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.

The Four Most Important Things Every Foster Family Needs To Know- Lessons From The Fostering Front

We recently took in and subsequently gave up two foster sons, all in the space of about 5 weeks. We loved a lot, we cried a lot, we prayed a lot, and boy did we learn a lot! Despite all the trainings and certifications, I wished that a few of these hard-won lessons had been told to us beforehand. As Gabe and I have reflected on everything over the last few weeks, as we’ve slowly brought our family back to normalcy (if there is such a thing), it occurred to me that getting what we learned out to the masses may not be a terrible idea. At the risk of being redundant, repetitive, too obvious, and re-inventing the wheel I’m going to assume that (like us) others may not have had these lessons taught to them anywhere in the vast fostering-world. So, without further ado, in no particular order, I give you my top four things you need to know but never have been told….

(To get a full-explanation of the entire situation, please read first blog of this set which sets the stage (and all the GodStuff that happened) for you.

It’s okay to say ‘no’.

Let me put it another way for those who don’t like to be negative- sometimes your best ‘yes’… is to say ‘no’. As most foster parents have no doubt discovered, there is no lack of calls to take kids. And despite the fact that we’d all take them all if possible- you need to hear from me (as I <clearly> speak for all authorities in this) that it is okay to say ‘no’ to some of these calls. I hate saying ‘no’, I know you do too. But I’ve come to find out that if my saying ‘yes’ robs someone else the opportunity to say ‘yes’ instead, if it disrupts my marriage, our family dynamic, my ongoing other ministries… then I’ve made the wrong call. Now don’t get me wrong, fostering at best will always be a <bit> of a disruption- children, whether bio or not, all tend to do that. Don’t misunderstand me… there will always be some stretching and adjustment that comes with each new placement. But if you’re already maxed- in time, energy, resources, bedrooms, carseats, finances, patience, etc. then ‘no’ may be a better and healthier Call. Kids need parents who have the time and energy to pour into them, love on them, lead and disciple them… an already stressed out mom or dad is not helping anyone. I’m giving you permission, here and now, to say ‘no’ if needed… and not feel terrible.

Discernment and prayer is key here as you seek God in who He wants in your house. Prayer is our go-to always for new placements. Sometimes He says ‘no’ to what would seem obvious great fits, other times He says ‘yes’ to the proverbial square-peg-in-a-round-hole placements. But let Him lead your decision-making, He won’t lead you astray.

You.Are.Not.Superman. It’s okay to ask for help.

I’m totally doing to pot and kettle thing here because I am the WORST at asking for help. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious pride thing or that it doesn’t even occur to me that I need it or maybe I’m just too freakishly busy to even have time to stop and ask… whatever the case may be- I’m sure some of you can relate. But I’m telling you right here and now that you not only will want help but you will have times when you need it (whether you want it or not.) Put away the cape and red undies and don’t try to be Superman- you’re not. Neither am I (hard as it is to admit!) So ASK .FOR. HELP. when necessary. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing assistance in this fostering world. No one on the planet, especially those who love you, are expecting you to do all of it on your own. That’s an impossible task and one that no one is up for. So plan on needing, wanting, begging for help at times.

For those of you who still need a push- think of it this way. There are many people who are not called to foster but still want to support those who do (by the way, send them this blog on ways to best help you) By ‘never needing help’ (insert eyeroll..) you’ve robbed them of an opportunity to serve you and the Lord. Throw these poor people a bone… and maybe some laundry or yardwork to do….

Sometimes your part to play is short and temporary- and that’s okay.

Some placements are long, some are short. The average length in care here in Missouri runs around 18 months. We’ve had our current for 10 months, the last two were about five weeks, the previous before that was less than 24 hours, and somewhere in there we were placed with one that after four days of preparation we never did get. It varies- and that’s okay. I used to get super frustrated with unpredictable length of time. I’m a planner and organizer and not knowing is generally irritating and at times downright infuriating (can I get an amen?) but I’ve learned that there is purpose and a plan in all of it. Don’t ever feel that your time with a child is not without value. You are an important link in their chain, no matter how small, and each second you spend loving on that kiddo will echo in their hearts and in eternity (for more on that, read part one of this blog here). Spend what precious moments you have in the best quality ways you can, and leave the quantity to the Lord. You just never know what He’s cooking up for these little ones!

If it’s not working out, it’s okay to make the call and give them up.

