Eternity Stamped In Her Eyes

Imagine a world with me for a moment where we all had one goal. Where all of our focus was on one thing only- a long sought-after destiny that the entire world was working together to reach. Like an Olympic team training for the gold, imagine a singular laser focus towards a united end-point. A point completely bought into by every single member of the team, one worthy of the complete and utter dedication of each individual- to the sacrifice of family, friends, even our own identity. Can you imagine it? Where every single decision was made with that final destination in mind. Where every interaction with others pointed to furthering the cause. In short a life wholly devoted to a single, endpoint in mind- reckless in fervor, utterly sold-out to the prize. 

What a thing to behold! 

What a lifestyle to attain!

What a God Who is worthy of such abandon!

Dear ones, I’ve been challenged of late to up my game. I believe the Holy Spirit is challenging us all to MORE. If indeed our calling is to walk like Christ then our vision must be like His was as well- laser focus on heaven, single-minded in winning souls to the Father, reckless in word and deed to radically alter the trajectory of Man. 

If only everything we said and did was filtered through the light of heaven! What a veil to see the world by! Jesus saw no less than eternity in everything He did. He spoke with forever words. Every decision, to go or stay, speak or stay silent, turn left or right was made with His Father’s house in mind. He walked with feet directed by the eternal, his every step dictated by how each would echo in eternity. 

It was a radical lifestyle. 

May we dare to walk in those footsteps?

How would this single end-game change the way you live dear sister? What would it alter in your words and actions today? Who would you speak with? Which paths would you walk? What about your life plus change to join such a Cause- wholly abandoned to its Purpose? 

Today join me in walking in the path of the fearless. May we find a new lens to see the world through; viewing every situation- good, bad, or ugly- as a way to further glorify our Heavenly Father. To walk and talk, thing, speak, and act within the light of eternity here on earth....

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

How I long for a heart like this! To be poured out for Him on the altar of sacrifice for the sake of others. To live with eternity stamped on my eyes so that I look at every difficulty in life as an opportunity for people to see the sufficiency of His truth and His power. How I long to remember that whatever I’m enduring is temporal. Eternity awaits, and how I handle this situation will bring me an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. -Kay Arthur (Lord Give Me A Heart For You) 

Fabulous Footwear

Lately my middle son is going through a shoe phase. Or I should say, a shoe LESS phase. Twice now we’ve loaded into the car, driven to our destination, gotten out… only to discover that the kid has no shoes on (insert the mom-face-palm here). This last weekend was especially painful, we were out of state at a wedding that three of the kids were in. We stayed one night at a hotel and, I kid you not, every.single.time Jonah left the hotel room he forgot his shoes. E-ver-ry tiiiiiimmmme people! By the end of the weekend I was seriously considering having him tested for a stroke or brain injury of some kind…

But I digress- today I wanted to talk about the importance of footwear… namely WEARING it but also making sure you have the right kind for each occasion. What style we have is dictated by the situations we know we’re going to be in. Soldiers wear boots, runners wear sneakers, hikers wear hiking boots; you wouldn’t find me in high heels on the beach for instance (actually you’d be hard-pressed to find me in heels anywhere… #momlife) but you get my drift. Anyone who has worn the ‘wrong’ shoes in a situation I doubt makes the same mistake twice.

WEARING shoes matters. It helps us actually get out of the house (or out of the car and/or hotel room in Jonah’s case). It protects our feet from harm so we can go do what we need to do,

WHAT shoes we wear matters. In many situations what we wear matters a great deal… it helps us do our jobs better (soldiers, firemen, flight nurses!), perhaps it enables us to be more efficient (runners), it protects us from injury or wounds (hikers). Keeping our feet protected and appropriate is vital to many situations- rarely is there a situation where no footwear whatsoever is recommended.

In real life we need shoes and we need the right shoes. In the ‘realer’ life, our spiritual life, we need shoes as well. Not only the wearing of them but the right ones for the mission field you’re walking within.

