Love

May you Rejoice!

I Chronicles 16:8-12
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

There are no other memories I cherish more than the moment I first caught sight of my husband-to-be, nervously waiting for me at the altar.  That surreal moment in time represented the culmination of so many hopes, dreams, and prayers. My job of “Watering the camels” had come to an end, and if you could have looked inside my chest, you would have seen my heart leaping in sheer joy as I made my way down to David. Every ounce of my body, soul, and spirit exalted and rejoiced as I made my way to the God-given answer to years of waiting and hundreds of tearful but resolute prayers for a husband and companion. Had there been time that day, we could have spent hours recounting the most amazing story of God’s guidance, protection, mercy, and provision in our lives. Our story was a testimony of His glorious faithfulness, as He patiently worked and moved to intersect our lives and hearts to become one. On that day, we Rejoiced!!!!

Today my husband, I am giving thanks to the Lord for you. Our lives are beautifully marked with the fingerprints of the Holy, Righteous, Living God. Every page of our story contains the unmistakable bold, rich, strokes of His abundant mercy, love, and grace. My heart rejoices as I think back over the past 10 year and my spirit exalts as I look ahead with curiosity to the future that has been set aside for us since the beginning of time.

My prayer today is that He would bring to mind the innumerable moments in time when He demonstrated His love, compassion, and faithfulness to you. May your heart be overcome with a sense of awe and wonder as you recall precise Divine interactions with Him. May these moments wipe away any doubt or fear of His love, presence, power, or favor for you! My prayer is that the 33 years of His presence and work so clearly evidenced in your life would be a source of joy. May His deeds in the past be a cause for you to rejoice today regardless of the pressures and trials you face. He has loved you with an everlasting love, revel in His love, and the endless provision of power and grace evidenced in your life.

 Photo Credits: http://www.halbergphotographers.com/blog/2011/04/
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My Abba, Papa, Daddy Father

Romans 8:15 

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
When I think about adoption, I envision an eager husband and wife nervously awaiting for the arrival of the child they will soon call their own.


The journey they have taken to get to this point involved mounds of paperwork. They have made innumerable sacrifices both physically and mentally in order to obtain the right to call another’s baby their own. They have endured a grueling waiting game filled with unexpected twists, turns, and disappointments. Soon they will take that special child in their hands and walk away not just husband and wife but mother and father.


I can’t fathom the feelings or emotions parents experience when they have literally laid everything on the line in order to adopt. I am humbled by the testimony of men and women who have sought out not just the abandoned and orphaned but also the sick, diseased, and “unwanted.”

 


Recently, I stumbled upon a site seeking parents for “unwanted” foreign children. All the children on this site had health issues ranging from mild to severe, but the profiles that broke my heart were those of older children who were months away from being removed from the adoption agency’s system. These orphaned children were painfully aware that if no one came forward, their next birthday meant an end to their hopes of ever finding parents and becoming part of a real family. Age thirteen wasn’t a day they looked forward to because t didn’t mean a driving permit, but rather that an institution or street would soon become their new permanent home.


While I can not fathom the feelings, emotions, or pain of these children, in a spiritual sense I am not unlike them. The amazing thing about my story is that when the Lord formed me, chose me, and called me to Himself, I was not a beautiful, innocent,or lovable infant, I was sick and marred by sin.  I was unlovable, “Father”-less, and destined for a life of depravity on the “streets and institutions” of this world. My prospects weren’t just a life of hopelessness but of judgment and death.


Then the Lord of the Universe stepped in. Christ didn’t just collect money to purchase the right to adopt me, He didn’t fill out paperwork in order to declare Himself worthy to redeem my life, He did something infinitely grander. He became my Abba Father through the blood of His son.


If led by the Lord, it would not be hard to exhaust our life savings or make the required physical sacrifices necessary to adopt a baby, but never in a thousand years would I consider sacrificing my own beautiful children in order to adopt and redeem a diseased, mentally broken vagrant living in jail.


As we celebrate Father’s day, and as I reflected upon the blessing my father and my husband David has been to me, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the one who has given and sacrificed infinitely more for me. He is my Papa, my daddy, and He delighted in me when there was nothing to delight in. He loved me when I was unlovable, sacrificing the priceless for the worthless.


Thank you Father for your grace and mercy, and for your unspeakable love for me. You have withheld nothing from my life except the judgment I deserve.  All I have ever needed you have bountifully provided. May I walk worthy of the new name I bear, and may my life be a living example of the liberating power of a loving Father!

My Prayer for you today…..Love

 

The world eagerly flaunts its misguided perception of love. Sitcoms feed gullible seekers a steady diet of unrealistic dreams and a list of demands to bring into their relationships. While the world relentlessly presents it’s weak and whimsical definition of love, we tend to miss the most important aspect behind true love. The vitality & power of love is not found so much in what Love does, but rather in what it does not do.

I Corinthians 13:1-8a

 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,

 but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

I found it interesting that this famous section on love begins by listing a host of admirable, even desirable actions, abilities, and gifts followed by a shocking revelation. In the midst of suave, flowery, romantic speech and the ability to say and do all the right things, love can be glaringly absent.

You mean I can take a meal to a neighbor I secretly despise, or put a new roof on for a couple I care nothing about and it means nothing? I can tell my spouse everything is ok and even dish out a kiss or two yet despite all my actions and professions, love can be missing?

Yup, in the midst of all that pomp and clanking, there can remain an emptiness and void where love should dwell but isn’t. Doing doesn’t guarantee loving!

If you think  the idea of love being absent in the midst of noble actions and sacrificial giving, a paradoxical concept, then  read on! Next in the chapter comes a mind-boggling list of how love is powerfully demonstrated during “inaction.”

