Thursday, November 28, 2013

THANKFUL

Thankful.
Thankful that God deeply loves me and actively pursues my heart.  Thankful that Jesus was willing to be wounded so that my relationship with God could be healed.  Thankful that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us {Romans 8:39}.  So thankful for Jesus!  So thankful for the cross!

Thankful.
Thankful that God has found a way to use the mess that is my life to bring glory to Himself.  His Word has given me new life {Psalm 119:50}.  Thankful for grace and the reminder from the Lord that His grace is all I need.  His power works best in my weaknesses {2 Corinthians 12:9}.


Thankful.
Thankful that I get to do life with this man.  Thankful for a husband who loves and leads well.  Thankful for a man who lives the motto {Love God. Love Others. Go Tell.}  He is a man of integrity.  He is honest and trustworthy.  He loves Jesus, his family, his church and his students with his whole heart.  He lives {1 Timothy 3:1-7} and {Titus 1:6-9} in every way.  He is more than I deserve.



Thankful.
Thankful for the blessing and gift of children {Psalm 127:3}.  Thankful for the two that I have and the two that I never had the opportunity to hold.  All four have changed me, shaped me, and brought me to my knees.  Each one has played a significant role in my journey to be more like Jesus.  Thankful for a God who makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are chosen to be a part of His plan {Romans 8:28}.



Thankful.
Thankful for the gift of adoption.  Thankful that God promises to be a Father to the fatherless and sets the lonely in families {Psalm 68:5,6}.  Thankful for a woman named Fikirte who carried the life that forever changed mine.  A woman I love with all my heart.  Thankful for a God who shaped Miles, inside and out.  Who knit him together in his birthmother’s womb long before Miles took his first breath {Psalm 139:13}.  Thankful that God builds families with a specific purpose and plan in mind.



Thankful.
Thankful for family that loves, blesses, and supports us.  Thankful for friends that walk through life, serve alongside, and challenge us in every way to be more like Jesus.  Thankful for a church that is committed to preach God's Word without apology and is laser-focused on reaching Northwest Arkansas, America and the World for Jesus Christ.

So very thankful.

Friday, November 22, 2013

CHILDREN: SUPERHEROES IN DISGUISE



There is a superhero inside each one of us.
A hero ready to unleash his/her power.

Take Clark Kent, for instance.
He is a mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet.
But his outward appearance has nothing to do with who he really is.
Underneath that starched button-down shirt and dark rimmed glasses is a superhero.

He's faster than a speeding bullet.
He's more powerful than a locomotive.
He's able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
He's Superman!

Would your parenting look any different if you saw your children through the lens of a future world changer or a superhero?  Want to know what the parent of a superhero looks like?  Look in the mirror.  There is greatness in our kids and as we love, train, and walk through life with them, we get to see little glimpses of their superpowers.
"We all have a hero in our heart."
{Dwight Schrute}

When I see Alex stick up for someone who is getting teased, I see a hero.
When I am told that he is respectful to adults, I see a hero.
When I watch him try and play with Miles, I see a hero.

Several weeks ago, I was told that a little boy in Miles' class at church started asking questions about why Miles is different.  Why Miles wears diapers.  The teacher told him that God made Miles special and that's when little Zach Rowe unleashed his superpower.  He asked if he could be Miles' special friend and, when he was told yes, he went over and very sweetly tried to play with Miles.  He is a hero.

Children with special needs have superpowers that don't look super to the untrained eye.  As their parents, we have the joy and privilege of seeing little glimpses of their special superpowers.  When they meet a new goal or accomplish even the smallest task, it's like they just saved the world from impending doom.

For example, when Miles comes home from school, his shirt is usually filthy.
It could be anything from dried yogurt, applesauce, spaghetti sauce or whatever was for lunch and snack that day.  Dribble some milk and juice down the front, then throw in a little marker and paint.  What you are left with looks like a complete mess.

You see, at 4 years old, Miles still struggles to use a spoon.  He forgets to hold it properly and food spills off.  He is also still trying to master drinking from an open cup and often forgets that he can't turn it sideways or upside down.

