Forgiven, Redeemed and Sealed by the blood of Jesus

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Everywhere we go I hear "tap tap tap".  In the car "tap tap tap" on the seat.   I tell him to brush his teeth " tap tap tap" this time using his toothbrush as his choice of drum sticks.  I mean seriously if you have a child who is learning how to play the drums...its like living in a world where nothing is every used again for its designed but it can always be used as a drum stick.

I don't say this to sound irritated...o.k. maybe a little when it interrupts my personal quiet.  Although I do love his love for music and his desire to be better at what he does.

So when he decided to pick up the ukulele....I thought "Alright!!  now that's something worth listening to."  Please moms don't judge.  He has been practicing tirelessly , strumming , placing his fingers in all the right spots and learning how to change them at just there right time.  Most times walking away in frustration just to walk back a few minutes later and begin the process all over again.

So being the supportive mom , the encouraging mom, the cheerleading mom that I am....I walk into his room during one of these moments of frustration and say
" Man your doing so good.  It must be so much easier to play the ukulele with only 4 strings and I'm sure its nice to take a break from learning the rhythm patterns of the drum sticks."
 He stopped playing and just sighed.  He looked defeated.
Then he replied " It is not easier mom, have you played the ukulele before? " To which I replied " no I sure haven't."  "Then how do you know if its easier and the whole time I'm trying to strum in the right pattern I hear the drum rhythms in my head and it makes it so much harder. "

To some this seems like a simple mother , son conversation but when I walked out of the room that day I felt so bad.  What I went in there to do was to encourage him.  I hated hearing him get mad and walk away frustrated.  I wanted him to know I thought he was doing good but the reality is he was right I had no idea what was going on in his head and the battle of the rhythms that took place.  I had no idea if playing a ukulele was easy or hard...I had never even picked one up before.  Who was I to tell him what was easy when I had never even walked in his shoes.

We do that a lot as people.  We mean well most of the time.  But we walk into situations and begin to speak words that maybe in most cases are meant to encourage but the reality is we do more harm than good sometimes . There is only one kind of advice to give in a situation that you have never walked through- THE GOSPEL!  We have to remember that His word is true and the world is incorrect.

Please hear me when I say - this is NOT meant to discourage you or any other women from walking through the hard stuff with someone.  We NEED EACH OTHER!!  God made us for relationships.  His relationship first ,then others.  But we have got to be cautious when we "walk into a room" not to speak as if we have walked in that persons shoes.
We should just for a second stop and ponder our words before speaking.
Listening is far more harder to do but sometimes a much more powerful response to someones bleeding heart.
Hear their hearts and speak the only kind of advice worth hearing - Gods Word.  That's a whole lot of love and encouragement that will not return void.

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Proverbs 13:3  Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Wanting to Live in REAL TRUTH

Truth - conformity with fact or reality, indisputable fact

John 1:14 The word became flesh and  made his dwelling among us.  We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father , full of grace and truth.

I haven't written in months but He reminded me today that His word is alive and His truth changes us even if it doesn't change our circumstances.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

What is truth?  In a world of filters, apps that have the ability to change the way something appears and apps that delete immediately what you sent - do we know what truth is?!
We have technology both at our fingertips and on our desks that allow us to sit behind our screen at home in no make up, wrinkles exposed, food stains on our clothes, tears flowing down our faces and post the most beautifully typed words of our what our life is and yet we hide behind the screen exposed for what is really is.

We post a picture taken several times with several edits of just a few hours earlier at the choir event, band event, soccer event, whatever event with everyone smiling huge and everyone so put together and then we make sure we set our "notifications" to let us know how many people believed the view.  In most cases hoping that the more "likes" the more hope we will have , the more validation we will have, the more accepted we will be.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Maybe you live in total truth....well aren't you lucky.  The reality is most of us probably  try to live truthfully but if we walked around with signs around our neck with everything in our life that doesn't rest in truth ...well we would soon determine it would have been much easier to just pay for a bill board because the weight would be too much.

You see the REAL truth changes things. The truth defined is an indisputable fact.  And I want to be the first to admit the fact is some days I get up and I just don't have it in me to listen to one more excuse, to deal with one more problem, to be positive one more minute , to accept my current situation one more hour, to find contentment one more day.... to lift my head one more second, to get on my knees one more minute, to give it to Him one more time, to ask Him for help once feel like I have failed and disappointed yet again.


Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

We are so used to editing, filtering , changing the "truth - reality" that we have become used to instant gratification.  Making something look right immediately.  Making someone believe something immediately.  But real truth doesn't always work that way.  I'm talking about Gods word.  It doesn't change our circumstances immediately.  It doesn't make the financial situation go away right then.  It doesn't erase the heartache.  It doesn't toss aside the hardship your facing.


Psalms 119:30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.

We can choose to believe in the truth.  We can choose to invade our minds with the truth.  We can choose to cover our lives with the truth.  And in turn the truth is what brings us closer to the One who not only spoke the truth, wrote the truth but became flesh to bring the truth to  a broken world in need of a carpenter.  To a sick world in need of a doctor.  To a dying world in need of a savior.

Acts 13:55  And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

If you read before this verse you will see that the men Paul and Barnabas were sent out to tell others about Jesus and that what they had heard was true because they were witness to it. They encouraged other believers that what God had promised was true and urged them "to continue in the grace of God." (vs43)  And when some began to disagree and began to attack  Paul he says in verse 46 "We had to speak the word of God to you first."

James 1:18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

Their lives were far from easy, the obstacles they were facing and were about to face were literally going to take them to their deaths.  But they knew the Word of God must be sent out and must be lived out.  They knew that truth may not change their immediate circumstances but the truth was going to change lives for His kingdom and that filled them with JOY.  Joy in their circumstances.

We can be overwhelmed and our view can be cloudy but one day day very soon....when you meet Jesus face to face that's when we will we truly understand the magnitude of how the Truth sets us free.  The truth of His promises , believing what He says , having faith that He is all we need and resting in the truth even when our world is crumbling around us may not be an "immediate" fix to your problems but it is the Hope that reminds us that this world is temporary.  It is the strength that carries us to the next minute.  It is the rest when we are weary.  It is power that can overcome the way we look and face our valley and our mountains.   Truth does set us free!  Truth does change us even if it doesn't change the immediate circumstances.

I pray you can fill your life with His truth , fill your heart with His truth, overflow your mind with His truth and know that joy will come!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Race Worth Running

2 Timothy 2: 1-4 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Some days I hold my head high and think we are doing something right and other days I wallow in the disappointing moments as a parent. 
No one told me how hard it would be to a parent. How hard it is to see your kids' fall, to struggle with finding their place, to deal with fear or hurt of others and their words.  I understand so much more now the struggles my mom and dad dealt with daily .  You just make rules and try your best to enforce them, you lay out consequences and hope they're strong enough. You pray for and over them and trust it's enough. You guide them to the truth of Gods word and pray they always turn there.  The pressure is overwhelming most days.  Will we mess our boys up?  Have we not taught them enough, have we not spent enough time with them , have we covered every topic possible to ensure they are equipped in the circumstances.  Man I feel the pressure just typing this.  

2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient, for my power is made perfect in weakness...

Oh ,these words ,how I have clung to them so many times in life.  

But then there is that day, when you can sit and look at how far God has brought you, you can see how much He alone has done in the lives of your kids.  Yes we are guiding them but it is Jesus that lives in them and must live through them.  It is the Holy Spirit that must speak to them and they must hear and respond.  
Then He so graciously gives you a glimpse of His un daunting, relentless, all powerful love that HE has for your children and I do what moms do best - become an emotional mess as I watch my son run across the finish line.  I'm sure if he had seen me he would have been so embarrassed.... I can hear him say, " mom are you crying?"....  "Are you smiling?".... "What is wrong with you ?".  Nothing is more confusing to men or a boy then the emotions of a women or a girl.  
Sports have never been a priority in our lives.  We have never wanted the boys to find their value in how strong they were or how fast they were, or how many points they scored or didn't score.  We have never wanted sports to consume our time together or our time to serve others.  The physical body is a temporary place that will eventually change and eventually lose strength but their souls - those are eternal.  Their spiritual strength is what will carry them in difficult times because we will not always be there....But Jesus will be.