Ephesians 6: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand…. 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 

Dear ones we have to make sure we’re putting on our spiritual shoes, ones that will carry us on mission to wherever God has called us. The Gospel, this amazing good news of Christ’s forgiveness, is THE reason we’re leaving the house everyday. It is THE most important thing we carry with us minute by minute. We don’t leave our houses for work or school, the movies, the park, or running errands without shoes. Neither should we be leaving our houses without our feet fitted with the Gospel of Peace. Even moreso… the READINESS that comes from that Gospel.  A runner is ready with his sneakers, a paramedic is ready with her boots, a scuba diver is ready with his flippers, a ballerina is ready with her pointe shoes… at a moment’s notice, no matter what the situation calls for, they are ready to act because they have the proper footwear.

This amazing Gospel, knowing it, speaking of it, witnessing to it, proclaiming it, spreading it… fits us with spiritual shoes that are always appropriate for whatever situation we find ourselves in. 1 Timothy 3: 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 

Know the Gospel.

Be fitted with it’s readiness daily.

Proclaim it in your mission field.

Walk it out, bring it to the lost… and wear out the soles of those shoes winning souls for Christ!

Middle of the Mystery

For the last month my women’s Bible study group has been under significant spiritual attack. All but just a few of us have had major illness or injury occur to us or a direct family member since starting a study about ‘having the heart of God’. Tonight in the middle of the study we found out one of the lady’s mother tragically died. We were vaguely aware of the attacks but this sent the group into overdrive and grief has overwhelmed us.

The battle is so. very. real dear ones. The war for our souls, our hearts, our welfare and very health is ongoing. Scripture does not mince words with the cunning and pure evil of Satan. When it speaks of a roaring lion who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy... its being deadly serious- our Bible study group can personally attest to these very things just within the last 4 weeks.

In the middle of the onslaught tonight I cried out to God. How can we possibly stand against such an enemy? How, dear Lord can we hold up under overwhelming grief, pain, and confusion? The attacks have been pointed, cunning, personalized, and incessant. How do we bear up, how do we take up our swords when all we want to do is crawl in a hole? Where do we go, how do we escape the barrage of terror?

Lord be near to us!

In the middle of the mystery, in the middle of the darkness and the ache, in the very midst of the enemy’s attacks when all we can see is the blackness of the night that surrounds us, sometimes all we can do is lay still, squinching our eyes tightly closed perhaps, and listen for the Father’s words. If words scurry beyond our tongues and our thoughts turn blank, our situation is heavy with mystery; when we don’t know the beginning from the end and tangled mess laying around us is hopelessly unfixable, then dear ones it is time to praise Him in the midst of the turmoil. In the middle of the great mystery that encompasses us,

Praise Him.

Thank Him.

Beseech Him.

Fall into Him.

Call out to Him.

Yell at Him.

Beg Him.

And then seek Him again.

This walk we’ve been called to is not for the faint of heart. We are at war and there is very real injuries, illness, and casualties. There is surprise attack. There is utter destruction at times. Yet we are not without a General or King who is unsympathetic to our plight. Moreso He is most certainly not surprised by the enemy’s movements or strategy. He mourns with us. He hurts and cries alongside. Our King hates this fallen world as much as we do.

Yet the fighting rages on. Many battles will be lost, many scars and heartbreak inflicted- but we know better. Our eyes are fixed on the endgame, our faith and hope pinned on the eternal.

We know the end. We know Who wins.

So in the middle of the mystery we will put on our armor and keep fighting. We will take up our sword and fall to our knees in thanksgiving.

And we WILL win.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A Change of Scenery

I’ve been doing a lot of gardening lately and my poor front bed has been begging for attention. It’s got several bushes that, although beautiful, were just planted helter-skelter thoughout the location; neither blossoming well nor growing as abundantly as they should. Don’t get me wrong, none of them are dying, none are not NOT blooming, none are really doing poorly.

They’re just not thriving.

And they’re not in a place where they can truly showcase their blossoms for the world to see.

I mean, I want traffic from a block away to notice them. The potential is there, but their location is not ideal.

So the other day, I did what all gardeners just luuuurrvvve to do- actually more accurately, I had my dear husband do it- I transplanted three of them to three different spots.

