The Gift

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Someone brought me a gift.  They knew I loved Gardenia’s and they brought me a Gardenia to plant.  They took the time to carefully gather the roots and put them in the bottom of a grocery bag filled with fresh potting soil. It was watered and ready to be planted. 

It was time. 

But, I was busy and I put it away fully intending to get to it eventually. 

A week later, I realized it was still waiting to be planted.  In fact the bag had been ripped open and some of the soil had spilled out.  The roots were still there drying in the heat.  

It was a gift!  

I was on my way out the door to get to work, and I ran back in and asked my husband where the shovel was so I could plant it.  He knew I was in a hurry and he planted it for me and sent me a picture.   

It reminded me of another gift.  

God gave me a gift.  He knew I loved to write and He gave me a message to share.  This wasn’t a message I would have hand-picked but there is no other message in this world that gets my heart fluttering and pounding like the one he gave me. He healed me from the devastation of childhood sexual abuse, and He gave me the courage and passion to share it with others. He’s patiently walked with me and gently encouraged me every step of the way.  

It was time.  

I started the work, and then I hit a hard spot.  The hardest spot.  

And as hard as it was, I clearly saw His redemption and how he brought full circle healing to the absolute worst memory in my life.  It was gloriously painful.  

And I stopped. I closed it.  

I got busy, and I put it all away fully intending to get to it eventually.  

Just like the plant.  

The plant was a beautiful gift, but I needed to do something with it.  In order for it to flourish, I had to plant it in the rich soil, water it and tend to it. 

His gift to me also requires my attention and more importantly, my faith.  

His plan is my best gift for me, and at times I am guilty of thinking my plans are better. I am guilty of comparing my gifts to others and thinking I just don’t measure up. I don’t have what it takes. I am guilty of thinking why this gift? Why me? Why bother?

But, oh His grace.  When I think about His grace, I am reminded.  

His love and grace reminds me that He has redeemed me. He calls me by name. I am His. His daughter. He has washed me clean. I am not alone. I am wonderfully made. He knows all of my days. He has a plan, for me. By His power, not mine.  

Oh me of little faith! 

Today, I am planting His gift to me by faith.  By His strength, I will tend to it and for His glory may it flourish to bring beauty into the lives of others.  

It is time.  

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes! 1 Peter 4:11 MSG

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Crying out to Daddy

IMG_4163We had almost finished setting up our tent, when we saw the red truck back into the campsite directly beside us.  As they started to unload, the Dad came out first, then the Mom along with a toddler, a baby girl, and a large dog named Abraham who was apparently celebrating his birthday.  

Later, as we sat around the crackling fire under the stars, we heard the baby cry out from their tent, “DAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDYYYYYYYYYY.”   After a few minutes, the Mom joined the Dad and toddler by their fire. 

It was quiet and as the fires dwindled, we all made our way into the tents to rest under the dark sky.  I fell asleep reading a book on my Kindle and was suddenly awakened in the middle of the night to a familiar cry, “DAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDYYYYYYYY” and then  a few minutes later another, “DAAAAAADDDDDDYYYYYYYY”. 

The baby soon fell back asleep and I did too. Just as the sun started to rise, again I heard her belt out, “DAAAAADDDDDDDYYYYYYYYY.”  

He was always there.  He always responded.  

She continued to cry out, and he was able to quickly soothe her.

As we all settled in our tents on the second night, I fell asleep waiting to hear her cry.  At some point I woke up again smiling as I heard her cry out, “DAAAAAAAADDDDDYYYYYYYY.”  

It didn’t upset me at all to be awakened by her cries.

The imagery made me see how I go to everything but DAAAAAADDDDDDYYYYYYY. 

Do I cry out to my Heavenly Father? Yes, but not nearly enough! It made me realize I need to be more intentional to cry out to Him first. 

Cry out to my Heavenly DAAAAADDDYYYY when I am stressed.
Go to Him and be filled when I am overwhelmed and anxious.
Say His name: “Jesus” when I have a bad dream or flashback.
Whisper “Help me DAAAADDDDDYYYY!” when I am sad or angry.

For that baby girl, it was completely natural to cry out. 

It doesn’t come easy for me. 

Somewhere along the way, I believed the lie that I had to fend for myself.  
I learned to cope by crying out in other ways.
I stuffed myself with food, relationships, alcohol, and staying busy.  
I replayed scenarios in my mind and worried myself into a panic over and over.
I stuffed things deep down, and I pretended like everything was fine. 
There was no need to cry out when nothing was wrong, right? 

But, I am no longer living that lie. 

In the quietness of that tent, I smiled and whispered “Daaaaaddddyyyyyyyy.”  It literally felt like I was practicing, and I wanted it to feel natural. 

It was both awkward and beautiful.

“Daaaaddddddyyyyy.”

It was intimate, personal and real.  

“Daaaaaaadddddyyy.”

A beloved Father and His beloved Daughter, together.

And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty,” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises up within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father!”
For the Holy Spirit makes God’s fatherhood real to us as he whispers into our innermost being, “You are God’s beloved child!”

Romans 8:15-16 TPT

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The Path to Joy

We were looking forward to a fun evening together as a family. We were going to get to see a sloth! There was popcorn, face-painting and even the red carpet.

We went to the movie premiere for Amazon Arising – Joy in the Jungle. The movie took us on a journey with Jungle Jen as she traveled to remote areas in the Amazon to share the love of Christ.

