Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sleepless Christmas Eve

Author: Katie

This Christmas Eve I laid awake in my bed. Unlike many Christmas Eve's past, this time I wasn't awaiting the arrival of Santa or anticipating my kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning. This year, I laid awake feeling an ache in my heart at how much Christ was not invited into the preparations for the day and how much there was to do on Christmas day that had little to do with Him.

I tried to pray but couldn't focus so I decided to get up. I bundled up and made my way to the back porch. As I sat quietly under the stars and the beautiful moonlight, I understood the Heavenly peace of the Silent Night. There was a beautiful ring around the moon predicting the white Christmas that was about to arrive.

As I sat in my pajamas, bundled in my sister's coat, I thanked God for the 8 family members that were sleeping inside. I thanked him for the season and the Reason. Then, I believe by the leading of the Holy Spirit, the silence was broken as I heard my voice in the crisp clear night singing, "Oh Holy Night" followed soon after by "Silent Night". It was so perfectly peaceful...it was Christmas.

The air was cold but in my heart, a warm fire burned as I rejoiced and celebrated in song with the Heavenly host under a starry blanket in the earliest hours of Christmas morning. Oh night divine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

December 7 - Happy Adoption Day!

Author: Susan L. Prince

Reposted from a few years ago, but it accurately captures the excitement this day brings me every year!

December 7th is probably just another day to you. NOT TO ME! December 7 is special to me because it is my anniversary! Way back in 1966 God chose to bless me on December 7th. He had it all planned out before the world began, but as far as my existence...this day in 1966 is a milestone. December 7, 1966 I was adopted!

I was only four months old so I don't remember much, actually, I remember nothing of the events of that day, but I mark it as special anyway. I know that it was the day I got a family! A wonderful mom and dad. I love them so much. I have tears as I blog knowing that as much as they are special to me, they have NEVER let me forget how special I am to them.

My parents are so awesome. I go to them when I need anything...encouragement, opinions, even if I need help financially I know that I can count on my parents. If I had a need right now and called them and asked them to come, they would be on the next flight out of Cleveland. I can always count on my mom and dad to be there for me. They have never failed to show me love.

Growing up I took my parents for granted, not intentionally, but I thought all parents were like mine. They were there at every band concert and softball game, awards banquets and every kid milestone. They were always there when I needed help with my homework. They took care of all my needs. I always had clothes to wear, (even though I think mom sometimes had to drag me to clothes shop!), and food to eat. I had the extra-added benefit of having Gram come live with us when my grandad died too. She baked the most awesome chocolate-chip cookies (that I have not ever been able to duplicate), and beaten biscuits...I miss the beaten biscuits! I never meant to take for granted the love my parents showed me...so here for all the WWW to see...Thanks Mom and Dad for loving me!

I remember helping dad every spring put the mower deck on the tractor so I could mow the yard and in the fall it was time to put the snow blower back on and chains on the tires. I remember mom helping to coach my softball team one year and always being my taxi getting me to and from all my practices and rehearsals. I remember Gram supporting me in my endeavors on the softball field and in the band as well. I have so many awesome childhood memories and most of them because of my parents loving me so much!

When I was adopted, I gained parents, but later on I gained two younger sisters. We had a good life growing up together. I remember bickering as siblings do but we love each other and are there for one another when needed. I am so blessed!!! WHY DID GOD GIVE ME SO MUCH?!!!

Ohhhhhhhh, the mail just came in! Snail mail that is and LOOK! I have a card from Mom and Dad! YAY! It's a Veggietales card...Bob and Larry on the front! I'm so excited! Wooohooooooo!!! It says "God made you special and He loves you very much." and now I'm gonna open it! Inside it says "What better reason to have a happy birthday?" But Mom scratched out birthday and wrote "ADOPTION DAY!". Then the best part is what she wrote after that: "We love you more than you love Veggie Tales. Love, Mom and Dad." AND I LOVE THEM MORE THAN I LOVE VEGGIE TALES! (and I LOVE Veggie Tales!)

God did make me special and every day of my life my parents have reminded me of that. As a kid they would tell me I was special and that being adopted was special. As an adult, they still tell me I am special. I know I am special in God's eyes because of the parents He gave me. WOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I feel special today!

December 7...today is a day I will celebrate!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How Hiking is Like Walking With the Spirit

Author:  Susan L. Prince

Recently I vacationed in the Smokies with friends who invited me to come with them.  I was blessed beyond measure in so many ways during that vacation, but one particular thing struck me while hiking the Abram's Falls trail in The Great Smoky Mountains, and the thought I had is what developed into this post.

I was walking the trail and now and then would be tripped up by rogue rhododendron roots or rocks jutting up out of the dirt of the trail.  It was rough terrain in some places and I started thinking about how amazing it is that God so made our brains that when I stumble, my brain sends messages to my entire body; arms, legs, ears, eyes, so that it will correct itself in order that I don't completely fall over and get hurt.  My equilibrium is kept by fluids in my inner ear and when thrown off kilter, my arms flail, but only to gain balance as my feet readjust and find footing again.  It bloggles the mind when you think of all the physiological processes that must take place whenever we trip, in order for the human body to react and correct itself.

Then I started considering something else.  I started realizing that as my eyes observed the trail I would make a mental note of where certain obstacles were; rocks in the way, troublesome roots sticking up, sticks obstructing the path, and then I noticed how often my body automatically maneuvered itself to avoid tripping to begin with.  I was able to keep my pace, see an obstacle and duck, or swerve to the side, possibly lift one foot higher off the ground to avoid a rock, or simply lengthen or shorten my stride momentarily to miss a slippery spot on the trail.  My eyes would see the obstacle and immediately my brain sent all the right signals and the appropriate body movements took place to avoid even a stumble.  I didn't have to see the obstacle and conscientiously react; watch my leg, think about lifting it higher so that my foot would avoid the obstacle, no, I simply saw it and my body did what it had to do to avoid danger.  It really happened so quickly that I didn't think about it, I just kept right on walking.

Then it occurred to me that this is something similar to what it is like to walk in the Spirit.

For the believer, the Holy Spirit's purpose is to "guide you into all truth." (John 16:13)  The Spirit "will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)  The Holy Spirit's guidance is of utmost importance as we read God's Word and learn the Truth from it, and equally as important is when we yield to the Spirit; He helps us apply the Truth we learn to the life we live.  This is a mystical process and in I Corinthians 2, we are told why, "we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory....The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."  To those who have not the Spirit of God in them, this is all foolishness, but to those of us to whom the Truth has been revealed, we are guided through life by God Himself.

As we walk through life in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can apply the truth we've learned through God's Word to life, so as troubles arise, we are able to adjust accordingly and overcome the obstacle.  Sometimes we are able to see trouble on the path ahead because the Holy Spirit nudges us to pay attention and see the danger, and then we can completely avoid the problem by staying on course and not veering to the left or the right.  For the most part, walking in the Spirit is that automatic adjustment that happens as we go about our day to day lives, avoiding pitfalls and choices that take us away from the path we are following.  Following the Holy Spirit is not always something we consciously do, but it is putting into practice the precepts we have learned as we walk with God day after day.

