October 31, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Grace

GRACE - Five Minute Friday...

Last week at this time I was sitting on the floor in the Dayspring Lounge, typing my FMF post on my phone - live and in person at #Allume! This week, I am sitting across the table from my sweet friend Rebekah Ellis from Three Bees Blue Bonnet

Oh but - first - the fine print: if you don't know what FMF is!  Five Minute Fridays are hosted by Lisa Jo Baker.  It is open to anyone, so to learn more about it - and to jump in yourself (the more the merrier!) or just to find a linky to see what everyone is writing about today - click HERE!  The idea is to simply write... for Five Minutes flat... no editing, no deep thinking - or at least REthinking, no spell check - just write! Let it flow! We all write using a prompt that Lisa posts at 10pm Thursday night (EST.)  I'm loving the community of amazing bloggers and the creativity that flows from these magical Five Minutes!

So - here goes: Five Minute Friday, sitting across the table from an old friend whom I just met this afternoon inrl! The Word Prompt is:  GRACE


Grace... oh Lord how I need it!

I mean - on any (every) given day... I need it like oxygen!

But this week - this crazy, busy, lovely week filled with cross country travels and #Allume awesomeness (and a little not so awesomeness thrown in for good measure) and... well - Grace... and a little down time with my toes digging in sand... that is what I needed post-Allume.  I have had no time to process... to digest... to know what all really happened for me but even in teh unknown of what was imparted and what is shifting around within me - I trust Grace is at work there too!

A little strolling through Biltmore Estate gardens (thanks Logan!) and wandering down the side streets and alleyways of Asheville (thanks Jessica!)... and walking King Street and hanging out at Battery Park in Charleston... and let's not forget the hours of roaming the shoreline at Isle of Palms or the marina at Charleston resort...  all of that was Grace! A gift to me... for me... to experience it all with my Honey.  A full schedule but not a bossy one!  We are nearly Empty Nesters and oh how we needed a get away to push us into our next season, and remind us of the Grace that has gotten us through up until now!

My Honey - He was, to me, Grace extended...

...for when I felt all alone in the midst of crowds, Dave and Jesus assured me that I was not... that they were there all along and that to them - I was loved... I was known.  What more could i ask for, really?

And here now... across a kitchen table, on a borrowed laptop, after a full day of travel... Grace extended from a new friend who is kindred and sister and only 'new' in that we hadn't yet met face to face...  but that has gloriously changed today!

Grace - when we look for it... we find Him andAll is Grace - for when we look for Him, we find that He has been here all along!


Oh - and let's not forget the end of #31days ya'll - that right there - THAT is grace! 
(Can I get an Amen from the other #31Dayers?)

I will take the next few days to soak in a little MercyMe and Kari Jobe, some Christine Caine and Jen Hatmaker... and enjoy spending some one on one time with Rebekah... and then I will process my Allume experience... I'll be back and will write my #31Days wrap up post, and on my Allume experience soon... until then... Grace, sweet friends! I am asking for Grace!

Five Minute Fridays gives us the chance to dive right in and share what He puts on our hearts! Click here to read what others have to say about "GRACE"  
Five Minute Friday

Encountering God in your Traditions... Day 31

Today is Day Thirty-One of 31 Days of Encountering God! We did it, ya'll! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

We did it ya'll! Thirty-one days talking about Encountering God! I pray that we didn't just talk about it... talk about meeting up with Him - about giving Him room, inviting Him in, expecting Him to actually show up - to speak - to move! I pray that along the way, you have looked back over your days and found that He has been there - and that you have encountered Him through out this month, turning your thoughts and your hopes to finding Him right there - in your every day life!

So - lastly... let's look for Him here:

Encountering God in your Traditions...

I know, I know... I wrote about this LAST year - on the 31st day of #31Days... about Halloween and Traditions and the like... but this year I want to talk about how we can find God... how we can invite Him in - to the traditions that we hold dear!

This time of year - once we get past Halloween and all the candy and costumes... our culture tends to go straight to Christmas, boldly overlooking Thanksgiving! But not here... not us!
Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday!  We have learned well from sweet Ann with no e of the value and practice of Counting Gifts... we count one thousand and beyond, three or more per day... and this spirit of thankfulness has become a tradition around here that is not limited to the month of November.  It leaks out all over to the rest of the holidays - and every other day too! No - in this house... our traditions go all year long!

