Because He Lives

Because He Lives

Regardless of where and when I sing this hymn, it becomes the anthem of my heart.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives (Because He Lives)

I have vivid memories of this song, one of them while sitting in the front pew during my mom’s funeral. It was one of her favorite too. While walking through one of the most difficult times of my life, I could remember His faithfulness to me.

Pondering yesterday during Easter, remembering His faithfulness and love again, I had these words in my mind again. The words changed, though, as I thought about them.

In discussions with friends lately, we have been chatting about the difference between words like should, can, and will. I know, it seems silly, but words carry much with them. Because He Lives takes on a bit of a different context for me when the wording changes a bit.

Think about it. What if it said, “Because He lives, I WILL face tomorrow.”

It’s somehow different then.

It’s not just a possibility but a definitive intent to do so.

I will face tomorrow. I will be obedient to Christ. I will glorify Him with my life.

All because He lives.

Easter takes on new meaning and draws me to a courageous obedience – because HE lives.

What is He calling us to do? Are we following with our whole heart?

 

Lessons from the Road

Lessons from the Road

Summer road trips are some of my favorite. It reminds me of spending days facing backwards in the back of our station wagon headed west from Texas to California every summer. Some good memories of my dad picking a cactus off the side of the road for my mom to bring home, stopping at every Stuckey’s ( the convenience store/souvenir store) along the way to find a papoose doll for my sister, and eating and sleeping at the rest stop. Those were the days. Road trips today are a little different – A/C in the back seat, seat belts, and water in plastic bottles instead of Coca Cola in glass ones.

We (the kids and I) have just returned from a road trip, actually two. Driving from Kansas to Virginia and back and then down to the south Texas coast and back again. Seeing lots of friends and family, we couldn’t be more thankful for the time we had with them and the fact that they still love us. As much fun as we had, I did have some lessons along the way.

car selfie

1. Miracles happen every day. We drove–a lot. All total, we covered approximately 4501 miles. I had to add the one on the end – it was the detours and potty stops. In all of those miles and all of those two-lane highways, crazy interstates, and construction areas, we made is home safe and sound and the vehicle did as well. Should you ever wonder whether or not God still does miracles, this should prove that point quite clearly.

2. Everybody has dirt. Keeping a clean house is important to me. When people come over, I want them to think that our house looks this nice (spotless) all the time. Some of my friends do the same thing. Cleaning house is not a bad thing, in fact I am still very much a fan, but sometimes in life we clean things up so much before people see that we are no longer “real” to them. I want to be real. I want people not necessarily to see every single one of my flaws or all the “dirt” of my life, but I want them to see that I am not perfect either, that this life we all live requires grace for each of us. We are in this together, no one better than the other. Visiting family, they by no means had disgusting houses, but they were living life with shoes by the door, stuff on the couch, and dishwashers with dirty dishes in them. They were real. And in their being real, I am reminded that we are all following Jesus as best we can but none of us is perfect. Makes me feel mucho better.

handprints tx

3. Thankfulness overcomes sadness. We headed home at the end of our second road trip with tears in the eyes of my kids. They wondered why we couldn’t live in the same place as our family. Well, part of it is that even our family doesn’t all live in the same place. We do miss them, though, and we love them dearly. Driving away can be sad–till you change your perspective. We were sad because we would miss those that we love. But when we become thankful that we have such people to love, the sadness isn’t quite so deep. We have people that love us, cherish us, and pour into us. Yes, we wish we could be with them more often and we miss the every-day-interaction we would like to have, but how thankful we can be because we have those people in our lives. We are truly blessed.

4. Random thoughts happen. This is quite possibly my favorite. I love riding for hours in the car because the monotony of it causes thoughts not only in my brain but in those of my children as well. I love the questions from the wondering minds of the back seat. I hear everything from “What would we do if daddy didn’t come home?” to “When do you think Blue Bell is going to start making ice cream again?” All vital questions to life . . . just kidding, but I do love what comes out of their mouths. The conversations can be fabulous. Sometimes in regular life we need to let the monotony in and just talk to each other.

beach tx

5. Adaptability is a skill. It is not necessarily in my nature to be pliant and flexible, but I am learning. Sometimes God teaches me the importance of these things in the houses of our extended family. For example, when the Uncle and Aunt look at my two children who just had dry cereal for breakfast (not the organic, low sugar kind, mind you) and ask the children what they would like to have for lunch and dinner. Somewhere between fried chicken and tacos with only cheese, my brain starts to yell “Where are the vegetables?!?!” It is in that very moment God taps on my shoulder again and tells me to enjoy the moments of today, and figure out what is truly important. We will eat vegetables later, but they will remember their time with our family for their lifetimes. I am learning to be adaptable, mostly.

