Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What do I still lack?

About a week and half ago I attended a women's conference put on by the beautiful women's ministry team of Blue Valley Baptist Church in Overland Park, Kansas called MORE Abundantly. I wanted to go because my dear friends whom I met through blogging, Lysa TerKeurst and her assistant, Holly Good would be there for the weekend. Lysa was booked as the speaker and for months I had waited for this weekend to get here.

The Saturday before the conference I finally found my way to the church website to check out the conference details and about cried when I figured out that the ticket was out of my price range. Trust me when I say hearing Lysa speak is worth paying any dollar amount, but due to Gene being on disability and so forth our funds are limited. After talking with Kelley, who was going with me and deciding we both couldn't do this, I sadly emailed Holly and just briefly told her I wasn't going to be able to attend after all, but perhaps we could still get together for a lunch or dinner.

How many of us know that when God wants us to be somewhere He will work out the details? I received an email on Monday morning saying that my ticket would be paid for if I could still go. The prideful girl in me began to type back through tear filled eyes her response of thanks and refusal of the ticket. That is when the girl inside me who desperately begs Jesus to invade her life, pushed prideful girl out of her way and deleted the message before it was sent. Instead, I sent a response of how blessed I felt and I accepted the gift. I took what I had put aside for my ticket and Kelley was able to attend also. God wanted us there and there would be no blocking His blessings on this day.

Not only did He give us a great conference and time of meeting other lovers of Jesus, He gave us time after the conference with Lysa and Holly. Their flight was delayed until the next morning and so we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner and a movie where there was unlimited popcorn.

Great time of fellowship, laughter and memory making.Kelley, Lelia, Lysa and Holly

I have read and hosted blog studies on a few of Lysa's books and I love reading her blog, so I am familiar with parts of her testimony. But I am telling you, just like I told her over lunch, reading about what God has done in her life versus hearing it is just two different things. My eye makeup didn't stand a chance that weekend as every session Lysa shared, the tears would come. Not so much by what she was saying, but how God was using her to speak directly to my heart. He got my attention that weekend.

Like I told my husband and Mom after the conference ended Saturday afternoon, "I have attended a lot of women's conferences, but never have I felt one to be so personal". I love when God does stuff like that. Just wraps those scarred hands around your heart, refusing to let go no matter how hard or emotional it gets until His love for you cannot be denied.

All week leading up to the conference I had prayed not only for Lysa, Holly and Kelley, but also for myself. That God would open my ears and heart to receive what He had for me. I knew He had something for me and the excitement of not knowing exactly what made me feel like a little kid on their birthday. You know there is something underneath that wrapping paper, you just don't know what the gift is. And so with much expectation of my King I arrived in KC Friday evening.

I'm going to come back this week and share bits and parts of the conference with you, but this is the part I want to share today. Lysa first told us the story in Matthew 19: 16-30 about the rich young man. She really focused on the last part of verse 20 where the man asked Jesus a question.

"What do I still lack?"

One thing Lysa challenged us to do is to ask God,

"What is the one thing that I am lacking

that keeps me from having

an incredible relationship with You?".

That following Monday morning about 4 in the morning, I had gotten up out of a hard sleep to use the bathroom and before I was even out of bed I asked God that question. I remember thinking later that morning when I was more alert, how cool that was to know that in my sleep, I was thinking of that part of the conference.

Well, it is something I've been praying about and asking God since the weekend of January 15th and I finally got my answer this week. In the ice on my driveway of all places. I know, weird. But God made it so clear to me.

Nebraska is not on God's list right now of "States to Bless" because we have been in snow, ice and temps that even an Eskimo would be ticked about. We have been in this weather for a really long time now. Well usually when it snows either Gene or Aaron scoop our driveway, but with Gene's back surgeries and Aaron's back injury and my refusal to do such a task, I let it slide this winter. And that is exactly what I've been doing since the snow storms; sliding up and down our driveway that is covered with ice. My sweet Dad did bring his snowblower over and removed the snow, but underneath the snow was lots of ice. So much, that when I get out of the car I feel as if I'm on an ice skating rink as the sidewalk too is covered.

