Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day 6 of Living on Purpose-Life is fleeting like the smell of smoke in my hair!

Last night Justin and I sat by the fire pit at a popular restaurant here in Queen Creek and we enjoyed our time together as the smoke billowed around us. The smell of the smoke was still permeating through my hair as I read Chapter 6 of Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life.” The first paragraph talks about the various metaphors of our life and one is described as a wisp of smoke. The idea is that it is short and unless we seek God for the meaning and purpose we could end up saying what Job said, “I hate this life! Who needs any more of this? Let me alone! There's nothing to my life - it's nothing but smoke.” Job 7:16 in the Message.

I’m pretty disgusted right now with this smoke smell in my hair and I know last night it was pretty bothersome getting into Justin’s eyes at times and I know there are times when the difficulties of this life break my heart and there is a desire to cry out like Job did in his lifetime.

However, praise God for His Word full of promises and fresh new perspective on our lives. And praise God for the gifts He has blessed Rick Warren and my pastor with in seeing the importance of this culture understanding our individual unique purpose in this life that is quickly fleeting.

Today’s message from Rick Warren recaps that our lives are a test, a trust and also a temporary assignment. When my focus is on this truth of our time being so short on earth it is easier to understand why we experience difficulties, heartaches and rejections from time to time.
This is not our home and it takes faith to live here as an outsider and it is important to keep this perspective so that when we feel longings in our heart and struggle with feelings of discontentment, or dissatisfaction it will not take us by so much surprise.

I don’t know about you…but I like knowing that I was created for something better than what is on this earth!! I pray that my mind will never run down the wrong path and make what Rick Warren identifies as a fatal mistake…the abundant life found in knowing Him has nothing to do with material prosperity, popular success…and that my faithfulness to God does not guarantee success in my career, my family, my relationships or even my ministry—I don’t get paid for my ministry…but I do feel God has given me my own ministry…I do choose to live for Him and take on assignments for Him daily!

Lord, please help me to keep my focus on heaven and time with You for eternity; help me not to focus on anything in this world- which is only temporary like this smoke smell in my hair!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 5 of Living on Purpose

Life is a test or a trust…Have you ever entrusted someone with your heart and had it stepped on? Have you ever stepped on someone’s heart either intentionally or unintentionally?

As I read today's chapter, I felt God bring to mind past hurts both experienced deep within my own heart and yes even times I know my actions or words hurt another's heart...times when grace needed to be extended in a huge way and God’s blood needed to cover a situation and bring healing.

Luke 16:10, “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones.”

I desire for my God to find me faithful…may He find that I have more often than not passed the test and been found worthy of trust. May He find me faithful…and may I see all of life's situations as a chance to prove my faithfulness in Him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 4 of Living on Purpose

This sentence jumped off of the page in the middle of this chapter, “To make the most of your life, you must keep the vision of eternity continually in your mind and the value of it in your heart.”

This resonates with me as truth and I think about what I do every day; teaching, guiding, molding my children; literally on purpose because I love them so much. I constantly pray that their hearts would be open to His teachings and that God would give me the wisdom to see and capitalize on the teachable moments that seem to occur daily.

In order to do this; just like the stewardess instructs us on the airplane to put the oxygen mask on us parents/adults first and then help our children put on their oxygen mask; I must keep in the forefront of my heart all that Christ has done for me personally first and then I am able to share and guide my children. Knowing that I have a place to spend eternity and a purpose on earth until I live in heaven for eternity, truly does set the stage for my days.

Just like Isaiah 40:11 states, “He tends his flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” I want to tend to my flock, carry them close to my heart, and gently lead.

Please help me Father to see continually how you do this for me specifically as my Lord and then help me to care for those around children who I know You have put in my care and anyone else that You bring into my life…help me to keep eternity in my thoughts and in my heart and help me to share...tend to their hearts...and gently lead them to You.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 3 Of Purpose Driven Life

Today Rick Warren discusses the forces that can drive our life and then also discusses the benefits of Purpose-Driven Living. He highlights that living a purpose-driven life gives meaning to our lives, simplifies our lives, focuses our lives, motivates our lives, and prepares us for eternity.

Yesterday morning while driving to school I was thinking of eternity and preparing my sons for a life devoted to God; as I felt God draw my eyes to the beautiful San Tan mountains which are right by my boys’ school. The sun was just rising enough to shine on the mountains to the west and I noticed some of the peaks in the shadows.

I remember reading in Isaiah 25 about the taking refuge in the shadow of the clouds and further in verse 10; “The hand of the Lord will rest on the mountain.” I just love picturing God’s loving hands on me. I came back to this visual…this mental snapshot that I took in my mind of the mountains and referenced it throughout the day yesterday.

