Run Your Race for Jesus

IMG_2464What gets me is that for many of you, it probably would have been easy. You like my husband may have been a little tired after the uphill climb to Grotto falls in the Great Smokey Mountain park but you would have been fine. I had even done the 1.4 mile trek as a teenager without complaint. But for me with a right knee on the mend from a break right before Easter it was very hard and painful.

What surprised me the most was it wasn’t my right knee or my right foot that was giving me the pain. It was my whole left leg. Working extra hard to compensate for my right it kept cramping up the further we went. It was hard work and at one point I had to stop and sit and drink water and pray for strength. I wondered how I was going to make the trek back to the car when I could hardly get to the waterfall itself. Imagine my joy when I finally made it. The waterfall was pretty. My kids enjoyed themselves playing in the water, climbing and standing behind the falls. But I got to sit and rest for a moment which was what I desperately needed.

In Hebrews it reminds us that we are running a great race. Now mind you I walk slow and many people passed me up on my way up to the waterfall. I was in a race to stay up with my family who would go out of the sight of my vision from time to time. It says in Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witness (who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness), stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us (Looking away from all that will distract us and) focusing our eyes on Jesus who is the Author and Perfector of faith.”

When we started I had planned to carry the water for us all in a small backpack we had. My husband graciously took it instead. Could you imagine how much harder the bag of water bottles would have been? My husband also carried my 5 year-old son on his shoulder’s a few times. That weight would have made my walking impossible. I probably would not have finished the trail after even trying to lift him. Sin is like that it weighs us down and makes it hard to move, it easily and cleverly entangles us, stopping us from fulfilling our purpose.

I can be stubborn and I was determined to get to that waterfall. God wants us determined to get to the finish line but what I didn’t have was endurance. All those weeks in a brace left my muscles in my legs weak. I struggled because I lack endurance. How do we grow spiritual endurance? Well In my life God started with small things I had to endure and they got bigger and bigger overtime. It might be hard for you to have patience when you text someone and they don’t text you back right away or to wait for more than 15 minutes at a doctor’s office. God might build your endurance by causing you to have to endure those sorts of things over and over again until they don’t bother you anymore. In my case it was other employees where I worked that would put me down or talk about me behind my back. I dealt with it daily until I learned how to turn the other cheek and not let them get me so upset.

Patience is a type of endurance. Its a fruit of the spirit, which means as Joyce Meyers teaches when you have the Holy spirit in you have the ability to be patience. But like any muscle you must practice it to grow it. Waiting grows patience.  Working a muscle is painful. I’ve been though enough physical therapy to understand that concept. Just like waiting is no fun. Don’t be afraid to work your muscles. The more you do the less painful and sore it becomes.

Finally this verse talks about focusing on Jesus. It’s funny the shirt I was wearing yesterday is a sunny yellow shirt that says, “Focus on Jesus” that I got when I volunteered at Camp Allendale last year. He is the “Author and Perfector” of our faith. We need to keep our eyes focused on Him if we are going to finish are race. He’s the prize, the waterfall at the end. He is the reason we are running in the first place and He alone can help us finish our race. He alone helped me get to the top of that waterfall. It was something I couldn’t do in my own strength. He even let it rain a little to cool me off. He’s such a good Father!

 

Don’t Live a Fearless Life, Live a Faithful One

In her Lifeway Bible study “20/20 Seen, Chosen, Sent” Christine Caine touched on fear. She said, “Fear is the greatest killer of purpose and destiny.” I believe she is right on in this statement.

In the spring of 2016 I was wrecked with fear. I lost almost 20 pounds not eating because my stomach was in knots all the time. All of this happened right after I was baptized with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know my purpose or who I was in Christ and Satan was having a hay day with me. It wasn’t until I ruptured a disk in my back in 2017 that I said no more, I am not living in fear any longer. Fear was killing me, literally. But the truth is. I still struggle with fear daily. Especially now when Covid 19 is a risk every time I get in the car to go to the store.  I pray all the time for protection, for peace but fear is still there. Maybe you feel like this. But you know we still have to go to the store to get food to eat. So you have to do it afraid. You have to have faith that God will take care of you.

