Monday, June 28, 2010

Its YOUR day!


Twenty-5 thingS I've learned about
life SO FAR:
  1. Beauty comes from within
  2. Actions speak louder than words
  3. Make your faith your own
  4. You must love God and yourself before you can love anyone else
  5. The way I live my life is my gift to God
  1. True friends stick by you through thick and thin
  2. Comparing leads to discontentment which also is saying that what God has given you isn't good enough
  3. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didnt do
  4. I am Christ's bride and he is in pursuit of me
  5. Dancing and laughing are both good for the soul
  1. A daddy's hugs are priceless
  2. Worrying gets you nowhere
  3. The truth will set you free
  4. Keep a gratitude list
  5. It's not about me
  1. My family is a gift
  2. People-pleasing can cause a lot of heartache
  3. Chivalry is one of the most attractive traits in a man
  4. There is more to being a Christian than showing up to church each Sunday
  5. One of the greatest pleasures in life is to have your hair played with
  1. There is nothing like the unconditional love of your animals
  2. Adversity builds character
  3. Credit cards are just asking for trouble
  4. Nothing is coincidence; God works everything out for good
  5. God makes up for where I am lacking

Twenty-five years ago, June 29th,1985, I was given the blessing of life. Entering the world on that day I had no clue what God had in store for my life. Between now and then my life has been full of ups and downs, heartache and joy, fear and peace. I can recall times of wondering why God had given me 'this' particular life to live and not the life of someone else who seemed to have it easier or had it all. There were also times that I thought it would be easier to die than to live the way I was living, because really, I was living at all I was just getting by, waiting... but through the years the Lord has had His hand on me. He has preserved my life and kept me from falling into the pit of death so I could experience full, ABUNDANT life in relationship with him AND use my life to touch the lives of others through God's life shining from within me. Although I am nowhere close to what I thought it would be like at this point in my life, I am trusting and believing that God's plan for me is far better than mine!

Live, LAUGH, Love...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mercy Ring

So, I received my long-awaited graduation ring from Mercy not too long ago. I cannot tell you how excited I was to wear it! Let me share with you a little about the ring itself and the significance it carries with it...

Mercy Graduation rings are handmade by a former Mercy graduate. Each girl that completes the program at Mercy receives this ring as a gift, a reminder and a unity that will last forever. The rings represents SO many things...

First and foremost it signifies my covenant to the Lord. Just like a wedding band, this Mercy ring conveys deep emotions of eternal, unconditional love, eternal happiness, eternal commitment, and eternal togetherness between the Lord and I. These rings signify eternity - it's a complete circle with no break and no end or beginning, it just goes on and on - it is eternal. God's love for me and my love for Him is eternal, through thick or thin, better or worse.

Not only does the ring signify the unity I share with my God, but also with all of my many, beautiful Mercy Sisters and the connection and gratitude that I will have for Mercy Ministries for the rest of my life.
cooking in the kitchen
hanging out
sisters forever
sunbathing together
God couldnt have blessed me with a more wonderful place or more amazing people to grow close to him and experience freedom.
Em, my counselor
Brooke, my nutrition manager
Christy, the nurse
My home for 7 months

The ring also is a reminder of where God has brought me from. Goodness, to think back to this time last year... it was a scary time in my life. But God, in his infinite love saved me from the grips of death and placed my feet on solid ground. It's a reminder that all things are possible through Him.
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry, He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord." Ps. 40:1-3

The three stones on my ring each represent different parts of the Trinity. God, the Father, God the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit. Each of these that God exists as a unity of three distinct persons, yet identical in essence. Each is divine, yet there are not three gods, but one God. The Trinity shows us that there exists in all the universe a single being known as God who is self-existent and unchangeable. The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Gal. 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Rom. 15:16).

‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.’ Isaiah 44:8

Each part of the Trinity is summed up simply by: The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Gal. 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Rom. 15:16). As the Trinity is three distinct Persons in one God, each of these stones is a reminder that I must strive to harmonize the distinct aspects of my personality into the single purpose of loving God and loving others.
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12:30-31

Lastly, my Mercy is a symbol of God's Mercy. If you look closely at the ring, the way the three stones are set creates an 'M.' Not only for Mercy Ministries, but also God's mercy in my life. Mercy is withholding of punishment, and an act of giving help or having compassion on the afflicted. The loving-kindness of Jesus Christ gives to us Eternal Life. My Salvation is an act of the mercy of God, completely unwarranted by my past actions.
"It wasn't so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind, loving, merciful Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this." Titus 3:5-8
I am certainly extremely undeserving of complete forgiveness and an abundant life with no strings attached. The way I was living, the lies, abuse to my body, worshiping idols... I could go on and on, I very much deserved death, eternal death, but God rescued me! He saved a wretch like me!
"The Lord rescued me from every evil work and has given me salvation in his kingdom in heaven: to whom be glory for ever and ever. " 2 Tim. 4:18

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lam. 3:22-23
A covenant, a unity of multiple dimensions, a reminder of the power of the Trinity and a reminder of God's merciful love in my life. So much significance in a single piece of jewelry, significance that I will cherish forever.
God Alone
You are not a god

