If only

IMG_5644In the wake of tragedy, two words torture our souls.  IF. ONLY.

If only ….we could have waited a second before we left, gone with our first plan, or paid attention to that sixth sense.  There clearly is something we could have done to avert the horrible tragedy that transpired. The feeling of guilt is overwhelming. Somehow, it’s easy to believe that it is all because we missed a cue that this awful thing took place. Our hearts ache, we feel despair and then the agonizing reality that we should have done something.

Love hurts. It brings about pain and heartache that we could never imagine. In the midst of trauma, we wonder why we ever dared live our lives in a normal way. We decide that we should not ever take normalcy for granted. But, in reality, it would be too intense to expect trauma and crisis every moment. We are not designed to live that way.

It’s hard to understand why tragedies happen.  Why does God protects us in the most incredible ways at certain times and then others, He allows crisis to take place? Why is there so much evil around us? We are oblivious to what we are protected from.

There are times when God strongly nudges us to pray for someone and we have a sense something will happen. It’s natural for me to feel that if I obey and pray, that person will be protected. Sometimes that is not the case, and tragedy still takes place. Bad things still happen. Where is God? Why did He alert us to pray and then not offer the protection that He is capable of?  Those are questions I ask.

Violence took place despite my prayers 

My heart is aching. Recently, the safety of a young woman has been on my heart. I kept praying for her protection. I even talked to her about it and she assured me all was well. The premonition continued. I kept praying. Then in the very moments I was most burdened, I tried to contact her.  We communicated for a little while that night, and then she went silent.  The concern deepened and so I continued to pray.  Then hours later, I discovered that she stopped responding because she was the victim of a horrific violence. She was badly hurt. In the days that followed, I kept thinking, “if only”…  I couldn’t help but wonder why God would alert me and yet seem to not protect her. There were only questions and no answers.

As I’ve thought through this, I realize that walking with God does not mean we won’t meet evil in this fallen world. The darkness will permeate our world. Bad things will happen regardless of how much we pray and seek after God.  He will walk with us. He will carry us through the darkest of days.

God’s love is deeper 

It’s not about us. I have no idea what God protected this young woman from. I can only see the damage, but I don’t know the bigger picture. God can take this awful evil that she met and use it for His glory. I marvel at her spirit. She is raw, vulnerable, but trusting in Jesus in a way that humbles me to the core. She’s resting in Him, she’s loving Him and He is loving her. It doesn’t make the wrongs right. God is bigger than all the horror and tragedies we could meet.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’m reminded this week of Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom’s words, “there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”  

The real question is “now what?”

Guilt and remorse won’t get us anywhere. We can say “if only” as much as we like. It won’t change our reality. The real question we need to ask in the wake of the most horribly dark days and difficult tragedies is “now what?”  God is waiting to take our hand and lead us through the darkest places. He sees what we do not see.

He. cares. deeply.

 

 

Does God really care…about the small stuff?

IMG_1318-3Life can be tough. There is a lot of pain. A lot of unknown. It seems everyday we are made aware of very difficult things that are taking place around us. As we bring these things to God in prayer, it seems that the answers are long and far between. We exercise faith and keep praying and try not to become disheartened.

Many of the the items on my prayer list are long-term and without intending to, I actually find myself becoming used to them not being answered. I still have faith and believe that God will answer them, but in some ways, I can become dulled to the great things that God wants to do in my life every day.  I’ve thought through this the past couple of days and began to write out smaller requests and pray specifically for them.  It was remarkable. Someone who had a difficult meeting reported a miraculous result, another person was vindicated of wrong doing, and a situation that was causing me great anxiety was resolved in a simple manner.

God cares about everything! He truly cares about the small stuff. I find it ironic that as I am praying for God to do some great things in difficult circumstances, I allow those prayers to eclipse my need to pray for the smaller, but powerfully significant things that come my way every single day.

Prayer works. ALL the time. God calls me to pray to Him about all things and when I do, He is willing to show me He hears me.

