Thursday, December 11, 2014

A silly fear is now a powerful hope

A silly fear is now a powerful hope

Six years ago as Jesus was calling out to me I learned of God’s sovereignty (among so many other of His traits) which for me first meant He was everywhere, all the time…even when I was in the shower? I don’t like to be with me in the shower and now the King of Kings is hanging out with me…naked? Last night at Life Group we discussed God’s sovereignty and two of us thought these questions weren’t even worth asking, “What are the upsides to God being sovereign? Are there any downsides or negatives?” Of course now my Holy maturity level is grown up and informed so at first I scuffed, the world may see negatives with it but I am grateful for it, it is all an upside until the Holy Spirit gently reminded me how freaked out I once was by God’s sovereignty and possibly the Heavenly Realms looking over me…in the shower. I confessed amidst laughter and realized now, my body so riddled by the effects of my underlying terminal condition I can sometimes only shower twice a week and that is with a shower chair allowing me to stop and rest, I pray harder and more constantly for God during those showers than at any other point in my day! I am desperate for Jesus and the angels to be there protecting me, giving me strength to not only get through the shower but be able to get out without cracking my head on the side of the tub and then I still have to get dressed and comb through this lovely head of hair.
               This morning it had me reflecting on a subject God often brings to my heart: perspective. Oh how fragile a concept when we let our feelings rule our thoughts and choose to dwell in hurts, pain, sadness or even pleasure and happiness instead of letting God lead and rule our thoughts. As we are two weeks away from Christmas Day, in the middle of the Advent Season where we are focusing our hearts and minds on, “The true Reason for the Season,” Christ Jesus many of us have heartache looming around the corning, have fears about facing family on a day that should most defiantly be one of merriment and celebration, worry that we won’t be able to enjoy the abundance of food without over indulging and being left with guilt and even shame. During Advent we are all making an attempt to stop and remember Jesus, to rejoice in His birth but I strongly believe that Jesus also wants us to look around and remember that those dark places we have in our own hearts the person next to us had too, labels may be different but the feeling of isolation, loneliness and stress are the same.
I am going to spend the next fourteen days intentionally checking my perspective so I can both rejoice over the birth of my Savior and gently encourage and comfort during this Holiday season so at least one person in my sphere of influence can take a refreshing breathe of, “ME TOO” and I can boldly live out Matthew 25:40 MSG “Then the King (Jesus) will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’” As so many of for me. 

Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people. Colossians 3:23 CEB

Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. 3:23-24 MSG

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The ABC's of gratitude

  "Gratitide is a dialysis of sorts. It flushes the self-pity out of our systems." Max Lucado in Before Amen

A.     Carmel Apple Walnut Pie from Fresh Market
B.     My Boys: Mateo, Steel & Colton
C.     The Camera on my Smartypants phone so I can capture all those great shots of my dawgs: Cherry who is my old lady dawg, Monroe who will always be my puppy and Baby Burt
D.     Traci’s Discernment super power that I don’t listen to nearly enough
E.      Life Everlasting and knowing that no matter how sick I get here on earth I will have life after this
F.      Harmless Flirting because now I know I won’t take them home and harmless means I am not grieving the Holy Spirit
G.     Group 1 and all of the victory, vulnerability and sisterhood
H.     Heaven is the point, my true destination and I the motivation it gives me to live for it here on earth
I.       Abraham & Isaac which opened me up to the OT and the parallel of sacrifice between this story and God and Christ
J.       Jeremiah and the promises God gave him that showed me how I was never a mistake or a burden
K.      King Jesus for having me covered and being the constant in authority, stability and love I always needed
L.      Laughing, especially Mateo’s
M.    Melissa Taylor’s vision, obedience and light
N.     Nicki Taylor’s spunk, charm and Jesus perspective
O.     Knowing the hand Operation is in God’s hands, see what happened there ;)
P.      My adorable and unexpectedly cutesy Purse
Q.     My Quest Study Bible – she is beaten up and highlighted and written on but THE thing I would save if this place went up in flames

