Friday, July 31, 2009

Born of God

"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:12-13

Read that verse a few times-slowly. Children born of God. When I think of that, when I think about that, I think it's so much more than the "born-again" experience we Christians make it out to be. We get all excited when someone accepts Jesus as their savior, we get excited and happy about it ourselves. We walk around, all excited because we've made a commitment and we're now a Christian. And that's usually about as far as it goes. But this verse really made me pause this morning,because it states right there, plain as day that our relationship with God is so much more than a moment. It's so much more than that of a God and a follower. It's that of a child and parent.

Let's think about that for a minute, because it states volumes. I remember when my daughter was first born, and so many people stopped by to visit us. Often times, these people were people who watched me grow up, or had grown children of their own. Each one of them would hold Abigail and ooh and aah over her, and then tell me to cherish every moment, because they grow so fast- before your eyes and before you know it, and then they're gone and on their own. And while they were correct in telling me to cherish every moment, I have to beg to differ about children just being gone. As long as my children are alive, I am going to be their mom. That is a unique relationship that simply doesn't go away. They can hate me all they want as they go through their running-around years, but that doesn't change the fact that I am still their mother, and no matter what they do, and no matter what happens, I will always love them with all my heart, and I will always pray for them. I don't just stop being mom all the sudden.

God is just like that. He doesn't just stop being God, and he doesn't leave his children. Maybe for a time, his children run around and do their own thing, and maybe for a time, the child cries out about how much they don't want to hear what their father has to say, but you know what? He's always there, ready to listen again, ready to welcome His children back. And He always wants us to be happy, healthy and full of joy.

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:9-11

God loves us, just as a parent loves their own children. I think about these verses, about the snake and the fish, and I know just how God thinks. Abigail's birthday is coming up, and it could be really easy to just walk down the aisle and throw this and that into the shopping cart, and think that maybe she'll like it. Instead, I take my time. I look for just the gifts that are going to bring her joy, I look out for just that one thing that is going to bring the biggest smile on her face. I don't just pick up and give her random junk. And I know that God is the same way. He doesn't just give us junk, rather, he wants to give us the best of the best, and he wants to dote on us... except that a doting father doesn't just lavish gifts, usually, a doting father also has an excellent relationship with his children. They spend time together, they talk, they go on adventures together- and God wants the exact same with us. God wants to dote on us, and lavish us with the best gifts, but he also wants to spend time with us. He doesn't just want to be a Sunday Daddy, He doesn't just want an hour or two of our time Sunday morning. He wants to be a part of our lives, each and every day.

Because I suspect another thing about God. Just as I miss my children when they are away from me- for even a few hours- God misses us when we're not spending time with Him. He has so much to share with us, but first we need to give Him some of our time. Sometimes, that seems like it's asking an awful lot, I mean, we're all busy people. Except that there will always be more time. Always. We will always have another minute, another hour, another day, another week, and another year. But there will never be another yesterday- we can't go back and change a thing, but we can make changes so that the days ahead are wonderful and full of joy.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

As David Did

David was such an example for us in so many ways. Every time I read a snip of David's life, I can't help but be amazed.

45" David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword. " 1 Samuel 17:45-51

David knew God with all his heart. He knew that God was with him, and would fight his battles for him. Yet... he didn't just sit by and wait for God to do the work. David did what he knew how to do. In this instance, with Goliath, he didn't know a thing about fighting with a sword or wearing armor. So instead of putting on armor and bearing a sword, he wore his sheepherder's clothing, and grabbed his sling and some stones- tools that he used every single day while protecting his sheep. And God used David in such a mighty way. David single-handedly gave the Israelites courage, and gave the Philistines fear through his one simple action- of swinging a sling over his head and throwing a simple stone with it.

And even better than the victory at hand, David allowed himself to be used in a situation that is shared with others-even today. Even thousands of years later, we tell the story of David killing Goliath, and every time we tell it or hear it, we bolster our faith in a God who prevails and will use the smallest stone to fell the largest giant.

This is such a blessed reminder that God will use us if we allow Him to. Not only that, but He will use us in a way that we already know how to do. Let's think about someone who is ill- how about appendicitis. If I come across this person with appendicitis, God isn't going to bless me with the sudden ability to diagnose, operate, and treat appendicitis, (which is usually treated by removing the appendix). Instead, God is going to use an ability that I already have. In this case- prayer. God could use me and my ability to pray to cause the faulty appendix to start working again.

Right now, we have a giant before us, I freely admit it. I'm trying not to focus on this giant, and instead, focus on the God who is going to take care of this giant for us. It's really frustrating to me that we haven't found an acceptable place to live yet- and our deadline is clearly looming. Yet... yet, I have such a peace, because I know that God placed this desire to move in our hearts. He had to have, because there is nothing else I would rather do less than move. It's remarkable to look back over the past year and see how each major decision we've made over the last year has gradually brought us to this place where we are know. And I know in my heart that God has the perfect place for us to live. I keep telling myself that. We look at place after place, and we're just not finding where we think we should be, which can become discouraging. But then I remember David. God brought David to the exact place he needed to be at the perfect time. God took care of the whole situation and used David in a mighty way.

I will learn from David, and I will do what I know to do in this situation. I will load up my sling with prayers and fire them away. I will pray that God will reveal to us the perfect place at the perfect time, and that we will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, which place is the one for us.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness " Psalm 23:2,3
for his name's sake.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: Real Health Care

"Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

As I come to the blog this morning to remind all my blessed readers to pray for President Obama and his family, it seems very fitting that I have just come from a discussion about praying for revival. Revival is coming to our country, and it totally fills me with faith and encouragement to hear that it's not just our little group of intercessors praying for revival- there are other groups, just like us, around the country, praying for the exact same thing. We all have the same purpose and the same intentions- to pray for the revival fire to sweep across the nation.

And as I'm thinking about this impending revival, my heart is getting stirred up for it. I want to know what it is like to break through to that point! I want to know what it's like to be worshipping and all the sudden we're there, we're to that point where God says "Don't Stop" and so we keep on going- day after day, we're in a state of praise and worship and adoration corporately. And as we participate, people come from all over, because they hear that God has showed up and they have a physical need to be healed.

