Friday, April 27, 2012

Who's Bearing Your Burdens?

A few months ago I was on my way to meet a mentor for breakfast.  It was a rainy, dreary day which mimicked the way I felt.  I had just gotten all the boys off to school and was driving to meet her as I wrestled with my thoughts. 
She had been encouraging me during monthly breakfasts as my husband and I walked through a tough time financially.  Normally I looked forward to those breakfasts, but this day I didn't.  I knew she would ask me how things were and I just didn't want to go and report that we still hadn't seen much change in our situation; that we were still struggling.
I had been praying for things to change, but it was taking so long and it was so uncomfortable.

  I had grown weary.

My mind was filled with fear over the "what-if's" of the situation.  All the worst case scenarios were replaying over in my mind and as they filled my mind, they eventually came out of my mouth.  And for the last 2 weeks I had pain in my shoulders, down both my arms, and into both hands.  The pain was so severe at times that it made me nauseous.

At first I thought I may have slept in an odd position which caused the discomfort, but the pain grew worse over the next few days.  I considered calling the doctor, but I'm not really a doctor person.  Deep down I knew it wasn't something the doctor could heal anyway.  I knew it was stress and that my negative thoughts and words had opened me up to this pain.  I felt ashamed.  So, I really didn't want to go to the breakfast.

But I did.

I told her what was going on...
Things still the same.
No money.
Lots of stress.
Now lots of pain.

  She asked,
Maureen, are you taking on burdens that you weren't meant to bear?


Are you bearing a load that is not your responsibility?

I hadn't thought of it that way, but something clicked in me and I knew she was right.  So we left the restaurant and prayed together in her car.  I asked the Lord to forgive me for taking on a burden that wasn't mine.  To forgive me for my unbelief in His ability to provide for us.  By faith I took that burden off and gave it to Him.  And that was it.  But that was not all.  The pain in my body started to go.  It wasn't as severe.  A few hours later it was completely gone!  This was pain I had all day everyday for 2 weeks.  It kept me awake at night.  It had me constantly rubbing my hands thinking I could rub it away.  It had me nauseous.

  Now it was all gone!

So what happened?

Somewhere during the year of lack and stress I picked up the burden of provision for our family instead of giving it to the Lord.  I was praying and asking for God to help us, even quoting scripture here and there, but yet my mind was stuck in trying-to-figure-it-all-out mode.  My negative thoughts, which turned into words as I gave voice to them, negated my prayers and God's ability to work in my life.  My words stopped His answers from coming.

  I picture it like this...
I'd pray, quote scripture, and ask for His help.
He'd hear my words and start to answer.
Then I'd go through doubt and fear.
I'd voice that doubt and fear.
He'd hear my words and His answer halted at those words because they were in direct opposition to what I had originally prayed.

My prayers and scriptures were calling for blessing to come into my life, yet my words, spoken out of doubt and fear, called for cursing.

This became clear to me that day that I asked forgiveness for my fear words and my burden bearing.  Asking for His forgiveness opened me up to receive His blessing and I was healed.

The next day I woke up and those negative thoughts started to come back in and my hands began to ache slightly.  Those thoughts were just waiting for me to grab ahold and give them a voice like I had done before.  But, instead I reminded them that I gave that burden of provision to Jesus yesterday and that I give it to Him again today.  The burden isn't mine to bear and those thoughts have to go.  They went and so did the pain.
  I haven't had pain since. 

So, today, if you're plagued with stressful thoughts, and maybe even pain in your body, take some time to see if you're shouldering burdens you weren't meant to bear.  Ask God to forgive you for not trusting Him.  He's a merciful God who longs to see His children free and healed.  Then give that burden to Jesus.  It's His shoulders the burden was meant to rest upon.
Be at peace and be healed.  

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.

Psalm 68:19

Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday?
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.

Friday, April 20, 2012

No Matter What

The note came by way of her mother, to me, sealed in an envelope, addressed to Ethan, marked with a request that it be read alone in his bunk bed.  Needless to say, my dear friend and I were curious, to say the least.  Ethan and Adaire have been friends all of their lives.  Born only 2 days apart, they have grown up together, shared many play-dates, birthday parties, first days of school, and sleepovers.  So passing a note to one another isn't that out of the ordinary, but this one had a bit of mystery that had me and my friend curious.

  The only thing we had to go on was, the day before, my friend's daughter got up from the homeschooling room, grabbed her bible and went into her bedroom.  When she came out she had the note signed and sealed with a request for her mother to deliver it.  So she did.  Gave it to me with all the expression of 9-year-old urgency and I toted it around in my purse all day before I remembered that urgent note when I woke the next morning.  So, deliver it I did to my sleepy-eyed boy up in the top of his bunk.  He sat up with excitement and finding that he was already in position, according to the instructions on the envelope, he tore it open.  I asked if he minded if I stayed in the room while he read it silently to himself.  He nodded and began to read.

