Superior Worth of our Glorious God!

Hebrews 11

V 23) By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

V 24) By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

V 27) By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.

What is faith? 

Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” 

We all know the story of Moses.  Do we ever stop to ponder, seriously grasp, the fear and turmoil that Moses’ parents and Moses himself endured?

What would you do if our government declared that all baby boys would be killed, and you had a baby boy?  What would you do if you came to the realization that your own family believed in and lived a way of life that you were compelled to abandon, but you loved them deeply?  What if it cost you your wealth, position, or sense of  belonging?  What if you were faced with death or a situation that seemed so hopeless you wanted to run, or hide?  In your mind and in your resources there seemed no way out?

By faith….

Will you consider Him and all His “greater riches” more than the treasures you’ve  accumulated? The treasures of your anxious way of living, and the comfort of fear that keeps you from doing greater things and making changes?

 Would you leave “Egypt” and all that you know for a higher calling that takes complete faith and trust?  Can we trust more in the “invisible” than what is obvious or expected?  Ah!  Expectations!  What expectations run through your soul and mind that cloud the voice of God in your life?

When I was 23 years old, God gave me a vision through a dream.  As I laid in my bed, alone, with Victoria as an infant sleeping in her crib, I cried out to God.  My husband was working late at his job, and the company had asked us to move again–further away from home.  God showed me Moses on a mountain praying.  God spoke to my heart and said, “Child, if I took care of Moses and all my people, surely I will care for you.  Be not afraid!”

Since that time I’ve had more serious trials than a move.  God has been faithful, and He has cared for us.  Things are changing so much in our lives recently.  Your 40’s bring changes that rock your soul.  You look back over your life and you look to your future and beseech God on so many levels.

 “I just pray that hope will go on living.  In this house of a thousand dreams.” (Martina McBride)  

Music moves me.  This song speaks my heart cry.  More than a thousand dreams exist in my home–I pray most of all for Hope.  God says that, “Hope deferred makes a heart sick.”  Oh may the Hope of the eternal God thrive in our homes!

1 Peter 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

By faith….

I want to see less of this world and more of heaven and His riches and do greater things……………….

Burning our Bridges by Faith

The bridges were burned between Moses and Egypt well before he was threatened by Pharaoh – they were burned in his heart and they were burned by faith. That’s what faith does all through this chapter. Faith is a hunger for God that triumphs over our hunger for the pleasures of this world. And so faith unleashes radically God-centered, risk-taking, people-loving behavior.

Let’s be like Moses this morning. Let’s look to the reward of God’s promises, as it says in verse 26. And let’s look to the God who is unseen, as it says in verse 27. And let’s be so hungry for the superior worth of our glorious God that the bridges are burned to a hundred sins and a hundred fears.  (John Piper)

 http://www.esvbible.org/resources/piper-sermons/article-liberated-for-love-by-looking-to-the-reward/

Crisis? Worship!

How important is worship?  We hit the doors of church and for some of us worship is the very thing that draws us closer to God.  Other times, if we are honest, worship becomes stale, annoying, and we wonder when the music minister will sit down and the message will start.IMG_5527

Music has been a part of my life since I can remember.  I don’t remember my life without a song on my mind, in my heart, and poured out of my soul.  The eclectic nature of my love for music has always fascinated me.  I love that Jesus has given me the heart and soul for music.  I hear music in the sweet songs of birds, the sway of the trees, and the thunderstorms in the middle of the night.

I always thought this love was unique or honestly a little obsessive; however, after hearing a message on Elisha in II Kings chapter 3, I am challenged to worship more.  The back story, reader’s digest version, is about a country, some Kings in trouble, and possible war.  They needed a word from the Lord.  In this major crisis that seemed confusing and hopeless they tried all the things their forefathers tried in the past.  Nothing.  They needed a fresh word from the Lord.  Can I get an AMEN! on  the word FRESH?  Have you been stale, or on the rat wheel spinning the same patterns of behavior only to dig yourself deeper into issues or despair?  What worked for great-grandma, may not work for you.  You need a FRESH outpouring from God.  

They give up and go the man of God, a prophet, Elisha.

“But now bring me a musician.  And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him. And he said, Thus says the Lord, ‘I will make this dry streambed full of pools'”   II Kings 3: 15 – 16

Elisha specifically asks for music to worship God and THEN the hand of the Lord came upon him.

Are you feeling dry?  Worship with the only purpose to be refreshed by the Love of Jesus.  His hand will guide you.

