Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Nightmare, An Epiphany, And Some Typos

Dreams are fascinating.  How something completely made up from somewhere in our psyche can feel so real as if it actually happened to us!  Have you ever woken from a dream completely startled that it actually took you a day or two to convince yourself that what you dreamed didn't really happen?  This happened to my 5-year-old just last night.

This morning he came running out of his room crying.  It startled me so that I actually met him as he was coming out of his room.  After nearly jumping into my arms and after he calmed down a bit, he told me about his bad dream.  My sweet boy had dreamed we had all died.  In his mind, he had lost his entire family including his own life.  Now, before you start judging me, please know how careful my husband and I try to be when it comes to such sensitive subjects as death.  We answer questions as our children bring them up, but I couldn't remember anything that would possibly lead to him having this nightmare.

You know, I've learned with our first child that there does come a moment when a person realizes what it actually means to pass away.  Death becomes real.  The fact that we are not invincible sinks in a bit.  And of course, reality always gives plenty of examples for us to learn from.  I realized, just like with my other child, my dear boy was coming to this realization as well.  Perhaps he doesn't fear death, but he's thought about it enough for it to impact his mind...enough to impact what he dreams.

After talking to my son about his dream and assuring him that's all it was - just a dream - we were able to have a sweet time praying together and singing songs to the Lord.  It was a wonderful opportunity for me to teach him about not giving into fear and asking the Lord to restore his joy, grant him peace, and strengthen his heart. 

But friends, I got to thinking.

There is an enemy out there.  And he preys on the weak.  And if you think your children are exempt from his tactics, you are horribly mistaken.  Just as my son learned a lesson on fear, so too, did I.  There's only so much I can prevent from happening to my kids.  There's only so much control I have over them and their lives and their decisions.  But just as my boy found relief in surrendering his fear of death to the Lord (in his precious 5-year-old way), I too surrendered (once again) my fear of not being able to control everything. 


Do we honestly know how good we've got it?  As much as we THINK we would like to be able to control everything, that's really not a task that our human hearts are built to withstand.  It's interesting...just as difficult as it is to relinquish control to the Lord, it is equally comforting to relinquish control to the Lord.  And by equal, I mean the same amount of emotional strength and relief is involved.  What relief there is in knowing I'm not the one in charge here!  I am not made for that.  You are not made for that.

You don't have to be a parent to be a control freak.  If you have a pulse, you qualify.  Where are you these days?  What part of you do you need to relinquish to the Lord?  What are you holding onto?  Or better yet, what's holding onto you?  The Lord is waiting to carry that for you.  He IS made for it.  He was created for it.  And He's the only one who can.

(Wow!  How did I get all of that from a 5-year-old's dream?!  The Lord will use anything to teach us a lesson or two.  The question you know Him well enough to be able to recognize His voice?  I bet He's got something to teach you, too.  He's into that, ya know?)

Worn out,

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Love That Never Fades

If the one man in a little girl’s life with whom she is supposed to trust with her life and love leaves her, what is going to make her think other men in her life won’t do the same? Her perception of God is no different. For years, I thought I had to earn God’s love. When I failed Him, I felt like I had to earn back His love with each failure. Years ago, I stumbled upon John 6:37. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” Those last two words – drive away – caught my eye. In the historical context of this verse, I realize Jesus isn’t talking about fathers leaving their families. I understand He was telling others in the passage that if they come to Him, He will never leave them. Yet, the phrase - drive away - stopped me in my tracks. As a young girl, I watched my dad drive away from our home and leave for good. The Lord used this verse to help me realize that Jesus loves me more than anyone will ever love me. I never have to live my life in fear that a day will come when He, my Abba, decides He’s had enough of me. There is NOTHING that I can do that will cause God to leave me. He sent His Son so that I could live with a guarantee that His love never fades.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Getting Your Praise On While You Exercise! Who knew?!

