Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my faithful followers and readers of this blog: Thank You. I appreciate you more than you know. May you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Norma

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Courage

 

“Courage will follow when faith takes the lead.” 

Anonymous 

Reading biographies of courageous men and women inspire me. The Apostle Paul’s faith in what God had promised, gave Paul courage. In Acts chapter 27, the vessel Paul was on was about to be shipwrecked due to a violent storm. In spite of the dire circumstances, Paul urged the sailors to keep up their courage. An angel had visited Paul one night and told him not to be afraid, as he would stand before Caesar one day and all those sailing with him would be kept safe. (Acts 27:22-24) Acts 27:25 says, “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God, that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.” 

Paul’s courage came from his faith in God and what He said. He believed God’s words and placed his trust in God. Likewise, faith comes to me when I believe what God has spoken to me will come to pass. I draw my courage from that faith. 

Last month while speaking at our church’s discipleship school, I shared about our upcoming move to Wichita. God gave one young man a prophetic word that I still make withdrawals of courage from. God told him, “She is going to love what I have for her there.” I am holding onto that promise. My faith rests not only in who God is, but His words as well. 

I read Acts 27:25 a few days prior to John’s first set of interviews with Wesley Children’s Hospital and then I was prompted to make a list of other words God had given me in regards to our possible upcoming move to Wichita. Here are some of the words I declared aloud. 

We’re moving there for such a time as this. We will make deposits there for ministry and relationships. There will be a time of preparation, equipping and networking. Specific things will be learned and poured into us for the preparation for the rest of our lives. It’s not a distraction, nor a derailing. It’s a season which will place us on the path of God’s destiny, to be equipped for what’s next. Our intimacy with God will deepen as we get to know God in ways we couldn’t in Omaha. It will feel like home. We’re being sent. 

God said it, I believe it, and I will see those words come to pass. I have faith that our move to Wichita will turn out exactly as I have been told. And as a result, I have courage and peace for our upcoming adventure. 

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers and has decided to go forward anyways.” 

Joyce Meyer 

Relevant Reflection: 

What words from God have given you courage? 

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The Purpose of a Desert

            The Purpose of a Desert

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet

A few years ago, we noticed a drop in the number of patients John saw. This resulted in a need to make changes to our daily budget due to a salary decrease. My reaction to this desert experience, surprised me. I had presumed the latter years of our lives would become easier, not harder. The ugly pride in my heart cried, “We’ve paid our dues and worked hard. Our concluding years ought to have less stress, not more.” The victim mentality in me whined, complained, and pouted, it’s not fair. I looked more like the Israelites in the desert, than I did of a daughter trusting her heavenly Daddy to take care of her.

Deuteronomy 8:2 explains why God led the Israelites into the desert. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.” Deserts humble us and show us what is in our hearts. I am not proud to admit, what I saw, was not a pretty picture. Wilderness experiences also expose our willingness to obey God.

I can’t tell you that after I adjusted my attitude, things turned around for the better for John at work. In fact, it got worse. God used the drying up of John’s business, to guide us in our move to Wichita.  

This year has been characterized by grief. I’ve wept numerous times over the upcoming loss of our family, friends, and church we leave behind, as we obey God’s hand of direction. This desert has humbled me, but I’m grateful my heart is in a much better place, one of deepened trust with my Father.

I’ve grown to appreciate this desert experience. God used it to show me the ugliness of my heart, to instill humility, and to encourage obedience toward Him. It’s made me a better, not bitter, daughter of the King.

“In this life we will encounter hurts and trials that we will not be able to change; we are just going to have to allow them to change us.”

Ron Lee Davis

Relevant Reflections:

1.      What have you discovered is really in your heart, because of trials?

2.      How have trials made you better, looking more like Christ?

 

 

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Intentionality

 

“Life is about moments: Don’t wait for them, create them.”

Zig Ziglar

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Some gifts are obvious while others are discovered. In some ways, moving has been a gift to me. It’s made me intentional. I’m more deliberate with putting things away immediately and keeping the house clean. I’ve become purposeful in how I spend my time and with whom I spend it with. Instead of letting the day unfold, I’m more conscious of the moments I have left in Omaha.

