Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Twenty Five Years and Counting

There I stood in the third card aisle of the third store.

"Who writes these??"   I was attempting to find an anniversary card for my husband of twenty five years.

Then it hit me.  If statistics are true, chances are those who write the plethora of cards that fill the card aisles, particularly in the realms of marriage and anniversaries, are woefully lacking LIFE experience in the areas for which they are writing the cards.

Far from capturing the very real, tangible essence of the refining, rubber-meets-the-roadunconditional love that my marriage has been constructed under for the past twenty five years, I had to settle ....because after the third store and seeing many of the same cards at each store... it became clear: the contenders filling the aisles really had no idea what twenty five years of marriage under the tutelage of Christ entails...nor yields!

Last night as my husband and I were out to supper and as we strolled back to our car, my hand in his, I couldn't help looking at this man and thinking, "Who were we 25 years ago?!"  - because I know neither of us, (With an abundantly thankful heart, thank You, Jesus!), is remotely the same person we were then.

There is so much nonsense bantered about when people speak of marriage...especially to those just starting out....often spoken by those not married or those married for a short time, such as "don't lose yourself".

Hum.... that's the ENTIRE point ....not just to marriage, but to life:  to lose yourself ... to die to yourself... for the sake of another. It's in the Bible!  Look it up....study it.... it's meant to be walked out!

Somewhere along the way, if you claim to be a Christ-follower, an EPIC battle WILL take place.... make no mistake about this. And in the battle, you will have a paramount choice to make: die to self or live for self.

A Christian marriage takes the two individual epic battles to a whole other level; a level that I do not believe can be adequately described, only experienced.

One of the many observations I have made over the years as I have observed numerous marriages is the rush to make paramount decisions in the heat of the moment(s).

In my own marriage, I dedicated long ago not to outpace the Lord.  What this meant is that there were times when my husband and I were at odds for lengthy periods of time...lengthy.

The death of self can indeed be a lengthy process.... a process that we, as Christ-followers, do NOT get to select the ways and means.... a process that we must be committed to with patience AND endurance.

At the end of the day, we each must decide how we represent Christ to not just the "blanket world" - but to the closest of close in our life.

Through us will they ultimately taste His forgiveness or our ravenous flesh-driven hunger for justice?
Through us will they ultimately hear His call to righteousness or our offended flesh's demands?

I'm not saying be a door-mat, quite the opposite in fact.  We are to be as iron sharpening iron.  This process only occurs, "If one of the pieces is heated up significantly, it (then) becomes ductile and hence can be sharpened by the other one."   We tend to RUN from heat, but what we fail to realize much of the time is heat comes from the holiness of God and IS transformational.

My message this morning to all those married:  be patient... don't run from the heat, whether it be upon you or your spouse... and most importantly, be disciplined to endure for the sake of your spouse, which is the heart of God.

Marriage: it's a reverent walk together towards holiness..... 
a journey well worth the taking.





Monday, October 8, 2018

Persistent Parenting Is Persistent Discipleship

I get it.... you're tired.  You've BEEN tired... and you're STILL tired...

..... but please do not give up...  do not stop short!

I've been at this parenting adventure for twenty two years and counting.... and I'm not done...even with my eldest.

Sorry to bust your bubble if you thought this particular race has a finish line.

It doesn't.

I have come to realize that though the provision part of raising them eventually concludes, the discipleship of them has no point of conclusion.... nor should it have (!) ....especially in this culture and climate that is particularly hostile towards God and those aspiring to live a God-centered life.   Make no mistake: though you may choose to silence your voice for even but a mere moment.... the world absolutely will not silence its voice.  This walk...this Christian walk... is a walk of vigilance!

Weekly....if not daily... I challenge my adult children concerning their aspirations and goals: Is God at the center, driving those aspirations and goals?

It is not enough to simply say yes.... but HOW?  There should be notable action steps behind the "yes" perception.

