THAT is already a cord of THREE!

Even when nobody else can see what He’s doing, He STILL does it. And THAT is some Good News.

Question Of Your Faith

When someone tells you he feels God told him something, put a specific ministry on his heart, revealed something to him, led him… or whatever words you can let your mind wrap around, why do you think people are often so quick to tell him it isn’t true?

And why do people say, when he talks about feeling called to a specific place by God to help homeless people, “Well …there are homeless people everywhere.”

Well, yes, there are. And even still God calls people to specific places sometimes.


That’s like when you hear a guy is going to get married, telling him, “Well there are women everywhere.”

Well …yes. But that would be kind of silly and kind of decreases how special this specific bride is to him.

Many people (who say they’re Christians with their voices) have also said that God doesn’t lead people anymore.

He does still lead.

He still answers prayers, He still parts the waters, calms the storms, helps us walk through fires, closes the mouths of lions, and faith still moves mountains.

It’s a LIVING Word; active and still alive.

 

This is not a question of the person’s faith who shares what he believes God is doing with him – but a question of theirs.

 

The God Who made every detail

of every detail

of every little detail

of the whole universe is SURELY able to guide people and speak and pour out His plans however He chooses into anyone He decides to.

Do you REALLY not know He is able to do this even now in 2018? The Truth is that you don’t even breathe air without His provision.

Maybe this is why the word believe happens so often through Scripture. You actually have to believe.

 

So the 2 questions are:

Do you not believe He can still call people?

Or do you not believe He’d call someone because YOU don’t see that someone as qualified?

 

From what The Bible says God has often called the least likely to do some pretty incredible work.

Perhaps this is why He says it’s so important to keep meeting with other believers.

Some just don’t, or won’t, or can’t believe.

But some do.

And make no mistake that when someone hears and stays focused in prayer, praise, fasting, and serving toward God’s purpose in him, this STILL opens doors to make something impossible become possible.

 What would your day look like if you really believe?

 

Fun ways we give hints for Christmas presents:

(Just something fun we do at our house.)

Let’s say I bought a new sweater as a Christmas present for my daughter.

My daughter, who really wants to know what the present is – and a little bit kinda enjoys NOT knowing what it is – asks for hints as the days go by, trying to guess what is in the box.

Our hints go like this:

You could use it as an umbrella, but I wouldn’t.

You may like to take it for a walk on a leash, but I wouldn’t.

You can paint with it, but I wouldn’t.

You could wear it on your head, but I wouldn’t.

You could eat it, but I wouldn’t.

You can tell time with it, but I wouldn’t.

You could try to read it, but I wouldn’t.

You could heat it in the microwave, but I wouldn’t.

You can wear it on your feet, but I wouldn’t.

You may put icing on it, but I wouldn’t.

Maybe you could use it to start a fire… but I wouldn’t.

(Eventually the questions stop.)

It’s a fun way to give hints without telling someone what the present actually is.

 

 

Just stuff I like to think about.

A question that has been following me lately…

Would you rather

A) hear all the good things everyone thinks about you?
B) hear all the negative things everyone thinks about you?
C) hear both the positive and negative stuff people think about you?
D) not hear anything people think about you?

You know, I used to feel strongly that I’d want B- hear all the negative things everyone thinks about me because then I could decide where to spend my time trying to clear up misunderstandings. That would take a long time. And the truth is that nobody is going to like me all the time or even understand where I’m coming from because nobody has walked the life I’m walking.

Then later in life I decided that C- hear both positive and negative stuff would be best because some negative (spoken in love) would be good to help me know what I needed to change about me – and there are certainly things I work on every day to be a better mommy, wife, friend, and leader. And I’d also get to hear the positive things because sadly most of the time we ALL (and I rarely use the word ALL but in this case I believe it fits) don’t speak blessings over each other often enough.

For a little while I thought strongly about A- hear all the good things everyone thinks because possibly that would help with how I think of myself. – Or would it make me conceited? Don’t know but I don’t think so.

Someone shared a story about being deaf and not hearing what people say about you and that maybe not knowing would be best because you don’t hear the “noise” and the haters. – I believe deaf people do hear clearly some things that “hearing” people do not.

I think I will choose D and not hear what people (who do not know me) think of me. I will concentrate on what my Jesus thinks of me above anything else.

Just stuff I like to think about.

And I haven’t told you today that I’m glad you’re here in this place with me so I will now. I’m glad you’re here. You matter. I pray blessings over your life so big that you can’t help but see Him.

Questions I have when living by faith

(Our personal situation and the Alaska homeless teen place)

It’s frustrating to know something but to be waiting and not know when or how God is doing something. I am learning that HOW we wait -while we wait- is very important. He’s teaching and leading us every day which is something I wasn’t as aware of in the past.

When our car broke down I thought, “Oh well. Since we’ll be moving soon maybe we won’t need another car for now.”

And also prayers for when and how for the Alaska homeless teen place.

As for the car, we’re asking God if we’re to buy (used of course) or lease or wait… We have been okay for a couple months without one because we’ve walked many places and also a sweet friend has loaned us her van for grocery store visits etc. If we bought one, would we sell it when we move?