Love is demonstrated when envy is an exiled and unwelcome guest.

Love is present when a boasting heart is consumed upon the altar of humility and grace.

Love is the absence of arrogance.

Love raises its gracious head when rudeness bows in subjection to the feelings of others.

Love voices it’s true intention when it calls out passionately in constant purposeful yielding to the desires of others.

Love resides unshaken, faithfully pressing onward while riding out the never-ending swells of unpredictable human emotions, weakness, and reasoning.

Love removes itself from the presence of all actions, attitudes, and situations that would make it a bedfellow with the enemies of its soul.

Love has no finish line, no expiration date, and no exception clause.

Love is endless, abounding, and nonnegotiable.

Jesus had compassion on the crowds and preformed many signs and miracle. He healed, fed, taught, and rescued thousands but I think His greatest demonstration of Love came during those sacred moments of silence when he stood unshaken before his accusers and as he hung willingly upon the cross. Truly, only the God of the universe could have kept silent while those He created beat Him!

As a kid I played out how I would have handled the crucifixion. I would have popped off that cross, and showed the crowd who I really was. I would have struck the pharisees down with gruesome and painful diseases. I would have given that unbelieving pompous crowd gawking at my nakedness and shame a momentary glimpse of the Heavenly Host straining at the ready to exact judgment upon them. I would have preformed an amazing lightening show and topped it off by spinning Jupiter on my finger.

This is everything I would have done!

Yet Jesus did something mysteriously more powerful than any action. He demonstrated His love by doing  nothing. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter and he never opened him mouth. He endured suffering silently without returning condemning upon His inflictors, when reviled He did not revile in return.

He demonstrated the depth and height of His love by silence and something even more unpredictable, death.

And herein lies the secret of love.

Love is death. It is quiet yielding and sacrifice. It is silence in the face of unjust accusation. It is willing brokenness for the sake of the broken and needy not the deserved. This is such a different image than the one hollywood hawks. Love is often absent in the getting, doing, giving, being, to busy to stop crowd, for any emotionless, selfish, warped, unloving, sick person can do these things.

This is Love

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this,

that a man lay down his life for his friends.

1 John 3:16
Hereby perceive we the love of God,

because he laid down his life for us:

and we ought to lay down our lives

 for the brethren.

My prayer for you today my husband is a prayer for us both. My prayer is for love. Jesus love drove Him to the cross to be broken. Those precious, nail scarred hands now break us daily that we might also love. May the Lord fill our hearts with an understanding of His love for us, and may that precious gift flow from our own hearts as an unquenchable stream of love for others. May we lay down our lives together in these battles we fight together hand in hand. Let us be silent together, raising up feeble hands and weary knees yielded to His purpose and plan for our lives. May we die spiritually together each day and as we live to die, may we discover with more intensity and satisfaction than the day before, the joy that comes from sacrifice, the purpose that comes from pain, and the power that is unleashed through our weaknesses. Your path is mine David, your calling is my calling. Ours is a sacred dance, beauty displayed among chaos. I praise the Lord for the gift of you and for your Love. I praise the Lord for calling us to be his and for allowing us to run this race together. Amen

My Prayer today…..Let His Joy be translated into our strength!

Joy


“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:11b (ESV)”

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,

let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and

let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

who for the joy that was set before him

endured the cross, despising the shame,

and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-3 (ESV)

A Shadows of “Things” to come…

An adulterous and rebellious nation was instructed by Nehemiah, to “Let the Joy of the Lord be their Strength.”  They had returned from captivity and in the presence of all who could still understand their own dialect, Ezra read the law. Most heard the law for the very first time. The horror of their sins against the Lord Jehovah caused them to cry and quake in fear.  Nehemiah told them not to weep or mourn, but to celebrate.

This repentant nation, formerly exiled and in captivity, had newly partaken of the Lord’s forgiveness, grace, and glory. For His glory and pleasure alone, He had restored this adulterous nation. Israel was fickle, prone to sin and rebellion, and they would sin again. They were living proof that  on his own, man can never attain his own righteousness, never become holy, and never live in obedience with God the Righteous Judge. God would remain faithful, but the cycle of sin would continue and Israel would betray His love and faithfulness, justly earning His righteous judgment and punishment…… unless something changed, and changed it would.

The “Thing” that changed “Everything”…

The miraculous redemption story of man from Genesis to Revelation is amazing! Hundreds of years after Ezra and Nehemiah, the Son of God stepped into the lives of the hopelessly lost and the hopeless gazed upon the very face of Hope and Glory.  The Joy Israel had been commanded to draw strength from had come in the flesh. Mercy, Grace, Love, and Hope was poured out upon sinful undeserving mankind, as Jesus Christ, the “Joy of mans desire” hung on the tree. In anguish, yet with great delight, he endured unimaginable torment and the rejection of His Father. This was His Joy, and it is our strength today!

“..Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,

who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,

despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

It was the Joy of the Lord that led Him to sacrifice His Beloved Son, in order to redeem man. It was the Joy of the Son to submit, with humility and obedience, to will of His Father. With Joy the Father sent His Son, and with Joy, the Son sacrificed. The Joy of our Heavenly Father and the Son in whom He delighted, has given us the strength and ability to overcome. The Joy of our Lord was the amazing redemption story. Israel was told not to weep, but they could never have fathomed the day when freedom, life, liberty, and true Joy would replace the sin induced sorrow of man. Like Israel, our weeping has turned to dancing. The terror of our Righteous God does not make us quake in fear. With boldness and joy  we lift our eyes to the heavens where our Help stands and intercedes. We do not weep, we shout glory and honor and praise be to Him who sits on the throne, for we have been redeemed from His righteous judgment and wrath through the sacrifice of His Son!