And all of a sudden they were NOTICED. Their blooms seemed more vibrant. They complemented the beds we put them in like they’d been there all along. And I swear two of them have doubled in size. I even had a few neighbors comment on them- asking where we’d gotten the ‘new’ bushes.

Funny how that works. Plants we’ve had since we bought the house, that no one has ever noticed, are now thriving.

And all because of a location change.

It was a good call in the gardening department for sure. But it was not without some effort. I’m sure if those bushes had voices, none of them would have been too thrilled about the transplanting process. Getting dug up, uprooted, pruned back, transplanted to a whole new location I’m sure is not the plants idea of a good time.

I can certainly empathize. Changes in scenery aren't always fun.

Last year God took something very dear to me. Rather He forcibly moved me out of something dear to me. Cutting my roots, digging up my heartstrings, transplanting me to a new place. To put it bluntly, it sucked. It hurt. It was unexpected. And I’m still working on re-establishing my new root system.

My change of scenery was not welcome and I certainly didn't like the new view.

These last few days even as I was marveling at how much better my bushes were doing, God has been gently letting me see the parallels.

I wasn’t doing poorly at my other location. I was blooming and growing. But the Master Gardener saw a need to put me in a new spot. A BETTER spot. One where I would grow better, blossom more, and glorify Him from blocks away more brightly.

And just as my bushes didn’t get a ‘say’ in their move, neither did I. Furthermore, they didn’t complain or question me as their gardener, so neither should I question or complain about where my Gardener plants and prunes me.

"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 your paths straight." Proverbs 3:4-6 ESV

Today I encourage you to know that God’s got this. He’s got you, your circumstances, your soil, your sun, your rain, your flower bed, your pruning schedule- all of it- He’s got a master plan for. It may not make sense. It may hurt or feel super uncomfortable. It may involve new locations, new people, new ministries, or new calling. He may prune away even good growth in order for you to more fully thrive. But it’ll be more than worth it.

So please don’t be discouraged. Please don’t question. Please don’t complain. Don’t wriggle or argue. My bushes didn’t do that to me so we shouldn’t either. Rather simply enjoy your new view and the wonderful, God-given change of scenery.

In His Time

Lately I've had a string of days where nothing has come easily. Actually I think I'm going on more like a month. Having five kids, 3 of which are special needs, our calendar is literally jam packed with appointments, therapy, games, school functions, church stuff, with times in between to eat, sleep, and bathe if we're lucky. I would say 2-3 days of each week is literally back to back items that are all super time-dependent.

Soooo, what better time for God to teach me to slow down and smell the roses right?!

For those who may not know, I'm a RN by vocation, a flight nurse more specifically (or at least I was until this whole writing, speaking, momming thing started a couple years ago), so my life as a whole has been defined by high-speed, high-energy, high-adrenaline. Its not overstating the matter to say that much of my adult life was consumed by life or death split second decisions.

Time matters, seconds count, plans going smoothly is paramount- and my A-to-B personality thrives within that structure.

Yet God has been teaching me more. Not that any of those kinds of things are bad, that kind of mindset can be super helpful and effective in fact... but He's been dragging my feet, usurping my plans, and downright challenging my patience literally non-stop lately.

You know that t-shirt that says, "You're testing the Jesus in me!" ? What happens when it's God doing that testing?

These last thirty days have been exhausting and trying to say the least. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, has gone easily. Nothing's gone according to plan. Everything on my schedule has had to be moved, sometimes multiple times. Much of what we do is dependent on other stuff or people doing what they need to; so one thing fails or is delayed and before you know it, the whole house of dominoes has fallen and you find yourself vaguely looking around for the hidden cameras wondering which "Totally Hidden" reality show you've inadvertently found yourself in.

Welcome to my life. Anybody relate?

Any yet God has been good time me and given me so much inexplicable patience. I've taken more deep breaths, given more smiles, rearranged more appointments, given more grace and mercy to people (and myself!) than I ever have in my life. I've been forced to slow down and smell the proverbial roses. After all, unlike my previous jobs, <almost> none of this stuff is life and death.