My husband and I recently were discussing one of our long-term requests.  We were feeling that perhaps God wasn’t hearing us.  Then, we stopped the conversation and asked each other to list all the ways God had shown Himself.  The list was long. God totally had this situation. He had done miracles already, but because we were so focused on the gap of what we saw needed to be done, we were missing the miracles o
f His provision. It was hindering our ability to trust Him for many prayers that we were forgetting to bring to Him.

Take time to seek God. He is there. Waiting, listening and ready to respond. No matter how difficult the long-term situation you find yourself in, He’s fully at work and wanting to show Himself to you!

He. Loves. You!

Miracles can happen. Even in your life!

Have you ever felt like everything was going wrong? You were sure God had given you clear direction and yet one disaster after another seemed to be confirmation that you clearly missed the message. I’m sure Moses felt that way too! His life of luxury was massively disrupted and suddenly, he faced endless challenges. He was given a task to take the Israelites to the promised land, and I’m sure most days it felt like everyone and everything was against him. He could have given up time and time again. However, He kept walking with God.

In my life, I’ve tried to embrace what I refer to as “The Moses Principle”.  This involves seeking God, doing what He calls me to do to EVEN if it makes no sense and stepping forward by faith towards the miracle He is leading me to. Some of the most incredible miracles have happened when I’ve done this. I often wonder how much I miss by thinking I can do things my way.

Below are some helpful steps that I’ve used to help me walk into God’s miracles.

1. God guides when He calls

Red Sea LessonsGod did not communicate to Moses why he was leading him toward the Red Sea, He just led him that way.

Exodus 13:17a, 18 “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter….. God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea”

2. An Opportunity to Make a Choice

The Israelites wanted to go back – they were so afraid. Moses made the choice to rely on God’s promise.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD . 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

3. The Reality of God’s Presence

 God wanted to be glorified. He surrounded them with his presence through a pillar of cloud which gave them light which protected them from Pharoah’s army.

15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19 Then the angel of God, who had traveled in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

4. God Gives a Clear Command that Requires Great Faith

  • This is where it is easy to miss the miracles to settle for an ordinary life.
  • If we want to live a God-sized life, we need to take faith steps that may seem impossible.
  • God provides as we move forward in faith

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

5. The Relentless Pursuit of the Enemy

Even though God is at work, and incredible things are happening that requires great faith, the enemy is seeking to destroy and we are given choices to keep walking in faith or to succumb to the enemy.

  • The army that seeks to destroy us:
    • Self doubt
    • Bitterness
    • Unforgiveness
    • Wrong motive
    • Anything that will take our focus off God
  • When the army pursues we need to keep walking
  • There are times God gives us clear direction and ways to destroy the enemy. Moses was given this opportunity:

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He made the wheels of their chariots come off [1] so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.” 26 Then theLORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward [2] it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen-the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

6. The Lord is glorified through the Victory

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

If we want to live our lives radically abandoned to Christ, it will need a release of our agenda and that we may be misunderstood.  However, if we have a deep inner reliance on God – quiet times where we listen and hear those commands, He will give us what we need to walk with Him.

Spend time in prayer. You can learn to experience God as you never have before when step out in faith and allow Him to do remarkable things!

He wrote his own “Daddy Handbook”

IMG_1341-2“I’m holding my son! I’m really a dad.” These tearful sounding words are ones I will never forget. He really didn’t understand the magnitude of being a parent until that very moment when he first held our baby in his arms. This poignant moment is one that repeated itself upon the birth of our other two children. He became a dad, again. And then, again. Each time it was as though no one else had ever encountered this experience.