When people receive a life-threatening diagnosis, they no longer take things for granted, but become intentional with the time they do have. Making every moment count moves up to the front burner of their heart and mind. Asking God for His daily direction becomes the norm. They don’t want to waste the time they have left. Chance or planned encounters take on a whole new significance and meaning.

What if God wanted us to live like that every day, even if we weren’t moving out of state or possibly dying from disease? What would our days look like? What would we give up in order to make room for our priorities with people? Would our intercession increase, as we ask Holy Spirit to guide and direct our day? Would we purpose in our heart to stay pure and clean through repentance and forgiveness, not wanting anything to prevent intimacy with God and our loved ones?

We’re exhorted by Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” What would you do if you knew your days were numbered, as they are? How would you choose to spend your time? What kind of legacy do you want to leave to those you love the most?

I’m reminded of Keith Green who even though he didn’t know how early he would be taken to heaven, lived more fully for the Lord in his 28 years, than most people live in a life three times as long. His songs and books still make an impact today, to live a holy life, without compromise.

My days remaining in Omaha are numbered, therefore I’m intentional in how they’re spent. My desire is to spend them wisely and to finish well.

“Change is inevitable, growth is intentional.”

Anonymous

Relevant Reflections:

  1. If you knew you had only a few months left to live, how would you live differently?
  2. What changes do you need to make to live more intentionally?
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It is Well with My Soul

 

“A healthy soul is paramount to a healthy life.”

Judah Smith

The week after we held a garage sale, my daughter kept asking if I was okay. I replied, “I’m just tired.” Then I happened to read a quote on Facebook which said something like, No amount of sleep can cure a weary soul. The lightbulb went on in my mind. I was physically tired, as a result of something not being right with my soul. I knew I needed to go outside on the deck and spend some time with the Holy Spirit, my counselor.

I began by asking Him what was wrong within me? He revealed where I had been offended and my need to process my heart. He showed me how I had been hurt, how to grieve my pain, and how to forgive the offender. And then He explained why I was so physically tired.

My physical weariness was a form of protection. When my heart is hurt, I shut down, distancing myself emotionally. It’s as if I pull up the draw bridge of my heart to guard it from being hurt again. The problem with that solution is I’m the one in control, not God. It also prevents right relationships from forming.

After I spent time alone with God, took assessment of my soul, and released the offense and offender through forgiveness, my energy and relationships were restored.

Our soul is the inside of us, the real us, our mind, will, and emotions. It’s not what you see on the outside, but our soul does affect the external. Whatever is inside of us, eventually exhibits itself on the outside. And that’s why it’s imperative to take care of our soul.

The apostle John, in III John 2 exhorts us to have our souls get along well. David writes in Psalm 62:5: “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” The psalmist knew God was the place to find rest for his soul.

The next time you find yourself physically weary, in spite of plenty of sleep, take an assessment of your soul. Ask the Holy Spirit to make you aware of what needs to be done so your soul is healthy once again, paving the way to wholeness with God and others. Then you’ll be able to say, “It is well with my soul.”

“Your soul is healthiest when it comes back frequently and wholeheartedly to God.”

Judah Smith

Relevant Reflection:

How do you take care of your soul? Please make that a priority in your life.

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No Compromise

 

“Spiritual death happens one compromise at a time.”

Anonymous

When I was little I loved to sing and do the movements to the Hokey Pokey song. It is a circle dance which has you putting one foot in and one foot out and shaking it all about, as it goes through various body parts. It ends with putting your whole body in and your whole body out. The other day, I thought of this song when I read Titus 1:16a, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” Paul warned Titus of false teachers, those who were rebellious, mere talkers and deceivers. (Titus 1:10) They said they knew God, but their actions showed something completely different.

The first twenty years as a believer I had one foot in the world while the other was in Christian circles. I lived a life full of compromise. It was obvious by my actions, that I loved myself, more than I loved Jesus. I put myself and my desires first, ahead of what God wanted. It was more important to please me than to please the Lord.

Then I heard about lordship, having Jesus be the Lord, not just Savior, of my life. Lordship is displayed as I bow down to God and obey Him. Since then, over the past twenty-six years, I have purposed in my heart to fear the Lord, submit to Him, and obey Him. I’ve wanted to be God’s daughter who walked her talk. I have found the key to sinning less, walking without compromise, and having my actions confirm that I know God. The secret is to fall in love.