I admit it's been a total mind-set change for me. And I'm loving the aroma of seeing Him work in me through those undeserved smiles. The scent of His grace and mercy working in and through and towards me. It's been astoundingly peaceful despite what on paper looks life a mess.

More times than I can tell I've found myself humming the words to an old Psalty the Psalmbook song (totally dating myself here!)

In His time, In HIs time,
He makes all things beautiful
In his time

Lord please show me everyday
As you're teaching me your way
That you do just what you say
In your time

In Your time, in Your time
You make all things beautiful
In Your time

Lord my life to You I bring
May each song I have to sing
Be to You a lovely thing

In Your time.

I've been keenly aware in the last few years of my life that I have this sub-conscious timeline in my head of what I should be doing, where I should be going, what goals I should be meeting, etc. etc. etc. Yet His time is so very different from mine! And more poignantly, He will take care of HIS goals for me in HIS time... not mine.

Not mine.

Whether it be a mundane doctor's appointment that's a no-go or getting my first multi-book publishing contact (insert wink wink and lots of prayers here!) I can rest in knowing He is in control and He does, indeed make all His plans, all His people, all His creation- beautiful in His time.

Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." NLT

Playing Hide and Seek

Lately my kids have been on a hide-and-seek kick. Generally from each other, though occasionally they just <love> to hide from me... especially when they're playing and I'm not even aware that I'm in the game.

They think it's hilarious to hide when I call them.

The other day after a particularly frustrating round of me calling and looking for my oldest (all the while not knowing she had decided it was hide-and-seek time) I came to my momma-whits-end. I had started by simply telling her it was time to get in the car. She disappeared. After 5 minutes I was generally yelling around the house telling her is was time to get in the car. After another 5 minutes I was actively searching for her and yelling even louder to come.get.in.the.car. We were late. I was frustrated. I had finally realized somewhere along the line that she was in fact, playing the game and not being <completely> disobedient.

And yet she was being completely disobedient.

And now several people would be late to a  function that would make many others have to change their plans as well.

That night my husband and I were talking over the general hide-and-seek situation. As I was bemoaning her general lack of behavior and how it vastly changed the outcomes of our afternoon, God gently reminded me that I had done the very same thing to Him... on more occasions to count.

How many times had He told me to do something and I didn't? I ran away. I hid. Like my daughter I literally went the other direction and disappeared. How much of His Word, meant for my good and instruction, have I disobeyed? Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes I was simply 'playing' a game and not listening, and other times I intentionally and purposefully didn't listen.

I was immediately convicted that my own games of hide-and-seek with my Father have (I'm sure) caused my fair share of frustration and Fatherly angst. Several situations in which I didn't do what I was supposed to ran across my memory-banks. Ugh. I wonder how many people were depending on me to obey? I wonder how much blessing I lost out on because I didn't listen to what I was told? I pondered who I made 'late' and who had to change their 'plans' because I was MIA. Innumerable I imagine.

But God is good, and even in those dark thoughts He reminded me of something else. That just like I had done for my daughter (probably a bit less angry...) He will also come looking for me. When I was lost, He came after me. Yelling my name, searching high and low.

Better yet, HE is never hard to find, because He never plays games with me. If I need Him, He is there- right there, always ready and willing to be together. There are no games, no hide-and-seek, no wondering where He could be.

In that moment and in the moments after, I have found that wonderfully reassuring. I have a God and a Father who looks for me and is always with me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will not tire of searching for His wayward daughter, nitwit that I may be at times.

Deut. 31:8 "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ESV

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." ESV

Isaiah 41:10 "...fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ESV

Amen and Amen!

Jars of Clay

We took in a new foster this week who was in a horrific car crash last year. It’s taken almost 9 months to recoup but she finally came home with me last Thursday. She is getting stronger but is quite fragile still. She had broken her jaw multiple places and will require extensive surgery in the future to reconstruct her face, but for now she’s alive and healthy. We are blessed to take care of her.