Caine mentioned this very thing in the same study. She was speaking about the people God used in the Bible. Ordinary people that were put in extraordinary positions. Like the story of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego in Daniel. They faced a fiery furnace as a result of not honoring King Nebuchadnezzar as a god. They most surly were afraid of dying in the fire, but they still refused to dishonor God. They, as Caine put it, were more Faithfull than fearless.

When we face situations that seem impossible, scary or just plain overwhelming we can still face them even with fear. We don’t have to be fearless just faithful. We have a God who lavishes love on us. And when we are in these situations we are encouraged to ask for wisdom. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you, But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:5-6.

Don’t let fear stop you from reaching your purpose. Satan doesn’t like to see us reach our purpose in life. He will throw everything he can at you, especially fear. Have faith that in the end God will get you where He wants you.

 

It’s Time to Change

“I heard a pastor say If you are more outraged right now with the looting and burning down of property than you are of a man suffocated and killed on video then your priorities are greatly misordered, ” Matt Tommey founder of The Thriving Christian Artist said this on a Facebook post on May 30. And it’s one of the many phrases that has haunted me in the past week.

I admit I haven’t watched the George Floyd video, I don’t think I could handle watching it. Reading my dear black friends post the morning after the video was released broke my heart so much I couldn’t go looking for it. As Facebook and the news has exploded over the week filled with viewpoints and news media on this story I’ve felt so many emotions but in the end my heart just hurts. There are people I love who are black, they are people I love who have black sons, there are people I love who are police man or have policeman husbands and my heart hurts for all of them.

I have struggled with this feeling of helplessness. I am a privileged white woman and I struggle with “what can I do.” I feel like I’m a drop in the bucket, and this bucket has holes in it.  Well I was reminded I can write so here I go.

There’s a very strange story in Judges about a Levite and his concubine in chapters 19-21. I never got it until now. The Levite traveled from Bethlehem to Judah and took his concubine with him. But she was “unfaithful” to him and left him and went to her father’s house in Bethlehem and stayed there for 4 months. The Levite went to Bethlehem to get his concubine. The Levite tried to leave the man’s home on the third and fourth day but the concubine’s father kept persuading him to stay another day.  Finally on the sixth day even though it was getting into evening time the Levite refused to stay the night again so he got up and with his concubine and servant started back home to Jerusalem.  When they neared Jebus the day was almost gone and they decided to travel to Gibeah a Benjaminite city and find lodging there. “The Levite went and sat down in the open square of the city because no man had invited him in to spend the night,” Judges 19:15. An old man saw the Levite and his concubine and servant in the square and after talking invited the Levite to his home.  It says in verse 22 “while they were celebrating, behold, men of the city, certain worthless and evil men, surrounded the house, pounding on the door and they spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house so that we may have relations with him.” The old man of course refused and the Levite’s concubine was sent out of the house instead. The woman was gang raped and beaten all night and in the morning she collapsed and died. (verse 26) The Levite carried her body home to Jerusalem and then cut her body into twelve pieces and sent each piece to each tribe in Israel. This action caused Israel to meet and eventually attack and destroy the Benjaminite city of Gibeah. The only recorded civil war Israel had in the old testament.

So this story has been playing in the back of my mind all week. George Floyd to me is like that concubine. Only the problem isn’t one city. Its everywhere. The video is the viral version of the Levite sending the pieces of his dead concubine. It’s a wake up call. We cannot continue to allow this kind of brutality to anyone of any color. We cannot be passive about this any longer. And the sad thing is we’ve had these kind of wake up calls before and it’s done nothing. This time we have to make a change. We have to stand with our fellow black Americans and peacefully say, no more. Thing need to change like,  police man everywhere should have body camera’s available to them. It helps for safety on both sides. We should support black education and encourage kids to graduate, go to college. Support black businesses. Volunteer to help clean up after the riots, as my friends husband did. We need to really, truly love our neighbors no matter their color.