Anyway, earlier this week after I dropped the kids off at school, I pulled into the driveway and noticed there were two black objects lying on the passenger side of the drive. Wondering what it was, I went around the car to get a closer view.

Lo and behold, it was a pair of Aaron's socks. I guessed that the night before when he got out of the car he must have dropped them. Knowing when he got in the car this morning he had to have seen them, I was a little irritated as to why he would just leave them. I soon discovered that the reason being, they have become one with the ice. I tried to pull them up, but unless I used a shovel or something sharp to chip away the ice, those socks were not moving. So, since there is no way right now of getting them out, Aaron has decided to wait until the ice thaws.

So there in my driveway for all who walk up to my house to see are two very large Nike socks stiff as a board incased in ice. Right next to the leaves we never got raked in the fall. And with this weather I just may have socks in the driveway until June. Very nice.

But this is what God showed me here.

Through some dirty, frozen basketball socks embedded in the ice on my driveway, God showed me what my heart looks like from His seat on the throne.

I've been asking Him to change me, begging actually and yet He sees that I keep parts of my heart in ice. Parts that He would have to chip away at to get to. Parts of my life I think I can handle on my own.

Lysa talked about how she too had tried keeping parts of her life away from God. Giving Him permission to invade all other areas, but not her family. He could have her ministry, her home, but stay back from my family.

And what did God do with those limitations?

He expanded her territory through an unthinkable adoption of her two boys from Liberia that she heard sing in a choir. He took the one area of her heart incased in ice and slowly melted it until He had her complete surrender and she allowed herself to be called Mom by five instead of three.

God is good. God is great. But He doesn't just want my lips to ask Him what I lack from having an incredible relationship with Him, He wants my heart to melt into the relationship He wants to enjoy with me.

So as I examine my heart I see things such as attitude, control and fear on the frozen side and the desire to love, surrender and have unshakable faith on the warm side of my heart. It's time to let Jesus melt the ice away and get into those areas of my life that I have not given Him permission to have full access to.

In church this past weekend,the pastor spoke of how we have a call to greatness. He quoted Mother Teresa as saying,

"Let Jesus use you without consulting you,

and you will be holy because you belong to Him".

Hmmm...I am lacking surrender and God let me know it this week.

For some reason, God doesn't want to be consulted by some woman in Nebraska that thinks she knows what's best.

Instead, He wants access to her heart and life.

24/7 kind of access.

I want to pass on Lysa's challenge of asking God,

"What is the one thing I am lacking

that keeps me from having

an incredible relationship with You?"

And don't put any limitations to where He can show you His answer.

Could just be in a pair of frozen socks.

Please pray for Lysa as she is choosing peace over panic from unexpected events happening in her life. Please click here to let her know she is in your prayers.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blah blah blah....

Have you ever tuned someone out while their talking to you?
The other day my 8 year old was asking me a lot of questions.
I mean a lot.
I think I tuned her out. Not on purpose, but I think I did.
Unless she was really saying,"blah, blah, blah, blah, blah", because that's what I heard.
I know, what a horrible Mom.
Definitely not the best thing to admit if I were trying for the Mother of the Year award.
But I can't help it sometimes.
I do love the sound of her voice though if that counts for anything.

Anyway, as a Mom, when bombarded with question upon question, have you ever given the deep, logical answer of "Because I told you so"? I have and I still do sometimes, but child #3 doesn't settle for such an answer. She wants something more. Something that makes her brain roll around until she has an understanding of why I answered her the way I did.

Have you ever gotten the answer "Because I told you so" from God?
If so, has it been good enough or do you press Him for a deeper reason of why not or why?
Is His grace sufficient enough for you or do you need to know what happened behind the scenes?

I don't know. Sometimes I wish He would just spell it out really clear.
But then again, perhaps He does in His Word and I just totally miss it.
Maybe I tune Him out like I sometimes do with Liv.
Because if I'm real honest, sometimes when I'm reading His Word all I see is "blah blah blah", but that's because of me, not Him.

