Tuesday, December 31, 2013

insecurites become blessings.

Our hearts are fragile, and they're searching for something, but what? What are we so desperate for? I walk through the mall and I see all these people and they all search for the same thing. Unknowingly they drag unsuspecting young people along with them into this death trap. This thing we search for? What is it?

We see it in the magazines that show celebrities and how they keep falling apart. I see it in the love stories we watch at the movies. I see it in the climb for power in the workplace. I see it when I look in the mirror.

This grasping, is it not meaning and value we search for? We think that wealth, schooling, makeup, relationships, and statuses will make us feel like we are worth something. We all want to be something special.

Don't be fooled. There is not one among us who does not hunger after being valued. And that, that is a good thing.

I see the unshed tears in her eyes as she views herself in the mirror. I see the frustration as she tries to loose those pesky pounds. I see the failure she feels when she sees her grades. I see the desperation clawing her heart as she holds onto hoped for love.

I see myself. Sometimes it's not the literal, sometimes it's in the heart that these things happen. The ugliness of the heart that you see through the mirror of scripture. The weight of sin that starving those sins isn't making them go away. The grades we give ourselves when we must measure up to some ideal. The love we are so sure we can't have from Christ.

This desperation, this need for meaning. This meaningless world grates on our hearts meant for eternity and perfect love. That's why we aren't satisfied. We will never find ourselves with perfect value and meaning and love in this world.

Let that sink in...

You will never grasp complete love while you're on this earth.

Wait, but what of experiencing God's love? What of salvation? That is the road to learning of this love, but does not Paul even say that God will bring his salvation to completion on that day? God's love is something that we will not fully encounter until we are made like him. We can be overwhelmed by it, we can revel in that love and feel our value. But dear woman, sister, our hearts can not hold all the love God can give. Not until He makes us perfect.

And that is when we come face to face with JOY!

Let God's love rush over you, and realize that there is absolutely no end to experiencing more. There will always be more of God to fill you to overflowing. And because there is more, we will continue to search. And does the fact that we continue to search show us that we have this need for value, to be complete?

I'm a glad that I have a hole that I can not fill. I am praising God that I have this insecurity. This need for more. Because when he draws me near, and my search continues in him? That is when I get to know my savior's heart. That's when I get to be filled through and through. And the adventures are waiting for us, these adventures to jump in, to feel unsure, to allow that hole to open wide. That's when God starts pouring in.

When you know where to look, insecurities become a blessing in disguise. They become the catalyst to searching and knowing the heart of our Lord. Fears will creep in, questions will arise. But we cling to our light, and soon we see the one step in front of us. Taking that step, God will always shine a light on the next one. And that step will always lead us closer to God.

Like the proverbs woman, I laugh at tomorrow. I know that these insecurities are only lies. They are only the lies the devil tells me...the ones he hopes will make me distrust my God. But, I have the choice to make. And I make it boldly and step out.

The last step into God's love held firm, and I know the next one will too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Zephaniah - And the story of a Father and Child

Is God really real in MY life?

I feel shut out of His presence, unnoticed and rebuffed. I do not feel welcomed before God, nor do I feel desired or changed. My life feels dead, as though I’m not living. My heart is cold as stone. I do not see the hands of God working in me, and I do not have the strength to cry out to him in my weakness. Will my voice not work, or does it refuse to work? I am frozen in time, unable to move. There is no escape from this blackness, I can not see. I am numb. I am cold. I am dead.

I know that God is the only one who can change me. I know that no amount of struggling is going to save me. My flailing arms grow weak, and I know that I can not shake off these bonds. There is no escape. I can not save myself. No amount of good deeds will change my ending. No amount of effort will seal a good fate. There is nothing I can do. I give up my will. I struggle and fail to live because this is not really life. This is only the walking dead. I can not fake this slow dying. There is no smile, no cheerful act that can change the way I feel. There is no standing up straight, I will only be knocked down again. I can not change the way I feel, nor do I want to have a superficial light on the horizon.

I fall completely into the arms of Grace. I claim the promises of Love. I cling to Mercy.

I read the verses, I memorize them, I cry them out, and I sing them. My mind holds on to these words, my heart is gasping them out.

THE LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord - my Lord. I cling to these words...I remember his many names. El Roy, oh God who sees me. I grab onto this hope that he does see me, laying here covered in the mud. I hold onto the truth that God sees through this grime and desolation. That there is something to see inside of me…

I cling to the hope that GOD IS WITH ME. That He really is the Jesus who was born into humanity. Who knew our pain, who knew this hopeless life. I cling to him because he was not born into the rich and the wealthy. He was not born a King. He knows the hardship? Does he know this ruthless life? And He really chose it?

He delights in me. I look in the mirror, at all this grime. This dust, this brokenness crumbling. And I see nothing to delight in. Nothing to catch his eye, or make him smile. And I cry for the beauty that would delight him. The heart of kindness, the white as snow purity. Somehow he delights? He is not blind. He sees me as I truly am, do I?

He quiets me with his amazing love...but only if I am willing to be quieted. After seeing all that dirt and grime and how can God really delight. Yet still, he comes close and calls me child. And his love tells me that no matter who I am or what I’ve done, or what I never ever accomplish...he will STILL love me. And I suddenly feel the peace that seizes my heart when my mother or father wraps me up and tells me it’s ok...What more love God must have since he sees every single thing in my heart! His love stills my heart, and my heart runs water down my face.

And to know, this wet mess of tears and grime and sin, He rejoices over me...I fall apart. I can not hold myself together. I’ve known this mess from the start. He has joy when he looks upon this face of mine. And I ask again - The one who delights in me, does he see the real me? And I see something else? Is what I see a lie?

And I close my eyes and see a child...a small blond girl in her Daddy’s arms. I see joy written on her face, hands held to the sky, trust...the Kingdom belongs to such as these. The daddy laughs and smiles, and I can see his face rejoice. Bliss. Yes, the little girl will hurt, yes she will fall, but she looks up into the face of a daddy who can wipe away those tears, and that mud, and he picks her up. All trust, all love, all peace. Wonderful LOVE.

The love of Christ washes me clean...washes away the muck and dirt and lies that Satan has painted my heart with, and what I begin to see...I begin to see what God sees. That little girl, full of joy and trust, still lives in me. 