The births of ours three children changed him forever. He was now a dad. He became softer, missional, and learned to play again.   He did things different than I did. He forged a special role and a special relationship with them. Our children have grown up to make wise choices. They were loved, prayed for and coached.  As Cam assumed the role of “dad”, he created his own handbook.  These are a few principles on how he became the best dad a kid could ever have:

1.  Let kids do things moms would NEVER dream of:  One cold winter day Cam and my brother were headed out ice fishing. Cam doesn’t ice fish, so it was an adventure that he felt he should share with his sons. He asked to take both our boys. They were 2 and 5 years old. I was concerned. I knew that Brett, the 2 year old, only wanted to go one place…”away”. He would walk away towards an adventure and never look back. I knew Cam would not worry the way I would. So, they went on their adventure. Yes, I was anxious and, for good reason!  They returned, AFTER stopping at the store to print the pictures.  There was a photo of Brett as a small dot about a kil0meter away. He was a tiny dot on the lake.  Cam and my brother had decided to see how far he really would walk.  At 1 km, they realized the kid had no intention of returning.   This story is often told. The photo is laughed at!  You see, Cam knew Brett was safe and he allowed him to experience stepping way out.  My children are adults now. They survived all those times when I was convinced their lives were in danger… AND they have great stories to tell.  Memories are built when you step out of what is ordinary!

FullSizeRender-12. Play and tell stories: I really don’t know how many seasons the telling of “Sheriff Schenk and Black Bart” stories went on.  The suspense was always great and the kids never tired of it. I’m sure they would listen eagerly today if another story was told. Cam loved to play with the kids and take them on special dates.  It was a little frightening as I watched my children, laughing with glee, as they were tossed into the air. I always breathed a sigh of relief when they were safely caught in his loving arms.   Cam had a way of turning simple errands into adventures. He always found the perfect 80’s song for every single situation the kids ever found themselves in!  Relationships were being forged, and in later years, his wisdom and coaching would be wisely considered.

3. Provide protection:  It’s adorable to hear kids declare, “My daddy is bigger than your daddy.” This changes a bit as they get older, but my kids have always known that their dad would take care of them. Even now, during a difficult time, they call, they come home and ask for insight. As a mom, I can tell my child of all the things that might go wrong and sometimes, I wonder if it is heard. Then, Cam alludes to the danger and it is heard. I don’t get it… but, I receive it as a gift that my kids know their dad knows things that will protect them. 

FullSizeRender4. Love deeply: On the day our daughter, Kaylin, was born, a part of Cam simply melted. He was raised with only brothers and we had only had sons. This girl thing was so new. He began to sing “You’ll be wrapped around my finger” by the Police.  He was right. He’s first to order front row tickets to her shows and always helping her know she is loved. He beams with pride as he talks about Luke and his wife, Hazelle. When asked what she should call him, he immediately responded, “my darling father-in-law”.  Well, that stuck. He calls them, encourages them and enjoys quality time with them.  His relationship with Brett involves a love for sports. They enjoy hanging out together and sometimes speaking in a sports language, the rest of us more creative people don’t understand.  Cam deeply loves and is so proud of his children. They feel it, know it and embrace.

5. Be a coach:  The process of coaching our kids has changed drastically as they got older. In the early years, he helped them learn many things that were simple how-tos. They included sports, cleaning, riding a bicycle and basic life skills. Then as they got older, the coaching became more about relationships and planning for the future. Today, his coaching looks different. He presents ideas and concepts and encourages them in providing insight in the decisions they are making.  Above all, he prays for them and shares what God is teaching Him. This, in turn, teaches and coaches our kids to be godly men and women.

I had no idea what kind of a dad Cam would be, nor what kind of a mother I would become. We learned together. We found rhythm. Cam was continually buying parenting books that he would share with me. We prayed for our kids. I learned that being a dad is different than being a mom. I chose to embrace the differences and to not be afraid of the adventurous spirit God had given Him.

He didn’t have a handbook. He simply created one by allowing God to help him be the best that he could be. God made him to be the MOST AMAZING DAD for our kids, Luke, Brett, Kaylin and now, Hazelle, could ever have!

Happy Father’s Day to the love of my life!

When someone you love returns from a missions trip

IMG_6981-2Kate and her husband Jim had been actively involved in their church. Kate was increasingly troubled, because she had noticed her husband’s Bible had been untouched for several months. She knew he was in a spiritual slump. Then one day her husband expressed his interest in going on a short term mission. Initially she couldn’t understand why, but though she had incredible fears and concerns of him going to a foreign country, she wasn’t going to let anything get in the way and hinder what God might want to do in Jim’s life.

