She looked like life had been pretty rough.

She looked like life had been pretty rough and that drugs had her locked in a prison she probably didn’t build by herself.

She was standing by the gas station and I was still sitting in the truck.  I just looked at her for a moment and saw a hurting soul and wanted her to know her worth because somehow I could tell she wasn’t aware that she mattered.  Maybe nobody had told her or treated her as if she meant something.

She didn’t ask me for any money or anything.  I felt a tug on my heart and reached into my purse.  There were 5 Canadian coins and I felt compelled to give them to her, of course, not even certain if she’d be offended that I offered them.

She took them and thanked me.

All I said was, “You’re so welcome.”  Immediately as I took a step I wished I’d told her it wasn’t really me who moved my heart, but Jesus.  I regretted that the second I had I didn’t say this in words to her because He’s the One she needed to hear from; not me.

Within about 3 minutes she walked through the aisles to me and thanked me again.  I was so grateful to get to say, “Jesus is the One who moved me.  It’s not actually from me.  He loves you.”

She thanked me again and smiled.

Then a few minutes later, she walked back over where I was filling coffee cups for my now not homeless anymore family.  She said beautiful, real words that are worth MUCH more than 5 dollars (loonies, as Canadians call them.)

She said, “I’ve been struggling with my faith.”

I said something like, “Prayer is where doors open that no other key can unlock.  Please start praying and God will move in ways you know He’s there.”

She kept walking back to me several times to talk more about Jesus before I left and I thought to myself, “If I hadn’t paid attention to God nudging my heart to give and had only looked at her with my own human eyes and judged that she may spend the money on more drugs, I’d have missed the moment to share Jesus with her but because I listened and obeyed better I did not miss the moment.  (I did a little happy dance prayer in my head right then; just me and God.)

I did see that she used the money to buy breakfast but even if I hadn’t, it’s okay.

I am responsible for how God shows me to give and she is responsible for how she uses the money; for how she receives.

It’s that simple.

When we feel moved to give, give.  When we don’t, don’t.

But please always ALWAYS treat someone as if she matters because she does and you may be the first or only person she’s heard that from in a very long time.

In those moments a quick prayer can open a closed or hurting heart and invite communication to restore faith in The One who loves us most.

Mommy bk k blog 5 coins with blog

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Missed Birthdays and Broken Holidays (Faith)

Some kids don’t get birthday parties.  Some kids get forgotten.

Some families don’t feel the “Holiday Spirit” and don’t have hope that anything will ever get any better than it looks right now.

Our family is going to go bring hope and Light to some kids and families.

We know this isn’t just with our power (and we also know God is calling more people to do this work with us.)  God renews us every day.  We trust that He will keep doing this so that we can help others and then they can help others, too (and so on.)

When God first put it on my heart that He was using our family in this way, of course I wanted to know more.  Who wouldn’t?!  This is the most amazing experience of my life; knowing He’s working in us and through us.

God has always led people and since He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can know He still leads people today.

Think about this.  How do you “know” something?  I mean, some women “know” they’ll have 2 kids.  Some “know” they’ll have 10.  Some people “know” they’ll never be married and some “know” they will be.  I’ve heard some people, after a young person died, say, “He always ‘knew’ he was going to die young.”  How did he “know?”

Sometimes we take our knowledge, gifts, and talents for granted.  We just “know” how to draw or how to invent things.  Sometimes we don’t even give credit to God because we have the ability to easily remember things or to do math in our heads, and we forget or don’t think about where this comes from.

Sometimes you just “know” stuff.  God put that in us.

