God Speaks

Do You Believe God Really Sees You?

Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Faith, God Speaks, His Love, Our Hope | 22 comments

kyle skully 1

 

He sees you, in fact he never takes his eyes off you. He watches – and even prays for you.

 

Give your heart the freedom to believe this today. Take a deep breath and consider what it means to have the author and creator of all you see take note of you. Believing this fact will change how you feel about yourself and how you live.

He sees your thoughts and your dreams.

He sees your good days and the not so good.

He sees your pain and your celebrations.

He sees your past.

He sees your future.

 

And the One, who sees you, loves you still.

 

In a world that constantly evaluates our performance and grades us accordingly – it can be difficult to believe God really loves us – scars, bruises, deficits and all. But he does. His love covers our shame and also lifts us from it.

The scripture says he loved us with a complete love – even before we knew him. Can you imagine?

His visible and tangible presence all around us opens our eyes to see him back.

There’s comfort in knowing he sees, but there’s power in seeing he knows.

 

He loves us in order to commune with us.

 

Picture the most powerful person in the world today. Odds are, you can’t imagine having an audience with that person – much less an intimate two way conversation.

The truth is, the God of the universe knows the exact number of hairs on that powerful person’s head and waits to listen to both of you.

Can you imagine.

We are wired for relationship by the one who fashioned us after himself.

He enjoys interactive conversations. He listens and doesn’t leave us for a better ear.

 

Yes, God sees you. He loves you. And He waits to be with you.

 

photo credit

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Morning Prayer for You

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in God Speaks, His Love, Our Hope, Prayer | 16 comments

#40 hidden treasures

 

It’s a tremendous privilege to pray with you this morning, friend. As I thought about our needs today, I was impressed with God’s faithfulness to us. He surrounds us with confirmation of his trustworthy nature. His attention to detail and generous love is everywhere if we’ll just look for it.

 

Please do more than listen to my simple words – listen for the love and care your Heavenly Father has for you. Seek him today. Wait for him. And then go out and find him. I’ll be doing the same.

 

What joy to do the journey with you. BLESS your day!

 

 

 

 

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Reflections from Renewal

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Children, Divine Appointments, God Speaks, Humility, Words | 16 comments

with Wess Stafford 4

 

Last weekend will go down in my personal history book with a dog-eared marker and more memories than 72hrs should be allowed to carry.

I attended and participated in a conference with hundreds of early educators who love and serve children.

Worship leader Peter Neumann watered our parched souls. Inspirational speakers reignited our passion to press forward in doing what we know we’re called to do – serve our littlest with grace and humility. And nothing drove that truth home for me better than our keynote speaker Dr Wess Stafford, from Compassion International.

Wess Stafford understands service. He also understands humility and the upside-down economy of the Kingdom of God.

Children matter to Wess Stafford and people who invest in the lives to children do too.

I was mesmerized by his keynote address Sat morning – but it was observing his life behind the scenes that drove stakes of influence deep into my soul. I watched Dr Stafford attentively listen to each person who approached him. One by one they came up to him to share their personal stories.

His eyes sparkled and narrowed as he listened and tenderly conveyed to them, “I’m honored to be in your presence”.

When a camera surfaced for a photo, he would grab his new friend close like a proud dad – tilt his head into them, and with a gentle smile of familiarity thank them by name for the privilege of the meeting.

He listened. He invested. He expressed value through understanding and authenticity. He became Christ in the moment.

********

I had the privilege of speaking at the Fri evening service. I was told Dr Stafford might arrive early enough to attend. Of course I knew he wouldn’t – he’s WAY too important to be bothered. And his commitment began the next day.

The service was held in a dimly lit room which was beautifully decorated with dozens of candles. The sea of faces blurred into the overpowering soft glow of candlelight.

Minutes after we started it became apparent there would be no eye contact with the audience which actually aligned nicely with the direction I felt God wanted the service to go. It was also a good solution for my concern about the possibility of speaking in front of a big name celebrity.

God met each of us in the candlelit room – he listened. He valued and affirmed us.

********

The next day Wess Stafford came up to thank me for the previous evening service. I couldn’t believe it. He came and we both survived.