Sometimes, like on the trails of The Smokies, the road is bumpy and we get tripped up. The pitfalls and bad choices are always because we choose to believe the lie; the lie that more money will make us happy so we choose this job over that, the lie that alcohol will take away emotional pain, the lie that you need to be married to be happy, the lie that success in your career will be what makes you happy, etc. We may have ignored the warning signals from the Holy Spirit; mystical unctions or maybe warnings fellow believers pointed out, and fell flat on our face because we sought things that would bring only temporary happiness. We may have chosen to fill the emptiness in our lives with something other than God. We may have chosen the way of sin, and then found ourselves suffering terrible consequences.  Eventually, the Holy Spirit will convict us.  The Holy Spirit will woo us back onto the path of the righteousness, and we can readjust our lives again and live according to the Truth.  This often requires a much more conscientious choice to be obedient to the Holy Spirit and get back on the path that He is guiding us to.

While walking those trails in the woods, at some point, I became conscientiously aware of the fact that with every step I took, I was making adjustments in my stride.  Some of the adjustments were hardly noticeable, and others required a lot of maneuvering, but I was always able to stay on course.  I was picturing how the Holy Spirit works in my life when I allow myself to be guided by Him and for the most part, the adjustments I make are daily, but minute and hardly noticeable. Now and then, an obstacle is thrown into my path and because I am a student of the Word, the Holy Spirit reminds me of that truth and then I deal with the issue, adjust my walk and continue moving forward.  Sometimes the problem causes a detour in my life and I stray from the path, but because the Spirit of the Living God resides in me, He is always calling me back to the path that leads straight to God.

Walking in the Spirit is like walking a hiking trail, we need to be attentive at all times and constantly adjust our stride to make sure we always remain on the correct path, because the pay off at the end is much too important to miss!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Author: Katie

I am learning that being emptied of my "self" is not a one time thing or something that happens every now and then. It's not anything that will ever be over. It's moment by moment day by day and usually happens to me in the middle of the night.

I struggle with insomnia and take medication to help but obviously the meds are not enough tonight (as I am beginning this at about 3:30 am). As a Christian, my spirit is always going against my natural human tendencies. I am fighting a battle for my mind on a daily basis. When the Spirit is in authority, I have peace of mind but otherwise...my mind is focused on me. When I gave my heart to Christ and asked Him to become Lord of my life I was unaware of the warfare I had declared on the the enemy of my soul..the ruler of my "flesh". I only knew that I came to a place where nothing on earth mattered enough to me to sacrifice having a relationship with my Creator. In the moment of total surrender, I surrendered "self". I died to an old way of life and began to walk in a new direction. This new direction began a very difficult but glorious journey into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20
"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God." (NIV)

I love the way that this passages is interpreted in The Message:

"16-20Because of this decision we don't evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don't look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you."

I see these verses in a whole new light and it actually speaks to me in regards to the things that have kept me up tonight (aside from a reoccurring case of the hiccups of which I also battle yet again).

I never realized how overly analytical I can be. I don't analyze things from a "scientific" or an "intellectual" perspective. I analyze people, behaviors, personalities, things that are said to me, circumstances, the meaning of life! I can't not do it. I'm always trying to make sense of things and always seeking to do what is right and beating myself up for the things I do wrong. My mind just never seems to rest. This is part of the reason I have so much trouble sleeping. I am not at peace. God is not on the throne.

Often when I awaken at night like this, with my thoughts drawn to the negative. So I have learned to overcome this by holding my thoughts captive to Christ. This means to redirect my thoughts according to the truth of God's Word. So, when I am thinking about the things that make me miserable, I try to redirect my thoughts to the blessings of God. At first this was helping but it seems as though I have come to a cross roads. As I redirect my thoughts to the blessings, they end with "yeah but..." and head right back in the wrong direction, at which time I redirect again and I just keep going in circles all night long.

I have kept it no secret that I have had a very difficult and dysfunctional past but God set me free from that past. The problem now is that I have found myself in captivity again to the very things He set me free from. In a nutshell, I am captive to me...not Christ as I should be.

So, I am taken to the scriptures I spoke of earlier in this post. It has been my thinking that when I gave my heart to Christ the old is dead...gone. A new beginning has come. I took off my "old self" and put on the new person that God had made when I was reborn as His child. So, this means that the past is the past. I should leave it there. God has...but I keep dragging it back up in my thought life.

On the other hand, I think I see 2 Corinthians 16-20 in a new light now. Before I saw people through the eyes of being human. But then I met Christ. I began to see myself and others in a new way. Salvation is about reconciliation. First, we are reconciled to God through Christ. Then, through Christ we are also to be reconciled to others. This means we are to live in peace together. I don't see this enough in the Christian community...and I have had my struggles living it as well. That's because I try to live in peace according to my own strength. I try to do it the way I think it should be done. Often I become very legalistic in how I seek reconciliation with others and it just doesn't work...because I am doing it...not God. In reality...when God is in first place and I just focus on getting that relationship right...that is when peace comes. I keep saying this..when will I live like I believe it? That is when I am able to love others...by loving Him first. It always come back to this! It always comes back to Mark 12:30-31. No wonder my King made these the first and greatest commandments!

I know the condition of my heart. I know that I battle daily to stay above being self centered. Although I have had some amazing mountain top experiences and great moments of peace, I am not experiencing lasting peace...the peace which God has been speaking to me over the last month in my travels (of which I still plan to write about). It is a peace that surpasses all understanding. I know the moments when I have peace like a river and why. It is because I am staring in the face of my Redeemer and at peace with Him. The war...the battlefield of the mind...the flesh rising up against the Spirit...this is an ongoing battle that finds its victory in Christ alone.

I have realized that I am always trying to do what is right. I am always trying to fix me. I am my own idol! I keep trying to do what only God can do through me! I do this by being overly critical of myself. I criticize myself even to others because it is what I expect from others...to be criticized. I figure if I put myself down before they do then they can't hurt me. But, this does not glorify God nor does it magnify Him to others....and worst of all, it destroys my peace. I do not have peace with Him...and therefore no peace within or with others. As a result the very thing I do to protect myself from pain, brings me the greatest pain of all.

Luke 12:27 tells us that even the lilies are clothed in beauty. All of their needs are met by God with no effort on their part at all. . They are so beautiful yet often never even seen. If God cares so much for that which is never seen...how much more He will care for me if I just stop trying to do things myself and let Him provide and make me beautiful? This is not to condone laziness...but to encourage complete trust that God will guide his beloved and provide all we need to be all He has created us to be. We will be a display of His splendor!

