When the Heart Kneels

My husband recently had a “bro night.” Apparently if girls can have girl time then guys have bro nights; you know, equality and all. Usually I’m not interested in whatever activity is taking place but it just so happens that they decided to go see a movie that I had been anticipating the release of for awhile. I find that the universal theme of heroism resonates no matter the age or gender. The movie industry banks millions, probably billions, of dollars a year on movies that show the selfless act of an individual towards another. So it is no surprise that the recently released movie “American Sniper” is destroying the competition and breaking opening records for this past weekend.

Now this is not a pro- or anti- military post. It is not pro- or anti- war. It is simply to be used as an example of our deep love of heroism. It can be found outside of the military lifestyle; in selfless acts of protecting others in school shootings, terrorist acts, or risking one’s life to save another from fires, car wrecks, or countless other life threatening situations. But seeing as how I pull from my personal experiences (ex-military family members, Texan, etc…) then this movie made me think the most about sacrifice.

If you had a chance to read my previous post “When the Heart Grows Legs” then you’ll know I was sharing the sacrifice our heavenly Father made to send His Son Jesus to a dying world. The heartbreak and anguish of a Father seeing His perfect Son given to the world for its sins. I wonder now if you would look at the Son and his choice.

Imagine if you will the son choosing to sacrifice himself for others. As a mother of two boys I can not imagine the anguish that would come with having to bury one of them. I wonder if the way they die matters? Would I feel less pain if I knew they had sacrificed themselves for the greater good? Would dying a hero ease the pain that would surely wash over me every day of my life? No. My answer is NO. The pain would not be easier to take. My son’s sacrifice would be saying more about who he is and less about who I am. I would take comfort in knowing the kind of character that defined him. I would relish the thought of him dancing in heaven and being with God. But the cost of that sacrifice would be incalculable to a me as a parent. So when I hear of religions that teach other ways to God implying that His son Jesus Christ is only one of many avenues to God then honestly I’m dumbfounded. When Jesus says, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. The ONLY way to the Father is through me” well, He’s clear on how many avenues lead to God – 1.

Jesus defines the term hero – selfless sacrifice for the greater good, disregard for one’s own life to save another, an act defined by humility, honor, and bravery. He was born fully man, fully the King of Kings, and with only one thought – the redemption of mankind. At any time of His life He could have lived as an earthly king instead choosing one of servitude. At any moment of distress, He could have called down a legion of angels to fight for Him or guard Him. At the first sign of hunger, He could have turned anything into food. Instead God’s heart, His son, willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice. He said and lived by His Word:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13.

To sacrifice for your loved ones, family or friends, is a noble cause, however, He was sacrificing for the ones who would spit in His face, beat and torture Him, deny Him, mock Him,and eventually, murder Him.

I’ll close with this story:

On a rare sunny day in February, winds are blowing through the early season blooming magnolia trees, a scent of love is smelled and a feeling of warmth is created by the crowd. A man steps forward and begins to speak about love. He is frail but not aged, well dressed but not well spoken. He stumbles through his speech all the while glancing at a lady staring off into the distance. He knows what she is searching for across the tree lines, waiting in anticipation of the arrival of the one she is longing to hold.

Afterwards as the crowd slowly disperses, the man and woman stand rooted in one spot as though they are as unmovable as the magnolia trees around them. Then a young man approaches, a face of a teenage boy but the eyes of a mature man.  He holds out his hand to the man, “Sir, I wanted to thank you personally for your sacrifice.” As the young man continued in a shaky voice, “It was my life that was spared due to your selfless act of protection. I could never repay you for all that you have done for me. You will forever have my respect and love.” The father stood confused as the man turns to walk away. “Son? I don’t know you. Are you sure you are not referring to my son?”

The young man glances down as the casket is being lowered into the ground. “Well, I did serve with your son. He was a great guy. Always kind, generous with his knowledge and resources, and even willing to take the missions no one else wanted. Many around me spoke highly of him, some worshiped the ground he walked on, as though every think that came from his mouth was gospel. On that fateful day in March, it was my life that was saved as your son pushed me down to the dirt, taking that deathly hit to the heart. But I came to acknowledge your sacrifice. You and your wife did an amazing job raising him. Thank you. If there is anything I can ever do for you, please do not hesitate to call upon me.”

The father smiles, “Remember my son. That would be what we ask of you. Acknowledge him as the one who sacrificed himself for you.” The young man stares off, “I’m sorry sir but I can’t do that. You see, your son was just doing what he was told to do, it was his job to be wiling to sacrifice himself for others. I am certain there are many other ways in which I could show my respect and love for you.” The young man waited in anticipation of what other act that father would give him. A grieving father slowly shook his head no as a lone tear slide out of his eye, “The only way to me is through my son.”

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.”