As I looked into his eyes, I understood. Yes, he’s a brilliant leader, advocate, author, and is known around the world – but he truly gets who he is. He’s just another one of God’s equally valued children – we all are. When he says children matter, he means it. I mattered. I will never forget the minutes he gave me and how it affected me.

I plan to reread my copies of Too Small to Ignore and Just a Minute.

After all, someone from my playground wrote them – and he’s my new hero and friend!!

********

What I learned:

  • It only takes a minute to make a lasting deposit in someone’s heart
  • God’s presence dispels our false ideas of what makes us grand
  • Affirmation without humility only affirms the person giving it
  • And – God loves us, truly loves us – because we are his

 

Linking up with #TellHisStory today.

 

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Lens Caps, Raindrops and Perspective

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Control, Freedom, God Speaks, His Love | 16 comments

apple blossoms

Isn’t this a great picture – I can’t believe I took it!

 

I love beautiful art, both on film and canvas. Admittedly I’m neither an artist nor a photographer, so the fact I took this picture from my inexpensive point and shoot camera is beyond amazing to me.

I especially appreciate how the camera captured exactly what I wanted it to – crystal clear drips showcased on apple blossoms. Breathtaking!

It also blurred out what I didn’t want shown – the backdrop of our yard.

If the picture were to pan out, it would include the unsightly elements I choose to crop, such as the web of electrical wires above and brown spots on the lawn below.

 

Rain was falling the day I shot this picture, both on our yard and in my heart.

 

Some days just feel that way.

 

Circumstances unfold causing a tightening to the chest that moves up the throat and into our minds like lava from the core. We know the boil over won’t be pretty. So we fester and steam. We isolate and focus inward.

The day I took the picture was like that. Circumstances I had no control over were holding me hostage like the rain – I was stuck inside, both literally and figuratively.

When I find myself in that condition I can’t see clearly. My vision is out of focus or focused on the wrong things. Some call it morbid introspection. I call it suffocation. Electrical wires seem to wrap around my neck, holding my gaze on all the brown spots in my life.

That day I heard God’s voice prompt me to go outside. He challenged me to, “Keep my mind on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, and proper.” as Phil 4:8 says.

 

He knew my mind needed a singularity of focus – a refreshing.

 

When I apply the lens of his love to my sight – both in my mind and on my circumstances, he is faithful to show himself every time. Glimpses of him are life breathing, fire quenching and heavenly.

The beautiful little water drops were true, they were pure and right. They were also God’s mysterious way of cleansing my sour soul and drenching the fire within.

 

A fresh focus can also lead to a broader perspective.

 

Panning my focus out a bit, I could reclaim the truth that my life is my life, given by him – electrical wires, brown spots and all. The very wires I resent, even the circumstances I beg to control – are all here for my good. Who am I to question his divine plan for me?

He is certainly found in the beauty of raindrops – refreshing, cleansing, clinging. But he also sits unscathed with the birds on the high voltage wires I resent.

Today, my focused heart clings and releases. I choose gratitude for his divine care. I choose vision beyond what I see and freedom to exploit the perimeters of my own sight.

 

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A Look Backward and Peek Forward

Posted by on Mar 7, 2014 in Freedom, God Speaks | 18 comments

sunset best

 

Perhaps it was the two excruciating hours I spent in the chair – or maybe the lack of sleep worrying about the two hours – but I had a spiritual experience in a dental office today.

As she began chipping my front crowns away for replacement, my mind went back to the day they were first put on. I was 19yrs old. A few weeks before the accident, my life took a 180 degree turn from being an opinionated, agnostic teenager to a loved crazed Jesus follower – literally overnight.

The sudden shift from party-girl to church-attender was a bit of a shock to people who knew me. Everything about my life changed. All I wanted was to know more about my new found Savior. I wanted to learn how to live like the people I once mocked and now deeply admired.

My early obsession was to hear the voice of God like others said they experienced.

The day of my accident I heard it – unrecognizable at the time, but clearly his voice.

Without going into great detail, the Holy Spirit warned me not to go sailing that day. It was a deep sense that grew more intense the closer I got to the small sailboat at the shore’s edge. The thought amplified to the point I was certain, if I went along – someone would get hurt.

I ignored the unfamiliar voice, and placed my foot into the boat at the same moment a rogue wave hit it, throwing me forward and knocking out my front teeth.

