Thursday, July 28, 2016

2,555 Days to Gratitude

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2,555 days ago. I can still recall it like yesterday. We were sitting in the hospital room waiting for test results, laughing and talking, when the neurosurgeon on call walked in. Dr. King asked us to sit with him at the computer as he patiently explained where the tumor was located, and what they were planning to do. I squinted at the the black and white photo on the screen, and I willed myself to keep breathing. As the voice in my head screamed out question after terrifying question, I practiced my breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out.

He looked intently at me. “Do you have any questions?” I remained silent, unwilling to vocalize the only question in the front of my mind. Instead I smiled and thanked him.

After he left, I jumped into Mommy-mode. There were phone calls to make, people to talk to, children to provide for. The activity kept the fear and anxiousness at bay.

Surgery day started early, but it was promised to be a quick one-day event. I could rest when he was safe in his room again. Surrounded by friends and family, we prayed, laughed, talked, and ate as two hours stretched to eight, and then ten. After 12 hours, a nurse came to get me and take me to the recovery area to speak to the surgeon. As Dr. Talley gave the details of the surgery, I listened without understanding; his words didn’t relay any meaning. I silently followed him to see my husband.

As I sit thinking back over those hours and days, I’m struck by the number of believing people that God placed in our path. From praying nurses, to long-lost friends, God sent person after person to speak encouragement and healing to us. But I didn’t see it as clearly then.

I remember staring out the barred window, tears streaming down my face. The darkened room was claustrophobic, stifling. I hadn’t slept for more than two hours at a time in more than two weeks. I struggled to formulate a sentence. This woman of faith and power couldn’t remember how to pray. I needed help.

I finally went home to shower at the doctor’s insistence. I turned on the TV for some kind of noise, and began drying my hair. Suddenly I hear the TV preacher say, “Someone is sitting on their bed right now, watching this program and wondering why God is silent. Where is He? Does He even see you? And this is what He is saying: He isn’t ignoring you.The teacher doesn’t talk during the test.”

The teacher doesn’t talk during the test. The test is to prove what we already know, what we have already learned, and where the knowledge gaps may be. He isn’t silent; He’s proctoring the test.

James 1:2-4 reads, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” Through the tests and challenges, God pointed out the places in my life that needed to be re-evaluated and freshly surrendered. I saw the places that I had allowed bad seeds to grow, and remain unchecked. My heart garden went through a major pruning process in order to find any sight of the gift: gratitude.

I’d like to say that after that day I had no doubts, but the road to gratitude has been painstaking. I have had to weed my heart's garden continuously, working to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5).

But through the last 2,555 days, God has proven Himself more than faithful, more than gracious, more than able. He has sung over my restless thoughts (Zeph. 3:17), led me to refreshing waters (Ps 23:2) and called me to rest (Matt 11:29). God in His wisdom chose to not totally heal my husband (yet), but He has given partial healing with full grace. He has asked us to trust Him, thank Him, and praise Him for the gifts we don’t understand. He has asked us to hold unto His hand as we walk through the dark, and He has taught us to listen for His whispers. He has shown us that true gratitude doesn’t depend on our circumstances, but only on our hearts.

This isn’t the path I would have chosen, but these last 2,555 days have lead to a beautiful place: gratitude.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Stronger Conference

Having a great day in Orlando, Fl with the women of the PenFlorida Women's ministry. Post a question or comment about the conference  and lets start a conversation.

Love and Respect pt 1


Saturday, January 5, 2013

The One Who Sees

Each New Year’s Day approaches, and people ask, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” I actually strongly dislike resolutions; it seems like I’m constantly saying I need to do the same things over and over, but no real progress is ever made. Sound familiar?

But resolutions, or goals, are God-given steps for achieving amazing things. Yes, God-given. Throughout the Bible, God tells us to set goals for ourselves, to determine what we are going to do, and work a plan to accomplish it. Often in my own life I have found that a revelation from God spurs me to make a new goal or resolution.

Genesis 16 records a new name for God: Jehovah El-Roi, the God Who Sees Me. Ironically, this name was not revealed to Abram, the man whose faith in God’s promises was credited to him as righteousness. No, it was revealed to a woman, a slave, named Hagar. Hagar was considered Sarai’s (Abram’s wife) personal property—she didn’t have an identity outside of who owned her. And it was to this one that God revealed one of His most intimate characteristics: He sees me.

The word “see” may lose something in our English language. In Hebrew, this word can mean to be visible, to perceive, to give attention to, to discern. God doesn’t simply see us, He understands us. In fact, the angel of the Lord who speaks to Hagar tells her to name her baby Ishmael because God has taken notice or heed of her deep grief and pain.

Does that give you hope today, friend? Hope that in the middle of your chaos, in the middle of your pain, in the middle of your happiness, joy, excitement, or grief, God sees you. And not only does He see you, He gets you. He understands you, He knows the back story, the reasons you feel the way you do. He doesn’t see through you; He sees you.

Maybe this account isn’t new to you. Maybe you’ve heard it spoken on many times, or read it repeatedly over the years. But maybe today, in the middle of what you are doing, in the midst of the dailyness of it all, I can whisper some hope to you: God sees you. You are not alone, you are not forgotten, you are not invisible.