Such conversations are not always 100% hackle-free, but I make no apologies for getting in their space and holding them accountable to their daily choices.  While those choices are their future, and they are either life-giving choices or death-making choices, beyond their well-being.... OH, PLEASE HEAR THIS!.... they are a part of the bigger picture.... The Church picture... The Bride of Christ picture:

Am I doing my part to bring weight to THAT awareness?  Are they being made into "without spot or wrinkle" -- or are they knowingly contributing spots and wrinkles to the Bride of Christ??

As a parent, are you asking THIS weighty question first and foremost of yourself... and then secondly, to those in your charge?

This is paramount!

I am convinced less and less Christian parents are.  Let's face it, on a daily basis, it is far easier to let such issues slide than to contend for righteousness' sake.

But contend we must!  It is what we were called to do first and foremost when we accepted Christ's salvation and Lordship!

I get that some of you feel as though you are running out of gas or have run out of gas.

I, too, have felt that way.  Anyone who has toiled long AND faithfully in the field of discipleship has, BUT we must individually take heart so that collectively we can advance forward.  (Re-read that!)

When I have arrived at such a place, I have laid in the middle of the floor.... legs and arms stretched out to the max as if I am preparing to make a snow angel ... with an expectancy that God WILL refresh me.  I block out every thought.... I picture entering His throne room....His arms out wide.... falling into those everlasting arms as He infills ALL that I have need of, both the known and the unknown (to me) needs.  I will stay in the floor until I feel "topped off" IN His presence; then and only then do I peel myself off the floor and move forward BY His presence.

Many there are who attempt to do parenting apart from God.....even Christian parents!

I cannot imagine a greater tragedy.

To do so is truly to fulfill the expression "the blind leading the blind".

Dear ones, I hold you and those you hold dear in your heart in my prayers today.  May you be FIRST found to be a responsible part of Christ's Bride, dedicating your days to becoming more and more His image; then secondly, raising those in your charge to be ever mindful of their individual responsibility to be a growing disciple of Christ.   Neither is for the faint-of-heart, but with God, in God, through God, all is possible!

Press on, dear ones!

Persistent Parenting Is Persistent Discipleship!

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡








Thursday, October 4, 2018

We Made It!

I promise one day soon I will return to Joy In The Morning with great diligence, but for now, I am in a deep season of preparation that includes co-running a multi-million dollar operation I did not see coming four years ago.  As I told my husband recently, "God is building my shoulder muscles up, along with my stamina... or He's trying to kill me."   Take heart those who love and support JITM, I truly do have the faith and the knowledge it is the former and not the latter.

I consider it a blessing and an honor to come along side my boss (aka: Head-honcho) and help her do what we do on a daily basis.... which is MUCH!  I marvel at HER!

These past four years have been LABOR-intensive from both a personal and professional perspective.

Professionally, running such an incredible operation, experiencing double-digit growth during my tenure under her leadership, mine, and one more incredible team has been a blessing NO ONE but God saw coming!   To go from a stay-at-home-mom to co-shouldering such a huge operation as been an honor and an incredible season of growth for me!  Thank you, my beloved BJ, for such an insane opportunity, your trust, and your confidence!

Personally, no words... well, few words.   These days I so often look at my three kids (and my husband) and think, "WOW, what growth!"   THE truly one-and-only wondrous Lord above knows the shear amount of tilling / working the soil and sowing the seeds over the past two decades I have tackled every day.  It has taken EVERYTHING out of me, but the coming harvest as it just begins to pop out of the soil is utterly BREATH-TAKING.   Praise HIM, He has and remains utterly faithful: "He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful."  Isa 30:23

I titled this entry as "We Made It!"  because we made it!





I packed ONLY "comfies".... oh, the thrill, ya'll!  And can I just say, "Hello 72 degrees!"  The temperature actually matches the month here!  #odetojoy

I remain incredibly tuned-in and grateful for this season and the paramount cornerstone it is to what HE is doing for the future.  #legacytoHim

Grow, dear ones!  Never, never, never give in to complacency, nor the world's watered down version of God or what it truly means to be a Christ-follower.  Be ALL  IN or be ALL OUT -- BUT BE!