If you’ve read the sister post to this one, you know that our last placement was short and not-terribly sweet. I struggled with coming to my limits and desperately needing to give them back. I felt like a failure, a horrible foster mom, and an utter fraud. I figured if we couldn’t keep these kids, who seemed on paper a perfect fit for us and us for them, then surely no one else could either. I was simultaneously prideful and completely ashamed of myself- a very weird place indeed to be.

I think I had unwittingly fallen into the slightly martyr-like mindset that many foster families do. We are doing great work. We have a worthy and admirable ministry going on. It’s usually rough, it’s always hard. And I fell into a trap of pride within the struggle. Once that decision to take them was made, we put our heads down, our noses to the grindstone, and we were gonna keep them until the end… come hell or high water. We were committed. In it for the long run. Ready to bear these little burdens until someone took them off our backs.

I just never thought I’d be the one to ask to have them taken off.

The best piece of advice a fellow foster-mom told me was that it’s okay to say ‘uncle.’ For my sanity, the sake of my marriage, the health and welfare of the other children we had… I needed to see the situation for what it was- which was not working or at least not working well- and make the call.

It wasn’t failure- it was honest. I wasn’t a fraud- I was human.

I really, really needed to hear that. Maybe you will too someday. If it’s not working, for whatever reason, it’s okay to make that call.

I hope these thoughts are ones that help release you (if needed) from so much of the emotional gravity that fostering holds. I needed to learn them for my heart and head and I’m so happy that we had people who had gone before to lead us down these paths. If you are a foster parent, I’d love to hear your comments on these or others you’d suggest- be sure to comment below!

Be blessed!

Flowers Among the Snow - The Untimeliness of a Timely God

For Those Who Live In Southwest Missouri, We Get To Enjoy Truly All Four Seasons Of The Year... Sometimes In One Day. I Kid You Not, This Weather In This Part Of The Country Is Downright Bipolar At Times. Case In Point, it’s March and it snowed last night yet it was in the 60s last week. It's Kind Of A Thing Around These Parts. Being March and with (supposed) warmer weather right around the corner All Our Bulbs And Flowering Trees have started sprouting.  It's A Welcome Sign Of Spring And Refreshment For Those Of Us Yearning For Warmer Days. Church was cancelled this morning due to the snowy weather and between our family’s pancake breakfast, a rousing game of hide-and-seek with the older three kids, and some school-work I stealthily slipped in (go me!), I was able to spend a few quiet moments looking at the snow on the new sprouts and flowers. It Was Beautiful To See The Juxtaposition Of The Snow Over The Flowers- And Striking Because We Don't See The Clash Of Seasons Like This Very Often.

THE BEAUTY OF THE VISUAL IS IN THE UNIQUE AND RARE PRIVILEGE IT IS TO WITNESS

SOMETHING THAT OCCURS 'OUT OF SEASON'.

THE PICTURE IS NOTHING SHORT OF MIRACULOUS AND CARRIES A CERTAIN SENSE OF

SUPERNATURAL TOUCH WITH IT.

Those of you who know me or have followed me for any length of time, know that I've Felt Quite ‘Out Of Season’ for going on 3 years now. God Has Me Planted In A Very Odd Place At A Very Odd Time In My Personal Life And Professional Career. In My Limited Capacity, It Makes No Sense, it’s generally uncomfortable, and I don’t particularly <love> the spot He’s got me in. And Yet I Know Without A Doubt That I'm Being Obedient. In Fact, The Doors That He's Had Me Walk Through Have Been Slowly Coming, Bit By Bit.. He Even Gave The Extra Grace To Spur My Spirit Very Early On That These Changes Would Be Happening. So It Is Not A Surprise... And Yet The Timing Is Still Utterly Confounding. The ministries He’s placed in my lap and other’s He’s taken out of it seem to make no sense.

I feel very much like those new, lovely little flowers… full of promise of beauty and purpose, yet bewildered by the temperature and scenery of my current spot. Ministries, especially my writing and speaking (which is so very, very my heart and desire) has needs-be been put on the back-burner to make way for another ministry that I <like> but is certainly not my heart. (Feel free to read more about our fostering and that whole situation here.) A second mission and heart I had and was doing as the medical director for Camp Barnabas God also asked me to put down and quit. I did willingly, but again, not without some questions about His timing.

Yes, I am very, VERY out of season right now. My head and heart’s desires have been put away and I’m doing my darnedest to be obedient to what God would ask of me instead.