Building Community Connections

Each of us are living in some form of culture whether it is based on ethnicity, economics, faith based, common interest based. Within your home there is a culture of ______ happening. I did not know until I moved to Hawaii from Texas that I had a culture. As I lived in this foreign place I realized I had very distinct ways, food, traditions that were ingrained in me. Those things competed with my current environment. So what could I do to blend both and stay true to who I/we are? When we find ourselves in a place that seems to be foreign, different than anything we’ve experienced before, God reminds us to build community. He is giving us the blueprint to succeed in a new culture. « What is your idea of community based living?» «Do you consider you and your family to be an introvert or an extrovert? And what do you do to connect with others?» «What one or two goals could you set to accomplish over the summer that would plug you into the community you live?»

Jeremiah 29:5-7

5“Build houses and settle in the land. Plant gardens and eat the food they grow. 6Get married and have sons and daughters. Find wives for your sons, and let your daughters be married so they also may have sons and daughters. Have many children in Babylon; don’t become fewer in number.7Also do good things for the city where I sent you as captives. Pray to the Lord for the city where you are living, because if good things happen in the city, good things will happen to you also.” 

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

Something I am always working on and I know it pays big dividends. Please love you husband with your whole being.

Loving Life at Home

Actions speak louder than words. You can say you respect your husband, but he’ll have a hard time believing that unless your behavior backs it up.

What does respectful living look like? Here are 25 ways you can communicate respect to your spouse without uttering a word. If you’ll make it your habit to do these things, the next time you tell your husband how much you respect him, he won’t have to wonder if you really mean it.

  1. Choose Joy
    It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. Please don’t use moodiness as an attempt to manipulate your man, but in all things rejoice, because that’s the right thing to do. (1 Thessaonians 5:16; Philippians 4:4)
  2. Honor His Wishes
    Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when…

View original post 1,356 more words

Practicing Protestant

I have this great new friend! I am so excited to be in the new beginnings of this relationship because it is similar to falling in love. All the newness: new stories, new perspective, new jokes, no offenses(yet), no disagreements (yet), no struggles (yet)…you want to hang out all the time and organize your life so you encounter each other more. I love it!

My new friend and I share so much in common. A passion for great TV shows, to become better mothers and wives, and most importantly – a passion to share what, who, and how much God loves. There is no subject that doesn’t usually lead us straight back to “And how does this work in His Kingdom and how do I model that Kingdom here?” I’ve vetted my new friend thoroughly by watching how she acts with others/her children/her husband, I have diligently spent an hour looking through and reading all her Facebook postings and photos over the last year, and even Googled her. This is a lady I hope to raise my sons around so I need to be sure that the influences I place around my children are solid in their love of God.

So imagine my surprise, a few months into this relationship, when she told me she was Catholic! Now, please don’t go off on me about Catholics are Christians too (I do know that) but I admit to being ignorant to what Catholics believe and most of my information has been based on movies. And those thoughts ran along the lines of solemn, quite, strict rule followers, ritualistic not relational about Jesus, etc…But she didn’t show up on my “nun” radar. As a matter fact, she is a kind of fresh breath of the coexistence of religious reverence and radical faith.

Here is a snippet of our conversation:

P: “So you know I’m Catholic, right?”

Me: “What???”

P: (laughing) “You didn’t know that?”

Me: “No. You don’t look Catholic. Are you a practicing Catholic?”

P: “Yes”

Me: (stunned) “I don’t even know what that means to be a ‘practicing Catholic’ I’ve just heard people ask others that question.”

And we are both laughing at this point.

Driving home by myself, pondering this great revelation, I heard a voice inside me speak “Are you a practicing Protestant?” I realized that we ask if people are “practicing” Catholics or Jews but I’ve never heard anyone ask if you are a practicing Protestant (or even more specific a practicing Assembly of God, Foursquarer, Baptist, etc…) . And looking at the country I don’t think any of us should assume that people are practicing any faith. It is a question that has been on my heart for the last week: Would someone say of me “she practices what the Bible teaches”? Sure, I got my checklist of good: Tithing (check), Regular church attendance (check), prayer before meals (check), christian friends (check), christian phrases (check).

It’s the issue of the heart, the one thing no person can see or judge but God Almighty. Do I mediate on His word day and night? Do I model it at home, driving, socializing? Do I seek it first in both joyful times and heart-wrenching times? Do I practice love, patience, kindness, humility, compassion, discernment, reverence? I didn’t like the answers being given to these questions – the true ones that I only answer in the silence of my heart and mind. I am thankful, most of all, that I don’t feel condemned but encouraged by the Holy Spirit. To wake up today, with new mercies and a blank slate, and a renewed heart to practice my faith.

What about you? Where do you need to start practicing today?

“Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

 Joshua 1:6-9 (Msg)

Suffering From Impatience? Me too.

Exodus 6:9 (NLT)

So Moses told the people of Israel what the LORD had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.

Hi my name is Christy and I’m an impatient person. I’ve been suffering with this all my life. It seems to partner itself with my need to be in control of all situations. Together, these characteristics are a force to be reckoned with on any given day. I see the improvements that the Holy Spirit is doing in me. I haven’t yelled at my children in 3 weeks, although, in my mind, I have a thousand times. It’s challenging to balance so many roles in my life, as I am sure it is for everyone.  I see myself being just as many of the children of Israel – so caught up in the harsh reality of life and the bitterness that settles in when nothing seems to be working in my favor that I can ‘t even muster enough hope, much less faith in action, to even listen to what God is saying. My current situations deafen me to hearing God’s plan.