R.     Not hating the last name I was born with anymore, Ramos
S.      Steel, I just get him and he is nuts and all over the place but I speak Steel and I am proud of it
T.      The Sidewalk Prophets for being one of the tools that God used to soften my Mom’s heart toward Jesus CLICK here for: The 1st Worship Song my Mom loved!
U.     The hilarity of watching people try to use Umbrella’s in Central, Il or Downtown Chicago where it rains sideways people!!!
V.     Victory in Christ over so many things: self-hate, lust, self-loathing, relationship addiction
W.   Water! I drink as much as 180 ounces a day and with each glass I can feel healing work in my body
X.      Duncan AleXander Ferguson for forcing me to love reading and learning
Y.      YouTube so I can watch Bing Crosby and David Bowie and swoon over Bing as they sing Little Drummer Boy CLICK Here for: The video of Crosby and Bowie
Z.      Wasn’t this one obvious, The Zeller’s for so much: Adopting me, allowing me to walk so closely with them, treating me like family, dealing with my drama, my vacation home, laundry, meals, laughter, tears, a place to call home on this earth while I wait for Jesus to take me home to Heaven. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18The Message (MSG)
16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Common English Bible (CEB)
16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

God Box for #BeforeAmen Group 1

“The time has come for a clean start, I fresh slate. God does not see the marks of your past. Instead, he sees this: “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands.” (Isaiah 49:16). God has written your name where he can see it. In the end that is the only tattoo that matters.” Max Lucado, Chapter 6 in Before Amen

The activity: To gather together this week and each make a vessel (a God Box) where we can physically lay before God our worries, our anxieties, issues we need victory over and healing from, our guilt, shame, places where we need forgiveness for hurts done to us or hurts we have done to someone else.

Video 1: Why and a little 
bit of how...

Video 2: Short and silly 
for video 3 and the 
opening of my God box...

Video 3: Opening my God
box that I hadn't laid 
hands on in at least three
Some video clarifications with video 3. The quote I assumed was from a TV show is actually an article written by Max Lucado that I must have read during this journey and is called, Two Tombstones: The Story of the Samaritan Woman and Jesus Christ - how cool is that! I am not good with remembering dates and anniversaries. I actually originally did this December 2010 but I keep saying three years in the videos.

               As I said in video one a God box can be used for many different reasons, originally mine was a worry box over things that I feared I couldn’t control or be healed of. Since I do not remember who led me to creating my first box, I don’t have a website or email to share with you about how to create your own. I do know what worked for me.

·        Whatever vessel you choose your God box to be in, once it is sealed you cannot open it again until, like I did last night, you know you have had victory and want to reflect on how far God has brought you.
·        Be aware of how much attention you pay to the box. I remember those first couple days after I made it and started placing items in it I was fixated with it and knew I could not hide it, there was going to be victory from having it be in plain sight so God could really work on changing my heart.
·        Pray as you give the item to God, as you place the issue in your God box. What worked for me, “Jesus take this. I don’t want to dwell in this any longer. I want to let go and let God.”
Let go and let God became a mantra in my life. I scribbled it on my mirror, bathroom walls, on the windshield of my car facing in so I could read it as a drove. My Mom was still pretty uncomfortable with my relationship with God then and she even jumped on board, as she could see a huge change happening in me once I made the box, and she bought me a Let go, Let God bookmark. Which meant she also, on her own, went into a Christian bookstore and as you will see her salvation was a God box issue for me.

Lastly, I feel God urging me to offer myself to you gals, completely as you take this activity on. We need to always turn to Him first but He also made us to walk through this life together. If you are tempted, scared, encouraged or anything else over this process please feel free to contact me via our Group page or private message me on FB and I will share my cell phone # with you if you would like but I thought it dangerous to post it here on a public blog. I also am willing to answer any questions about my original journey with my first God box and look forward to this one as well. 

God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
Psalm 103: 12-14 MSG