My Child

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Matthew 18 (MSG)

Whoever Becomes Simple Again

18 At about the same time, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?”

2-5 For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.

I love the heart of my “adopted” Compassion child. Her name is Etsegenet and she is 6 years old. I send her one letter every month and I look forward to the letters I get from her.

I saw in my pile of mail yesterday that I had a new letter from her and was so excited to see what new information she had sent.

Let me tell you, man. Reading her letter cracked me up.

Last time she wrote to me she told me how she was praying for me to meet a handsome husband. PREACH child. Preach.

This time she reminded me that her family and her are both praying for my soulmate. Which is totally humbling. She lives in a village in Ethiopia and she is praying for ME. Still wild to think about.

She also surprised me by saying she is praying that one day I will have a beautiful daughter of my own. Wow. For now I am content to have her as my daughter.

She also wanted me to know she’s going to church and studying very hard and that her friends also send me their regards.

At this point I’m like “okay, my heart is full”. This little sweet girl is praying for me, and my future family, and that is more than enough.

BUT the funniest part is still to come.

If you have been following me for a while I’ve mentioned how I still struggle with my appearance. I think that’s partially just being a woman, partially because I struggled for some time with self-esteem after being cheated on, and partially because I’ve felt this way since I was a small girl. The last part is still hard for me to identify. Why have I always disliked my legs or my teeth for example. Why did this start so young? Did someone say something? You know? It’s hard to figure out.

Anyway, I don’t think I even mentioned that to my sponsored child. I’ll have to go through my online letters and see. But I literally laughed out loud, a literal LOL, when I reached the bottom of her letter.

Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy “selfies” or taking photos of myself, I’m trying to get more comfortable. And so, on occasion, I have shared from pictures of me at church with friends in my letters to my child.

Now brace yourself. If you look at the bottom of the picture I posted she said “I’ve not seen a beautiful lady like you on Earth.”

SAY WHAT?

I literally laughed. And as I’m writing this I still laugh. Because this is so funny! On one hand you can struggle with what you wish was more beautiful in yourself or how others see you and yet this cute little girl from halfway around the world is like, “hey lady, you’re the prettiest princess in all of the land.”

Am I right?

I’ve been the babysitter and nanny in my life, and let me tell you, children will tell you if you look like a mess that day. They are brutally honest. And yet this sweet girl is the apple of my eye. And for some odd reason thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the Earth.

I share this because:

  1. It’s a funny story.
  2. I recommend adopting a child through Compassion.
  3. You can often feel like you don’t believe something about yourself but God has a funny way of using a child in the middle of nowhere around the world to bring you joy and compliments and love.
  4. God sees you and loves you and wants you to be a Matthew 18 child.

I pray that you speak love and words of life to someone in your world this week and if you are in need of that, I hope it comes to you from an unexpected place.

Hump Day

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I’ve been finding two of my co-workers challenging the past month. It seems whenever they make jokes, I am the subject and it is with a judgmental, condescending tone. I am fully aware that this could be a “guy” thing. I work with all men. However, my patience, to be honest is thin. It is in times like this that I am forced to remember what God thinks of me. That God sees my heart. That God knows my motivations and my heart and I know I am doing the right things. I have not brought this behavior on myself. I am not deserving of condescending words or mockery or anything of the sort. There are times in life where you reflect and with being honest with yourself come to realize you are at fault, but I can honestly say I’ve reflected and I know it isn’t me in this situation.

Sometimes it seems like when you are at your best, thriving, in my case at work, that the Enemy uses other people to try to make you question yourself. Luckily over the past several years I’ve gotten better at recognizing his voice and how he can make situations or people throw darts your way. Luckily over the past few years through the grace and love of God, I’ve learned to value myself more and more importantly see what God thinks and feels for me in a way I’ve never before. I love this quote because it reminds me that no matter what my limitations are, in feeling attacked, or teased, or annoyed with what is happening, I can rest in knowing my God has none. He is limitless. He is above all things. And I am grateful to be His child. In so many situations I have been exhausted, unable to make things change, have been anxious, or drained and in these moments I’ve been able to see God be God. To fill in the gap.

