From A Listening Heart: Sharing some of my thoughts and "God moments" as God grows me in my faith and speaks to my heart, while I seek His face and to know Him.

My friend, something I have learned is that: Your past does NOT define you... It is through the eyes of grace, and how GOD sees you, and what you let Him do IN YOU and THROUGH you (because of your past), that defines who you are, and shapes who you become!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Even In This; Finding Joy & Peace

~ From my heart,
just something to think about today:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this?”

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ,
the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
(John 11:25-27 NKJV)

My friend I don't know what your "this" is... but I know I am going through one. The thing is, I just keep calling it "this" because I don't know what it is or how to even describe it. I don't know if it is my faith being tested, if I am "birthing something new" or maybe it is just simply God trying to bring me through something. All I do know is that "this" hurts, and it is a struggle, and it is difficult... And it seems as if God keeps leaning down to ask me, "will I love Him even in this?"

Even in this where I can't see my way clear, there seems to be no answers, no understanding; just an expectation that there is so supposed to be so much more, but it is just out of grasp... and the question is, "Will I trust Him even in this?"

And each time I find myself taking a breath with a strange sort of "weight" inside of me and saying, "Yes." I still believe that God is God. I still believe that God is good. I still believe that God is faithful. "Even in this" I believe.... it is really weird because I keep looking at my hands to see the rope burns, because part of me feels like I am hanging on by shreds, but at the exact same time, there is a calmness inside of me. And when I am very still I can feel -- that it is NOT me. Or better yet; it is NOT coming from me.

This is what Jesus wanted to know from Martha in the face of the death of their brother; did she believe? And Martha said "Yes Lord, even now I believe...." And I truly believe that God still comes to us in times such as that to see if, "Even in this, are we still His?" Can we (do we) still love and worship Him when times are hard, or when hurt and sorrow have come?

I think this is where true faith is revealed. I think that when we get to a point where we have nothing left, where we are simply just wrung out and hung up to dry; that we see what our faith is really made of. But even more importantly-- SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE. Anyone we have come in contact with during our walk where we say, "Oh sure, I believe God is God..." is there to see when it comes right down to it-- what is inside.

My friend, how are you wearing your faith? Are you grumbling? Or are you still maintaining stride even in "this?" Any one can shout from the mountain tops, but how are you standing on your faith in the valley? Because this is where true witnessing comes from. This is where you put your faith where your mouth is. And it is at times like this that our faith has a chance to grow and be strengthened-- and when we reach the other side we can look back and be amazed at seeing the hand of God that has brought us through.

I say that because Jesus told His disciples "go to the other side" He did not tell them to go half way across and come dead in the water. I know He doesn't expect us to either. So I know that some way or some how, I have to be able to come to the other side of my "this." I will-- and you will too.

I may have to make a circle in the desert a few times-- OK I HAVE circled the desert a few times, but I know that there will also come a time that God will bring me to the edge of the river and say, "Now go up and take the ground I am giving you." And when this time comes for me (and for you) let it NOT be unbelief that keeps us out.

And do you know that for all the "hardship" I can honestly say there HAS been joy and peace inside. That even in this, when I take the time to just stop and listen, when I come to a place where I just "wait" I can feel strength rising in the very depths of my heart that can ONLY come from God. And then I can feel a peace budding in me, and that brings joy because though on the outside nothing has changed, I know that God is still there, He is still by my side, and THAT brings a smile to my face. And I think that is what we need to do-- to seek out and find the joy that is there that comes with the peace in knowing, even in "this." I believe that is where we will truly find God. That it is in the "loving Him even in this" where we will experience His mightiness, and willingness to work on our behalf. I believe that when we lean into Him in times of "things we just can't explain;" that is where we will see that He really is there walking with us, and will bring about things for us to smile about.

My friend I want to encourage you today. God is still the same God as before. The same God who parted the Red Sea, is the same God now. Times have changed. People have changed, the way we eat, dress, and play have changed... BUT GOD has not changed. My prayer recently has been "Show that God to me. Come in and be THAT God for me, and in my life. Please step in and make Your presence known. Knock me off my feet with the unimaginative. Show my children, show my family, show those around me that YOU ARE GOD."

My friend, will you join me?

I wish you well, and may God shine upon you in all of your endeavors today.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Waters Are Receeding

Hi, yesterday marked the one year date that I called my friend Wendy to tell her about my "tide is turning" and the wedding vision God had given to me. So I decided to go see what my spot at the river looked like, and maybe go sit where I sat last year. Typically this time of year my spot is completely under water and you cannot reach it-- or get anywhere close to it. But yesterday, though it was muddy, I stood there and watched two white ducks swim in the water close by. I took several photos that I will share later; but first I want to share something from my heart.