I read in Ecc 3 about there being a time for everything and thought about how early in my faith God brought wiser—more learned Christians into my life to surround me and pray over me and I kind of took shelter in their shadows. But there was a time when God had for me to step away a bit and when I understood a little more of His deep love for me personally; I was able to move just enough away from my sister mountain and feel the warmth of His love shine directly on me.
My heart is curious and yearns to be close to my God, my heart cried out to God and was praising Him yesterday morning. And here I am again praising Him and reflecting on the gentle reminders of His love that He continually puts before me. He has wired me to think this way and to yearn for time with Him. He has set specific times for me to seek shelter in the shadows and stand shoulder to shoulder with other believing children of God and He has also set a specific time for me to step out and feel rays of His love shine on me directly. It’s not about me or anyone else being in the spotlight…this is a place only for Him…but a time for each one of us to realize that He wants to speak to us directly.

This has made me think of not only the loving people who have and still stand shoulder to shoulder with me…but also makes me aware of encouraging those around me to rise above and feel the sun themselves…there will be a time soon when we are all removed from the shadows just like the noon sun shines on a clear day.

The point to ponder today is, “What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life? What do I want it to be? My soul cries out, “Preparing for eternity!!!” Oh His love fills my heart again and again-leaving me yearning for more!! Please grant me perfect peace as I seek to have an attitude that is focused on You and Your plan for me and choosing to trust in You, my Lord! (Isaiah 26:3).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 2 of Life on Purpose

Rick Warren states that this is a good truth to live on and I have to agree…a truth I need to remind myself of often. God made me so He could love me. This love is really hard to fathom…especially when there is so much propensity in this life to have the act of love distorted.

For myself, I know I am more prone to try and earn love than to just accept love. Striving to earn it seems to be my default and unless I steep myself deep into God’s Word daily I find myself there striving. Be still and know that I am God I often hear Him whisper…relax!!

Last night JD had the privilege of bringing home his Kindergarten’s class Moon Bag. Which meant he got to read a book by Eric Carle “Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me.” In addition to that, he documented the shape of the moon and journalled about it. We did all of this together as a family after reading in Genesis 1 and talking about all that God created…including us and the moon.

I couldn’t help but embrace a little whisper of love from God after reading the book and understanding in this "pretend story" a little girl asked her Papa to bring the moon down so she could play with it....but Papawasn’t able to bring down the moon until it got smaller.

I felt God saying to me that He is so much bigger than I can even imagine and the amount of His love and goodness that I can wrap my arms around is only a miniscule amount of His vast love for me!!

Praise you Father for the amount I can wrap my arms around and give me wisdom and understanding to know that there is so much more!!!

I read the poem by Russell Kelfer and asked God for the ability to grasp this truth…oh may it sink deep into my heart….

The last bit of Kelfer’s poem made me think of how God made Himself smaller just so He could live within the walls of my heart and I could grow with His love within me…

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.
And God wept that it hurt you so;
But it was allowed to shape your heart
So that into his likeness you’d grow.

You are who you are for a reason,
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God!!!

Amen! I hope you all can agree and may we continue to grasp and wrap our arms around this truth!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Beginning...Living Life on Purpose

Even though Justin and I walked together through the pages of Rick Warren's book, "The Purpose Driven Life," almost 8 years ago with another church we are once again with our home church taking on this endeavor. I'm committing these next 40 days to revisit this with hopes of refreshing my heart and living my life on purpose for God!

Today's thought and truth "Without God my life makes no sense"--I am choosing to live for God--no myself!


Balance has so been on my mind. Not just physical balance of things in my life like keeping everything floating perfectly on my particular plate of life; but balance of my time and energy. I’ve been paying attention to what has been occupying my time, my thoughts and my energy. I decided to take a break from checking my Facebook account; even thinking I would bolt off the web based friendship status all together. That is so like me striving to find a peaceful place to rest…swinging from one side of the pendulum to the other. Praise God that He is so patient with us!!
I read in 1 Chron 13 and have journalled this past week some deep thoughts and reflections as I’ve researched and prayed about all that God was communicating in His Word to me here…one theme was the Israelites neglected the Ark of the Covenant which reflected their neglect of God…neglecting to keep Him at the center of their lives they failed to do what God asked them to do.

It made me think about my desire to keep Him at the center of my thoughts and actions and realizing that even doing too many good things can over fill our schedules and crowd out the time God so desperately desires to have with us!