I recently worshiped through song at a close friend’s brother’s funeral.  Oh what a day of rejoicing in his resurrection, and a sad day of loss.  It’s in difficult times like these that a song unites us.  The worship brings forth a unity and a pointed purpose to say, “I choose to worship and offer a sacrifice of praise.”

We often look up to worship–searching for the face of God!  Oh what a day of rejoicing when we will no longer look up but into the eyes of Jesus! (Anna Hebb)

Here is a song that my husband and I sang together at the funeral:  When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

 

Use Your Left Brain

Ever wonder why Jesus said come to Him as little children?  Remember being a child and a bedroom became your castle, your art work was hanging in the Lueve, and if you could catch that frog you might get warts, or maybe a prince?  Our fun, set-free creative side is our left brain and it’s on fire when you are young.  We grow up and our right brain takes over.  We become more fearful of what people think, the consequences of a risk taken, and we analyze too much.  God has BIG dreams for you.  He will show you great and mighty things which you can’t comprehend.  Jesus told us that we would do even GREATER THINGS………(John 14:12).  That takes your left brain to believe it. The same part of your brain that produces faith before the mountain moves.  Get in touch with your left side of the brain and be a child again–Dream……Love…….Laugh……….Ignore the pessimist and naysayers (they are trapped in their right brain!)

Close your eyes and think of your favorite childhood imaginative play, dreams, and allow yourself to be creative.  I had this insatiable need to create beauty after a long semester of using my right brain.  I went to Michael’s and bought card making items from the sale rack.  My youngest and I had the greatest time making cards.  No purpose, no reason….just making a card and mailing it to the first person who came to our minds.  Stop and notice, giggle, swing, skip, sing, open your heart to the beauty of God’s world He created just for YOU!  This is the gateway to allowing Him to move you into the direction of your dreams!

 

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Melanoma Awareness and Capital Hill

Summer is upon us!  The beach!  The rays! Folks are hitting the tanning beds.   I can remember baby oil sunbathing, the introduction of tanning beds in the 70s, and beauty being judged on your ability to glow with shades of bronze.  We’ve learned a lot about sun safety over the years.

Knowing tanning beds were dangerous, I begged my daughter to reconsider.  She was in college and ultimately it was her choice.  She loved the way it made her feel emotionally and the look–she felt beautiful.  I would call her a moderate tanner in the summer months for about two summers.  It all came to a stop when she was in nursing school attending a class on the A-B-C-D-E’s of cancer.  They were practicing body checks, and she discovered a few places that made her question.  She went to her primary care and was diagnosed with Melanoma.

Her doctors believe strongly that her tanning bed use was the cause of her early diagnosis.  We went through major surgery and an emotional time of uncertainty.  For the rest of her life, she has to be seen by a dermatologist for full body checks every 3-6 months.  I was shocked by how many young adults were being diagnosed and deaths of those in their prime because of tanning and Melanoma.

The importance of catching Melanoma in its first stages is imperative.  If a patient is diagnosed with stage 3 or 4, your chance of survival is very slim.  Early detection can save your life.  It saved my daughter’s life.  I stand amazed at how her early detection and diagnosis came about.  She had no other symptoms, and the area she questioned really did not look like anything atypical.

FACTS about Melanoma

  • The incidence of people under 30 developing melanoma is increasing faster than any other demographic group, soaring by 50 percent in women since 1980.
  • In ages 15 – 29, melanoma is the second most common cancer.
  • The lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for African-Americans, and 1 in 200 for Hispanics.
  • The majority of melanoma is caused by exposure to UV light and sunlight.
  • Exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent, and younger people who regularly use tanning beds are eight times more likely to develop melanoma than people who have never used them.  OCCASIONAL USE OF TANNING BEDS triples their chances.
  • The World Health Organization’s International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified tanning devices into the highest cancer risk category (carcinogenic to humans–the same as arsenic and mustard gas).

Currently the FDA categorizes a tanning bed as a Class I medical device–the same as a tongue depressor.  How can the IARC reclassify tanning devices as the highest cancer risk category, yet the FDA remain at a Class I?  The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is advocating for the FDA to reconsider and classify tanning devices as a Class II.  This will insure stricter policies for informing consumers about the risks associated with tanning beds.  Some states, like California and Vermont, have banned tanning for minors!  The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) and it’s volunteers are passionate about seeing this ban come from the Federal level so that all states will ban tanning beds for minors.MRF's Third Annual Legislative Hill Day

My daughter and I work as volunteers for the MRF to help advocate for these policy changes.  On May 14, 2013, we traveled to Capital Hill and met with Representative Forbes and Senator Kaine’s offices to seek support on these vital changes as well as more support in the area of research.  There are very little treatment options that are successful in treating stage 3 and 4 of Melanoma.