Years back when I first started running, I realized quickly how more effective my workout was when I had something playing in my ears that helped get me moving.  Ya feel me?  I mean...I really needed to rock da beat if I was going to put myself through the misery of muscle aches and sweat.  Holla if ya hear me?  At first, I created a list of jams from my high school and college days.  It was neat to reminisce at first, but I learned fast at how traveling down Memory Lane wasn't as fun as I'd thought it would be.  Then, I started downloading songs from what I heard on the radio.  And while I'll agree with those who think radio jams help in getting you to shake your tailfeather, I found some of the songs a bit much.  We all know a little bit of Britney can go a long way, right?  Plus, for me, some of those songs made my head go to places it just shouldn't be going.  Anybody hear what I'm saying?  So, with that being said, I created a list of songs that first and foremost, get your booty moving, and secondly, they're good for your soul, too.  Bonus!  So, behold my list of Jesus Jog Jams.  It's my go-to every time.  Thought I'd share the love...just in case you're needing to get your praise on while exercising.  It can be done, people.  Enjoy.

Linds' Jesus Jog Jams:
1.Don't Waste Your Life (feat. Cam, Dwayne Tryumf) - Lecrae
2.Live Free (feat. Sho Baraka, Jai) - Lecrae
3.Get Loose (feat. Trip Lee & Lecrae) - 116 Clique
4.Go Buck - Flame Our World
5.Our God - The Cross Movement
6.Ooh Ahh (feat. tobyMac) - Grits
7.He Did That - KJ-52
8.NY2LA - Press Play
9.Pep Rally - Princess With A Purpose
10.Shackles - Mandisa
11.Chase That (Ambition) - Lecrae
12.Get 'em High - Big Al
13.Hold Me (feat. tobyMac) - Jamie Grace
14.Stomp - Kirk Franklin's
15.I Refuse - Josh Wilson
16.Jamaican Praise Medley - NewWorldSon
17.Manifesto - The City Harmonic

P.S.  If you need a song that will bring you to your knees while also keeping you motivated to work out, I highly recommend Mercyseat by Travis Cottrell's praise band.  It will make you worship the Lord in rare form.  Guaranteed!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Life Lately

OK, y'all, let's lighten things up a bit.  Shall we?  I'm so thankful to the World Wide Web for giving us access to create blogs and share our lives with anyone who cares to know, and I love being able to use this blog to share my thoughts, issues and concerns.  But this post is dedicated to just normal everyday mundane life happenings.  Aren't you excited?  I bet you're sitting on pins and needles.  Lately...

1.  Everyone of our family members has been sick.  It started with the 2 older boys two weeks ago.  First my oldest got sick; then his brother.  We had a few days where everyone seemed to be getting better until the hubs came home sick one day after work.  A couple of days later, I got the same thing, and a couple days after that, the baby got sick.  You can imagine how thrilled I was yesterday when my middle child start running fever.  I nearly slit my throat.

2.  We have a chihuahua named Honey.  She's 11-years-old, a whopping 4 pounds, and really keeps to herself.  She's great with the kids.  She's not one of those yappin' kind of chihuahuas and before we had kids, she was the center of our world.  I've felt guilty about how since having kids the attention we give her amounts to a grand total of ZERO.  OK, I really don't feel guilty.  She's cute.  She's sweet.  She's well behaved.  Except for one tiny (NOT tiny) thing - she pees on the carpet in my son's room.  I never can catch her in the act, but there are several spots in his room that I can't get rid of because she sneaks in there when we're not watching and pops a squat.  I'm at my wits end, y'all!  I can't get rid of the stains, the smell.  Someone please help me!!

3.  Baseball season has kicked off 'round here and I couldn't be more excited!  My oldest had his first game last week, and my other sweet boy will start practice in a couple of weeks.  His tee ball schedule will kick off in May.  I knew it was going to be a challenge for me when every time my oldest hit the ball, I would yell at the top of my lungs.  Everyone looked at me because it wasn't an actual game; it was just practice.  Don't you know how proud my husband is to sit beside me at an actual game?!  Just look for the crazy woman in the stands with a baseball jersey that reads Baseball Mom on the back.  Did I mention my amazing collection of baseball jewelry?