*Big Grin*

And that is where my discussion on revival ties right in to praying for President Obama. A person would have to live under a rock to not know that major legislation is being written to give our health care system in this country an overhaul. Whether I am for it or against it is beside the point, because the real question is if we're going to need this health care overhaul. What if, instead of turning to man and our government to provide for us, what if we turned to God instead- the Ultimate Healer and Giver of Life? Think of it! Think of these revival fires breaking out all over the country, and someone gets sick, and instead of going to the hospital for extensive surgeries and care and staying for weeks at a time- a faith in God is stirred up and the person goes to church for an instant and immediate healing! Health Care indeed! That is the real answer to our nations health care problems!

So this week, I am praying for wisdom for President Obama. I am praying for Godly Wisdom, that he makes the right decisions regarding our nations health care. We also need to be praying for the legislators who are writing up the health care bill-even as I write this. May God strike them with the same Godly Wisdom, and create a piece of legislation that makes sense and gives the people of this country some peace about the future of their health. The lawmakers who are putting this bill together are also working long hours into the night- may God give them energy and strength to see their task to completion, without the fatigue that causes poor decisions and choices to be made.

And while we're praying for those legislators to not be fatigued, let's also pray for strength and energy for President Obama. Can you imagine what it must be like to be on the job all the time? I mean, I sort of am as a Mom, I could be awakened at any hour of the night by a child in need, but that is a rare exception, not an everyday occurrence. Imagine being president and being woken up every few hours by some pressing development overseas, or only getting a few hours of sleep, because you have meetings to attend on the other side of the country. It's got to be exhausting to be president, and I just pray that God will bless President Obama with energy and strength, and erase any fatigue that may try to creep in and hinder him from doing his job. He is God's servant to this nation, and may he be blessed for his willingness to be that servant.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aaron's Staff

1" The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron's name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites."

6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron's staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony.

8 The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD's presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff.

10 The LORD said to Moses, "Put back Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die." 11 Moses did just as the LORD commanded him." Numbers 17:1-11

Aaron's staff was one of three things that ended up being placed in the Ark of The Covenant. And you know, as I read verse ten there, it strikes me that the buds and blossoms this staff produced, probably did not wither. They probably stayed green and vibrant, as a perpetual reminder to everyone of God's intentions for the leaders of His people.

But what about that staff? What does it actually represent? We see that Aaron's staff was the only one of the twelve that sprouted- and not only did it sprout, but it also budded, blossomed, and bore ripe almonds- all stages of growth were represented on this staff. This is what God desires for His people- growth. Aaron was chosen because of the righteousness he was displaying in his life- and undoubtedly, what was in his heart. And I think this staff speaks such encouragement to us today, because not every area of our lives and heart is going to be perfect and full and bearing almonds right away.

Let's think of the fruit of the Spirit.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22,23

The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of God in our lives. I can look at myself and see exactly where the fruit is being tended, yet each one is in a different stage of growth. God is the vine, and we are the branches- and each branch is meant to bear fruit. Yet that fruit goes through a process of growth, and where I may have joy in spades- I may have a full grown almond of joy, I also know that patience is but a bud, and love is beginning to blossom, and gentleness may just be beginning to sprout.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

A few weeks ago, I may have been discouraged about the whole bearing fruit thing, because I'll tell you, as I know God has been working on me a lot during this season, I guess there was a part of me that just figured that one day I would wake up a completely different person. I figured that one day, I'd find those verses in the Bible or attend that service that would completely transform me and turn me into the person I am to become. The truth is, that doesn't happen very often. Mostly, everyone goes through a process- and we all have different fruit and different gifts in varying stages of growth. So while I may look across the way and see that person who has a full grown almond of faith, I can take encouragement in knowing that person did not start out with all that faith- it sprouted, budded, blossomed, and then formed fruit.

I think it's also worth mentioning that bearing fruit doesn't just happen. Just as a fruit tree needs nutrients in the form of rain and sunshine, I need nutrients in the form of scripture and prayer. I need to keep my heart and my mind out of trash and where they need to be. In the example of a fruit tree, when trauma occurs to the tree- say an animal nibbles at the bark a bit, or a hailstorm damages some blossoms- then extra care and extra nutrients need to be added. An extra boost of fertilizer may be added to promote the good growth to grow over the bad growth. So when I feel myself slipping, it's time to try harder to get into the word more, maybe read a few books written by Christian authors to help boost my soul, rather than strip it of the good.

So I will no longer be discouraged. I think the devil uses this to his full advantage, and I will not allow it. I think he shows us those people who have put in the time and are bearing much fruit, and he whispers to us that we'll never be like them, we'll never pray those prayers of the faithful the way that person does. That is all hogwash and false thoughts. God loves each and every one of us and wants us to bear His fruit to the fullest. And when our eyes, heart, mind and soul are on him, our staff will change. We will bear fruit in some areas, and we will bear sprouts, buds and blossoms in other areas, and He wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Talk About Stretching!

"Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever,
For they are the rejoicing of my heart." Psalm 119:111

We had a wonderful week camping last week. It was so relaxing and wonderful, and I have to laugh, because so many people have commented on how I must be exhausted after a week of camping with my family. *Smile* It is just so wonderful to take a week and relax. We worry about nothing, and we only do what we want to. We wake in the morning when we want to, we got to bed when we want to, we even lie down and take naps if we want to. Sometimes we eat three meals a day, and sometimes we eat two with a snack here and there. There is no pressure to do anything, and I just came away from this last week feeling so refreshed and ready for more of whatever is going to be dished out.

I confess though, that the best part about the whole last week? Was coming back and reuniting with our church family. I'll tell you, it was just so sweet to walk back into church yesterday morning, and realize that I had missed all these people while we were away! Missing a few days of church wouldn't seem like a big deal, but I guess it was! Our worship team was dwindling yesterday morning, as it is summer and people are away, but by golly, our little group made the most of it, and worship could not have been more wonderful if the whole group had been there. The tell-tale sign though was when our Pastor started giving the message, and it was about one of the very things that we had been discussing over the last week- how great is God to share exactly what is on our hearts and minds! Before church was even over, I was ready to come back for the evening service, which surprised me, because after a long week, I had planned on sending Andy alone.