Deuteronomy 31:6  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes before you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

But this moment ......was a moment I saw something way bigger than the race he just finished.    It wasn't about him being the fastest, it wasn't about him looking like the strongest, it wasn't about him running close to the others and it wasn't even about his place.  No this was his life's race .  A race God has marked out just for him.  A race of character, of inner strength, a race of perseverance, a race not looking like everyone else's.  A race that is changing him from the inside out .  He doesn't appear to be the strongest, he doesn't appear to be the fastest, but that is about the flesh, the outside.  We are raising a warrior from the inside.  A warrior that that steps up when asked to full fill the calling even if he knows he is not the best one.   Obedience!  He says yes and he finishes strong with great character .  We want his strength, his obedience, his character to not only come from the power of Jesus within him but we want it to shine in his response and actions not in what the world says strength looks like . Not in what the world says is important.  We don't want him to strain for first place or to long for recognition of being the best...we want him to do his best for the ONE he serves. 

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people.

We are raising a man by Gods definition. 
I saw and heard this from his coach that day as he finished this race - in last place . 
I saw and heard it from his team mates as they told him great job, way to finish strong.   You see he was at that race as an alternate.  He went to serve others, to work the event and make sure others were able to compete. His coach chose for him to race because he had been faithful and worked hard that season.  He was chosen to run in the fastest meet.  Three years ago he would have never been at that race, he would have never said yes to that race.  Fear would have overcome him.  That is the power of prayer and trusting God is in control and His ways are greater than mine.  
This day he said yes and he finished.  
Acts 20:24  However , I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the good news of Gods grace.

Is it over?  No.  Will their be mistakes made by us as parents and him - yes.  We have made several already.  We know that and we don't take lightly for one minute the enemy and the war we are in with him.  But we will continue to fight .  We will not give in to the world and we will not conform to the importance of acceptance and the chains that entangles our children or us as adults. We will not place my eyes on the "prizes" of the world. We will fight for his confidence to be God confidence not self-confidence .  We will fight for him to be strong in the Lord not strong in physical appearance.  We will fight for his worth to be covered in the truth of Gods word not in awards or lack of.  His reward is greater outside the walls of this world.  We are helping to equip him for these battles.  May his race be HIS race and may he trust always that he is born for a purpose.  May his desire be to not only run a good race but the race marked out for him by HIM (JESUS !!!  

Thank you Jesus that your grace is truly sufficient because you alone are grace .  Thank you God for giving us the gift of these 2 boys. Help us to never stop fighting for them and with them. May their desire for you always be greater than anything else in life.  May they be strong and courageous inside - and may they run a good race , a race worthy of their calling !  Finishing - with others seeing YOU in everything!  May you receive the glory!


Too heavy to carry!

Hosea 2:14-15a
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert, and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards,and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope

I just got back from a 4 day/ 3 night backpacking trip with a group of women.  It usually takes me days and weeks to really process all of it.  It is a ministry trip -  so the point of it is to meet like minded women, share life, meet with God and enjoy authenticity.  That my friend is a hard thing to find these days but I feel a revival coming.  I can remember going to revivals when I was young and the energy that was displayed in the preaching and the sense the urgency that you were left with...  I sense that urgency now in so many areas of my life. An urgency for others to know the hope of Jesus, the urgency for them to find freedom with a repentful heart, An urgency to walk with Jesus daily, talking with  Him and allowing Him to alter our lives and the way we live it.
An urgency to understand that there is so much more to our walk with Jesus than just attending church every week.  I'm excited to see that the church....the way God designed it to not being contained in a church building, but instead the body of Christ - the church- can be found anywhere 2 or more are gathered together.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

This is my 2nd ministry trip.....the first trip I went into the woods carrying so much more than a 55lb pack.  I was carrying shame, guilt, expectations of others, definitions of who I was supposed to be, pictures of what I was supposed to look like, what I thought my life should really look like...but I came out of those woods understanding that as women we all carry these things in some way.  We just hide them.  We stuff all the ugly things into the crevices of our packs and put all the good stuff on the top.  I hate that we live our lives in the shadows of who God wants us to be so many times, because we either want others to think we are something that we are not or we are striving to be something that will ultimately take the place of God in our life.

I John 2:15- 17 
Don't love the worlds ways.  Don't love the worlds goods.  Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father.  Practically everything that goes on in the world- wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important- has nothing to do with the Father.  It just isolates you from him.  The world and all its wanting , wanting , wanting is on the way out- but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. 