Plans were made and Jim left on the trip. While Jim was gone, he called Kate and enthusiastically shared the amazing things God was doing. She realized that this experience had the potential to impact their entire family.

As the day of Jim’s return came nearer, Kate became nervous. She did not know what to expect. Somehow, deep within her, she sensed that she was in a position where her reaction during the upcoming weeks could have a significant impact on the choices Jim would make and the lasting influence of this trip. She began to pray about how she could strategically assist her husband and maximize the impact of this spiritual high point.

Whether it is your spouse or your child on the missions trip, there are some distinct ways you can help make the most of their return.

  1. Show genuine interest in the stories of what God has done.Show interest in their stories even if it causes you to feel left out. Your loved one may return on a high and talk more than you’ve ever heard them talk. Jealousy seeks to set in. Pray specifically that you will be able to pay close attention and ask questions. As you show that you are interested, your family member will be much more eager to share the experience with you.While ministry appears to be for those who we are ministering to, we often underestimate the way God uses ministry to change our own lives. Short-term projects have the potential to be life-changing in ways we may not even be aware of. Even though you and other members of your family did not go on the trip, encourage your loved one to see that this trip has had an affect on your entire family. Work together and come up with action points that will influence your entire family.I know of a couple who made the decision to spend some of the money that would normally be used for birthday and Christmas gifts in the year following a short-term mission to purchase special gifts for poor children. They then looked for an opportunity to send the gifts overseas. It so happened that they gave those gifts to my husband and me when we were going on a trip to Mexico and we was able to personally deliver them to some very poor children. I was deeply moved by their responses. These children had never seen toys like that.
  2. Develop practical action points that can impact your entire family. Ask your loved one to share with you any action points he/she made on the trip and how you can pray for them. Ask them to share with you the ways you and your family might be able to help them fulfill those points. God may have begun a work and placed a dream in your loved one’s heart that could have lasting impact. They may have acquired a passion to reach out to a neighbor, a family member or someone at work. God may have given them a deep desire to grow in their faith or possibly to serve in some area of ministry. Encourage that dream. Pray specifically that God would show you how you can be of help in making those dreams become reality. Pray also that you would not hinder even a tiny seed of what God intends to do.
  3. There may be some action points that seem surprising and even extreme to you. Your loved one will have seen extreme poverty and possibly will have seen God do amazing things. There is a possibility that he/she might want to make radical changes in your family’s lifestyle, or maybe they will suggest that they should go into full-time ministry or not give gifts for Christmas. There may not be anything wrong in these ideas, however, they will seem like they came out of nowhere as you have not been on this journey.When these suggestions are made, be prepared with an action plan. Don’t squelch their dream. Possibly suggest that you could write down those dreams in a notebook and as a family you could pray together over these dreams and see how God unfolds them. In this process, you will be building togetherness as you seek God. Often God plants seeds in hearts on these trips and the nurturing of these seeds produces beautiful fruit – and it is often quite different from what we think it will be. You don’t need to be afraid of these dreams.“Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). If God wants to do something in your family’s life as a result of this trip, He is able to do that work in and through you beyond whatever you might fathom.
  4. Surround yourself with prayer for the time both during the trip and immediately following your loved one’s return from the short-term project.Whenever God is at work, the enemy seeks to destroy. Pray fervently in the weeks immediately after your loved one’s home-coming. In some ways, the need for prayer is more intense than it was while they were gone. Do not let down your guard.The tendency is that once the plane has landed and the suitcases are unpacked, the intense need for prayer support lets up. Encourage your friends to pray for your reunion as a family and adjust to day-to-day living so that the enemy would not have a foot-hold.
  5. Evaluate your expectations. Whenever a member in our family takes steps in ministry, expectations develop as to what we think will happen and how this ministry experience will affect our lives. We are correct in that these experiences do affect our lives, however, our prediction as to how that will happen may not always be accurate.There is a possibility that when you are most expecting a significant change, nothing happens. This can be devastating if you allow it to be. Realize that a changed life is work that God specializes in and that you can continue to pray. You may never know what seeds were planted.Several years ago Tina went on a short–term mission. She struggled most of the time she was on the trip. When she returned she commented, “I went because I thought it would be fun and I didn’t change because I knew everyone expected me to.” This is not common; however, these kinds of things can happen. A relationship with God is very personal and just going on a trip will not cause life-change anymore than sitting in a church pew will deepen one’s relationship with God.
  6. Give your loved one time to re-adjust to your culture. The culture shock is often more difficult coming home than going to the foreign country. Things are seen through a different set of eyes and the affluence of our culture can be overwhelming. While someone is on a short-term project, they are usually bathed in prayer the entire time and are seeking God in a new way because everything they do is out of their comfort zone so they are forced to completely abandon themselves to Christ. Once home, however, it is very easy to rely on their own skills and abilities. The transition can be a little frustrating. You may even sense an irritable spirit or even outbursts of anger from them as they work through the processing of their emotions. They may be feeling powerless to affect deep change within the culture they have just visited along with their new friends that they have made. Another very real possibility is that they are struggling in a spiritual battle, so increase your prayer for and with them.
  7. Guard your relationship. If the loved one who has gone on the short-term trip is your spouse, make every effort to guard and protect your marriage. How you receive and help your spouse work through the changes they may go through on the project may have a profound impact on your relationship. It is worth protecting your relationship. Your spouse may have received e-mail addresses of members of the opposite sex while they were gone, encourage them to be careful. This kind of communication may not be appropriate and may put your relationship at risk. Talk about these things with your spouse.