We “know” He’s moving our family to Alaska to open and care for a homeless teen center (not yet in existence.)

~~~~>  The funny thing is that when we started packing boxes last year, waiting on His timing to move, the very first box I packed was full of mismatched tea party pieces.

I was blessed to have a roommate from college helping me pack.  I asked out loud, “WHY am I packing a tea set to move to Alaska?!  What a SILLY thing to pack!”

She looked right into my eyes and smiled, “I can’t WAIT to see how God manifests this tea set!”  <~~

Some kids are forgotten and some never had a birthday party.  Some got a black eye instead of a present.

Since that time after packing the tea party stuff, we’ve collected many sewing patterns (new and on sale.)  I wondered “WHY?”  “WHY am I collecting this many patterns and different kinds, too?  I mean, I do like to sew but haven’t really taken the time to so why would I be gathering this many patterns?”

Then God put this on my heart.

Some kids are homeless and have only the clothes they are wearing.

Oh, wow.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Not only will WE sew, but we will teach teens how to sew their own clothes and teach them job skills and share Jesus’ Love with them.

Then there’s this:  20 years ago I started collecting art supplies.  WHY?  I never really got time to paint, stamp, sew, or create like I wanted to so WHY have I had these supplies?

WHY did we pack decorations, hair cutting supplies, make up, and photography equipment?

It’s simple.

Homeless people aren’t trying to decorate for parties (or even go to any,) or visit the salon, or get family portraits done.

We are going to do this for them.

We believe God is moving us to Alaska to bring hope and Light and to celebrate missed birthdays and broken holidays with teens and families who haven’t had much light or hope in their lives.

We’re going to paint fingernails, cut hair, and donate our photography skills to people who otherwise would not have these luxuries.

At first I was like, “God, this may sound kinda silly to people.”

So I didn’t tell anyone that I believed He was doing this with us.

But it’s really not so silly when you think about it.

Celebrating someone’s birth and existence is a pretty routine thing for many people.  I know I was blessed to celebrate many birthdays with parties and friends.  You probably were, too.  Getting hair cuts, nails painted, family pictures, and going to the salon are things many people take for granted.

But when you have been neglected or overlooked or forgotten, moving our family to give hope and just to love on people is actually not such a silly mission at all.

So…  I said it.  Finally.  We’re going to Alaska to celebrate people who haven’t been celebrated much in their lives and who haven’t seen reasons to celebrate.

Prayers, donations, and support are always welcome here.

It’s all about God’s Power.

It’s up to us to obey His Calling (even if it looks silly to some.)

Cool fact to think about:  We don’t have to have all the answers right now or know how God’s doing this with us.  We will just have faith that He can and He is.

God opens doors that no man can shut and shuts doors that no man can open.  We have faith and will keep asking, seeking, and knocking since He’s put this dream in our hearts.  Your prayers, good thoughts, well wishes, support, and donations are welcome as we step out in faith to do this work in His Name.

 

[Note:  There are many stories about how God led people – and it looked kinda silly to others when you think about it.

– There was a guy, Naaman, and God showed him he was to go dip in the Jordan river 7 times and his leprosy would be healed.  Silly?  He was even mad that there wasn’t some amazing, grand thing that would cure his skin.

But it was simple.

Obedience.

Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.  2 Kings 5:10-14

– And what about that whole “March around Jericho and the walls will fall down” thing?!  Um, okay.  That would have been something to see!  (And God spared a prostitute and her family.)  What?!  But it happened.  Joshua 6:3-17

– And Noah?!  Are you kidding?  There had never been rain and He built a what?  A boat?  Um… yeah… right.  Can you imagine the jokes he endured?  What did the neighbors say?  Certainly he was mocked for his faith.  Genesis 6:9-22

We know.  We know.  It may sound silly to some.  Take this mismatched tea party set and have parties with people.  We are okay if it sounds silly.  We will still follow as God opens doors.

We expect that some people will mock us for believing God is doing this but the thing I didn’t expect was for so many who call themselves Christians to be among the ones laughing.

Maybe if we all focused on the jobs God’s planned for each of us we wouldn’t have time to make fun of each other.

~~>  Got courage?  Aren’t you a little bit curious to know God’s amazing plan for your life?  He has one.  Ask God what He wants you to do.  And KEEP doing this every day.  Follow the tugs on your heart and He will reveal to you what it is that He wants for your life.  <~~

By faith…  Check out Hebrews 11.

Check out the last 2 verses in Hebrews 11.  (I’ve thought about this verse and how it may relate to my life, too. ~~>)  39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

So….. IF I get to the end of my life on Earth and the Alaska homeless teen center does not exist yet, then He can STILL bring it to happen and I will STILL know and have peace that my life meant something as I walked in faith, trusting Him to lead my family.

I will share my faith in God and I will share what He’s doing in us and through us.