This week while contemplating balance, and talking to a girlfriend who was working through her own balance issues (I love how God brings friends into our lives who are working through some of the same sort of issues from time to time); and my eyes came across three newly potted plants.
My boys had made grass heads that week at church. They decorated the Styrofoam cups to look like heads with glued on googley eyes and planted grass seed in the soil-filled cups. My Kindergartener decided that his needed extra water…actually lots of water and he filled the cup to the brim with water. Definitely disturbing those newly planted seeds and drenching the soil. The other potted plant was only given small amounts of water by my 2nd grader.
I instantly thought of how water is good for the seeds…even very much needed but when given too much of a good thing it can be destructive and cause imbalance. This was so illustrated in the next couple of days when the grass was in beginning to grow. My 2nd grader’s grass head began to sprout and grow much more abundantly than the sprig or two which came from the other watered cup.

I couldn’t help but think about how this applied to us in life and my recent conviction of balance. It really doesn’t matter what it is…even if it is something good and healthy like water…too much can be destructive or in the least throw us off balance.
This picture from Family Fun magazine depicts my heart’s desire to seek balance…and my heart echoes what I sang with the church yesterday morning…I desire to love God with #1all of my heart, #2 all of my mind and #3 all of my soul!
Father please help me...and praise You for Your New Covenant!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Unpause...See Wonderful Things!

I’m returning to ra’ah this morning. In studying this I came across Jehovah- Raah which means The Lord my Shepherd and I learned that the chief meaning of Jehovah is derived from the Hebrew word Havah meaning ‘to be’ or ‘ to exist’ and also suggests ‘to become or specifically ‘to be known.’ This also denotes that we serve a God who reveals Himself unceasingly to us…Oh, I hope you agree!!!

I love it; God desires for us to ra’ah (see)! Are you looking?

I wanted to go back to Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” The King James Version uses the word, behold; and this word for see is not the same as ra’ah talked about earlier. In Isaiah 40:5 “…all mankind together will see it.” And also in Isaiah 52:10 “…all the ends of the earth will see.” This time God is making it personal, “…that I may see.” And if you were reading it yourself…that you would see!!! The Hebrew word in Psalm 119:18 translated here is nabat which means to look, to regard, to pay attention.
This same Hebrew word is used in Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” NIV…the KJV says it this way, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.” The verses preceding this remind me that where my heart is so will my heart and eyes be and everything else for that matter. I always seem to find time to watch what I enjoy…and I’m reminded to keep looking at what is important!!! It is so important for me to keep boundaries and not to go after everything I see (hmmmm…hence my own need right now for a FB vacation). I must look straight ahead and keep my eyes fixed on the goal and not get distracted.

My thoughts go back to 1 Peter 1:13…I must prepare my mind and heart for action and seek God first!!! For I am His and He is waiting for me to ask great things of Him so that He may be revealed again and again! Yes, He wants me to ask and then look for an answer!!

Our church is gearing up for studying the 40 Days of Purpose together and so many are also partaking in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University...if these next weeks are not about preparing our hearts and minds to see God and His specific purpose and plan for us…I don’t know what is!!! I’m so ready and willing to get this heart of mine ready to see!!

And I just wonder if a bit of the difference between ra’ ah and nabat might be that God wants to not only reveal to us as a whole…like he wants us to collectively see (ra'ah)…but I also think that God who desires to have a personal intimate relationship with each and every one of us, may have something specific and individual for each one of us to see personally (nabat)!

You know not seeing or being blind folded for a time is frustrating. My youngest son thinks glasses are cool since several students in his class now have glasses and he tells me that he needs glasses to see.

It is not cool if we can't see; and if we can't see we need to get a pair of prescription glasses so that we can see. I think we all know that the prescription given from our God to see is reading His Word. May we not blind ourselves and neglect to pick it up and read it. Oh may each of us prepare our hearts and minds and say wholeheartedly, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things…”

Are you preparing to see for yourself?? Are you ready to respond and be amazed??

Thank you Father for showing Yourself and allowing us the opportunity to see both collectively and personally...may You find me faithful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hitting the Pause Button

Do you ever wish we could have a remote to our lives? Do you ever wish we could just pause at any given moment so that we could focus our attention on something we just did not want to miss? Or maybe, fast forward just a bit or put in slow motion to catch something that seems to be passing by too quickly? Or even those great moments that are just so great we want to rewind and play again and again!! I saw just glimpses of the inauguration of President Obama during my busy day yesterday and saw the new President Obama and First Lady get presented with the "official photographs" of the moment he took his oath for office. I wondered if we had a remote if we could take our own mental snapshots by pausing a moment and freezing the frame of our own current scenes because I just sense that God is telling me that they are just as important as the Obama family photograph.