I’m sure you are wondering what happened to Jim and Kate. Jim came home and was elated about what God was doing in his life. He and Kate made a commitment to become more involved financially in ministry. Jim had built a relationship with his interpreter, George, and has now involved his entire family in communicating with and supporting this person who has gone into full-time ministry. In some ways, their lives appear to have gone back to normal, but for Jim, this trip was a burning bush experience and Susan was instrumental in it becoming that way.

There are many others who have gone on trips and have had life changing experiences. 

Those who go on short-term trips can be influenced deeply by the response of their family upon their return. I was unaware of the extent of this when my husband went on his first short-term mission without me. We had previously gone together and had both said this was something we would always do as a couple. Then the opportunity came for Cam to go on another trip. I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and knew I could not go. I was surprised at the feelings that were beginning to create havoc within me. I felt alone, I didn’t want him having an experience of this nature without me, and I realized I was not only feeling sorry for myself, I was jealous and afraid of the impact this trip could have on his life.

Then one day I came to the realization that I was pouring cold water on what God was doing in Cam’s life. I began to pray about how I could have a renewed attitude so that I could assist my husband in maximizing the impact of this trip. Since then, he has gone on trips without me and I have gone without him. There is a different dynamic each time. I have come to realize that although I prefer for us to go as a couple, I have a significant responsibility in helping him make the most of his experience when he returns when he goes without me.

I encourage you to share the experience of this short term trip with your loved one by empowering their homecoming and enabling the impact of the trip to be all God intended it to be for your entire family.

Custom-made for God’s call on our lives

IMG_7230Perfect plans.
Unique gifts.
Me. My calling.

It’s astonishing to think that every person has been created with a unique set of gifts, skills and personality to fulfill the calling that God has on their life.

I’ve always known that God wants to use me and that He’s willing to take my gifts and use them for His purpose.  BUT, to think that EVERY gift I have and who I am is specifically created to fulfill a distinct call that God has on my life is somewhat of a new concept. I’m in awe that God cares so much about me and that He made me in such a special way to fulfill His perfect plan through me.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:14-15

Most of us live our lives completing a list that is before us on any given day.  We take opportunities that come our way and try to live our days honouring God.  In the past months, I’ve taken a step back. I’ve sought God regarding who I am and what He created me for. I’ve made some great discoveries I would like to share about how you can learn more about God’s call on your life:

1. Reflect on your life. Plan some time for reflection. Ask yourself some hard questions like: Am I doing what I love to do? Do I feel I’m in the right place? Have I even considered that God has a call on my life? Do I know what my calling is?

