Changing Seasons

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Sometimes change is hard, especially when it’s life changing.  Our vocabulary is full of idioms about seasons: Seasons come, seasons go, the changing of the season, in season and out of season, open season, and season greetings.  You get the idea.

I’ve been living out a life-changing season this year of 2018.  Recently, I’ve been asked, “How are you doing?” To which I respond, “I’m doing good. Thank you.” But in the past few weeks I’ve been getting an interesting follow up question… “Really? Are you really doing good?” At first this question surprised me.  Maybe it was the tone, or the nature of the relationship of the people who asked me. But then I realized something. Most people were genuinely concerned and also pleasantly surprised by my answer. “Yes, I actually am in a really good place.”

I can say this now wholeheartedly, but it hasn’t been for long.  Truthfully I had not been in a good place personally for quite sometime.  In fact it has been a long, hard road.  But I’m changing seasons now.  I purposed myself to be present, and live out my last season of life.  I wanted to be intentional to touch base with who I was and where I was spiritually, physically, and emotionally. I didn’t want to rush through it, pass by it, or deny it.  It was not easy.  I learned ugly things about myself, my heart, my intent, my insecurities, my faith or lack there of, and my fears.  But I also changed with the season.  I purposed to do the hard work.  Yes, Jesus is the reason for all my freedom.  I know this full well.  But Jesus doesn’t just take over when we surrender.  He doesn’t control our every move or micromanage us every step of the way.   No, he asks us to get involved, to be a part, to do the work required. He asks us to increase in what is holy, righteous, and good.  He invites us to participate, to step in and step up.

I love fall.  In basic fashion… “Fall is my favorite season.”  Every October I begin to get excited and expectant for the upcoming fall season.  Even though I hate Halloween and refuse to entertain anything pumpkin flavored… latte or beer. No thank you.  But I do absolutely love the cool crisp air, the vibrant colors in our North Carolina trees, and cozy fireplaces.  I delight in drinking hot coffee and hot tea all day everyday. I celebrate the lack of bees and wasp (I get stung way more than the average person). But my absolute favorite is an old fashion bonfire with those I love most. Hay bales, the smell of the burning fire, the beauty of the roaring coals, and the flying bright embers that disappear up into the night.  Boots, flannels, and jackets combined with hot dogs, chili, and possibly a whiskey neat.  But it’s the outdoors, the conversations with your favorite people that get me the most. When everyone puts their phones away and has real, honest, face-to-face conversation.  It is life giving.

I believe I can enjoy fall to the fullest because I try to live summer to the fullest. If you are able to be present in one season you can fully embrace the changing of the new season.  Being present today allows us to let go and move on when tomorrow comes.

Fall is here.  The seasons have changed. And I am moving on, excited and expectant of all that is yet to come.

Consider this.  Every aspect of your life can always change for the better.  This includes every circumstance, and every relationship. The key is to not wait for others to do the changing or sit and wait for your season to change.  The key is to do the changing needed within yourself… this, my dear friends is the only thing you can do and the only thing required of you. When you ask God to be a part of the changing I promise you will never be the same.

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.”

– The Serenity Prayer

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Air Guitar Jam Sessions

Air Guitars
Sometimes you need to be reminded of a childlike faith.
Last night instead of enforcing our bedtime routine I opted for a dance/jam session to some of our favorite tunes. Maverick’s dancing changed to an air guitar.  He quickly added an intentional stage presence. I was amused at first and then watched in wonder at this child of mine. He was embracing the moment with a wide smile that infected his entire being. There was joy, and it was abounding in my kitchen right in front of me.
What was going to be 1 song became 2 and 2 became 3.  I joined in, shedding my dancing for an air guitar of my own.
These moments are by far the highlights in my life I will forever treasure. I’m sure I’ll treasure accomplishments, sport games, graduations, jobs and so much more in this life to come but I don’t think I will treasure the mountain tops as much as I will treasure these everyday moments, walking, living, and embracing.
Being present in this life is a gift we must be intentional and trained up in. Being present is a treasure we often pass up on in search of what is not now.
If we embrace life today we might discover our tomorrow to be so much richer, with a value and a worth, that tomorrow would not hold if it had not been for our intention to be present today.
Embrace the present. It’s the only way to truly live.

My Dad.

Standing at the finish line I kept hopping up onto the barrier fence to see if I could see him. Minute by minute I kept checking. Peering down the street towards the Reykjavík Harbor. Then I saw him. My dad. Running the last stretch of his first marathon at 62! My heart filled with pride and I cheered loud, real loud, with no abandon.