What happened to George Floyd was brutal, gruesome and painfully heartbreaking. American, bothers and sisters, we got to do better. We got to change. For my friends that I love that are black. I know I don’t understand but I see you and I love you and I want to do better, to change. My friends who have black boys, I pray for their protection and for wisdom. I pray this is a pivot in our nation, in our neighborhoods and in our minds.

 

God’s Always With You

Getting my temperature taken before I see the doctor for my broken knee

The struggle of breathing through a mask while I swing on my crutches into the waiting room. 

The weekly drives to physical therapy that disrupt the day, his work, my parenting

E-learning taught standing up because it hurt too much to sit in the kitchen chairs

All ended yesterday. Five weeks later.

I now can start the journey of walking without a brace or crutches again

But social distancing keeps me from journeying very far

My porch, backyard, the drive to the horse barn have become the distances I go to.

But 6 feet apart I know you are not. You have been right beside me the whole time

Protecting me from my enemies, providing for me 

This was only one of the struggles I have yet to face

You will continue to protect me. You have prepared for me a home, 

Where I will be undisturbed. Where I can breathe again. – A Quarantine poem May 2020

We’ve all had our own struggles through this quarantine time. My biggest one is that the day before Easter I fell and broke my knee cap. Last Thursday I was released to walk without my brace. It has been awesome to go to the bathroom and walk around without that bulky brace on my leg. However my knee is still a little wobbly and will need some TLC before It’s back to normal. God has provided for me every step of the way and I am so thankful to be almost back to normal.

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend and we decided to go to Brown County State Park and let the kids ride the horses. My youngest is too little to do a trail ride so we let him ride the ponies while his older sisters took a trail ride. It was busy but not as crowded as It has been in the past. We got done letting my youngest ride before the girls came back and my husband agreed to watch him and let me do some exploring. There was a beautiful bridge with stairs going up behind the creek. I really didn’t want to climb the stairs but I could feel the Holy Spirit pointing me in that direction.

I went very slowly up the stairs and then slowly up the winding trail that seemed to keep going upward. I kept telling myself I’ll walk for a few more minutes then turn around. I saw a beautiful painted turtle right in the middle of the trail. IMG_2214A couple of feet further, right when I was about to turn around I cam across a beautiful stone theater. It was so cool. And perfect timing as I needed to sit at that point. I called my husband and told him to come up there as soon as the girls were done riding. I heard them moan and groan all the way up the hill but they were so excited to see the area as well. My middle child recited Hamilton on the top of her lungs from the “stage.” While the other two climbed the stops and explored. It was such a “God Kiss” as one of my friends says.

It made me think about how we walk are paths in life. If were walking with God he provides what we need. He knew after that hill I’d need to rest. I would have given myself a log. He gave me a beautiful limestone stage and a moment with my family, Something my heart needed too. It’s all about perspective and God sees a perspective we don’t. He’s always with you, behind and in front of you.

 

Karitos Hosts Virtual Showcase Contest

Karitos Christian Arts Association is hosting a virtual showcase on June 20. Submissions will be accepted from May 22 to June 5. Submissions will be posted on Facebook for public voting from June 8 through June 19 in the Karitos Virtual Showcase Event.  The posts most voted for will receive prizes and appear on the Virtual Showcase Event June 20. All ages are welcome to audition for this event.

In addition anyone appearing as part of the Virtual Showcase will be invited to participate in the Karitos Coffeehouse event taking place in July.

Kariots encourages all art forms including dance, film, literary, music, theater and visual art so If you enjoy one of these art forms and want to audition I encourage you to do so. Groups are encouraged to audition as well.

To audition you will submit a video of your piece as an Mp4 file, Facebook, YouTube or website link. In order to participate in the coffee house event in July you must be registered to attend the event by July 1.

this is an exciting way to showcase your talents and I encourage you to audition!