I love traditions... passing them on down to the next generation... how they create history and speak of belonging and they tie us all together.  I was not raised in a home that was committed strongly to doing a lot of Family things... so the few things that we did - I kept going, and then there were a few traditions we started new, when our family was young. I look back over them now and notice that each of them is relational... each one is wrapped around the power of words... each one invites God in.  From now 'Vintage' Hallmark Salt and Pepper Shakers, and Handmade Placecards at Thanksgiving where we'd write down things we were thankful for through out the year... to celebrating Hanukkah because when Jesus was here with skin on - he didn't really sing around a Christmas Tree - but He did light the Festival Lights and say the nightly blessings!  Easter Sundays with family sharing our favorite parts of the Story, Birthday celebrations stretched out long, with intentional blessings... each of these traditions, inviting Him in, as we speak life over and into each other!

As the craziness of the holidays fast approaches... all the lists get bossier and the calendars fill up... we can choose to be intentional... we can ON PURPOSE invite God in to our Traditions.  We can make prepare Him room - not just at Christmas time, but at all times, and we can bring Him with us - and give room for Him to show up!  We can help bring an Encounter to everyone around us!  

That is my challenge... that is my prayer!

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow - or maybe the next day... or maybe the next day - I will be back to wrap up this series... give me Grace, I pray.  I may be will be am ready for a little breaky from all this crazy writing! Still - I want to share the lessons learned here... and more than anything learned, I pray you caught something! I pray you caught a vision of how He is right there where you are... and He is wanting to encounter you!  Come back for the Wrap Up! I will see you soon!

October 30, 2013

Day 30 - Encountering God in the Quiet

Today is Day Thirty of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

Encountering God in the Quiet...

This seems like it should be easy, right? I mean - we finally find the Quiet and we should find God, yes?  In all the Noise of our world, Quiet can seem elusive... like a fairy tale... and just because we find it, that doesn't always mean that we cozy on up and enjoy His Presence - at least not right away.

Oh we want to! That is the goal... to seek out a little silence, and to be able to hear His still small voice! It can be done... rest assured - He IS speaking... but just because we manage to find quiet outside, doesn't mean we are able to so easily stop the noise in our heads!  As we discussed yesterday, our lives are so crowded with Noise: constant beeps, buzzers, and notifications, so many voices all around us vying for our attention and counting off lists of Bossy, trying to tell us what to do, what needs to be done, what should have been done already. It can be hard to really hear.  But I gave you a little secret yesterday... a little something I discovered that helps pull my focus towards the One who whispers soft, who is always speaking and giving us what we most need to hear - whether it is in the Quiet or Chaotic!

With all the noise that we are used to, I find many people are not comfortable in the Quiet.  They feel it needs to be filled... it's awkward and uncomfortable and we press on to whatever is Next in order to just keep moving on.

But, what would happen if, instead of drowning out the silence, we leaned in to it?  No matter what is going on around you... press in and give Him a moment to show you what is going on within you!  

Oh it is possible to drink Him in in the middle of our hectic days but what still works best is when we carve out time to encounter God in the Quiet - even before the day begins!  I find for me, even my inner voice that recites the daily part of life and the schedules to keep and the remembering of All. the. Things. - even she is not so much a morning person! So - if I can manage to turn my thoughts to Him first thing... before even leaving horizontal... before the brewing of the magic... when I start out my day, relishing in the quiet and inviting Him in to it first off, well - He is chatty and full of great things to say! But He is also patient... He is never in a hurry... and what He wants more than our devotions or morning prayer or Bible reading crossed off a list is the devotion of our hearts... 

There are great Bible reading plans and early morning devotional groups, small groups that graciously meet up at local Starbucks first thing around the globe... and all of those things are awesome!  Still, if you - like me - are not so much a morning person... He will meet you where you're at!  Let's not make this harder than it has to be!  The moment your thoughts turn to Him, He is there... (He's even there before that, of course... but the choice of encountering Him is all yours, my friend!)  He is not wanting ever to be something we check off and move on to what is next!  As I wrote about earlier (Day 8) - we can make it so hard... but sometimes it's easier than we think! Sometimes, He just wants us to be with Him.  