The me before Miles would have changed his shirt the minute we got home and I definitely would have not taken him to church wearing a dirty, crusty shirt.

But now, I proudly leave his shirt on because I don't see a dirty shirt.
I see learning.
I see hard work.
I see determination.
I see a superhero trying to reveal himself the best way he can.

Another area that is a struggle for Miles is his self-care skills.  He has been working on washing his hands everyday for the last two years.  With the use of picture cards, words, and assistance, it is still a struggle.  And yesterday, Miles followed a one step direction, walked to the sink and turned the water all by himself.  That sink has been his nemesis for the last two years and he kicked its booty!

I was one proud mama.
For the rest of the day, I told everyone I saw "my baby walked straight up to that sink and turned on that water!"  I was beside myself!  So proud!

My little superhero didn't give up.
He didn't run away.
He faced that challenge head on and showed that sink who's boss!

Most of us don't know what it's like to live in a world where using words to get basic needs met is a huge struggle. Or when you can't get your arms and legs to do what you want them to do, what they were designed to do.  These special superheroes live in bodies that have them locked up, making it difficult for others to see them for who they really are.  For who they were created to be.  They have the ability to do amazing things, but they are limited.  They have the same feelings, same emotions, same desires, same need for love and affection that each of us have, they are just trapped.

I was reminded this week that Jesus knows exactly what that feels like.  In week 10 of Beth Moore's A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place, she is teaching that Jesus is the true Tabernacle and had this to say...
"And the Word (Christ) became a human being and lived here on earth among us (John 1:14).  Can you imagine the excruciating transformation of going from having absolutely no limitations to being imprisoned inside about 170 pounds of human flesh?  How many times do you suppose He would have liked to burst out of that tent and to unleash His awesome power?  We have nothing with which to compare the confinement of omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God in flesh... His flesh was a temporary dwelling, a seemingly unfit place for God's Son to dwell...  His exterior did not seem to match His interior."
My eyes immediately filled with tears.
Jesus, God in flesh, knows EXACTLY what it's like to be locked up in a human body.
He understands how your child with special needs feels in a way that we never will.
Simply amazing and completely overwhelming!

God, give me eyes to see my boys, not as they are today, but as the superheroes You have created, designed, and purposed them to be.  Help me to love them, respond to them, train them and even discipline them in a way that gives them an accurate view of Your love and Your character.  Help me to not get in the way of Your work in their lives. I pray that all of my interactions with them will be filled with grace, love, and mercy.

You are enough for me, Jesus!

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

JESUS, ONLY JESUS!

Have you ever heard of the Dream Center?  It is a ministry in Los Angeles that address people’s physical and spiritual needs in unique and practical ways.  They take God’s love to the darkest corners of Skid Row, to victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence, to desperate addicts, to foster children, to homeless men, women and families, to those who hunger for food and for hope.

We spent a week at the Dream Center earlier this year and I will forever be changed.  I could write a book on all the things I love about that place.  One of things that I love the most is that everyone who lives there, volunteers there, works there, or serves there has a story and it's the first thing they share with you when they meet you.  They share their story, their mess, their mistakes, and then they say the most beautiful words -- Jesus, only Jesus!

Hearing their stories of Redemption, hearing about where they are in their journey toward healing and in their journey to learn what it means to live out God's righteousness, it's the most amazing reminder that we serve a God that actively pursues our hearts.

We had the opportunity to attend a mid-week service and we worshiped alongside individuals from the residential discipleship program who struggled with all different types of life-controlling issues, as well as, homeless men and women who were bused in from Skid Row.  The church was filled with people, some who cleaned up to come and some who don't have access to showers and haven't cleaned up in a very long time.

I stood in awe as I watched them worship.  Their lives are a complete mess.  They have literally come to the end of themselves.  And when they sing praises to the One who came to rescue them, they do it without abandon.  Jesus, only Jesus!  I could cry just thinking about it.

