The Passion

Passion defined:

  • intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
  • the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death

On Thursday, God began to seek my heart to remember the cross.
Last night, on Good Friday, I took myself to a quiet place in the house to watch The Passion.  In the rush of the day, an intense, driving feeling or conviction washed over me to remember–truly remember what He did for us.  Over 2000 years later, somehow, as His daughter, I’m drawn to remember, and I would find myself worshipping with tears throughout the day.  I would pause, close my eyes, and the reality of why I’m really here on this Earth became overwhelming.

I look back to my younger years in the 60s and 70s and we were open about the sacrifice of Jesus. We did not shy away or dismiss because it was uncomfortable.  Discomfort is not popular unless you are seeking a goal, but to surrender to the author of salvation and His love seems a little old fashioned and outdated. As I watched what Jesus did for us on the Hill of Calvary, I wondered if I truly understood the magnitude of such a gift. He called us “friends”, and shared, “No greater love than for a friend to lay down His life for you”.

I am His friend.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

Any ounce of the following thwarts my thinking.

Shamed

Bruised

Denied

Abandoned

Mocked

…But God, in His mercy and love, took every sin and negativity and nailed it to the cross, so that I would not have to face this life without a perfect friend and Father. Every moment of my life, regardless of my circumstances, I can say, “It is well with my soul” even if all seems lost or hopeless. The Saturday after the cross has always been a reminder of the time we spend in the awaiting of Jesus’ second coming, and the new heaven and earth that will exist.  My youngest asked if Jesus was afraid.  We talked about how God gave us emotions.  We agreed that Jesus experienced so much emotion that His sweat, according to scripture, was mixed with blood. Jesus trusted the Father and took one step at a time in intense agony while also providing for His mother, offering forgiveness, and telling the thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Beautiful friend, every step you take is filled with the Glory of God–He is with you. In the waiting…

  • Provide for others and serve
  • Forgive
  • Share the love of Jesus

I pray you wake up tomorrow early and imagine yourself at the tomb. The stone has been rolled away, and Jesus walks with you in the garden.

He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee… Luke 24:6

Remember how He told you and rejoice!

Today is a great day for a new beginning…

Video to inspire you:

Click on the words, “a brand-new day”.

A Brand New Day from worshiphousemedia on GodTube.

In the Garden

One of my favorite hymns is In the Garden.

 I come to the garden alone….He walks with me; and He talks with me; and He tells me I am His own….

When we are feeling overwhelmed, we often go to our place of comfort and safety. Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before He faced the cross.  After the last supper, He needed time in solitude. Although the disciples went with Him, He eventually secluded Himself for a time to only hear the voice of His Father.

Adam and Eve were in a perfect garden.  When they found themselves “naked and ashamed”, God asked them, “Where are you?” God walked in the Garden desiring to meet them in their distress and shame. Imagine yourself either physically or metaphorically in the Garden of your loss, worry, pain, joy, change, or….. Whatever brings you to the garden of your seeking and solitude, imagine God walking with you asking, “Where are you _____?” Put your name in the blank and say it out-loud, or imagine in your mind, God speaking to your heart.

Perfect Jesus asked God to remove the cup of suffering. It’s okay to have honest conversations. Closing our honesty with the words of Jesus, “Not my will, but Yours be done!”, allows us to release and acknowledge God’s sovereignty and purpose in our lives.

This week, leading up to resurrection Sunday, walk in the garden with Jesus.  Talk to Him.  Read Psalm 32:8. God has his loving eye on you.  He will instruct you.  On Good Friday nail your thoughts, conversations, and concerns to the cross. As you wait in anticipation of resurrection Sunday, fast and pray–listen and trust.  When Sunday comes put on your finest and rejoice!  He is risen!  I believe that God has redeemed! It is finished!

A great worship song for your garden experience!

If God were in the locker room before the big game: Time for a pep talk!

You are beautiful. Life is good. You have a purpose beyond your circumstances. God’s love never leaves you, and He promises to never forsake you. You are filled with so much potential, and God desires for you to live your life filled with this knowledge, and to trust His outcomes. You are adored and treasured. God created you in the inner most parts, and He delights in you. What man intended for evil or wrong, God will redeem and show you another way.  He knows each hair on your head, and He accounts for every star in the sky. He is an intimate God who walks with you. This personal God, knows you by name, and He understands your wayward thinking, and provides reassurance that you are going to be okay.