Well, that should be enough for now.  Riveting, I know.  Now that you're caught up, life can begin again.  ;)  Thank you to the person who actually reads this blog.  You know who you are; the one who shares my same last name.  Hope life is great with you.  Remember, Jesus is the answer and His Word will change your life.  Holla!!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Justifying Faith

If you were asked to justify your faith in Jesus Christ, could you do it?  What would you say?  Would it take you a few minutes to get your words together?  Or would you instantly answer a question WITH a question?  Perhaps your reaction would be, Well, why don't YOU justify your faith in Jesus Christ to ME.  In an effort to avoid the question, you might go into a nervous explanation of Evolution vs. Creation.   Perhaps, you'd start comparing Christianity to other world religions in order to justify your faith.  But if that's what you do, then you've still misunderstood the task at hand.  Remember, you've been asked to justify YOUR faith in JESUS CHRIST.  In other words, what would you say if someone asked you why you chose to believe Jesus IS who you say He IS.  Why do you believe IN Him?  Why do you choose to follow Him?  What makes you believe in all of this Jesus stuff in the first place?

The reality is most of us who grew up in the Bible Belt could spout off a ton of Biblical facts on Jesus.  We could tell you about His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection.  We could recount Bible stories and may even be able to throw out some memory verses.  But if you asked us to tell you how Jesus is involved in our personal lives, we'd quickly start to skirt the issue.  You'd see some of us start to squirm.  Many of us would have blank looks on our faces.  It would be downright hard to tell you how Jesus is part of our personal lives.  And why would that be hard, you may ask?  Well, the answer is easy.  It would be hard to explain to you how Jesus is part of our everyday lives because He just plain isn't.  Of course, we know many facts about Him.  But relationally?  We'd have nothing.  This is the sad truth for many self-proclaiming Christians.

How do I know this?  Because I was one for many years.  It was quite easy for me to tell you Biblical facts on Jesus or any other major Christian theme - Creation, Faith, The Trinity.  But to confirm and explain how Jesus was in my life, controlling my life, and driving my life....I just wouldn't have been able to do it.  Because He wasn't.  He just wasn't.

It wasn't until just a few years ago where I had a realization about Jesus Christ.  And so it goes that everything before that moment, I like to label as Pre-Realization so that everything after that moment can be accurately labeled as Post-Realization.  My entire life, through college and into my young adult years, I simply lived my life for me.  I knew many facts about the Lord, but facts without commitment mean nothing.  I wasn't committed to the Lord.  I had no idea what it meant to truly NEED Him in my life.  I knew what history said He did for me.  I knew He had made atonement for my sins when He died on the cross.  But for me, that knowledge didn't make an impact.  It didn't make an impact, because I kept making decisions over and over that spiritually spit in God's face.  Jesus wasn't enough for me to honor Him in my relationships.  He wasn't important enough for me to honor Him with the things I chose to put into my body.  I sure wasn't convinced that He was worth telling others about.  That would've been too risky. 

I remember in college I sensed the Lord calling me to step out of the life I was leading.  I was making some VERY poor choices in a relationship I was in.  I was aware of God's voice.  I heard Him telling me to leave this lifestyle behind.  So, for a short while, I did.  I left the relationship I was in.  I made some drastic decisions that took me out of the social scene I had been apart of.  And for the first time, in a long time, I felt free.  The weight of my dark lifestyle had lifted.  For once, I felt like I was heading in the right direction.  One evening, I attended my weekly sorority meeting.  Some of us were discussing our plans for the week, and as several of my sisters were making plans to attend a very big fraternity party scheduled that week, I will never forget what one of my closest friends said about me to the group.  She said, "Well we know Lindsey won't go with us to the party.  She's going through another one of her religious phases." 

You see?  Total and complete surrender to Christ brings many risks.  People will not understand your decision.  They will see the change in you and will be offended by it.  You will make them uncomfortable.  They will judge you and criticize you.  They will mock you and make fun of you.  They will call you names.  And some will do whatever it takes to defame your new found Christian character.  It took me years to figure that out.  As soon as my friend made that claim against me, that was all it took for me to return right back to my old ways. 

