Friday, January 4, 2013

When God Shows Up.

Have you ever noticed the ways that God continually shows up for us? The thing about it is to really see Him in the midst of every day life, to see Him in all the little details, you need to be in tune with me. You need to be connected with Him and close with Him to see Him in all the things!

I am a girl who loves to do "all the things" I love to be involved in everything, to help with everything, and to do everything... but let's be honest... If I am going to be really good at a few things I can't be doing "all the things." God has made it really clear to me in the direction I need to go (see previous post about where I am at right now here). And if I am going to be in all THOSE things and be involved in all the things in my husband and children's lives... then I have to take a step back from other things.

God has been pointing me in the direction of something I needed to do to approach those things... There are some things that I needed to start doing and some things that I sadly needed to stop doing... and can I just say that I didn't want to do them? There are some big things that have needed to take place for a while.. and I really put them off. Even though God was making it clear to me what needed to happen. I was anxious about doing them. Sad about doing them. Worried about doing them. Because I know that some of these thins are going to disappoint people, are going to inconvenience people, and may even confuse people.

I am a people pleaser by nature... but you know what I have learned? I am also a God pleaser. And He is who I need to please first. He is who I WANT to please first. He is the one who DESERVES to be pleased first. So I have spent some time preparing. Praying about things so that God would make everything incredibly clear to me that needed to happen. So that He would show me where exactly I needed to step up, and where I needed to step down. So that He would prepare people for the things that would come. The kind of days where I found myself laying awake at 2am praying these prayers and then asking God to ease my heart and allow me to rest. And you know what? He did.

As I prepared to make some of these first steps of please God and following His lead I asked others to pray for me. I asked others to keep me and others in their prayers. And I asked God to continue to prepare the way. And today He helped me to see that He was going to show up in these things, in ALL my things. And make them all His things.

As I walked through the day I was uneasy again but was trusting Him anyways, and God showed up so manyyy times in the most unexpected of ways. In a commercial that reminded us of God's purpose, in a verse I read in my devotional, in something my mom said to me over the phone. He eased my heart through out my day when I wasn't even asking anymore. He KNEW that I needed it and He did it before I asked. He showed up, He gave me His peace.

The thing is He ALWAYS shows up! Did you know that? He shows up even when we don't realize it. And He is there even when we don't acknowledge Him. But sometimes our sin separates us from Him so strongly that we don't realize it. Sometime we can't clearly hear and decipher His words because our sin is so much louder. But when you begin to seek Him daily. When you regular put your sin on the alter (because we sin every day... we're humans and it's what we do..) When you start to pray, read His work, and look for Him daily. You begin to see Him show up in everything. Things that may have just slip by any other day, begin to show His face. When you begin to faithfully align your life plans to His life plans and lead for your life, to seek His call, and serve Him in that call... and then to TRUST Him with all the details.... even the hard ones that you don't want to follow....  He shows up.

Today in the devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young I read this .... "I want you to learn a new habit. Try saying, "I trust You, Jesus" in response to whatever happens to you. If there is time, think about who I am in all My Power and Glory; ponder also the depth and breadth of My Love for you. This simple practice will help you see Me in every situation, acknowledge My sovereign control over the universe. When you view events from this perspective -- through the Light of My universal Presence-- fear loses its grip on you. Adverse circumstances become growth opportunities when you affirm your truth in Me no matter what. You receive blessings gratefully, realizing they flow directly from My hand of grace. You continual assertion of trusting Me will  strengthen our relationship and keep you close to me."

I know tonight at the end of my night that my trusting His plan, my obedience to His word, has strengthened my relationship with Him, my Abba daddy. And He reaffirmed me in this devotional today.

 Psalm 139:7-12 says
"7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you."
He's every where and He's holding me steady. In this life where I desire to do all the things, He holds on to me and directs my steps. I am ever in His presence and when something scares me or discourages me... He shows back up time and time again to encourage me to remind me that I need not fear. And to remind me that my obedience just brings me tighter into His embrace.
I pray you find yourself in this tight embrace today too, friends. 
For His Glory,

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 - Cultivation - 1Peter3:15 and a really long post about where my heart is at.

I seem so often to be in a state of reflection that never quite gets articulated or put down into words in a complete way. I have a whole bunch of half spoken thoughts floating around in my brain that never quite make it out onto paper. Never quite reach completion… and in a way I think that this has halted my growth some. I spend a lot of time reading what other people think, see, and are learning, but don’t take the time to put fully into reflection what I think. Don’t get me wrong… I am learning through these other people, being challenged and experiencing growth, but I don’t think I ever allow myself to completely see that because it’s not written down. I have bits and pieces in my devotional journal, bullet points, quotes, ideas, topics that scream out to me, but not the fully thought out and processed nature that I would like to begin to process through. 

That’s where this here old blog comes back into play. I have spent the majority of time that I have had this blog trying to find “my voice.” Trying to figure out who I wanted to present and what I wanted the world to know about me. Was I a military spouse blogger? Did I want a family/mom blog with recipes and projects mixed in? I went through with trying to turn it into a health and fitness blog. I debated trying to make a profit from my blog, and even for creating a handmade shop. I can admit I got kind of caught up in the whole “blogger envy” ordeal, which is why I took so much time off… But of all the ways I want to share my heart the one that continually pours out is my heart for Christ. I am not going to be a “faith blogger” so to speak… Because if I am being 100% honest with myself… I don’t have time to be a full on blogger. To make the connections with other bloggers, to gain a “following,” to take part in link ups, or read a whole slew of posts… What I do have time for, what I need to have time for, is to get my reflection out on “paper” to see the written word of the things that God is doing in and through me, to share the way that my life is being transformed with myself. And if someone should want to read that along the way (mostly my friends and family I am sure) then that is awesome. If God should give me a place of influence on this tiny space of interwebs, marvelous. But it’s not about me anymore. It’s about HIM. And what I can do FOR Him. 

