Stand Strong and FIGHT FORWARD

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One day last summer I found myself singing an old song by Helen Reddy, “I am woman.” I triumphantly pushed forward to finish unloading the second truckload of planting soil into the raised bed. I had just completed the bed using 3000 pounds of landscape blocks the day before – all by myself – a single-handed feat to begin with. As that last wheelbarrow was emptied I was overwhelmed with the goodness and presence of God. The reality of His healing stunned me. As tears ran down my face I surveyed what had been created by a woman living under a diagnosis of debilitating strength, yet here it was. My God had been continually pouring His faithfulness and healing over me as I fought forward every day during the past 3 1/2 years.

I was diagnosed with an inflammatory disease that affected my heart and all of my joints 3 years ago. Over those three years using a small hand shovel to plant flowers in a pot was a huge challenge, filled with severe pain. Side effects of chemo meds as well as assorted other trial medications kept stealing my life from me throughout this process. My faith that God was in control never wavered but there were days that I wondered if my life was done and I had done all that God had called me too. But one day my Rheumatologist suggested another trial medication, one that was a weekly injection in my stomach, I went home and had a real “on my face” discussion with Jesus – if He had more for me to do – then I was going to stand on the promise that HE IS MY HEALER not another awful medication. I had a perspective adjustment that day and chose to FIGHT FORWARD – I knew that He had this, no matter what the symptoms looked like.

I began standing on scriptures that I had known for decades:

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

The Joy of the Lord is my strength – Nehemiah 8:10

In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge – Psalm 36:7

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness –

II Corinthians 12:9

So, as I stood there, that afternoon holding a shovel in my hand, the reality of how much God had done in my body overwhelmed me.  I had continued to FIGHT FORWARD and trust that HE IS MY HEALER all the while He was quietly restoring my cells, strengthening my muscles, and shrinking inflammation in my joints – bringing freedom where the enemy had been stealing.

Those years were extremely difficult but I have learned to walk in a depth of faith that I wouldn’t trade for anything. If He had not chosen to bring me to the place I stand in today – I would still FIGHT FORWARD and still stand on the truth that HE IS MY HEALER.

No matter what I face – His presence, His love, His grace goes before me.

If you find yourself struggling through life’s overwhelming circumstances, don’t give up, stand strong, and FIGHT FORWARD! Take one day at a time, always believing that He goes before you and know that He is your God, your refuge, your strength and your joy.

When We Need His Attention

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This morning my two dachshunds joined me on the couch for my quiet time, one so content to snuggle, stretched out alongside me (from hip to knee). The other one, well, her need was a different story. This little one didn’t want to just lean into me and know that I was there, she required my hand to touch and caress her continually – she needed my attention. Different personalities and different needs at different times but both greatly loved.

We are much the same. We have a loving Heavenly Father that is happy to enjoy time with us either way. The continual presence of Holy Spirit in our lives allows us to snuggle in, stretch out and know that He is there; no need to question or fear. But then, there are times when life has turned upside down, and we are in need! Those times we need to know He is close, He cares and we have His attention. That is when He simply reaches out and touches you, His presence, His continual caress are poured out without question.

So, don’t worry where you are, just lean into Him and He will know your need. Be thankful for a loving God that loves you during all phases of your life journey – the contented and struggling – for He has you carved right into His hands.

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands, your walls are continually before me. (ESV)

The Lion’s Den

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As children, we have heard the story of Daniel in the lions’ den; how he was thrown into a pit of hungry lions because He chose to worship God and not man. When morning arrived, He was still alive because God had protected him and shut the lions’ mouths.

But while reading the whole story you will find a few more details that we need to consider. God had a plan for Daniels life, it was seen by those around him and deception began. Manipulation ensued, the challenge and betrayal were placed and many others bought into it, leading to the pit. The lions began to snap at his heels in human form long before he was tossed into that pit.

That story still speaks into our lives today; our choice to live a life that is pleasing to God is continually challenged.  Each choice you make will find lions’ snapping at your heels; lions’ you least expect. Once your course is set, the enemy will use others to distract and manipulate you. When that doesn’t work, along comes betrayal and whisperings that will drag others along for the ride. Ultimately the pit arrives, if you stand your ground.

Warfare does and will come but remember that just as God had a plan for Daniel, He has a plan for you. There is a plan and a dream buried deep inside of you that the enemy wants to disrupt and destroy; make the hard choices and don’t forget that your God is a God that shuts the mouths of lions’!

If you find yourself headed to the lions’ den, feel their hot breath and hear the snapping of teeth all around you – look up, focus on the face of Jesus and His plan for your life and trust that in the morning you will step out of the pit alive.

Daniel 6:22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”

A Single Snowflake Changes Everything

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It began as darkness slipped in, tiny almost unseen flakes of snow falling over the lush green landscape. What change could these single frozen droplets make? But what a surprise waited as the sunrise glistened over what had changed overnight into a breath-taking blanket of white. Those single flakes had given their all, combining to create the beauty before my eyes.

We walk through life waiting for our God planned “big” purpose, our life-assignment to emerge. While all along God has been quietly directing our life with each YES we have intentionally declared to His whispered request. Each time you have loved another, each time you have shared encouragement, each time you have preferred another over yourself, each time you have given; all of these have been like the snowflakes, accumulating into His plan and purpose for transformation.

Don’t wait for the “big” purpose because it won’t begin big. It will begin one flake at a time, with every choice you make to give all that you can, as you say YES to His voice. As you give honor to Jesus every day, your purpose will emerge and you will look back at a life that will have changed the very landscape that you stand in.