Some days I’m pretty good, others I question. As I’m sure many of you do as well.

From the beginning of this season, with God moving me away from flight nursing on the very week that my first book Helicopter Mom was launching (believe me, the irony was not lost on me- read this original blog about that particular week…) There Is A Ton That Doesn't Make Any Sense About It, Especially At This Particular Time, But God Could Not Have Opened More Doors More Fully Than He Did. Being Obedient Was Easy Because He Made The Path So Clear... Even When The Instructions Were A Bit On The "Whaaaat?!?" Side Of Things.

I'd Like To Think That The Snow We Have Was Sent Just For Me As A Reminder Of His Sovereignty. The Flowers Don't Question When And Where To Grow, They Just Obey Their Instructions. The Snow Doesn't Argue With God That It's Too Late In The Season To Fall, It Just Obeys His Command. All Of Creation, Nature, The Weather, The Seasons... They Grow And Thrive, Come And Go... At His Command. Without Questions, Without Raised Eyebrows Of The Timing, Without Arguing That Something Is 'Out Of Season' Or Makes No Sense. As A Result, A Rare And Beautiful Clash Of Seasons Occurs- One That Stops People In Their Tracks To Enjoy The Scenery And Marvel At The Supernatural Hand That Brought Together Such Unlikely Events. I need to remember and use their example. It always astounds me how much of an example in obedience nature can be to us.

Today I Want To Encourage You Dear Ones, For Those Of You Who May Be Feeling Like You've Been Planted In A Bizarre Or Untimely Season. Search Your Path, If You Know You're Walking In Obedience Then Take Heart That God Is Using This Unique Planting For Something Greater... Something More Beautiful... Something Striking That The World Will Stop And Take Note Of. God’s timing is always perfect, even when it seems untimely. His path for you is always straight, even if it feels like a roller-coaster. His instructions to you always have a plan and a purpose and we would do well to obey, even in the face of incredulity.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

When Ringpops Stand Between Heaven and Hell

I Was Teaching A <Rather> Competitive Class Of 4th Thru 6th Graders In Our Wednesday Night Church Program a few years back. When I Was Met Head-On With The Very Real Phenomenon Of This Current 'Everybody Wins' Culture. We Had Been Playing What Amounted To An Elementary Version Of The $10,000 Pyramid (An Oldie But A Goodie) With 2 Teams; And, As All Competitions Tend To Have... There Was A Winning Team And A Losing Team. You Know? Like Has Been For Thousands Of Years... WINNERS And LOSERS.

Before We Started I Had Promised The Class That The Winning Team Would Get Ring Pops When The Game Was Over. Obviously With Such A Prize On The Line This Was Serious Business. Holy Moly These Kids Were Ruthless! In An Attempt To Enable The Teams The Ability To Give Grace, There Were Multiple Instances Where The Answer To The Question Was Not <Quite> Right But Was Pretty Close- In These Circumstances I Made The Team Unanimously Decided Whether To Bestow A Point To The Other Team Or Not.

In One Instance Team 1 Decided To Give Team 2 The Point.

Later Team 1 Lost.

And Just A Bit Of Chaos Ensued. The Vast Majority Of The Team 1 Members Were Mad They Lost, And Even More Furious That They Had Given That Extra Point To The Opposing Team... A Point, That In The End Caused Them To Lose. I Had Every. Single. Teammate. Come Up To Me Within The Next 20 Mins And Ask For A Ring Pop Too. Down to the last member, they all fully expected a prize.

"Can't We All Just Have A Ring Pop?"

It Became Somewhat Comical (and alarming!) chorus Of 'Broken Hearts' That Followed Me Around.

Because I'm Mean, I Told Every Single One Of Them "No." No, Children, You CAN'T All Have A Ring Pop. The Rules Were Set At The Beginning, You Knew What They Were, You Played The Game, You Lost. You Don't Get A Ring Pop. They Were Scandalized That I Would Deny Them The Prize (And I'm Not Entirely Sure There Aren't A Couple Still Mad At Me...)

But, As I Stated, I'm Mean. I Laid Out The Rules And I Kept My Promise In Upholding Them.

As A Mom Of Four young kids I Am Increasingly Alarmed By Our Culture Of 'Everybody Wins', 'Everybody Gets A Prize', 'Participation Awards For Everyone!' I see the culture, even within the Christian community becoming more and more willing to bend rules (or in some cases break them altogether)- however macro or micro. But more than anything, I Fear That We Are Setting Our Kids, Our Teams, All The Next Generations For Absolute Spiritual Failure. ETERNAL FAILURE PEOPLE! I'm Talking HELL Here....

