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Hiding Among the Baggage

I Samuel 10 is such an interesting passage. As we read it, we get a glimpse of Saul that we don’t normally see. Usually Saul is portrayed as the over the top personality, and we only really hear stories of him after he goes crazy with his jealousy over David’s fame.

But 1 Samuel 10 is where his fame began, and Saul hid from it.

Samuel anoints Saul as king, prophesies over Saul, and predicts the events of the next several hours in order to convince Saul that God truly was anointing him.  But there had never been a king in Israel before, and Saul was not about to eagerly jump into the position.

Three important statements from this passage:

  1. “Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you”
  2. God gave him another heart.
  3. he has hidden himself among the baggage

Saul was anointed, changed into a new man, had the Spirit of God rush upon him, and he knew exactly what God had called him to do, but yet he still hid among the baggage.

I’m a lot like Saul.  I have the Spirit of the Lord.  I can testify to the fact that God has changed me and is continually changing my heart. But yet at times I still try to hide among the baggage.   Not literally “baggage”, but maybe behind my kids? or behind my husband? or behind my quest for significance?  If I evaluate myself honestly, I spend plenty of time making excuses or justifying why I haven’t fully embraced what God has called me to do.

Listening to God can, at times, be scary.  People often say God won’t give you more than you can handle.  Complete lie.  God will definitely give you more than YOU can handle.  Just not more than HE can handle.  Complete reliance and trust in God that He will equip you to do what He asks of you can be really scary but yet completely freeing all at the same time.  In fact, the more we jump out from behind the “baggage” and embrace what God has before us, the more we experience the freedom He desires for us.

What is it that God has anointed for you to do?  Be still and ask if, like Saul, you are hiding instead of walking into the scary unknown in front of you to accomplish the purpose God has set up.

Complaining is a Slippery Slope

Lately I’ve been reading through the book of Numbers. For some reason, this book is always particularly challenging to me. So in the turmoil of moving, I started spending time in the book of Numbers again. When I began studying chapters 11-13, God began to truly convict me.

The chapters start with the people complaining about their misfortunes.  They started with a simple complaint about their life. This led to discontentment with what God had given them. Once they were discontent, they became possessive and jealous over positions of authority. Once they became possessive and jealous, they quickly became judgemental of those in authority. The end result was a complete lack of trust toward what God had done and was doing among the Israelites. So much so, they couldn’t even step into the promised land. The land that was perfect for them. The land God promised He would give them.

And it all started with complaints.

The complaints even seem small at first. I mean they were living in tents, in the dessert, with very little water, and no variety in food.

But still we see their slippery slope of demise begin with these simple complaints.

And simple complaints were what seemed to fill my mind as we began the moving process.

If only the kids would settle down. If only they would adjust quicker. If only we had the money to enroll them in activities. If only we could afford our own house so we wouldn’t have to move twice. If only….

When I focus on the “if only”, my focus immediately shifts from who God is, and I begin to crave what I don’t have. The cravings lead to jealousy of what others have which in turn leads to an absolute lack of trust in God.

The cycle is quick and happens before you even noticed it began.

And then I sat down with the kids to go through our Bible verse for the week, and God speaks through them to stop my complaining.

“A peaceful heart brings healing to the body but envy rots the bones.” Prov. 14:30

As we talk through what envy means, the girls say,

“I’m envious that we can’t do gymnastics. ” “I’m envious I don’t get to do ice skating lessons.” “I’m envious…. “ and the examples kept coming from them. So we started to talk about the things they wanted to do.

I heard myself asking them if God always gives us EXACTLY what we need. They responded yes and started giving examples of how God has provided for us. Then we talked about how all things come through the hand of God. We finally came around to discussing how God has a plan for each girls’ life and how He will always accomplish it.

By the end of the conversation, one of the girls laughed and said, “its silly to be envious then because God gives us everything we need even if we think we need more.”

The other girl responded, “yeah, and plus envy rots your insides and the only way to heal your insides is to trust God is taking care of you.”

Talk about summarizing the Israelites (and me at times, if I’m honest) in a nutshell. Envy rotted their insides so that they were never satisfied and could never trust what God was doing.

When we trust the Bible as God’s Word, when we truly believe what it says is truth, when we agree the best way to live life is in obedience to God, we are able to finally understand the destructive nature of simple complaints.

Lord give me the grace to see daily life as a gift from you, lacking in nothing, and full of exactly what you desire.