There are so many myths out there about the sun and tanning.  For example, the famous “base tan” at the tanning bed, or I’m dark-skinned, or it’s an old person’s concern.  There was a beautiful African-American woman in her 20’s who was a survivor of Melanoma advocating with us on Capital Hill.  Her platform was to educate people of color to make sure they are aware of the dangers of Melanoma and the importance of yearly checkups and skin checks.  She has life long disabilities from her treatments due to Melanoma.  Tanning bed facilities promote tanning beds as a safe way to tan–an alternative to the sun.  Actually, tanning beds are more dangerous!

The younger you were when the sun exposure took place the more concerning.  If you are a parent, it’s your parental responsibility to make sure your children are safe from sun exposure.

This was our third year advocating.  It takes time, but we are passionate about the needed changes.  If you would like to check out my daughter’s story and read up on more facts and information please go to:

http://www.melanoma.org/community/patient-stories/victoria-hebb

Share it with someone who thinks she/he needs to have a tan to be beautiful or handsome.  She is willing to share her story.  She has presented for school events.

A study from Harvard shared that tanning is so addictive because it releases endorphins that help you relax and “feel good”.  This 5 billion dollar a year business markets our young people for activities such as prom, beach week, and back to school.  This naturally addicting activity is deadly.

Take the time to advocate and get involved!  The MRF website will show you how and answer any questions.  They are more than willing to help you advocate in your area with needed resources and fact sheets: http://www.melanoma.org/

If you would like more resources on how to check your skin at home:

http://www.melanoma.org/learn-more/melanoma-101/abcdes-melanoma

https://patienteducation.osumc.edu/Documents/melano.pdf

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Poured Out

Judges 6, 7, and 8 tells the story of an anxious and fearful man named Gideon who grew in wisdom and faith.  In one chapter you find him hiding in a hole from the enemies, and then God takes over and he leads the Israelites to victory!  I had the privilege to attend Priscilla Shirer’s conference a few weeks ago, and she taught believers how to overcome, walk in victory, and praise God even when all the odds are stacked against you.  She specifically challenged us to consider what gifts and callings God has placed in us to bring Him Glory.

Gideon brought his gift to the Lord.  He worked long and hard on his gift and with great joy and anticipation presented his gifts.  God is asking us to present our gifts.  The enemy would desire you to hide your gifts so that he can keep you in confusion and frustration.  God wants you to prayerfully consider what amazing gifts that only you can do for Him.  He is counting on you and cheering you on!

Gideon was asked to put the gift on a rock.  God asked Gideon to release the gift and place it in His hands–the rock of ages. How often do we try to control and tell God how and when we desire our gifts to be used?  God asks us to release so we can relax.  If you have high expectations, you might even be bold enough to ask God, “Is this all you are going to do with my gift Lord?”  We may never know this side of heaven the influence we have in the mundane of the day that over time brings about magnificent beauty.

Gideon was asked to pour it out.  It’s one thing to present it, place it on the rock, but to pour it out means that I totally let go.  On the rock, I still see it.  Imagine a glass of water filled but God asks you to pour it out–all of it.  If you really grasps this “pouring out” the weight of the world, your anxieties, your anger, worries, troubles would be placed in the hands of God for Him to take care of.  We are human beings so total release is hard.  Releasing is not avoiding, procrastinating, irresponsible behavior.  Releasing and pouring out takes immense obedience to God and being filled daily by Him.  We can’t pour out if we don’t get filled by our Creator.

I thought about different areas of my life that need pouring out.  Today, Mother’s Day, I will share my heart in this area.  When my oldest moved out, we re-arranged the entire upstairs. You can’t imagine all the pictures, little notes, and arts and crafts I’ve been digging through.  I was deeply and profoundly amazed at how many love letters for no purpose at all, or for Mother’s Day, I found from my daughters.  It moved me.  How could God orchestrate this alone time in my hope chest of memories on this weekend.  I also found letters from my parents written to me while I was away at college.

Mothers pour out.  Honestly, we have moments or seasons of “Am I really making a difference?”  You are.  His redeeming love allows us to pour out over and over again, when we are continuously and purposefully being filled by Him.  God’s woman has many tasks before her; yet, motherhood is the priceless gift that He has given us.  A baby in your arms, a restless teenager, an adult child are all the seasons of motherhood that God has given you.  Even when it’s challenging–praise Him and pour out.