I just want to encourage you that no matter what hump you face on this Wednesday, this “hump day” God is always on the other side. He will get you through anything. Trust me. There were times and situations that threatened to destroy me, that I saw no solution to, that I was even at times mad at God for giving me or allowing. And in each scenario He has proven Himself faithful. He has lovingly even given me praise in my jobs, in my leadership roles, in my life despite all the times I yelled at Him or felt abandoned by Him.

Granted there are still areas I wished were different but they don’t seem as dire in the wake of all the answers He’s already given me.

Be of good cheer.

Tuesday Inspiration 1.13.15

Ezekiel 34:11-16 MSG “‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.

I love poetry. I love beautifully written words. When I saw this quote a few weeks ago I pinned it immediately. So often we can see storms and think they are only there to rip us apart, to cause destruction and damage. This small quote reminds me that no matter what the storm can wash us clean. It can soften our rough edges. The ocean waves that crash around us can heal our infected wounds with its salt water. The harsh winds can blow us in a direction we wouldn’t have wandered to on our own. The cyclones can uproot what has been planted in bad soil and force us to replant in better land. You see what I mean?

Job 37: 14-18 MSG...are you listening? Have you noticed all this? Stop in your tracks! Take in God’s miracle-wonders! Do you have any idea how God does it all, how he makes bright lightning from dark storms, How he piles up the cumulus clouds— all these miracle-wonders of a perfect Mind?

I love this verse because it reinforces the idea of our perspective in storms vs. God’s. We see a dark storm. He sees bright lightening. Light in the darkness. One of my favorite quotes in literature is about water. While I don’t attribute power or authority to the elements of the world, I do think the message within it is worth investigating:

“I can see you have a great deal of water in your personality. Water never waits. It changes shape and flows around things, and finds the secret paths no one else has thought about — the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of the box. There’s no doubt it’s the most versatile of the five elements. It can wash away earth; it can put out fire; it can wear a piece of metal down and sweep it away. Even wood, which is its natural complement, can’t survive without being nurtured by water. And yet, you haven’t drawn on those strengths in living your life, have you?” – Memoirs of  A Geisha

In other words, God formed us. The same God who can control all of nature and its storms created us. If we are made in His image than we have the same ability to control these storms–to be undaunted by these storms. I desire to be fluid like water. “To change shape and flow around things, and find the secret paths no one else has thought about — the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of the box.” In other words to get through obstacles that no one sees a way out of. We are able to do this as children of God–not in our power but His.

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Thursday Inspiration 1.8.15

From Zephaniah 3 MSG:

So sing, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the rafters, Israel!
Daughter Jerusalem,
    be happy! celebrate!
God has reversed his judgments against you
    and sent your enemies off chasing their tails.
From now on, God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

It’s always good to remember we are allowed to be joyful. This doesn’t mean everything has to go right or our lives have to always be on the up-and-up. Simply remembering that God “has reversed his judgments against you” is enough. Salvation has saved us from evil. It has no hold on us. While we may stumble, God still has the last word over us and that word is grace. His grace is sufficient.

Here are a few things we learn about God in this passage:

1. Yet God remains righteous in her midst,
    untouched by the evil.
He stays at it, day after day, meting out justice.
    At evening he’s still at it, strong as ever.
But evil men and women, without conscience
    and without shame, persist in evil.

2. He will always turn things around:

“In the end I will turn things around for the people.
    I’ll give them a language undistorted, unpolluted,
Words to address God in worship…..All my scattered, exiled people
    will come home with offerings for worship.
You’ll no longer have to be ashamed
    of all those acts of rebellion.”

3. God is the only one in charge:

God is Israel’s king,
    in charge at the center.
There’s nothing to fear from evil
    ever again!

4. God is present with you, strong, happy to have you, sings over you

Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.

5. God will take away your sorrow:

“The accumulated sorrows of your exile
    will dissipate.
I, your God, will get rid of them for you.
    You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
At the same time, I’ll get rid of all those
    who’ve made your life miserable.

Is this not a reason to rejoice?

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Wednesday Inspiration 1.7.15

I caught myself today on the commute to work. I was putting on my makeup and it was just one of those days where I needed a little pick me up. I grabbed my lipstick and put it on because it’s a good color and all that and figured it would do the trick. I took one final look in my compact mirror and thought to myself— I look like a clown today. 