 

 

Thank God for All Your Talents

music piano still life vertical
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

God has been talking to me a lot about talents lately. He’s been working on me about my own talents. When I was in my teens and younger I loved playing the piano. I would practice 2-3 hours a night, at one time I practiced so much I had tendinitis in my wrists and had to take a break for a month. I went to college planning on getting a degree in music, that didn’t happen, I had to pick a more “practical” major. I’ve tried to play in many different capacities but I always seemed to fall short and after a worship band I was playing in fell apart I started only playing for myself.

And I felt guilty for it. I would think of the parable of the 5 talents and think well I’ve hidden music in the ground. I would feel so guilty that I couldn’t use my talent. Even though I felt I was thwarted whenever I tried. Do you ever feel that way, guilty because your not doing something?

Well in this quarantine time I’ve started playing the piano and the Holy Spirit encouraged me to play hymns on facebook. I think I played four. Then my girls decided they wanted to learn piano so I started teaching them a few things. Then I joined a writing group and in the writing prompt time I started writing songs again. I haven’t written a song in years. But now I have 6 to work on. All the time I’m saying, God why are you doing this? It always falls apart and I get discouraged. When I admitted this to my close friend she said, maybe this time it won’t. But it’s scary. It’s scary either way. It’s scary to step out and post yourself playing a song and no one liking it. And it’s scary if someone likes it. There’s fear again, the constant companion that tries to stop you from doing anything. And to think I’ve wasted my talent is also a wrong mindset. I’ve always wanted to use it, I just never knew what to do, and I still don’t.

So I guess its important not to give up on your talents. God blessed each of you with unique gifts. Don’t feel guilty if your not using one of them but know that at some point God will use it. Our talents make up who we are, he wouldn’t plant them in us if he didn’t have a good reason for it. It might just be for me that God knew I feel joy when I hear music. Be thankful and wait patiently on him. I needed to hear that too.

Karitos Has First 10 Day Art Challenge

 

IMG_2118Community is important. Right now its hard to stay involved in a community. We are all secluded in our homes. However one of the ways to battle depression and anxiety is to have a good support system. To surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. People who check on you who you can be real and honest with. To be healthy you need other people to help you.

I am part of a few great communities. Karitos is one of them. Karitos I’ve talked about in previous posts but it is a group of artists from all kinds of art forms that gather together for a conference once a year in the Wisconsin/Chicago area. Karitos Worship Conference Creates New Opportunities for Young People is a post I wrote about our conference last summer if you’d like more information about it.

If your creative, like me, surrounding yourself with other creative people really does help you grow not only in your creativeness but also easies the anxiety you might feel sharing your talents. I’m very excited that Karitos is offering a 10 day art challenge. It begins May 13 and runs through May 22. If you go to the event and select that you are going you will receive a link to a Facebook group. Starting May 13 there will be a prompt every day around 9 a.m. EST. You have the day to create something based on that prompt. It can be a painting, a photograph, a poem, a short story, a dance, a song, a Bible journaling page, anything you create. Post a picture of your creation below the prompt in the comments for that day to complete the challenge.  Here’s the link for the event. Karitos Art Challenge.

It will also be posted on the Karitos Instagram site daily. If you would rather participate on Instagram the hashtags are #KaritosArtChallenge and #Karitos2020.

I hope you join the challenge with me. My creative outlets are crafting, sewing, writing songs and spoken words, chalk drawing and making jewelry. I can’t wait to see what happens during that 10 day time. I hope to see you and get to know you better.

 

Main Water Line Broke on Our Street Last Night

IMG_2097We had one big thunderstorm last night right around 3:30 a.m. It lasted till about 6 a.m. and at about 5 my whole house was awake. Crazy thundering and lightning. I checked out the window twice to see if our two trees were still standing. Either the overflow of water or the storm itself caused the main line of water near our house to break. My friend across the street texted me at 5 a.m. saying she had no water. I got up late due to the storm. Took my shower at about 9 a.m. I was worried that there was a leak somewhere in the house because the water pressure sputtered a few times. I got dressed, walked cautiously around the house praying not to see any water. We’ve had at least 6 leaks in our house since we purchased it 15 years ago and have had to replace the floor on our main level 4 times. Around 10:30 I could hear and see a number of people working on my neighbor’s corner. At lunchtime I went out and talked to one of the workers. He said it had been a large break in the mainline and had taken a long time to fix but that they were about done. My neighbor’s tree had been pulled up, and a part of the yard dug up.