There is a story in the Bible of two friends, Jonathan and David, whose lives couldn't be more different.  Jonathan was the king's son and David was a shepherd and a servant to the king.  Jonathan dressed like royalty.  He wore clothes made of the finest materials and of the most brilliant colors.  David, being a shepherd, wore a dirty, rugged tunic.  He lived with sheep and smelled like sheep.

We are told in 1 Samuel 18 that Jonathan loved David as himself.  Because of his love, he made a pact with David and sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David.  By giving David his royal robe, Jonathan was essentially saying, "when people see you, I want them to see me." 

How crazy would it be for David to act like he deserved to wear the royal robe?
How ridiculous would it be for David to forget that the only thing he could had to offer in return was a dirty, filthy, stinky tunic?

Jonathan and David's friendship is not just an amazing example of a Godly friendship, but it is a picture of Jesus' love for me.  And Jesus' love for you.

Jesus took our dirty, filthy, stinky rags and willingly put them on.  Then, He willingly shed His royal blood so that we could be clothed in His royal robe.
Jesus, only Jesus!
photo credit

"We are all infected and impure with sin.
When we put on our prized robes of righteousness,
we find they are but filthy rags."
{Isaiah 64:6}

"God made Christ who had no sin to become sin for us,
so that in Christ we could become the righteousness of God."
{2 Corinthians 5:21}

I was in junior high before I heard that God sent Jesus to earth to die for my sins.  The gospel sounded too simple but since hell sounded scary, I decided following Jesus was a good idea.  I spent the next 12 years going to church, reading my Bible, following the rules, hanging out with my Christian friends, attending Bible studies and teaching Sunday School.  I was living in such a way that it looked like I was wearing the royal robe, but it was actually an imitation.  I spent years making my own robe and just wore it over my old ones.  I never took off my filthy rags.  If you saw me from a distance, you would have mistaken my robe for the real thing.  But if you got too close, you could smell my old stinky rags hiding underneath.
The saddest thing about it?  I had no idea.

In 2002, Keith and I were living in Georgia and were sitting in our home with a dozen of our friends and half way into the evening, I overhear one of them, who was also a student pastor, sharing his story.  He and his wife took their students to youth camp a few years earlier and ended up giving their lives to Christ.  God had revealed to them that they knew a lot about Jesus, but didn't actually know Jesus.  As I was listening to him talk, I felt something inside of me start stirring, I felt like I was going to be sick and I just wanted him to stop talking.

Later that evening, I couldn't get his story out of my head.  God kept whispering, he's sharing your story, that is your story, that is you.  So, I started reminding God why He was wrong.  I teach Sunday school, I disciple girls, I am at church every time the doors are open, I make good choices and I'm a minister's wife for goodness sakes!  His reply, "what does any of that have to do with me?"  And He was right.  All of those things I did in my power and in my strength.  God loved me so much He wanted to rescue me from myself.

So on March 1, 2002, as a 27 year old mom and minister's wife, I confessed my need for Jesus, my need for His grace and mercy, my need for His Salvation.

"For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved.
You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort.
It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did,
so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing."
{Ephesians 2:8-9}

So, what's your story?
Where are you in your journey?

Are you like my friends at the Dream Center who have made a series of bad decisions and are left with a mess?  Do you feel like there is no way God could love you?  Like your rags are so filthy there is no hope for you?

Are like me and don't even realize that you are trying to live the Christian life in your own strength and in your own power?  Are you a good person and your desperate need for Jesus isn't as obvious?  Do you work hard at covering your filthy rags with Jesus stuff?

Are you a believer but are so caught up admiring the royal robe you are wearing that you forgot that you did nothing to deserve it?  Do you need to take your eyes off of yourself and look up?  There is nothing more humbling than seeing Jesus wearing your dirty, filthy, stinky rags.

It doesn't matter how good or how bad you are.
It doesn't matter if you go to church or if you don't see the point.
It doesn't matter if you know a lot about Jesus or if you've never heard His name.

The ground is level at the foot of the Cross.

The God of the Universe longs for a personal relationship with you and Jesus' work on the Cross makes that relationship possible.


"But God showed his great love for us by sending
Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."
{Romans 5:8}

Jesus, only Jesus!

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