Years later, after running from the Lord became too hard, it was during that time when I FINALLY realized how desperate I was for Jesus.  It wasn't until then that I truly and literally surrendered my life.  I finally gave the Lord ALL of me.  Not just some parts but the whole package now belonged to Him.  There were many circumstances (some good, some bad) that brought me to this realization.  I could share them with you, but what I've come to know is that it's never about our circumstances.  It's always about what God does through our circumstances. 

I can justify my faith in Jesus Christ by acknowledging that I simply would not be who I am today had it not been for what Christ did in my life.  There are things that have happened that no human could explain.  The peace, the joy, the restoration that has taken place in my heart is nothing short of a miracle.  There's only one way to explain it - Jesus.  He did that.  For me.  And it is now up to me to share with as many people as I can what Jesus has done for me.  And what He wants to do for them.  For you.

In my life, He's turned my trash into treasure, my pain into praise, my fear into faith, and my story into a song worth sharing.  All of it points to Him.  He is so worth it, friends.  Now, it's your turn.  Can YOU justify YOUR faith in Jesus Christ?  What has He done for you?  Or better yet, what hasn't He done?


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Scripture Memory Verse 8

Has it been 8 already?!  The only reason I can keep that straight is because I know my next verse in Psalm 139 is verse 8.  Time sure is flying by and quickly.  Here is my next verse.

"If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there." -Psalm 139:8

Can't wait to hear from you.  Keep on memorizing!  His Word is LIFE!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Holy Week is over.  Another Easter Sunday has come and gone.  Good Friday was the most amazing day for me this year.  Yet, it is now apart of history.  Resurrection Sunday brought an overwhelming and quite unexpected amount of emotions.  Alas, it is in the past just like all the other Easter Sundays of my short life.

As I enter another ordinary week, I can't help but to be sad at how ordinary everything feels.  So many spent last week observing Holy Week and what it meant, both individually and historically.  And while Resurrection Sunday gave us so much to celebrate, it unnerves me at how fast we get back to our ordinary lives.  We give little to almost no thought of the significance of the Cross as we pack our kids' lunches, send them off to school, put another load of laundry in the machine, make our grocery list, and wash the dog.  It seems like such an odd match.  To go from celebrating our Risen Lord to washing dishes.  To go from acknowledging that He is, in fact, ALIVE to mopping the sticky kitchen floor.  Only once a year do we take time (and not even all of us do this) to thank God for the sacrifice,  to mourn Christ's death on the Cross, and to celebrate His glorious resurrection. 

What's worse than only spending one day a year acknowledging this historical event?  That we spend weeks leading up to Easter shopping for outfits so that each family member will look his/her best.  Finding the perfect outfit with the perfect spring color combination is key.  And we buy eggs filled with candy for our childrens' class Easter Egg Hunts.  We ask the Easter Bunny to come visit our homes.  We even stuff ourselves with food made especially for our families at Easter family celebrations.  Lord KNOWS, I do all of this "stuff," too!  NOTHING is wrong with any of it.  It's just that, for most of us, that's where it stops.  That's usually where our celebration of this miraculous holiday stops.  Through all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday, just like at Christmas, we pour our energy, money and time into the things that have ZERO eternal significance.  All the while, we let this time of year pass us by giving no thought to the true, miraculous, earth shattering, and eternity altering event that took place close to 2000 years ago. 

And here's what we often forget - had it not taken place, the Cross I mean, the term hopeless would take on another entire dimension.  Those who choose to "not believe" in God - they, too, have NO idea of what it feels like to live outside the goodness of God.  Even the non-believers are shown God's grace everyday just by being allowed to wake up and breathe another breath of air.  Those of us who choose to believe and those of us who choose NOT to believe, we are ALL shown the love and grace of God everyday of our lives.  It is simply because everything that happens to us that is good is from above.  Everything, all of it.  Can you breathe?  It's because of God.  Do you have a job?  It's because of God.  Are you healthy?  It's because of God.  Can you put your two feet on the ground and walk?  It's because of God.  Do you have clean underwear to put on your freshly showered body?  It's because of God. 