The evening worship was just as sweet as the morning worship, and then we did something completely different- and something that could have leaped right off the pages of a book I'm completely absorbed in. Our Pastor selected people from our church to just come up and share something that was on their hearts for the church. Now let me confess completely and honestly. When he first said what the order of business was going to be for church, I started up that fervent prayer in my heart that I'd heard about just that morning. "Dear God, do not let him pick me- I have nothing to share." As I made my way to my seat after worship I felt comfortable as the first person was called up to share. I truly did have nothing to share- I felt as if I was there to receive whatever everyone else was going to share. The second people came up and shared something, and then the third. And it was while the third couple was up there sharing about patience that I started squirming, because I suddenly was reminded of a passage in the Bible. Only I didn't know where it was.

So there I was, quietly in the back at church flipping through a few books of the Bible, because I just couldn't remember where it was- the whole time, I'm listening intently to what people are saying and just being blessed by all the testimonies of what God is doing in people's lives. I finally found the passage I was looking for, read it quickly, and then settled back, feeling like I'd done what needed to be done. A few more people spoke, and then Pastor got up and started to talk a little bit, and I felt a big wave of relief wash over me, we were done, and I had not been called on. But you do know, of course, that God has a crazy sense of humor? Sure enough, Pastor says we're going to wrap up, but first Andy and Erika need to share something. I almost passed out, I swear to you. I expected to hear just Andy's name- my husband is a talker and good at it. Seriously? I needed to share something?

So I took my Bible and the passage I'd found and shared a little bit about that- and I think I'll dive more into that here tomorrow, because I totally bumbled up what I had meant to say at church. I think I completely missed my point, and I'm horrified to think that what I said is there on the archives, just waiting for anyone else to see it. But the whole point is that I did share something! I shared something, and my husband shared something, and I didn't pass out or get struck down with lightning or anything. And there was a highlight to the whole experience- because I got to pray for blessings over my church family- and that was truly special. I've been so blessed by the people in our church during the time that we've been there, and I think that may have been the point- that may have been why Pastor called me up there to share. Sure, what I shared may have meant something to someone, but it really was the prayer- the prayer for love and encouragement to encompass those who have loved and encouraged me.

I also learned firsthand the importance of testimonies. I'm reading a book about that very thing, so expect to see more about it in the weeks to come right here on Heart & Soul, but as each of these people shared some of the things that God has been talking to them about, I felt my personal walk with God grow. There was something about the way these people spoke about how God has done something for each and every one of them, that just bolstered my faith, and made me think that indeed, God is a loving God and He IS watching over us with every step we take. In fact, my faith was so bolstered, that I truly couldn't fall asleep last night. I just felt such peace about our whole moving and finding a house situation- because God does know where we will end up and how we will get there. And he will bring it to light when the timing is perfect. I'm calling on a house today, in fact. Will it be the one? Who knows, it could be like the last few I looked at, but I know that each one I look at brings me closer to where God wants us to be- and that is exciting! Hearing the stories last night... hearing how God brought someone love, just when they needed it, patience, just when they needed it, family, just when they needed it just proved to me in more ways than one that God knows we need a home, and he knows we need to pay for it- and just like that, He will provide for all our needs, and I have complete confidence and peace about the whole situation.

I love my God. He has such a way of bringing things to light... He truly does work in mysterious ways, and I don't think I would have it any other way.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Goin' On A Bear Hunt

"But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it." 1 Samuel 17:34-35

Boy, God sure speaks in mysterious ways sometimes! Just now, I sat down, prepared to not write a whole lot this morning, but prepared to share how I'm getting ready to go camping for a week. It's a bittersweet vacation, because the kids are really looking forward to a week in the woods. Andy and I not as much, because Andy won't be there hardly at all. He has to work this week. We'd planned our vacation way back in February, and it certainly isn't a problem with Andy's employer. But we're going to be moving soon, and that takes funding. We had planned on moving at the end of September, but we were told it must be the end of August. We then faced a choice, either the whole family could skip camping or Andy would just spend the weekend and then come home and work for the week. We simply can't move in a few weeks without that income. So my wonderful husband is going to work while the kids and I play in the woods. It's bittersweet because it would be much more wonderful if Andy was there, plus this is the only vacation we get to take this year, and he has to miss it.

Anyway, I sat here, debating what to write when I started singing this song, Going On A Bear Hunt. It made me laugh at first, and I just kept thinking about scriptures to share on rest and quiet time, but I kept hearing Junior Asparagus singing about going on a bear hunt. So on a whim, I went to Bible Gateway and typed in "bear" and got the verse above.

Let's think about what David did for a minute. We've all seen bears and lions. Either in the zoo or on TV, or maybe even in the woods in person. (Maybe not so much the lions, but there are definitely bears in the woods.) Can you imagine what it takes for a man to grapple with a lion or a bear and wrestle a lamb away from it? Really think about that for a minute. A bear, trying to devour a lamb- it's sustenance is going to be horrendously mean and vicious as you try to take it's food away. Yet David speaks calmly about it, that when a bear tries to take a lamb, he wrestles the bear and kills it. Just like that! And I guarantee, David had no bear hunting rifle.

This next week, the kids and are spending time away from the bear. We're spending time away from civilization and worldly things and just relaxing and enjoying the nature that God has created. And we're so looking forward to it. We're going to reconnect with family and God and focus on what is really and truly important. It's going to be wonderful.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

He Knows Me Better Than I Know Me

"would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?" Psalm 44:21

"God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us." Acts 15:8

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

I had to laugh at myself the other day.

We're in the process of looking for a home to live... and this is pretty taxing, but I have to keep reminding myself that God knows exactly where we are going to be, and when the time is right, He will present it to us. In the meantime though, we're looking at houses, driving past houses, and inquiring on yet a few others. The other day though, we thought we found "the one". We found it by accident while driving around- and it was in the country. Anyone who knows me knows of my thoughts and dreams of having a monster garden and raising chickens in the country. So I was sure this house was going to be perfect. The one thing it lacked, was that it didn't get us all that much closer to where we want to be, yet it was a little closer, and we had the whole thing justified before we even looked at it. And then we went and looked at it.