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power2 Thessalonians 1:11

2. Discover your gifts. There are endless tools and assessments to discover our gifts. You may want to do something simple like take a spiritual gift test or take more in-depth assessments like StrengthFinder, Myers Briggs, and Birkman, (just to name a few).

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 

3. Define your passion.  Think about the things that you have done in your life that gave you the greatest joy and fulfillment. What were some of the characteristics around those opportunities? Think about those times when you found yourself doing something that your inner person became so excited about, that it was no longer work. You may have said, “I would even pay to do this.” Passion is fuel for our soul. What is it that you are passionate about? It’s a clue to the very thing that God created you for. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord. Colossians 3:23

4. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you next steps to discover God’s call in your life. Seek God’s direction and ask Him to specifically show you what next steps you should pray for.  Ask Him what you need to do to discover His call for your life. He will answer you and begin to give you opportunities. They may be small and inconsequential at first, but as you recognize that you are doing things that ignite your passion, praise Him and continue to seek.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17 and 1 Corinthians 2:9-16

5. Step out in faith.  As you sense the Holy Spirit placing desires in your heart that align with your passion and giftedness, pray for opportunities to surface. When they come, step out in faith. It’s always wise to seek confirmation through Scripture and godly people, especially if the decision would have an impact on other people as well (which it usually does). Then, start taking steps and serve in the areas of your passion. God will show you His calling.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 1 Peter 5:10

You are wonderfully and intricately created by God. He loves you deeply. He made you with a uniqueness that only He fully understands. Seek Him to help you discover His call on your life.  It will bring clarity and joy as you see God using your uniqueness to fulfill His call.

The Limping Warrioress

Pain_Kaylin

Portrayal of abuse victim in “She Has A Name”

There is a bursting in my heart. My soul is awakening. There has been death and darkness. I’ve learned to silence the need to feel and to be weak.

Weakness.
It’s positioned me as prey
It’s allowed others to trample over me.
There is terror in my soul when I think of what weakness opens me up to.
It scares me. It scares others. There is a power that others cannot handle.
I hide it away.
I overcompensate. I try to soften the anger.
I don’t deserve to be treated as less than them.

They are powerful. They tell me who and what to be.
Inside, they make me scream.
Outside, I will show them that I can play their game.
They will not conquer me. I can be all that they are.

It makes me tired. I deny who I really am. I want to be soft, tender and compassionate. I want to shed tears in places I hurt. I want to know that if I do that they will not look down on me. I don’t want to pay the price of their scorn for being who I am. So, I hide me. I hide under a wall of strength. I know they can see through it. That makes me more angry. I don’t want to be a fake. I just want to be accepted. I want to be loved. I want to be free!

I want to know that to be a woman is to beautiful without shame. I want to embrace the beauty God has given.

I give my shame, my hurts, my abuses, the brokenness that came from those in my life who were too strong and from those who were too weak. There are those I’m angry at. I scream at them for not allowing me to be me!

Jesus, He is my everything. He stood by. He watched. He saw the wrongdoing. He loved me then. He loves me now. He walks with me.

He made me deeper and stronger inside. He made me weaker than I ever wanted to be. He wants to own my weakness and to truly be my all.

I give him my shame, my hurt. My brokenness made me weak. While the wounded hurt me, I am the one who is the victor. I can be healed. He will love me.

I am the teary eyed, the one with a limp – Arwen. She is my hero. She’s a warrior that was fallen, but in the end, she was the strong one – because she was weak.

 

Making of a Leader: book review

UnknownIn his book, Making of a Leader, Dr. Clinton expands on the stages of growth that a godly leader can expect to experience. He acknowledges that leadership development is a unique process for every individual; however, there are processes of development that are similar. He challenges the reader to focus on God and to continue a path of growth. He challenges those who have reached a platea
u. He creates a strong case for mentorship and divine appointments. He clearly outlines challenges for the leader. The book was written for initial learning, but also to keep on file as a reference.