When I stop stressing and stop trying to take things into my hands that I am supposed to lay at His feet...when I stop trying to analyze and control things; when I stop holding on so tight to what He is wanting me to let go of; when I stop trying to be perfect in my own power (because that is impossible) but let His strength be made perfect in my weakness; when I start being anxious for nothing and I start letting Him labor and toil over the things that are not mine to labor over...I will be like the lilly. I will live in peace and total trust in God. I will magnify His glory.

He is in the business of restoring beauty from ashes. This is my life. He has done it before and He is doing it again. My life becomes a mess when I take Him off the throne of my heart and put me in that place (whether by pride, control, false humility, bitterness or any other such thing). I have learned about the enemy disguising himself as an angel of light. I have at times allowed myself to be deceived into following the enemy away from God when I thought I was following God.

Several years ago a theme God gave me called for me to pray to be emptied. God has really been doing that. I am thankful for the sleepless nights I have had (although I would like to be done now lol). They have been such a great teaching tool. I have learned that I am constantly seeking to fill the emptiness with things other than God. I pray to be emptied so He can fill me. But I truly believe that sometimes he leaves that place vacant just long enough to give me an opportunity to choose to be filled with Him...or to fill the empty place with things that don't belong there.

Every day, every moment, every trial is an opportunity to choose to let God fill the emptiness or to fill it with something else that will only need to be emptied again. So, when that thought comes to my mind, when my peace is shaken...the first thing I need to do is drop to my knees and give the thing I want to put in my God shaped hole...to God...and let allow Him to fill me to overflowing.

A friend posted on facebook to look at Psalm 23 in the negative. This is the result of filling the emptiness in my life with the wrong things.

The Lord is not my shepherd
Therefore I can not rest
I do not have peace
My soul cannot experience restoration...I am drained
I go down a path of unrighteousness and cannot bring Him glory
I fear and am anxious about everything because I am not aware of His presences
I have no comfort from His presence
I have no protection from my enemies, no honor
My cup is empty and dry
Goodness and mercy are far from me
I can not dwell in His house if He is not my shepherd

But when the Lord is my Shepherd

I will be satisfied
He will make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside still waters where He will restore my soul (peace and rest).
He leads me in the path of righteousness for His glory and my good.
Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil
Because He is with me. His rod and staff give me comfort.
He prepares a feast before me in the presence of my enemies!
He anoints me with the Holy Spirit above and beyond what I could imagine..spilling over everywhere I go.
His goodness and mercy will follow me all my days
I will dwell in His house forever.

If there is no peace...then God is not leading me. If there is an absence of peace then I have filled an empty place with something that will not satisfy...something that does not belong there. I need to fill it with God and God alone. I need to dethrone the idol and put God in His rightful place. I need to love HIM FIRST!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Peace Like a River

Author: Katie

During my quiet time today, I prayed in my journal. Then, I opened a book of prayers to the place where I left off. In my journal, I was seeking God for direction. I am trying to figure out how to order my days. Soon a new year will begin. It is my hope to get this worked out before then...but God may have a different time table. The title of the prayer I read was called, "Needing Direction".

The scripture: Jeremiah 6:16, "Thus says the Lord: 'Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find REST for your souls."

The prayer: "Lord, I come before you, standing here, seeking Your face. I need direction, I feel so lost, so alone. But You are here with me, to lead and to guide me, to show me the way I should go. With you and You alone, I can find REST for my soul. Give me the PEACE of Jesus. Peace like a river. Peace...Peace...Peace...Lord, give me peace."

Over and over this theme of peace keeps coming up...peace like a river. This was the them of the retreat I went on...and everything leading up to it. I have been out of pocket for an entire month now. I spent the last of September and the month of October traveling for many different purposes. With each trip God blessed me in so many ways. First I went to Florida to welcome home my sailor son and the other sailors from 6 months at sea. Then, I returned home for about a week before heading off to Colorado with my husband on a business trip. The day after we drove home from Colorado, I went on my bi-annual retreat with my best friend to Mt. Cheaha in Alabama. Finally, a month of travel ended with a vacation in Gatlinburg Tennessee...just in time for the peak of foliage! I will be writing of these journeys over the next week or so. I have so much I want to write and God has been doing amazing things. But, the one thing that has been coming to me over and over from resting in the spa beneath the Rockies to the peace of the river at Cheaha, to the relaxing time soaking in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains...from Rocky Mountain High Colorado to Rocky Top, Tennessee...God has been speaking peace to this weary soul....peace and rest. I think I like this theme!

However, peace and rest do not come easy for me. I am a doer. I go go go. I have no order to my days and I love so many things in life. I love painting, photography, crocheting scarfs for the homeless, playing my piano, and mostly...I love writing writing writing. The thing I want to do the most is write a book. But, I can't seem to figure out where to begin. I keep blogging because I know that when it all comes together, much of the material will come from what I post here. But, I can't seem to focus. I only know that what I keep hearing God say is what I read in my devotion today...what I keep reading in all my studies and today I clicked on a link to a church I used to follow on line...and the message coming up this Sunday is on finding peace like a river. My Sister in Christ, Sue, also mentioned peace like a river on her facebook page today. It just keeps coming up.

Something that really popped out to me in my amazing devotion time today is this, "...Be occupied with me...Be alert to My voice...Be devoted to Me with your whole heart...Put all that is around you into My keeping..."

Then this really jumped out at me, "You will be my mouth piece in places where ther are no other voices to be heard." I have no idea what that means but it really jumped out at me!

There is so much more that I will not include in this post but here is the final thought I'd like to add, "You will discharge your duties with dispatch and you will deal in wisdom in each responsibility; but your heart will REST in My hand!"

There is not a man on the face of this planet who will ever convince me that God and I don't have conversation! He is so close to my heart. He knows my every thought, my every concern, and He hears my every cry....and He responds!

Praise and glory to the One and Only! "When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll...whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, 'even so, it is well with my soul.'" Some old hymns will never be lost. Amen.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Living the Call Day 34 - Forgiveness

Author: Katie

I haven't been able to write like I want to. Life has a way of getting in the way! I have spent the last week in Florida visiting my son who just returned from a 6 month deployment (tour) in South America with the US Navy. It was a blessed time with my son and his dearest friends.

Upon returning home, I began preparing for a week long road trip to Colorado with my husband! It's going to be wonderful, I just know it! So, now I have squeezed a few minutes in to write before running errands with my mother-in-love.

Just before taking my trip to Florida, God moved in my heart during quiet time. Hopefully, in the near future I will have time to elaborate on this, but, for now, I will keep it brief.

I have been holding a bitter grudge against an old friend for a few years now. I have had no desire in my heart to offer forgiveness to this person. It ate away at me like a poison. But, God spoke to my heart through Colossians 3:12-14 and Deuteronomy 30:16. First He told me that I am commanded to forgive. Secondly He told me to love Him, walk in His ways, and keep His commands..then I will live and increase and the Lord will bless the land I am entering to possess. Forgive...obey.

Right in the middle of my journal, as I was confessing this bitterness and unforgiveness that He exposed with His glorious light (this is the day after I cried out to Him to shine His light so bright in my life that every dark place would be exposed), He told me to call this friend who I was so bitter against..and ask HER to forgive ME! I didn't even finish the journal I was writing. I was instructed to stop and do it right then.