The house itself was nearly perfect, and I could have easily seen us filling the space with no problems, and having the room we're so desperately wanting. Except that everything else about it didn't feel right. Funnily enough, the thing that totally distracted me was a little critter. Well, actually two little critters. We were outside looking at the property this house was on, and we went to look in the covered parking space. It wasn't a garage, but covered parking, and it was quite obvious that a gaggle of pigeons had made it's home there. The thought of being dive-bombed by pigeons going to the car everyday totally grossed me out. And thinking of all the bird poo having to be cleaned off, and I could also tell the birds scared Zander a bit.

And then we looked outside, and wandered over by the sandbox that was there, and the owner mentioned the gopher holes IN the sandbox. I swear, I almost felt woozy, thinking about my kids digging in a sandbox where there were gophers digging. And then, as I'm staring at this sandbox of horror, a ground squirrel zips out across the yard from the house, and I just had this overwhelming sense of not wanting to live there. We drove away feeling disappointed that this house wasn't going to be for us, because the whole family knew it wasn't for us without even saying a word to each other. We weren't even down the road very far when Andy and I both shared that God must have something better for us out there. And then the kids shared their surprising dislikes, so we checked that one off and are moving forward, eager to see what God has in store for us.

But I keep thinking about those critters! I have always thought I wanted to live in the country, so I can have the space to tend the gardens I want to tend and grow an apple tree or two. But you know... I have to say, animals come with the territory, and I don't know that I actually want to live in the country if it means dealing with all those animals! I think it's crazy that after all these years of wanting to live in the country, that maybe I was just fooling myself. Because then as I'm thinking on this surprising revelation about myself, I'm remembering that I've been a city girl. Growing up, when we'd go on vacation, I always wanted to go to a city or a town. Always! And when I think of some of my favorite places in the country to be- Washington DC and Minneapolis...yup, they're both cities. The other day the kids and I were driving around Appleton, looking at different neighborhoods and getting familiar with street names, and we were talking about the benefits of living in a bigger city over the small town, and I'll tell you, I don't know who was getting more excited- the kids or myself?

So the moral of the story here is that maybe I don't really know myself as well as I thought I did. I need to remember that I have a God who loves me and knows me, and He loves and knows my family too. And He will put us exactly where we need to be for a season. I trust Him for that. I am going to trust that He knows us better than we know ourselves, and when the time has come, the perfect home is going to be there. Sure, I would feel better knowing where that is yesterday... but I am going to praise Him just the same, because He will provide for all our needs, and I am going to praise Him and thank Him for all He is about to do for us, because it is going to be wonderful.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: Economics

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:21

It seems that money and finances tend to be on many people's minds these days. And how could it not be? Every time you turn on the news or load up a major news website, the headlines are spouting off about the status of the economy, and there just isn't any good news. Predictions keep talking about sloughing off the recession sometime this year, but it sure doesn't look like that is going to happen. And yet...

And yet, I wonder what would happen if our nation took it's eyes off the dollar and Wall Street. Why, everything we do is for the dollar. We work our jobs to earn money so that we can spend money. We need money to function, and when we're not working for our money, we're trying to figure out what we can do to get more of it in other ways. When I look at a dollar, do you know what I see? I see "In God We Trust", it's still there, and I so pray it stays that way. Way back when money started being printed and designed, and that was put on there, in a way it was our entire nation stating that God had our backs. That we were going to trade in commerce and handle money knowing that it all comes from God. And I know that mentality has shifted and changed. We no longer look at our money and provision as something from God. Instead we use it to boost ourselves and affirm ourselves- look what I did, and things like that. As a nation we need to shift our mentality from thinking about ourselves and the almighty dollar, and think about those around us, and our Almighty God.

So as I pray for President Obama this morning, I really feel the need to pray for wisdom for him regarding the financial state of the nation. As I read about what is going on in Wall Street and Washington, I can't help but feel concerned about all the decisions that are made regarding economics. It is only through Godly revelation that the economic recovery is truly going to come about. Only God can fix the deficit which is growing by the second, and only God has the perfect economy for us, if we are only willing to trust in Him once again with our dollar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gratituesday: A New Morning

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22,23

Can I be simple this morning? I'll tell you, this morning, as I laid in bed, trying to decide whether I should get up or lie there for a few more minutes, I thought about what I should blog today. I thought about my other blogs which are getting sorely ignored this summer, and I thought about the plans we have for today. And then I just smiled to myself and thought about how wonderful it is to have a new day before me.

And that's when I knew what to blog about this morning. Today IS a new day. It's a completely new day, and a world of possibilities is before me as we choose to go about our day. Will today be the day that we find a new place to live? Will today be the day that I have a great opportunity to share my faith? Who knows, but one things is certain, today IS the day that the Lord has made. How can I not rejoice in that? Every day when I wake up, I get to wake up and get out of bed and greet the day with the mood of my choice. Why not begin it with joy and gladness?

Have you ever noticed,(if you're a parent, I'm sure you've noticed), how wonderful your kids are first thing in the morning? Even as Abigail goes on nine years old next month, I still love waking up and seeing my kids in the morning. The first thing I want to do is give them a hug and a good morning. I absolutely love it when they come into my room and jump on the bed to wake me up. Yet as the day wanes on, often times, I find myself really looking forward to bedtime, because this mommy has had enough being mommy. But then the next day comes, a new morning, and we get to start all over again.

Last week, the kids and I started some school activities. I'm calling it summer school for their behalf, because really, it's for all of us to get used to Mommy being the teacher. I can't believe how well it's going. We've been starting around 9:00 in the morning each morning, and last Friday, at 8:30 or so, Zander was begging me to start school for the day. How can I not love that? Today we're taking off because Abigail has dance this morning, and I think both kids were disappointed a little with that. I am so grateful that God gave me a plan for this summer school time. So grateful! It's gotten all of us more comfortable with the idea of homeschooling. The kids are seeing that learning at home can be wonderful and fun, and I'm seeing that I can have the confidence to actually teach my children!

So this morning, I am just going to be grateful for the smallest thing. I am grateful, this Gratituesday, for the new day and the new morning. God is faithful, and tomorrow we will have another new day to tackle. But today I am going to enjoy this day, this new day that God has created. I wonder what He has in store for us today.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A Purpose For Fasting

"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:6-10

I'm laughing at myself this morning. And I'm probably going to be a bit long-winded because I have multiple things rolling around in my head this morning. The song up above is because I woke up singing it. I woke up this morning singing "greater things have yet to be done" and I thought about a lot of the things our pastor said yesterday, and it just totally fits with where our church is headed. It made me smile as I woke up this morning. And I suspect in the weeks to come, that song may show up here more than once, because it really is very fitting.