Can I encourage you to lean in to the Quiet...
don't fill it... don't rush it...
just drink it in, and be with Him!

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow we will talk about Encountering God in Tradition... just in time for all the Holiday Fun!  In the Comments below, I'd love to hear how you carve out some Quiet in your real life? Where do you find it? How do you protect it? Let's share some tips... for I am guessing that we all go in seasons when it is easier to hold on to, and seasons when it feels impossible to grab even 5 minutes!

October 29, 2013

Encountering God in all the Noise... Day 29

Today is Day Twenty-Nine of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

Encountering God in the midst of All the Noise...

Here we are - Day 29... you have made it nearly the whole month long with me here!
There are literally over 1500 bloggers who are linked up over at TheNester's - writing crazy - each and every day - throughout October.  That is more information, more voices, more noise - sounding off all over the lovely internet all month long! There are many things - good and not so good - vying for your attention and I don't know about you, but I know for me? It's not the 'bad' that tempt me... it's just that there is so much GREAT out there, whispering my name!

So many kindred writers that I want to read... online and in stacks (and stacks) around my home... waiting for me to give them moments of quiet, so their lovely noise can fill my head and my heart.  There is worship and new songs and lyrics that pierce my heart and there are stories - real life - of family and friends and neighbors that I want to hear.  There is so much good... that needs to be listened to! 

There is the noise inside our head... the negative self talk and all the What If's and If Only's... the constant replay of what we did wrong, what we could have done better, or what we should be doing now - or at least tomorrow...

And then there is the constant culture sound... the tv, radio, traffic, phones and notifications and timers going off for All. the. Days. It can be exhausting.  Our ears get used to the loudness and we learn to tune things out... to numb the decibals from actually penetrating and interrupting, but it takes WORK to stay silent in our day and age. And if we manage to escape and find silence - it doesn't necessarily mean we find Quiet!

One of my favorite places ever and always, is to walk along a shoreline... to be at the beach and feel sand shifting beneath my toes... to tune in to the sound of the surf rolling in and pushing out and how the lovely roar of the sea can make everything sound silent.  It doesn't take long until I feel myself exhale.  I didn't even know I was holding my breath in deep, and keeping my shoulders up high... I need a little sea air to remind me to exhale fully, to unwind and relax... to slow down and get beyond all the listening, and let the silence work its' way around, so that I am able to really HEAR once again!

Can I invite you to lean in? Tune out all the distractions, for just a moment... and listen to a secret:

As much as I love the beach... I have found that if I but turn my attention to Him, lean back, close my eyes, and breathe in deep and slowly... hold my breath for just a moment and then just Let. It. All. Go.  Push out all the air... fully exhale... and then repeat.  I find - no matter the noise level around me... I only need to do this a couple of times before I become acutely aware of His Presence! He is here.  Right here... waiting for me to notice!  

When I turn my thoughts and devotion toward Him - I find that in the center of chaos...
there is always Calm available.

Now - doesn't that sound nice?  Lean back, go ahead... it only takes a few moments to find yourself tuned back into the Voice of the One who matters most - and when we hear Him clearly - all the other Noise becomes background... you will find you can tap into Quiet, anywhere you are!

Now - I can't promise you that it will last... after all - this is real life here, but it will bring an Encounter that refreshes and revives and restores Peace - even in the midst of all the noise!

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow we'll talk about Encountering God in the Quiet!

October 28, 2013

Encountering Grace in Motion - Day 28

Today is Day Twenty-Eight of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!

This was an encounter that I had a couple of years ago, while praying on my own - in my favorite spot, sipping slow on a cup of tea, listening to some worship and inviting Him in to show me what I could not see! 

Grace in Motion...

"Who among us isn't hoping for, striving toward, and praying through a Breakthrough in one form or another? There is always something beyond where we are now and often it seems that there is something (whether real or perceived) that stands in the way. The keys have been given to us for breakthrough and much of what was handed to us I believe lies in the revelation that Victory is (already) ours... the price has been paid, the battle won, and the Authority transferred over to us to enforce!

I've been pondering on the reality that we live - right now - in two realms; that we have access to (and authority in) the spiritual realm as much as in the natural realm. They are not two worlds - but two realms - intermingling, active on this earth. While spending some time in worship, I had a vision that really impacted me this week.