Oh how I must focus more on Him and His Word and not take my time with Him for granted.
And I need to do the same with my girl. Because soon all she will hear from me is "blah blah blah" and right now...she hangs on my every word. She's attentive when I speak and she wants to learn from me.
Now that's the type of daughter I need to be to my Heavenly Father.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Amazing Grace...even in the aftermath of a quake

Yesterday I was just in a rotten mood.
Not sure what triggered it, but it lasted all. Day. Long.
Which for those around me makes for them a very long day too.
The perfect topper to my day was at 8:30 at night on my way to pick up my son from a basketball game.I followed a car through a yellow light and
just as I entered the intersection, the yellow turned to red.
So naturally, I gunned it so the oncoming traffic to my right and left wouldn't hit me.

That's when I saw the light show in my rear view mirror.
A twelve year old policeman pulled me over.
I was so proud of myself as I quietly took my ticket instead of releasing pre-Jesus Lelia on his youthful looking self like my flesh so badly wanted to do.

I picked up my son and he made me, no, forced me to go work out.
My sister and I have been doing the 30 Day Shred video by Jillian Michaels for 2 weeks now and I stupidly hired my son to keep me motivated. Stupid of me because he's taking it serious and has no mercy.
After getting ticketed, while driving to pick up Aaron, I told myself (out loud and rather convincingly) that I was not going to go work out.
But Aaron wanted to earn his 5 bucks for the week for keeping me on track and he clearly didn't care about what kind of day his Momma had. So off we went to my sisters and I'm so glad I did. It was a great workout and released a lot of the frustration I was feeling.

Later that night I started thinking about what is happening overseas.
So many children without a family, a home, clothes, food or familiarity.
I saw an interview the other day with this man who had gone to Haiti and said that even in the midst of all the death and devastation, he could hear the people singing Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace in the middle of a disaster that not even the best weatherman could predict.

And here I am in the States boldly complaining about my "bad" day. How disgusting.
Today, I saw and kissed on all 3 of my beautiful children and 2 granddaughter's faces.
My husband and I went to the grocery store and returned home to a hot meal in the oven.
My daughter laid out her clean clothes for her next school day.
My son hung out with his friends at a basketball game.

We went through normal life today.
Our home may be messy, but it's intact.
Our family and friends are still alive and well.
My kids weren't picked up by strangers and taken away from all they know.
All my kids know wasn't wiped out by the shaking of the earth.
Schools are in session.
Food and water is in abundance.

So, I ask myself...How the heck can you claim that you had a bad day?
I mean, really what was so bad about it?
The ticket?
The piles of snow everywhere?
Why not be thankful you have places to go and try driving through an intersection only when you have a green light?

The summer of '08 I attended the writers/speakers conference, She Speaks.
I returned home with more than great feedback, wonderful memories and friends for life.
I came home with a little girl from El Salvador.

Not physically, of course, but one of the last things that Proverbs 31 Ministries gave us before we headed home was the wonderful opportunity to become a Compassion sponsor.
Over the last 19 months, we have received many letters from our little friend all hand written in Spanish and kindly translated to English.
Beautiful pictures she has drawn for us.
And prayers. She prays for us. And she asks us for prayers.
It has been an honor to sponsor her.
I've never shared this here on my blog, but now is a good time to do so.

Haiti needs us right now.
And Compassion has many kids in Haiti.
Unfortunately, some sponsors have lost their sponsored children as they were killed in the quake.
With so much loss, I'm sure many new faces will join in hopes of being able to ask someone in the US of A to pray for them and to pray for their sponsor.

Below is the button you can click on to see how you can help out.
Do whatever God prompts you to do.

Today, I choose not to be in a bad mood, because a rotten attitude is a choice.
Disasters such as Haiti tends to put bad hair days in perspective.