(At the time I wrote this I didn’t think of this as a “car fast” but it was exactly that.)

All these questions! It can be frustrating living by faith!

About 14 years ago I talked about knowing we would be serving youth at somewhere like a camp kind of place. I said it seems to have a game room and shade and rocks or benches (or both.) And people can learn skills there and study Bible lessons they are interested in and maybe they can earn a way to paint a brick or something to be part of a wall when work is done… and now 14 years later I believe it will be in Alaska and that it looks like it’s a homeless teen place. (Note: Now former husband has since said he doesn’t believe about this specific calling anymore but I do, and my 2 daughters do so we will wait as God teaches us more and more and opens and closes doors.)

We tried to get involved at the different churches we’ve been over the past years but it’s only been minimal that we’ve been able to help and we know there is more we are supposed to do.

To know it ~but to be waiting~ is a tough place to be.

Some people have known us for years and know we’re for real. Some have just met us and still know this is really happening. Some think we’re silly and don’t know what we’re talking about. That’s okay. Some people secretly hope God moves in big ways because they know there is something bigger to believe in but would like to see some kind of proof or something. The people who doubt will see sooner or later whenever God moves in the God-sized ways. As for now, we wait. I hope it’s not another 14 years before He shows us the next part.

It took about five months for me to be tired of living out of boxes and the inconvenience of not knowing what’s next – but the thing is… we will wait (well, my kids and I will wait) – and do the next thing in front of us each day.  (At this point I’m not sad or caring about the few skeptics asking why we’re not in Alaska YET.)

The truth is we are going to obey Him. And if that looks weird to people, that’s okay. We’ve looked weird before and we’re used to being different. God calls us to be different. I never thought I’d be living out my faith in front of so many people but that’s okay also. (Writing the blog -or writing a book- is not something I ever thought I’d be doing.)

I read something once that said when a toddler learns to walk, we don’t tell him go away and be ashamed until he can learn to walk (or even run) and then he can be seen again. No. That would not be helpful. We encourage him until he learns to walk. We help him up. We don’t laugh at him. “What a silly baby! What does he think he’s doing; trying to walk?! Sit down and stay there, baby! You should be embarrassed.”

If you have room on your prayer list, I am asking for prayers specifically about the car situation. If we bought one, then would we sell it? What if we’re supposed to fly to Alaska? What if we’re driving an RV like we think it may be and we pull a trailer behind it so we’d have no room for a car?

We’ve met some other people who ask God what He wants them to do every day and they also say the same thing; they will never go back to another way of living.

Deciding “my own schedule” gets some things done but I think I missed a million moments of what God had in mind for me because I wasn’t looking for that.

Just thinking out loud.

Prayers appreciated.

Mustard Seeds, His Money, and a Question

A church we went to for a short time taught me a couple things that other churches my whole life had never taught me but should have.

And I made ONE simple life change.

HIS MONEY.

Give. Start with 10% and also go from there any time God moves your heart to give… NOT just when you feel like it as many churches excuse… NOT from your leftovers IF you have some after all the bills and going out to eat.

GIVE.

You give simply because God says to.

It is all about being obedient to God.

God spoke and created the entire world. He does not need YOUR money to do anything. You give because He said to give. You give out of your first money. You give because you’re made in HIS image. He loves us so much THAT HE GAVE His only Son.

WHERE do you think the money came from?
WHERE do you think your job came from?
WHERE do you think the talents to DO your job came from?

God.

MUSTARD SEEDS.

The other thing this church did that we’d never seen before was something they called a Mustard Seed Offering. In this service they handed out an envelope with several mustard seeds in them.

The front of the envelope had this on it:

{SEEDS OF FAITH

Jesus said, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

THESE SEEDS REPRESENT MY FAITH FOR A MIRACLE.

“For whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7}

And on the back we were told to write everything we are asking of God.

I filled up the entire back of that envelope with lots of prayers and some are small and some are big. Some are prayers that ONLY God could answer.

And I believed it right then (almost 1 year ago) and I still believe it now because this is still happening every day.

A QUESTION.

The ONE simple life change I made is every morning before I get out of bed I ask God, “God, what do YOU want me to do today?”

See? Simple.

Think about this. It’s not like God’s going to FORCE you to ask Him. He’s not going to FORCE you to do what He wants. We have free choice.

If you liked a person and decided to marry him or her, you wouldn’t just one day suddenly be married, right? You ASK for that person to marry you.

If your child finally comes to you and says, “Hey, Dad, what do YOU want me to do today?” The possibilities are endless. See what I’m saying? Our Father owns the cattle AND the hills!

This sounds simple. And it is. And the giant ways God will move and work in your life is something amazing! The ways He’s been working in mine sometimes leaves me speechless and constantly in awe of His power and how true it is that He keeps His promises.

I challenge you to do this.

GIVE.
Give 10% of your FIRST money (and also any time God leads you to give.

How can you receive MORE money and blessings
if you’re fists are so tightly holding on to the little bit of money you have now?
Open your hands.)

ASK.

Ask God every day,

“God, what do YOU want me to do today?”