From my heart:

Yesterday I drove down to my tree and parked the car and walked down to my spot at the river. I really had no hope of being able to get to it, at this time of year it is completely underwater. However-- this year it was different. Not only could I make it to the little fork in the brush off the main trail to get to my spot-- I was able to sit there for about two and half hours and praise and worship God. I first bent over and made it through the brush and got to my spot at the water, and yes, my spot was clear. It was muddy, but I was able to stand there just the same. In front of me were two white ducks-- just two and no more-- swimming around and fishing. I watched for a really long time as neither left the other's side and would put their heads down in the water to fish around.

I can not tell you how much peace and assurance this gave me, and the HOPE that good things and blessed promises are sure to come. After watching the ducks for awhile, I backed up and went and sat in the "opening of the brush" you have to climb through in order to get to the water. It was so incredibly peaceful and so very beautiful! I took my shoes off and walked around in it barefooted and took some pictures, and then sat down with my Bible and prayed. I sang a little and mostly just worshipped God. I had to laugh because I decided that when God's promise if fulfilled, and He brings me "my man" this is where I want our engagement pictures taken. I sat there and grinned while thinking about a friend of mine-- who I would ask to photograph us. I am glad she is adventurous, because the picnic and just us sitting together under the canopy of trees, is going to be a little bit different than your typical engagement photos you see.

While I was sitting there-- the peace that filled me was so overwhelming. And the "HOPE" was almost more than I wanted to let my heart have. But as I sat there looking at the grass that should have been underwater, I started thinking-- just maybe-- the waters are starting to recede in my life. Maybe the very symbolic sign of what should have been underwater but instead was fresh and green and full of life-- was me and my life. That maybe in my life (too) the waters are starting to recede; so that I can cross the Jordan into all that God has promised me.

Last year when I called Wendy to tell her bout the whole "Tide is Turning" thing, I remember telling her how DRY I felt, even my mouth felt parched. I couldn't seem to get enough water to drink to quench my body and hydrate it. Everything in me just felt so incredibly dry! But we had had a lot of rain in the winter and spring of that last year so the water was way high! (You can see photos of this in the last post) So you see-- it was just ME. I remember Wendy laughing saying maybe I should be praying for a refreshing of "His Living Water" and though that may have sounded good-- and typically been very good advice-- it wasn't that kind of dry I felt. I didn't feel spiritually dry-- just parched. I remember thinking later, "Well duh, the Israelites walked across the Jordan River on DRY ground" And the river I was looking at was anything but dry land! So what in the world did all of that mean?

But as I sat there yesterday, I realized the ground was dry! We haven't had ANY rain in months, so maybe this was what God showed me last year; that I needed to wait for the right season-- and that it was coming. That God knew when the rains would fall, and when they wouldn't. The waters are slowing receding! And it reminded me of Noah, after the rains, he still had to wait till the following year to finally see dry land and the earth showing new life before getting off the boat. So again it gives me hope.

And what is kind of humorous is that as I write this I noticed that the winds have started picking up today. This morning it was wonderful, but this afternoon it is pretty windy. But I won't complain-- Noah had to endure some hard winds too, as God sent them to dry up the water.

So I am going to look up-- I am going to worship and thank God because I know He is faithful and I too will see the day, and hear God finally say, "Now go out. Go up and take the land I have promised you."

My friend, have a wonderful day!


These first 3 pictures are of the main path and the break in the brush for me to go through to get down to the water.

You can see my spot from the river--
so excited that the water is low enough for me to get to it!

I was so excited to be able to get to my spot-- look at the two ducks!
The discoloration of these next two photos is from the sunlight.

Here are the two ducks that were swimming around at my spot.

Looking back up at the bridge I was just standing on.

These next 3 photos are of the place I have to go through from the main path to the spot at the river I talk about.

Here is "my river spot"

This is what I have to climb through in order to get to my spot at the river.

 This spot where I was sitting with my Bible, was completely under water this time last year. In fact the water came all the way up to the break in the trees you see.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

God Keeps Me

Hi, welcome back.
I would like to share with you a devotional I wrote several months ago, that talks about the same day as my last post, BUT it picks up where Wendy and I got off the phone-- and before I found out a few days later that God had confirmed our conversation with her. WHICH-- BY THE WAY-- IS EXACTLY 1 YEAR AGO TODAY,  JUNE 16TH!


Devotional: God Keeps Me
March 14th

(Psalms 91:4 NKJV)
He shall cover you with His feathers,And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

As we seek His face, His will, and His Ways; God has a way of covering us and sheltering us in the shadow of His hand and under His wing, as we grow in His Grace until He is ready to do an unveiling for the world to see. He protects our baby steps as we venture out to walk in faith, until our steps are sure footed and He knows we are ready to be put to the test, and to see us stand in victory.

One day last summer I decided to go out to this spot I love at the river. Now I knew it would be underwater because the river was really high at this point. However, I just had an overwhelming urge to go stand at the edge and declare my faith and step in, so I did. I got to my favorite tree and parked my car, and took a walk. I got to the place my spot should have been and sure enough, it would have been at least waist deep if I could get there. But not to be deterred, I walked a little further down and found a part in the trees and went to the water's edge.