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom."  Ecc. 9:10

Godspeed, dear ones!  ♡

Deborah
 



Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Power of Choice

"We live in a society of blame, and I believe this is one main reason as to why this is the case: the further a society walks away from the reality of the cross, the more it feels the almost insatiable need to blame others.

To be honest, I am a little tired of always having to provide a why to people encouraging them to obey God. It is just another sign of a society that has too many rights and lacks an understanding of the Kingship of Christ.

In my research, God never told Job why he went through all of his hardships. God only expected him to trust.

In like manner, we seem to always need 5 reasons as to why we should obey God or an explanation as to why something will work for our betterment.

God will not operate on our terms in such a way. He is the Great God whose very presence demands our obedience whether it works for our benefit or not.

Food for thought.... Dr. Force"



A fork in the road demands a choice, does it not?

I pause, praying that that one sentence arrests the rote, almost catatonic, state each of us wrestles against daily.

Let me say again:

A fork in the road demands a choice, does it not? 

So many operate as if they have no choice or that their choice has been made for them, and to a degree, if not truly awake in Christ, it has been - by the social "norms"  in which we live.

Let me give a few examples and the commonly approved choice in society. As you read these hypothetical scenarios -- often played out in reality, exam your own heart. Does your reaction affirm 1) Christ's Kingship, His principles, and any yet-to-come-undetermined-God-justice, or 2) society's accepted principles and so-called justice in the now?

A courtroom scene.... a defendant awaits their fate.... the victim's family breathlessly awaits justice..... the judge reads the verdict... "The jury finds the defendant guilty"... the victim's family erupts with fractured zeal.

One spouse is caught cheating on the other.... rapid separation ensues.... divorce is finalized.... they "move on"....the fractured consensus: it was "best" for everyone involved.

A prostitute ....addicted to crack becomes pregnant.... gives birth... the child dies.... the fractured sentiment: though a tragedy, at least the child didn't suffer or become a ward of the state.

As a member of society, would you accept or challenge these socially accepted fractured ideas of what defines just?

I don't know about you, but I know without any doubt that Christ does NOT condone "fractured anything" IN His Kingdom.

So, does it make any sense whatsoever to pray "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done"  - EVEN AS we, followers of Christ, so fervently hold on to the painfully fractured "ways and means" of this world's irreconcilable idea of what is just?

I've come to understand in a deeply personal, yet broad reaching manner, God's way is meant to CHALLENGE me at my very core of who I say I am ....and VERY MUCH flies directly in the face of what society purports to be right... to be "fair" .... to be just.

It's really easy to say we believe in Christ; as the cliche goes: so does the devil.

But it's an entirely different paradigm to LIVE as Christ calls us to live....forgiving AND releasing in totality when we, socially speaking, have the "right" -- often legal right -- to harbor offense and demand imminent justice; or as we often say "just desert".

The bottom line is YOU and I have choices to make daily that either reflect the principles of society or reflect the principles of Christ's Kingship.  Understand, these two are POLAR opposite to one another.  ZERO gray zone.

His principles are forever intertwined in an irrevocable SELFLESS manner with the Cross and the Father.
The world's principles, in stark contrast, are deeply rooted in self-first at all costs.

While society would have us believe we have the "right" to seek justice and "collect blood," so to speak... Christ blitzes all of humanity's circuits and cries out today, just as He did some 2000 years ago, "FORGIVE them for they know not what they do."    Do we ego His words?

(Oh, I know, dear ones, this STINGS.  I implore you... let it sting. In the end, it is a purifying sting.)

How is the extension of forgiveness exercised in the face of unimaginable breaches such as murder, affairs, abuse?  It is exercised once we get down off our pompous pedestals and realize we are ALL wretched and undone sans Christ.

There is NO offense, NO sin too great that Christ's sacrifice has not already settled.

One can live a fractured, "settlement issued today - things are better off this way" kind of existence that lines up with society's ill-fated attempt at what defines just.....