So, on September 27, 2010, at around 10 am, with my stomach in knots, I called my friend and asked her for forgiveness. She rejoiced and without batting an eye...offered complete forgiveness and then, to my surprise...she asked me to forgive her for hurting me! In that moment, it was almost as if I could see inside my very own soul as Christ's light burst through that dark place and the freedom that was found is beyond anything I can put into words!

My friend and I went on to talk for about an hour after that and it was as if nothing ever happened. This is the forgiveness that Christ offers us all!

"Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Christ had to forgive before He could die or else He could not have said, "It is finished". I have been crucified with Christ...yet I cannot say "It is finished"...because there are still others I need to forgive. So, I leave myself still hanging on the "cross" so to speak. I cannot die to "self" until I have forgiven. Once the forgiveness is complete, then I will be able to say, "It is finished" and experience becoming like Him in his death...and alas...the power of the resurrection and a new beginning...totally free...and ready to serve and love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I cannot do this until complete forgiveness comes.

Father, I pray for you to continue to shine your light into the dark places! Help me to forgive that I might also be forgiven and walk in peace with You.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living the Call Day 24 - Out of the Darkness

Author: Katie

Mark 12: 29-30
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

I have been struggling to find sleep and peace in the dark of night for the last few days...in flesh and spirit. I have not set time aside with God due to a very busy schedule. Today, I anticipated this much needed time that has been very missed. I started by opening my most recent book of journals and reading from the beginning. It's amazing because the journal starts with the same things I am still talking about...loving God and others. I realize that, until I reach Glory, I will forever be in need of growth and transformation in this area. But, there is something in my 5th entry that jumped out at me and spoke life to me today. God speaks to me through my very words on the pages of my own journal.

So far, since I have begun "Living the Call", I have been spoken to in the most unexpected ways...

From my garbage about my garbage
From my coffee cup He lifted me up (further down the page)
From my journal about my journey
From my painted walls to my tainted heart (another blog in progress)

I know, it's corny but I am an artist and I can be that way sometimes! Perhaps these will be the chapters of my book...I can't wait to see how God will bring it all together!

Today, the above mentioned journal entry that spoke to me was dated 4/19/10.

"Note: If my life is not filled with joy and my heart cannot rejoice in my circumstances, then I have allowed my flesh to put that light out. I have no one to blame but myself."

I was speaking in regards to how I was handling different circumstances but I can definitely apply it to where my mind has been the last few days. I can NOT live apart from God. I can NOT focus apart from His Word. Every day I need Him. Every day that I don't take time out to be alone with Him, my flesh gains strength and my spirit weakens. Here are some of the fruits that come from a spirit of flesh:

1. Self-centeredness
2. Worry
3. Anxiety
4. Depression
5. Unkindness
6. Irritability
7. Sowing discord/division
8. Unwise thinking and speaking
9. Emotionally and mentally out of control (I actually wonder if I'm insane..still not sure LOL)

the list goes on...

This is how I have been over the past few days. I have NOT been loving God. I have been loving ME....AGAIN. I have had to go back and read my previous "Living the Call" posts many times...feeling like a hypocrite and quite convicted of my behavior. (Talk about holding yourself accountable.) I have sought counsel with some who are close to my heart and told them that it seems like the enemy props up a chair beside my bed at night (I have been suffering from insomnia, anxiety, cramps, nausea... and more while trying to sleep). It seems that as I start drifting off, this "enemy" starts attacking my physical body. Once I am "partially" conscious...it's as if this "enemy" starts attacking my mind, whispering in my ear...deceiving me to self-defeating thoughts that spin out of control...and cause me to doubt my faith and relationships with those I love. I begin worrying about life and digging up things from the past once forgiven...then I "un" forgive. I begin letting my emotions have control over my mind and things just go downhill from there. The deception grows. The more I listen to the lies...the more I believe them. They get nastier and I get nastier with each sleepless night filled with anxiety and despair...and I start hating life. Everything seems meaningless...a chasing after the wind. This really is true about life. It is meaningless...apart from God.

Here are the fruits that come from the Spirit of God:

1. Love
2. Joy
3. Peace
4. Long suffering (or patience)
5. Kindness
6. Goodness
7. Faithfulness
8. Gentleness
9. Self-control

These are not the fruits I have bore over the last few days. But, a precious sister in the faith spoke words of life to me last night and prayed with me. I had trouble falling asleep again (even after taking a muscle relaxer)...but I took heed to her words and did not allow my thoughts to be held captive by this "unseen enemy". Instead I held my thoughts captive to Christ. I wonder now if indeed there was an "enemy" of my soul sitting at my bedside because when I held my thoughts captive to Christ, rebuking any evil thought...it was if the "whisperer" fled. I fell fast asleep and did not wake again until morning. My heart, that had been racing (as it does most nights) settled down and I experienced the bliss of a good night's sleep. I awoke this morning singing a different tune (Heaven on Earth to be specific) as I determined to spend quality time with God...and I have been at it for hours! I can't possibly write everything He has spoken to me! Much of it was His kindness leading me to repentance. His faithfulness truly does satisfy. But my cup is not just filled..it is overflowing!

Funny, He started things this morning by encouraging me as I was preparing to have coffee. He filled me up from my coffee cup (I know...cheese). My cup reads, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles...." The remainder of that (not on my coffee cup) would be, "they will run and not grow weary they will walk and not be faint" Isaiah 40:31-32. Some versions read, those who "hope" in the Lord.

I will not grow weary of the "wrongs" I experience in life. I will not grow faint as I run this race..as long as my hope is in God. Not ME. Not people. (Gosh how many times do I have to tell myself this before I actually start LIVING like this!!!) I can't seem to stop placing faith in people...even after seeing this I will only be let down time after time. I even think I can do things myself...without God's guidance...only to let myself down. I can't even minister to others without growing weary apart from Him or I will grow weary in doing good. Apart from God, the work will deplete me of strength. I will give up and walk away before God's work is done...leaving a mess for God to hand over to another for clean up..the "other" whose hope is in the Lord. Apart from Him I rob myself of a huge blessing and He hands it to another. I MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN! I have to continually remind myself that APART FROM THE VINE THE BRANCH WITHERS AND DIES. Placing hope and faith in people not only puts expectations on them that they cannot possibly live up to...but it's putting them above God. This is idol worship. I confess...I am guilty...but praise God, He has opened my eyes and revealed the Truth. His light has overcome the darkness yet again!

I cannot start my days without Him. Problem is, when I start my days in the Word...I can't seem to want to stop...which is why I have a hard time starting out that way. But, maybe, for this season in life...I need to be spending the majority of my time there until I am finally strong enough to walk away from the Word but still Walk IN it.

Love God

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Living the Call Day 14 - His Love is Amazing!