The more I love God, the more I will look like God. Just as falling in love is a process in the natural realm, so is falling in love with God. In fact, I will often pray, “God, cause me to fall more madly in love with You.” You please the one you love. So the more I love God, the more I desire to please Him, living a life with no compromise. Now I have my whole body more often in, as well as my mind, will, and emotions. And that’s no hokey pokey!

“One compromise here, another there and soon enough the so-called Christian and the man in the world look the same.”

A.W. Tozer

Relevant Reflections:

  1. Would others describe you as a believer who is “all in,” submitted to the Lordship of Jesus?
  2. Ask God to cause you to fall more in love with Him so you live without compromise.
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Faith: Our Trump Card

 

“The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things.”

Oswald Chambers

The trump card is the highest ranking card that wins a hand. Faith is the Christian’s trump card. Chapter eleven of Hebrews is described as the faith chapter or faith’s Hall of Fame, as it lists those in the Bible who displayed faith by their actions. Hebrews 11:33 and 23b explain what faith does. “…who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice and gained what was promised…” Moses parents’ “were not afraid of the king’s edict.”

According to those two verses, faith does four things. Faith:

  • Conquers kingdoms
  • Administers justice
  • Gains what was promised
  • Overrides fear

Satan constantly tries to assert his kingdom of lies and accusations in my mind. But faith tells my mind the truth according to God’s Word. Faith drowns out the roar of the enemy’s lies and other strongholds he attempts to erect. No fortress can withstand the power of faith.

Faith makes things right, equitable, and just. When we have wisdom from God, we’re able to treat people fairly and honestly, as we see things clearly.

Faith releases the fulfillment of the promises of God. When we believe and trust what God said, it secures the fruition of what He promised. Because God said it, we believe it and know it will happen.

Faith is bigger than our fears and elicits peace and rest. When we trust in the One who is sovereign and in control, our hearts hold steady, even during a raging storm.

When I find myself lacking faith, I simply pray, Father, release greater portions of faith, so I may believe and remain firm in my faith, no matter what I see with my eyes. Where do you need more faith in your life? Do you need it to demolish strongholds, provide wisdom to be just, to remain steady while waiting for God’s promises to be released, or to replace fear with His peace and rest? No matter the reason, He loves to answer our prayers for more faith.

“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”

Augustine

Relevant Reflection:

Which area of your life do you need more faith? Ask God for a release of greater faith.

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Layers of Surrender

 

“Growth in the Christian life depends on obedience in times of crisis.” 

James Dobson 

This past week John and I were in Wichita hunting for a house. We looked at nine houses the first day but only one was a possibility. The whole day I seemed to be very picky and found something wrong with each house. My complaint about the house we liked was that it was farther east and I felt isolated. I told our realtor, as she drove us back to the hotel, that I felt resistant but didn’t understand why. 

I checked emails and Facebook after we returned to our room and noticed a dear friend sent me a video. I sat on the bed and watched a man tell me I was “awesome.” I began to weep as I felt so loved, valued, and not forgotten by my friend. That is when the Lord began to show me what was in my heart and why I had been resistant.  

My isolation complaint came from my heart that feared abandonment. I was grieving all over again the loss with our upcoming move from Omaha. The solution was to surrender again. I’m surprised by how many times and layers of surrendering I’ve gone through. I think I’ve arrived and made it to the end of the road of surrender, only to discover it’s just another layer and I need to process my heart a little bit more. 

The next morning during my quiet time, the Lord used Jeremiah 38:17 to confirm my need to surrender. “Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘This is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: If you surrender to the officers of the King of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live.'” The Holy Spirit gently nudged me to repent of my resistance, to push past my fear of abandonment, and to embrace our move to Wichita. 

Resistance to the Lord’s will, never ends well. It’s only as we surrender and embrace obedience to His direction, that we receive what we’re looking for. I don’t know how, but I believe my surrender to God’s will, no matter how hard, will actually bring restoration to my heart. Our move to Wichita will somehow increase my attachment, trust, and intimacy with God in such a way that my fear of loneliness, isolation, and rejection will decrease. 

“Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness.” 

Jean Vanier  

Relevant Reflections: 

  1. How are you resisting God’s will for your life? 
  2. Take time to grieve and surrender another layer to Him. 
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