It's very fitting for my life as well, because the last few days have been such a roller coaster for us. We finally made the decision to move our family, and decided to do it on our terms and in our timing, and we were informed that our timing wasn't good enough, so for a few days, we've been kind of scrambling, looking for a place to live. At the same time, while we've been past a few places for rent, this voice is in the back of my mind telling me "don't settle". So where my first instinct may have been to look for any place that would fit a minimum of criteria, I'm completely trusting that God has the perfect place for us. We do have our eye on one house, which doesn't fit our criteria of being very close to church, but it meets every single one of our other criteria, with an added bonus for us that we weren't looking for. We'll see. Rumor is that the rent payment is higher than we want, but last night Andy and I both felt such a peace about the situation, and we know if we're meant to live there, God will make it happen. If it's not the place for us, we can take great joy in knowing that God has something better for us- and that's remarkable to think on, because this house is pretty close to perfect- at least from outward appearances.

And that kind of leads me to the verses that I posted above. Which also kind of makes me laugh at myself a bit, because it really wasn't that long ago that I was talking about fasting here on Heart & Soul, and talking about how it just isn't for me, and how I'm not so sure people should be doing it. I had a lot of accurate points and talked about the nutrition aspect, and how people like myself get physically in a very bad way without food. But then God spoke to me in church one morning and our pastor did a whole message on fasting and opened my eyes to the idea that fasting is not just starving oneself. There's the whole aspect of utilizing your fasting time to draw closer to God in meditation and prayer, and then there's the whole idea of fasting not necessarily being about food. I found TV to be an ideal fasting medium, fasted for 30 days and then was delivered of basically a dependence on TV. I seldom watch anymore, and have very few programs that I watch. It's wonderful to not be controlled by watching certain shows on certain nights and keeping up with this or that.

Anyway, the fasting. A few days ago, I was preparing my lunch, and deciding what I wanted to do with lunch. Sometimes I sit by the computer, sometimes I read, and sometimes I read my Bible. I read entirely through my Bible in 100 days by reading just at lunchtime every day. But lately, I have been reading other things. Well, I felt strongly that I should read my Bible on this particular day, and so I set my Bible on the table and went to the kitchen to grab a few other things. When I came back with my lunch in hand, there was a sight word flashcard smack dab in the middle of where I needed to put my plate. It simply said SEE. Truly, it was not there beforehand when I first set my Bible there. In fact, the sight word cards were out and on the table, but they were all in the box, save this one, which I had found being used as a bookmark earlier in the day, so I just set it on the box to put away later. I stared at that word, and I just chuckled, and wondered where in my Bible I should turn to see, because I know that God stirred up the breeze that blew that card into my spot.

I thought about this for a little while, because I felt that wherever I was going to turn, it was going to be important for me, and I had been toying with just turning to one of Paul's letters, but then I thought about what I've really been talking to God about lately. I've really been seeking answers as far as dreaming goes. I know God talks to me in my dreams, and I want to better understand what He's saying. I also know that as I get better at listening to God in my dreams, that I can help other people discern their own dreams- and I actually had an opportunity to do that just the other day! It was exciting, and so I thought about dreams, and I thought that I should open my Bible to the book of Daniel, because Daniel was a dreamer and an interpreter, and where better to discover some of the mystery of dream interpretation than from an expert. So I did that, and began reading right in chapter one, and this is what leaped off the page to me:

"Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 "Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see." 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.

15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.

17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds." Daniel 1:11-17

And as I read on in Daniel, I found other instances where Daniel was seeking after an interpretation, and seeking after answers, and he spent time in fasting and meditation and prayer. And I just felt a very strong feeling like I needed to seriously consider this fasting thing. It wasn't an accident that that card SEE was in my spot, and it wasn't an accident that I chose to turn to Daniel. God wanted me to see that, to read that, and understand the key to understanding my own dreams. It says right there, that after these four men fasted for ten days in their vegetable fast, that God gave them knowledge and understanding- and Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. And that's so what I want.

For a few days I've been thinking about this idea of fasting- and my first thought was trying to figure out where I had ten days of not much going on that I could maintain a vegetable fast. The actual veggie fast will actually be a piece of cake I think for my veg-head self, especially this time of year. It turns out, it's been no accident that I was lead to this specific idea of fasting at this specific time. See, next week we are going camping for a week, and that is no time to be doing a fast. However, a few weeks after our camping adventure, we have a conference that we're really looking forward to called Breakthrough Revival. I've really, really been looking forward to this conference, because we're after our own breakthrough here, a breakthrough on several different things that we've been talking to God about. And wouldn't you know. We come back from our camping weekend, unpack, and from the following Monday to the first day of the conference is... ta da... ten days exactly. Coincidence? I don't think so. I'm fervently after my own breakthrough, and am going to be going to this conference expecting God to do great things, what better way than to prepare according to His Word?

And as I prepare for fasting, I also can't discard other things the Bible says about fasting. Isaiah 58 is an excellent example, because it isn't just talking about eliminating something or not eating for several days. It's also talking about taking the time to open my eyes to the need around me during my time of fasting. I don't know what that means for me regarding my fasting time, but I do know this, that I will keep my eyes and my heart wide open. I have purpose for fasting, and I can pretty much guarantee that I never thought I'd hear myself say that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

There's Always Signs And Wonders

"For he is the living God
and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
his dominion will never end. 27 He rescues and he saves;
he performs signs and wonders
in the heavens and on the earth." Daniel 6:26-27

Everything on earth is a sign and a wonder. When is the last time you looked at the starry sky at night? That right there is an amazing wonder. Look at the sun that lights up the day- sure, it may be a great ball of gas, but think about it, as you stand in the sun and feel those hot rays on your body. Think about how many millions of miles away that sun ray had to travel to come in contact with your skin. Yep, that's a wonder!