The Adventure is Beginning

The first contact came just days after we had our first conversation about what God was doing in our hearts. We both felt stirrings from God, but what they were for or what God was desiring what still unclear. Then a call came.

The call happened during a stressful week, a busy season, and an overwhelming schedule. Usually during big moments, we have time to sit in silence, listen to God, talk to each other, and just think. Not this time.

This time God brought an incredible request to us and then separated us and forced us to process the request individually with God alone.

It was hard. I was anxious. I was stressed. Then I would pretend like there was nothing to think about and life was just like it had always been. But through it all, God kept whispering into my heart, “be still and be silent. Don’t badger Brent with questions or comments. Be silent and just listen.”

So I kept silent. For nearly a month and watched and listened to Brent process.

He discussed his emotions, his desires, his dreams, his ambitions, his fears, and even lack of clarity from God concerning what our next step should be. I simply listened and prayed like crazy. Calls like this have come in the past and what God wanted us to do was always very clear. This time I knew it was different. I also knew that God was doing something incredible and so both Brent and I were going to be under attack.

So for a month, I listened to God, listened to Brent, rarely spoke about the issue, and prayed for protection for us as we followed in obedience to God. It was difficult.

But then this moment came when God simply opened my mouth and said “speak”. I looked across at Brent, spoke the truth of God’s Word, and it was as if an incredible burden lifted from both of us. It was at that moment we decided God was leading us forward, and we needed to fully investigate if God was calling us to a new church.

The more we stepped forward, the more God confirmed we were to keep moving forward. I honestly kept having this thought in the back of my head that said, “don’t worry. Any moment God is going to say stop.” But God never said stop. He just kept opening doors.

So the day after Christmas, we called the pastor of WestWind church in Waukee, Iowa and told them we would accept their job offer. I will always and forever remember the excitement of that moment…the moment we agreed to follow God on this next great adventure. And quite the adventure it will be! Moving our family of 5 across the country in the MIDDLE of winter can only be an adventure from God!

To be continued……

Advent

Advent is a season of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I love that word expectant.    Oftentimes we are willing to wait, and wait, and wait, and we deal with the waiting by staying busy and not thinking about the fact we are waiting for something.

Advent is different.  This is a waiting with expectation.  That expectation is what makes the waiting exciting.  That expectation is what keeps our focus on Christ in the midst of a long season of silence.

So I have tried to instill that expectation, that excitement of what is to come, in my kids this Christmas season.  This preschool advent book is helping us in the process.

Every night we are reading and talking about the stories leading up to Christ’s birth.  They make an ornament over the story as we discuss.  They are always so curious about what the ornament is going to be and excited to sit and make something for our tree.

Every year we try different advent ideas, and this year’s has been my favorite so far.  All three kids truly are waiting with expectation for the story and ornament making craft at night.

They’ve even enjoyed acting out a scene or two

The point is, waiting with expectation is fun.  In the past I’ve tried to hard to make things serious and prepare their little hearts for more than they could ever possibly understand.  This year, I’m focusing on learning to wait with expectation for the incredible things God is about to do.

 

Perspective

Driving down the road the other day, I hear Elliana  say:  “Look, its so beautiful.  It must be heaven.”

 

I hear Justus a few seconds later state:  ”Ahhh.  Its an alligator and its going to eat you!”

 

The same situation.  Same image in front of them.  One perspective sees the beauty laying in front of us.  The other perspective sees the danger.

Life can be like that sometimes, can’t it?  Some days we wake up and our perspective is great, and we see a little bit of God’s hand in every circumstance.  Other days we wake up and our perspective is not so great, and we struggle to see God in anything.

Perspective truly is everything.  God’s word tells us:

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?(Psalm 56:4 ESV)

When we trust, I mean completely trust that God is in control, our perspective truly does change.

We are able to walk with confidence that He is leading and watching over us.  We are able to look at what might be an alligator chasing us and begin to see the hand of God reaching down to bless us.

 

 

Needing a Change in Perspective

I’ve been reading a few different books lately and just wanted to share two of them with you this morning.