That being said… I am starting 2013 off differently than I ever have before. I spent some time the last couple of days really taking in what God has blessed me with in 2012 and preparing for what He is putting in front of me in 2013. I decided to pick a word and a verse to center my actions around this year. I sought God in prayer and scripture and came to the conclusion that this is what He is showing me for this year, or at least for this period of time. Should He change my steps… that’s okay too. 

My word is CULTIVATE and my verse is 1 Peter 3: 15 NIV "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

You see.. God is doing big things in and through me lately… and the word “cultivate” seems like the perfect way to describe what He wants me to do for His kingdom lately, but also for the other things that He has made clear that I need to do and areas I need to grow in my life (but we will get to those things later…) For now, let me just say that I spent a good portion of 2012 trying to plan. I spent a good portion of 2012 trying to make a way for myself in a plan that was only His to write. In the summer as adapted to being a mommy of two, beginning to really live in our new home state not just get through, as we began to discuss Mike getting out of the navy and approached my final year of school… I began to panic. What was I going to do, where was I going to work, WHERE DID GOD WANT ME?! And so instead of waiting for Him to reveal Himself as He always has because He IS faithful, I decided to try and do it on my own. I began to search for jobs all over the nation for Mike and I. I began to pick and piece and guess at what “my ministry” would be. The thing about that though… is that I did all of this to find “peace” instead of resting in a peace that I already knew was there. And ultimately it just stressed me out more because I just couldn’t find a job for me, a place for us, a plan for us. And then one day almost as clear as day God said to me “Silly don’t you know that you can’t find the perfect job because it’s just not there… you aren’t ready for it yet so how can it be ready for you!” And I laughed... and then I blushed… and then I finally felt like I could breathe again… God – a million Amanda – zero. 

After that little realization I finally decided to listen. I prayed and sought Him, and then I rested in His peace and comfort and waited for Him to start revealing the pieces to me… and boy did He ever! God has truly brought into my life some of the great mentors, examples, and friends in the last year. And little by little He began to paint and ever clearing picture for me of the way that He wanted me to go, of the ministry that He wanted me to create, and of the way that He wanted me to serve Him and His people! 

It started with the realization that God is leading me towards mentorship and discipleship, of everyone. This was a big shocker for me because HELLO I have always been all about the kiddos and the teens, but adults? Forget about it! I get awkward, clammy, and shy! But little by little He put me into places that made it clear He wanted me to use my heart for all people, not just kids and teens. He led me to serve at the Catherine Foundation Pregnancy Care Center as a Client Advocate(Counselor of sorts) to women who find themselves in need. And He blew my mind at the way He cares for every single detail. 

Then He led Mike and I to lead a Small Group for our church New Life here in MD. It was in this small group that He began to refine me to serve Him in a real leadership position (and is still refining me daily). He brought some of our greatest friends and encouragement into our lives via this small group. And I finally began to feel at home here. 

And then He shook it up again! He brought a new pastor into our church who would be taking a portion of the congregation and planting a new church in our county. Mike knew from the first time that Pastor Moe preached that we would go, I on the other hand was not so certain. I enjoyed Pastor Moe’s sermon, but we were JUST starting to build community… sorry charley! Or so I thought.

In August we began a series about what Pastor Moe’s church would be all about. And that first Sunday God’s spirit and direction fell upon me in such a mighty way. He made it so clear it gave me shivers that Mike and I were to be all in, to commit it all, and to join this new church. And we did just that. Much to my surprise one of our greatest friend couples went, and so did who I consider my mentor, Pastor Jenn. She was already leading the Small Groups at New Life and would now move on and be the Asst Pastor at Healing Place. As soon as she told me that, I felt God’s nudge. I didn’t know why or for what, but it was strong and it was there. I began to pray about how I could help her with leading community groups at HPC because I felt like that was where God was hinting at. And sure enough that’s exactly where he led me… Right into the volunteer position of Community Group Coordinator. 

And so here I am. God has made it so incredibly clear to me where he wants me. He wants me leading people to Him. He wants me CULTIVATING leaders to lead people to Him. He wants me to be His disciple, and he wants me to make more disciples. He has made it clear it’s not just about harvesting, but He wants me in the fields for Him in every way possible. And my heart is all in it. I will sow seeds, water, and harvest in whatever ways He leads me to. I am more than willing to do the tasks He puts in front of me, even if they are difficult (and some of them will be) and to always do so with a joyful heart.

While He is using me to cultivate— prepare, lead, and improve leaders….. He has made it so abundantly clear that He is going to be radically preparing, leading, and improving me for the tasks He has in front of me. I don’t know what all He has planned for me this year. But I am so eager to learn. I am so eager to wholly submit my life to His plan. The first 6 months will be challenging with my last semester (which is incredibly full), but I am ready and able. With God, my husband’s support, and a lot of diligent planning and timing I know that I can not only get through but can prosper this semester.  And the official job He is leading me to when I graduate? Well.. I still don’t know what that is yet, but I am content in all the things He has placed in front of me right now. 

This is where my verse ties in too. I want His light to shine so brightly through me, for my heart to be SO set apart as HIS, that people do ask what the reason for my hope is. Through this year of cultivation I hope to be able to pour into anyone who comes my way. To be able to change lives the way that He changed mine, and to do so with gentleness and respect, but above all with love. 

Here’s to a year of growth.

For His Glory,
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