Mark 14:8b She has done all that she could to honor me.  (TPT)

Purpose Found in Simplicity

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Matthew 22:37-39 And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (ESV)

Do you find yourself asking those deep internal probing questions?  Who am I? What is my purpose?  What is the God-dream that stirs inside of me? I do, and they get my mind swirling.

Today, I ask what is a God-dream anyways? Is it an actual, physical while-I-am-sleeping dream?  Is it something deep inside of me that is who I am at my very core? Is it something I desire to do or accomplish? The answer is yes – to all of them.

My life has been full of “doing” and I wonder, did any of it fit into God’s plans and purposes?  The tasks, achievements, talents, projects, jobs, creativity have all been part of what has made me who I am today BUT they are not who I am deep within my being. So, I sit at the feet of Jesus today, asking – who am I? What is it that I could not live without doing? What is the dream that sits within me; stirring, driving, waiting to erupt?

At each season of my life I have said YES, grown, and moved by the Spirits direction. Accomplishing many things that had benefit for the Kingdom of God as well as doing the everyday, the needed and those that I take joy in.  Again, the answers are convoluted in my heart. If all of those life accomplishments, gifts and talents were taken away, what is it, that would drive me? What is left? Is that the dream – the God-dream – His plan for my life?

So, here I sit with six decades of life behind me and I’m still asking these questions. Maybe I am just slow but I think I’ve made it too hard.  As I contemplate the life of Jesus and how He answered deep questions I see simple answers – “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”, “he who is without sin cast the first stone”, “your sins are forgiven you”, “Lazarus come forth”. Simplicity seems to permeate the character of God – He says it, we believe and we chose to do it. Could all those swirling questions be answered that simply? If so, then I can give a very loud shout to its simplicity.

Though you have been gifted with tasks, achievements, talents, projects, jobs, and creativity to share with others and the world; somewhere in that process you will find the answer – the simple answer, to His plan and purpose for your life – your God-dream.

So, as you dig deep to find that simple plan, take one step at a time and do it.  Keep walking through this life, fighting with the weapons He has given you. Fight forward to see His purposes, don’t hesitate or shrink back. Stand courageous and push back against all that tries to derail you. His plan for you is a victorious one – filled with hope and a future.

II Peter 1:3 Everything we could ever need for life and complete devotion to God has already been deposited in us by his divine power. For all this was lavished upon us through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name and invited us to come to him through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. (TPT)

Backroad Seasons of Life

Trust that the single-focused road ahead will open divinely-delegated assignments on backroads where distractions dissolve and commonality with the voice of the Father become your primary GPS.

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

Driving through backroads can be intimidating; often there are no signs, lines or enough space for two cars. Our life journey is much like driving the backroads. We come into this world on a single-lane road and go out the same way – alone. The forward movement of our lifetime takes us onto freeways, curves, sharp turns, dead-ends, roundabouts, and sometimes into a ditch or two. Each of these become the map of who we are becoming but our choices at each turn are pivotal.

This amazing road of life brings with it relationships that I am greatly thankful for. It includes an ebb and flow of many individuals – those who expand our lives, teach us life lessons, guide and encourage us, as well as those that take us onto the infinite roundabout. We are allowed to share life with them, even if it is only for a brief time. However, people must come and go; it is part of growing into who God has created us to be.

We seldom drive the full course of our road with the same people, for ultimately, they too, have their own road to navigate. Seasons of life change all of us. With those changes you will suddenly find those you have previously driven with, choosing to take a curve or sharp turn that you are not called to take.

If you know God’s plan, His direction and call on your life this presents a decision. Do I go along with them or do I not? Do I go left or do I go right? During these times, this decision is vital – your ear must be tuned not to your emotions but to the clear voice of Holy Spirit – for this decision may lead you into the ditch, or set you on a freeway. Your choice may require a sacrifice as to who continues on your road. This choice is not easy to make, it may require saying goodbye to travelers you love and have called friends, but the ultimate choice is “what does God want for me?” To ignore the “road closed” sign that stands in your path will drive you to stagnation in a ditch, which is not God’s plan.

Allow the process to move you into all that God has called you too, even if that path places you on a single-lane road for a time. Trust that the single-focused road ahead will open divinely-delegated assignments on backroads where distractions dissolve and commonality with the voice of the Father become your primary GPS.

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.: But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

A Blank Page

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As the sunrise begins to illuminate the sky, I sit in front of a blank page. I contemplate all that this new year has to offer, not the things of the past but more – more than I have ever asked for or imagined.

A sunrise brings a new day filled with opportunities, but a new year opens a breath-taking landscape of possibilities; the anticipation is palpable.

What are you anticipating, expecting or hoping for, from your new year? This new year is a gift sitting in front of you. God has a plan for your life and it is full of increase – increase to pour out His love through you.

The question is, what does that look like in your life? Jesus desires to use you to impact the world by restoring who He created you to be, your identity; that which He put deep within you, those hidden purposes that make you, who you really are!

What is hidden deep inside, waiting to be ignited, waiting dormant to erupt? Those gifts that you have set up on the shelf, or thought maybe someday? Do you think your time is past, so that gift still sits unopened? He is waiting for you. Accept this new year as a gift, full of purpose – walk into – no – run into a new level of faith that will access heaven over your life.

This is the year!

As the sunrises today – look up, stir your faith, expect Holy Spirit to bring restoration to the once sleeping purposes within you. Watch as He ignites a joyful new life deep inside that will produce a refreshed imagination, explosive energy, and awakened dreams. Step out in faith, access the new places He has planned for you this year. Watch as he awakens forward movement into the agenda He has, not just for you but for the world.

 Ephesians 3:20 Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this.He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you. (TPT)