Our God IS a living God, and He certainly will endure forever. My heart gets a nice warm fuzzy when I think that His kingdom will not be destroyed ever- but it's an even bigger warm fuzzy when I read that he rescues and saves. Because that gives me hope- it gives me hope that so many of the unsaved people around us will eventually come to know Him as their Lord and Savior. And what better way than through signs and wonders?

I'll tell you what's a wonder to me. Tomatoes. Specifically, heirloom tomatoes. Because they were created so, so many years ago. And do you know, when God first made that Green Zebra tomato plant, he knew that specific tomato would bring me joy when I grew the plant myself? God knew that! God knew, when he first designed the first tomato, that someday there would be wonderful varieties and breeds that come about, and he knew how much pleasure I would get from tending heirloom tomato plants. That's just so incredibly cool to think about.

In everything, I give God the praise and the glory. As I tend my garden and see to the needs of my tomato plants, every time I see a new tomato form, I thank God for his wonders that are all around me. I thank God for the little wonders that are in my children, because every day they show me what wonders they really are.

"All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: "What have you done?" Daniel 4:35

God does as He pleases, but you know what? I know that He loves me, more than anything, and I know that when He does as He pleases, it is to bring delight and joy to His children. Would a father do any less for His children?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

After His Heart

"Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God." 1 Chronicles 22:19

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts." Psalm 139:23

I know I've posted this song before, but we sang it last night at church, and it spoke right into the very core of my being in a big way. Even listening to it this morning is giving me goosebumps, so I thought I'd share a bit about why it's doing that, because it makes me smile.

Over the past few weeks I've hinted at changes and decisions to be made here on the blog, but I haven't shared specifically what's been going on. I guess I can share more of what's been going on. A few days ago I shared that a huge decision had been made by Andy and I, and that huge decision was indeed a tough one to make. We've come into agreement that God has something more for our family, but it's not to be where we are. In essence, we are preparing to move. We had originally planned on staying right where we are for much longer, but over the last year, our hearts have slowly but surely been turning southward and out of the small community where we are currently living. I'll admit that we suspected this might happen when we started attending a church that was 40 miles south of us, but what I didn't expect was how intense the feelings in my heart would become.

I want to be closer to our church home for many reasons, really. It would be much easier for Andy and I to help out with different things within the church if we lived closer. He's helped out with a few projects here and there, but it's really difficult for him to give up that time to go do them- it's a full hour in the car to go both directions. When I have worship practice on a Saturday, I'm not just giving up a few hours, I'm giving up a few hours plus a whole hour of drive time. And then there's the precious fellowship aspect, we simply don't do it much. We can't just pop out for ice cream after church Wednesday nights because we have a bit of a drive, and the kids are already tired and ready for bed. And more than anything right now, I think that Andy and I are really, really missing our small group that we hosted for years, and we want to be able to do that again. Right now, that's pretty impossible as we live so far from those we would fellowship with.

At the same time though, we still have friends and family here in this small town, and when I think about moving away from some of these friends, I get a little choked up. We may not see them often, but our dearest friends are here- the people we know we can call on if ever we need them. We're certainly praying that somehow we manage to continue these friendships as we move farther away.

The point of today's post though, is not to talk about our impending move really, or the reasons for and against it. But the point is that when I came to the conclusion that a move might actually be happening, I started looking for the best place to move to. As I've been looking at available places, I've been quickly discarding those with only 3 bedrooms, and those that are listed as duplexes, because that's our current situation, and let me just say this: I'm tired of listening to neighbors through the wall. So I've been looking for better than what we are in now, and really haven't been finding it in the areas that we are looking. We have time, so I'm not stressing about it, but at the same time, it would be nice to have an idea where we're going...

But then last night, oh, last night was so sweet. We had a wonderful family church over the weekend, but I sure did miss our home church. It felt so good to be worshiping with our church family. We happened to sing one of my favorite songs last night, and then we started in on the one I posted above. And as I was singing the words "I am after your heart, I'm after you." I felt...something. And I realized something very important, that our move, our moving south isn't about us. It's not about us moving on to something better and living in a better home than the one we have now. It's about moving to where God wants us to. I have always said that when we move out of this house, it's going to be for something spectacular to get us to go through the moving process. And last night, that thought was completely shattered, and honestly? I don't care that much about what we move into. I care some, as an apartment is clearly not at all for us, but if we end up in another duplex, similar to what we have now, I am going to thank God for that, because in the end, what we want is to be in our precious Fox Valley. We want to be where God wants us, and if that's in a farmhouse in the country with land, we will rejoice and be glad. But if God wants us in a duplex in a city neighborhood, we will rejoice in that as well. I can rest in knowing that wherever we end up, it is going to be EXACTLY where God wants us.

That's what's giving me goosebumps this morning, because I'm not just saying all this yada yada about not caring where we move to. I realized last night in my heart that I meant it when I sang those words "I'm after your heart". I want what God wants for my family, and I know He's preparing the very place where we will be living, and I'm so excited for Him to reveal it to us. It's going to be a sweet ride over the next few months, and all along, the ultimate goal will creep forward as well- and that is to know God more, and know what He has for us.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: I Had A Dream

"I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word." Psalm 138:2

I had a fun dream last night. *smile* I had a dream that a well-known evangelist/revivalist took my hand and told me to hold on. Then he grinned at me and we started soaring and flying, and as as we were flying around in the air like birds we could look down and see how beautiful the earth was. We could see how wondrous the earth was that God created, and we could rejoice in it. And so as I wake up this morning, thinking on Warfare Wednesday, it is with joy and praise to an awesome God that I remember to pray for our President and other leadership.

See, for the past few weeks, it's almost been something I don't want to do. I sit here and I encourage myself and maybe a few others to pray for President Obama and some other pressing matter or two, but does it really make a difference? I'll tell you what, the devil wants me to think that it doesn't make a difference, and since I know that he is a liar and a deceiver, I choose to believe that Warfare Wednesday IS making a difference.

As I pray this week for wisdom and protection for President Obama and his family, I can think about my dream last night and think about this beautiful earth that God has created, and realize that only by praying for our leadership will it stay that way. Only through prayers of protection and peace will this country continue to avoid the ravages of war. Only through prayers for wisdom and knowledge will the next big thing in green living come about. Only through my prayers and my waiting on the Lord, will smart legislature go through to further protect the beautiful country God has given us.