The first book is called Plan B by Pete Wilson


So many good truths and great perspectives in this book. Its an easy read, but such a necessary read. He takes the Bible and uses a lot of well known stories and points out the attributes of God and how that impacts and changes people as they walk through a “plan B” period in life. I mean Joseph probably didn’t plan his life out and dream about spending a few years in prison, but yet it happened that way, and God was still with him. Naomi didn’t plan her life out and dream about her husband and sons dying, but yet it happened and God provided her with Ruth to support her, we misquote scripture saying God won’t give us more than we can handle, while God continually contradicts that statements by stating that its His strength, not ours, that will handle stuff for us.  The list could go on, but the main point is that oftentimes we miss the blessings of who God is when we are in the midst of a part of life that doesn’t look the way we want it to.

This book has been a huge blessing to me right now. I have loved reading it, and I keep going back and rereading parts. Such great truths that continually point me back to Jesus. Love it!

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

This is a missionary biography that will have you getting up out of your seats and wanting to go change the world. I’ve read her blog for awhile, but the book is even more encouraging. Her unbelievable faith and complete obedience to God are inspiring to say the least. I received this book right about the time I was needing some big encouragement and a perspective shift about what God is and will do in my life and around me. A big shift is what I got. Perspective is everything and Katie’s perspective on life is a perspective I needed to be immersed in for awhile.

I’ve written before about how I’ve been in a season of waiting for awhile.  For a long while actually.  I’ve been patiently and not so patiently waiting on the Lord for a specific answer and just when I was getting weary of waiting, He plopped these two books in my lap.  God is so good.

Peace

Patsy Clairmont became one of my new favorite speakers at the Woman of Faith conference I went to a few months ago. That event was the first time I had heard her speak and quickly decided I wanted to read her books as well. So when I was offered Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clarimont from Thomas Neilson Publishing in exchange for a review, I quickly accepted.

The premise of the book is focusing on your emotional health and how it relates to how God created us. She begins to explore this concept by using the picture of the broken glass put together to form a beautiful stained glass window. Our brokenness coming together to form God’s beautiful stained glass image in our life is a powerful picture.

But how do we get to that beautiful picture and not just stay in the brokenness? That is the true focus of her book.

It honestly has taken me quite a while to get through this book. Its an easy read, but I think God had me read it in sections for a reason. Relating to God through different creative elements has been a journey I’ve been on for a while, so her book reminded me of things I already knew rather than challenged me to think through new concepts. However, the reminders are really good and needed in the busyness of life.

For example, around this time every year, I forget that I relate to God through nature and stillness and poetry and books, and each chapter of this book took me back to that simplicity of life that I sometimes hurry through. That simplicity is what we all need  in life so that we are be able to hear God’s voice.  His voice and presence in our life is what allows our brokenness to be healed and turned into that beautiful picture.

“Peace offers such a sacred perspective. Unruffled behavior. Quiet confidence. Calm heart. Untroubled mind. Tranquil outlook. Aren’t you drawn to people with a serene center who have the space and grace to receive others?”

This simplicity and wholeness of life is what I’m pursuing wholeheartedly. Its where I’m most at peace, and I’m thankful God put this book in my path to remind me and bring me back to the emotional place He desires me to be.

Blessings

An amazing young woman crossed my path while I was overseas and has wedged herself into my heart.

 

In her short 24 years of life, she has grieved more and seen more than I ever hope to.   However, I have yet to see her succumb to the grief that life seems to throw at her.

She became an orphan in a third world country when she was eight.  When I was worried about hair, boys, and how stupid my parents were, she was being pushed into an orphanage and learning how to live without her family.

She talks highly of her time at the orphanage, but yet I still look into the eyes of all the children there and wonder what their hearts feel.  Most of them smile and have fun, but they still cry when we leave and talk about one day having a family of their own.

But my friend doesn’t talk about what she never had, she talks about Jesus. She stated  to me, “if I had been adopted, I might never had found Jesus or met you.  I am just so blessed.”

She then went on to tell me how blessed she is.  She is not allowed to openly speak of her faith nor does she have many Christians walking along side her, but yet she states often that she is blessed.

You know her number one blessing? That Jesus brought her to Himself.

Her eyes shine when she talks about her Savior.  She lists all the things he’s done for her and how He just continually shows her how much He loves her.  She briefly mentions the hardships of life, but quickly reminds us both that neither one of us has suffered as much as Jesus and so she is blessed.

She understands that Christ chose her, drew her to himself, forgave her, and has great plans for her.  She believes wholeheartedly even though everything in life tells her differently.

And I’m convicted.