Looking up into the face of the Father, He scoops me up, wipes away the tears and grime... and in His arms is peace... and in His eyes...Rejoicing and Delight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Second Chances and the wonder of Grace

Anger reared it's head as quiet gentleness bent it's head. Control was fleeting as infuriation blinded all love and compassion. 

There are days when we lose control, and either we can't regain our composure, or we simply won't. This sinful nature, these ugly displays of emotion, they try to get a hold on me - to squeeze out His love and render useless this amazing freedom. My heart begins to boil, my hands clench. And worst of all, I despise it. I despise these hands, this heart, this world.

Soft and gentle, these words play. Hands to ears I try to shut it out, for I despise the gentle love. I count it worthless. But it coaxes me, and I can not resist. Blinded by my failure and fury, this unrestrained grace breaks down the walls and renders my anger useless. I am relieved.

I can not give grace when I can not receive it. I can not be full of love, when my heart does not know it. I can not be full of joy unless I know the joy giver. I can not give forgiveness, when I refuse to except it.

Everything I try to be, everything I try to give - without excepting it, embracing it, knowing it - I can not give it. If I try to keep giving these things, I will run empty. And all that is left is the anger and hatred and cruelty. These things are what I am apart from the One who gives all good things. Apart from Him, nothing is good.

Tears of release as I listen to song after song - these songs, they are love songs of my Savior. And I listen to each word, and I hear the heart of Love. And I'm reminded that I am a child of the One True King. And it stuns me silent I am told that the past does not matter - that it's forgiven. And I ask, is not one minute ago the past?  Anything done or experienced...that is past.

I see my slate - the one that is wiped clean. And I see these clothes white as snow. Bewildered, my eyes fill again with tears. And the only one to see is God, and I leave my sunglasses in place as I cope with this new reality. This overwhelming grace. I know the anger and I know my failings. I know all the things I should have done differently. And I accept his yoke...

Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

The sun warms my face as He warms my heart. The spirit has whispered to my heart, and it begins to heal.

I drive home, listening to song after song repeating the same messages. God is love and forgiveness. I am wanted and I am loved. And he is enough, no matter what I've done in my long ago past or in my moment ago failures.

At home I'm met by two wiggling dogs with open paws, gentle eyes, and loving hearts.

I shake my head in wonder as I write my 100th gift.

100. Second Chances

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Accepting His Forgiveness

Life continues on and on, and my heart becomes more and more numb to God. And I see this truth, that Christ died for all transgressions, and isn't his heart full of grace? My mind says yes, but my life says no.

Those little sins, and even those things we call "nothing" those are what make my heart numb. Because not only do I refuse to label them, I refuse to receive God's grace regarding them. And aren't  I disbelieving in his goodness and love when I reject his forgiveness? I swallow hard, and blink eyes and try to take it in. In not coming to Christ and excepting and even embracing his love, I am throwing the cross, his love, his grace, his goodness....I'm throwing it all in his face and saying an emphatic "no!"

No to his love? Why would anyone do that, especially a Christian? Especially a Christian....This is the story of mankind, and why did I think I was immune? We throw it away because it's far too good to be true! It's far too good to be true that I can make a bad choice, and then turn to God and throw myself at his feet and still feel his grace. He still loves me in the moment of my sin...

Romans 5:8  - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

While we were still sinning, and throwing it in his face, and yelling and screaming at him, and living out our "no", that's when he showed just how much he loves us...that's when he poured out his love on the cross and did the unimaginable. 

But I still struggle, because with a numb heart how do I know when I throw it at him? And I see my journal laying there untouched...the one I write my own One Thousand Gifts in, just like Ann Voskamp. And it lies there closed, and I don't even know when I last took time to write in it. And I know it's not just about writing it down, it's about actually thanking God...but without the physical act, the heart act has failed.

I struggle and fight this mundane life, this life full of mistakes. And I refuse to believe Christ doesn't care about the moments of my life. And doesn't he give me each breath, so how could he not care about them? I refuse to give the Devil a strong hold in my life, and isn't his goal to make me not trust in God's goodness....just like Adam and Eve fell for his lies, the devil wants me too to believe his lies, to refuse to trust in God's goodness.

And it's an every day battle, to keep trusting in God's love, to keep giving thanks, to fall into God's arm's each day. And with His kind of love, what do I really have to fear?

And I want to live out a "yes" to God in my life. So I remember his love and I accept his grace. I accept that I really am forgiven, treasured, wanted, and loved. And I see hope replace my numbness.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hearts vulnerable and Living Free

My mind goes wild, and my heart beats wild too. My heart cries out silently to the Christians all around. And I wish that it weren't silent. If only it were like the shot heard around the world...

Listen to me cry out, hear my words. We are falling apart. We are being deceived. We are an immobilized people. We sit in our beautiful church buildings and we smile and sing and listen and make commitments to change. And there we sit, doing nothing. We go home, back to our jobs, our lives, our homes. We go back with a focus to change ourselves.

I see it in the mirror, this need to change self. To gain more control of desires, to learn to be better. This self discipline, it wears on me.  I throw it out the window, refuse to look in the mirror. I sit and block it out. And I am dead in spirit and alive in body. And why would I want this and how do I get the strength to change?

I run through the gospels, my mind brushing fingers across memory. I want to feel it, to see it. And in my mind's eye, I do. I see Christ and I see service. I see dirt and filthy sandals and hands washing away grime. I see wet hair with dirt and leaves and accepting eyes. I see hands letting go of stones and words being written in sand. I see fishing nets and knives cutting away and cleaning. I see arms around children, and food in hand with grins across faces.

I see service.

What I see is a Christ who came to live. Came to live among us, and isn't his name Emmanuel? And wasn't that one of the first names we knew him by? God with us. God living among us. Not sitting teaching for hours, not home working on self discipline. No, this man, this Christ, this holy one sent to save us - he came to go and serve.

And I see it clear. All this sitting around, this trying to find the strength to change. And is this really what Christ modeled for us or is this what we've imagined for ourselves? And am I afraid to dig my hands into dirt, and lift the battered off the ground, and wrap my arms around the filthy and unclean. And am I really afraid to live Christ. Because what was it? What was this living that he did other than a drink offering? And am I really ready to be pored out? To be emptied of myself and filled with God? And his sacrifice was so great, can I also sacrifice like that?