Because of the Love and Joy of the Father and Son, we have overcome the evil one. We have overcome death, and sin no longer reigns in our bodies. Is the Joy of the Lord your strength?

Today O Lord, Let the source of David’s Joy be found only in you. May your love and delight in my precious husband, your passion to Glorify yourself through your redemption & transformation of him, become David’s sheer joy and utter delight. Let your joy empower the man you chose before the foundations of the world were formed. May you alone be the source of his strength! Let Joy shroud and cover his spirit, soul, and mind. Let him walk in the power, grace, and strength that is rightfully His because he is yours! Give him Joy Father, Give him strength to endure, persevere, to walk worth of your call! Amen

Hallelujah, For the Joy of the Lord is my strength!!

Praying for my Husband A to Z: G is for Greatness

Greatness

Psalm 18:35
Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation:

and thy right hand hath holden me up,

and thy gentleness hath made me great.

It is hard to stand on the sideline and watch while someone else gets the promotion, praise, and glory. We were made to worship and honor our Creator, but sin crashed the party turning our focus inward. We are driven by selfishness and pride to seek the spotlight and at times we are so blinded by  sin we are willing to do anything in order to get our “praise of men fix.”  It is not natural for sinful and fallen man to place the importance of another above them himself, but we are no longer simply flesh, bound by the law of sin and death.  We are new creations, risen in newness of life, empowered and led by the Spirit of God. God has something far better in-store for our lives than self-seeking, temporal gratification.

Recently I have sensed the Lord asking me if I am willing to be small in order that others, including my husband, can be great. It can get lonely and tiring being the person behind the scene. Standing on stage is much nicer than cleaning it. Being the person who takes orders isn’t as fun as being the one who gets to give them, but as Solomon discovered, vanity and emptiness follow closely on the heels of one who spends their life striving for glory, honor, power, position, and possessions.

My salvation cost me nothing, and in exchange for eternity all Christ has asked of me is full surrender to His will for my life.  How can I turn my ear from His call to serve, when the request comes from one who sacrificed His very flesh and blood on my behalf?  How can I merit striving for my own glory and earthly praise when He gave up his Glory and Kingly Robes to wear the swaddling rags of man.

As I yield my life to serve wherever and in whatever arenas the Lord asks of me, the challenge to be David’s Help-meet looms large. I am asking the Lord to make David a great man both physically but more important spiritually. I desperately need a heart transformed and yielded, humbly focusing the success and greatness of others. This means the dreaded “P” & “B” words, priorities & balance  : ) It also means living and believing in what I am praying for, David’s greatness. David needs to sense that I believe in him, trust him, and think him capable to greatness. I can’t live a life that physically and spiritually derails what I claim believe and strive for.

Father, you have given me an amazing husband. I am blessed beyond measure by the presence of my soul mate, playmate, partner and friend. Father we are sinners desperate for your grace, power, and transformation. You have loved and forgiven us and you rightfully called me to love David with the same selfless, sacrificial abandonment that you demonstrated towards me at the cross.  May my heart and spirit be open, submissive, and humble before you. May I be willing to serve both you and David, playing the role you have entrusted to me, a sacred help-meet to David. Lord, a Spirit Filled, God Honoring, godly, successful David is your desire. Truly greatness is when a man is covered by your gentle hand, filled with your grace and wisdom. Greatness is David leading his family and growing his business to honor and glorify you. May this be the reality and fruit of David’s life and work. Amen

The Hat You Should Never Wear!

The “Hat” you were never meant to wear!

As a daughter of Christ, wife, and mother, there are many roles I am “called” to fulfill. Some mornings I find a yellow hard hat on top my head. You know the “pardon my mess, your tax dollars are at work” kind of days when all you do is “fix things” like broken attitudes & relationships. Days filled with busted toys, skinned knees, and clogged drains.

There are the trench warfare days when I feel like I am wearing a special ops military grade helmet as I leap from fox hole to fox hole, dodging spiritual, mental, and emotional bombardments from the “enemy”. I am a cook, nurse, teacher, peacemaker, chauffeur, and the list goes on. Not every hat I don is difficult or burdensome. I love my sun visor moments! The mornings I can relax on a park bench with a book, sipping a cup of hot coffee while being serenaded by the sounds of my 3 treasures squealing with delight in the warm spring sun.

While many of the “hats” in my extensive collection require personal sacrifice, momentary angst, and occasional hardships, I would not relinquish any of the roles my Father has entrusted to me. Every “hat” the Lord has ever asked me to wear has been accompanied with grace and strength in abundance. It is a truthful saying,

“Faithful is He who has called you who will also perform it.”

Over the past few years, the Lord has opened my eyes to the fact that the source of some of my greatest struggles, defeats, and failures have come when I claimed a hat I was never intended to wear. If you are like me, a sinner saved by grace, chances are this hat has shown up in your collection from time to time, just as it has mine. Perhaps you are wearing this very hat as we speak.

I unwittingly placed this hat on top my of head just the other day as I stood at the kitchen sink, deep in thought. The week had been a rough one for me. I was exhausted and to make matters worse, I had not responded properly to some spiritual warfare that had arisen in my life. Suddenly an old, familiar foe I have battled for years wrapped its icy fingers around my heart and I immediately went into defence mode. I grabbed the bill of the “hat” with the words “Holy Spirit” stitched brightly across the top, tightened the strap, and set about to take control of the situation. To resolve this conflict, I determined that my husband, who was absolutely clueless as to what was bothering me, needed to do a,b, & c, and furthermore he needed to refrain from doing e, f, & g. (The poor guy!)