I saw myself dancing...and at first I thought I was just seeing vivid colors but I realized that I was dancing under water. Gravity was not really holding me back and I could flow and jump, twist, leap and spin without any hindrances. It was so beautiful, graceful, and peaceful. Then I saw myself back up on the waters' surface, floating... I appeared to be 'stranded' in the middle of an ocean and in the natural - it seemed dangerous and hopeless. However, if I would just dive own deeper - things looked totally different. It's like the surface of the water is all that separates 2 worlds - the natural (where fear rules and reigns) or the spiritual (where peace and grace embrace you.)
From the perspective of the natural - RISK looks like opportunity for failing, but from the perspective of the spiritual, RISK is grace in motion.

The other thing that stood out to me is the surface is SO thin... it's such a small barrier that separates! There is a way to break through that is smooth, and graceful, and calm, or you can dive in, crashing the surface where you feel pain and create a disturbance. Both ways get you below the surface, into a different world - but one is more powerful and it depends on your perspective on which one you think that is! It made me think of watching the Olympic diving competition. So much focus is on form and technique - yet a lot of the score is dependent on the SPLASH created (or lack thereof) when they dive through the surface! The smaller the splash - the better the dive! We can learn from this!

I loved seeing the dive and taking risk... seeing the dance, if you will, below the surface as Grace in motion. I am becoming more and more aware that these 'two realms' that we abide in are so thinly separated... my goal is to go out and make a splash... but bigger (it turns out) is not necessarily better!

Dive in... join the dance!"
                                                                   (Originally posted October 20, 2011)

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow I will be writing new on Encountering God
in the midst of All the Noise.  Sometimes - life is full of sound and voices and distractions galore - and still, in the middle of your noisy life - He is there!

October 27, 2013

#31Days of Encountering God ...in Joy

Today is Day Twenty-Seven of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

Encountering God in Joy...

Oh - how He loves it when we go beyond Happy and enter into His Joy!  

Here's the wonderful thing about our Father in Heaven... He is a Good God, He's in a good mood, and He loves to pour out blessings and joy.  He wants to bless us - and not in the Name-it-and-Claim-it sort of way, although I do believe it includes those kinds of provisions! But it goes deeper... He wants to fill us up and bless us to overflowing Joy... He wants us to be contagious with His Joy so that when we get around others, it splashes out and gets all over!

We know Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the Joy of the LORD is our strength.  But I think we forget that it's His Joy.  It's His Joy that is our strength! It's not our own... we can't possibly muster up the kind of real Joy that gives us strength that lasts and makes a difference!  And we are not called to!  

Oh in our culture and in our pursuit of this messed up crazy 'American Dream' - we confuse comfort with need, and we mix up happiness with joy and we think we need to do it on our own!  

There are things that we enjoy that help us to be comfortable - but they are not needed. The needs often get taken for granted while we strive for more (and more) comforts.  We think as we pursue things that we hope will make us happy, we will find joy.  But Joy is not something that we just stumble upon... it is not something that can be found on the outside... but it wells up from within!  

Joy resides inside, because Christ lives inside... 

Joy is not dependant on our income, our relationships, our outer circumstances, or even our happiness!  

Joy is a choice...
and when we choose Him - we choose Joy!
So - to help you choose Him... and choose Joy... here are a few of my favorite Scriptures:

"You will show me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy,
at Your right hand there are pleasures
                                                                                                ~ Psalm 16:11 

"And now I am coming to You;
I say these things while I am still in the world,
so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them
[that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them,
that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls,
that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts]."
                                                                                     ~ John 17:13 Amplified 

"for the kingdom of God
is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness and peace and joy
in the Holy Spirit."
                                                                       ~ Romans 14:17

"Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy comes in the morning."
                                                              ~ Psalm 30:5 
...& for your weekend pleasure,
a little bonus joy-filled worship:

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow I will share an Encounter where I got to see Grace in Motion and was reminded of how thin the veil is that separates two realms.  Today - in the Comments below, I'd love to hear what brings you Joy?

October 26, 2013

Encountering God in Brokenness - Day 26

Today is Day Twenty-Six of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

Happy Saturday everyone!  I pray you are encountering God this month, finding healing and hope right here as you come sit with me awhile!