I am afraid. I am afraid of what He will ask, and will I be strong enough? I am broken and battered and dirty and unclean; and how do I lift others up when I can not even rise to my own feet. I try and I fail and I am a mess. And I see the faces of family around me, and I can not help them. So we all stay on the ground beaten and bruised and together we moan. And I just sit there.

What is it about this giving away that so scares me? I am comfortable. Comfortable in this discomfort. And I refuse to really see it because I hide in this crazy life. And like a blanket covers my face and I am blind, I allow this comfort to cover this broken heart and the light doesn't touch it. And if this light, this truth, if it does not touch it, my eyes will remain comfortable. The burning light, how do I allow the pain of opening my eyes, and is it really worth it?

I nod yes slow. I look into the eyes of true comfort. I look into Christ's love eyes. And I slowly begin to release my hold on this comfort blanket. And he takes my hands slow, holds my heart and I try to keep breathing. I feel vulnerable, and it will not end with this uncovering. But I was never meant to live comfortable and safe, I was meant to live surrendered and free and vulnerable.

I struggle, and try to grab the blanket again, and he coaxes me quietly. I know that voice, and I trust. And I know that this releasing will only happen one little step at a time. But I am afraid and unafraid at the same time. I know my Jesus, I know that he is my comfort. I feel his love rain down. I want this surrender, and I want this living free. Free to live as Christ, to serve.

  And I open my heart to the fear, because a fearful vulnerable heart that is unafraid and protected because of Christ....That is a heart that is ready to live life surrendered. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Hard Gifts

I give up before I even open my eyes. The puppy cries. My heart cries too. How did life become all about surviving? And is it truly life when that's all I do?

The heart feels limp, limp as my wet hair after standing in water coming down. I hope it will wash away these feelings...but I'm not sure what these feelings are. Perhaps the walking dead? I feel dead and I wonder why these lungs keep breathing in and out. And some days I wish they wouldn't.

And I ask, why does God still care when my heart is so broken? Why does he want to pick up the pieces again, and does he really? And why can't I trust? And then I begin to remember.

I take a breath and practice...practice. I practice looking at the past, at remembering what God has done. And I see a little blond girl playing games outside, and digging in flower beds, and seeing all the flowers believing that she really did make them grow. And I see a face of trust. Where did that child bliss go? And do we really have to let it go or is it choice?

And I remember to give thanks for the past and the present. I see how easy it was to give thanks, because God seemed in control and I had nothing to fear. And I gave thanks for the ants and the flowers and the cold water on the counter. Trust - just complete trust. Childhood bliss was just trust? And I shake my head and a smile forms. I know how to learn to trust again, and is it really as easy as giving thanks? Can I have that bliss again?

So I count -
82 - Broken guitar strings and forgotten foot stools
83 - Shadows playing on the blinds and on guitar strings
84 - dusty pianos

I thank God for his blessings, and is he really a good God who loves me? And the more I count all as grace - as blessing - the more I see as gift and only a good God can give good gifts.

And what of the hard things in life? I sit back into the past, the table at the bookstore, Mom and Dad enjoying a muffin together. A smile turns my lips. And the question about the what ifs. What if something happens. What if we don't get the jobs we want and what if we loose what we have. And we know to keep trusting. Keep trusting because hasn't God provided already? And why would he stop?

But what about those circumstances, and how to make sense of the going ons.  And he's still good even if they're not? No, I shake my head. And I speak it, more to myself because I'm the one in need of hearing these truths. These things - the breaking and hurting and struggling - they are not just allowed to happen. They are gift. They are blessing. And I try to count them not just on paper but on the tablet of my heart. Because everything that happens is simply preparing us to be more like Jesus. More like Love himself. And who wants anything else but to be made whole? And so I thank him one thing at a time. For the hard and the easy, the ugly and the beautiful. And nothing ever falls outside the label of grace blessings.

I look around at the mess and say "blessing" (85). The calender has a sticky note with work hours on it. I don't feel the energy today. But still I say it quiet. "grace" (86). The weeds grow and I sit and I am lazy. And still I look to God and say "this is grace"(87) . The floor has just dried, and I wish that puppies knew to go outside..."blessing"(88). One at a time I count. And I say a prayer of thanks as I write them.

This love of God shown through his blessings...just as in salvation we accepted it, still each day we grow in our salvation by seeing his blessings and grace and naming them. And only when we name them as gift will we begin to live as though they are gift.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hearts open

My heart opens out and up, and I glimpse the wonder of God working in my life and the lives of others.

Why do we hurt? Why do we get bitter? I've been learning, and I've been giving thanks. Giving thanks to God helps us to trust God. We thank him for what he is doing and what he has done, and seeing all of his mighty works in the past gives us a hope for more mighty works in the future. So I thank him for the hard, the painful, the bitter. And I open my heart to Him and to what he's doing.

Hearts with complete trust in God are soft hearts, because hearts that trust in him have the Spirit's heart beating with their own. And it's in this syncing of heart beats that we come to life.

And it's the failure to sync that kills our hearts. It's the failure to keep trusting the Lord that causes us to fall apart. I take a breath, and see distrust in my own face. A distrust that He really can work out everything for my good. A distrust in his plan...and instead of falling into myself, I try to allow my heart to fall out to God and to others.

I don't like being vulnerable, and living with an open heart is the last thing that comes naturally. If I shut off my heart and refuse to allow anything to phase it, my heart feels protected. But that's when bitterness and pain creep up on me. And I fail to see them, or if I do, I refuse to stop them.

Living in freedom, living fully, is about allowing God to work in and through you by reaching out to others, and most importantly, up to God. When I trust God to live through me, and to heal the brokenness inside of me, I can open up to others. It's not about me. It's about God. And so I have nothing to fear in living with this heart that is open.

It hurts. It hurts to live open to the people around you and allow them to see you. But in some ways, it's a good pain. But only when you're allowing God to shine through. On my own I am dirty and ugly. I am the undesirable leper who becomes beautiful when He heals me. When my heart trusts in him, I am healed. And isn't it in my weakness and brokenness that God's greatness comes through? My bitterness turns to love. My hurt becomes my understanding and compassion. In the hands of the Almighty, every thing in me, and everything that has happened to me, turns out to be a blessing to me and to others. And I am beautiful. 