Things didn’t always go as planned, and her days could be quite complicated. The weather didn’t always cooperate, and yet with each complication or delay, she persevered.  She kept her eye on the prize. She trusted God to provide and protect. It was an incredible testimony of faith and passion.

After the movie, Jungle Jen spoke and she encouraged us to do whatever God is calling us to do.  She told us to stand out and follow our passion. Many people came forward for prayer.  As the prayers were lifted, the musicians sang their three songs from the movie.

That was over a month ago, and I am still amazed at how much that experience has impacted me.  I have listened to those three songs on repeat. I’ve thought about how Jen kept going, in spite of all of the bumps in the road. Her journey was not easy, and yet her joy was contagious. She was living her passion and she loved it.

She found joy in the jungle of the Amazon. Where do you find joy?

Where is my joy and do I relentlessly to pursue it? When I experience pushback or an inconvenience what is my response? What if it is risky? Am I willing to stand out and be uncomfortable for Christ? Do I get off track when things get complicated? Are my eyes on the prize and do I trust Him to provide and protect?

My One Word for 2018 is JOY and my verse is Psalm 16:11 NIV:

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

As I was listening to the three songs, and thinking about all that was stirring in my heart – the lyrics came together and echoed this verse for me.

Papa’s Song by Susan Valles:  “Go and tell for me my child”

Rain Down by Laura Stavlas:  “Soak me in the wonder of your presence”

Anthem by Melanie Sykes:   “Joy is rising up now”

The Path to Joy is to follow Jesus.  

Instead, You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment. Psalm 16:11 VOICE

Where is your Joy? 

If you get the chance to see “Amazon Arising – Joy in the Jungle” don’t miss it! You will be inspired! The next screening is on February 11th in Wilmington, NC at Myrtle Grove Baptist Church at 6pm.

For more information visit Jen’s website:  https://www.standoutministries.com

Movie Trailer:

The Songs:

Anthem by Melanie Sykes 
Rain Down by Laura Stavlas
Papa’s Song by Susan Valles

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Praying (and Waiting) for a Miracle

I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am.  John 13:19 NIV

I wrote down my ‘miracle’ prayer requests on the orange index card and took a quick picture with my phone. I brought it to the altar and put it in the basket filled with prayers for miracles. That was in September of 2015. Part of my prayer request was answered just a few weeks later. I was ecstatic and praising God. It filled me with hope and I believed that He was going to answer the rest of my prayer on that card.

He hasn’t answered the other part of my prayer, yet.

I have been weary of even praying for it at times so I simply stop thinking about it. Why bother when it is so tender, painful and heartbreaking?  I’ve also found myself full of doubt thinking, “It is impossible. It will never happen.”

Other times, I have stood in the shower praying as the water washed away my tears. With every word, I was believing with everything in me that HE WILL DO IT. It is going to happen. I just know it!

And then, He still doesn’t answer that prayer.

I know it lines up with His Word.
I know it is the desire of His heart.
I know He put that desire in me to pray for it.
He has proven time and time again that He is faithful and He will do it.
Nothing is too big for Him.

Oh me of little faith and even less patience.

Not too long ago, I decided that maybe God could use my help. I decided I was just going to push a few buttons to get the ball rolling and take matters into my own hands.

Luckily, just before I pushed the first button, I stopped.

I sensed in my spirit to let go (again) and trust. He didn’t ask me to even move much less push any buttons. My flesh wanted “now”.

The One who put the stars in the sky doesn’t need me to set anything in motion.

He needs me to trust Him, and to obey.
He needs me to believe Him, and to pray.
He needs me to give it to Him, and let Him work it out.
He needs me to wait, and watch Him once again move mountains.
He has shown me before that He will do it, and He was faithful.

Miracle after miracle, I have seen Him work. I know He is I Am.

I believe.

And yet, my flesh makes me forget that His miracles are way bigger than me. In fact, they are not about me at all. He is working on more that I can ever comprehend or imagine. Other hearts are involved besides mine. Hearts matter to Him.

My heart will wait.
My heart will trust.
My heart will believe.
My heart will have faith.

He is a heart changing, miracle-working, mountain mover.

Psalm 27:14  The Passion Translation (TPT)

Here’s what I’ve learned through it all:
Don’t give up; don’t be impatient;
be entwined as one with the Lord.
Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope.
Yes, keep on waiting—for he will never disappoint you!

Are you praying for a miracle?

Maybe you have been praying for it for a while now. Maybe it is a prodigal child, or your marriage. Maybe it is your job, your health or even your finances. Maybe it is for healing, salvation, or forgiveness.  Perhaps you have grown weary and tired in the waiting. Everything about your circumstances screams it will never happen! It is impossible.

But with God, all things are possible.

He will do it, in His way, in His timing, and for His glory.

Write it down, and date it.

As you are waiting, if you find yourself full of doubt, fill yourself with His Word. Recall His faithfulness and cling to His promises. Thank him in advance for His answer to your prayer. Praise Him. Rejoice with every glimmer of hope as you wait for your miracle.

He is faithful.

Psalm 40:5 The Passion Translation (TPT)

O Lord, our God, no one can compare with you.
Such wonderful works and miracles are all found with you!
And you think of us all the time
with your countless expressions of love—
far exceeding our expectations!

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