When the worse day happens, He cries with you and wants you to see the circumstance in light of eternity, not the moment. He holds each moment in His hand, and He wants you to believe that the moment does not define you, but His work in you and those around you belong to Him.  God whispers over and over again, I’m here; I got this; Don’t worry.  God is unbelievably patient, and never grows tired of you. You don’t annoy Him, bother Him, or disgust Him.  He loves you so perfectly that, this side of heaven, you will never be able to grasp the depth of His love, but He spends a lifetime trying to convince you without hesitation.  God has no favorites.  He loves each of us the same. So when I’m struggling in sin and notice my saintly brother or sister, He begs us not to compare or feel less than.  He loves the broken, and delights in putting the pieces back together again with your help and purpose.  Jesus sits beside you in the board room, He guides the surgeon in the operating room, He cries with you at your daughter’s wedding, and He holds your grandchild with the same adoring eyes that are filled with so much love and joy.

God is not surprised by worldly events that devastate us or confuse.

He. Is. God.

He takes a broken world and orchestrates His plan. He is not afraid, regretful, or devoid of hope. God remains all that He has said that He is since the beginning of our time–the time Earth began–and before this time.  God is love. God is peace. God is compassionate and pursues His children with perfect love.  He forgives, restores, and redeems. Always. He never packs His bags and says, “I’m done with you.” He never sets you up to humiliate you and say “I told you so.”

He is a God who guides us through our consequences that occur from choices we regret.  He says that your past is past, and I am doing a new thing. He handles the shame and regret by providing love and peace not only from Him, but also through  friends and a new start. He helps you understand the view of an enemy, and shows you mercy. He begs you to remove judgment so you can live in freedom. Revenge is mine, says the Lord.  You can’t and shouldn’t try to be God.

God is in total, complete love with you. No man, woman, child, friend, pastor, boss, mentor, sibling, pet, idol can ever fulfill your desires like God can. He wants to be the first thing on your mind when you wake up, and the last thing you ponder in prayer when you fall asleep. He wants you to ask where did I put my keys, and He desires to handle every crisis in your day. He wants you to stop controlling people and circumstances and live! In no way does He desire for you to be miserable because of the behaviors of others. He understands the human nature of stress, but He says to you that my burden is light and my yoke is easy. Come to me and rest.

God is okay with you laughing, enjoying life, and taking naps. He is okay with you when you say, “I give up.” In fact, He says, I’ve been waiting for you to give up and trust me.  He wants your purpose to be filled with such purpose that a single second is a reflection of Him. A phone call, cleaning the house, driving to work, listening to an angry or hurt child, changing a diaper, getting a diagnoses, deciding on your vacation, doing that thing you said you wouldn’t do, singing, dancing, everything……He wants to be your Father–your Daddy with complete love and joy. My friend….

God loves you.

He always has, and He always will.

Take this love and soak it up. Splash it all around for the world to see, feel, and taste! Be kind and generous as He has been kind and generous to you.

Be kind.

Never forget for one moment that GOD LOVES YOU!

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You can always come home

Home.

the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

Your dwelling place is uniquely different. The decor, the smell, the pictures on the wall, as well as the food in your refrigerator all support your idea of a safe, happy haven. At the end of the day, you come home to let your guard down, throw on your pajamas, and recharge. The people who greet you may or may not be encouraging, but most of us would say that our family is our refuge. We acknowledge challenging times with those we love can make it hard to come home sometimes but in a lifetime of walking through the front door and settling in, we can agree home is where the heart is.

My father wrote me a letter recently. He felt led to encourage me to move forward. How can we move forward with confidence? So many quotes and scriptures could provide the stepping stones for us to embrace change, but the bedrock of embracing change is the constant–home.

I have this long rope in my home with duck tape covering one inch of the end of the rope.

When my vision is short or my circumstances are dictating my moods and actions, I’m reminded of my focus.

Home.

My eternal resting place becomes my reality and all the nonsense and struggle seems doable, a part of the journey versus a setback. When I look back through the years, my home has been a place of refuge, chaos, joy, confusion, peace, new beginnings, traditions, loss, celebration, and a constant…

My life may change but the constant is home–day in and day out– I can come home. One day we will have a perfect constant –heaven. Thank you, daddy, for creating a home on earth for me, and for pointing me to my Daddy and my eternal home.