As my emotions swirled and the dark clouds grew, the voice of my Heavenly Father parted the commotion of my unchecked emotions and fears. With clarity, I heard Him declare with loving rebuke “Jody, you can not make your husband holy. That is my job and the work of my Spirit.” I reached up and pulled the “cap” from off my head, and I handed it to back to the Lord. In despair, I cried out, “But what can I do for him?” Just as clearly as before, the Lord answered me and He said “You can pray for Him Jody.” I prayed, peace flooded my heart, and the burden of a role I was never ment to fulfill lifted from off my shoulders.

The Challenge

The Lord works in mysterious ways! On Sunday I had to work in the nursery, so I missed the a.m. Service. As I prepared lunch after church, I asked my husband about the message and a smile came to my lips when he said it was about praying for others. As David gave me a summary of the message, all I could think about was that special moment in the kitchen when I distinctly heard God calling me to pray for my husband.

I am ashamed to confess this, but of all the “hats” in my collection, the “Prayer warrior” cap is not as worn and tattered as others are. My laundry, sun visor, chefs hat and workout caps are tattered and painted with sweat stains but my prayers cap looks fairly new. This calling to Pray is not a glorious, win the praise of man kind of “hat”. It is a private, selfless, and sacrificial act of love and humility. I feel the hand of the Lord impressing upon my heart the dire need a husband has for the prayers and intercession of his wife. Ladies, we need to pray daily, intently, and purposefully for our husbands, boyfriends, and future life mates. Single ladies do you pray for the man who will one day be your husband?

We can’t change our men, nor can we order their lives so that they never make wrong choices, or never stumble and fall. I can not work and move my husbands heart towards holiness, but the Lord of Creation can. I have to hand over the hat with the words “Holy Spirit” written across it, entrusting the heart of the one I love deeply into His capable hands.  This frees me to accomplish my calling an the one thing I am capable and called to do, PRAY!

Recently I participated in a 26 day blog challenge that was very rewarding. I would like to begin a 31 day A-Z challenge of my own and I wonder if you would consider joining me? You can participate on your own in private, or join in publicly on your blog. I would like to take the next 30 days to concentrate on my husband while developing the discipline and habit of lifting him up to the Lord. Each day I will choose specific things, (mine will correspond to the letter of the day as possible) to bring to the Lord in prayer. As you are led, would you participate in your own way? If you are single, please join us! Oh how I wish I had prayed for David before I knew him. Being a young man in this fallen world is not easy. Satan is a deceiver, a wicked lion who stalks and devours our husbands, sons, pastors, and leaders.

How amazing it would be to have hundreds and even thousands of women around the world lifting up their men to the Lord in humble, loving, God honoring, targeted, specific prayer each and every day. Please join me and if you feel led, pass this along via word of mouth, e-mail, at church, in small groups…..

A to Z: S is for Overcoming the Challenges of Single Life

S is for Single

Overcoming the challenges of Single life

When I was 28, I could recall a number of vividly painful moments when the world around me seemed to flaunt the relationships and opportunities I yearned for yet had not experienced. I would like to suggest a valuable piece of advice for those of you with single friends.There are certain times you should avoid telling a single woman she should enjoy her freedom and take advantage of all the amazing opportunities she has been given because she is single. Avoid these obvious nuggets of wisdom on valentine’s day, weddings of siblings or close friends, major holidays, or when 90% of her friends have just left for a special “couples only” retreat. If you are brave enough to do so, be sure to protect your face while bracing for the dreaded “Hairy eyeball” because it is coming!


Myth: I am Lonely because something is missing from my life.


For years, I dutifully attempted to exploit the benefits of “single awareness day.” Honestly, I did enjoy my freedom but many days loneliness and uncertainty pushed my faith to the edge. An entry from my journal describes the emotional battle I engaged in so frequently as a single woman.


8/27/00
“Life is so very interesting & complicated. Each day becomes a painful mirror into the imperfections and weakness of body and spirit…. sometimes I struggle so violently to cross over from knowledge to experience.” 


Crossing over

If you are single, how do you cross over? How do you transform your desires and emotions  so that they line up with what you profess to believe? As I walked through life, seeking God’s peace and direction, I discovered a truth that empowered me to cross from knowledge to experience. The key was found in my understanding of God’s name and nature.


The more time I spent in His word and in His presence, the more clearly I began to understanding that my single status did not interfere with His love for me or His desires for my life. Being single didn’t mean I was waiting for God’s best. God’s ultimate plan for my fulfillment and happiness wasn’t a gift that would be handed to me on my wedding day. Every new day of life I was given, whether single or married, would be filled with all the goodness and love God could give me. His offering of grace, mercy, peace, and love was the same to every one of His children. Our Heavenly Father does not withhold love.My marital status didn’t need to change in order to obtain purpose, peace, and happiness but my perspective did.


The Truth of the Matter

If it is impossible for God to lie, then I can cling to any promise of truth I find about himself in scripture. This brings me to how I overcame the feeling that I was missing something I needed in order to be content and happy because I was single.


Psalm 84:11-12was the key.


The Lord God is a sun and a shield

The Lord will give grace and glory

No Good thing will he withhold to them that walk uprightly.

O Lord of Host, Blessed is the man that trusteth thee.

Are you ready to have your faith supercharged? These verses will do just that, because they present an intimate glimpse into an amazing attribute of your Father’s nature. These revelations provide a foundation you can anchor your desires and dreams upon.  Verse 11b is an integral key to the kind of faith able to sustain and empower you as you accept the Lord plan for your life.