I sensed a deep desire to do this and heard not audibly but in my heart the words “Prepare to make me SINGULAR!” In my reading through the scriptures this week God took me on a little journey to experience what I believe are His sweet treasures. Collectively I know that we can all see Him because He is the One who opens up our eyes to see. And I share this with you simply just responding to what I have seen…again the joy I just cannot contain. I hope and pray that anyone who reads about this journey would not care about the glimpse of my life but will see for themselves how God has touched their own life; for He does not love me any more than He loves anyone else. As you get a glimpse of this journey through the scriptures I pray that you would seek one of your own. God is waiting to take you on your own journey.

It began with Joshua 3:5, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” I underlined the verse in my Bible and then circled the words consecrate and amazing. I looked up the word amazing which is the Hebrew word pala which also means: wonders, be marvelous,, wonderful, extraordinary, do wondrously. I found myself so intrigued by this word and heard it in other studies this past week; not a coincidence but confirmation to study further. When I sensed in my Spirit a desire to dig deeper…I trust that it was coming from God and pulled up

I not only looked up the Hebrew word pala but also the Hebrew word found in the NIV consecrate and found that the Hebrew word is qadash which also means sanctify, dedicate, be holy, set apart and to prepare. I will return to pala; but first the word prepare struck a chord…

Oh, I love the word prepare…probably because I do feel peace in my soul when I am prepared for a situation. My mornings seem to run more smoothly when I have prepared the night before, whenever I’ve spoken in front of groups of people or taught I have found that being prepared I am much more relaxed. Being prepared surely has proven to set the stage for success in my life…and I couldn’t help but think of the recent lesson shared with the elementary children just two days ago from Matthew Chapter 3 which spoke of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus…

John’s words are also found in Isaiah 40:3-5…”…prepare the way of the Lord!....And the glory of the LORD will be revealed and all mankind together will see it. I felt a nudge to underline the word SEE! Thinking that God may want me to see something here. I read further about John preparing the way, this time in Luke Chapter 3 and noticed verse 6 “And all mankind will see God’s salvation,” where it referenced both Isaiah 40:3-5 and Isaiah 52:10. The same original Hebrew word translated in my NIV for see in both of these verses in Isaiah is ra’ah.
I will come back to this word “see” (ra’ah). But I was remembering being intrigued and wanting to read more in Acts after my pastor’s sermon on Sunday at this moment so I went to the book of Acts.

I read Acts 2:23-28. It begins with stating that everything that happened to Jesus was under God’s control…even his brutal death….”This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge…” I couldn’t help but think about how I don’t think that I or we as a culture live life knowing and recognizing that God is in control ALL OF THE TIME…especially when awful things happen in this world. Reading this reminded me of the months of Christian counseling I had after the years of secular counseling to heal and find a comfortable place to live after enduring the abuse as a child in my home growing up from age 7 to 17 when my father passed away. The hardest hurdle I remember I faced was embracing the fact that my God knew every detail of every inappropriate, illegal and abusive word and action that occurred in my home almost every night during those most precious years of my life. You know what I mean if God loves us and if He is in control how does such awful stuff still happen to us. I couldn’t help but ask God why He did not stop the abuse from occurring in the first place…and as I ask I now see my savior Jesus…He did not stop His death because He loved me and all of humanity and wanted to provide a way for us to live with Him for eternity.

After I worked through the anger and sadness involved in this (don’t think this happened over night); I also found great hope in knowing that God also knew what was going to happen afterwards just as He knows what I faced this morning and what will be here tonight for me to face too. I began to understand that God has a purpose and a plan for me; even amidst terrible times. I now find great comfort in knowing that my God is in control especially when I have had to face painful situations. Knowing that God is ultimately in control gives me peace and hope and endurance to face this life during difficult circumstances. I give God all the glory and honor and praise because I too am free from the agony of so much pain and ultimately free from experiencing ultimate death…these same words in the following verses I committed to prayer at one time and made them my own…they were once the prophet David’s spoken in Psalm 16 “I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay (notice the word see again). You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

Oh, I praise you Father for making your paths of life known to me; I’m so sorry for the times I have forgotten and doubted and hence fallen into pits of despair or depression…you do fill me constantly with your joy and I thank you!! I am who I am now because of You!!

I had to run and look up the word see. As I was quickly turning the pages of my Bible I asked God if this was the same word ra’ ah…??? Oh, it is…!!! Oh, what fun this is!!! Fun to be searchign and learning and filled with excitement and a child learns new things!!