One of the conditions of her discharge was extreme precautions regarding her face and jaw in particular. She has had so much infection in her bone that it’s become very brittle and full of holes. So much so that she has to eat a soft or puréed diet. A single bite of a chip or chomping on carrots could cause her jaw to literally splinter within her skin. So she’s learned to be careful- as have we- with her diet and activity. No WWE in her future I’m afraid. It’s become a constant hum in the background of my mom-brain to keep an ear out for her, reminding her not to jump on the trampoline or lamenting with her that she can’t play volleyball with the other kids. She’s mourning the loss of Ruffles potato chips and pizza. And yet she understands the need for extreme caution- if only for a (hopefully) short time.

Today she told me, “Mom, I’m not going to get upset when I can’t do things anymore, I know it won’t last very long. It’ll be worth it in the end.”

Ugh. My heart.

Despite her fragility, this precious girl exudes happiness and contentment. She sees others and their trials and tribulations and comes alongside them in such amazing ways. I’ve seen her reach out to strangers to comfort them. She’s come to me in times of stress and just stood there with her little arms wrapped around me for encouragement. She’s astounding in her strength.

She’s been a constant reminder to me lately of how God uses us- simple, extraordinarily fragile, weak, and frail vessels- to do His good work. Just like my fragile daughter, who’s body is broken but who’s spirit is strong, so also has our Father put forth His eternal treasure within mere jars of clay.

What a thing! I can hardly get my mind around it at times. And to think that for as much concern and instruction, care and protection I give to my daughter and her fragile bones, how much more must He place over us as the vessels of His spirit. I cannot imagine.

But we need to be careful too, just as she is. Our ‘bodies’, our ‘vessels’ are weak and fragile. We can not be around certain things, do certain things, eat certain things. For the health of our souls our Father has set out instructions to keep us healthy. For the welfare of our eternity and the value of the precious treasure that resides within us we must be cautious of our behavior.

It is hard. Many days carrying the weight of such a burden is not fun, glamorous, or easy. We miss out on what others are doing, we can’t participate with the crowd, we don’t intake that which looks so enticing. But for all of those days, and seeming missed opportunities dear ones, let me repeat the words of my wise-beyond-her-years newest addition, “I’m not going to get upset when I can’t do things anymore, I know it won’t last very long. It’ll be worth it in the end.”

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, "I believed, and so I spoke," we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:7-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It WILL be worth it in the end because, you, my dearest, are a very fragile jar of clay carrying an immense, eternal treasure that the King of the universe has placed within you. Protect it well- frail though you may be.

The Joshua Series- SCARLET CORDS

Hebrews 11, the enviable “Hall of Faith” in the New Testament is chalk-full of formidable giants of the Bible. Abel, Moses, Abraham, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Rahab, Jacob, Gideon, Samson, Sarah, David, Joseph, Barak, Jephthah, Samuel - the list is impressive to say the least. Most are well-known heroes of old who’s stories echo on the pages of history even to this day. All gifted by Yahweh to save His people, propel His Name, and glorify Him to the ends of the earth. All genetically part of His chosen people.

Except one.

Take a look back at that list again. Who stands out- glaring in red letters across the page amongst her fellow hero’s of faith? You may note that there’s only 2 women mentioned at all- one the mother of the chosen people of God, the other a prostitute from a pagan city.

Striking is it not?

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen....
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:1, 31‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The natural question begs to be asked. What on earth is Rahab, an unmarried whore from a city-nation at war with the Israelites, doing smack-dab in the middle of the hall of faith? She wasn’t a Jew, she wasn’t a worshipper of Jehovah, she was a woman, a prostitute, an outcast. A seemingly strange choice to be added by the author of Hebrews to say the least.

I would bet there’s no few sisters out there, who, like me, sometimes feel like the outcast. We feel caught in the middle of some great war, surrounded by spies and enemies, morally broken, socially disabled, or spiritually dry. We see and hear of the Enemy coming for our families, our jobs, spouses, health, friends, our very lives- and we fear greatly the wrath and destruction upon our doorstep.