He's given us such a wondrous place! Where else in the world can you stay in your own country and in just a few days you can visit tropics, polar ice, desert, forest, city, country, wetlands, and canyons miles across? And he's filled this beautiful country with beautiful people who are just as diverse as the land is- and you know what? He loves each and every one of them!

Only, God doesn't just love Americans. He loves every single person the whole world over, and doesn't want to see a single one lost to darkness. So as I pray this week for President Obama, I am going to continue to pray diligently for Godly wisdom for him regarding his foreign policies. This week he's been meeting with Russian leaders, and now he will head to Rome to meet with the Pope, followed by a G8 summit on climate change, and then the President will head to Africa. May he see these nations, these people through God's eyes, and may he seek to effect positive change in the nations who need it most.

And this week, I know I talked about it last week, but we really need to continue to pray for the small nation of Honduras. The country is still in a holding pattern, and demonstrations this past weekend led to the first fatality in the whole situation. The US government and the UN is still recognizing the ousted president as the official leader, and the whole situation just still needs to be covered in prayer. The people of Honduras acted in accordance with their Constitution and are being punished the whole world over for acting accordingly. So far the region remains peaceful, but on guard. Let us pray for continued peace, and that democracy and God will win in the end.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pressing In Together With An Open Mind

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14

I was going to do a Gratituesday post today, because I'm still grateful for the wonderful weekend we just had with family. This was one of those weekends where there just wasn't any tension. There was no elephant in the room that people weren't talking about, and there was just nothing to get abuzz about. It was relaxing and calming and wonderful to spend time with loved ones. But as I thought about posting about that this morning, I really felt like I needed to go deeper this morning. So if you're looking for a few somethings to inspire you to be grateful, don't forget to check out the weekly event at Heavenly Homemakers.

What I wanted to talk about is really about how God speaks to Andy and I sometimes as a couple. There have been many times over the last few years where it clearly becomes evident that God is trying to tell us something, and then we regret that we hadn't noticed it earlier. Sometimes it's also difficult for us to identify when something is just for us, and when something is for both of us, or our family. We especially notice that God is trying to get a message across when we're both in a season of pressing in and pressing forward. And we both have definitely been doing that lately.

Last year, early in the year, I really was experiencing discontent with our church situation. It just wasn't feeling like it was somewhere I wanted to be. I quietly kept that to myself, because I thought my hubby was happy where we were, and as the head of the household, I thought that in one regard, in where we go to church, he was going to have the final say. Lo and behold, half a year passes, and it comes out that we were both feeling the same discontent. Had we only thought to mention it our talk about it, we could have spared ourselves a lot of unpleasantness. Of course, God uses everything, and we made important decisions and changes, and you would have thought we learned a lesson about telling each other when we were experiencing a shift in our mentality about something.

Apparently we didn't learn our lesson very well. Well, maybe we did, because over the last six months we've made a lot of changes and decisions for our family- the big one being the transition to homeschooling this next school year. For the most part though, we've just been quietly gliding along, trying to get deeper into God's Word in our own ways. Except that for the past while, I've had that feeling again. That niggling in the back of my mind, the discontent with a situation, and I really thought it was just me. I really thought that it was something I needed to discard and ignore and just be grateful with the circumstances. At the exact same time, Andy's been feeling the exact same thing, and has even been discussing it with other people, looking for confirmation, but not wanting to share it with me, in case we don't agree I guess. (I know that was my reasoning.) Well, last week on our drive out to my aunt and uncle's house- we have 3 hours to talk during the drive- I finally brought up what has been bothering me. Wouldn't you know, he kind of starting laughing and said that he had his confirmation right there. It was crazy. We both went from being apprehensive about a situation to totally agreeing and making a huge decision.

Once upon a time, my husband thought he was being called to be a Pastor. He was getting a little frustrated, because he really felt he had that calling, and I really felt that he didn't. (I still feel that, by the way.) In his bit of frustration, he had a discussion with my great uncle, who is a Minister. My uncle told him that when God calls a man to be a pastor, he also calls the wife. So when the time comes for me to hear that same calling, then he will know that he has found his calling. And that totally made sense to both of us. I still don't think my husband has a pastoral calling over his life- I just think he has been confused that the calling to minister is not the same as the calling to be THE Minister. Andy certainly has an appointment with God, but what it is has not been revealed to us. The whole point of this little bit here is that when God speaks to a husband and wife, He speaks to both. He speaks to both people- sometimes individually and in very different ways. It's communication between the husband and wife that can bring the confirmation that both are craving.

And so, with a big decision made, yesterday I took the biggest step of faith and did what I needed to do. And we'll see what happens. God indeed has plans for us, and we're going to continue pressing forward to see what He has for us. We're pressing in for the prize, and along the way, we'll take whatever journey God wants to give us.

Monday, July 06, 2009

An Absolute

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24:35

I wasn't sure what I wanted to blog about this morning as I sat down at the computer. We just wrapped up spending a weekend with family, and we had such a wonderful time. When the kids are practically in tears the whole ride home because they're sad about the weekend ending, you know they had a great time. It was a bittersweet ending to our weekend, because on one hand, we were looking forward to sleeping in our own beds again, but at the same time, we had such a wonderful time with family, that we wished it could have gone on forever.

I bet we got a little taste of heaven this weekend.

In fact, I know we did, as our family numbers this weekend headed into 30-some people, we all decided to have our own little church service instead of hustling off to a nearby church. And really, the comments were made about how some small churches don't even have that number in attendance, which makes our family church something rather remarkable. I can't really describe the joy that was present as our extended family worshipped together Sunday morning- there was definitely a sweetness and a presence in the air. While we were already family, and related by blood, we're also all related by the power of the blood- the blood of Jesus, which was shed for each and every one of us. God showed up at our little service on the river's edge, and I think everyone took away something important for them in their own way.

I was thinking about the wonderful weekend, and also thinking about a dream I had in the night last night...

Well, I wasn't going to talk about it, but the verse above seems to fit it. I've had dreams before about tornadoes. In fact, I've always had nightmares about tornadoes, all my life since I learned what tornadoes were. A long while back, before I knew that my dreams could tell me something, I had a dream that a tornado came through our small town and leveled everything around us, except for where we were living. Even the other half of the duplex we are in was gone, but our half remained untouched, and our yard was untouched. I remembered that dream, and learned later on that it meant that we had God's protection over us in any storms to come. That as children of God, we had no need to worry about whatever this world had to dish up to us, that we would handle it, and God had our back.