Then, I was reminded of 1 Peter 1:13 because this is the kids memory verse for this week “Therefore prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” I read a little further in verse 15, “Be holy because I am holy.” I thought of what holiness means; being totally devoted to God…set apart.

Hang in there with me…the next thought was going back to the beginning before God tied it all in for me to SEE!!! Joshua was telling the Israelites to consecrate themselves before entering in the promise land; for God was going to show them pala…amazing and wonderful things!!! This same word pala I learned is also found in Psalm 119 where the theme is that God’s Word is true and wonderful and we should stay true to God and devote our time to His Word no matter how bad the world around us becomes OR how busy our schedules…I read earlier in the week and God just happened to bring it back to my mind…verse 18 “ Open my eyes that I may see WONDERFUL things in your law.” Oh, I could barely sit still while reading I just had to tell someone…praise God for the opportunity to teach the ladies at Bible Study that morning…God wants to show us wonderful and amazing things!!!!

Did you note the word see also found in Psalm 119:18??? Is it the same Hebrew word ra’ah that we saw before?? I did run to research more…I’ll write more about what God has shown me real soon and wrap this all up for you and for me! Until then…I’m hitting my pause button and PRAISING HIM!!! I need to take some time to capture this moment!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Football Craze

I went for a walk to enjoy some warm winter sunshine and noticed some neighborhood boys playing football in the park. They had the flags on and everything!
Football has been on my mind and part of my family’s schedule lately as we have planned some of our activities around play- off games. The Cardinals are ROCKIN’ and from what the papers are saying, Kurt Warner continues to be able to live the NFL life and keep God #1…that is so admirable. I love football and think it is fun…but not as much as I love God and think He is fun! Thinking of my faith and football I kept my eyes on the park…

I was admiring the fun and thrill that radiated from them as I walked by the grassy field. I watched them huddle together and use their creative minds to construct some’ sure to be’ new- never- seen- before plays. I asked God why don't I and others connect more often the words fun and thrill with a life full of You? Then I felt my eyes fall back on the game...
The first play I saw was when the quarterback faked a pass and then maneuvered past his defender and out ran him for a touchdown. This young QB cheered and gloated a bit with everyone else just standing still, staring at him. I think the word awkard describes the moment best with the rest of his teammates not even impressed with his recent score.
I was really beginning to enjoy this moment; praising God for one thing after another. The warmth of the sun, the thrill radiating off of the field from these young boys, the large park with a wrap around sidewalk path so I was able to see the next possession without stopping to sit and make my fanfare known. With the next possession, the same star QB then included his teammates in the play and when he passed it off he also blocked a defender; taking a hit so his buddy was able to maneuver to the end zone for a goal of his own. I couldn’t help but notice the difference after this touchdown! Everyone cheered and high—fived and the QB seemed to smile even bigger this time.
And I remembered a time when I was about 12 and played flag football with the kids at school and in my neighborhood. Oh, I was a dainty little girl (sounds so much more fitting I think than the name of ‘chicken legs’ I was given by many…) but probably initially seeking my father's approval knowing his heart desired a son; I loved to play and I am so thankful for a neighborhood boy who taught me how to play football. He took the time to teach me how to catch and throw a spiral and the rules of the game--so much so I remember impressing my dad and uncles when Sunday afternoon games rolled around. I think I appreciate more now the heart of that kid who took the time to teach me and include me!
I felt God whispering as I got to notice this moment…isn’t this just how God works in and through us. He could definitely take care of us all by Himself; yet He loves to include us and allow us to touch the hearts of others as He works in and through us. And doesn’t He give us ample times to practice in this life to include others in the fun rather than run all by ourselves to the goal line!!
I can’t help but think about how Christ is committed to me and how I want my commitment to my friends and family to be a reflection of my love for Christ…we are all equals at the foot of Christ…may we learn to work together for the common goal!
Lord, please forgive me for the times I ran ahead by myself and had no peripheral vision for those around me and whether directly or indirectly left someone out of the game plan. Please help me to pay attention and realize that the plays in this life are so much more fun when others are included.
I am grateful when I can invest, encourage, support and include my me to live this out in my life now!
And thank you for that neighborhood boy who taught me what he knew; encouraged me and then even told everyone else just how great of an asset I would be on their team before he moved away. His life that touched me for just a short time exemplied Christ to me. Because as I read about Christ, I find that He too taught others what He knew, He too encouraged others and He too spoke blessings on others before He went away...I so want to be a friend like that!!