Author: Katie

Mark 12: 29-30
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'

I'm sitting here staring at my laptop wondering where to begin. I'm not sure what I am supposed to be writing. I only know that I am taken aback by God's presence today. I'm not sure what triggered the event or if anything did. God can choose to pour Himself out on anyone He pleases at anytime. I know it's nothing I have done or can do other than make myself available. He just chooses to lavish Himself on us his own good pleasure. He pours Himself into my life and smiles as He sees me overwhelmed by His presence!

As I am really focusing on Mark 12 and loving God, more and more I am becoming less and He is becoming greater in my life. More and more I am realizing how little I have to do for Him and how much more He wants to do through me. More and more I am realizing how little I have control over and I have no choice but to surrender to Him. More and more I am realizing how much of me still needs to be emptied...and how much more of me there is for Him to fill. THAT'S IT! That's what has me fired up! I have learned not to focus on how much of me is still in need of emptying...but on how much of me there is left for God to fill! Ha! Whatsoever things are excellent or praiseworthy (Phil 4:8)!!! This is why I want to take my enthusiast self to the top of the highest mountain and shout to all the world, "What is wrong with you people? Do you know what you are missing?"

More and more I am losing touch with carnal desires and finding myself focused on the eternal. More and more I want to lay down my life for His purpose. More and more I am learning to hate the self-centered part of me...and finding myself drawn to the God focused part of me. As all of these things take place, I am finally seeing myself through God's eyes...and loving who I am in Him. I am seeing myself through Christ and in Christ and the self-esteem issues are becoming less of an issue. I keep asking myself, "Why would God call me to build up women who have a low self-esteem when I have such a low opinion of myself?" I considered myself a hypocrite and felt powerless. Apart from Him...those are my best traits! Apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15:5) but in Him I can do all things (Phil. 4:13).

God has searched the deepest places in my heart over the last several years. He has been sifting me. It has been excruciating. It has been what I have prayed for by His lead. I have asked Him to empty me. He led me to this prayer because it is necessary for these things to happen...in order that He might fulfill His purpose in me. This is the good that God speaks of in Romans 8:28.

Several years ago I was led to pray Philippians 4:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death." Oh my goodness! There is so much meat right there in just one scripture! I could write a book on it! There is so much to understand! I couldn't possibly put it all in one blog! But for starters, I have pondered, what does fellowship of sharing in His sufferings mean?

God just moved in my heart to pause for a moment and read Philippians 4. He stopped me at Philippians 4:17, "Not that I seek the gift, but that I seek the fruit that abounds to your account" (another blog). As I searched the commentary for this particular verse I was drawn back to verse 11 and felt led to pray. With fear in my heart (which God had already spoken to me about in Phil. 4:6) I began to pray. I was led to ask God to teach me to be content with anything, to live above things, to be unaffected by my circumstances. After seeing what happened when I prayed to be emptied and to know Christ and the power of the fellowship of the sufferings several years ago, I was a bit nervous. But, then I confessed to Him, "My prayers will not bring about circumstances. You move me to pray about these things because of circumstances that you have already put into place. For this I praise you! You are preparing me and providing for me in advance that you might be glorified in and through what is to come! I am a cracked pot, a vessel fit for your presence. I am broken, yet You are able to remake me and fill me to overflowing!"

The truth God has spoken to my heart in this moment is that my prayers are preparation for what is to come as I become like Christ through rising above circumstances and having contentment in them. This is the fellowship with Christ I have through sharing in His sufferings. This is how Paul was able to praise God and witness in the midst of the worst circumstances. This is being emptied. This is loving God.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

911 Nine Years Later

Author: Susan L. Prince
(an edited repost from 2002 and 2004)

It's 9/11 2010. Nine years later. September 11. It used to be just another day. I mean, pick one...does November 9th mean anything to you? What about February 27th? August 18th? 

September 11th. We all remember what we were doing at the moment we heard the news. It impacted us all that day. That week. Now, nine years later...we say life isn't the same. How has your life changed? Honestly. How is your life any different today than it was September 10th, 2001? It seemed time stopped for a moment, in shock. Agony. Fear. We took a breath as we reflected on the "important" things in life. But, how are our lives different today? Maybe some things have changed at the airport, but really, my personal life is basically the same as it was September 10, 2001. I have basically the same job that I love, the same friends with some added to the treasure chest, I have the same family, I have the same daily triumphs and struggles. I know that a great many families suffered loss that awful day, and their lives are being lived without loved ones, but for most of us I believe not much has changed. I thank God for that. I thank God that I live in a country that allows me to worship Him, and a country that takes its freedom seriously.  So seriously, in fact, that we have many volunteer soldiers willing to lay down their lives to defend our freedoms. I thank God that He has taken us from September 11th, 2001 to today. I thank God that He is a Comfort to those who suffer. God has blessed America.

I challenge you to think about how you are living your life today. Is it different than it was September 10th, 2001? If not, why? If so, how? Is that a good or bad thing? 

My life has not changed in any significant way since that dreadful day, and I know why.  It is because my God hasn't changed. He is the same today as He was yesterday, and as He was September 10, 2001. My foundation is in Christ, the Word, and the Word was, the Word is, and the Word will be. Everyone had their world rocked that day the planes hit, but was your foundation shaken? Did your foundation fail? If it did, you built on the wrong foundation.

"Everything works together for the good of everybody who loves God and is called according to His purpose."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Living the Call Day 10 - Amazing Grace

Author: Katie

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now I see." Was blind...but now...I see!!!

Mark 12: 30-31

29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."

For the last week I have been writing about God's call for us to love Him. I was wondering if I would ever be able to move on to the next part...loving others. As I was focusing my heart and mind on loving God first and writing about what that means (which is a book in itself), I found myself being reminded of the past. I'm talking the way past, like elementary school past.

I confess that I struggle with self-esteem issues. This comes from a history of being the oddball..you know the person who sits at the table in the cafeteria with all the other "rejected classmates"...the "un" popular table. We all sat together because nobody else wanted to sit with us...not because we wanted to sit with each other. So, there we were all developing friendships with people we really didn't desire friendships with because we wanted to be friends with those who didn't want us to be friends with them! How stupid is this?

I truly believe this is where the draw to abusive people begins...at childhood. It is the unquenchable desire to belong, to fit, to be loved, and known by others. We want to be somebody God has not called us to be. We want to be popular and well known by others. Often we make terrible mistakes in order to get the status in life we so desperately desire. Often we are willing to sell our very souls..only to our own demise. This comes from the innate desire God has placed in us to be known and loved by Him. But we are so misguided by our sinful nature and deceived by an enemy we unknowingly embrace as our friend when our true friend for life is the one we often reject..the only One who has all the love we seek and knows how to love perfectly.