6. Gifts come in all kinds of ways. Along our trip we received gifts. Some of those gifts came in pretty packages with a nice little bow on top. I do love those kinds of gifts, but we received others that were not so traditional. We received love and grace . . . and someone to help load and unload the car. We received encouragement and rest . . . and ice cream. These gifts can come in tangible forms or simply through words of encouragement. Sometimes I discount gifts that God has truly given me through others – not this time.

bureau of engraving

7. Craziness is worth it. We drove in late last Sunday night. Monday morning we woke up to what looked like our car having exploded into the house. It was a mess. Treasures we picked up along the way, snacks, suitcases, books and toys we used for entertainment–it was all sitting at the bottom of the stairs when I came down. This doesn’t include the craziness along the way like wild times in the car, public restrooms that looked like they hadn’t been cleaned or remodeled since the 1940’s, and random men in thong swimsuits at the beach. All interesting times, I promise. As crazy as it can be, though, it is all well worth it. As I have told my children, relationships are most important, right after Jesus. Our time with these people that we call family and friends is worth every crazy moment we have, especially when they are all so very gracious.

fishing

I do love road trips. But I also love to be home. There are blessings in both places–and lessons to be learned. Does your family do road trips? Any exciting adventures–or tips–you’d like to share?

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Good at Everything

Good at Everything

I used to play volleyball in High School and a bit in college. I loved the game. At 5’4″ with little to no vertical jump, I made a pretty good setter and I served the ball well, but was not really made to fill the other positions. I loved being a setter and the skill and finesse that came with it, but some days I longed to play on the back row. You know, like a receiver. I also had a distinct desire to be a hitter. They got to do exciting this like smash the ball to the other side or make one of those amazing blocks against the other team.

good at everything

Some days I wanted to be like them. Mostly, though, I just wanted to be able to do it all. I wanted to play every position and play it well. Wants, though, do not always translate into reality. You know it’s true. I was a setter. I was good at that. Somewhere in there I should be satisfied with that.

I was…eventually, but I fall into the same trap again as an adult. How you may ask? Just like you do.

I wake up some days and think I should be just as fast as my friend when we run together or do just as many push-ups. Then I proceed to think that I should be great at homeschooling my kids every day. I love them and they love me so every school day should be a piece of cake. In addition to that, I also believe I should keep house just as clean as my friend up the road. Her house is spotless, I tell you. Cooking? I should be awesome at that too.

This list could go on like this, and then it bubbles over into other things God has called me
to. I teach a Bible study class? That’s right, I should be great at that too–every time. My blog? That too. God has called me to do the whole writing and speaking thing, I should be really good if not amazing at those things as well. It just keeps going.

It smacked me in the face the other day again in the ministry I work on with some other ladies. I get into that mode again of thinking I should be able to create awesome graphics, write challenging Bible studies, do administrative tasks, and anything else. And do them all with skill and expertise unmatched.

Whatever. Just so y’all are tracking, it never works. Never. I don’t know that I have actually been the best at anything, ever, but I also know that being the best or being great at everything is not what He has called me to.

First, God has not called me to do everything. He has only called me to do certain things. I should probably just stick to my own lane, and let others do the same. I need to worry more about whether I am doing the things I am called to do rather than how well I stack up compared to others.

comparisons

Which leads me to number two, life is not a game of comparisons. It never has been. When I start thinking about whether or not I am good or great or awesome at something, I am using others as a measuring stick. Not good. The only measuring stick I should be comparing myself too is Jesus—and He created grace for that. Thank goodness.

Life is not a competition or a pursuit of greatness. He made me the way I am. I have skills and talents He has given, no doubt, but my job is to do my very best to use them as He leads and leave the rest to Him. It’s not about how fast my friend runs or how well my neighbor cooks or whatever. It is about my pursuit of Jesus.