I’m not one of those girls who looks #flawless. I don’t always have the best hair days. I wake up the majority of the time with a brand new pimple on my face. I’m no makeup artist. But these are all external things. You just have to look at Instagram or Pinterest to be reminded of what us ladies are interested in. Most pictures on Instgram are selfies, or makeup tips, or manicures, or OOTD (outfits of the day) and all sorts of surface things. Over the years I’ve learned to be on Facebook and Instagram less and less because of this. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:19-24:

When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

In other words oftentimes the invisible parts of yourself (like organs for example) are much more important than your fresh manicure, or rock-hard abs. Right? But I do think society is so concerned with their outward appearance that it filters it down to each one of us. We think, ugh, I wish I had better hair, or I would be happier if I had a new outfit, or I would get more likes on Instagram if I took a photo of myself in a bathing suit, or whatever it might be. It’s somewhat normal to want validation and approval from others, but ultimately I’m on Ann’s team. I want to be more than what I look like. The Kingdom of God needs some fierce Christian women. Women who doesn’t strive for the perfect closet, or the most beautiful photos of themselves, or the coolest lifestyle blog with the most VIP events and connections and endorsements. Women who strive to be more like Christ, and who are trying to make the tough decisions if it means going where God wants you to go. I’m not saying the glory of God can’t exist and be made glorified in “worldly” arenas, but I don’t ever want to strive for these banal things. I want more extraordinary things for my life and for the lives of women everywhere. Our acceptance and standing in life is so much higher than what the world tells us is important. If I have a bad hair day, but post a beautiful blog about my Savior what is more important? Maybe my awesome hair will get more approval online, but I want to do the “hard and holy” things because even if they are invisible they are more significant.

God I pray that as a community of women we learn to value more significant things than what we often settle for and buy into. Yes it’s awesome to be a women and enjoy a nice outfit or a great blow-out at the salon, but our value and significance should not be bound to these things. This world needs more women of God than women of the world. Your people need more Christine Caines and less Christine Teigens…(just saying). Help us to become mighty women of God. Help us to elevate the spiritual and demote the physical. In Your name..amen.

Found on ellafrancessanders.com

Works-in-Progress

I had a situation from my past come up yesterday. While I dealt with it better than I would have previously there were still some missteps that I immediately confided in God about. Unlike in the past where I would allow the Enemy to torment me for not doing things a certain way–I gave it to God and weighed the victories and losses. Today’s blog post comes from the current state of my heart and I hope it encourages you.

It’s still hard for me to really fathom God’s love. I think this is the case for all Christians if you’re really and truly honest enough with yourself. We know our pasts, our current struggles, our bad thoughts, our temptations, whatever they might be. And because we are humans and somewhat obsessed with comparison, we can often wonder why God even bothers with us. I want so badly to be pleasing to God, but I think this can often manifest in unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves or what we might have grown up hearing in church. We are not Jesus. Just because we’re Christians and covered by His blood and adopted into eternal salvation, doesn’t mean we are going to make the cut all the time. We are a living oxymoron. We are still human, broken-vessels and in essence Jesus’s blood spilled on the cross simultaneously poured into our lives to cover our brokenness and also made it possible for us to be formed into a new vessel. I think the church for a long time has failed to really explain how this works. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the church expects you to poof into a brand new creation. Salvation isn’t a microwave. A lot of the time it’s a slow-cooker. Sure you can be 100% saved but that doesn’t mean that doesn’t take a life-time to walk out.

I remember being so mad one time a year or so ago when I watched a televangelist scolding a man who asked for prayer because though a Christian who asked Jesus into His heart, he still struggled with alcohol. I think it’s a sad thing when instead of reminding people that we are all carrying our crosses daily, and that we will all fall short of perfection until we reach Heaven, that we often become the mouthpiece of the Devil. Harsh? But true. The Enemy is the King of guilt and shame. I’m not saying wrongdoings aren’t wrongdoings but we are all stumbling through life. We are covered in grace on one hand but we are like infants learning how to walk at the same time. Luckily God is merciful and instead of becoming fed up with humanity as we read so many times in the Old Testament–He brought the final act of generosity which was to send His son. To teach grace and forgiveness. To tenderly guide us, to show us the way, to show that while we fall short, He never will. A simple Google search showed me this passage which I thought was very well said:

In Colossians: 3:12-13


, God instructs us on how to deal with each other as he deals with us: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” Stan did that for me. I became one of the best cutters the company ever had. There was nothing I would not do for my boss. I continued to work for him until they closed the plant. I was one of the last employees out of 200 to be laid off when the plant closed several years later.