I allowed God to allure me into the wilderness this trip ( I say allowed because some times we say yes with words but no with our heart)  because this trip I knew would be different for me.  This trip I was entering into the wilderness with a lighter pack (metaphorically of course) ....and ready to see these other women experience the freedom , the stillness, the fullness of meeting with God in these surroundings.  This trip my pack was heavier since the stay was longer but this time I wasn't carrying the weight of my existence - no that I left at the foot of the cross.  I exist for a purpose.  My story, the failures, the bad decisions, the expectations  - all left at the foot of the cross.

Galatians 5:1  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.

If we don't experience true freedom in Christ we will never fully understand the price that was paid because we are trying to earn that favor.  What I saw on this trip was women, real women that under normal settings would maybe never talk except through introductions at the same gathering but under these settings within one day were sitting around the camp fire laying burdens down that they were trying to carry all alone.  It was intimate, it was authentic , it was encouraging, it was like Jesus was sitting right beside us.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me , all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from  me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

That's what this life is about.  Its not about seeking to full fill what others want you to be.  Its not about trying to be something that your not and constantly hiding behind the perfection that you have build up around you.  Its about finding freedom, unpacking that load your carrying, not wrapping yourself up in your appearance and being authentic.  Find those authentic relationships that God desires for you to have.  The kind that will listen and lead you to the truth no matter how hard that truth might be.  We need community - real community, authentic community.  We need to shed a few layers and allow God to shine through the dirt.  He alone is the one who makes ashes into beauty.  My sisters in Christ, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!  Allow Him to refine you, allow Him to push you out of your comfort, allow Him to take that burden and then you stand up , head up, eyes to the heavens , arms high and heart abandoned in awe of the one who GAVE IT ALL FOR YOU and rest knowing with Him It is Well!!

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this; to lay down ones life for ones friends.

Colossians 2:13-14 And you , who were dead in your trespasses and the circumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I Corinthians 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

It was 7th grade and my younger sister was struggling to care about school.  She was smart and for the most part the teachers were helpful in trying to encourage her to full fill her potential but she just didn't care.  We had changed schools so many times that making new friends and adjusting should have been a norm for us but instead it became more and more difficult.  I am sure this played a part of her decision not to put forth effort. She was in the midst of trying to determine where she belonged and her stubborn nature was fighting with all it had. But my parents wouldn't settle for that.  So my dad did the only thing he knew to do.....go to school with her.

Psalms 23:3-4   He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.

I know your thinking what??  Go with her.  First I must tell you my dad was totally blind.  Work did not come easy for him, so at the time he was at home most days.  This certainly allowed him the opportunity to make this choice.  Because he was blind this required my sister to lead him everywhere she went.  So not only was my dad going to go to school with her but he was going to be holding on to her arm.

The thought of this for my sister was embarrassing but my dad knew that for her to push past the obstacles and for her to fulfill her potential this required desperate measures.  He knew that to my sister this seemed as punishment for the choices she was making but also knew it was needed and the lesson would be worth it in the end.  So every day my sister arrived at school with my dad on her arm.  He walked to her locker with her, sat beside her in every class and took notes.  He even attended lunch most days with her.  My sister knew that if this was going to ever stop she had to focus and pay attention and realize that this was for her good.  She would have to let go of her stubbornness and surrender to what she knew she should be putting forth in school.

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God , who loved me and gave himself for me."

Looking back now and talking about this makes much more sense than when she was right in the middle of it.  To her it was the end of her know in junior high everything is the end of your life. My sister realized that she needed to surrender and realize dad really did know best.  She had dreaded it ,yet it pushed her and it embarrassed her ,yet to the other kids my dad was "cool".
There was never talk of how crazy my dad was or talk of how ridiculous my sister they saw it in a different way.  They saw my dad as caring, loving, faithful...willing to sacrifice for what was best.  Even today when talking to kids we went to school with this conversation comes up.  It impacted them....they saw past the struggle and saw the love of a father that ran deep.  A love that ultimately changed the life of his daughter.