One would think this self-destructing desire to be in the "in" crowd would stop after becoming a Christian. Accepting Christ saves our souls but often we trade off a healthy relationship with God and others in order to achieve status in Christian "groups" (often referred to as cliques). We desire to be friends with the "popular" Christians and to feel accepted by the "in" crowd of believers. (Ah yes...the enemy is alive and well in the church..and bent on keeping the lost out and the saved blind). After all, there isn't a human being on planet earth who can say that they enjoy rejection. We all have a desire to be accepted and loved by somebody. It is in us because the root of this desire is a need for perfect love from the Father. Yet, even in the church...even as Christians...we just keep "looking for love in all the wrong places". (Okay..I know..corny...just sayin'.)

Unfortunately, this "love" we seek is distorted and we are confused. Look at all the books written about love. One that I have read recently is, "The Five Love Languages". I have discovered that my main love language is quality time. I do not feel loved when those I love are not willing to give me quality time. I also feel like others feel loved when I give them quality time. But for some, giving and receiving gifts defines love. Sadly, since that is not my love language...too often, others who do not see quality time as love, will not understand that I am loving them. They instead may feel suffocated and want to get away from me. Then I no longer feel loved.

It's almost as if love is defined by how "I" see it. The problem I have with this is that the only part about love that has to do with me is whether or not I am doing it and doing it right. Love is not about what I get. It's about what I give...what I do. Why do so many people seek so many places to find the meaning of love. So many authors have gotten rich of of people's need to understand love.

Truthfully, there is no need for any other book to be written because God wrote the only book we need that very clearly defines love. God taught us love because He lived it. He sent His One and Only to demonstrate pure and perfect love. It is all about self-sacrifice. It's all about sacrificing your desires and your time and your comfort and your money to give to another. It's about being willing to give up your very life to answer the call of God.

So, here are a few definitions of love for those who may be seeking to understand. Love is not something you say or feel. It is something you do. Love may make you feel good and want to tell somebody about it...but if you are doing it...the words "I love you" will never need to fall from your lips for another to know that you do. In addition, you know you love and know you are loved even when it may not feel so good.
1 Corinthians 13

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Romans 5:8

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I write these words from the fingers of one who has not been loving God, others, or myself. I have been impatient, unkind, envious, self-exalting (therefore not exalting God). I have been angry, keeping perfect records of all wrongs ever done to me, I have delighted in deceiving myself, therefore blinding myself from Truth. I started to lose hope, put up walls, created an inability to trust (based my trust on people instead of God), but I will not accept defeat! I will persevere with Christ in me, the Hope of Glory...perfect love.

To continue with my story...

I have spent the last week looking over my life, rekindling the pain of rejection. I have been wondering what is wrong with me that people are repelled by me? Why do I have so much trouble making and maintaining healthy friendships? I have focused on rejection by my parents, my friends, the church...so much. I could write a book on rejection and it would probably be a best seller!!!! I began to feel hopeless and pathetic. This led to a domino effect that led me to unforgiving those I have forgiven, taking back what I have let go of, resurrecting a past that was dead and buried, and a gigantic pity party...the guest of honor..who else? ME!

This is why I have not been posting over the last few days (aside from being very busy). I knew my heart wasn't in the right place. I had to get it right and have spent the last couple days crying out for God to deliver me from my enemies...only to discover yet again who my worst enemy is...satan? No...he is no threat to me. God has made that clear. My worst enemy is myself. I deceive myself right out of loving God by not loving my enemy...not loving others more than I love myself. The funny part about that is, I'm really not loving me either when I am so selfish. I'm hurting my relationship with God and others..and as a result..I am hurting myself more than anyone.

My former pastor once said something to me that I really had a hard time grasping...but now I understand. We must be careful not to give satan more credit than he deserves. Sometimes we need trials to open our eyes to who we really are. Much of the time our trials are consequences of our own actions. And often, God sends trials our way to teach us. And even in the rare instance that our torment may be related to the evil one...he can only go as far as God will allow for His good purpose and glory...Therefore, for our ultimate good. (See Romans 8:28.)

So, now my loving, amazing, wonderful God and Lord of my life has spoken to me in the time I have given to Him today (I'm thinking His love language is the same as mine...quality time..he he). He clearly spoke through the devotions I read and His word. And He has brought into light that which was hidden in darkness. I praise Him for the darkness because His glory shines much brighter and clearer in the darkness. He has made clear that which I could not see. He has shown me the dirt and swept it away. Once again...He has made my heart clean. This, in the Christian realm is known as a filling of the Holy Spirit. I have been born again again! The old has passed away. I have been clothed in righteousness. He has made me new...again! Feels like the very first time!

"My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me. And like a FLOOD...HIS MERCY REIGNS! UNENDING LOVE, Amazing grace."

Love God

Friday, September 03, 2010

Living the Call Days 3 and 4

Author: Katie

Didn't have time to write yesterday...didn't really have a serious quiet time although I did converse with my Father throughout the day. So, this is why the days are combined. It is funny how God speaks to you in the strangest things...most unlikely moments. Today, as I was walking and He was ministering to me through Rebecca St. James' "The Cradle Song"...of all songs. (I have had it for years but never really listened and it was so appropriate for the need this morning.) Here are the words..

Jesus I love You my Lord my life
Where would I be without You
Here in the quiet, the still the night
I am in awe of You

Trials may come and friends they may go
What really matters is You, my Lord

Beautiful Savior my God, my friend
I am in awe of You
Trials may come and friends they may go
What really matters is You, my Lord
Jesus I love You my Lord my life
Where would I be without You
Here in the quiet, the still the nightI am in awe of You
Why would You, Creator and King,
Come as a baby for all, for me
Beautiful Savior my God, my friend
I am in awe of You I am in awe of You

I want to be in awe of Him like that! I have suffered a huge blow in the area of relationships recently...and the pain has been overwhelming at times. But when I stand in awe of Him...I can't feel anything but ultimate joy, perfect peace, and complete love...and I can see how He has blessed me beyond what I thought I had lost.

But what I am about to write is the unusual part. As I was walking (and lost in the moment), I saw a garbage truck and remembered that I forgot to put the can out! So my walk became a run as I jogged back to the house...then walked...then jogged...then walked really fast and stopped jogging altogether because I am old and out of shape. I made it in time to add some trash to the can that I put out. As I opened the lid of the garbage can, at the very top, I found an old sermon notes page I had thrown away while cleaning my office. It was from many years ago....August 20, 1995 to be exact. On the page were written these words:

Just a reminder...I know how you are feeling and I am with you. Remember to lay down your burdens at my feet and I will take them from you. I will never leave you. Remember also as you are suffering that these trials will soon become blessings because through these trials I am making you more like Me! There is nothing material that can give you the peace that you will have through Me. Pray and read My Word. Lean on Me. 
Love, God"


At the time the note was written I was unknowingly living in an abusive situation. My children were just babies. I didn't know how bad it was or how much worse it was going to get... but I hurt so bad in my heart all the time. I am not sure what exactly was going on on August 20, 1995, but I do know this, God spoke to my hurts that day. He spoke truth that breathed life into my weary soul. He gave me love and hope. I know this because I recorded the words He spoke. If I didn't believe and didn't receive hope, I would never have written them down to remind me....little did I know the reminder would come 15 years, new heartaches, a new wonderful husband, and two amazing adult children later.