And it's in loosing control of this crazy heart that I learn that God is already in control. And I realize that controlling these emotions is simply a distrust that God can work through them. And without them, I feel dead. And I know that with the pain, it's o.k. to cry out with God and say "My God, why have you forsaken me?" But instead of asking I push away. And wasn't that what the thief did? Was not distrust on his breath. And the other man? Wasn't it the question on his lips that brought him to God?

And I ask "why?" and his all consuming love comes and soothes the breaks, and he puts me back together. And then I see it clear - to trust in the Lord with all of my heart is what will make me whole. And thanksgiving is how I learn to trust. And I continue to write my own one thousand gifts. And I already see the change.

I give thanks constantly, and I learn to accept all things as grace. And my heart begins to come back to life.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Thanksgiving - we are to be filled with it. And I know this. I know that Christians are constantly told to be thankful, and aren't we as children taught to always thank? And aren't we taught to thank after what has been done, and never expected to thank when told "no"? And is this really the right way or is it the world's view? Thankfulness when getting what we want, and anger when we don't? And we think we're entitled, and didn't Adam and Eve do the same?

I look to scripture for this, for a picture of what it's like to give thanks. And I drop my eyes and my heart grows weary. We've been taught the wrong way all along.

To give thanks - what does it mean? I read the words of Ann Voskamp and I try to grasp it. That we are entitled to nothing and that all is grace. And that when all is grace, we can give thanks for everything. And we must look at the world through his lenses - and we must be in awe and then thanks begins to form. But it takes looking. It takes acknowledging.

I start with the first people, in the beginning of Genesis. And I begin to see a trend through the entirety of scripture. In the beginning why did Eve sin? Instead of a heart full of thanksgiving for all of God's grace around her in the garden, her heart turned cold with thanklessness. She heard the whisper of the serpent, she heard him ask why God was with-holding something that belonged to her. Instead of Grace, rights consumed her.

I know that I would have fallen prey just like Eve. When I don't think I have enough, when I feel others are taking advantage of me or my time, when I don't see God as enough. That's when thanklessness creeps into my heart an inch at a time. And I didn't even know it, and now it claims my heart and squeezes out the light. And there's no release from this dark outlook on life and God unless I give thanks. And I don't want to give thanks. It seems meaningless. 

What does Romans say, and how much of myself can I see...

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

And I read it slow and I read it again. And won't you really read it with your heart with me? I can put my name in for "they". And the Israelites share this in common with me. It's not that we don't see God. For even without his word, we see him at work in all of creation. And I refuse to honor him - I don't credit to him for everything around me. As though their are accidents. And not seeing him as the one who gives all these amazing gifts, I refuse to give thanks. My thanksgiving comes with our nation and at our feast we go around the table saying we are thankful for....I usually say my family. And is it that I struggle to come up with other things because I don't see other things as grace? And my thanks feels empty because it's not a part of the way I live and so it is not a part of my heart.

Throughout scripture, I see people suffer trials, and then come through with God at their side. And they have learned something more, or so they hope. And we all mistakes in this race, and we detest the hard hills when we feel we are running at too high altitudes and we can't breath for all the pain. But the truth is, we are getting stronger. We are seeing God in all his provision, and it helps us to give thanks as we feel a release from the struggle. And this thanksgiving is this fresh air and we feel alive. And I wonder if we gave thanks even during the climb, if our lungs would be full of God. And perhaps the run wouldn't be as hard. And we could actually finish well.

And Jesus shows me how to give thanks. And he shows me when. It's not after things have been resolved. Sometimes God wants us to give thanks, and then the resolve comes after.

41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 "I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Jesus gave thanks before Lazarus came forth. And he gave thanks before he broke the bread and fed the thousands. And I only thank after? And perhaps it needs to be a thanks for God giving what's best, instead of thankfulness for answers we like. And can we teach this to our children? Teach them to live in a state of thankfulness for all things. For the vegetables on their plates, and the "no's" of life? Because a "no" simply means a yes to something better. 

We can only live the way we were created to when we start saying "no" to thanklessness, and when we choose to say no to the serpents lie.  When we thank God for everything around us, that is when we glorify him because that's when we see him for who he is - James 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

And isn't this truly surrender? Excepting everything as a gift and letting go and keeping our eyes on God, and giving thanks? 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Striving, surrendering, falling apart.

My mind gets caught on all the does and don'ts of Christianity...my Bible study book keeps telling me to work out my salvation. I want to hind under a pillow, to hide my face of shame and failure.

Philippians 2:12-18

12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. 17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

I lift up my head when I hear the words "children of God" I look up to God. 

I can not work out my own salvation...not on my own. I fail miserably every time I try. And from around me I can hear voices of Christians around the world yelling accusations.  They say I've not tried hard enough. That I have not submitted myself entirely. That I don't read my Bible enough....It's never enough. 

I remember the phrase that I repeat to my damaged heart by the hour - "look out and up" Look out to others and up to God. And as I do my perspective changes. Instead of hearing these accusations I hear desperate cries for help. Because these same people are just like me...they are falling apart and they need to know that God is the one who puts together the broken pieces. They yell because they see these faults in themselves. They cry out because not even these things are enough. And I know what they need - for God to be enough.

God is enough. He's enough to work in you and to save you. And my tired body gives up the fight. And his arms hold me up because I can not stand on my own. And that is when I read those verses again and say - obedience starts when you learn to give up the fight and allow God to fight for you. 

It's in that moment of complete failure that God says "just love me". And the greatest commandment to love rings true. "for it is God who works in you" and he will work to create a masterpiece when your heart is consumed with love because love breaks down barriers. And isn't that truly the problem? Isn't Paul telling us to allow God into every part of our lives. And isn't my greatest hurt surrounded by walls and isn't it soothed when God's love and mercy surround it.

And here stops the striving, because in God's love the walls are broken down. And I'm freed to live in complete freedom and obedience. And how could I grumble when my eyes are focused away from myself. And I begin to shine. I shine through the cracks of my brokenness and his love pours out because it can do nothing else. 