This Is Not Simply that We're Raising Generations Of Soft People, Or That They're Weak, Or That No One Has A Back-Bone Or Knows The Meaning Of Hard Work. I do not necessarily think that and it’s missing the point. No, This Is MUCH Deeper And The Root Of WHY We Can't Allow This Culture Of Prizes To Continue.

Because The Cold, Hard Truth Is That from an eternal perspective God Doesn't Give Out Participation Awards, He Doesn't Give Second Place, He's Not Planning On Changing The Rules Of Heaven And Hell.

We Either Play By The Rules He's Set And Go To Heaven Or We Go To Hell.

It's That Simple.

We Can't “All Get A Ring Pop” If We're On The Losing Team.

I Know It Sounds Harsh, It's Sounds Judgmental, I'm Sure I'll Get Some Flack For Writing About This. But Scripture Is Clear Dear Ones! There Are Rules, A Way To 'Win' And A Way To 'Lose'. There Is No In-Between. There Is Heaven And There Is Hell.

Romans 3:23 ...For All Have Sinned And Fallen Short Of The Glory Of God.

Romans 6:23 ...For The Wages Of Sin Is Death, But The Gift Of God Is Eternal Life.

The most confounding thing about this for many of these youths, and honestly much of the modern-day church in general is that God set it up like this because He loves us. His perfect love is also perfectly just- and regardless of how we like to define ‘love’, His particular brand of love (the only one that matters) will win out in the end. And it will most definitely have eternal consequences for everyone.

The rather alarming theology that is sweeping the American church of “Love Wins” and “everybody will get to heaven in the end” (of which this idea of “everyone gets a ringpop” supports in practice if not in theology) belies a basic and fundamental misunderstanding of the very nature of God. His perfect love IS perfect because it is also completely just. His love needs be absolute in it’s adherence to rules, to the guidelines He’s set in place, to the very Scriptures He’s put before us. To change such rules would contradict Himself with Himself- which of course is not gonna happen. Real love doesn’t have no boundaries, real love doesn’t bend or break rules, real love disciplines for the sake of the greater (i.e. eternal) lesson, real love sacrifices pleasure for integrity, being liked for being Biblical.

Romans 5:8 But God Demonstrates His Own Love For Us In This, While We Were Still Sinners, Christ Died For Us. 

Romans 10:9-10 If You Declare With Your Mouth, “Jesus Is Lord,” And Believe In Your Heart That God Raised Him From The Dead, You Will Be Saved. For It Is With Your Heart That You Believe And Are Justified, And It Is With Your Mouth That You Profess Your Faith And Are Saved.

Romans 10:13 ...For Everyone Who Calls On The Name Of The Lord Will Be Saved.

For those who may bemoan the seeming unfairness of this all, please take a look again at those verses. You See What The Bible Is Doing Here? It's Laying Out The Rules Of The 'Game' The Rules Of Our Eternal Life. It Tells Us How To Win. The Really Nice Thing Here Is That EVERYONE Can Be On The Winning Team. It's Simply A CHOICE To Be On It!

But Stay With Me Here, I Want To Speak To Why It's So Dangerous If Our Children And These Generations Of 'Everybody's A Winner' Don't Get A Clear Message From Us. Be Perpetuating This Fallacy, We Encourage The Idea That People Will Eventually Get The Reward, Even Just For Showing Up Or For Simply Participating in The Game; That At The Very Least There's A Door Prize At The End. That's Simply Not True When Eternal Consequences Are At Stake.

God Doesn't Give Participation Points at the doorsteps of heaven- at least not where spending eternity is concerned. Sitting In Church, Doing Good Deeds, Volunteering To Worthy Causes, Living A 'Good' Life, Giving That Extra Point To The Other Team To Be Nice- They Don't Count Towards Getting Into Heaven. They Just Don't.

Showing Up Doesn't Count.

Participation Doesn't Count.

Not everyone will be getting their eternal ringpops.

Matthew 7:13-14 Enter Through The Narrow Gate. For Wide Is The Gate And Broad Is The Road That Leads To Destruction, And Many Enter Through It. But Small Is The Gate And Narrow The Road That Leads To Life, And Only A Few Find It.