Verse 11 states that each morning the Lord is present and ready with “every good thing” you needed in order to get through the day. Christ faithfully prepares and will pour out upon you, to overflowing, all the strength, encouragement, wisdom, and blessings you need. Anything truly necessary to navigate through the trials & temptations, joys & sorrow, excess & need today is at your disposal. Your loving Father is there with it all, so that tonight you can testify to the world and for the Glory of God,


My Father has withheld nothing!”


As a single woman, some of the emptiness I struggled with was the result of an attempt to peer into the future to see if God’s will lined up with my desires. By doing so, during momentary periods of discontent, I trampled over hills and valleys paved with His Grace, Glory, and Blessings.


As I struggle to be content with my life (yes it is still a struggle today), the Lord still uses these verses to rebuke me with the truth, my emptiness is the result of a self-imposed, narrow sighted, earth-bound vision and a failure to look at life with spiritual eyes.


My prayer has become, “Today Lord,  give me eyes to see, that I might not miss even the smallest blessing that you, in love and Mercy, have prepared for me.” These verses spoke to me as a single woman and they still minister to me today. This promise sustains me as a mother of three when my days consists of mounds of laundry, disappointments, and mundane trials of life.


We should never hesitate to enter into the presence of  the God who formed and knew us intimately before we uttered our first cry. As we place our will at his feet in humble submission, may we never lose sight of the fact he has all ready given His best, His most precious and beloved Son. He will withhold nothing of lesser value.


When you have unburdened your heart and submitted your will to His, do not forget to gather up your basket with faith unmovable, and eyes set to the heavens. Purpose to recognize, accept, and receive  “every good and perfect gift” prepared for your life by the Creator of the Universe. You may be missing a ring, an invitation to a couples party, evenings with company, but you are not missing the key to happiness, peace, and fulfillment.


How full will your basket be tonight when you lay your head upon your pillow? Did you see, accept, and use all he prepared for you today?


What are some other myths about single life you struggled with? What advice can you offer to women enduring the challenges of single life?


What truth about God encourages you heart, chasing the shadows of unbelief away?

A to Z: Overcoming Through Love


Love

Love is not an emotion.

Love is consciously choosing what emotions

I    allow    to   rule   my   heart,   soul,   spirit,   &   body.

Love  is not  given because  the  other  is  worthy,

Love is poured out because it was given to me

When I wasn’t worthy.

This is love

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love,

I am nothing.

3 If I give away all I have,

and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love,

I gain nothing.

4Love is

patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant 5 or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends…

I Cor 13:1-8a (ESV)

It is easy to display love, when others love you in return, but what happens when your heart is wrenched from your chest, ripped in two, and dropped at your feet? When you have been betrayed, crushed, rejected, insert your hurt here, how can you be expected to endure, believe, hope, and bear your pain while dishing out love in return?

I found myself struggling with this thought a few years ago when someone I loved hurt me in a way I never thought possible. In my stunned pain, sorrow, and grief, I never stopped caring, but my hurt made believing that the pain could ever stop long enough for the damaged pieces of my heart heal, seem impossible? I would never have dreamed of walking away from this relationship, but how was I supposed to bear the burden of my pain without insisting they feel, carry, or pay for what they had done? How was I to hope for healing and restitution when it seemed I was doing everything to make things right, while they went on with life, as if nothing had ever happened? How was I supposed to endure through my sorrow while they remained oblivious to how broken and hurt I was? Was my love really expected to never falter or fail?

I still loved this person, but it wasn’t a healthy, vibrant, enduring love. I went through motions, said the right things, declared I had forgiven, but for all my actions, I gained nothing. Our relationship was not repaired, my heart was still broken, and I was dying within. On the outside everything looked normal, but inwardly I was nothing loveable. I was angry, fearful, suspicious, and proud! I went through the motions and actions so no one thought less of me, but my actions were meaningless. I was not demonstrating true love. I was a loud, clanky, noisy, FAKE cymbal!

As I sat on the couch one morning, in desperation, I cried out to the Lord for mercy. I needed Divine intervention and power to break free from the bondage that was slowly sucking away my life. The Lord heard my cry and He broke my heart. It was not a merciless destruction, but rather a tender, and loving fracturing of a sick heart by a Master who understood exactly what had to be broken before it could be healed.

One image He brought to my mind was the picture His Son hanging broken, bloody, forsaken, and unrecognizable on the cross. When did I love you Jody, He asked? You loved me before I was knit together inside my mother’s womb Father. How much goodness, righteousness, and holiness existed inside you when my Son hung on the cross for you Jody? None Father, I was entirely sinful and lost with nothing inside me worthy of your love or regard. Did I require perfect love from you before I demonstrated and gave my perfect love to you my proud child? I choked back sobs as I thought through I Corinthians 13 and the vivid picture of His love in action on the cross. He bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things as he hung on that wretched tree. His Love NEVER failed. He never wavered, never hesitated, He never considered getting down, weighting his actions against my worthiness.

He was not asking me to do something new, He was asking me to give the exact same gift that had been given to me, Love Without Fail. I could heal, forgive, bear up, endure, believe, and hope by loving as He had loved me.

Unconditionally, Selflessly, Completely, Sacrifically!

I had been given a choice and an ability to deny feelings of anger, fear, suspicion, hurt, and bitterness. I was empowered with the ability to choose to overcom with real, true, genuine love! Not the hollywood, 50/50, until you hurt me, until it stops working, unless the fuzzies go away, unless someone better comes along, kind of love! He was asking for the selfless, bloody, bruised, broken, glorious kind of love that breathes life into every being it comes into contact with.

With His stripes I was healed.

For His love covered a multitude of my sins.

Through His love I have earned to overcome and love.