So I take the step of surrender, and I open my heart. This love consumes and I am whole.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The breathing

A life of blessing, I breath deep and breath out. Every intake of air a blessing, every out breathing a praise. Because every breath I take is a gift, and every response must be thanks. I recognize the gifts, and I give thanks. And it becomes a mantra. And what a blessing it is to have a reminder that is sustaining me.
Blessings and praises. These are the way of life - the breathing in and out. And we can't truly live unless we have these. Heartache takes away my breath. It makes breathing painful. My eyes search for any blessing, my heart gives thanks for the unseen blessings I can't see.
Mistakes and hardship are a part of the Christian life. I've been told this many times. That's it's a characteristic. My heart rebels against the idea. I breath in and out.
The heartache that makes you take a sharp intake of air, the stress that overwhelms and you breath slowly out. Longer intakes, longer out takes. And I see a pattern. A pattern that God created into our very bodies. More blessings.
It's in the hardships that we must breath in - to truly overcome, we must see God's blessings. We must breath in his blessings, and keep praising him. We breath slow to stay calm - we take long breaths. Christ sustains us as we number our blessings and when praises never cease on our lips. These are the breaths of our souls.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Be still - grace and love

Be still before the Lord - just be still. My heart rejoices at that. At the fact that all he requires is for me is to be still. Out of our love for him comes trust, and trust manifested in our lives is simply a still heart. I cling to that as I live and breath and face the troubles of a fallen human race - when facing our shattered hearts.
    I choose to be still. I choose to listen, to open my heart and my mind and allow God’s love to flow over me. I wait, and I feel a peace begin to wash over me. My heart is renewed.
    It’s so easy to be caught up in the mistakes of this world, to lose sight of the beauty of God and his divine hand gently carrying us along. It’s so easy to forget that God understands all of my own failings, as well as those of others. As I do what scripture tells us -  “Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced...” Psalm 105:5 - as I remember just as commanded I get new insight. I recall the judgements he pronounced - and realize they were grace. I realize that the loving Father led his children of Israel through miracles and blessings - even when they didn’t deserve it. And I take a breath and let this grace overwhelm. How much grace has he given me? How many mistakes did he cover over with his love and mercy?
    And I remember the greatest commandment - love. Just love. That’s all he asks, just love and all else will fall into place. I remember that this is what I’m really living for. It’s not justice. It’s love. And as I realize that everything else is miniscule in relation to this divine and wonderful calling to love and to give grace in abundance. It’s when you allow this love and grace to dwell in your spirit that you can see the problems in this life in the light that God sees them.
    The mistakes of others against you are the hardest to meet with grace. Harder still when the offender is unaware or unbending in their faults. This is the time to be still. This is the time to put Christ on the throne by loving him and loving that person. When I come face to face with my own mistakes - ones I’ve had in the past, ones I struggle with now, and ones I know I am unaware of - I am overwhelmed by this amazing grace. All that is left to do is simply to realize that others are on the same journey as you are, and they fall and stumble over the rocky path just like you do.
    I am an incredibly clumsy person at times. I’m always hitting my head, amazingly I don’t have tons of concussions, and continue to hope that one of these days I’ll knock in some sense instead of out. I trip and stumble. It’s a brilliant picture of life. I stumble and fall all the time. I’m honestly a bit of a mess. But I look up, and all I see is grace. And my heart stops racing, and I’m still.
    As I consider the pain, rejection, injustices, and cruelties we experience it makes me want to go out and fix it. To go out swinging and fighting for what I believe in. But those feelings only last until I remember the road we’re all on, the fight we’re all fighting, and the grace we’re all breathing. Looking up into the eyes of love and grace, the fight goes out of me and my desire changes. It becomes like his.

        Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11)    
When love rules you, when grace is all you see, when you truly understand how God picks you up each day - that is when you start seeing others mistakes and failings as them stumbling and all that is left is to reach out and help them back up.

    Loving others and giving them loads of grace - that is just a part of discovering true grace and love. And when your heart gets to experience that for just a moment - you are that much closer to feeling the love and grace of God. For just a moment - be still.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tears and Power

My heart has been heavy. Another morning that I wish would not come. I crawl back into bed and close my eyes. I'm exhausted before I even start.

Life throws you around, sending you sumersaulting right into a brick wall. And sometimes you'd rather not get up. You'd rather lay there and cry. You'd really rather not "pull yourself up by your boot straps" and you certainly don't want someone else to either.

It's a strange feeling - wanting to remain defeated for a moment. Or perhaps what it really is, is a desire to stop striving to do what you've been told day in and day out.

Is it rebellion when you just throw your hands up and say no more? Or is it simply a sign that we were made to be in perfect rest with God and this life is just plain hard. Sin has a way of muddling our vision, and conscience has a way of broadsiding you with guilt.

The house is a mess. I'm a mess. But do I get up? I flail, but it does no good. Just like a sheep that get's stuck on its back. It fights... Then I look up.

Right into the eyes of peace.

No more striving. Giving up. And knowing that it's okay. I don't have to succeed to earn love. Not the kind of love that lasts. All I have to do is be still and let it flow through and around me. I just have to fall into him, because the shepherd knows how to pick me back up.

And I find, as long as I fall out, everything is okay. When my heart falls out, and I call out for help, heart laid bare. When I fall in, I can do nothing. When all I see is my aching heart, and I refuse to call out, I flail longer on my back and exhaust myself. Why don't I call out to the shepherd? Why don't I call out to his people?

My emotions laid bare, part of falling out into his hands is in the crying out. I cry, I yell at God and what's going on, but in the midst of it, I still pray to my sovereign shepherd.  Just like Naomi I cry out "because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty." Just like Naomi, life tosses me around and I ask what the Lord is doing, but my eyes still look into those of compassion, faithfulness and love.

Just like in his anguish David cried out to God "O LORD, I call to you come quickly to me. Hear my voice when I call to you....But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge - do not give me over to death...I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble. When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way....He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield in whom I take refuge..." (Psalm 141: 1,8;  142:1-3; 144:2)

Sometimes it's best to just fall apart so God can put you back together. I look at scriptures and am filled with joy because the man after God's own heart is one of the most expressive examples in the Bible. Here is a man who spills his heart out to God instead of controlling and masking his emotions.

After I cry, I dry my tears. I know his love. And his love fills me with more power than I could ever imagine because it's the same power that brought about the resurrection and I feel the resurrection in my own heart.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hypocrite or Human?

