Friday, January 8, 2016

What does God think about New Year's Resolutions?

I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s. I absolutely love the feeling of a fresh start, renewed resolutions, and the idea that ‘this year will be different.’ However, I also have a sense of dread that comes with New Year because I know that I will fail. And since I am going to fail…AGAIN, then why even try, right? Has there ever been a year that I was able to keep any of my resolutions anyways? Well…does anyone, really? I mean… let’s just be real.  I am sure if you’re reading this, you’re not one of those people that have super powers and can somehow magically accomplish everything on your resolution list. All I have to say to those people is…YOU ARE NOT HUMAN! You are probably from Krypton and should say ‘hi’ to Clark for me!

In writing what I am about to say, know that I am NOT saying I have all the answers. I’m just sharing a bit of my heart and experience with you. And if it encourages you like it did me, then writing this was worth it!
There’s so much I have been thinking about change, failing, and God. I really don’t know where to start to express it all. Maybe, if you’re like me, you’re disgusted with yourself with the habits you have allowed in your life, the lack of discipline, and how “unspiritual” you are. I mean… come on people, there’s only so many times I should have to go around this mountain, right? Are you picking up what I’m settin’ down? Can you relate?  If so, keep reading. First of all, let me start off by saying I am one who has an issue with failure. I totally fear failure to the point that if I think I may fail for the 100th time, I won’t even try because I don’t want the disappointment of that failure again. Let me also say, that is PRIDE. Here we go…let’s start swinging. Thinking that I can live an error-free life is symptomatic of an unhealthy pride. *gulp* Instead of dwelling in the past, I am called to release my mistakes to God and move forward. Longing to undo past regrets is a waste of time and energy, leading only to frustration. (Can I get an AMEN?) Within the last year I have come to experience God’s grace like never before. The sweet things He has spoken to my heart have propelled and motivated me to keep going and not give up in the areas that are too hard for me.

One thing we first have to determine when it comes to change is, why do you want to change anyways? Is it to feel victorious? Is it because we feel like God will love us more and be more pleased with us? Is it because we want to please others? What is the motive of your change? If our motive for personal change is anything other than wanting to be closer to Jesus, then we have missed it. The purpose of any change should always be to draw near to Him. God’s love for us will never change regardless of whatever great things you are doing for Him, or the lack thereof. Whether you are the super human who keeps every resolution, or whether you are like me, flubbering in your failures, God’s love for us is the same. However, the choices we make can enhance, or hinder, our enjoyment of our relationship with Him.
I have learned one of the greatest keys to keep going in the midst of failure, is to let the Lord in your mess. One of the sweetest things the Lord spoke to me concerning this was, Failing WITH me is better than any victory WITHOUT me. We were never called to live this life in our own strength and in our own power. God wants to be a part of our every moment of every day. We are called to abide in Him. Any time we just say, “The heck with it” (so to speak) and just give up, we essentially are shutting the door to the Lord. We forfeit His grace, mercy, and help. But if we allow God in our mess, in our failures, and in the times we fall, that is more important to Him, than having any success we have without Him. God never called us to perfection so quit trying to be perfect! He is the only one who is perfect so LET HIM be perfect for you. Whether you have victory or failure- never shut Him out! Quit trying to walk on your own. Quit trying to be a Christian without Christ!

 The Lord also went on and said, “Because you know failing ‘in me’ is not possible.”  Psalm 37:23-24 in the amplified version says, “The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step.] Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.”  Another version says “though he stumble, he will not fall.” We may stumble in this life, but when we have the Lord in our midst we get back up and keep going. He is upholding us. I picture holding the hand of my toddler as I go through a parking lot. Suddenly, they trip, but they do not get that skinned knee because I was holding their hand. I never let go. Had they NOT been holding my hand they would have gotten that skinned knee. Hunny let me tell you, that’s what this verse is like! There’s no skinned knees when you have the hand of the Father in your hand. He will hold your hand until your feet get planted on the ground again, and ya just keep walking. Disaster will always be averted when you are abiding in Him. In your weakness HE is STRONG!

 It is also important to remember that God is the one who working in us and He promises to complete the work in us. Philippians 2:13 says, “[Not in your own strength] for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire] both to will and work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” Did you read that? Maybe you better read that again…He creates the POWER and DESIRE!! How cool is that?!? You WILL fail in this life, but it’s what you do with those failures that count. Do you let them drive you closer to Him as you recognize your dependence on Him? Or do you let the enemy use them to discourage you, keep you from Him, and stop you in your race of life?