We Have To Show Our Children That Playing By The Rules And Making The Decision To Choose The Right Team (Eternally) Is Of Utmost Importance, That Losing Will Have Some Fallout, That Not Everyone Can Be A Winner All The Time Necessarily. These Lessons Can Have Eternal Ramifications! We Have To Exemplify And Model That There Are Consequences To Losing (We Can Only Hope It's As Minor As Losing Out On A Ring Pop!) (And Also Keep In Mind That On This Side Of Heaven There Are Some GREAT Lessons To Be Learned In The Face Of Loss!) There Are Times When We Don't Get The Prize- No Matter How Hard We Worked For It Or Practiced Or Played. There Is Always Fallout From Losing- Whether We Choose To Acknowledge It Or Not.

There Will Be A Time When God Will Judge Us And Either See Christ, His Son, In Us Or Not. He's Made It Easy, He's Told Us Which Side To Choose, He's Laid Out The Rules Crystal-Clearly, There's (Thankfully) No Practice-Makes-Perfect Involved. It's Simply A Gift And There's NO Losing On God's Side!

And THAT, Dear Ones, Is The Ultimate Win. The Ultimate Prize. The Ultimate Ring-Pop!

BUT We Had To Have Played By The Rules And Picked The Winning Side.

So Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Friends, And Neighbors- Don't Give Out The Ring Pops To Everyone. Let Your Children Fail And Feel The Consequences (No Matter How Light Or Harsh) Because In The End, Their Eternities Will Be Molded By Letting Them Feel And See The Results Of The Games They Play- The Winning And The Losing. Each Has It's Own Lesson To Learn; And Those Lesson Will Follow Them Into Eternity.

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Hebrews 12:5-11 NIV

This is a timely reblog from several years ago. Read the original one here!

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!

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.

Counting Joy

Joy is an odd thing. It’s hard to get my head around this feeling at times because, as we all know, feelings are fickle. As humans are feelings are almost wholly dictated by circumstances- by what is happening to or around us. We are happy when things go well, proud of accomplishments, sad with loss, frustrated with adversity, angry with injustice. Our feelings, for better or worse, usually depend on our surroundings.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And yet, in this passage, Janes tells us to take joy in trials. It’s an odd encouragement, and not a little contrary to our natural instincts.

“Count it joy”.... choose joy, find joy; our brother is telling us to determine our feelings through resolution in our minds.... not BECAUSE of our circumstances but in SPITE of them. We have to look around, take in the atmosphere and decide how we’re going to feel about it. We can stop feeling recklessly and start choosing how we feel. We don’t need to be victims of uncontrolled emotions.

Yes, we can count hard trials as unfair, be offended, angry, frustrated- that’s certainly the natural tendency of our flesh. God has set us apart for something better however; we can count it joy that God has chosen to place us within a situation where He has plans to grow us.

Dear ones, every situation that is less than ideal is an opportunity to choose joy. To determine in our minds, intentionally, to FEEL joyful- regardless of what is happening. Better yet... BECAUSE of the trial. If we are to believe in the truth that in our weakness He is made strong, then we must also acknowledge that during these hardships His purposes are to magnify Himself through us.

We can’t do that mad. We can’t do that upset. We can’t do that bitter or resentful. We can’t do that with unforgiveness.

We can’t do that if we’re not counting these trials as joy.

The best part about this is that our Heavenly Father meets us within the storm. “...do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And just like that, we have supernatural strength in the midst of the mess. Joy of our Lord glorifies Him and strengthens us as well. We only need to determine in our hearts to feel it- to know it. And by knowing Him, we can always know joy... no matter what.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Dear ones may I leave you today with the dictionary’s definition of joy. Meditate on its wonderful implications when viewed through the lens of the Joy of the Lord.

1a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight. b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety. 
2 : a state of happiness or felicity : bliss. 
3 : a source or cause of delight. joy.

The Naked Truth

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
‭‭John‬ ‭17:15-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Truth and Lie meet one day. Lie says to the Truth, "It's a glorious day today!" Truth looks up to the skies suspicious of Lie's comment, but ultimately sighs... for the day was really beautiful.

They spend a lot of time together, Lie mimicking Truth's behavior and mannerisms. Lie was very much taken with Truth's garments, her countenance and grace. The two ultimately arrive beside a well. Lie tells Truth, "The water is very nice, let's take a bath!" Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it, indeed, is very nice. They undress and start bathing.