God deals with you and me the same way Stan dealt with me. God invests a lot of time in us and is not ready to wipe us out because of our mistakes. Instead, He encourages us not to quit.

So the next time you or someone you know makes a mistake, be gentle, kind and encouraging. Look for ways to solve the problem and don’t quit! Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were the one who goofed. Look beyond the mistakes in yourself and in others and see the potential. We will all say the words, “Oops, I made a mistake,” many times before we reach our full potential. But keep trying. Keep learning. Keep forgiving. We can all be in God’s Kingdom some day in spite of our mistakes. [http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/oops-i-made-mistake/]

I think that’s beautiful. In no way am I saying deliberately take advantage of God’s grace and do whatever you want, but I think we need to stop listening to the voice of the Devil and even the condemnation heaped on us by other Christians and remember that God’s voice is the only one that matters. God is not shocked by our mistakes. He is not stomping His feet and throwing tantrums in Heaven. Luckily He knows who we are growing to be, and since He exists outside of time, He does not grow weary of the journey we are on to get there.

God I thank you for Jesus. I thank you for your love and kindness towards me when I know I do not deserve it. In the grand scheme of things I am not special. I am not that great and yet you still remind me that You created me on purpose. I am not a disappointment to You and I am not an accident that You made in Heaven. God, help me to see my mistakes in life as bumps in the road. I can trip but I do not have to fall and never get up. Thank you God that You see me in my final stage and therefore nothing I have done, am doing, or will do in the future will ever take that fulfillment away from me. Because of Jesus I am sealed. Because of my humanity I will fall short. Teach me to fail less but also help me to forgive myself more. We are all a beautiful mess made perfect by You. Amen.

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He Who Calls

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Today on the commute to work I was listening to Hillsong’s No Other Name album as I normally do. I haven’t in a while because I’ve forgotten to charge my iPod but I remembered to the other day. I was feeling a little woozy on the bus and decided to take out my headphones and listen to it.

I was remembering how early on (when I started to first come to Hillsong) I would listen to my iPod and various Hillsong albums and have my eyes closed on the bus to or from work. More often than not I would see a vision of myself smiling and singing and dancing and lifting my hands to the songs. Maybe that seems normal but for me, prior to Hillsong, I can count on one hand or a few fingers the amount of times I’ve lifted my hands in worship. It was just never my thing. I never judged people who did, but I didn’t want to feel guilted into worshiping how other people do just to feel like I was doing Christianity properly.

Fast forward in time and now it feels weird not no lift my hands in worship. And that’s a cool thing. I remembered who I was and now who I am and it dawned on me that maybe God was showing me what He would see me doing one day. I wasn’t yet there, but He exists outside of time and had revealed something to me.

Anyway, I was listening to whatever song came on this morning and I saw myself singing and dancing around on stage like we usually do at church in choir, in the background, with the worship team on any given Sunday. But this time I was singing two lines. I wrote them in my phone which is why I included them in today’s picture. The first was “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes”. And a few minutes later the second was “He who calls me to dance on graves”. I started to imagine me dancing on stage and looking down as the floor was covered in snakes. They didn’t try to bite me, they didn’t try to squeeze me, it was like no one was phased by it. Then I stopped day-dreaming and whatever the next song was started.

I decided today at work to look up these two things in the Bible. First snakes and then graves.

Here are some examples of verses that talk about snakes:

Psalm 91:1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

Luke 10:18-20

Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

How cool is that? It makes total sense now right? My first reaction whenever I’ve had any sort of dreams or visions is to go to the Bible first and see if it’s actually from God. I have my fair share of pointless or disturbing or random dreams and not all of them are worth exploring. But I was so excited after reading these verses because I got a few important points out of them:

  • God rescues me from hazardous situations i.e. “snakes” which can be many obstacles, negative comments about you, gossip, sinful temptations, etc.
  • Wikipedia defines snakes in one sections as “Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction.” In other words…there are different kinds of snakes. Some who appear non-threatening but can literally consume you or destroy you through consistent pressure and some that you know you should avoid completely because they are lethal. Wow.
  • Psalm 91 says that I’ll watch safely from a distance kind of like how I saw this vision and no matter the amount of snakes, I knew that I was safe and smiling and dancing like nothing was wrong
  • God is showing me what He has done for me i.e. I have safe passage as I walk on “snakes” through life because of His authority over and presence in me

Here are some examples of verses that talk about graves:

Psalm 30:2-3

God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.