So if you are one who is disappointed in yourself, I encourage you to get back up. Quit trying to do it in your own strength. Even though you have circled that mountain 100 times, go around again the 101st time. Get your eyes off of you and your imperfections, and put them on the Author and perfector of your faith. God never meant for us to dwell on our struggles. He meant for us to dwell on Him and enjoy Him. God is not displeased with you. His face is always smiling on you…even when you blow it. Close your eyes right now and picture Him smiling at you. Nothing you can do will make Him love you more, and nothing you can do will make Him love you less.  In the midst of your yuck- He delights in you.  You may be in a pit you cannot get out of. LET HIM LOVE YOU OUT OF YOUR PIT! His love is the wind that propels you to fly.
Now let’s get up and run our race and show those super human’s what it’s all about!
P.S. If you related to any of this, I’d like to hear what part impacted you! J And if there’s any way I can help you run your race better, please message me!



Friday, February 20, 2015

A letter to the 21 Egyptian Christians Myrtyrs

Dear Egyptian Christian Brothers who were murdered,
I watched the entire 5 minute video last night that ISIS released of your awful death. I saw your heads covered in sand and decapitated from your bodies. I saw the Mediterranean Sea colored red from your blood. I saw your brave last moments as I heard you cry out to Jesus. I saw your enemies make threats to the world and to the rest of the followers of the cross.

My eyes watched fear in your eyes.

My eyes watched bravery.

My eyes watched anger in the enemy.

My eyes watched sadness in your eyes.

My eyes watched evil barbarianism.

My eyes watched hope.

My eyes watched cowardly men hiding behind masks.

My eyes watched strength.

My eyes watched brutality.

My eyes watched a moment that changed me forever.

I cannot even begin to imagine what you, and countless other martyr’s before you, went thru as you gave your lives for the cause of Christ. You had the opportunity to renounce Christ, yet you didn’t. You had the opportunity to save your life here on this earth, yet you didn’t. You gave all you were for your Savior Jesus Christ.

My emotions are going all over the place as I reflect on what just happened. My heart aches for your families, your fellow country, and all who are mourning over the personal loss of your lives. I am grieved as imagine what it must have been like to have known you were about to die. I can’t imagine what it was like having your face in the sand unable to breathe and knowing it was your last. Then seconds later, a knife to your throat as they ripped your head off and (I assume) threw your bodies into the sea.  But then, Ahh…BUT THEN, MY HEART REJOICES, as I imagine what it must have been like in only a few moments later, having your Savior greet you with a tear stained face, and holding the biggest smile his cheeks can possibly withstand as he embraced you and told you how proud of you he was. To go from a completely barbaric moment, to a moment of utter bliss….I cannot fathom.

This morning when I woke up, I happened to read Psalm 37. I could not help but think of you the entire time I read it. It said things like not to fret because of evil men because they will soon wither. It said not to fret when evil men succeeded in their ways and carried out their wicked schemes because evil men will be cut off. It said that in a little while the wicked will be no more and that the Lord laughs at the wicked, because he knows their day is coming. It said that, “The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken.” Then it went on to say how the Lord will not forsake his faithful ones and how He will protect them forever. It said that He is your stronghold in times of trouble and that the Lord helps and delivers the righteous from the wicked. I have to say, I felt mad when I read that. I felt like God abandoned you. I felt like God failed you. I said that out loud to my husband who was sitting right across the table from me, “Chris, God says he will save the righteous from the wicked but he didn’t for them.” My husband responded with, “Did God abandon Stephen, the first martyr? Did God abandon any of the martyrs? Our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and principalities in the Spirit. It’s a spiritual battle, Danielle.” This is truth as well. Visually it may look like the enemy won with you. But in truth, all the enemy has done, is stir the embers to the fire that is about to happen. Hasn’t the enemy learned by now that any time you try to snuff out Christ, He only gets proclaimed further and spreads faster? Take a dandelion for example, if you pick one up in full bloom and try to rip it’s head off, there will be many more dandelions next year to take care of.  

Your death has caused MY HEART TO BURN with passion all the more for what is about to take place in our world. Your death has given my heart a greater boldness to stand up for the cause of Christ, to take my place of authority over the enemy, and to not fear the days to come and the suffering that will occur.
Know that your death was not in vain. Your death has started a fire within the souls of Christians all over the world. Your death was victory for the cause of Christ and we rejoice at the glory that is being revealed in you.  Your death causes me to dig my heals in deeper, and anchor in Christ more than ever. What the enemy has meant for evil, God will use for good! ISIS said that this was “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.” The last time someone dear to me left a message signed in blood, He started out with only 12 followers and changed the world. The enemy doesn’t know what he’s started. It’s only just begun!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ever wonder if your kid will turn out ok?