OR

...they can wrestle their humanistic inflated opinion out before Christ, guaranteed to have them leaving the ring with a far superior Kingdom understanding than when they dared to enter the ring.

I've walked out a very long season that did not endure for weeks nor months, but years.... not knowing with certainty what the outcome would be.  I didn't have a preset outcome in mind, often stating to those closest to me, "I do not hold the pen, therefore I do not determine the period."  Each day I awoke, I set the goal that my walk would honor Him...no matter what.  There was never, not once, an "easy day" in all those many years because to walk with Christ takes a path altogether uncommon and altogether uncomfortable to our mortal being.

Understand, the same evil that cried out "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" some 2000 years ago is the same evil that cries out today to you and I , "Crucify him (or her), crucify him  (or her)!"  The question is ---  will you take the bait, go the way of the world, and crucify him or her; OR will you determine to walk the mind-blitzing-God-honoring way of forgiveness and mercy -- leaving justice - true justice to the One Innocent who was slain?

The POWER of CHOICE

Choose WISELY....




"Even as the angry vengeful thoughts boiled through me, 
I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man; 
was I going to ask for more?""
Corrie Ten Boom

Live long enough, claiming Christ as your Savior AND your LORD, and you, likewise, WILL most certainly be challenged to forgive what you think is THE worst. 

I cannot emphasize the magnitude your choice holds at these pivotal forks in the road:

Will you take the path rarely traveled, embracing the searing pain of injustice with the understanding, "I do not hold the pen, therefore I do not determine the period"...

OR...

Will you take the common path by many, seeking to escape the pain of injustice by taking matters into your own hand, daring to write your own ending?

Do you know what often determines which path is taken?

Patience and humility;
be they absent or be they present.

The carnal man is impatient and thinks highly of himself, wanting what he wants now, the way he wants it. It is the way of a child. But those who commit to grow in Christ, who want growth more than their next breath, learn to traverse life with patience in surrender to the One who authored it.  LIFE itself obeys one Master.... and neither you nor I am it.

Do you have such an understanding, or at the very least, can pinpoint growth in your understanding?

We are all sojourners here ....temporary dwellers. Make no mistake: to walk with God demands a death, a calling to a place you will never envision nor obtain apart from Him.

My edification to you; my heart for you: COURAGE UP, dear ones, and take the path rarely traversed....the Kingdom path....authored by the Only One True King.....




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Is He Enough?

I rolled out of bed, craving God's companionship - not from a well-spring of enraptured joy, but a place of perceived depletion.

We've all been there.

I quickly took care of my daily duties, particularly pertaining to our four legged friends who live under roof; grabbed up my coffee and a bottle of water, and left the house.

This morning, all I knew was this deep craving to "go there" with Him; not a building, but a place so deep in my heart the thought caught my breath.

I slipped into the driver's seat and started the car.

Almost immediately, before even leaving the drive, I heard Him.

"Deborah, am I enough?"

My heart sank. I knew what my answer was in this moment, as He too knew.

"No, Lord, not in this moment, but I long for You to fill me such that my answer is YES, Lord - You are MORE THAN enough always."

I rode on in silence, meditating on His hovering, tangible presence... His question.... and my stripped down, completely exposed answer.

I have found that when I am in a long-endured season that demands more of me than I know I have, I have to fight off discouragement with a vengeance; a radical, God-breathed vengeance.

I recently heard a well-known pastor state discouragement is a choice, implying we can simply choose not to be discouraged.  After meditating on this supposition, I disagree.  If discouragement were merely a choice, the Apostle Paul wouldn't have written pages filled with contention towards it nor would he have written about the need to persevere through it.

Discouragement comes when there is a great call that delays or when the battle tarries.

Through it all, I have found that the underlying fracture contained in EVERY human soul, exposed by discouragement, is the question, "Is He enough?"

Blessed is the soul who dares to hear Him ask the question AND answer Him.....honestly.

Only then.

Only then.

Only then can He move in and be to us MORE THAN enough.