Jonah 2:1-9

[ At the Bottom of the Sea ] Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!”

Matthew 27:51-53

At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

Once again I found these verses amazingly cool! Here are some takeaways from what I read:

  • When we are “6 feet under” and have been pronounced “dead” in areas of our life, whether these are dreams, relationships, our optimism, whatever it might be we need to remember that when we call out for help God will pull us out of the grave. He pulled himself out of the grave and rose from the dead, and as children of God we have access to that same resurrection power. We have reason to hope.
  • Prior the Hillsong I had a lot of hardships ranging from an abusive relationship to a dysfunctional relationship with my father to betrayals by friends and just overall despair and depression. When entering Hillsong I was desperate for a change. I was always in church every Sunday throughout my life and always considered myself to be born-again, but that doesn’t mean you are immune to life. Life happens, hurt happens, but you can choose what kind of seed your life has. I mean this in the Matthew 13 kind of way. For those of you who don’t know it says: “A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” I think in my pre-Hillsong season I had seeds, I had moments where growth sprouted through different seasons but through various storms I withered and weeds began to strangle me. My hope withered, my view of God withered, and had I grown stronger roots I wouldn’t have died as quickly. You see? So I relate to Jonah in the part where he says “I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple”. So often I felt unloved or betrayed by God. That He saw me but wasn’t acting on my behalf. That I was being punished for some past sinful behavior. That He didn’t love me as much as He loved other Christians.
  • As low as you think you’ve gone, God can quickly pull you out. Jonah knows this first hand: “I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God”
  • I forget some times that when Jesus rose from the dead that other people rose with Him. In other words, nothing that looks dead in a Christian’s life can stay dead.

I love this song from this morning because it is a simple picture of what God has accomplished in just two years. “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes/He who calls me to dance on graves”.

Be hopeful that whatever is trying to devour you, God has equipped you to crush. Be excited that whatever looks long dead, God will make come alive. God calls us by name and we see this proven in the Bible when He calls out to Adam, Moses, Samuel, and many other people. Never become bitter and believe that God has forgotten you or doesn’t know who you are. He does. And if He can show Himself faithful to me and speak to me I know He can call out for you too.

Have courage and be kind.

“I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life has to offer: have courage and be kind.”

I saw this movie trailer today and it brought me unexpected encouragement. For those of you who keep up with my happenings on this blog you know that I was approached about a potential new job. I was filled with a combination of curiosity and guilt. Curiosity because it is a fantastic company with lots of potential to figure out what I really want to do with my career and guilty because I feel very loyal to my current employer and genuinely love all the people I work with.

Well all of this resolved yesterday when I received a call from the potential new employer and they offered me a substantial raise. I had prayed to God, God I only want this job if it is from you. You brought me to my current job and I love it here, but if my time is up–albeit sooner than I ever thought–make it clear to me. I want them to either choose someone else or offer me a significant raise. And much to my surprise they offered me the latter.

I still have to break the news to my boss during our weekly meetings together tomorrow and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t very nervous to disappoint him but ultimately I believe this opportunity is too good to pass up and more importantly I believe it is from God. I didn’t look for it. It came to me. In the same way that this current job came to me. God’s ways are not mine, and part of being a Christian is learning to go when He says go, and being okay with being uncomfortable.

I actually found another WordPress Blogger who feels the same way:

“Those times when you feel so led and so scared at the same time….THOSE are the opportunities God wants you to pursue and not because you can handle them alone, but because you can handle them with Him.  And when you choose to obey God and go down those scary, unknown paths….it is then that He knows how much you truly trust Him” – http://michelletraudt.wordpress.com/tag/getting-uncomfortable/

In other words some people love singing the song “Oceans” by Hillsong but not all of them are comfortable in the deep end. I definitely don’t like it..figuratively and literally. But Jesus calls us out on the water into uncomfortable terrain:

Matthew 14 (MSG):

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

When He calls us out we can take courage in knowing it is Him calling out to us, and therefore we don’t need to be anxious in where we walk out to. If He called us we can go.