The river was running in a strong current and I had a vivid reminder of Joshua 3:15 "the water overflows it's banks...." I wondered if the swelling waters I was seeing was anything like the high waters the Israelites faced when stepping into the Jordan River on their way to the promised land. It crossed my mind something someone had just said to me, "You must either have great faith, or you've lost your mind." As I stood there at the edge ready to step in, I have to admit; I was beginning to wonder which one it was... But stepped in I did, and as I stood there with the water around my thighs, I sang songs from memory and worshiped God. The waters didn't part that day for me, nor did I see them recede, but I was strengthened in my heart, and that was ok and enough for me.
After awhile, I walked a little further down and found a hidden little cove and sat down in the grass under some trees. As I sat there and looked around at my new little hide away, I noticed I was completely covered. Though I could see the walking trail behind me, I realized no one could see me. I had a view of the river and the water that came up to this little area was only about ankle deep and slow moving. It was beautiful, and after a bit, I realized I was not alone. There was this duck standing guard just off to my left. I was surprised that it had not moved when I came up and sat down. I was equally surprised that it was standing there not moving but just looking out at the water. I watched it for a moment and then started looking about some more, and to my surprise, I saw nestled up under the brush another duck, sitting there just as pretty as can be. Now I understood what the first duck was doing! It was standing guard-- it was there protecting this other one.  The thing was the second duck was completely hidden and sitting in the most beautiful place. The quietness and peacefulness was breath taking. I sat there for the longest time, and after a while I notice a pure white feather in the grass next to me. I picked it up and played with it. This little feather was solid white, no dirt, and so very soft. I tucked it into my Bible and crawled out of my spot to go back to my car.
I stopped at the bridge that overlooks my spot that I first went to and smiled, you couldn't see the little cove-a-sac at all. I opened my Bible and looked at the feather again, and prayed, "God, You know why I am here. You know what I hold in my heart, You know what I am believing You for, and I believe You are a good and faithful God."  I looked out over the water again and mentally thought about seeing a white feather floating in the air like a falling leaf, and wondered how long it would be before I would see some devotional mentioning a feather. I was excited thinking about it, because I knew that if (and when) I did, it would be confirmation that God had been with me, and knew what I had done-- and why. I smiled because I knew that it would show me, "Yes child, I heard your prayer, and I know why you were there at the water."
I finally made it back to my car, and decided to go by my office. When I got there, I went through the mail and picked up a few things, and then decided to go home. But, before I did, I went into what I call the family room to make sure the lights weren't on and things where picked up. I noticed that the verse of the day calendar was not correct-- no one had flipped it over, so I did. Do you know what I read? He shall cover you with His feathers,  and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
I didn't have to wait for a devotional! It was already there waiting for me! AND it was in God's OWN WORDS, not something someone else had thoughtfully written. I sat down and opened my Bible and looked up Ps. 91 and then decided to do a deeper study of this passage. Now I have always loved Ps. 91 for many reasons. But that day it took on a whole new meaning for me. (I sincerely hope that you will take some time to slowly read this passage sometime soon and let God's Holy Spirit speak to you.)
I still have the little white feather, and over the past 3 months I have gone back to it many times. When the "Northeaster Storm" hit me back in December (that I wrote about the other day), it has been a great comfort to me. And I was reminded of that day last summer when I sat there by the water, that God had already known what I was going to be doing, and where I would be. And just like the duck I saw standing there guarding the other-- God was guarding me through the midst of a "raging sea." These past few months while it has seemed as if I was struggling to stand, God has been watching over me. I think about the other duck that was hidden way that no one could have seen--- I don't know why it was there, maybe it too was nursing a heartache, or maybe healing from something... maybe it was just simply resting from swimming in the strong currents of the water earlier. But whatever the reason, it had found a safe haven and there was another standing watch. And I realize that is what God has done for me.
My friend, God knows when we need shelter from the storms. He knows how much we can really take. He will stand guard and let us find rest when we really can't go anymore. But He also knows when it is time to stretch our faith and grow. There are times when we need to face the overflowing banks and stand in the water, and let the currents swirl around us. It teaches us that we too can stand. And if the waters aren't parted, then we can trust God to strengthen our hearts in Him as we simply just worship.
I would like to leave you with one more passage to meditate on today: I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. (Psalms 121:1-8 NKJV)

Have a wonderful and blessed day,

The following are a few photos from the day I am talking about in this devotional. I am adding them so you can see the "rushing river" that I dared to step into! The spot that I call "my spot" I couldn't even get to. In fact, the picture of legs is where I should have been able to step through some of the brush to walk down to my spot.

Also included are a few photos of the secluded little spot I went and sat down at just a little ways down from where I would have been, where I found the ducks.