By faith, I will follow Him.

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15]

What Does it Mean to Walk by Faith? ~Guest Post by Dena Johnson

[This article first appeared on crosswalk.com here: http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-walk-by-faith.html August 14, 2014. Guest Post by Dena Johnson.]
 –

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Those words seem simple enough.

However, I am learning that fleshing out those words, that simple concept, can be a much tougher assignment. It requires tremendous courage and strength. You must be willing to be misunderstood and even abandoned. You must be willing to give up any semblance of control of your life that you thought you might have. You must be willing to look like a complete fool.

But, it is a journey of tremendous blessing and reward. It is a journey that is exciting, life-altering, and mind-boggling. It is a journey that will allow you to see and experience God as he was meant to be: in all his fullness and grace.

Walking by faith and not by sight requires you to go to a place you do not know, one that God will reveal as you walk in obedience. Just look to Abraham as an example (Genesis 12:1).

Walking by faith means that you continue to cling to the dreams God has planted in your heart, even when you’ve been thrown away, taken to prison for crimes you didn’t commit. Just look at all Joseph endured (Genesis 37-50).

Walking by faith requires a strong determination to follow God’s plan regardless what life throws your way. Look to Daniel to discover how to have the resolve not to sin (Daniel 1:8).

Walking by faith means you have the courage to stand up for the hurting, broken, and down-trodden, to face death yourself for the good of others. Look at Esther and how she risked the death penalty to save the Jews (Esther).

You just may have to play the part of a fool. Think about Noah building an ark for a flood when it had never even rained on earth. Think about Abraham clinging to the promise that he would be the father of many nations even though he was childless at the age of 100. Think about Moses standing before the Israelites in the wilderness telling them they would eat meat until it disgusted them but having no idea where that meat would come from. Think about Joshua marching around the walls of Jericho as God had told him to and wondering what good it was going to do.

If you choose this path, you must be willing to get out of your comfort zone, to run from the Americanized brand of Christianity that so many of us have known our entire lives. You must be willing to let God take your world and turn it upside down, shake it up, and start all over again. You must be willing to let God out of the neat little box that you have put him in, to let him show up as he sees fit.

Maybe it will be a calling to do something you never dreamed before: foster or adopt children, leave your job and become a missionary, trade in the worldly comforts for heavenly treasures.

Maybe it won’t be that clean and neat and socially acceptable. Maybe, like me, your world will be turned upside down by the pain of adultery and divorce. Or, maybe you will be faced with infertility or addiction. Maybe you will have a prodigal child that completely changes the direction of your life. Or, maybe you’ve experienced the loss of a child—a hurt like no other.

I don’t know what your shake up might look like, but I know that if you will give it to God—throw up your arms in surrender and ask him to use it to change your life—he will honor your request. He will take you on a journey, teach you to walk by faith, entrust you with some of life’s most treasured moments.

He will build a faith in you—faith that moves mountains and moves God’s hands. He will teach you to live this life with abandonment, giving you a freedom to walk in all his fullness and grace. He will prepare you to be used mightily in this life for his glory.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced your life being turned upside down, toppled without any control. Perhaps, like me, you’ve found yourself wandering in the wilderness, watching his fire direct your every step by night, a cloud lead you by day. Perhaps you sense you are on the edge of the Promised Land, just waiting for him to give the command to take possession.

And yet, you are tired and weary. You’ve lost friends who don’t understand how you can continue to cling to a promise that is so obviously dead and gone. You are so close and yet feel so far away. You are struggling with temptations to just settle, even though you know it is less than God’s best. You simply don’t know how much longer you can stand.

You are not alone. I see God raising up a remnant of believers, those he knows will be obedient. He is looking for those with clean hands and a pure heart, those who will choose obedience even if it costs them everything this world has to offer. He is looking for those who will throw caution to the wind, believe that he has an abundant life (John 10:10) waiting if we will follow his ways. He is looking for those whose hearts have been purified, whose faith has been strengthened by the trials of this life (James 1:2). He is looking for those who will cling to his promises even when it seems there is no hope.

Be strong and courageous, my friends!

God has specifically chosen you to be a part of this remnant, those who will allow him to take their lives and mold them into what he wants. He has chosen you to have your faith tested and tried, and he promises that the fire will only purify you—not burn you. He has promised that he will be with you every single step, walking with you, carrying you, supporting you. He promises that he is still in control even when life seems to be spiraling wildly out of control.