My salty body surfaced from the sea with a blood covered face and hands raised high to the sky. Unashamedly I praised God – MY Savior, the one who speaks.

On my way to the doctor’s office he spoke again. The Lord softly told me, “My sheep know my voice”. It wasn’t until weeks later I learned this was a familiar verse from the Bible.

I don’t ever want to forget that day.

Lent began this week.

I came home from my dental appointment to a blog in my inbox from Jennifer Dukes Lee. I read about her decision to give up looking in the mirror until Easter in order to refocus her attention from herself to Christ. My heart was pierced. Just moments earlier, I was plotting how to avoid all human contact until the permanent crowns came in. I had been glued to my mirror all the way home, fixated on my ugly temporaries.

Jennifer’s words became a mirror to my brittle soul.

I want to return to the same innocent pursuit I had when my teeth were knocked out. Nothing else mattered to me, but his voice. I didn’t care what I looked like or who saw my toothless smile.

As crazy as it sounds, I was sad to say good-bye to my old crowns today. In some strange way I felt I was losing old friends. Although they have been a part of me for a long time, they’re NOT me, not even my real teeth. They’re space holders, in place of the real thing.

I believe today was a sneak preview of what’s to come. One day I’ll shed this temporary outer covering altogether, all my space holders.

We will take nothing with us when we go – none of the stuff we’ve accumulated or grown so familiar with – including our bodies. Today – now – is a good time to begin saying good-bye to the things we cling to. Things we THINK define us.

Lent helps to reposition our thinking, reevaluate what we cherish, and tear down the idols we’ve comfortably welcomed into our hearts. Imagine, old teeth coverings – one of my idols.

Thank you for covering your mirrors today, Jennifer. Thank you for turning a mirror toward me, so I could clearly see what blocks my view of seeing who I truly am – his beloved – his treasured sheep.

 

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

 

 

Linking up today with #TellHisStory

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The Mounted Orchid

Posted by on Mar 1, 2014 in God Speaks, Love | 18 comments

thoughts of julia

 

The first time I saw it was two years ago. The image lives in a deep place in my heart.

 

I had gone for a walk after a morning filled with tearful prayer for a friend whose need felt bigger than my faith. My heart ached for her. Somehow I thought the fresh air might clear my head and provide me with a better perspective.

 

Along my path stood a tall palm tree looking like a carefully wrapped gift with slender ribbons and a big bow.

 

The delicate white orchid seemed to hang effortlessly to the palm. I was so stricken by its beauty I ran home for a camera. On my way back I tried to figure out what I’d seen. I wasn’t sure if the roots ran down the tree to reach the soil below or if it was drawing life from the tree itself through some sort of parasitical relationship.

 

I learned what looked effortless, really was not. The orchid had been intentionally placed on the tree by a gardener.

 

The mounted orchid’s life was not coming from the soil OR from the tree. The tree’s only role in the relationship was to receive the ornament. And the only job the orchid had was to cling. Over time the orchid’s roots had become one with the trunk.

 

 clinging

 

Life, I learned, was given by the air it breathed and any mist it was exposed to in the humid climate of Kauai.

 

Down the street I saw another attempt to decorate a tree with orchids. Lots of string and tape were used to help the orchid learn to cling.

 

 

will it survive

 

I thought about my desperate attempt to help my friend that morning. No matter how much compassion or prayer I offered, my friend’s situation had not changed. She needed more than I was able to give her. She needed – air, mist, life.

 

We can be the tape, wrapping our arms around our friends – helping each other hold on tight.

I appreciate my friends, who like tape and string, faithfully hold me to the tree when I can’t. I feel their loving arms around me when my grip wants to fail.

 

What an incredible Father we have who sweetly speaks through our surroundings. His language is rich and diverse. He paints his words through living examples all around us. And what a good Gardener he is to showcase our lives in just the right places as he sees fit.

 

The orchid is my gift. It’s a beautiful reminder he can be trusted. He will send the proper mist to my friend’s need when the time is right. In the meantime it’s my privilege to help her cling.

I am one piece of tape, while….

 

“Jesus is the true vine and our Heavenly Father is the gardener – apart from him, we can do nothing” John 15

 

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