Encountering God in Brokenness...

We touched on this a little yesterday... how in our brokenness in dealing with difficult times with friends... Jesus sticks closer than a brother!  But it doesn't really matter what the cause of our brokenness is - whether is it relational or self-inflicted; whether it is physical or spiritual or emotional, or all of the above.  God draws near to the broken-hearted.  He longs to bind up our wounds.

As I typed that out, I kept thinking of that scene from The Notebook where, while on the beach playing in the ocean, Noah says to Allie, "If you're a bird, I'm a bird!"

This is Jesus and He means it... if you are broken, He is broken... and no matter what the cause, or how much pain you are drowning in - He is there with you... He will not leave you alone!  In fact, He was broken - for you!  He was broken and spilled out... all so that you don't have to be!  He is the answer to every question... every why... every how come?  He may not have caused it (hint - He didn't... He may have allowed it, but please don't give him 'credit' where it is not due!) but He is right there in the midst of it with you!

When you are hurting, He is hurting... when you are lonely, He is there... when you are broken, He already was - in order to make you whole! 

Lean in to Him when all you want to do is cut and run.  You may think you want to be left alone in your pain and anger... in bitterness and fear... but don't you do it! Don't pull away!  Instead... talk to Him... invite Him in and don't be afraid to really let Him have it... He will hear you out and encounter you right in the midst of your brokenness.  Don't hold back... He can take it... give it all over to Him.  He's carried it (to the Cross) already! 

In the middle of your brokenness, He is after your Heart!
... and He won't relent until He has it all!

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

How has He shown up for you in times when you were Broken?
I'd love to hear! Tomorrow - we will talk about Encountering God in Joy!

October 24, 2013

Together - five minute Friday

I am here at Allume and this is ah mazing! And really? Which one of us doesn't just love it when a little of Lisa Jo's South African just slips right on out?

Here goes!


"Together" - it just has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?  Together!  It's warm and inviting, it's "yes, please" and."why thank you!"  It's full of vulnerability and risk... Of joy and fears.  Together is where we long to be... Where we long to BELONG!  It means there is space for me too... (& you too!). It means we are not alone,

Together speaks laughter and cupcakes and coffee and tea... It speaks of tears and brokenness and staying - ANYWAY!  It speaks t Ruth - the hard and the easy and if we will risk it, together speaks of "no matter what's" and "I'm sorry!"  It can speak "you too?  Really?"  And "I can't believe its" 

Together - through time and space, can speak all sisterhood andGrace...

It is when we are together that we are His... ALL His!


Writing (on my phone) live at Allume!

Speak Life.  Be Love. Shine on. 


Day 24 - Praying for Allume

Today is Day Twenty-Four of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

Believing that we will Encounter God...
(Praying for Allume)

Today is the day, ya'll!  Allume officially begins this afternoon and all the months of planning and praying will be lifted up and given over into His hands... where whatever it is that He has planned for each of us will happen - and Lord, let that be enough.

I remember this day last year... I was at home, having just recently discovered what Allume even was (it's a writers/bloggers conference) and feeling like I was so not a part of what God was doing. I know, I know - He does more than just one conference... still - with all the hype and excitement, it felt like I was just a little too late to get in on the party. A day late and a dollar short... such is life on a single income tight budget, on the west coast.  It seems all the cool kids are conferencin' it up on the East side All. the. Time.  

I share that because I know that chances are good that many of you are home reading this, wishing maybe that you were not... wishing that you were (fill-in-the-blank, really!)  Can I remind you that wherever you are, there He is.  Can I assure you that you can have an encounter right where you are... you don't need to travel across mountain ranges and time zones to find Him or His favor!  I am praying for you - yes, YOU... as I am soaking up all that I can while I am at Allume this year.  Because mostly - I want to pour it all out... I want to take it home and fling the seeds planted here with reckless abandon and watch and see you grow right along with me!  Also - if I am honest - I am praying for you because chances are really good that I will not make it back next year.  I want to remember that when I invite Him in and rejoice with those who are rejoicing... I really am with the Cool Kids... Jesus and I - we make a great team... and we here on the Internet know very well, you don't have to be physically beside someone to be there with them just the same.  (OK - not just the same... but you know what I mean!)