And may that whisper spur you on to a resolution: to know the One who sees you. To not just know about Him, but get to know Him. To actually live as if you understand how much He loves you, and to allow that knowledge to change the way you live out your faith in God, your love for your family, your interaction with other people, and the way you work. He sees you. He loves you. And He wants to help you to become the person you were created to be.

I love that God revealed himself to a slave girl, and not Abram or even Sarai. No one thought she was very special, and that gives me hope that He would want to reveal himself to me.

In Beth Moore’s book, Believing God, she has a list or resolutions based on Genesis 15.

                     1. “God is who He says He is.”   
                     2. “God can do what He says He can do.”
                     3. “I am who God says I am.”
                     4. “I can do all things through Christ.”
                     5. “God’s Word is alive and active in me.”
                     6. “I’m believing God!”

May these resolutions lead you to a place of hope in the Jehovah El-Roi, the God Who Sees.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Restlessness

“Our hearts are meant to be connected to the Creator of our souls, when they are not we are restless. Augustine of Hippo said, ‘You have made us for yourself, o Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you’” (p. 25, Beautifully Gifted, Angela Bisignano, 2011).

New Year’s Day we went around the sanctuary of the church, and each one of us pulled a scripture from the “Promise Box”. This was to be your verse for the coming year, and we all committed to pray the verse, and ask God to reveal Himself through it. The verse I pulled was Ex. 33:14, “The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Five weeks later we were asked to resign.

My verse has been plaguing me ever since. Nothing about this year has been restful—from losing our job and ministry, moving to another county, joining another church, beginning my secular job—everything seems to be another level of pain and despair, not rest with one loss after another. I have felt like my heart has been a constant place of turmoil.

As I began reading Beautifully Gifted, I wondered, “Is this the piece of the puzzle that I’ve been missing?”

Throughout this whole season, I have continued to seek God, worship God and study His Word, albeit in a much different form. My heart has been hurt. I feel embarrassed to say that He has hurt my feelings. I didn’t have any desire to be a Job—I wasn’t looking to have a book written about me, or have my life used in deep theological debates about the love and provision of God toward those who follow Him. But here we are. And even typing those words out seems to be a pompous, conceited thing. Who am I, in the big scheme of Kingdom thinking, to even imagine that I would be considered a Job?

I keep hearing that we give too much credit to the enemy, and that many more times than not, we are not under attack from the Satan, we are reaping the harvest of our own stupidity. While I agree with that thought to a point, but when we are following the commands listed in the Word to tithe, to be merciful, to love and forgive, and everything is still going south, isn’t it safe to think that the enemy has something to do with it?

I have repeatedly asked God to show me what is lurking beneath the surface of my heart. Those things that I am embarrassed to show anyone; frankly, I’m too embarrassed to view them myself. But as each part of what I thought was my life has been stripped away, I have found ugliness hiding in the shadowplaces. Anger, rage, bitterness, fear—all reared their replusive heads as my world began to shake and crumble. With each new issue, some other sinful attitude displayed itself, and I repented as I saw it. How could I have so much still there?

But they just keep coming, one after another. So many issues, so many attitudes and emotions. Then I watched a video of “Wednesdays with Beth Moore” today. She said at one point that everything comes back to faith, and that God cares more about our faith than our righteous acts. Often we are confused about feeling like we are back to Faith 101 class in our lives, but that is because we always come back to faith in our walk with Christ. It is part of the process that God has in place; each level of our relationship with Jesus requires a deeper level of faith. So maybe the feeling of going back to Faith 101 means that we are on the brink of a new level, a new deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus that demands that our faith be stretched, and our spiritual capacity enlarged.

This gave me hope today. I’ve felt so lost and confused, like I’ve been trying to look through a dirty window caked with mud. I can see shapes and shadows of something out there, but I can’t quite make out what it is. Now I think the point is found in Romans 4:20-22. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised. This is why it was credited to him as righteousness.” Beth Moore went on to say that there is always a “yet” when it comes to faith, always an opportunity to doubt. But when we choose to look beyond what we can see with our natural eyes, and focus with eyes of faith, we will not waiver in our belief of God’s promises either.

I’d like to tell you that everything is clear now, and I understand why God is taking us down this path. But that is not true. What is true, however, is that I’m more convinced than ever that God is working His character in our lives, and it is our job to cooperate with Him by choosing to believe in the promises in His word, and not what we see with our eyes. I’m searching for ways to rest in God, so my heart will not be restless.

I’m rewriting Romans 4:20-22 out on another index card, but I’m changing the pronoun from “he” (Abraham) to “she” (Judi). Want to join me in praying these promises this week, and see how God transforms our thoughts?

I’d love to hear how God is teaching you to overcome your own soul restlessness.

In pursuit of Zoe,

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Check this out....

Hey friends!

Still processing my weekend at She Speaks, and preparing for my first Bible study coming out this Monday, but I wanted to share a post my friend Melinda Todd wrote on helping a friend with depression. A must read.....

In pursuit of zoe,

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Short Hiatus

Hey friends!

I need to take a short hiatus as I prepare for She Speaks. I have two messages to prepare, as well as trying to finish moving to our new city, and several speaking engagements between now and then.

It is an incredibly exciting time....but I covet your prayers as we begin the next step in this new adventure.

Thank you for following along with the ride!

In pursuit of zoe,