I also like Isaiah 51 (MSG) which begins:

1-3 “Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living
    and committed to seeking God.
Ponder the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were dug.
Yes, ponder Abraham, your father,
    and Sarah, who bore you.
Think of it! One solitary man when I called him,
    but once I blessed him, he multiplied.
Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion,
    comfort all her mounds of ruins.
I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden,
    her moonscape into the garden of God,
A place filled with exuberance and laughter,
    thankful voices and melodic songs.

in other words I am one solitary woman. But God is calling me and blessing me and multiplying me. I used to loathe going to work before this current job. I have spent many days over the past five months here being transformed. I was in some ways beaten down and discouraged because of the verbal abuse and stress from my last job that in comparison this place was a cakewalk. It restored me to better health. And honestly, I would have been content to stay here for a long time, I was happy to no longer have to look for another job. To rest. But God is never done. He’s not content to leave us in any one condition for too long. My God, the God of the Universe and everything and everyone, He wants to transform everything including me. He wants to make what I see as dead into an Eden..into a paradise. He wants every place to be filled with “exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs”. 

While Disney gets it right to an extent by turning what is “dead” or poor or unnoticeable in Cinderella is what God already authored in my life and has been writing into every human heart since the beginning of time. Through taunts and tears and discouragement in my past my Father finally brought me to a green pasture. And being who he is, He’s not content to leave me there. He wants to bring me to the “castle” not because I need Him to, not because I asked Him to, but because He has the power and desire to.

“Some Day My Prince Will Come”

http://goo.gl/DjHevi

“Dip the apple in the brew. Let the Sleeping Death seep through. [the poison on the apple forms a skull] Look! On the skin! The symbol of what lies within.” – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

I remember growing up and reading the Bible and wondering why I was being punished for what Eve did in Genesis. It seems kind of unfair right? I didn’t eat the fruit—why am I being punished? For some reason on November 6th I was thinking about this and put a note in my phone. Again on the way to work this morning I remembered this part of the Bible. The very first woman. And out of the blue it clicked to me in a simple phrase “We might not have eaten the apple but we accepted the lie”. What I mean by this is…the sin wasn’t even really about the apple. It was allowing the lies of the Enemy to enter into our thoughts, change our identity, change how we view God, and in that skewed reality, we act sinfully. You see Eve’s temptation to eat the fruit began in the mind. I imagine her laying fully free in the grass, or walking in the sunshine totally free, totally naked, and totally happy. She was content in who she was. She could walk with her husband, she could be in the presence of God. Nothing was lacking. But Satan slithers by, and hisses deception. He begins to make her question her freedom, her identity, and what God has given her. Her doubt of self starts in the mind.

Genesis 3 MSG

The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”

2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”

4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

There’s a few problems here. The first is that Eve already has a distorted vision of who God is. After all God told Adam in Genesis 2 that they were forbidden to eat from the tree. But she goes a step further and basically says, we can’t even touch it. I don’t remember God saying that do you? Now I wasn’t there…obviously. Maybe she wanted to add an extra layer of protection and for her own sake said to herself “Now Eve…don’t even touch it. You know if you even touch it you will be tempted”, or maybe Adam wasn’t paying attention when God told him that, and like a game of telephone when it came time to tell Eve he retold the instructions wrong. Who knows. But part of me wonders if at the heart of it all, Eve was already misinterpreting what God was warning her about.

I think the serpent knows that the woman is vulnerable–not only is she alone, but she might not know her value. Maybe as a human woman this is something we were all capable of from the very beginning. I have yet to meet a woman who doesn’t struggle with her value.

So here is a golden opportunity for the serpent to make his case and he plants another seed of doubt in her mind and says God didn’t really tell you the truth Eve. You don’t die when you eat the apple…you just finally get to see the whole picture..not just what God wants you to see.

Ouch.