It made me think of when we have a main line break in our spiritual lives. You see when we become Christians we have a direct main line to God though the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have God’s ear when we pray. God’s word to lead us and the Holy Spirit living in us helping us along the way. But when we don’t commune with God through reading the word and praying our mainline is broken.

When a mainline is broken there’s no water. We can’t cook, bathe, drink. When our spiritual mainline is broken its the same way. We can’t receive guidence, repent of our sins or have our spiritual cup filled.  We are frustrated, depressed and angry. We try to find water from other sources only to come up dry. The fruits of the spirit are still seen in us but only in spurts.

You can still be a Christian with a broken main line but you cannot be a healthy, thriving, growing Christian, You need water. You need time with God, every day. You need to establish that main line, mend it, bulldoze it up and repair it. You might feel exposed for a while but once its fixed you can grow again, you can heal.

Lord I pray for broken main lines today. I pray you put people in the path of those who need repaired and lead them towards your water, your word. I pray for healing of hearts and spirits. I pray for growth and leading to your purpose. Pour your water on us Lord. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

Hymns for A Time Like This part 1:”It Is Well with My Soul.”

We’ve been in quarantine for a while now. Here in Indiana It’s been since March 23rd. But I know we started staying home the week of the 17th because my daughter’s birthday was March 17 and that was the last day we went out as a family. So friends its been over a month. Many of my loved ones have mentioned to me that they are sad or depressed right now. Our lifestyles have changed for a while and friends we are all silently grieving our past routines.

And were the blessed ones. Already on Facebook I’ve had friends post that their loved ones are gone, taken by the disease. I’ve had friends post they are sick with the disease. I’ve had loved ones make it though the disease. Going out is scary. Two weeks ago I fell and broke my right knee cap and bent my back out of shape. I now have mandatory doctor appointments and physical therapy appointments that I have to keep. I enter the office with a mask on and my temperature is taken before I can proceed. It’s a different world and this change is saddening, hard and painful for many of us.

For the past four weeks the Lord has been talking to me though hymns. I love hymns. There what I grew up with listening to in church as a child. I had a piano teacher in my youth who insisted on teaching hymns so we would learn our chord progressions. They bring me peace. Calm me down. Give me a moment to breathe. Playing them in this time has given me space and lifted my spirits.

Four weeks ago the Holy Spirit laid the hymn “It is Well with my a Soul” on my heart. I had a hard time with this because life well, wasn’t well with me. I was busy praying that the virus would just go away and things could go back to normal. But He reminded me about how I felt in 2017, after I ruptured the S5 disc in my back. I just wanted to be well. I wanted things to go back the way it was. I wanted to wake up one morning, miraculously healed and go back to life but He reminded me that life isn’t like that. Things change and it will take time to get back to a state of normal. He talked to me about surrendering to His process. That God can work good through all the bad.

I hadn’t broken my knee at that point. I didn’t realize God was getting me ready for my next battle. For things to be well with our souls we have to learn to submit and surrender to God’s will. Sometimes when our priorities are not his we feel a little broken, depressed and humbled when we submit.

This hymn was written by Horacio Spafford in 1873. Spafford lost his 4 year old son in the Great Chicago Fire as well as a great financial loss from the fire. Afterward He planned to travel to Europe with his family. He sent his family ahead of him on the boat SS Ville du Havre. Which sank and all four of his daughters died. His wife alone survived.

Spafford’s world had changed. He had a Job-like experience and lost everything. He had every reason to be depressed and broken. His response to everything was to write this hymn. Spafford was still able and willing to find joy and surrender in his faith. His hymn encourages me to do the same. I’ve put the words of the hymn below. I encourage you to just read it. I hope it lifts your spirits today.