That is much like our heavenly Father !  The love that runs deeper and wider than any ocean.  There are no limits put on the things we will go through in life.  The Father allows these things in our lives  to bring us to the end of ourselves.  He doesn't desire just for us to surrender our heart to him and that be the end of it.  He wants us to realize the potential we have. We are holy and righteous because of Jesus!  He wants to use us in every place we live and work, in every situation we walk through, in every moment of brokenness.  Sometimes for us ...especially the stubborn means taking us through deep, rushing waters.  It means allowing us to get to a point that our load seems heavy and we are weary and have nothing left.  Our words are few and our tears are many but our hearts cry, "Rescue me , O Savior!"

I have been to that point in my life more than once.  Where words do not come, where the pain is deep, where the loneliness is overwhelming, and yet the Father knows!  The spirit searches my heart, he gathers my pain and he takes it to the Father.  Pleading for me to find comfort, praying for things I did not have the courage to pray.  All for His glory!

Romans 8: 26-28 "Meanwhile , the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter.  he does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless signs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.  That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives ...for God is worked into something good."

We usually are at that place and see nothing but the weight of what we are carrying and don't see where that weight should lead us to .....the throne room of God.  How long do we stay there?  When will it be over? When will he take this from me?  We become wrapped up in asking these questions consumed with what we think the outcome should be. When we should just be content to lay at the feet of our Father....until strength comes.  Until we recognize the will of the Father and it becomes our will.  When we allow Gods glory to shine in and through us.

Why do we always want what is easy?  The fire for Shadrach, Meshach and Abedego wasn't easy but it produced great faith not just for them but for the people outside the fire.  The request to take Abraham son, Isaac, to sacrifice wasn't easy but it showed deep trust and obedience to God and because of that He fulfilled his promise and through his son Isaac's lineage our Messiah came.  For Paul to carry the gospel wasn't easy but he looked up , not around him and he knew who he served and he was content in whatever the circumstance he found himself because he had Jesus (Philippians 4:11-13).  The list goes on for sure but above every other story.....the cross wasn't easy but it was enough.
It was enough for: matter the sin, no matter how old the age, no matter what color the skin, Jesus was enough.  Its more than a symbol.  It was an act of love that is far greater than we can understand.
 His love for you is greater than the circumstances you are in....His love walks you through them and draws you to Him....look up that you can say I am content in this circumstance because I have Jesus and this WILL be for His glory alone!!

Others see us....they see what we are going through.  There is no need to advertise it , there is no need to draw attention to it...because unfortunately when we do we are usually doing it for our glory and not for His.  Instead look up!  See your Father shining down on you! Know He is walking beside you. Know that this is for your good. Know that there is a reason. He doesn't stop loving you just because its hard, He allows the hard because we learn to love Him more.
His light shines brighter in darkness! Because light is needed there!  Realize that even as out of control as this may seem, He is still in control.

John 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nothing to say...

I have journaled for years.  That has been my way to deal with whatever was going on in my life, but never once I have ever thought I had something important to say.  I am not a college graduate and I have never been looked at as the child that had writing skills.  In fact my mother was once my teacher and I believe I still have nightmares from the blood bath of red ink on my english papers.  But God has done so much in my life over the last year and half.  One thing for sure is that He has pushed me past my comfort and continues to do so.  I don't want to ever take lightly what He pulled me from and what He is calling me to.  So for that reason I begin my first blog today.  And....dead air.
Nothing to say???

I mean daily I have "posts" run through my head and today the day I say yes...the day I say o.k. God I'm stepping out of the boat and into deep waters....dead air.
How can that be?
Yet again I hear him whisper..."I asked , you said yes , now just rest in that."  Rest in what?  The fact that blogging is about writing and I have nothing to write about.
"No rest in your weakness.  Because when you are weak I am strong.  This blog will never be about you Carla.  This blog will never be about what you have done.  This blog will never be about your life.  This blog.... that I have asked you to begin ....will be all about what I have done and continue to do in your life or you will have nothing to say."
Yep..that about sums it up.  I am not a professional writer, I am not a highly educated counselor,  I can guarantee you I will place a comma in the wrong place and I can promise you I will have grammatical errors but I also can promise you that without the Holy Spirit speaking to me I have nothing to say that will be different than any other blog you read. So today I rest in my weakness and I acknowledge that my weakness will be a place that His power will rest and His power will shine.  Because it is all for His glory!!
I can't wait until I meet you again right here.