I’ve definitely been guilty of doubting God’s wisdom. If we’re honest we all have. Here’s some common things I’ve experienced or heard from others: God doesn’t want what’s best for me..if He really loved me He would give me this job, Doesn’t God notice that I want this relationship, He’s punishing me. God doesn’t forgive me. God doesn’t notice me. God is a jerk, He just likes her/him more than me–I’m not His favorite. God wants me to tithe but doesn’t He know I’m already struggling to make ends meet. God didn’t heal my sick family member–He must not care.

You see as humans, we question our value and importance to God. I think this is something we were unfortunately born with. God wanted to protect us from knowing the bad, and instead of trusting His wisdom and protection we allowed ourselves to feel like we’re missing out. We’re being overlooked. We’re not important enough. Whatever the lie is. And so we take a bite out of what we think we will get if we trust in our own judgement, only to find out that it wasn’t as good as it looked.

God never meant for us to worry. God had it all under control. As a loving Father He wanted Adam and Eve to run through the Garden carefree, exposed to Him, nothing hidden, no shame. They could have everything they wanted–except what would ruin them. And instead of trusting His goodness, they believed the lie. They doubted and questioned who God was. If He really wanted what was best for them. They believed He was holding out.

This reminded me of Snow White. We all know about the young beauty who the Queen was jealous of. To me this is exactly like the Bible. Satan was jealous of God’s creation. Satan wanted to be like God. He was mad and wanted to be worshiped as well. It’s almost understandable that he would be upset that man was made just a bit lower than God (Psalm 8:5) or that God gave man dominion over the Earth. So instead of sitting back, Satan did something about it. He encouraged Eve (Snow White) to eat the fruit (poison apple) that would result in her downfall.

But God wasn’t defeated. Through Christ God made the ultimate checkmate. Google defines checkmate as “a check from which a king cannot escape.” Satan might believe that he is the reigning King over the Earth, but he is delusional. Jesus rescued us all through His sacrifice on the cross, and Satan was thrown from heaven. Checkmate:

Luke 10 MSG:

18-20 Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

I think it is always important to guard your mind. If Satan whispered to Eve in the garden he can do that to all of us now. The thing is you can choose whether you give him permission to do so. After all, mankind struggles with who they are and who they believe God truly is to this day. This mindset ultimately sets the stage for what you start to internalize and what you are capable of. No matter what our shortcomings though, Jesus is the ultimate Prince. Fairy tales might not realize this but the first story of “true love’s kiss” was thought up in Heaven when God sent Jesus to wake us up from what Snow White taught us to refer to as the “Sleeping Death”. So many of us are walking through life dead inside but seemingly alive on the outside. Even those of us who have already accepted Jesus as Savior. We need to remember that through Jesus we have been brought out of our “Sleeping Death”—we are wide awake. We can see things clearly now. We know forever that God is good and His promises to be faithful are always delivered. Snow White cutely tells us that one day our “Prince” our “true love” will come and save us. But I think the actual cry of our human hearts through this story is that we all really want Jesus, we want God, to “carry us away to His castle where we will live happily ever after”. Right? Human love pales in comparison to the love of Christ. To the love of God. This story just touches on the actual desire of our human hearts.

Eve might have fallen in Genesis 6 but God only waits 9 verses to deliver His “apple” to Satan:

Genesis 3:15 (MSG)

14-15 God told the serpent:

“Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed,
    cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals,
Cursed to slink on your belly
    and eat dirt all your life.
I’m declaring war between you and the Woman,
    between your offspring and hers.
He’ll wound your head,
    you’ll wound his heel.”

In other words, Jesus is coming to finish this. As one article eloquently states: “Another way to look at the comparison focuses on the site of the wounding, the head as compared to the heel. The serpent’s wound affects the seat of his intellect and control of his powers, whereas the Seed’s wound merely impairs His flesh for a short while, three days and three nights to be exact.” – http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/4843/Serpents-Head-Crushing-the.htm. In the Bible God tells Satan Someday Their Prince Will Come, and He is right. Jesus came to save us, and He is coming again to take us.

Jesus thank you for coming to Earth to save us from ourselves. Thank you for not being done with us even though we would have deserved it because we turned our backs on you and questioned God’s goodness. Thank you that Satan will not get the final word and that we have the authority through Your name to resist every assault of the Enemy. All praise to you, forever, and ever. Thank you Jesus for coming for us so that we can live in your Kingdom for eternity. Amen.

http://goo.gl/jslO4m