How often do you find that someone can say something that you totally agree with, only to find yourself fighting against that very advice? Are we all hypocrites?

As a dog trainer, taking your own advice can be hard. I tell my students over and over how to train, how to interact with their dogs, how to handle situations. Then I go home. And I change. Is it that I'm only putting on a facade? Is it the same in other areas of my life?

I have to answer no. I truly agree with what I teach. However, putting it into action is one of the hardest things to do. My mind has been taught a different reaction than what I actually want to do. Do you find yourself wanting to be positive with your dog, because you know it really is your fault, yet you still act disappointed in your dog? If your dog doesn't behave well it's a 99% chance that it is your fault. So why get mad? But I still do.

I understand why people, who don't believe the way I do, call Christians hypocrites. I call myself one. I see it all the time in the body of Christ. But please here me out....Don't you do the same thing? If your an agility enthusiast, after agility runs you know that if there were mess ups it was your fault. Yet you find yourself less than enthusiastic with your dog. You give them a pat and a few treats and call it good. You know that's not right, but that's how you feel. I'm the same way! In more than agility. I know that judging someone is wrong. Yet I feel it well up in me. Just as I must make myself reward my Rusty boy, I have to make myself give others grace...even when I don't feel they deserve it.

Think about anything in life. You know what you should do, and you know what you want to do. Sometimes what you want to do wins, even though you feel bad about it later.

I am no different than you. I'm not an amazing saint. I simply allow grace to cover me, and beg God to help me win in the moment by moment battles.  God is what is different, not me. As I surrender, he gives me more of him and I find there's less of me. And when there's less of me, there's less heartache. There's less struggle. There's less guilt. It's not that I'm gone, only that I'm more like him, and when I'm like him, I'm like I was made to be.

Even if you aren't a dog person, I hope you understand. It doesn't matter what in life you struggle to do. Do you realize that you shouldn't be mad but still are? Do you struggle to get out of bed? To work in the house? So do I. It's the same thing. Living as a Christian doesn't mean you have "more important, Godly things" to do. It means you do the same chores, you endure the same grumpy customers, you struggle in the same world. However, you do it with someone by you who will never leave. You do it with someone who knows every struggle of your heart. You do it with someone who gives you the power to be who you were made to be.

I'm not a hypocrite. I'm simply human.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Legacies of moments

We all want big things - big dreams, big impacts, big plans. I look around me and see very little. I see days, not years. I see steps of faith, not legacies. I see hearts softening, not already soft.

When did I forget that God shows us his plan? In the going ons around us. Slowly the intricate plan unfolds. The most important thing in life, God's plan, unfurls slowly. Why would the pieces of such a plan appear in any other fashion? And if that's true, if we can not see the big picture, if our minds were not made to see that, why should we focus on it?

Again I see my soul laid bare before God. Pride. Pride that I wanted to be God so I could see the big plan. Instead of delighting in the greatest blessing of understanding the moment, something God wants to give me, I strive to have more. When will I relinquish all of my desires and allow Him to fill the greater desires. The ones that run deep. The ones that I was made for, and made with. Not what sin brought about.

I listen to the strains of the music, and see the moments ticking away. Yes, revel in those moments and allow Him to nurture my spirit with the things of the moment. Moments of grace.

Never to quit yearning for heaven. But yearning for what God has for me here on earth? How can I yearn for what I already have?  But I do. I ask God what he will do with my life. He gives me more moments. As I draw in breath I remember. Anything that He will give me in life is in the moments, and he's giving me moments right now. Blessings all around me? Yes.

The bouquet of flowers on the table, they remind me. Yes, smell the flowers. And remember the moments. Another reminder of the precious moments he's given me.

Listening to the music, I enjoy the moments. The chords hit a note in my heart. Those moments continue, and I begin to hear a melody. The dynamics tell a story, and as the piece closes the story ends. Bitter sweet. What if life is just like that? It's made of moments, and you must enjoy the blessings of those moments. If you don't, the melody of life will not move you - lifeless and boring. The changes, the ups and downs...they all create the story. Without the downs would I know what up was? And the end...life cannot be replayed like music can.

I still dream. I listen to his spirit reveal the next moment. He delights with me, and a smile graces both our lips. I tell him the dreams in my heart, I open my hands, he holds my dreams for me. I remember that dreams happen in the moments, and I embrace these moments with him. I thank him for the moments that make years, that these make legacies.

I thank him that he can do big things with the moments. Because moments are all I can handle. His plans are to great for me to bare. One foot in front of the other. I learn to walk with him spiritually just as I learned to walk as a child. Again a moment of grace - he teaches me with things I understand. His gentle lessons refresh my soul.

He grows me, and teaches me. He gives me glimpses of his plans and that's enough.

I pray for wisdom, for insight. I pray for the future - that I will be prepared and that my heart will be ready for teaching. He'll let me know just enough. He won't let me fall. I take the next step. The most important step of all. The letting go.

Then I allow his peace to surround me. I rest in his love knowing he is faithful. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

With tears in my eyes I prepare to celebrate the most important holiday - Easter. But before Easter is death - before Easter, Friday must happen. And it tears me apart...just like the body of my Savior.

When did we become apathetic  about the cross? When did I say in my heart that he did not care for me? As my eyes burn, I thank God for the reminder of his love. I thank him for the pain of Good Friday. I allow it to rush over me.

Going to work, cooking, cleaning. Anything to not really think on Good Friday. I stop and listen to the whisper of my God. Whispers to allow the pain overwhelm. To allow the pain to grip my heart. To cry.

Without pain where is the victory? Without the grave, where the resurrection? And without that, relationship?

I allow myself to relate. To feel the pain of rejection. To understand a Father and the pain he feels as his child decides yet again to sin.

I see through the eyes of Mary. I watch the hammer fall. I hear her cry, as she covers her face.

I see through his disciple. Watching his friend and teacher heave, knowing the betrayal and wanting to do it again. To do anything and everything. But it's too late.

I see through the eyes of Jesus. To feel the ardent love that he has. To see those he loves watching and wishing they understood. Not wishing...no much more. They must know. The rejection of the Father, the cry of a relationship torn. His heart rent more than his body.

The Father, turning away. Not in disgust.  No, in pain. In parallel with what the Son has done. The punishment must be paid to the full. Anguish. Never to be the same.