So maybe I’m just being too sensitive, but it seems as my oldest son grows up, his heart is not as sensitive as it used to be. Maybe that’s what happens when little boys grow up. Fear and sadness try to creep into my heart as I think about what “THIS COULD MEAN? Will my son love Jesus? Will he love me? Will he love his wife? Will he be a decent human being that contributes to society? Will he ever hunger and be passionate for the Lord? Will he… will he… will he?” Then it transitions to me. “Oh my gosh, I’m the worst parent ever! My son doesn’t do (fill in whatever “Christian” thing you’re supposed to do) and so how will he ever turn out right? What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do different as a parent? Why does parenting having to be messy? Why can’t it be a black and white formula?” Then other times I laugh and tell myself that I am over analyzing everything. Gee ya think? The poor kid is only 10 years old!

Whether I am being super sensitive or not, really doesn’t matter though. Whether my desires for my son ever manifest in the future or not, really doesn’t matter. What matters, is RIGHT NOW. The desire to control the happy outcome of my son’s future is meaningless and futile. But what I can do, is live in this moment right now!

So tonight when these thoughts tried to overtake and grip my heart with fear, I decided I would do something to connect in this moment. Although my heart wanted to get in his face and freak out about the meaning and purpose of life, “Do you realize what life is all about? Do you get this? Do you know what Christ did for you?” Instead… I decided to dance. Yep. I cranked some fun dancing music on in the kitchen while I cooked supper, grabbed my 10 year old and said, “Come on…dance with your mama.” Of course I could tell by his slumped shoulders and painfully long face that he was real excited about this idea. Through my encouragement and silliness, he wasn’t moving. Finally I said through my sweet dance moves, “Come on boy, some day you will regret not dancing in the kitchen with your mama!”  Something clicked. He said, “You’re right mom. Someday I will.” At that moment, he got silly with me and started dancing and swinging through the kitchen. The schlump turned into smiles and laughter. The dancing didn’t last long between him and I. Soon the rest of the kids were all dancing in the kitchen and we were having a party as I took breaks to add ingredients to the dinner on the stove.

I am so thankful for my 5 minute dance party. It connected our hearts together, showed him I was in love with him and that I enjoyed him, and got me out of my freak-out funk. Although our hearts didn’t connect on the spiritual level that I am desiring, they did on an emotional level. We connected TODAY. And today is the only thing I have with my son. I don’t have tomorrow. I have today.

 Maybe this is a normal process to feel like you are losing your child. Maybe it’s not? Maybe I really am doing something wrong and need to reevaluate my parenting and relationship with my son. Regardless, the bottom line is, trusting the Lord. The Lord loves my son more than I do. He wants what’s best for him even more than I do. He will pursue my son, just as He pursued me. God’s got this. He will give me wisdom and show me the paths to take as I seek His face.  Yes, we will (and have) both make mistakes as we grow and mature. But for now, it’s good to be reminded that I am not God, and sometimes… we just need to dance.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"Sure" - How this word impacted me

I am realizing that I am a visual learner. Object lessons stick with me. I may even be able to tell you what you were wearing when we met. (However, for the life of me I will probably not remember your name until after the 4th time. Go figure.) Because of this learning style, I love spending time with people and families whom I respect. I learn so much from just observing them and how they interact and respond.

On one such recent occasion, I observed my friend respond to her son in a way I realized I was not doing. We were eating dinner and her son made a request. "Mom, can you get me another tortilla?" It was something this child could have grabbed himself. In my home, I would have said, "You are 2 feet away from this. Don't be lazy and just grab it yourself." Or maybe not quite so mean and at least said politely, "Oh you can just grab it." But, that is not how my friend responded. She said in the most cheerful way, "Sure." That's it. I was convicted. I have been working with my kids on responding cheerfully to requests made of them. When I worked a secular job, if my boss made a request of me, I always tried to respond cheerfully with, "Sure. I'd love to." Did I feel like I'd love doing it? 99% of the time, NO. You may say, "You lied Danielle!" I used to think that too. Until I realized the answer to this question, does my heart love and want to serve? YES. Therefore, I was not lying. It was truth. My heart's desire is always greater than my flesh. All that to say, I want my kids to have the heart of a servant and respond cheerfully. BUT HOW CAN I EXPECT THEM TO DO SOMETHING THAT I DON'T EVEN DEMONSTRATE IN FRONT OF THEM?