Leaders go through stages of growth that help them grow in their leadership. They then step into the next stage of maturity. Clinton challenges leaders to develop to their full potential throughout their entire life. He outlines the importance of mentorship and challenges mature leaders to take on the responsibility of mentoring younger leaders. His also challenges leaders to develop a ministry philosophy that fits their gifts and personal development, honors Biblical values, and embraces the culture. This creates a framework by which decisions are made.

Dr. Clinton explains how a leader can hear the word of God, receive direction and apply it, not only to their lives, but for the people God has placed in their path. His perspective on crisis, conflict and isolation is that God has a tailor-made solution for each person. In order to receive God’s direction, the leader must immerse themselves in scripture, prayer and a community that will speak into their lives. In times of major change, God will sometimes use the double confirmation process. This is a time when God makes His will clear by reinforcing it through more than one source. He also communicates to the leader through divine affirmation where He gives approval to a leader to give them a renewed sense of purpose to serve God.

This book had a deep impact on me. It put clarity around the journey I have walked through in my own personal leadership. There were three things that resonated with me:

1. The opportunity to accept the influence challenge is very real to me. God has given me a sphere of influence that I’m accountable to step into.
2. The negative preparation where Clinton describes how God uses a painful time in our lives to move us into the place where He wants us to be.
3. The perspective on mentoring also impacted me. It’s powerful to realize that God places younger people in our lives to build into.

Leadership has distinct stages that we go through and as we allow God to work in our lives throughout the growth process, we become stronger and refined. It’s what leads us to being what He has called and created us to be.

Making of a Leader
Dr. J. Robert Clinton
NavPress, 1988

Listening to God in Times of Choice: Book review

Listening to God

**** (4 /5) 

In his book, Listening to God in Times of Choice: The art of discerning God’s Will, Gordon Smith focuses on helping the reader become receptive to the Lord. He outlines and explains how one can abandon our entire self to the love and goodness of God. He explains how when we are open to God, He gives us His grace and helps us recognize His voice during times of decision. As we learn to do this, our confidence grows and we can experience the fullness of Him. We give our control to Him and accept what God allows as well as His timing.

We are able to make our own decisions, however, when we relinquish ourselves to God, we seek Him and He meets with us. He sometimes communicates very specifically. Seeking God requires a personal relationship with him, which is often complex, but positions us to be transformed by Him as we give ourselves to Him. As we have a close relationship with God, He gives us discernment to encounter His will and purpose. Discernment gives us the opportunity to deepen that relationship so our decisions come out of our closeness with God. We will not get the clear answers we might want, but a deep assurance that we are living in response to God. Gordon talks about the importance of listening. In listening, God speaks to us in regards to our situation. He helps us through the things we are going through.

The foundation of our learning to hear God is to grow and develop discernment. This happens through prayer and communion with God. We need to keep alert to the areas that we can become deceived. Learning to hear God takes time that many people are not willing to take. In the process of stepping aside from the busyness of life, we are able to focus, thank God, mediate, forgive others and confirm our allegiance to Christ. This, followed by silence, allows God to speak.

This book is probably the most influential book in my coming to a full understanding and in motivating me to grow and develop in my discernment and to be still and quiet before God so that I could hear Him. It helps me understand how I need to shut everything out and listen. It gives me a strong perspective of how God allows hurt and difficulty and how He speaks through those times. I plan to spend more quiet time and to really seek growing in the area of discernment. I’m ready to be still, to hear so that I can know His will.

Listening to God in Times of Choice: The Art of Discerning God’s Will 
Smith, Gordon
InterVarsity Press, 1997

The greatest passion is a gift for reading

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An idyllic little bookstore I discovered in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. ― Dr. Seuss

I love reading! It takes me to places I may never experience. It allows me to hear from people I would never get to talk to. It challenges my perspective and it allows me to absorb knowledge from the most intellectual and brilliant people I would otherwise never get to meet.

We are all busy.  Sometimes, we are even too busy for things that matter. But, never ever be too busy to read!

I’m will be posting book summaries of some of the great books I’ve read.  I welcome you to guest blog your favourite book summaries. Just email them to me. Let’s read together, learn together and travel the world of both knowledge and places!

Enjoy the summaries and tell us what you think.