Instead, I thank God for my life and who is in it.
I will lift up the precious people in Haiti.
And with all my heart I believe that somehow, some way, the Giver of grace Who is beyond amazing will be glorified.
While the streets of Haiti smell of death, may the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ fill the hearts of those left to live out this hell on earth.
May our Lord and Savior become known through the the people sent there to help.

We love You Jesus and no matter how someone comes to know You...You are worth it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beauty from Ashes

This past weekend Alivia, our 8 year old daughter accompanied me to see Kelley and her wonderful family. For 6 months I have planned to attend a women's conference that Lysa TerKeurst would be speaking at in KC. I couldn't wait to hear Lysa speak and spend time with Kelley, Lysa and her assistant/BFF Holly.

I didn't check the church website until the week before the conference and found out the conference price was out of me and Kelley's price range so we couldn't attend after all.
Well, God had something different in mind.

Unexpectedly, He provided our way to the conference and so with great expectation of experiencing His greatness over the weekend I headed to KC on Friday afternoon.
Little did I know all He had planned to show me in 48 hours.

Saturday afternoon, I told my husband and my Mom, "I have been to a lot of women's conferences over the years, but never have I felt that one was more personal than this one was".
I know I'm not the only one who was touched by something said or sung this weekend. But God used Lysa to deliver a message this weekend directly from Him straight into my heart.

After each session I would vow the next session I would not cry, but when God is getting your attention so deeply, the tears cannot be stopped. So I just stopped trying to have perfect eye makeup and let the tears flow.

I'm not going to share tonight about the conference as my heart and mind are still trying to unwrap the gift God has placed in my lap and I really feel He has put something else on my heart. I will be back later this week to share some more, but tonight I have something else to write.

There are many of us that have history we wish never existed. Shameful things. Things that make your head hang.
Choices that were deliberately made that had consequences attached that at the time seemed unbearable.
Some women can escape a lifestyle so filled with shame and enter into a new life that there's no question that Jesus is her BFF.
And then there are women that escape their old lifestyle, but continuously beat themselves up over a past that Jesus already forgave them for, but they can't fully accept His grace. And soon they find themselves in the same old pit again.

I have no idea why this is on my heart, but I just need to share it.
This post is for that woman who knows Jesus, loves Jesus, but finds herself returning to her old self because simply said, she doesn't feel good enough. It's written for women like myself.
One who doesn't think she's good enough to be used by a King that chose her.
Or worthy enough to be loved by a King that adores her.
Or even loved enough to allow her King to cut the strings of her past still attached to her heart.

God really is crazy about you. I mean really crazy about you.
You know the kind of crazy that gives you butterflies in your stomach?
I bet He gets those when you call out His name. When you shout it and when you whisper it.
I bet His heart pounds a little harder when you cry as He reaches to catch your falling tears.

And He sees you. Day in and day out. He is watching over you.
And although His heart grieves when you choose to walk through mud because you are convinced you don't deserve different, He still loves you.
Doesn't matter how dirty you get throughout your day or night, He loves you.

A few months ago I met a little girl.
3 years old little.
She is one of those girls who catches your breath.

When I first met her, I had Amiyah, my 22 month old granddaughter with me.
It was a sweet meeting.
Even though Amiyah is a year younger than her, the big sister kicked in and she wanted to take care of our new friend.
And then she wanted to kiss and hug her.
And so they did.
And then she just wanted to play with her.
And so they did.

When I see our little friend, we make each other laugh.
And we hug and give each other kisses.
And I tell her she's beautiful and she agrees with me by smiling and saying "yah".
Here is a picture of me with our little friend. She loves taking her picture.

Four months ago she was at a family celebration and fell into a pot of boiling oil.
Head first.
The only area of her tiny body that is not burned is her precious little feet.

When I look at her she takes my breath away.
But not because of the obvious scars.
Look into her pretty brown eyes and look at that smile and tell me you don't see joy.
She is what beautiful is all about.
She is Beauty.

And I truly believe that this is how God sees us ladies.
He doesn't see our scars from bad decisions we've made.
He doesn't see what we think may not be so pretty...He sees beauty.
True and innocent beauty.