It is Well with My Soul
Written by Horacio Spafford 1873
When Peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say,
It is Well with my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
It is Well with my Soul
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!
It is Well with my Soul
To listen to the hymn go to 2BecomeBrave
on YouTube.

Brave Women in the Bible, The Woman With the Hemorrhage for 12 years

She doesn’t have a name but she was very brave and full of faith. This women mentioned in both Matthew and Luke Gospels overcame unbelievable odds to be healed by Jesus. The story begins when Jarius a synagogue official approaches Jesus and askes him to come to his home and heal his dying daughter, (Luke chapter 8:40-49) Jesus agrees to go with him. Luke describes a crowd of people followed Jesus and in the crowd a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched the tassel of his outer robe. Jesus, feeling his power of healing leave him, said “Who touched Me?” While the crowd was denying it Peter said, “Master the people are crowding and pushing against you!” When the woman saw she had not escaped Jesus noticing her she came before him trembling and told him why she touched him. Jesus replied “Daughter, your faith (your personal trust and confidence in me) has made you well. Go in peace (untroubled, undisturbed well-being.)” (Luke 8:48AMP).

It isn’t as simple as it sounds. She didn’t just happen to be in the crowd. This women was suffering and she had a plan. First of all it says in both accounts that she had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. There are many things that could have caused this but Luke said she had spent all her money on physicians and could not be healed. This was bad in the Jewish culture. As long as she was hemorrhaging she was considered unclean. That meant according to the laws found in Leviticus chapter 12 she had to stay outside the “camp” could not enter the synagogue to worship. She should yell unclean when anyone approached her because if they touched her they would become unclean and would have to perform other rituals to be “clean” again. She definitely was not supposed to be in a crowd.  So we have to assume she was there intentionally to see Jesus and be healed.

Its also interesting where she touched him. She touched the tassel on his outer robe. Jewish men wore outer robes with tassels on each corner and there was a blue thread that ran through the tassel. This thread was there to remind the wearer of the commandments of God and represent the wearer’s “Holiness.” (Numbers 15:38-40) Being unclean the woman could not be holy. She touched the “Holiness” of Jesus and became clean. Now don’t mistake me Jesus healed her not the tassel. But I think the tassel is a good representation of how Jesus heals.

This woman bravely broke the Jewish cultural rules in order to get to Jesus to receive her healing. Jesus instead of reprimanding her for not following the old laws instead rewarded her not only with healing but also by praising the faith she had in him.

He had many reasons to be upset at her, to reprimand her. She had broken old testament law and social laws. She had surprised him. She had interrupted him on his way to heal Jarius’s daughter. But Jesus showed her love. He wasn’t upset or angry or frustrated that it was taking longer to get to his destination. He just loved on her.

I have personally struggled a lot with healing. The healing of my back and nerve damage has been a slow painful process. It will be 3 years next month since I ruptured my S5 disk. A week ago I fell and broke my right kneecap. Same leg as the nerve damage in my foot. I feel like I just took a huge step backwards in my healing process. My back is sore from the fall, my nerve pain is a little more intense than normal, its been deflating to say the least. There have been many times on this journey I’ve told myself. If I knew Jesus was walking around a city in USA I’d spend any amount of money to get to him to touch the tassel on his outer robe. And its only been 3 years, I can’t imagine how I’ll feel in 12. But Jesus continues to show me his love, he continues to heal me, slowly. I know he is always with me and is more familiar with pain than I am.

If you need healed of something today, don’t give up on your healing. Have faith. Press into that faith. Whether your sick with Covid 19, cancer, parkinsons, depression, anxiety or a broken knee cap Jesus can and will heal you. If you’re in need of healing I’d like to pray for you today.

Dear Sweet Jesus,

I pray for your divine touch on the life of my friend. I pray for your healing over their body, mind and spirit. I believe that you died on the cross to save me from my sins. I confess that you are Lord of all. I believe that I am healed by your stripes and covered in your blood. Thank you for your healing, your touch and your wisdom. Please lead my friend into my next steps to receive healing whether that be divinely though you or though the capable hands of many medical friends and their wisdom. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.