If you are struggling today.... perhaps a widow or a widower... learning to do life without a human partner....perhaps you are an abandoned spouse... physically, emotionally, or spiritually..... perhaps you are battling a diagnosis... perhaps you are battling thoughts of failure and a broken heart concerning a wayward child.... perhaps everything is going great, but there is this gnawing in your spirit you just can't quench.....perhaps... perhaps....perhaps.... after all, a void is a void....and let's just stop pretending, shall we?  WE ALL HAVE AT LEAST ONE.   Do you find yourself hearing Him ask you, "Am I enough?" --  will you then be open and honest with Him?? ... He's asking because He's the answer... BUT you must courage up and answer Him with the stripped down, completely exposed answer.

Paul knew the question well.  I ponder to myself just how many times God came to Paul in the quiet of the battle... in the quiet of the discouragement.... in the quiet of the calling... and heard, "Am I enough, Paul?"

I know He did because Paul wrote these most profound words that only someone who was asked that pointed, heart-piercing question AND answered honestly would then know:  "God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may EXCEL in every good work." (2 Corin. 9:8)

Oh, indeed, Lord.... You are enough....more than enough.....


And once again, my spirit is renewed, and its course set to heights yet unknown....

To Him Alone Be ALL the Glory.
♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡











Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Intention....God's Grace Exceeds It ALL

It's my day off.  Wednesdays usually always are. They have become my mid-week pause to regroup and reground myself to what's important in life.

As I sipped on my coffee this morning, I turned on the TV.... something I rarely do in the morning... and took in a few moments of today's present culture.

Within in moments, I turned it off.

"Lord, everyone everywhere is scrambling to be heard," I shared my thoughts with my closest Friend.

Every time I have been tempted outward - the Lord anchors my focus inward... to my family of five... the most precious souls I am blessed to know intimately.

Last week my Friend, my All-in-all, kept bringing to mind one word.... Intention.

When I looked up the definition, being the egghead who I am, I discovered two definitions:
1) a thing intended; an aim or plan
2) the healing process of a wound

If you are like me, you were aware of the first definition, but how about the second definition?

Now, layer both definitions, understanding we serve a multifaceted God who is always at all times multidimensional in HIS INTENT.

When I sat and meditated with Him concerning His intent put to task with our family's intent to bow and merge with His intent, it sparked such a WOW moment deep in my spirit.   The outcome can be nothing but transformative.

Over this past weekend, I shared this word, intention, with my family, stating unequivocally THIS was God's heart and focus for each of us over the next twelve weeks. Each one of us embraced the theme... a walk of intention with one another and with HIM.

To walk with intention one with another, brings aim, brings healing, brings intimacy.  It is the very heart core of God for all those who claim Jesus as Savior: to not simply talk the talk, but walk the walk.

One thing I know FULL WELL --  no matter the wound, no matter the sin, no matter how great the offense.... God's grace exceeds it ALL.... and IF we courage up to believe while humbling ourselves to see we are no better than our worst offender....He takes us to heights unimaginable.....

Dedicated to living a lifetime of intention in Him...

Deborah


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sunday in (Mostly) Pictures

It's Mother's Day.... a happy day for some, a sad day for others, a mixed day for many. Wherever you fall in the various scopes, I pray you feel God's abiding presence.  He alone possesses the ability to meet each of us in our unique place.   So indescribably grateful for Him. ♡

THE  MOST beautiful woman in MY eyes always.
♡ My mom ♡

"Smile".....always!
The eternal optimist in Christ!

My favorite food of all time.... Mediterranean! 

Nearly 25 years and counting....
a lot of grace, forgiveness, vision, hope, and love...
a fierce and unrelenting combination IN God.

Beyond grateful at the fruit that graces my life daily through these
three souls far more than words or actions could ever convey.


At lunch today, my husband asked the kids, "What's one thing you are thankful for in your mom."
My daughter's response, "Only one?...."
My eldest son's response, "Her relentless tenaciousness."
My youngest son's response, "Her humor."

TREASURED WORDS placed in my heart's vault forever.

To God be ALL the Glory!

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