And yet, like Rahab, like all the great heroes of faith- we also feel the pull of God’s divine hand on our lives. So we take in the spies, we protect the needy, we help save God’s chosen people, we push past what the authorities in our lives say is right and proper- and we do the right thing. We obey. Plain and simple. We do the God-thing. We seek the face of Him who’s Hand guides our lives- despite our name, our culture, our past, or our present. Like Rahab we see past our circumstances and seek a better life. A life full to the brim with Yahweh at the head. We seek adoption into a different nation, a royal priesthood, and a cherished royalty.

Rahab had guts. She had foresight. She had unwavering faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob without even knowing Him personally. She was obedient to the instruction He placed on her going off of rumor-only. Her faith was put in the hope of things and situations she had only heard about. This woman protected God’s people, then when the time came, she put out her scarlet thread for all to see- and awaited her fate... wholly in God’s hands.

Today sisters, regardless of what situation you find yourself in, take heart from our Joshua outcast. If you find yourself staring down an army of the Enemy surrounding your home, a social outcast, morally struggling, or spiritually lost please know that God still has a hand of purpose on your life. If He chose a woman such as Rahab to fulfill His plans and protect His people, how much more will He have for you!

Obey the calling He has for you. Protect and serve His servants- in whatever way that looks in your life. And then throw your scarlet cord out the window dear one. Fall on the mercy of almighty Jehovah for safety and salvation.

“But to the two men who had spied out the land, Joshua said, ‘Go into the prostitute's house and bring out from there the woman and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.’ So the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her. And they brought all her relatives and put them outside the camp of Israel. And they burned the city with fire, and everything in it. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. But Rahab the prostitute and her father's household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” Joshua 6:22-25 ESV

God did not forget Rahab and He will not forget you!

Or perhaps you are in a blissful season of rest and quiet. I encourage you to look back at the annuals of your walk with the Father and note all the scarlet cords hanging down. All the times and instances you placed your faith in Him and stepped out with foresight to come alongside what God was doing. Scared but hopeful, resigned but also resolved to follow Him. These scarlet cords are worth noticing, they weave a tapestry of faith that intertwines with the greatest of the Bible- just as Rahab‘s did.

To end, let me have you look at another list of names, take a quick peek at Matthew 1 and the geneology of Jesus…

“The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

 Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

 Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of King David.”

Matthew 1:1-6 NIV

It would seem our harlot, through her obedience and faith was only the great-great grandmother of King David, but got pulled into the line of Christ Himself! Nothing and nobody is impossible for God!

The Joshua Series- GREAT EXPECTATIONS

I'm excited to start a new series with lessons found in the book of Joshua. The Lord has been walking with me through the early books of the Old Testament for the last year and I'm finally at a place that I can share all the insights God's been showing me. Join us weekly for some real, raw, open and honest this-is-where-I'm-at-right-now GodStuff. I pray it blesses you as it has me. ~Bethany

Recently my husband and I took in two new foster children. The Lord led us to fostering, quite unexpectedly, last year and for many months we've had just an infant with us. Last month though He asked us to take in two more, one with special needs. We prayed over them, we talked at length about the pros and cons, we took as much time as we could to decide. Because in this case, taking in these two would give us a total of six children, three of which have special needs, all of which are under 7. Yikes. I'm sure you can appreciate our trepidation at such a prospect.

Yet, God made it abundantly clear to us that we needed to take in these young boys. So we agreed with great expectations and not a few hesitations.

We're a month into our new season with these kiddos and let me just say in all honesty and that its been hard. I mean capitol H A R D hard. I've found myself stretched to the max daily, hourly, minute by minute at times. Going to bed so many nights questioning if we've done the right thing. Waking up exhausted every morning not knowing how I'm going to make it through the day. I've found myself questioning if we made the right call, questioning our sanity, questioning my ability to continue on. I've grieved the loss of time with my own kids and time with my husband. I've missed meetings, missed church, and had to pull out of other ministries that I adored. Yes, it's been a radical life change to say the least.

I don't like it.

I don't enjoy it.

I don't even 'want' it at times.