Convicted of how easily I lose sight of my ultimate blessing.  How easily I focus on the immediate frustration or momentary pain.  How easily life can get me down instead of focusing on what Christ has and is doing for me.

And I feel completely humbled to have become her friend.

In our brief week and a half together, we talked more about Christ and what it means to pursue Him than about anything else.  I went to bed praying for her and woke up praying for her.  I gave her some simple Bible study aids, and we talked about some sermons she listens to via podcast.

We spent our last three hours huddled together like little school girls.  We stood off in a corner by ourselves so we could make our last moments count by discussing the Word, what our Father was teaching each of us, and how we were growing in our walk.

My heart hurt when the time to leave came.  I hugged her goodbye and prayed over her with tears in my eyes.

My sister in Christ.

She is in my mind and prayers often.  I selfishly pray she will get a tourist visa to the US soon.  I would love for her to be here for Christmas.  To be able to worship with a body of believers and be able to celebrate with my family.  I would love to watch her be baptized and to rejoice with her over what she’s learning in the Word.

But regardless of what travel plans the Lord has for this sweet young lady, I know his hand is on her life. I pray the Lord watches over her, keeps her, and continues to deepen her relationship with Him.   Most of all I pray she will find a mentor and friend who will invest in her and love her as she moves forward in life.

But I always end every prayer the same.  I pray that one day I’ll have the privilege of crossing paths with her again.

 

 

Two of the Eleven Days

Putting into words the experience I had in Vietnam is difficult.  I keep sitting down to write and my mind seems to go blank.   It is such a beautiful country full of amazing scenery and even more amazing people.   People that will forever be engrained in my heart and mind.


The women on the trip

Some of these sweet people were the teachers I was fortunate enough to teach in a conference we led while in Bac Ha.  If I remember correctly, there are 52 schools in this province and each school sent 2 teachers to the conference to learn “the new methodology”.

I had to put that in quotes because it was said soooo often!   The schools there teach scripted lessons in a lecture style.  The purpose of our conference was to teach “the new methodology” of interactive teaching.  In other words, we got to just have a lot of fun with these incredible Vietnamese teachers!

I taught four sessions over a two day time period.  Each session was three hours long.  I videoed some of my sessions so you could glimpse a bit of what the conference was like.  Of course I edited out most of the actual teaching part and just let you see the fun interactive part.

 

As I said earlier, the teachers were fun, did everything I asked of them, laughed, and simply made the two days fly by.     It also made me realize two things:

  1. I really do love to teach
  2. It is much easier for me to be half way around the world or to work full time than it is for me to be a stay at home mom.


My incredible talented and amazing translator!  I choose her if I go back again =)

As I’ve adjusted to being home again, I have really had to fight against the urge to just keep working outside the home, getting involved in projects with the church, and getting busy with things other than my kids.

I wouldn’t trade staying home with my kids for anything. I believe I’m obeying the Lord and doing what I’m supposed to be doing by staying home with them. However, there is something tempting about being out in the work force where people validate you, you work in a controlled environment, the kids can’t yell at you, and you feel like you accomplished something every day.

And those of you who work full time don’t get mad at me. I’m not for a minute saying your life is easy. I’m just saying my time in Vietnam was nice because every day I accomplished something that mattered. (and yes, having clean undies in everyone’s drawers does matter…just not in the same way)

Accomplishing things was satisfying.

Satisfying is probably the perfect adjective to describe my time overseas.

The Ultimate Authority

The following scripture has been extremely comforting to me lately.   It comes from Job 38 where God is answering Job after he has whined and asked God why his life is the way it is.  God replies:

 

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements—surely you know!… “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?  ”Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?  Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?…

Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?  Declare, if you know all this. “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on land where no man is, From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?  Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?  Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?  Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?

 

To each question asked, I have to reply, “no I wasn’t there and I can’t do any of that.  Only God can stop the waters, speak to the lightening, put wisdom in the minds of men, command the day, and give birth to the rain.”

Only God.

The  past month, I keep going back and back to these verses every time I get frustrated or angry or even confused about life.  Most days a good solid reminder of how much authority God truly has over EVERYTHING is enough to snap me out of whatever mood I’m in.

If I’ve interacted with you at all over the past month, you know I’ve quoted part or all of this scripture to you at some point.  God’s authority over all things has been my answer for everything in life lately.

It is good to worship a creator who has the ultimate authority over every problem, idea, circumstance, or frustration we could ever imagine.

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