I see through my own eyes. I see a savior desperate for me to know his ardent love.

What now, what to make of it. Is it over and done, forgotten? No, this pain must not heal, not until I see his face and allow it to remind me instead of pain. I must not be apathetic to his love. To forget means to discount. I must hang onto the nails. I must remember the blood and the body. I thank him for communion. That he gave the simple like me something to see, to smell, to feel, to taste. Just like a loving father - giving his child something tangible to hold onto.

I hear the dog's nails on the floor...another reminder of his grace. These nails can be trimmed and shaped. They cause no pain because the clippers take them away. Just like the Lord taking away the nails for me. I sweep them up and take care of throwing them away. The dog does not understand. I thank the Lord that he has taken care of the nails in full...no sin holds us apart. Another moment of grace.

I accept the pain. I open my heart. I prepare to feel the joy of Mary, the disciples, Jesus, the Father....and like the pain, I prepare to share in the joy as well.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Breath of Grace

I allow the images from these last few days to play through my mind. The car broken down, the eyes of the patiently waiting yet sad dog, the clicking of the engine, the kind words of another. I sigh. What a week it's been...one of amazing grace.

A long day at work, much to do at home. His hand stops me. Whispers to be still reach my ears. I breath. There's my manager, grace in his eyes. He gently asks if he can help. My step is lighter.

My friends dog happily comes running. Bliss...not knowing about those pesky human struggles. Should I take her example? As she allows me to handle everything, trotting along with me, I see that God wants me to allow him the same care for me.

I except humility, and allow the grace of help to wash over me, instead of the pain of pride.

"My pleasure" my brother (in law) says as he comes to the rescue. No embarrassment. Only grace. I let out another thanks.

Grace is in the every day moments. Looking back  I see even more grace than when I was in the midst of it. Meditating on what he has done for me takes on new meaning.

Psalm 19:1 
 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

Remembering what he's done in the moments brings a smile to my lips. His presence grows stronger. And I breath. Breath in the grace and love that surrounds me.

Moments with God

A life with God is a life of adventure; of exploring the paths of life; a journey to be enjoyed, moments to be treasured.

It can be so difficult to keep God as the center. There's dishes to be done, rooms to clean, floors to vacuum. There's a whisper from our Creator. Sometimes we pause and listen, other times we move on oblivious that we've had Jesus, creator, come to talk to us. I sweep the kitchen. Then I notice the grains of sand. The dogs have been outside making a mess again. What grace that God can remind me of him in that mess - in the grains of sand that he has numbered.

I hear the dog snore, and again grace. Grace that God reminds me that each breath comes from him. How precious it is. The chimes make a song of their own, the breath of God the writer.

How can I see grace at some times, yet at others I am oblivious that the Creator is whispering of his love to me. Displaying it for me to see. Then I remember that the stories of those who inspire...those lives that we hope to attain...they lived each moment. They swept the floors, listened to the chimes.

They found God in the mundane.

In the simplicity of the moment we can see God. In the months and years, others can see what God did through the moments.

As the spray of water washes away the dirt, I allow Him to wash away the doubts as he washes me in his grace. He truly is the living water of life.

I take a deep breath, and allow myself to remain in His presence. For the moment, that's enough.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


There's a part of me that is bored with the idea of a relationship with God. I think that's ok - He knows that I have emotions that fill me. But I'm searching for the answers to why I'm this way, and how to change that.

He wants me to chase after him, to desire to know him. The romantic heart inside of me desires to be sought, to have him want to get to know me. The fact that he's always known me, even better than I know myself, can be a comfort. But I'm tired of comfort.

I look at the relations of men and women, and how as they court each other they are constantly in the mind of getting to know one another. There's a delight in learning. There's a joy in each others uniqueness. There's mystery which brings them back together to learn more.

I want to have that type of relationship. That is a true relationship. One in which there's a joy of being near to learn what makes the other person smile. A deep interest in finding what makes the other person take life head on.

We need to transfer these ideas to Christ. Do I talk to him of what I'm feeling? Do I tell him what interests me? Do I ask him what he cares about, what he's passionate about? The Bible is full of descriptive words telling us about God. It speaks of him feeling joy, taking delight in us, feeling jealous over us, rejoicing over us. Tell me that God doesn't want us to have that kind of relationship with him. This is a God who delights in us...how does he delight and what causes him to feel delight? Does he smile when we laugh, when we lift a child gently into our arms, when we sing and dance. Does none of this affect him? How about when we cry, when we morn? What of when we feel anger? God knows these things, and they don't scare him away. It's ok to allow yourself to feel emotions deeply, that's exactly what God is like. When we allow ourselves to feel we are getting glimpses of how God feels.

We cling to the word of God, we call out to him, we study our emotions - but we don't suppress our emotions in order to keep ourselves from sinning. We allow ourselves the freedom of GRACE, and allow it to wash over us and all around us, and we extend it. Then we live Freely. It's not about being perfect, it's not about having no sin. It's about living in a relationship with God that allows him to become part of us; it's about allowing him to come close enough so that we can hear his heart beat.

There's a joy when you know something about someone, but they come forward to tell you. I know God knows every little thing about us, but does it give him joy when we seek him out to tell him?

I want to live a life of freedom in God's grace. He extends it, not in part but in whole. Why do we hesitate to receive it? When we suppress ourselves, not being everything that God created us to be, when we fear what's inside of us, we don't live in grace. We live in legalism.

Legalism is painful, and I've seen first hand what it can do to the Body of Christ. It destroys and pulls apart. But grace heals and mends. And when we live freely like that, there's no bounds in which God must use us - when we live this way he gives us more than our dreams can even encompass.

Don't hold back. Live in freedom and grace, and see where God takes you and what he does inside of you.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Life on Fire - This is Just the Beginning

Living on fire - that's what each of us wishes we could do. To do the great things we read about. It seems unattainable, but is it really?

It's often that I have feelings of inadequacy; that my life isn't worth much. I'm not doing those amazing things that characterize those I look up to. I don't have many books published and give seminars all over the states. I'm not on the mission field in the face of danger each day. I'm not the most patient person who never seems to get irritated.

I'm not like any of those people that come to mind. At the same time, we are exactly the same. We each experience choices each moment. We each overcome our own "giants". We trust the same God. There is nothing different between us is there? We're both just humans making our journey to heaven. Then I realized there is something different. They are on FIRE.