And yet, even in the midst of the chaos I know that I'm sitting (or more realistically, splayed out) right where I'm supposed to be. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I'm being obedient.

In all honesty, I'm not that foster mom that's dreamed of doing this all her life. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad and there are definitely glimpses of awesomesness here and there. I for sure don’t hate this season. But I'm not that foster parent that has the proverbial huge heart for these kids. I foster because it's a ministry that God called us into and one that is worthy to be doing. I do it because it's Biblical and the right thing to do. I do it because I can't say no to my almighty Father- even when I want to- even when the ministry is not only not 'right down my alley' but quite frankly at times is not even in the same city!

This obedience-thing is not for the faint of heart! And it’s H A R D work.

Yet, my Father is good, even moreso in my vast weaknesses. He has me in Joshua right now and the encouragement I've found even within the first chapter has brought me more than once to tears. (It's like He knew!)

"Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouths. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:8-9 NIV

So where I am at with all this you may ask?

What I'm learning is that when God told Joshua over and over to be strong and courageous, He wasn't at all referring to taking the Promised Land. Jehovah was telling him to be strong and courageous in his obedience to Him. He was instructing Israel to be resolute, obstinate even, in their obedience.

Regardless of the outcome. Regardless of the scenery on the other side of that leap of faith.

Regardless of whether it makes my own life more pleasant or easy.

I'm learning slowly but surely that oftentimes 'ministry' that God calls us to doesn't necessarily come with the assumed great expectations of obedience that we all want. We assume that our obedience to Him will result in happier times, contentment, provision, or greener pastures.

Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Our saying yes to God and these boys certainly hasn't made our highways and byways clearer. In fact it's significantly impacted all of them. And yet, I'd venture to say that it's made their little pathways more manageable.

I'm learning is that my obedience is the only thing I can control. The rest is up to God: the provision for each day, the strength to continue on, the sanity to push forward, and even the wherewithal to choose to obey again...

and again... and again.

What I'm learning is that despite the seemingly extreme 'inconvenience' of this ministry God has placed on us, the idea of being outside His will and His way is far more terrifying. This season may not be one we would have chosen, it has not been ideal by any stretch, we can only hope and pray that it gets easier... but my expectations of my 'yes' are secondary to the work God has for me.

And suddenly the tables are turned. What great expectations I had placed on Him, are now turned and seen through His eyes upon me. His expectations for me must be quite grand to entrust some of His precious children to us for a time.

It turns out, I've learned I had this entire thing backward the whole time.

Dear ones, view whatever ministries God has called you to- easy, hard, good, bad, or ugly- as opportunities to step up in obedience and meet our Father's great expectations of you. It is no small thing to place you where He did with the treasured people and work He's entrusted you with.

You have your Father's great expectations upon you this day- be strong and courageous, be not discouraged!


You Are Loved

I wanted to pause with you for just a moment today to tell you that I love you.
We may have never met. We probably will never get the chance. For many, oceans separate us and miles of land stretch between our hearts.

And yet you need to know today that you sister are precious. Your life has meaning and purpose. Your soul is priceless. You were not a mistake. You were fearfully and wonderfully made before the testament of time could start recordings it’s annuals.

You are beautiful!

You, dear one, are loved. By me. By others. By so many. But mostly importantly by our Great Father. You are remembered in the heavenlies hourly. The steps of your life, both easy and rough, are numbered by God Himself.

Today take a moment to relish in the fact that you are cherished, adored, lifted up, wooed, and worried over. Yes- you! All of us! The daughters of the Most High are keenly beheld and fiercely protected. Believe this. Close your eyes and inhale the goodness of the Father. Listen for nature’s worship of our King. Feel the warmth of His enduring and faithful love wash over you and inside you.

Have hope in the goodness of your Father, find resolution in the sacrifice of your Brother and Bridegroom, be at peace with the Spirit residing and whispering within you. You are not alone. You are a precious jewel in the treasury of the Most High and He does not take your existence lightly. Be entranced by the favor you’ve found. Lift your head high, walk with authority, kneel humbly, and know you are loved.