When I met this little one, I didn't tell her Mom to call me when she looked like she did before the burns. I loved her from the beginning.

And that is how it is with Jesus, but only better.
We have a Savior that loves us As Is.
With Him it is truly love at first sight of us.
There are no requirements to receive His love.
He doesn't accept us after we look like we did before we made bad choices.

All we have to do is accept His love.
And He is the One that takes our ashes from the burns we received from the pot of sin we fell into and turns them into beauty.

One thing I learned from Lysa's message this weekend was that we must have
Daily Dependence on God.

Not just in an emergency.
Not once a month or just on Sunday.
But daily.

Jesus loves and adores you so much.
And honestly, that is such an understatement.

Friday, January 8, 2010

No more coupons with Christ

The other day I was throwing out some junk mail.

Weekly we are bombarded with coupons for restaurants and oil change places.

But one coupon caught my eye.

Perhaps because it was about eye surgery.

It was a coupon for $500.00 off of eye surgery that would give you perfect vision.

No more glasses or contacts.

Just perfect sight.

I don't know if any of you ever watched the show King of Queens, but the main characters are a married couple named Doug and Carrie. Doug was always doing things that would tick Carrie off. One of the things he did was buy her eye surgery for her birthday because he wanted to get her something she couldn't return as she never kept any of his gifts.

She had the surgery and ended up blind. When it was revealed that he had used a coupon she became furious. She couldn't believe that he would use a coupon on something so important.

It was a pretty funny episode and she got her 20/20 vision when he took her to a new doctor and paid full price to get her eyes repaired.

What came to my mind is how sometimes I do that with God.

Sometimes instead of living a life full of abundance from my Savior, I choose to use a coupon.

I want to see His plans that He has for my life, but I don't want to obey Him.

I want to see my children live a life full of Jesus, but I don't commit time to pray for them.

I want to see Christ as the center of our marriage, but my flesh wants to flirt with the devil.

I want to see the branches of my life produce fruit, but I don't stay connected to the Vine.

If I want to see Jesus in my life, my marriage and my children,

then I can't expect to give Jesus half of me and get all of Him.

I must surrender.

I must stay connected to Him through His Word and prayer.

Not when I feel like it, but all of the time.

So hard, but completely possible because we serve a God that says so.

I love the Message version of Mark 10:27

Jesus was blunt: "No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself.

Every chance in the world if you let God do it".

No more coupons with Christ

because from my ongoing testimony it is evident that

when I try to cut corners with Jesus I don't save anything,

but it can cost me everything.

So not worth it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010: A Year of Failure or Jesus?

The first day of a new year is filled with so much promise.
Every year Resolutions taps on the shoulder of Bad Habits and asks to cut in and become my new dance partner. And with Determination and Hope twirling around me, making life look so good, I accept his offer. As he takes my hand we begin to twirl around the dance floor of life and my mind begins to whirl. Soon I become fixated on making this year of my life different and better than the last 38 I've lived.

With new goals, a new calendar, Jillian's 30 Day Shred exercise video, my 40th coming up this fall, I am a firm believer that 2010 is the year for change.
Permanent, positive and personal change.

But the problem is, I say that every year. I feel that rush of motivation every 365 days.
And the first couple months of the new year it looks hopeful.
And then I have no idea what makes me stop with the positive change and revert to habits I thought I had lost for good.

Looking back over 2009, a lot happened.
Change happened.
In my heart as well as in my life.

This summer, I became a Grandma of another little blessing dressed in pink.
Gene had his 3rd back surgery and had to go on disability, but thanks be to God, he is walking!

Ended some unhealthy relationships in my life.
Thankful for the season of one of the friendships, but ready to leave it in the past with peace from knowing that it's okay to love from a distance, even if it's in the same zip code.
Learned that boundaries are a good thing to put in place.

When life got tougher, I learned to stop wallowing in self pity and take God at His Word and focus on Him rather than myself. I have to daily chant "more of Him, less of me" as a constant reminder though and honestly, sometimes I just fail and keep my gaze in the mirror until I host and attend my own pity party.