And everything good that happens to us is not only because of God, but it is because of what God allowed to happen on the Cross some 2000 years ago.  Without it, everything we know about our lives and about this world would change.  I don't know where you found yourself this Easter.  I don't know where you are finding yourself today now that another Resurrection Sunday has come and gone.  What I do hope is that you realize that what was done on the Cross was FIRST, for God, and SECOND, for you.  What will ultimately matter is what you decide to do with that realization.  Don't waste your life not knowing.  Ignorance is not bliss, my friend.  Ignorance, for some, means only one thing - hell. 

If you...
1.  Just aren't sure what all this Cross hype is about, watch the following.
2.  Know what all this Cross hype is about, but you are struggling with making it have a real impact in your life, watch the following.
3.  Are certain and unnerved by what the Cross hype is about - if you are moved and grateful and thankful, watch the following anyway.  You'll need the reminder.

Kingdom: A Journey Through Matthew by David Platt


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What Being A Vegetarian & Following Christ Have In Common

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder and CEO, announced on his very own Facebook page his choice to become a vegetarian for an entire year.  He stated that he likes to eat meat and in fact, eats it almost everyday.  He went on to say that he would only eat meat from an animal that he, himself, killed.  He announced this decision by indicating his desire to honor the lives of the millions of animals who give their lives everyday so that others can eat.

Now, as you take a moment to chew on this nugget of information (no pun intended), let me say that I can relate to Mark's rationale behind his new lifestyle choice. 

Although I'm not sure of Mark's spiritual journey nor do I have any idea of his belief in God or not, I was struck at how his choice to practice a healthier way of eating looked a lot like the reason why I choose to live my life the way I do.  When I made the choice to become a Christian, all I had to do was one simple thing - believe.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life," says John 3:16 (NIV).  Believing this verse to be true made me just that - a believer.  But the Bible goes on to say that even the demons believe in Jesus.  They even know of His true existence.  Surely there is more to this Christian thing than just believing, right?

After reading Mark Zuckerberg's post, it hit me.  Just like he made the very extreme choice to only eat meat from an animal he killed, himself.  Just like he made this very extreme choice as a way to honor animals who give their lives everyday so that others can eat.  So have I...except that my decision doesn't involve my diet.  I, too, have chosen to live my life in honor of someone who has given His life, as well.  Jesus.  His name is Jesus.  And years ago, He gave His life for me.  He suffered because of my sins.  It was something He had to do so that I could be forgiven, so that I could live with Him, so that I could know Him. 

John 3:16 emphasizes the importance of believing.  But it doesn't stop there.  I mentioned already that the inhabitants of hell believe.  There's more.  Jesus said in Luke 9:23 (NIV), "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."  In order for John 3:16 to have true meaning in my life, then I must be willing to do Luke 9:23.  Believe, realize life is not about me, realize that everything is about Jesus, and follow.  John 3:16 is about believing.  Luke 9:23 is about following.  Jesus was made to carry His cross to His death.  The cross isn't just about His death.  It's not even JUST about the physical suffering He had to endure.  It's about the entire process.  It's about His miraculous birth.  It's about His life leading to His death.  It's about how He was betrayed.  It's about how He was hated and mocked and beaten.  It's about the crown of thorns pushed down into His skull.  It's about Him being made to carry that cross with bleeding stripes on His back up the hill to His place of death.  It's about the nails hammered into His hands and feet.  It's about the pain He suffered while hanging on the cross.  But mostly, it's about the hours He had to endure while His Father turned His back so that His only Son could carry the weight of the world's sin as He hung on the cross. 

"After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." -Isaiah 53:11,12b (NIV)

Being a Christian is more than believing.  It involves commitment.  It requires sacrifice.  It's about following.  Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg for this beautiful anecdote.  It couldn't have been more perfect.  Just like Mark chooses to honor others with his healthy eating.  I choose to honor the ONE who gave His life for me.  It's not easy.  It doesn't come without obstacles or resistance.  But it's worth it.  He's worth it.  He's worth it because I was worth Him dying.  But praise God!  His plan didn't stop there.  Jesus is alive!  The love He had for me, for this world, helped Him conquer the grave.  "What kind of love says that I'm the reason He can't stay inside the grave," Natalie Grant sings in her song Alive.