Suddenly Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of Truth, and runs away. Alarmed and stunned, Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find Lie and get her clothes back. Yet she cannot recover them, nor can she catch up with Lie- for Lie is quite fleeting and rapidly moves. Truth cannot stand the feel of Lie's clothing, they are old and rotted, unfit for the World's eyes. So Truth is left naked.

The World, seeing Truth naked, turns its gaze away with contempt and rage, rejecting her outright. No one comes to her aid because they don't like the discomfort of viewing her stark appearance or the irritation she brings by her presence. Truth is uncomfortable to the World. Poor Truth returns to the well and disappears from view, ashamed of her nakedness, cold and alone.

Since that long ago time, Lie travels around the world dressed as Truth, masquerading as light and rightness, morality, and integrity. And the world blindly accepts Lie as Truth. The World sees the outer appearance, dressed finely and attractively, unaware and careless of what actually lies beneath the clothing.

To this day Truth can be hard to find, she must be sought with intention, found with discretion, and recognized by her appearance. She is most often alone, sometimes afraid, but always in the Right. Her nakedness can be jarring for those who aren't prepared for it, but the beauty and quiet strength of naked Truth will always overcome the darkest of Lies. (Adapted from the legend of Truth and Falsehood.)

Dear ones, today I challenge you to look hard at your hearts and discern the lies that you have bought into. I pray that God would shine His light of Truth, uncomfortable is it may be to look at, on the facades that the Evil One would have you believe. Seek the Holy One through the appearances of mankind and look upon the face of what Truths are in your life. Look for Truth with intention and reject whatever facade of false ideas have taken root.

Today I want you all to step out in boldness and comment below with a lie that has entangled you and then replace that with Truth. Be bold and fearless!

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-8 ESV

Jean_Léon_Gerome_1896_La_Vérité_sortant_du_puits.jpeg

Truth Coming Out Of Her Well

1896 painting by the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Raah

He feeds me the bread of life. He gives me rest in Him. He leads me to quiet water so I may drink of Him until I thirst no more. He restores my soul. He guides me in righteousness. I follow His safe paths. His sheep am I.

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An Open Letter from God

Do not fear! I am with you. I love you and walk with you. I will never leave you. Situations and circumstances may change, but I will never change. Lean on me for strength... I will strengthen you for every task. For I go before you. I will not leave you. I know every desire of your heart. I want to be the  JOY of your life. I will satisfy your every need and desire in my perfect timing. I will anoint you. I will show you when to speak and when not to say a word. I love you. You are mine. The plans I have for you are great! Trust me. Every step you take I have already gone before you. Let my shoulder be the one you rest your head upon. Lean on me completely... Do not worry- just trust and pray. Tell me everything. I will guide you and give you wisdom. The things that frustrate you... Tell me and no one else. I will give you insight you need to find resolution. Know that I see you and haven't forgotten you... You are not alone. I am here, closer than you think... As close as your next breath. Do you really need me? Why do you wait so long to find me? Why do you run to others? Am I not faithful? I will be faithful to you... You must first look and want my faithfulness. I've placed you here for this time, this season, at this location. I know it's too much for you to do on your own... But I never intended you to do it on your own. Depend on me. I am here. Lean on me. I will do the work if you'll just be willing to let me. I want you to hear my voice as clearly as you hear me right now. I want to tell you things, but I need you to listen. I need you to find more time to be still before me. When you draw near to me- I will draw near to you... That's when you will hear and find me. You want to hear me... Are you listening? You want to see me... Where are you looking? You want to touch me... Are you reaching? You want to please me? Why do you look for others approval? Transition is coming and I have great plans for you. Yield to me and I will do great things through you and in each area you touch. Do not grow weary, but depend and lean on me. I love you and I am closest than you'll ever know. I know the burdens and worries in your heart. I'm taking care of them one at a time. I'm preparing you for what I've planned and my timing is perfect. You can trust me and put your guard down with me. I know what you really carry, let me carry it for you. Don't forget to dream. Continue to seek new visions, more creativity and ideas for what's ahead. I'm going to move and I am going to use you! I will give you favor and I will do mighty things. I've already started using you in ways you do not see! Trust me. Depend on me. Rest your head on my shoulders and I will carry you. I love you so deeply and I want you to remember that I am closer than you realize. I'm in your heart. I know your insides and outs... I know you deeply, but I want you to know me in the same ways. I love you,

Abba

 

(given to me with permission to share by anonymous)