Last night's dream was long those lines. I was in a parking lot when I watched a tornado form right before my eyes and start heading towards me. I was walking with my brother and mom, and there was one other person there, but I'm not remembering who it was. It was moving fast a furious, and there was no time to seek shelter, and I remember having a sense of doom, a sense that there was no escaping the path of this tornado. So instead of fleeing, we all huddled, and I started singing. I started singing a song called "You are Good", and then my brother started singing along, and before we knew it, the tornado passed, and we were still there huddled on the ground singing this song. We were untouched and unharmed from the tornado that had aimed straight for us.

I think this dream has the same meaning, but a little more intensely. What I remember of that tornado was that it was dark- very dark and sinister, kind of like an evil cartoon tornado. There were feelings like it was trying to get at us, and trying to tear us apart limb from limb, but in reality, where we should have been terrified and trying to run away from the tornado, we stuck our ground and began praising God. We praised God in the midst of a terrible and sinister storm and came away unscathed.

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24:35

No matter what happens, no matter what life may throw at us, no matter what the devil tries to send after us, I am a child of God, and my family, and those in my home are under the protection of the Most High. God Almighty is our protector and our deliverer, and in Him will I trust.

"In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation." Isaiah 25:9

When I think about this dream I had last night, I have many options when it comes to it. I could spend my time focusing on that tornado. I could be looking around at my circumstances with my eyes wide open, trying to identify what this looming tornado is going to be. I could be perched and prepared and on guard for it, and in a sense, I suppose I am. But instead, I am going to focus on the praise. I think as long as I stay the course, and continue praising God with each and every breath I have, that maybe this tornado and what it represents won't even have a chance. If I praise God in every storm, and every waking second while I live and breathe, I will be so focused on Him and what He has for our little family, that anything the devil may try to send after us won't have even have a faint shot.

And I praise God for that. I praise Him for his never-ending protection. I praise Him for what He speaks to me while I sleep, and I pray that I will be able to put what He tells me to good use, and not let it fall on rocky ground.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Time Has Come!

I love this song, and I think it more than appropriate to think on it as we roll into Independence Day weekend. It makes me want to dance and celebrate and praise God all the live long day!

"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?" Deuteronomy 4:7

I'm really looking forward to our weekend. We'll be heading out tonight to spend time with family for the weekend. This is always one of our favorite weekends of the year, as we get to reconnect with extended family who we only see once a year. This year we'll also get the added blessing of spending time with my grandparents, and to me that is always extra precious.

So as you go into this celebratory weekend, I just want to remind everyone to not be fooled by the commercial aspect of Independence Day. It's one of the two holidays that our whole country celebrates because it supposedly doesn't have any "religious" connotation to it. But let's remember that our country was founded so that we could have the freedom to worship The Almighty God. Wars have been fought, both on and off our soil to ensure that this freedom is ongoing. We can remember the fallen heroes, and the great presidents of the past who kept their focus on heaven and what God's desire for this country is. Let's remember to love God with all we have this weekend, and thank him for this truly beautiful and remarkable country we live in.

Be blessed this weekend, and may you be filled with the joy of the Lord.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Warfare Wednesday

"I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." 1 Timothy 2:8

"For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete." Deuteronomy 6:15

This week, as I continue to pray for safety and Godly wisdom for President Obama, I also want to turn my prayers to prayers of thanks for the Iraqi people. As the Iraqi military slowly takes over the control of cities in the country, the people in Iraq have been filled with joy. It has to bring a great deal of pride to these people, who not too long ago were living in a dictator state. I am thankful to God for the joy these people are experiencing as they witness these exciting days for their country. At the same time though, there is the looming threat from next door for the Iraqi people, and I want to pray for safety and peace for the people of Iraq. There are still plenty of Shiites in the country, and with the just next door, willing and able to fund the Shiites, it wouldn't take much for an uprising to test the new Iraqi military posts. May God give the Iraqi military the strength and wisdom they need to prepare for such an instance. And may he give the people of Iraq abundant joy and peace as their country moves forward.

On the other side of the globe, let's send some serious prayers in the direction of the country of Honduras. The situation in Honduras is dire and on a precipice. When you look in the news and look at papers here in the US, the situation and the truth of it is not shown at all. In the little country of Honduras, there has been a President- President Zelaya who hasn't been a very good president. In fact, he went so far as to try and change the national constitution so that he could stay in office indefinitely. He had backing and encouragement from other world leaders, such as Chavez, Ortega and Castro. Well, the little nation of Honduras has decided to fight back! And the people have declared this president unconstitutional and the military peaceably removed him from office and a temporary president was installed. The Hondurans want democracy and peace, and there are peaceful demonstrations all over Honduras indicating as much. The people have been joyful to have this threat of a dictatorship removed...

And the UN and the US and other nations around the world are calling for the restoration of Mr. Zelaya to the presidential position. Sanctions are being applied, and the border nations are closing their borders to trade. Yet this tiny little country and the people within her are crying for their freedoms and for democracy. There are serious threats coming at this country who only wants her peace and freedom- and the entire world seems to be against this? Something is wrong here, and the Honduran nation needs our prayers so, so badly. The military has actually instituted a draft, and is reported to be driving around to the villages and rounding up every able-bodied young man who can serve his country- which is a constitutional action, so appropriate, but the mere fact that it is happening is causing concern among the people. And our country, our United States, which stands for democracy is supporting the ex-president who would be dictator. The whole situation just doesn't make any sense, and it could very well be that that area of Central America is getting posed for war. Clearly we need to pray for Godly wisdom to infect everyone involved, and we need to pray for protection for the Honduran people. We need to pray for President Obama to see the truth of the situation and to help this small country who only wants her freedom.

I have tears in my eyes this morning as I think about this small country being thrust into a fight that should not be. I am praying for a quick resolution, and that the world may see the truth. And in case you are wondering where I am getting my information from, it is from a lovely woman on a bulletin board who is actually living in Honduras. She also shared a link to this blog, where you can see some of what is going on first hand.