If I want my kids to have the heart of a servant, then I need to live that out in front of them... not just to others, but to THEM. They need to see it and experience it. Paul said in the New Testament, Imitate me as I imitate Christ. Isn't this how it should be? Our children will learn to imitate Christ by watching us do so.

So, in light of all this, the past month I have been working on my responses to my children's requests. When the answer is "yes," I have been answering with a very cheerful, "Sure." Have they noticed? I doubt it. They probably just think, "Mom's in a good mood today. She must have had extra coffee." LOL

Today was one such moment where I had an opportunity to respond cheerfully. My 3 year old asked me to turn on a movie. I said real cheerful, "Sure." He says, "Mommy, are you turning it on cuz I asked so nice?" My immediate thought was, "Pffft. No. I am turning it on because I want to show you I am nice, and how to respond to requests." BOOM. Immediately I was convicted. Again. So often we think our Father God answers our prayers because WE prayed so hard. Or, WE had enough faith. Or, maybe it was because I spent so much time in prayer. In 3 year old terms, "Cuz we asked so nice." Don't get me wrong...these are all very important. But may I suggest to you, that perhaps God answers our prayers because of who HE is? I wanted to turn on that movie, not based on anything to do with my son at all. I wanted to show him how to respond cheerfully to requests. I wanted to reflect the Father to him.

God wants to respond to us because HE is good. He wants to be generous to us so that we may bring Him glory by being generous to others. "Freely you have received. Freely give." (Matthew 10:8) "As Christ has forgiven you so you must also forgive others." (Col. 3:13)
The two motives I had with my son was,
1. To show him an identity.
2. To teach him a response.

These are the VERY SAME MOTIVES God has in responding to us.

1. To show us HIS identity of who He is.
2. To teach us how we in turn should respond to others.

This life is all about loving God and loving people. When we do these things, we bring glory to the Father. When the Father gives to us, we can't help but love Him more. Yes, God brings healing, provision, and life to us because HE loves us. But ultimately, He does everything for HIS glory. The greater revelation we have of who He is, the greater glory it brings Him. When you become full of awe over who He is and what He has done, you can't help but share it with others. Again, bringing Him glory. When you know Him, you love Him. You can't love someone you don't know. God gives not based on our works and efforts, but based on WHO HE IS. The bible says that He gave his son to die for us while we were yet sinners. We deserve hell. He gave while we didn't deserve it. This is WHO.HE.IS! Every good and perfect gift comes from heaven because HE is good and perfect. There is never a moment we deserve anything from Him.

God longs to display Himself to us. That is why He loves when you ask. He says, "You have not because you ask not." (Matthew 7:7) Every prayer request is an opportunity for God to reveal Himself to you, causing you to fall more in love with Him, and thus causing you to overflow HIM to others, thus bringing Him glory. Do you see the big picture?

So the next time you talk to your Father-God, picture Him with a smile saying, "Sure. I'd love to." Let it shape who He is to you so that you may fall more in love with Him. 

And now, if my friend only knew what her simple, "SURE" has given me, she would probably laugh. Did she know that her "sure" would spill God on me? Did she know it would then impact me, my family, my prayer life, and my perception of the Father? Probably not. But I am "sure" glad it did. (pun intended. :-)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Who I am- going deeper

An old friend visited our church on Sunday and said, "Oh Danielle! I googled you and found your blog from like 3 years ago!" I died. I think my heart may have stopped for sheer embarrassment. Yes, I was that blogger who started strong, and then slowly faded away. I still cringe.

Wowzers! Has it really been over 2 years since I posted? Oye! Ok people, so here's what happened...I had a 4th baby... and life got crazy...and that ended my blogging days. UNTIL NOW! I have had on my heart to start writing and studying again for some time. I finally am at a point where I have a bit more of that precious commodity we call, TIME. What is my excuse now, right? If all else fails, I can at least post this one post and call it good for a few more years right? Because I mostly post my funnies on facebook now, I rarely deem it necessary to blog. I have literally turned my facebook posts in to hard copied books that sits on my coffee table. But for whatever reason, there is a desire in my heart STILL, to bring life to people through laughter, or an encouraging word. And sometimes facebook is just not the right outlet for that. I know...hard to believe even for me. :-)

In the past few months I have come to articulate about myself a few things.  Not only do I value authenticity and real relationships above all, but the bottom line is this: I LOVE LAUGHTER. I love to hear people laugh, I love to make people laugh, and I love laughing! I prize this more than a good cup of coffee and any other small treasures life has. I am talking good, clean, wholesome laughter. I am embracing this fully as I realize, THIS IS WHO I AM. And I am ok with that.