Pray with me, won't you?  Pray that God will have His way... that He will cover the speakers and the leaders and the attendees... that we will shine brightly for Him throughout this packed hotel and all around town... Pray that we will have an encounter with God even while we are finally encountering one another face to face, hugging proper and crying real tears.  Pray that the most important connection we make is with HIM and Him alone - and that everyone else who blesses our time is simply an extension of that!

Not wanting to leave you empty handed today, I thought I'd share this video... it's my new favorite!  I love this song right now anyway - but then you go and have Jenn Johnson sing out spontaneously in the midst of it and ...just wow!

Crank it up... soak it in!

...and know that I am thinking of you!

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Please know that even though I am at Allume, I have written some new posts for you to enjoy while I am gone... and when I (finally) do get back to my own computer... I will pour out whatever was poured in to me while I am here!  I believe in Impartation - and I am praying that whatever I receive, I will pass on to you!
I hope you come back and join me tomorrow for Five Minute Friday!

October 23, 2013

Encountering God in Friendships - Day 23

Today is Day Twenty-Three of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!)

Encountering God in Friendships...

How I love to be surrounded with friends - my people - who really know me, they 'get' me - and know how I am wired! They know my sense of humor or what moves me to tears... they know when to come alongside, when to give space, and always - they know how to pray for me.

I am blessed with some amazing friends - both in real life -in a let's-take-a-walk-and-have-coffee or we-are-overdue-for-a-dinner-and-movie sort of way, as well as across the blogosphere in the land of social media and emoticons, in mentions and likes and direct messages and Google Hangouts!  

 (in)rl meet up - 2013

I love how Jesus calls us friend!  He promises that not only is He a friend that sticks closer than a brother, but He actually calls US His friend!  That is such a picture of intimacy to me.  I love how relational our God is and I love how He just comes to us where we are at, often in the form of a friend!

To have someone be Jesus with skin on... who just cozies right up and will share a bench, and a cup of something yummy... who will speak life to us - call us out in love on those rough edges that need smoothing, encourage, build up, pray with... I love how He will come alongside us in friendships and He laughs with us and cries with us and encounters us best in some of our closest connections - both when they are good, and when they are hard!

Because let's be honest... not all (or any) of our friendships are easy... it's nice when it just flows and things are magical and kindred and no ones' feelings are getting hurt!  But what about when it is stuck, when walls are being built up and wounds are festering... when forgiveness is being withheld and grace is what is most needed!

Where is God then? How do we find ourselves encountering God then?  When friends have let us down, gone behind our backs and spread rumors, exaggerations, or lies... when the one we thought we could confide in could not keep a secret... could not have our backs... or simply couldn't care enough to stand up for us or take our side... we feel the knife slipping in and turning around... we feel the let down and the hurt... we feel naked, uncovered, sometimes all alone.

Can I tell you: God is with us even then? That whole thing where He promises to stick closer than a brother? Yeah - He meant that! He meant it because He knew that we can't always be the person that we want to be! We can't always be the friend that is needed.  We fall short.  We sin.  We give in or give out or give up... but He never does... He is the only Friend who will always be there... will always do what is best for us... who will always have our back and lift us up and push us forward to being the best version of ourselves.   We may consider ourselves a good friend - but we all fall short, make mistakes, hurt those we love whether we meant to or not!

The good news is that we really can encounter God through friends and friendships. We can learn more about Grace and Forgiveness, about Love and Letting Go when we invite God in to our relationships.  Some friendships are brought into our lives for a season, to teach us and grow us and make us better... and some friendships are more long term. They have lived life with us through ups and downs and with them, we hold nothing back! We are fully invested and while it is not always easy, it is always good because those long term friends have learned to love us like Jesus!  And when they fail... we have learned to love them like Jesus right back!

As I said... I am blessed with a lot of great friends... but my friendships haven't always been easy.  There have been hard times, long seasons of silence, and some friendships that simply faded away... But I have found that it is in the comfort and pain of friendships that Jesus walks right in and proves that He is the best thing we have going!  Whatever is heavy on your heart... He's got it! He understands and is there to help!  He will swoop right in and will never leave!  He really is the bomb.com and we couldn't ask for a better Friend than Jesus!

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

So - how about you? How have you encountered God
in your friendships? In the good times, or the hard ones?
I'd love to hear!