He is teaching you to trust him so he can do something bigger and better than you ever dreamed possible (Ephesians 3:20-22). He is teaching you to let go and trust him with your heart, your soul, your life (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is teaching you to walk every single day in the spirit so that he can do even greater works in you and through you (John 14:12). He is preparing you to be a beacon of light and hope to a world which desperately needs to see Jesus.

I don’t know where you are on this journey of walking by faith, but I encourage you—beg you, plead with you—to wave the white flag of surrender. Let God take your life, your pain, your loss and use it for his glory. Ask him to do an amazing work in you so he can do an amazing work through you.

Get out of that boat and step onto the water…and never take your eyes off him. It is a decision you will never regret!

Thank you, Dena Johnson, for these incredible and powerful words.  Thank you for your permission to share this encouragement.  You know I needed it.  May this bless thousands of lives!

“One thing I like about you is…”

Relationships are important.

A marriage relationship is important and tough (probably tougher than any other relationship ever in the whole world, in my opinion) and totally worth the work.

I’m always looking for simple ways to help relationships be as close and as healthy as they can be.  My husband and I have just started doing a few new things for our marriage and we’re noticing this one could be helpful in possibly any relationship.

Here is one experiment we’ve just started a couple weeks ago (and we’re both loving it!)

Every morning we have decided to say (out loud to each other) something good we have noticed or something good that we like about each other.

“One thing I like about you is _____________.”

We get too busy in life sometimes, ya know?  With work, school, church, kids, housework, bills, finances, volunteering, rough times, health problems, and a billion more things we can forget to nurture important foundations and critical relationships.  It’s not that we mean to; but it’s just that life happens and sometimes we let moments go by that need attention.

(Sweet note: The look on my husband’s face as he speaks is so beautiful and something that’s been hiding for a little while.  It’s really nice to see the thought behind his words as he says something kind about me and to me.  Sometimes he’s just remembering good things from the past and those are good to hear also.  I can’t help but think he may be feeling the same way as he hears me speak good things about him, too.  It’s heart-healing.)

This is proving to be a great idea.

One thing it does is it helps us THINK about the positive things during each day (and night) because we know we need to tell each other something we like about each other every day.

(And the negative stuff seems to constantly already be lurking around and threatens to remind us of things we DON’T like about each other… Not sure about you but we’ve had ENOUGH of that!)

Another important result of this experiment is that we’re BOTH getting to HEAR some positive words in the morning.  (Yes, it must be genuine and yes it can be something from the past or present.  Actually, it could even be something positive we see in the future.  Getting to hear blessings spoken over you is powerful.)

Our kids just told us they’d like to be included in this in the evenings.  Good stuff can be contagious!

We ALL probably hear WAY too much negative stuff about ourselves (even from our own thoughts) and this is damaging to our brains, hearts, self esteem, and probably in a hundred other ways I’m not thinking to mention.

If you have a great marriage, that’s wonderful!  Maybe this can just be icing.  (And maybe you’re already doing this.)  But many of us have a tougher time in marriage and my husband and I know this can help lots of people so we wanted to share this idea.

I believe absolutely EVERY person could benefit from hearing something good every day that someone notices about him or her.

Here’s one from me to you today:  One thing I like about you (yes, you) is that you’re beginning to realize your value; you’re a very worthwhile person and you matter.

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 up 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. Period.

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.

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.

We did. I filled up the entire back of that envelope! I have lots of prayers and some are small and some are big. Some are so big that ONLY God could bless it or give it.

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. Am I right?

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 in awe of His power and how true it is that He keeps His promises. He just never gives up on me.

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?”

If you didn’t matter and if you were not THIS important why would the enemy take this much time and effort trying to keep you down?

God is very real.  Not sure yet?  ASK Him to show you His perfect love and power.

And the enemy is also very real.

The enemy is JUST THAT.  THE ENEMY.

You’ve never known an enemy like satan.  That little old devil has studied you to know your very weakest weakness and he will use whatever it takes to knock your feet from under you and steal your breath from your soul.  ALL he wants from you is your TIME.  THAT is ALL he wants from you.  He is stealing your time from you.  He wants to suck away your life from you.