A to Z: Overcoming Insecurity

Insecurity

1. Not sure or certain; doubtful

2. Inadequately guarded or protected;unsafe

3. Not firm or fixed; unsteadyLacking stability; troubled

4. Lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety

When I was a teen, I came across a story in the Readers Digest I will never forget. The setting was a small village in the Middle East. In this village lived a handsome young man who’s family was both wealthy and prestigious. His presence caused quite a stir among the single women when it was announced that he had begun the search for a bride.

This town was filled with many beautiful women. Some of these beauties possessed great wealth of their own, while others could claim only beauty. This town was the home of another figure. She walked with hunched shoulder. Her eyes remained fixed sullenly upon the ground as she shuffled silently by. She was the brunt of the scorn and criticism of all the other single women in the village. When speculation and wagers rose regarding the lucky bride this man might chose for a wife, the name of this dejected girl was never suggested, unless it was to make  her the brunt of a cruel and heartless joke.

The record for the largest price any father in the village had ever received for a daughter, included four camels. Would this man’s offer equal this? Weeks passed and soon word got out that the man had made his choice. For days the single woman eagerly spied from behind their windows, in the hopes they might see this dashing young man approaching their tent. They diligently searched their father’s eyes for any clue that he had been the honored recipient of a generous  marriage proposal.

For days whispers of “Did you hear?” or  “Do you know who?” flew from household to household yet the name never surfaced. Then a mysterious woman arrived. She appeared to be a stranger yet she looked vaguely familiar. She was gracious and beautiful, commanding the attention of everyone she met. She was stunning in every manner, and her eyes brimmed with the confidence and poise of royalty. Word soon got out, this mystery woman was the lucky one chosen by the young man. Who was she? Where did she come from? Wait, isn’t that ……… the villagers began to mutter? Their surprise was replaced with wonder but nothing equaled the astonished reactions when they received the next piece of news regarding the couple. The wealthy, dashing, handsome young man had paid not four but seven camels to make this outcast his bride!

A wise man from the village approached the young couple weeks after their marriage, no longer able to resist the mystery of the seven camels and the woman’s transformation. Why did you offer seven camels for the outcast of the village he asked? The groom smiled and looked lovingly at his bride. I watched my wife go about her life when no one was looking, scorning, or mocking her. I saw a beauty and worth inside that no one else knew existed. She was like a flower not yet bloomed. I paid seven camels for her because I wanted her to know how beautiful, worthy, and priceless her life was. My gift was but water to a thirsty flower, enabling her to thrive and be who she truly was inside, the woman you now see before you.

Insecurity, we all struggle with it in some form or manner. I have struggled with insecurity my entire life. Everyone I met became my personal measuring stick. No matter how spiritual, athletic, friendly, or successful I was, there was always someone better. I was a prisoner to my insecurity, and it transformed me within and without, but not for my good.

Years later, I look back upon those insecure years and realize how distorted my focus on life had become. I was looking to broken and fallen mankind for worth, value, meaning, and acceptance and they could not provide that. The broken can not heal, the sinner can’t save, the unrighteous can’t make righteous, the blind can’t lead.

I was like that hunched and dejected woman in the story who’s life was transformed by the unspeakable gift of a lover. I was bent and marred by sin, yet He looked upon me with love and paid the ultimate price to give me a new life, purpose, and love. He who was Beauty and Holiness, Majesty and Glory, sacrificed His most treasured Son, that I might  be transformed. The day my heart grasped the extent of the sacrifice the King of Glory made on my behalf, my life was transformed. I belong to Him now, not for the price of seven camels, but for the price of His Son. He is my beauty and confidence. His pleasure is now my desire and aim. Because of His love for me, I am learning to overcome my insecurities. Because of His sacrifice, a desire courses withing my heart to please Him, not man. Praise the Lord for His unspeakable and priceless gift that liberates me from the bondage of insecurity. May my life reflect the reality of His Gift and Love for me!

“9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you,

asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will

in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,

 fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work

and increasing in the knowledge of God.

11May you be strengthened with all power,

according to his glorious might,

for all endurance and patience with joy,” Col 1:9-11(ESV)

God’s amazing timing

Trying to get back into the swing of things, but three children 6 and under make finding time hard : ) I have had a few request regarding the “Just water the camels” story and my courtship story so I thought I would repost the story that I have had published in a few magazines and try to piggy back from there with excerpts from my book.

My love story actually starts with a story…

January of 2002, I was sitting in our living room with my parents and brother. My dad and brother worked for the same company a few miles down the road and they came back to our house every day for lunch. Our lighthearted discussion switched to the not so cheerful topic of the upcoming tax season. In the middle of our discussion, my dad exclaimed, “Brian, have you changed your number of dependents?” In less than a second, dad’s innocent question triggered some rather astute female intuition. The resulting effect was a very excited and harmonious exclamation from mom and I “You’re having another baby!” Brian scowled and turned red, while my poor dad apologized profusely for letting the secret out. Questions flew at my brother faster than he could field them but soon, the wall clock chimed mercifully providing my brother a means of escape from the barrage of questions that rained down upon him. Mom followed Brian out to the car, pumping him for any other information he had about grand baby #4. I remained in the house, cleaning up the mess left over from lunch. As I placed the dishes inside the washer, my mind was a whirl of thoughts and emotions. Suddenly I found my excitement for Brian and his wife veer unexpectedly, changing to feelings of sadness, longing, uncertainty, and anger.
When mom returned to the house, she was practically floating on air, her excitement over grandbaby number four radiating from her face. The tears and emotions that weighed heavily upon my heart made me feel guilty and frustrated and I kept my back to my mom attempting to hide them. Her female intuition kicked in again, and sensing something was wrong. She walked to the sink and gently put her arm around me and said “What’s wrong sis?” I turned and with tears flowing freely exclaimed, “When will it be my time?” I would turn 28 in a few months, and contrary to my dreams and aspirations, I found myself the lone child still living at home. In the span of 3 years, I had watched my best friend court and marry my brother. I had been a spectator as many other friends I knew courted, all of whom were younger than myself. It was hard to sit back and watch as romances bloomed, engagements were announced, weddings showers were thrown and babies followed. My mom was married at the age of twenty, and I had always expected that by 25 I would be married and holding babies of my own. As I neared my 28th birthday, I began to realize marriage may not be in the near future and possibly not in my future at all. My single status became the source of sever trials and saddness in my life. Many times I felt as if I had fallen overboard into a vast and dark sea. I was exhausted to the point of despair from fighting the waves of dashed hopes and expectations that assailed me on a daily basis. More than anything else in life, I wanted to be a wife and mother, but it seemed this gift was being bestowed upon everyone but me.