Runners have always inspired me but none more than my father. At his retirement my Dad took up running. His goal? To be strong and healthy. 1 mile became 2 and 10k’s grew into half marathons, his first half at 61.

Then dad started dreaming… out loud… which I think up until today he might have been regretting that part, “I wish I could run the  marathon.” So Christmas of 2017 my two brothers and I band together to make his dream a reality. A stuffed puffin with a ticket to Iceland tied around its neck.

Now here we are! My mom and I along for the ride. Today my dad completed his very first marathon.

What would have been impossible 2 years ago or let’s face it 6 months ago is now a reality. He gets to slap a 26.2 on the back of his car next to his Iceland bumper sticker.

Never say never. And just keep going. Hard work and hard choices can make your dreams a reality. And when dreams come true all that hard stuff becomes more than worth it.

Forgive me, we’re leaving to go feast!

Christine
From Iceland
(written August 18, 2018)
Dad
Dad in the last stretch of the Reykjavík Marathon

I’m learning.

I read the beginning of Psalm 90 while I was in Vik, Iceland.  The beauty all around me pointed me to search out scripture glorifying God.

Lord, you have been our refuge
in every generation.
Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from eternity to eternity, you are God.

VikIceland

In the midst of this creation I could not help but be in awe of my great God.  The majesty of His creation points me to His own majesty, His glory.

Now that I am home I am drawn to the end of this same chapter.

13 Lord—how long?
Turn and have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love
so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us rejoice for as many days as you have humbled us,
for as many years as we have seen adversity.
16 Let your work be seen by your servants,
and your splendor by their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us;
establish for us the work of our hands—
establish the work of our hands!

I pray LORD teach me and train me up in wisdom.  Develop me Lord Jesus.  May I be satisfied each morning with your faithful love.  Fill me with your uncontainable joy.  May I rejoice always even in humility.  Lord I have seen adversity let me also see your work and your splendor.  Let your favor be upon my household and me.  Establish my work God.

Only God can establish your work!

Establish –  To set up an organization on firm and permanent basis. To start, create, build, or construct. To initiate, bring about. Achieve permanent acceptance and recognition.  Introduce. Show to be true and certain. Manifest.  Confirm.  To ensure one will win the hand that has been dealt to them.

Only God can establish your work.

So I aim to stop trying to establish my work and instead to sit at the feet of my Father and be taught, trained, developed, and satisfied.  I will seek to be filled with joy even in humility and humbly ask God in the midst of adversity to allow me to see His work and His splendor.  I will seek His favor above all.  And I will work with the conviction that He is the only one who can establish.

For godliness means nothing if you are not also content. (Read 1 Timothy 6:6)

I’m learning.

Doormats and Throne Rooms

I wanted to write this blog Sunday but I am just now getting around to it. Whoops.  Anyway.  Sunday during church I felt that there were many Christians who were feeling dormant in their purpose and calling.  After this impression on my spirit I saw a vision of a doormat sitting outside an entry door.  Outside while the door was closed the enemy kept pacing back and forth over the doormat. Then all of a sudden I noticed that the doormat wasn’t a doormat at all in fact it was the Church.  And I don’t mean the institution I mean the Body of believers that make up the Church.

In that moment I felt the Lord say that His people have been led to believe that they are doormats.  They have believed the lie that the enemy has been selling them and wrapped up their identity in unworthiness.  That not only were they unfit to minister the gospel but that they actually became the doormat.  I believe God was telling me that people have become dormant in their personal faith because they have believed the lie that they are a doormat and nothing more. People have believed that they are unfit to minister the gospel or be in relationship with God so they have laid down under the enemies feet and allowed him to trample over them.  But God says, “Rise Up!”

20The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” – Romans 16:20

1The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
– Psalm 110:1

You are not a doormat.  You are worthy because of Jesus Christ to Rise Up!  The enemy will no longer tread over you instead you are called by God to crush Satan under your feet in the name of Jesus.

How do we do this?

We stop believing the lies that say we are not worthy, that we are unfit. We stop believing we are the doormat.

We start believing that through Jesus Christ we have been made worthy and not only are fit but are called and equipped to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever we go.  Not only this but all we have to do is be in communion with God our Father, sitting with Him, spending time with Him.  And then God will be our defender and he will fight the fight.  He will make your enemy your footstool.