Created by human hands
You are not a god
Dependent on any mortal man
You are not a god
In need of anything we can give
By Your plan, that's just the way it is

You are God alone
From before time began
You were on Your throne
Your are God alone
And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

You're the only God
Whose power none can contend
You're the only God
Whose name and praise will never end
You're the only God
Who's worthy of everything we can give
You are God
And that's just the way it is

That's what You are


Sunday, June 6, 2010

sacrificial LOVE

This is a story of two special girls in my life, how they honored God, blessed me
and blessed so many others...
Saturday, April 3, Shelby was doing everything she could to cause herself to go into labor. We walked laps around the house and then she would pause and do squats, anything to get this baby out. The poor girl was in so much pain. On April 4th, at about 3:30am, in the weeeeee hours of the morning I was awakened and told that Shelby was in active labor and to grab the bag that I had packed and get ready to head to the hospital with Shelby. Shelby's mom had flown in on Saturday from Canada in hopes that her daughter's baby would arrive soon. She met us at the hospital.

Once we got settled in Shel was given an epideral, once she had that she was in heaven! For the next several hours we waited for her to be fully dilated. By about 11am it was time to PUSH! The midwife, nurses, Shelby's mom and I all prepared for the birth. Poor Shel, she got ready to push 2 or 3 different times, but the midwife would end up having to leave to check on 2 different emergency situations. She was so calm considering she was more than ready to push the baby out, but they were delaying it. I am pretty sure I would be freaking out!

Swollen feet to your right
With literally 2 pushes and within 5-7 minutes I witnessed one of the coolest miracles of God I have ever seen. Adorable, baby boy Kayden was born at 12:07pm on Easter weighing 7lb 2oz and he was 19in long.

Easter baby!
There is more to this story than what meets the eye...

I was asked before Christmas to go with my other dear friend Ainsley when she gave birth to her twin baby girls. Due to some of my poor choices to meet some goals that had been set for me I was not able to go with Ains. Little did I know that later God would redeem this opportunity to me.
Ainsley had her two, precious baby girls on January 29, 2010, Emmi-Rose and Blakely. Although I wasnt able to be there for the actual birth, I was able to go visit Ains and her precious girls in the hospital. Ainsley gave her girls up for adoption to a very loving family.

We only got to see one of the girls because the other was in the NICU for a short bit
April 22, Ainsley's Graduation

She and Shelby are both very good friends... Ainsley was supposed to go with Shelby to the hospital, but she was told it might be best for her to not go because the whole thing might be tough after doing such a brave thing and giving up her own girls. That is when Shelby asked ME to go with her instead. What a redeemer God is! I was MORE than happy to stand in Ainsley's place!

Both of these girls obeyed the Lord in what He had led them to do. I love that God gave Shelby a revelation about the significance of her little boy being born on Easter. April 4, 2010 was an extra special day for my dear friend Shelby and me. Not only was it Easter, a celebration of Christ's victory over death, but it was also the birthday of Kayden Bentley. Just as God gave up his only son, so He asked her to do the same. Kayden being born on Easter was confirmation for Shel that she was doing the right and that she was definitely in God's will for both herself and her son. She would be honored, both these women of God, will be honored for their obedience to the Lord. I can only imagine what a sacrifice one's own child could be.

What a testament to each of us of giving up things sacrificially to the Lord. Think of all many things we hold onto both physical and mental that really have no worth or value, things that we cant even give up for a day without going crazy. If these young women can give up their own children to the Lord, then how much could we give?

Giving out of our excess is not genuine giving. The sacrificial giving of a sinner moved Jesus heart and spirit. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give if you’re not doing it sacrificially; what I am saying is that I don’t believe that kind of giving strengthens your faith, the kind of faith that brings you salvation and eternal life.

One of the reasons I believe God calls us to give sacrificially is that it strengthens our faith and helps us grow spiritually. If we merely give out of our excess we don’t give God the opportunity to prove his faithfulness. That’s like lifting a very light weight. It won’t strengthen your muscles. But when we give sacrificially, when we give to the point of it hurting a bit, we exercise our faith…we learn to trust in God by giving him a chance to prove himself trustworthy.

If we’re honest we’ll admit that most of us put a lot more trust in the security of money, possessions and people than we do in the security of God’s promises. There’s a word for that; it’s called idolatry. Nothing breaks the spell of idolatry like sacrificial giving. God, he first checks out our hearts to determine the motive behind it. He also checks if our attitude is right and if we are giving out of obedience. Remember when giving to God that he does not need your offering. Genuine giving benefits us. It strengthens our faith and protects us from idolatry. He just wants to build a character in you that will make room for more of his blessings into your life.

Giving to God should make you feel that something important has left your life. Give God the best you have. This will move God. He will move in your life and pour down a blessing you do not have room to receive.What cant God do for you when your heart is right? In order for his blessings to pour down on you, release what you have in faith. Let go without knowing how God will provide and watch his faithfulness to honor and bless you!

Shel, Me & Ains before

& after!!!
"Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Heb. 13:15-16

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Ps.51:17

"In view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Rom. 12:1-2

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and
sacrifice to God." Eph. 5:1-2