I was almost twenty eight and as the possibility of marriage seemed to fade, a new struggle emerged. If I was not going to get married, what was my calling in life? Where I was supposed to invest my time, energy, and money? My parents suggested I find something I enjoyed doing, so I got a job at a hospital and began the process of enrolling in a local medical program so I could finish my nursing degree. The Lord was faithful and gave me grace and strength as well as an amazing family that encouraged me. The Lord did given me a peace in my heart concerning my single status, but the emotions and longings never went away completely. I experienced days of amazing contentment and joy, but there were times when the desire awoke in my heart and the longings overwhelmed me. The day Brian announced the anticipated arrival of Biddle #2 was one of those days!

I remember hearing about the concept of courtship and embracing the idea of allowing God to bring the right one along in His own time. I decided to trust Him, but I think I had the expectation that doing so would get rid of all the longings and struggles the single life posed. The decision to wait and trust is in some ways was harder because it takes great faith to relinquish the role of seeker/finder while taking on the role of one who “waits.” When I dated and moved in and out of all the church single groups, my focus was always upon finding the next “possibility.” When I committed to waiting on the Lord I was forced to shift my focus. My gaze had to turn from what I wanted and did not have, to what I did have and what I could do with it. I had placed my trust in the Lord and in exchange, he required I become a worthy steward of the blessing and gifts He chose to rain down upon me each day because I was single. The verse that became my anchor during my early to late 20’s was Psalm 84:11-12

The Lord your God is a sun and a shield,
The Lord will give grace and glory,
No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
O Lord of Host, Blessed is the Man
That trusteth thee.

My daily challenge became this-

Seek the Sun and appreciate the shield. The sun gives light and direction and it provides life and growth. Accepting God’s “not now” was accepting his plan of growth and purification in my life through the trials I faced as an older single girl. Accepting God as a shield was also accepting and trusting His protection of my heart and soul and future. As God said not now to me and my dad said no to young men, the years of waiting was preserving me for God’s amazing best, not the feeble and limited “best” I day dreamed about.

His Grace and Glory. Our lives are meant to bring Glory to God and God alone! Regardless of our state, whether single or married, as long as we accept His grace and carry our burden in faith, God will be glorified and we will be strengthened.

No good thing. Most importantly, the Lord showed me that He prepared for His goodness to be showered down upon my life so much so, that it could be said every day, “On this day, God withheld nothing that I needed for happiness or success or survival!” My challenge was to find, claim, and treasure each blessing He gave. The fullness of my basket at the end of the day depended upon the eyes I choose view life with, and whether my hands accepted with grateful obedience what chose to give. If I was distracted by the desires of the future, I would become blind to and miss the blessings of today. If I looked at life with limited, blind, and earthly vision, not only refusing but also unable to take what the Lord chose to bestow, I would find my basket empty each day. It was important for me to not loose site of the fact empty baskets weren’t because God didn’t hear my pleas, was unable to grant my petitions, or because he simply failed to give, but because I failed to accept what he lovingly chose to give. God knows what is best and “His Best” is ALWAYS what he gives to his children when they live their lives in faithful obedience to him.

– – – Now, back to the story. 🙂 Flash back about 6 years to the summer of 1996. I was sitting in a hotel room with my mom and two other ladies. We were all on our way to the North Woods where my brother was a drill sergeant for a basic training. Both mothers had a son in unit 12 and we were having a sweet time of fellowship as each woman discussed the changes they had seen in their boys over the space of the eight week basic. I remember one mom in particular. She talked about her handsome, smart, athletic son named, David. Her description sparked my curiosity but that only lasted until she disclosed his age, he was 18 years old and 5 years younger than myself. I don’t recall ever seeing him during the promotion and I spent my time visiting all the friends I had worked with in the kitchen the previous year. His mom and his existence totally slipped from my memory when we left the North Woods and returned home, but as it turned out their family started going to our church.

Ironically, the following summer I was asked by our pastor’s son to help run the game time during VBS and wouldn’t you know it, David was in charge. I remember my first impression of him was one of extreme frustration. The guy would not say a word to me. Each day I would approach him and ask what we were doing and what he wanted me to do but my efforts were rewarded with indistinguishable mumblings. While I struggled to make myself useful, I kept myself busy chasing away a handful of young flirtatious girls who kept finding their way out to the game field with some excuse or the other so they could be within eye sight of this new guy fresh back from ALERT. Although he never batted an eye at them or reciprocated their childish advances in any way, I was sort of disgusted with him and how foolishly these young girls were acting over this kid who did little more than mumble and who never said more than 5 words to me.

On the evening VBS was wrapping up, Pastor Scott called me over and completely bowled me over when he apologized for all the rumors that had been flying. I looked at him totally clueless about any rumors so he enlightened me. Apparently, because of our close proximity with each other during VBS, it had been assumed that we were an official item and a courtship was brewing, if not all ready happening. I burst out laughing over the absurd idea. How could this annoying “kid” and I being the source of such ridiculous rumors?! I assured Scott no offense had been taken and once again I ushered the existence of David from my thoughts.