My daddy’s letter:

Thinking about you this morning, and praying for you as well. I felt I should pause and write you some thoughts I have regarding your transition to your new job.

First of all, the sermon I heard yesterday by Gabriel Swaggert had some very inspiring points. He talked about the time Israel was suffering a famine because of their wicked ways, but he spoke of how God through Elisha said I am going to pour out a blessing on you. Gabriel also spoke of the time God’s people were facing the Red Sea, and the Egyptians were about to catch them. God said, “Move forward!”  They did and God opened up the Red Sea for them to cross to the other side.

This morning in Louise and my devotion time, the story was about God calling Abram to leave home, country, family and friends to go where He would lead them.

I know you are apprehensive about your change in jobs, but God is telling you to move forward and He will make the way for you. Moving forward you will be leaving a job of security, friends, and a place where you are comfortable. A new land of opportunity where you will be a blessing, and you will be bathed in prayer asking God to bless you as well.

You are loved by your Saviour, your husband, your children, your grandchild, and by your Mom and Dad. It will be a great experience because of God’s Spirit watching over you, and remember you can always come home!

I love you Anna, and I pray you will see God’s love in the morning because you have put your trust in Him. I pray that He will show you the way because you have lifted your soul to Him. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Love you, Anna,

Dad

Don’t Quit

In most areas of our lives we can decide to move on or quit. If a job, friendship, or hairstylist is not working out, you can look elsewhere without serious consequences. Marriage is different. We face so many challenges and unexpected seasons in which we live out our vows of “for better or for worse”.  When the worse happens we stick it out knowing on the other side we will see God’s glory, provision, and faithfulness.

Gary Thomas’ book Cherish calls our attention to the word cherish versus infatuation. Cherishing your spouse means that even when things get ugly, I’m not giving up on us.  Infatuation is the kind of love with conditions and expectations so high that you are living in a fantasy world. Cherish means that I truly believe that you are the only one who can walk this journey with me, and I will treat you as such.

It’s easy to quit on someone who is not living up to your expectations. The question becomes are your expectations realistic, and are you in constant pursuit to call out the negative in your spouse? Every day I could pick a fight with my imperfect mate. They are, after all, human–imperfect and sinful beings.

“Without struggle, marriage is like melodrama.  If God allowed infatuation to remain, how many of us would do the day-to-day work to achieve intimacy?” Gary Thomas

You’ve seen them. Newlyweds or dating couples. It’s only a matter of time when disappointment and possible contempt sets in and the work begins.  Just on the other side of infatuation is cherish, and so many couples are unwilling to climb the mountain and experience cherish. They quit. It’s hard work.  It’s sacrifice.  It’s a battlefield.

Your marriage legacy goes beyond the toothpaste cap or toilet seat. It’s your God story for a generation not yet born.  As Parish and I read the chapter “Don’t Quit”, we looked around our living room. Parish smiled and said, “Anna, look around this room.  Our legacy and memories are many…..” He began to talk about Patty our cactus, the family tree that Valentina and Grandma Louise drew, the rocking chair from my great-grandfather that he refinished for Victoria’s birth over 27 years ago, the coffee table that belonged to my grandmother, the lanterns we use on snowy nights as we walk and marvel, the cast iron dog I grew up with and sits on our hearth…

Of course these are just material examples of our love, but they are reminders to us of a love that God has been working on for years. His hand in our love story.

There is no other love story like yours. Your God, love story is a shining example to the world of mercy, cherish, and the power of sticking it out even when by all accounts you could have thrown in the towel.

I encourage you to stop and look around your home. If the objects in your home could talk, what memories would they share? I encourage you to be crazy hopeful (my friend’s expression) about your future, and to celebrate the good things in your spouse. I encourage you to purchase the book Cherish by Gary Thomas and read it together as a couple. Take your time with it.  Parish and I have been reading the book for two months, and we are on chapter 7.

If you feel like quitting, remember cherish and seek the help your marriage deserves.

I dedicate this post to my parents who will celebrate their 60th, diamond anniversary in August 2017. They are not quitters; they cherish.