And he’s good at it, too.

The enemy uses ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that will keep you from doing the stuff God is wanting you to do.  Any circumstance and any situation and any person who has hurt you is EXACTLY just the VERY thing that satan will use to try to hold you down so that you cannot physically, emotionally, or spiritually do the very important things God is calling you to do.

There is not an “Oh just get past it already” or a “moving on” or a “let it go” for many circumstances in life.

But there IS an “Okay this is part of my life now so how can God use me and my life to help someone else?”

Sometimes you simply cannot “get over it.”  It’s just not possible.  And if someone told you to “get over it” I’m so very sorry.  That was more than a little insensitive.  It is okay to grieve.  It’s healthy to grieve and there is no time limit or right or wrong way to grieve.

But I have to tell you something.  Do you want to know what I know?  YOU possess WAY more strength inside you than you are even aware of.

Get up beautiful YOU.

Please get up.

Just ONE step today.  Just ONE TINY something.

Just ONE tiny BELIEF toward what God is leading you to do.  He’s got you.  He sees your pain.  He sees your heartache (even the heartache that nobody knows about.)  He understands and if you’ll just trust Him and ASK Him to lead you, your life will make more sense, be more livable, you’ll stand taller, and you will be able to breathe easier.  I know it’s hard.

I know there is even a little comfort in your grief, too, because what is on the other side is the unknown and that can be scary.  There is not a disrespect in letting that grief, with God’s help, lift you to HONOR the person you’re grieving in some way (even if the person you’re grieving is you, yourself.)  God is in the business of turning those very ashes into the most beautiful thing you’ve ever known.

Somebody needs you and the VERY circumstances you have lived through.

You matter SO much.  If you didn’t matter and if you were not THIS important why would the enemy take this much time and effort trying to keep you down?  You have great things to accomplish.  Just ASK God to show you what those things are.  He will show you.

Please, please get up?  Reach up?  Look up?  God’s got you.  This I know to be truth.

Take a breath.
Say a prayer.
Recalculate.
Take a step.

I believe in you.

If our kids believe 2 + 2 = 7

We’re just gonna let our kids make up their own minds about math. We don’t want to force math on them. My parents and teachers forced math on me and I resent them for it. We don’t want to make the same mistake with our kids.

If they believe 2 + 2 = 7 maybe that is okay with us. We think every kid should have the freedom to choose how they feel about math and make up their own belief system.

NO. No. No. No.

You don’t leave deciding about math up to your kids. That would be silly. You teach them 2 + 2 = 4. Period.

I am not a Bible scholar. I will always be learning more as God teaches me more.

~God is God. Period. If you have ears to hear I pray you hear. Accept Jesus as the Lord of your life, be baptized under water for the forgiveness of your sins and say with your mouth that you believe Jesus is the Son of God.

~Give. Ask God where He wants you to give. Start with 10% and go up from there. It’s not an option. That is just something God says to do. Where do you think your money comes from? Where do you think your job comes from? Where do you think your talent to DO your job comes from? You give because God said to give. So do it. He doesn’t say when you feel like you have extra, then give. He says GIVE your FIRST gifts.

~Then, as you learn more, you live it. It’s not complicated.

And after you do this it does not mean your life will be easy. The enemy doesn’t go after people he’s already got. The enemy goes after people trying to obey God. But you have the Armor of Christ and that is everything you need to fight the battles that will come. Many times in our family we ask the Holy Spirit to go with our children when they leave the house. The Power they feel with them on these days is not of this world.  #notw

~
One day you will die. That’s not a question. That’s not a sad or happy thing. It’s just true.

I know there are exceptions and that’s up to Almighty God whatever exceptions He makes. Enoch and Elijah, for example, did not die but were taken directly to Heaven.

Hebrews 11:5
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

2 Kings 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

~This is THE ONE MOST IMPORTANT decision of your entire life.

God does not force you to choose. You have choice. You have the choice to love him. If He MADE you choose Him that would not be love.

You can be mad all day long and argue how it’s not FAIR that God gives you the choice to love Him then if you don’t you go to Hell. Go ahead and waste your time fussing over that. He’s not going to give you more time just because you’re throwing a tantrum.

I am not going to argue the details and rules with you but there are many other people who are happy to do that. Just START by loving Jesus.

I do know that if you lead someone AWAY from Christ, good luck with telling God you did that, when you stand all alone with no one to hold your hand in front of the One and Only King of Heaven…. . . Let me know how that works for you.

I love you with a vengeance. I believe Jesus does too.

I pray you choose Him before it’s too late. Because some day it will be one day too late.