What kind of love?  Only the kind that matters.  Love that comes from the blood of Christ shed on the cross for you and for me.  Love that conquered His death.  Love that sits at the right hand of God.  Love that commands that we share it with the world.  This Love has a name and His name is Jesus.


Don't just believe.  Follow.  Follow Jesus.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Remedy

It's no wonder many of us travel through life feeling overwhelmed by our circumstances.  We move from one crisis to the next hanging on by a thread.  Our emotions shift from sadness to exhaustion to depression to fear.  We'll cling to a friend's advice.  We'll grab the self-help book off of the shelf.  We may even venture to church on the occasional Sunday desperate to hear a hopeful message.  We're always surprised when we forget the advice of our friend, disappointed when the methods in our self-help book do all but deliver.  And that warm fuzzy feeling that came over us in Sunday morning church quickly fades sometimes before we even make it to the car in the parking lot as we exit the church building.

What if I told you I had a remedy?  What if I told you I had the answer to overcoming sadness, conquering fear, finding true joy and peace?  Would you listen?  Better yet, would you do what I suggest?  What if I told you that if you would only do what I recommend, then it is quite possible that you will find purpose in life?  That you might even make some new friends along the way?  That what I suggest you do might even change who you are for the better?  Are you convinced?  Have I peaked your interest enough?

Here is my recommendation.  In order to have purpose, to experience true joy, to overcome obstacles such as sadness, fear and depression, simply...

Serve others.

That's it.  Figure out a way to forget about yourself and put the needs of others ahead of your own.  Love people especially the ones who are hard to love.  They need it the most.  Look around you.  What needs to be done?  Who needs help?  What about those who try to act like they have it all together but you suspect they need love and friendship more than they know?  Who is going through a hard time around you?  Is someone ill?  Has someone lost a loved one?  Do you have a lonely neighbor, co-worker or family member?  Is there someone in your life with whom you haven't spoken?  Would you consider reconciliation?

Jesus didn't spend very many years walking among humans.  On His resurrection day, he was merely 33-years-old.  Most every minute of His time on planet Earth was taken up with serving others.  And in the very few moments we read about in the Bible where He does experience real human emotions - fear (Gethsemane), pain (Calvary), betrayal (Passover) - He always went to the Father in prayer.  Always. Every time.

Let me ask you.  Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?  As much as you've cried about it?  As much as you've raged about it?

Let me also ask you.  When was the last time you did something for someone other than yourself?  And while I have your attention let me offer you a piece of reality.  If you wait to serve others until you actually feel like it, you will never do it.  Ministry is not about feelings.  It's messy.  It's rocky.  It's scary.  It's risky.  But it's what was modeled for us through Jesus Christ.  Jesus didn't just show up for ministry on Sunday mornings wearing His finest suit with a box of donuts in hand.  He didn't stand at the coffee maker with a smile on His face asking everyone how their work week went.  He didn't attend a Sunday School class or pass an offering plate or play the organ or count the offering.

NO!  His feet were dirty from all His travels.  His legs were weary as He walked from one town to the next healing, preaching, and serving.  His friends were few but they were dear.  His enemies were many only because Truth hurts.  He was hated.  He was loved.  He was mocked.  He was embraced.  He was betrayed.  He was beaten.  He was even murdered.  But, He is risen!

Don't make His time on this planet and the lessons He taught humankind and the sacrifice He made on the cross all be for nothing.  As you celebrate Easter this week, be reminded of what Christ did for you.  Why?  Because He loves you.  And He needs others to know of His love, as well.  Which brings me back to the original purpose of this post.  How will others know?  How will you come to experience it for yourself? 


That's all,

Scripture Memory Verse 7

Well, it's that time again.  What are you memorizing this month?  It's April 1st and I am continuing on in Psalm 139.  Here is my verse...

"Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?" -Psalm 139:7 (NIV)

Looking forward to hearing from you.  Remember to tell us your verse, the address and translation.  Have a great Easter.  He is RISEN!