My husband and I sang this song as a duet at weddings in the 80s. I hope you will listen to this song for the meaning and be spurred on in your love story. Try not to be critical of the 80’s music, but be motivated by the words. 🙂

Reboot Your Conversations

Celeste Headlee’s TED talk provides an excellent resource on how to engage in conversations in a world that is more polarized than ever. Everyone wants to be heard, and rarely is anyone listening. My mother shared with me in a conversation recently that everyone is a hero. Everyone in this world has a voice, a gift, a purpose, and all of us deserve to be treated like heroes. The famous are honored with awards and glory, but it’s in the day-to-day of ordinary people doing extraordinary things that we can choose to be amazed.

To love, cherish, honor, respect, care, give, provide, listen, smile…..

Our world and workplace need to pause and regroup.

Don’t multi-task:  Be present and in that moment. Don’t be half-in.  If you don’t want to have the conversation excuse yourself.

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Don’t pontificate: Setting aside of oneself and your personal opinion. Be willing to learn and assume YOU have something to learn. Everybody is an expert in something.

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Use open-ended questions (who, what, where, when, how): How did that feel? What was that like?

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Go with the flow: Thoughts will come into your mind, let them go. Don’t insert your thoughts into a conversation and disrupt the flow.

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If you don’t know, say that you don’t know: Folks will appreciate your confidence in stating your lack of knowledge.

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Don’t equate your experience with theirs: It’s never the same. It’s not about you. All experiences are individual.  Don’t take the time to talk about yourself. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity. Great video by Brene Brown:

Try not to repeat yourself

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Stay out of the weeds: They care about you and what you have in common. Years, dates, and details are not as important as connecting with you.

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LISTEN: When we talk, we feel in control. Let that control go and listen.

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Be brief

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Always be prepared to be amazed:  Everyone has some hidden amazing thing about them.  Go out and talk to people. Be prepared to be amazed!

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A moment can change us

The moment happened in a blink of an eye, but all events leading up to the moment were calculated by God himself. The God moments. You and I could argue that these moments frequent our day, but there is something about a moment in which you experience time standing still, and you step out of your surroundings.

The list was long and the time was short. Why is it that we save cleaning day for just before an event occurs in our home. Prepare, study, create, wipe down, pick it up, vacuum, and now it’s time to engage. It was a sweet group of girls who came to Bible study that night. Considering it was Superbowl Sunday, I knew attendance would be low. My soul was in a different place.  A good place.  A place of receiving and noticing. Flowers were fragrant and red, Valentine’s Day hearts were promises to be written and mailed to loved ones.  Sweet, young ladies gathered around the table as we wrote our Valentine’s day cards.  We were listening to Natalie Grant’s new album when “How Great Thou Art” came on. I asked if they knew this old hymn–they all are growing up with contemporary worship, which I love, too.  I started singing, and truly just felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Singing, giggling, talking about who to write our Valentine’s Day cards to, and eating yummy snacks. These young ladies are truly so special to me.

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I looked up while singing along with the song, and she caught my eye.

Like those romantic moments in movies or the time someone is overwhelmed in a crowd and all becomes silent and slow-motion, she looked at me with an expression I had never witnessed from her and time stood still. In a moment, her endearing, baby eyes seemed to say, “I’m so glad you are my grandmother.” It was as if she had finally realized just how blessed she was to know this love, and her smile turned up ever so slightly to confirm this realization. In a moment, we connected in such a way that showed living evidence of God’s eternal love and grace. God’s presence filled her and shined from her eyes and soul.

She loved me without knowing me. Pure love and acceptance.  I walked over to her and took her from her mother’s lap. She seemed to leap into my arms, and then the kiss. One, big, sloppy kiss on the cheek confirmed what she was trying to say.

What a post. If you’ve made it this far, I can only say, “You had to be there.” It’s as if my 51 years of life led to this moment. There will be more hugs and kisses, but the first realization of love between a grandchild and her grandmother will happen in a moment, and everything builds from that interaction.


When heaven opens up and rains down love through the life of a child, all the things that worry us and make us fret seem ridiculous and insane.

Thank you, Holy Spirit for preparing my heart and helping me to be mindful and aware of this shower of love.

Adelaide, Gigi loves you, too.

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Isn’t it so fitting that Jesus came to us as a baby? In the innocence of a baby, He looked into the eyes of humanity, and said, I love you with an everlasting love.

He knew you since the beginning of time, and He loves you perfectly.

I pray He will reveal His love to you in such a way that you draw near to Him. He has Holy “kisses” to share and delights in you.

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