But not only is His voice comforting, it comes with the full power of heaven enforcing (or imposing) His will into the situation. On any given day, I am in desperate need for an encounter with Jehovah Jireh, my Provider. And there is one place I am guaranteed to meet up with Him – in HIS WORD. It is life. It is the source of all hope. It is THE game plan on winning in the battle against impatience.

When the circumstances of life have you loaded down, let His word relieve the burden. It will still be difficult to move through the tasks because you can’t control everything, at least that is what I keep finding out, but you can control self and you can exhibit patience IF you have the love of God in you.  No matter how dark the times, He is light. His compassion and mercy are fresh everyday!

Following a Dream

Psalms 105:19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.

Psalms 111:3 Everything He does reveals His glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

James 1:14-15 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

As I have reflected on some of my past desires, mistaken for dreams, I begin to see that if they had come to fruition they would not necessarily have led down a path of satisfaction. Some dreams can take us captive, make us so busy and consumed with desire that it overshadows the desire to do God’s will. When I have found myself at the crossroads of my dream or God’s dream, these questions have helped me decipher what part of my decision is being made with my desire and what part is God’s calling.

1. Does my dream stay in line with God’s character? Is it cliche to say “WWJD”? Maybe. However that is exactly what we need to do.

2. Am I willing to submit to His timing and direction? Dreams don’t need to be rushed or forced. If it is of God then this particular area of time and path to take will be clear, NOT EASY, but peaceful.

3. Am I remembering to celebrate present day life? THIS is the day the Lord has made, rejoice. Don’t forget – nothing is promised for tomorrow. He doesn’t want you so consumed with the future dreams that you don’t live out the one for today.

As White As Snow?

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
says the Lord.


Powdered Sugar

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

 I will make them as white as snow.

Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.

Have you ever pondered “as white as snow”? When I think of this concept, I think of pure, fresh fallen snow…until it melts into dirty slush. Yeah, I know, not so beautiful anymore. I think about when daily poor choices turns my snow into slush, does God get irritated at me for messing up His pure, fresh snow with my crimson sin?

The other day I was making butter cookies and the last step before baking them is to roll the dough into powdered sugar. I took out a container and poured a lot out because once I start rolling that dough around in that pure white sugar then the dough is going to leave little chunkies in there that I’ll have to sift out. As I scooped several 1 tbsp size dough balls into the sugar and began to shake my container to evenly coat them, God spoke to me and said “see, as white as snow.” What I had never noticed before (I’ve made these cookies countless times) was that nothing stuck to the powdered sugar. The more I rolled cookie after cookie, the powdered sugar stayed white – fresh, clean, pure. And then I thought, “hmmm, you know, when I eat anything with powdered sugar it covers my fingers, mouth, clothes, everything in a fine dust of sugar.”

And God spoke to me – “Christy, you may be dropping sin into your life, and it needs to be sifted out, but when I said ‘white as snow’, I wanted you to know it meant always forgiven, always covered by MY love. On that day that you gave your life to Jesus and reconciled yourself to Me, nothing can change the color of MY GRACE or reduce it to slush.”

As far as the east is from the west, He has removed my sin. I don’t use this analogy as permission to do whatever I want without regard to consequences. It is a reminder of God’s love. Of the blood shed on the cross by Jesus to bring me salvation. That He has a plan for me and it is good, and delicious!

Marital Strife

2 Cor. 5:7 We live by faith, not by sight.

“Faith has its anchor in the unseen realm. It lives FROM the invisible TOWARD the visible. Faith actualizes what is realizes. The Scriptures contrast the life of faith with the limitations of natural sight. Faith provides eyes for the heart”

~When Heaven Invades Earth, Day 6 devotional.

The has been perplexing me for a couple of days. I’ve wondered to myself “how do I know if I am living by the seen or the unseen? When has my faith led me to a reality that my eyes did not see but my heart did?” Then last night Chris and I were told that some friends of ours are struggling in their marriage and that is how God revealed these answers to me. 17 years ago after an affair in my marriage, I wanted to walk away. It looked less heartbreaking and easier to dissolve the marriage and hope to one day start afresh with someone new. My thought being I would have more maturity and wisdom in the next relationship. I hadn’t seen any marriage that didn’t dissolve after an affair so the possibility of restoration in my eyes was less than slim to none. But then there was something inside, FAITH, that told me to hold on. If I was willing to plow through the seen and hold onto what I had never seen but had hoped for then my husband and I just might survive this train wreck. So we held tight, no, not to each other, but to the thought that one day we would hold each other again. This year God celebrates His work in our 20th Anniversary. For those struggling in marriage, from whatever hurt has been caused by one of you or both, settle in your hearts – individually and as partners – to keep looking for what cannot be seen with human eyes but only seen with the heart.