What is it like to be on fire? What's it like to have that kind of joy? What does it take to stand your ground against hell unleashed? It takes God. It takes real encounters with him. And it gives you JOY.

The times I've encountered God have set me on fire. I want to feel that again. We have to not settle for less. Don't settle for knowing God only in word. Beg him to show you himself. Cry out to experience his presence. Don't live for less.

I can not find happiness anywhere else. You won't be able to either. I know I'm suppose to be at this job. That should give me great joy. But it's not enough. It's not enough to just go to work because that's what God has for me. I need him to go with me. I need to experience him at home. I will not settle for "knowing" he's there. Tell me you don't want more than what you have right now. Tell me that living without having an intimate daily experience of his presence is ok with you! Do you feel fulfilled? Is there no longing in your spirit?

I know for a fact that God wants us to experience him. James 4:8 says to draw near to him and he WILL draw near to you. It's time to draw near to God, and then plead with him to come near. He will not reject us. It is his greatest joy for us to desire him.

Don't settle for knowing his characteristics. Experience them. Come face to face with them. Don't settle for his names. Allow him to lead you, provide for you, be your shepherd, your comforter. Know that when you cry out to El Roy that he does in fact hear and answer you. Allow Jehovah Rohi to lead you through the challenges that you are facing.

I want to really know God personally, to experience him. I'm trying do draw close to him. I'm looking for his work all around me. I'm taking time to revel in his artistry around me. I'm remembering what he's done for me, praying for him to show me how he's used things in my life to bring me closer. And that's just what I got last night.

As I sat in church last night, I became aware of work that God had been doing in me. He was bringing everything together to prepare me for this journey. We are going to be studying Philippians. If you know anything of the writer Paul, you know that he's been through so many trials. But also through experiences with God. He's been beat, stoned ( they thought he was dead! ), imprisoned, shipwrecked - in fact he writes this letter from a jail. You might also recall that he makes many references about the church understanding what he's gone through, because there was much resistance and persecution with the forming of this church. Yet what is the topic of this book? Why is he writing to them? He wants them to have joy. Wow, what a thing to write from prison!

 I've been wanting to know how to live a life on fire - having great purpose in life.

I've been wanting to experience him. This Christmas my parents gave me The One Year Experiencing God's Presence Devotional. It's been incredible.

If you've read any of my posts of late, you might recall I've struggled with joy. But I've wanted it desperately.

These things have all come together. How do we live on fire? We live that way be experiencing God. And what does experiencing God give you? Joy. All the things I've been struggling and wrestling with come together and God is providing me a path towards being in a more intimate relationship with him. Which is the goal of our lives. To know him.

In effect, he's given me the desires to bring me back to him. And he's provided the path, he has given a light to my path. Just as he promised.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Heaven - The place of our wildest dreams!

Recently I have been pondering heaven, and as I read scripture pertaining to it today it gave me hope.  Without scripture, it's easy to almost dread heaven out of fear of loosing what we have here on earth. Perhaps, dear reader, you have had similar fears as I have had.

Before I share what I've found about heaven, I feel it's more important to discuss our Creator and how we actually get to heaven. Though I could spend an entire blog discussing God's nature, the most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about heaven is His love. It was by love that God sent his son, and it was love that brought Christ to the cross. And in that was our salvation. The moment he died, he overcame sin, and the moment he rose from the grave - that was when all those who believe on his name were given victory over death.

Romans 10:9 states - If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

It does not take a perfect life to receive and keep salvation, it takes only believing on Christ. Out of your belief on him will flow the works that scripture speaks of, and the fruit of the spirit at work within you. Those are the products of Christ at work in you, not of you at work.

It's amazing and wonderful to me to know that even as messed up as I am, and as often as I fail, I will still be with my God in eternity. I am the first to say that I am totally a mess without Christ, but he is faithful and just to forgive me, just as scripture says. I rest in that, and allow God to wrestle with and deal with the fear, guilt, and hopelessness that tries to overwhelm me.

The descriptions of Heaven are numerous and glorious. They speak of a new earth in which there is no sin, no death, no pain, and certainly no guilt. Can you imagine such a life? A life where you are truly and completely free? I can not wait until we are completely without restraint as we love God and follow him.

Scriptures say that we will rule with him. (Revelation 5:9-13). If we are to rule, will there not be a tangible place? And, if there is a real place, will we not have real bodies?
                    Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Scriptures also say we will see his face and be filled with joy instead of fear. If we can see his face, then his "glorious body" is something we can see.  I do not believe we will be bodiless spirits floating in the clouds. Scripture certainly does not encourage this view!

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

If God will wipe away my tears, I must have tears in the first place - and if I have them, does that not mean I will remember what life was like and the things I went through? Though I can not say for sure from scripture, I do think we will remember, but God is much bigger than any sorrows we could experience here, and he will heal these sorrows. Once they are healed, there will be no reason to dwell on them and thus be sad. I can not imagine that he would just wipe away all of our memories. That only happens in the movies! If he were to wipe them all away, much of our relationship with him would also be wiped away, because it was during those times that He carried me that I grew close to him.

I've also thought about our knowing others in heaven. All I can say is, it will not be the same. As fearful as we often are of the unknown, it's easy to feel let down about this. It's easy to bemoan the fact that our relationships will change. We do so even now here on earth when things change. But let me suggest this to you - God is love, perfect love. If love abounds in heaven, which how could it not when we are constantly with the author of love, will we not love even more than we do here on earth? We will be able to love just like he does because He will make us perfect. He loves unconditionally; He loves everyone; He loves with great passion. We will not miss out on our earthly friendships because we will love all those around us with even greater love than we can now understand. 

In the beginning, when Adam and Eve were created there was no sin. God was with them, he walked in the garden with them! But still, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Though scripture does say that there will be no marriage in heaven. Matthew 22:30 - "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." But that does not mean we will not love those around us. We will still know other people when we live on the new earth together. Whether Christ was referring to heaven only, and not the new earth I do not know. But one thing I do know - no matter what, we will not be disappointed.

Everything will be perfect in heaven, not because God cast the spell of contentment upon us, but because we will be fulfilled in Christ. A place where sin is dead and God abides could not be any more perfect.

And all you have to do to get there is