God reminds me of my volleyball days periodically. He made me to be a setter. He made me to be Kori Yates. That is all. I was not made to be good or great at everything. I was made to be me, something nobody else can be. It’s amazing to me how this lesson comes back to me after all these years. He is continually teaching me–sometimes it’s a repeat lesson.

Do you compare yourself with others? How do you focus on what God has called you to do?
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In the Presence of God

In the Presence of God

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23).

I love these verses and yet I forget them more often than not. I have access to God – you know, the God of the universe, the One who spoke the world into being, the One who has complete power and control over all. I have access to the One and Only Living God, every moment of every day. Awesome.

Sometimes, though, I skimp on my prayer time and sometimes I chat with Him like He is my buddy instead of my God. I ask Him for things and yet somehow in my heart I am not completely for sure He can pull it off. Am I crazy? Maybe.

It is certainly an honor and a privilege, but it is not because I have some spiritual title or extra benefits. I am just like any other Christian today or any time since the time of Jesus. Not all people in history have had such access.

Long ago in the times of the Old Testament, God spoke to His people through other people or angels or even burning bushes, but very few of them could come into the presence of the Living, All-Powerful God. We read in Exodus 26, as the Israelites were wondering in the wilderness, that God had them build a Tabernacle. The Tabernacle had different areas. There was an outer courtyard, a Holy Place, and a Most Holy Place. The presence of God resided with the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place. Everybody could come in the courtyard area, a very few could go into the Holy Place, and even fewer into the Most Holy Place. They also had many guidelines about what to do before even those allowed to enter the Most Holy Place could go in. It was a restricted place to say the least.

Shared from biblegateway.com.

Shared from biblegateway.com.

Most of God’s people through the Old Testament would never get to be in the presence of God, yet many desired such a thing. But how could unholy people come into the presence of a Holy God? Enter Jesus. His death on the cross took the veil or curtain that separated us from God and ripped it in two. From that moment on, we as Christians have direct access to God, and yet how well do we take advantage of that?

We can confidently enter the presence of God. Hebrews tells us to “draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.” We have been cleaned and washed thanks to the blood of Jesus. My prayer for me and for all of us is to understand the amazing privilege we have in our relationship with God, a privilege for which many before us only wished – access to the Living God. Standing before Him, we can trust that He is capable, willing, and faithful, laying down at His feet every concern and every care of this world. The challenge? Remembering the opportunity we have and the God that we serve.

In that regard, how do you make time with God a priority? How do you remind yourself of the power and grandeur of the God we serve and yet come to Him in confident hope?
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God is at Work

God is at Work

Standing on the edge with your toes hanging off having no idea where the next step will take you – that is how I feel lately. Have you been there?

Next Monday, October 20, 2014, I will get to share with you what God has been doing in me. This process started a few years ago as God whispered in my ear. I had no idea what He was asking me to do or where in the world this would all lead.

About one year ago, He gave me a sweet friend who had the same whisper. It was then we looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it.” Since that time, God has done miraculous things. I have had a front row seat to all of it, and I am amazed.

I am not amazed at His power or His presence, but I am amazed at His provision and grace to me…and the fact that He has allowed this ordinary chick to be a small part of what He is doing in this great big world.

Truly, I cannot wait to share, but I must. It will be worth it, I promise.

God has done things like this in all of us – well, maybe not exactly. We all have “stuff” God has called us to do, using the gifts He has given to continue to reach a world for Christ. I love to see how God uses us all in so many different ways. So very cool how it all works together to make something beautiful.

God called some people of Scripture to some crazy things. Examples: Jeremiah with the buying of land right before Babylon crushed Judah, Elijah ate food brought to him by ravens (1 Kings 17), Ezekiel laid on his left side for 390 days (Ezekiel 4), and many others. God may not have called us to these things, but He has called us to something. Whether it seems weird or crazy or whatever, He has a plan.

Spending time with Him, reading His Word, seeking His face, we hear His words to our heart. Whispers of hope and joy, but also whispers of direction and command. As we sit at the foot of the cross with our only desire to serve Him, we listen. his commands may simply be to care for our children, to go to work and share Christ there, to visit our neighbor, to help this in need, or to do a million other things. He has a plan for us all, even in the little things.

As we look forward to next week and the upcoming surprise, think about how God is using you. What is He speaking to your heart? What is He doing in you? I would love to know!

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