He really did bring blessings from those trials...and they have really changed me. Now, I am trying to heal from new wounds from broken relationships...relationships that I treasured. History often repeats itself in new ways with new people through different circumstances..funny how that is...but this time I am different. I know I am very blessed and I am really growing to love my new life and seeing God's hand prints all around all the time. But I really have to watch my thought life and try not to miss the blessings because I keep looking back, missing the blessings that I have before me. I keep desiring to focus on the pain that just won't seem to subside...instead of focusing on the One who is my only hope of deliverance and complete healing. Or, this may be the thorn I carry for the rest of my life to remind me that people can never take God's place in my heart.

I keep seeing other people as enemies, betrayers, deceivers. I even see myself as my own worst enemy. In a way I am...apart from God. The only deceiver is satan and I can allow myself to be deceived or I can listen to the Voice of Truth that tells me a different story. People aren't my enemies...but my brothers and sisters in Christ have the same enemy I do...working on them daily. His plan is to divide the body of Christ. His work is focused in the church. God calls me to pray for those I see as enemies....and He calls me to do this because they need it as much as I do. They fall prey to the same deceptions from the master deceiver. They face the same battle I fight daily...the battle to put self on a pedestal and to look out for number one. We battle to be looked upon well by others when we should only seek God's approval. The enemy's plan is to confuse us and turn us against each other...and he has been doing this well for centuries. I think his ultimate weapon is pride. It is in our nature to exalt ourselves and the only way to overcome is to exalt God.

In our best effort and strongest moment as humans we fail to give God the glory and honor He alone deserves. Our only hope is Jesus Christ, His Son. We must choose to receive Him as Lord of our life. We have to take off the crown of glory we have bestowed upon ourselves and place it where it belongs...on the King of Kings.

We shouldn't expect others to take notice of our good deeds...or then we have our reward. I want my reward to come from the Father. I want to hear Him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant". I want to get to a place where how others look upon me is not a concern of mine and the deeds that I do are for HIS glory alone. These trials in my life...these excruciating, difficult, heart wrenching trials...they are the key to being emptied of myself and filled with Him. For this reason I can praise Him in the midst of it all.

He takes away anything that I exalt above Him...and this is for my good. My God is a jealous God...jealous FOR me. He wants me to worship Him because He is perfect and Holy and He is Everything I need to experience an overabundance of blessing, peace, rest, joy, and love. As long as there is one ounce of selfishness motivating me...I will need trials. The fire purifies.

This is why God commands me to love Him first...and why this is the greatest commandment of all. Apart from this, I can do nothing...I have nothing. Apart from this, everything in life is meaningless...a chasing after the wind.

Love God

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Living the Call Day 2

Author: Katie

Mark 12:31: "...and the second is this, love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these."

Nothing really exciting to write today. It was a very busy day. I started journaling and spending time with God but then that time was interrupted and I had to go to the Dr. for a Cardiac MRI. Not to worry. It was just a precautionary thing...I have a healthy happy heart!

All in all it was a rather fun day which included running around with my crazy friend, Pam who makes me laugh almost the entire time we are together! We picked out paint for the new office, then I had to do some business in the admin. building at UAB. We went to lunch at this awesome artsie fartsie cafe (Lucy's) a couple blocks away before heading to the Kirklin for the MRI. We found out rather quickly that the MRI was not scheduled at the Kirklin...it was in another building in the hospital....we had lots of fun trying to find the place where I had to go.

By the time I got there we had crossed over 4 blocks without ever leaving the building (well except for a brief moment in a parking deck)! It's no fun getting lost alone but when two crazy people get lost together...it can be quite entertaining...for everyone involved! Everywhere we went people laughed and smiled. Not sure they were laughing with us or at us...but it really doesn't matter. Laughter is healing so if they were laughing at us...praise God...we brought healing into their lives.

After running a couple more errands, we headed back to the house to try out the paint samples I purchased at Lowe's. Then Michael and I watched a movie called, "To Save a Life"...and it really made a huge impact on me...one that I'm sure to talk about in future blogs. I highly recommend it to all believers. It has a pretty important message and it really can make you think about how you treat other people...and how you don't know how one interaction with another can make the difference between life and death.

As far as my interrupted time with God, I will continue where I left off in the morning. As far as ordering the day...well, we are still on the Loving God part...because loving Him...covers a multitude of things.

The thing I am pondering now is...

I am an entrepreneur like the Proverbs 31 woman (a woman I have been reading about who has been a big motivation for my leap of faith). So the question I am processing...is my call to ministry a priority over my career or my career over the ministry? Earning a living means I minister to my family...and my family comes first before church...but not before God. From where I am now, I believe that writing is supposed the top priority over Mary Kay and over other ministry activities. The writing is a big part of the call I am writing about living...ha! Figure that one out! But, so is reaching out to do my part of God's work in rebuilding the cities long devastated in the lives of modern day widows and fatherless children. All of this follows my first 2 priorities...God and my family.

Before you decide to help me as I seek answers to my questions...I am not looking for an answer from a person at this time. I am trusting God with this and I am sure He will give me the answers as I study His Word and pray.

As for day 3...

Tomorrow, I will get up early, have my time with God...then meet with a wonderful new friend to discuss a wonderful opportunity for ministry...one that will also minister to me. This is where the next part of Mark 12:30-31 comes in.

By the way..the color for the room...peach kiss! I LOVE IT! Thanks for your help, Pam!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Living the Call Day 1

Author: Katie

Jesus said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment..." Mark 12:30

Today I begin a new historic moment in my life. A few months ago, God called me to take a huge leap of faith and give up my full-time job in order to live the call He placed on my life many years ago. It was not an easy decision to make by any stretch of the imagination. I had the most wonderful job in my life! I also liked my paycheck! However, He has provided for me to do this and all open doors pointed in this direction. He has set so many things into motion and now I am following His lead on yet another journey...one day at a time. I plan to record this journey as I go, here on Sister's Weblog. I know there are soooooo many fans just dying to take time out of their busy schedule to follow me on this journey! LOL.

Anyhow, this is going to be a very informal series of journals...more just to have for my personal record than anything else. However, I do invite friends and loved ones...and strangers even...to join me on this adventure. You never know...God may use it in your life somehow.

Today, as I opened the Word to seek God's order to my days. The topic of the discussion with my King was First things First...Mark 12:29-31 and Matthew 22: 37-40.

So, now I know the FIRST thing I need to do each day. Spend time with God. I didn't start today out very well because I cleaned and organized first when I was supposed to spend time with Him. Tomorrow I will do better.

The most important relationship I have needs to be the relationship I have with my Father.
Since I waited so long to start my quiet time today, I don't have time to elaborate on the things God spoke to me in this journal today...but I will edit and update tomorrow. Until then....