It is time to stop seeing yourself as a doormat and start seeing yourself seating with God the Father in the throne room.

I love the lyric in Ring the Bells by Johnnyswim & Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors.  The song is about Justice and Love and this is the lyric in verse 3.

“You called me boy instead of son”
and I ain’t the only one
was in the throne room of a kingdom
where I found that I belong”

You can listen to Ring the Bells here.

There is an unjust enemy who wants you to believe your identity is anything other than son/daughter, worthy, holy, righteous, loved, valued, seen, known…

But we find this unjust enemy, for the liar he is, when we find ourselves in the throne room of the Kingdom of Heaven seated with God the Father.  Where we belong!

You’re not a doormat.  You belong in the throne room of the Kingdom of Heaven.  And you can take your place there even now by bringing Heaven to Earth everywhere you go.

Rise Up! And just for a moment acknowledge your enemy as your footstool.  Then move into your purpose and calling with determination like the warrior you are in the Army of Jesus Christ with authority knowing your sonship/daughtership.

Panic Attacks to Freedom

I want to be a beacon for freedom.  Liberty will be my cry.  Why?

I’ve tasted and seen it.  A freedom so great that you can own who you are, where you have been, and where you are going.  A freedom that lets you own your story in full transparency.  Why?  So that others may taste and see this same freedom.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!  Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” – Psalm 34:8

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” – 1 John 1:1-3

Listen. I know I am the worst of sinners but I also know that I have tasted and seen the goodness of God.  I have witnessed the sweet fragrance of Christ Jesus and I know the power of Holy Spirit.  All of this, not by my own will but by will of Christ Jesus.

I know what it is like to be in the middle of deep trouble and be at peace.  I know what it is like to take refuge in the Father during chaos.

A little over a year ago my life was falling apart fast.  And in the midst of my heartbreaking pain I had one of the most intimate conversations with the Father looking out over Pisgah National Forest. In those few short but lasting moments I gained hope, trust, faith, and assurance.  I gained freedom, and recently I’ve gained freedom in greater measure. I’ve tasted and seen.

My point is I know pain.  I know what it is like to have your world come crashing down.  I know what it is like not to have a leg to stand on.  I know hopelessness.  I know heartache.  I know depression and anxiety.  I know what it is like to have a panic attack unable to breathe, puking in the toilet while shaking like a leaf completely out of control.  I’ve carried trauma and experienced dissociation. I say all this because I want you to know I’ve been in captivity and burdened by deep trouble.  But.

But, there is good news.  I’ve tasted and seen the freedom that comes in the presence of Holy Spirit.  I’ve tasted and seen the goodness of God the Father. I’ve tasted and seen the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

So that still in the midst of deep trouble I became rooted in peace, full of hope, with steadfast trust in my God.  I choose to welcome Holy Spirit into my life continually.  I invite Father, Son and Spirit to speak to me, encourage me, challenge me, correct me, and train me up.  I welcome the fruit of the Spirit to be alive and well within me to the point of overflowing; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

This past Sunday at Newsong, Pastor Jeff preached on freedom.  Quoting one of my most favourite scriptures and declaring its truth.

16 but whenever a person turns [in repentance and faith] to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom]. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

All my days I will seek to increase in freedom.  I know liberty is mine.  I will proclaim it, declare it, and live it increasingly all the days of my life.

If you long for more freedom in your life pray this simple but powerful and authoritative prayer today.

Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ pour out your Holy Spirit here and now.  For where the Spirit of the LORD is there is freedom.  I bind oppression as it is bound in heaven here and now and I loose freedom as freedom is loosed in heaven here and now.  Let Holy Spirit speak to me, strengthen me, encourage me, correct me, and train me up in Christ Jesus.  Let the fruit of the Spirit reign in my life; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

I’d like encourage you to listen to this.

To be known!

Reading time 1 minute.

It is what we all want because it is what we all need.  It is why we were created, to know God and to be known by Him.

When I find my heart is waning, when I start to lose strength, when I long to be known, seen, and understood by others, I stop.  I take a minute and I readjust.  I realign.  All that this world has to offer leaves me lacking.  It cannot fill me, satisfy me, or put me at rest in perfect peace.  Only God my Father can do that.

So when I find myself waning I choose to adjust my motivation by recognizing my own true need.  I purpose myself to find what my heart is truly and deeply crying out for, to know God and to be known by Him. Continue reading “To be known!”