October 22, 2013

Encountering God in Church - Day 22

Today is Day Twenty-Two of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!

Lights, Camera, Encounter...

This should be a no brainer, right? Encountering God in church... I mean - isn't this why we go in the first place? I mean - is it?  Do we not get dressed and cleaned up... gather the family and load the car and head to church to meet with Him?  Sure - in theory.  Sometimes we actually think about how we may catch a glimpse of Him... how we may feel His Presence or hear something in a way we've never heard it before and it will draw us in... our intentions are good or at least I'd like to assume so! Church can sometimes turn into a lot of work on the Sabbath... it is needy and is often a business that must be run... we need greeters and ushers and worship team and staff for anouncements and video news and childcare (seriously - bless 'em, Lord!) and the list goes on and on and on.  There is nothing wrong with this... and while I would love for the structure of church to be different in some ways - it is not on this day, and so we must press through and purpose in our hearts to do whatever it is we are called to DO to help the whole production run smoothly - but for the love of God and all that is Holy (seriously... for those two things...) let's not forget that Church is all about Him. 

Actually - I believe that Church should be all about Him - and us... His own.  I believe it should be a gathering where we press in together, worship Him in spirit and in truth - for as long as that takes, and we encourage and lift up one another.  We hear from Him through the Word, through testimonies, through others speaking life and sharing real... I believe it is less to do with saving the lost on a Sunday. Oh - if they are there, they should totally get saved - but let's not cater to them, and forget to feed the ones who are hungry and within the fold already!

I won't even touch on all the politics and gossip and ladder climbing in lieu of Kingdom Building that goes on in any given gathering, on any given Sunday (and whatever day of the week you attend a service!) This too makes it hard to grow a healthy Community - one that is more Heaven than hell... one that is growing and thriving and Shining brightly... we have all fallen prey to it... given in to it... been burned by it.  Let's stop the madness and remember that the reason we gather is HIM... and when we look to Him; when we worship Him - we find that we can choose to look for the Gold, or we can call forth the dirt.  I propose that we purpose to live like Jesus - to look for the good, and call it forth! To Speak Life. To Be Love. To Shine On.  
Let's practice it at home and at church and then live it out boldly wherever we go!

What about you? Are you in? Will you purpose with me to search Him out! Don't let the distractions of the messiness and woundedness of past church experiences keep you from Encountering Him in the midst of a worship service, prayer, offering, the message - any or all of it! Don't let the enemy rob you of an Encounter.  

We are all busy... and sometimes, on a Sunday - with someone else setting the stage - that is the only time we have set aside to meet with Him.  Can I urge you - if this is true of your life - whether it is just true this week, or this month, or it's all you have known - can I urge you to not just go through the motions?

I remember years ago reading a book by Tommy Tenney and in it he said that God's favorite part of our church services is our times of praise and worship.  It's the only part of the service that He really gets anything out of! (He's never learned anything new in the midst of a sermon!)  So I purpose to bring Him all of my heart, and I prepare myself to worship even before I arrive. I try to anyway... so at that very first note - I am all in and I am ready to worship Him!  

Because - what I desire most... is to meet with Him! I want His Spirit to Break Out... and for Heaven to Come Down... (Join in, won't you?)

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow I'll write about how we Encounter God in friendships... how He just cozies right up and shares a bench, and a cup of tea... how He laughs with us and cries with us and encounters us best in some of our closest friendships - both when they are good, and when they are hard!

October 21, 2013

Intercessory Prayer - Day 21

Today is Day Twenty-One of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!

This vision or Encounter is one that has literally changed my prayer life... I have written a Children's book based on this vision - it has never left me!  (Now... to learn how to watercolor?)  Anyway, I pray it impacts you as well!

Bowls of Intercession...
"The other day, while in prayer, the Lord opened up this vision to me...

It is not any new revelation, really. As an intercessor, however, it is so encouraging! Such a powerful reminder! I kept thinking of that scripture in Revelation that talks about the angels and the bowls of intercession. What an encouragement to KEEP praying... in this vision I found it interesting that each person had numerous bowls, each representing something that was being prayed about... and the bowls were all various shapes and sizes. Whether you have been praying for something for a long time, or the Lord just put it on your heart, do not back down... some bowls are larger and require more prayers to fill them to the top!