Love God.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hurting People

Author: Katie

Today, as I was driving to work with my heart still missing my Bestie (who recently passed away very unexpectedly) so much, I started thinking about the people in the cars around me, and watching the people in the streets of Downtown Birmingham. I wondered who's heart was hurting, who had a loved one in the hospital dying, a rebellious teenager, depression, serious financial problems, whatever...

I thought about myself in my car going to work like everyone else...with such an ache in my heart and a feeling of desperation just to talk to my Bestie one more time. Nobody around me knew the pain in my heart. Nobody was aware that the person who just stopped at the red light had just lost her best friend. Then I got to thinking...

I don't know about them either. I don't know the people driving all around me. I don't know if they are on the mountain tops or deep in the dark valleys.

We go through life in a bubble. God wants us to be outwardly focused. I find that my heart doesn't hurt so much and I am not quite so miserable when I put others first. I am miserable when I put me first...so why do I seem to have this constant tendency to do that? I realize that I am in the same boat as everyone else...suffering the same heartbreaks and rejoicing over the same victories. They need to be loved just as much as I do. They want somebody to talk to just like me. And just like me, they long to fit somewhere, to be understood.

What is really amazing is that it helped me understand more about how Jesus came to earth to be like me. As a man, he suffered heartbreaks just like I do. He had celebrations and experienced the same victories as the rest of us. He experienced times of loneliness, abandonment, feeling unloved, rejected, out of place, and abused. He understands my heart because He is not in a bubble. He is with me, feeling my pain with me, rejoicing in my victories with me...always loving me...always there...even when it seems like everyone else is oblivious.

Why is it so hard to realize that He is the One I need most. When I realize that He is enough....He is. It is only then that I can step out of myself and be Jesus to others around me who are trying to find their way to Him.

Friday, July 16, 2010

God and Time

Author: Katie

This question was asked to me via a friend through email...

"Present, past, future... If God is outside of time, can we pray for things in the past?... Can I still pray for God to heal [a broken and dissolved] marriage, or to heal [a sick relative] from 30 years ago?"

Here are my thoughts in response to my friend's question....

It's not a matter of "if" God is outside of time. I don't even think that's an accurate way to state it. God is not "outside" of anything. God IS. He is the God of time...therefore He is not in or outside of the present, past, or future...but He is the ruler over it. If He wanted to change the past, He could. He doesn't have to travel there to do it either. Picture it like this...He is standing in the center of a circle. The circle is time. He sees it all and can pop in and out as He wishes...but He stays in the center and observes. He knows the future...and sees everything in the past...but He is actively involved in what we know as the present. God is the Author of time and we just have to believe it...not understand it. There are some things we can not and never will be able to wrap our minds around and we can make ourselves crazy trying to explain the unexplainable.

For me...I know I am supposed to pray. I know it's not because God needs it. Prayer is not a manipulation tactic. It's not to make a wish come true. Prayer is for me. It helps to create an awareness of my own concerns and my own heart...and it keeps me in communication with God. Without that communication, I cannot make it through life. When I talk to God, He talks back. I grow and am strengthened for battle. He already knows what I am going to say and He already knows the answer to my prayer. He already knows and has already met my need (I just haven't arrived there yet). He already knows the outcome of the situation and His plan to carry me through.

Prayer makes me aware of His presence and His work in my life. Prayer keeps me in communication and fellowship. Prayer does change things...it changes me. It changes how I respond to people and life's situations. Praying for others teaches me to be others focused. Then, when I see God work in those situation, it gives me testimony and it glorifies Him. I am not going to pray for something in the past to change because God is Lord over the past and He allowed things to unfold as they did because it made the present what it is...and since He is in control of all things...the present is exactly how He has ordained it to be...pain and suffering, happiness and health, joy and sorrow, it is what it is by His authority.

He gave us free will from the beginning. It is what we do with that gift that molds the events in life...and we are all connected by that free will and affected by that free will and the connection goes all the way back to the deception in the garden. God allows us to experience consequences because He is perfect and works through those consequences. They are not bigger than Him.

So, in a manner of speaking...the forbidden fruit that brought sin into the world is the past, present, AND future. It is sin that makes life ugly and spreads like a disease...a fire out of control. Everything we do impacts everyone around us. It goes further than we can imagine. Do you think that if Eve could have seen and understood the consequences of eating the fruit, that she would still have done it? If she could have seen the world today as a result of her decision to turn her back on God? Her sin didn't begin with eating the fruit...but with putting self above God and Adam (others)...that is the fruit that poisons us all to this day. But we have a merciful God who has always had a plan to provide for the forgiveness of sin and our reconciliation to Him.

Before Eve was created, God already planned to send the Redeemer...because prior to Eve's sin (the past) God was. He was there when she turned from Him (her present)...and during Christ's birth death and Resurrection (mankind's future). It is all present for God because He is all in all and everywhere. He is perfect. He is Holy. He is just. He is merciful. He is righteous and all powerful. He is God. He is the Author and Creator of all life. I want to know Him more and I am more concerned with growing in faith and trust than having it all make sense tied up in a pretty little package of human logic. His ways are not like mine and my human logic is quite opposite of His. So I trust His because He is perfect. I know He will guide me. He has never failed to do that. I know when I am obedient, His blessings fall...even and in spite of suffering that may be a part of it. He is still God over my circumstances and I trust Him. He talks to me when I read His Word and when I pray. I know I will never figure out his "mind". His thoughts are so far beyond my capability...so I don't try to make sense of what will never make sense this side of Heaven. I just want to know His heart...and I want my heart to be like His. Then my heart will direct my mind and my thoughts will be of Him and others...not me. That's what matters.

The Holy Spirit will guide me into Truth. He will teach me what I need to know...on a need to know basis. I accept that there are questions I will never be able to have answered. I accept that there are answers I will never be able to comprehend in my human finite mind...and I am okay with that...because I know my Father knows the answers and my life is in His hands. Faith like a child...that's what I desire.

In a nutshell, we cannot change the course of History. God is not going to change it because He was in control when it happened...why should He change it? He allowed it for His purpose and for His glory...and for our good. (Those are His words not mine.)

Therefore, from a Kingdom perspective...it is perfect part of His plan as it stands (even as ugly as it can appear from our perspective...but it can also be beautiful depending on how you look at it). He allows things to happen to make things what they are so that what is to come will be as He has ordained it. Nothing happens under the sun that is a surprise to Him....or that He cannot change or control at any given moment. It is what it is because He is Who He says He is.

What we see as good/bad...God sees as a tiny speck in the midst of a huge gloriously beautiful painting that He has already completed. We see the speck and the painting is too huge for us to see the whole picture...we must see through the eyes of the Artist and the only way we can do that is to be open for Him to show us...little by little in His time and His way by His choosing. He is perfect.

Our head must connect to our heart but our heart must first connect to God's...or else our heart will work with our mind to deceive us away from Him. History proves this. "Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes....."

I can really open another can off worms on suffering with this one because I believe that suffering began when man did the opposite of this proverb...and continues because we still do.

That is why I walk by faith and not by sight…..”