I thank God so much for the people He has placed in my life...
*My wonderful blessing of a family, intermediate and extended.
*Godly girlfriends:
Charlene H,
Jodi D,
Kelley K,
Kim F (FYI: We're friends for matter where God leads you & Tony to worship Him. Just saying.)
Laurie L,
Maya C,
Michelle~my sweet sister,
Shalana C,
Sheila T and
Sheryl B.

*All the wonderful women of God I've met in blog land. Way too many to name, but you know who you are.
But I do need to mention one...

Paula from the beautifully written blog, His Ways who graciously stepped in at short notice and took over the current Yes to God study I was leading when I found myself unable to do it.
What a blessing this woman has been not only to me, but many.
Plus she is loves eating frosting out of a can. My kind of friend!

*The many ministries in blog land that teach and stretch me~from author and speakers that are about as real as they come, like Lysa TerKeurst and Lisa Whittle to ordinary housewives and single women who are just trying to make it through the day. To women like Rebecca who praised Jesus when she welcomed her little baby boy into the world this past June, to women like Mel who praised Jesus as He welcomed her 12 year old son into heaven this past December. There are so many women of God in blog land to learn from and get to know.

I've watched, prayed over and admired my son Aaron while he has endured some really tough times this school year.

So being only a few days into the new year, I have to wonder about the next 12 months.
Twenty ten or two thousand will I end it?
Will I be a list maker at the beginning of January and a quitter by February 2010?
Will I commit my plans to the Lord and watch Him unfold them in ways I never even thought possible?

What will this year look like if I truly take God at His Word?
I want to know.
I really do.

So can I let go of the hand of Resolutions? Let go of the hand of Bad Habits?
Can I become still and wait as my King approaches me on the dance floor and asks me to dance with Him?

Will I say yes as I put down my own agenda and just follow His lead?
Go where Jesus Christ goes and where He tells me to go?
Will I trust Him? Trust in Him?
Believe Him? Believe in Him?
Will I love Him with all of my heart, soul and mind?

Somehow I think if I can die to myself and say yes and truly seek Him, that this dance will be like no other.
It just can't be, because He is like no other.

I want more of Him. I want Him to really be my all. My center. My focus.
My dance partner for life.

I want to seek His approval, His opinion and His will.
I want Him to teach me new dance steps.
I want Him to teach me how to be a faithful dance partner in my words, thoughts and actions.

And I want to not panic when He leaves me alone on the dance floor and just watches me.
I want to trust that He still is with me. Even when it feels like I'm all alone.

I want to pull out Scripture from my heart and shout it at my Enemy when I recognize that he is trying to cut in on my dance with my Savior. Lord knows, I have danced with Satan enough and it's nothing but a dance of shame, regret and self pity and I want nothing to do with it.

So 2010 I start off dancing.
Dancing with my King.
He has already showed Himself off in ways I can't even begin to wrap my mind around and we're only on day five!!!

And so here is to another year.
A year of change and of growth.
A year of more of Him and way less of me.

And somehow, I believe from what I have learned over the last year through God's Word and in these books I've read and am reading that if I let God really have His way with my life,
then I will
Become More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.
I will then find out
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith
What Happens When Women say Yes to God.

If I let God change what He doesn't want to leave the same about me, then perhaps I'll see what He sees.
Behind Those Eyes
is a woman whose
Self Talk Soul Talk
wants to line up with God's words and thoughts of me.

But until I really surrender my all to Him and let Him become my All,
then I will never have the joy of experiencing an
An Untroubled Heart.

And Lord knows, I do not want to end 2010 with a heart condition that is fearful of letting God be first place in my life.
Been there,
done that
and the changes I attempt to make never stick.

More of Him...less of me, myself and I.

Happy New Year...
Cheers to letting a King take His rightful place on the throne of our hearts!


Listed above are books that God really has used and continues to use in my life.
You can find more information on each book on the right side of my blog.