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THE BEST MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND EVER!

Intricate details.  Jesus has this way to finish the final details with promises long-awaited for.  It’s like this long drive in the rain only to find a rainbow that takes your breath away.  It’s like the long 9 months of pregnancy, and the first deep look in your baby’s eyes–their soul.  The loneliness healed through the union of the man provided by God himself to you as a gift.  I knew this day would come.  My first-born moving out on her own.  It’s what we want as parents.  Less laundry, one less sibling to engage in conflict with, and one less body to go into the shower in the morning.  You admire their growth, their future story they’ve created with God, and you humbly ask yourself, “Did I raise her? How could it be?”

Moving my girl into her apartment was the BEST mother’s day present ever.  We laughed, rejoiced, celebrated and God moved.  Intertwined was a mother daughter event with Woman Of Worth Mentoring Ministries on Saturday night.  We all went, including their grandmother.  All three girls, mom, and grandma celebrating the mother daughter relationship.  Our speaker Sharon Thomas, from Established Footsteps was our speaker.  We were reminded of the redemption that Jesus offers and the importance of Grace in our relationships.  We can’t fix our children, and there is a very healthy, natural battle of the wills within this beautiful, yet confusing relationship.  Our little baby girls grow up and have a will of their own–their story with Jesus.  We are NOT their saviors, nor their Holy Spirit.  God says to be not “anxious for ANYTHING…..but through prayer and thanksgiving make your requests known to Him….”  Are we parenting through anxiety?  fear?  Are you a mother that can’t let go and let God?

Later on that night in my oldest daughter’s apartment, we talked about the night’s events.  Tender moments.  Grace.  All four of us squeezed tight into her little bedroom with Bradley the dog too–snuggled close.  Going through her things, scrap books, little baby dresses that are 22 years old, watching her fall right in line with all the things we’ve taught her, and most importantly what God has taught her.  You just don’t know what that does to a mother’s soul.  I can’t describe it.  Proud is the lamest word ever to describe something so Holy.

Sharon Thomas gave us a handout from her Mother/Daughter message that we used Sunday morning in Bible study and worship.  All the family, in a circle, singing, sharing, and studying God’s Word was a gift.  The questions caused much dialogue.  I sat there and listened to my oldest share the Bible, her values, where she stands in Christ without me uttering a word.  She was teaching me.  The tables have turned.  This grown woman before me who loves Jesus with all her heart.  Oh–Yes!  “No greater joy than to know your children are walking in the Truth”, God’s Word tells us–it’s true.  I’m old enough to see that God promise come true.  Through it all, His promises are coming through.  At the same time, there is my 15-year-old where my oldest was 9 years ago.  There is hope.  Hang on.  And, in the same circle is my youngest with no clue of the storm that will rock her world in about 2-3 years when she hits puberty.  There is Hope.

Redemption.  Grace.  Letting go.

I’ve had this new love for birds and the symbolism of being set free.  I want to be set free.  Over and over again, God shares pictures and prayers with the sweetness of the bird set free from a cage, or a dove flying –peace, and a prayer of Jesus being the one to set us free and wrapping our hearts in thankful praise.  He rescues us from depravity and bondage. Set free indeed!  Set free to let go and allow God to consume us in all things, including parenting.

My baby girl.  There came the time to say goodbye on Sunday night.  Mom’s not spending the night tonight.  I grabbed her face and squeezed it for old-time sake and kissed her all over that beautiful face–my baby girl.  That’s the face I played peek-a-boo, kissed, wiped, felt for fevers, taught how to wear makeup, unfortunately popped once when she was sassy (I’m sorry), rubbed when sick, kissed goodnight, sang over, and still adore.

Thank you so much Jesus for giving us this wild adventure!

Mother Daughter Date

The link above is from Sharon Thomas’ ministry and her message.  I hope you can open and spend time with your daughter, or adapt it for your son.

Her website for free resources, Bible Studies, and ministries you can be involved in:  http://www.establishedfootsteps.com/

Snapshots from the weekend:

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Snapshots from Woman of Worth Mentoring Ministries:  Mother/Daughter Event

Sharon Thomas and her friend Kelly are the first picture!  Wonderful women of God!  We also asked the girls to bring donations for the Pregnancy Help Center, played silly games, and took fun pictures!  A GREAT evening of laughter, fellowship, and God’s Word!

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