I am also realizing more and more, that my heart desires to bring such encouragement to people. Something I desire deeply, is to bring LIFE to people. To be able to help bring wind to someone's sail, joy to a sorrowed heart, or balm to a wound...please Jesus, USE ME for your glory. This also, is the passion of who I desire to be.

These are two passions that are emerging greatly in my life as I reflect more and more. God has used me during the past 7 years in the business of massage to bring life to people physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  And it has been an incredible journey. But the fire in me is greater than just massage. I feel like have more to give.

So with that being said, I have no idea what I will write about. (Real encouraging for you reader, eh?) I just know that these two passions are weaving into more areas of my life. God has a greater purpose that I don't yet see. So for now, I take the first step of where he's leading me by picking up my blog once again.

If you are someone who needs a bit of encouragement, loves to have a good laugh, and values being real, then I encourage you to stay tuned for more to come. As I re-read the last paragraph in the "More about Me" section, I was encouraged to see my heart in what I had written 4 years ago, still applied to me today. "I have nothing to impress you with and I have nothing to hide." It's just me wanting to connect with you. I am excited for this new journey.

And although I had a moment of sheer embarrassment that Sunday morning, I am so thankful for it. It confirmed in my heart what was already shouting to me. "Start writing again Danielle. It doesn't matter that you don't know grammar. Just write." So thank you, my dear friend, you know who you are, for googling me and reading the outdated version of my life. Here's to a fresh start!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August Funnies

So I have a hodge podge of cute little things that the kids have done and said lately. This post is a collection of the most recent.

 Luke woke up and asked where Isaac was. I told him that he was at Kid's Camp today. Grace woke up shortly after this and Luke said to her, "Isaac's at Camping Kids."

At Target today.
Luke: I'm doing good at the store. I'm not running around, or screaming, or fighting.
Grace: That's cuz Isaac's not here.

Luke asked if we could all play "ring around the bridges." So...hmm...which one are we supposed to play?

Isaac's friend to Isaac: Is this your skateboard?
Isaac: Yeah...but I can't ride it...It's for talented people.

ME: Ohhhh I'm so bummed! I'm out of my favorite coffee drink!
ISAAC: Mom....
ME: yeah buddy
ISAAC (real sweet-like): You still have Jesus!

I didn't realize Isaac was listening as well to the audio version of my daily bible with me as I did the dishes. It was in the book of Job. Isaac had lots of questions and asked me to pause the reading while he took the dog out. I all books of the bible to want to hear! LOL! He came back in and we chatted some more and I said, thinking Isaac could relate, "...yeah...Job's kinda being a drama king right now." Isaac says, "No...he's just having a pity party." If anyone else would like the "commentary" on the book of Job from a 7 year old...I guess you should stop over. HA!

This is a picture Grace (6) made today. Here is what it says,

"I love my house and my family and I love myself. I don't care if I have too many brothers. And God gave me everything. I love God very much. I love everything that I have."

I didn't realize that she thought she had too many brothers! LOL!

 I'm so glad my kids thought this was funny.
We just keep laughing thru life! :-) I'm blessed!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Pilgrims on the Cauliflower???

Just wanted to post a few quick little giggles from this week. This picture is one of all 4 of them on Uncle Adam and Auntie Kinsey's hammock. This was the first time the kids got to swim and see their new place! Woohoo!
(Isaac 7, Grace 6, Luke 3, Jonathan 15 months)
  • Chris was asking Isaac if he knew what Independence Day was all about and why we celebrate it. Isaac says, "Oh yeah...isn't that where those people came over on that ship...the Cauliflower?"
  • We were all picking peas in the garden and the flies and mosquito's were so terrible. They were buzzing in our ears non-stop. We hear Lukey say, "Bees...leave me alone. I'm trying to pick peas. I can't play with you right now!" Grace looks at me and giggles. A few minutes later we hear him say more emphatically now, "BEES! I told you! I'm trying to pick peas!! I can't play with you right now!
  • This morning as I was taking a shower Luke decided to lock the door...from the outside! (FYI...this required getting a stool to reach the lock because it is out of his reach) I had to search for a couple of minutes to find something small enough that I could shove in the crack to unlatch it so I could get out. I went to my room and I happened to notice a little tuft of blonde hair hiding behind my bed sitting VERY still. I hopped on top of my bed to see what the little munchkin was doing. HIS MOUTH WAS FULL OF BUBBLE GUM that he had found from CHRISTMAS! He could hardly chew because his mouth was so full, and it was practically dripping out. Although I didn't enjoy the mess on his face, I certainly enjoyed his little stinkin cleverness.