– – – Flash ahead a few years to the day David’s dad announces his courtship to another young lady at our church. I remember not being surprised because it had been pretty obvious they were headed in that direction. Even thought I added their names to the growing number of younger friends who were courting or newly married, I was truly excited for them. In the swirl of emotions, I was left wondering “Would anyone ever notice me?” “Would I ever know what it was like to have a person ask for the opportunity to win my heart?” Not surprisingly, while romance was flying through the church, my struggles with being single got harder. I struggled and fought to keep peace and contentment in my heart, but it was HARD!

Over the next year or so David’s courtship and eventual engagement began to unravel. In the beginning of 2002 his engagement was called off and the relationship ended. Because of David’s friendship with my brother, I knew a little about his struggles and hurts during this time. I felt badly for him and the pain he had experienced during his relationship. I greatly respected him for how he handled the situation. I had seen a growth and sensitivity develop in his life through his own fiery trials, and a maturity which our pastor had commented exceeded some of the men he had pastord. I remember standing alongside my mother the day his mom quietly asked us to pray for him. She explained the engagement was over and he was in Arizona with a friend seeking the Lord guidance and some healing…

Her words evoked a number of emotions. One was sadness and an other concern. I had known many men who walked away from the Lord when their relationship with a lady fell through and I felt a burden for David and felt prompted to pray the Lord’s protection over him. Funny enough, as I prayed that the Lord would bring healing in his heart aI also asked that the Lord bring the right “young” lady into his life when it was time. Never for a moment did my heart awaken to the possibility of relationship with him, in my mind I think I still saw him as an 18 year old kid.

David will tell you he remembers sitting on the ledge of the Grand Canyon being overwhelmed by its beauty and grandeur. He remembers musing upon the fact that the God, who made the landscape before him, was also the God that had made him. David knew this amazing God could take care of him and the desires of his heart. He told the Lord he believed he had placed the desire to be married in his heart, but that he was not going to go looking. He exclaimed to the Lord, almost in frustration or a dare, that if God had someone for him, he would have to put her in his back yard… The Lord is amazing and does not work according to our time table, and this became evident as my future love story was written. The year David and the young lady from church started courting, the Lord had pretty much placed us in his back yard!!! We moved into his little town and were just 5-7 minutes away from his home depending upon who was driving : ) After we moved, our family had been placed into the church Shepherding group his Dad was a leader of, and our family went over quite frequently for outings, bible studies and cookouts. I had also enrolled in a gospel doing chalk art class, and happened to be in these classes with his little sister. So, the entire time David was away, courting this girl and spending time with her family, his family and ours got to know each other very well and we became close friends.

May 25th 2002, four months since asking my mom “when will it be my time?”. I had just worked the night shift at the hospital and was supposed to drive to my sister’s house so I could help her get the kids dressed and to church. After falling a sleep at a red light, I realized I was too exhausted and decided to head home to sleep. When I got home my parent’s were in their room so I down at the kitchen table and ate a bowel of cereal. My parents, completely unaware of my arrival, bantered back and forth about something as they went about their Sunday routine but I was too exhausted to notice. I never heard a word they were saying and without any thought of their extremely erratic and hyper behavior, I went to bed. When they returned from church I was all ready up. They both continued to act very oddly and almost in unison asked me to accompany them on the back porch swing. I accepted the invitation, my foggy brain still clueless anything was out of the ordinary. (those of you who have worked split shifts know how tired and out of it that kind of schedule makes one : ) The phone rang and my dad jumped like he was expecting someone and he sprinted inside to answer it. A few minutes later, he stuck his head out the door and told us he had to go on an errand and would be back soon.

He left and mom asked me to walk with her so we strolled around the yard making small talk. About fifteen minutes later my dad returned, they once again they ushered me to the back porch swing and asked me to sit. As soon as my backside hit the padding, my dad jumped up and exclaimed, “shall we tell her?” With that he disappeared into the house returning with an Eddie Bauer bag. With a smile on his face he exclaimed “Jody, someone has asked if you would “Water their Camels.” This question is a whole other story and there is no time to go into it, but it comes from the story of Isaac and Rebekah and it was a challenge my mom gave me back in 1995 concerning my single years. This simple statement was their way of letting me know someone wanted to court me.

To my surprise, dad announced that the man was David Watkins. (At this point I had forgotten the age difference) As I sat shaking, holding the camel in my lap, my dad explained how everything had taken place, including meetings I knew nothing about. He asked if I has any questions and he answered everything I asked about David. I trusted my father and wanted to be open to his wisdom or insights in my life and future marriage so I had asked my dad’s counsel regarding possible suitors. Dad’s approval of David spoke volumes to me and I if Dad thought him worthy, I was willing to give him a shot at my heart, so I agreed! My parents and I went out to eat to celebrate and afterwards dad made a phone call to poor David who had lain on his bed awaiting an answer the entire time. Our courtship began May 25th 2002, we were engaged July 9th, and on November 2nd 2002, we were married. (I was 28 David was 24 : )

– – – Fast forward to the following year, January 2003. I stood in the living room of my parents home, almost exactly a year to the exact day that I asked my mom “when will it be my time?”. I handed her a Boyd’s bear figurine of a grandma bear holding a grandbaby cub and let her know our first child was growing inside my belly and due in September!

Nothing was ever withheld, I had at times just refused to hold what my sweet Savior wanted to give. His timing was perfect, the wait without regret, the story and man I received a beautiful and amazing story and gift. Look for the treasures each day, they are there!