Here is the vision:

In the midst of prayer, the eyes of my spirit were opened up and I saw myself, along with several others, kneeling in prayer and individually praying on our own. As I began to look around this prayer meeting, I noticed two angelic beings beside each intercessor. One looked as if he was praying along with the person. As we each prayed, the words - whether spoken or prayed in silence, became tangible in the air and began to float heavenward. The second angel would then capture the prayer and immediately flew to heaven - so fast that I could not actually SEE him leave... and then he would return nearly as fast. It seemed as though no time had passed. After a few times of watching this happen, I asked the Lord - "What am I seeing? Where is he going with those prayers?" Immediately I was taken up to a room with no end. I could not see far enough in any direction to see the walls of this room and I followed this angel I had been watching and saw that he went directly to a specific section of this room! It seemed that each section was dedicated for a specific individual, and each individual, it seemed had several bowls. There was an angel attending these bowls and protecting them... watching as the other Messenger emptied each uttered prayer into the appropriate bowl.

This visual made me think of the scripture in Revelation chapter 5. It reads, "He then went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him Who sat on the throne. And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders of the heavenly Sanhedrin prostrated themselves before the Lamb. Each was holding a harp (lute or guitar), and they had golden bowls full of incense (fragrant spices and gums for burning), which are the prayers of God's people (the saints). And [now] they sing a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll and to break the seals that are on it, for You were slain (sacrificed), and with Your blood You purchased men unto God from every tribe and language and people and nation." (Rev. 5:7-9)

Then, in the vision I asked where this room was and I was shown on the door that entered into the room a sign that read, "Intercessors Lab & Infirmary" Interesting... in looking up the official definition for infirmary, Websters defines it as "a place where the infirm or sick are lodged for care and treatment."

Back to the vision... when the bowl is filled to the rim, the Lord Himself appears before the angel and the bowl. His sudden appearance requires the angel to bow down in worship, and as the angel bows, the bowl tips over and spills out over the angels' worship... this brings a smile to the face of God and somehow I had the knowledge that at this point, whatever the prayer was about... the answer comes. When the bowls are full, and spilled out in worship to the Lamb, He releases His answer and sends it back to earth.

Isn't it reassuring to know that not only does the Lord hear our prayers, but they are attended to with such care and urgency! He collects them. He gives His angels charge over us and sends them to cover us and to collect our prayers and deliver them to a place where they can be cared for and treated! This gives me such a powerful visual when the Lord puts something or someone on my heart, seemingly out of the blue! He is trying to fill up their bowl! This also gives such encouragement to CONTINUE on in prayer! Sometimes we can get discouraged because the answer seems slow in coming. Maybe the bowl for that particular prayer is larger than most... and yet we can rest assured that He hears our prayers, and they are not being lifted up in vain... Keep on keepin' on!

"Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I pray this week you will find yourself being showered by answered prayers... may our bowls overflow, Lord - and may we press on in prayer, having confidence in, and giving thanks for You and Your great Love for us!"
                                                                   (Originally posted November 13, 2007)

Linking up with The Nester and 1000s of other #31Day Bloggers!

Tomorrow I will be writing new on Encountering God in church.
We'll get into how to meet with Him - inside of the walls of church, when sometimes it is not as easy as it should be there!

October 20, 2013

Day 20... A little Worship and Prayer

Today is Day Twenty of 31 Days of Encountering God! If you missed the kick-off, you can go HERE and find the Introduction as well as each days post! (I will be adding every day as the month goes on!

Happy Sunday!  Today I wanted to keep it simple... I am including a video of one of my favorite places to worship - where spontaneous and prophetic worship unfolds, as well as a prompt for a little Listening Prayer... I pray you will enter in with me, right where you are today - and whether you have five minutes, or fifteen, or longer... Press In to Him and invite Him in to your day! Tomorrow I will share an Encounter with God that changed the way I pray... and the faith and peace that I have in the midst of praying for the big things and the little things because of it!

Spontaneous worship...

Listening Prayer...

Father God...
  Let Joy arise...
because our Hope is in You!
What is it today,
that You would say to me, Lord?
 What do You want my heart
to know for sure?

(Wait... write... pray it through! Add your own Amen!)

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