He smiled as he read and nodded his head as he finished.  Nodding to himself with a confident smile as if he was thinking,
 Yeah, I got this in the bag.  No problem.

Well, I was curious before I delivered the note, but now I really wanted to know what it said.  So I asked Ethan, and he handed it to me to read.  I have thought of it ever since.
  He gave his ok to share it.  Here it is...

Jesus said, I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except through me.

Dear Ethan, Please do this for me.  I need you to preach the good news.  I know that I could do it too, but you can do it more often because you're at a public school.  Take Peter for example, 
he preached no matter what. 
So let's do the same.

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16:15

The Great Day is Quickly Coming!!!

From the cradle to the cross and through the heavens, Jesus made it through it all.


Can you stand it?  Well, needless to say I was in tears as I read this aloud.  Ethan was beaming a confident, peaceful smile; the  kind that comes when you know something, this good thing, is exactly the thing for you and you know just what you'll do with it.

I was wrecked.

Nine year olds encouraging each other to preach the gospel, no matter what.  This spoke volumes to me and continues to turn 'round in my spirit.

  These children get it and oh what we can learn from them...

If you know the good news, share it.
  Encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same.
Remember the great's the reason we're still here.
Never take your eyes off of Jesus...
Who He was, Who He is, and Who He is coming to Be.

And do it all, no matter what.

Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday? 
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Living It

It's near noon on a Tuesday and he's in the playground.  Ethan, my nine-year-old, in the middle of the school day is walking around amongst the third grade class recess and praying.

  A classmate comes over and asks what he's doing and Ethan tells him he's praying.  What's that?, the child asks.  Ethan says, Well, you talk to God, the one and only true God who has a Son named Jesus, and you start out like, Dear God, and you ask him to help you with something or you tell him stuff.  But the main thing is you have to believe in your heart that He hears you and that He'll do it and after a few times of praying to Him about it, you'll have an answer. 

This I listen to on our drive home after we've left the car-line at the end of the school day . 

What a pleasant surprise!  I love these moments!  Moments when I discover the fruit of seeds I planted in my children during times that left me wondering if they really heard me.  This fruit discovered in the midst of the mindless routine, right smack between pushing brothers to get the much sought after way-back back seat and the wrestling match that takes place in the driveway daily as we pile out of the van and "walk" (with 3 boys, I use that term loosely) to the front door.

Keys to prayer as told by a child (of God):

1. Make sure you're praying to the right guy, aka the one and only true God who has a Son named Jesus. 
2. Believe that He hears you and that He'll do it.
3.  Keep it up.
4.  Do it no matter where you are.
5.  Don't be afraid to be seen and heard. 

Such a great reminder to me to talk the walk and keep pouring into these boys what it means to live being a Jesus-follower.  Although they may not always look as though they're getting it...they are.  Children are sponges and will soak up whatever you give them.  This is a reminder to me to continue to create opportunities with them to soak in more of God.

They soak up enough and recess time could look a whole lot different! 

*sharing this at MOB Society's Let's Hear it for the Boys link-up
 {reaching the hearts of boys for the gospel & preparing a generation of men to love the Lord}

Friday, April 13, 2012

Secret to Success

Ever find that when you get a new car you see other people driving that same car everywhere you go?
Seems like every road I take, there's my van.  

Well, that same thing has been happening to me lately, but this time it isn't with a new car, it's with a scripture.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:8-9

I received that scripture passage at a women's retreat I attended in March.  For the last six years, a few friends and I have attended that same retreat and every year large silver trays are passed around, covered in ribbons, each length of satin embellished with a scripture.  The ribbons lie face-down on the tray, each one having been prayed over by the ladies who prepared them; that each ribbon would go to the right lady and be a word in due season.  It's a part of the retreat that all the attendees anxiously look forward to because you just know you're about to receive a kiss from God and direction for the year.
So, ever since receiving "my scripture" a few weeks ago, my bible study teacher has spoken on it, there it is in a book I'm reading, a speaker at another conference I recently attended mentioned it,
 I just received a book as a gift and there's a whole chapter on "my scripture,"
I hear it mentioned in a tv show I'm watching...
I mean it's just everywhere I go.
There's my scripture.

It's a good reminder and encouragement to me to make it a daily habit to be in the Word.  I love it when I am, but I haven't always been real good at being consistent with it. 

But lately, I've been inspired by a couple of good
reasons to meditate on God's Word day and night...

1.  It moves you forward.
While I was reading a book I was recently gifted, "The Magnificent Word of the Lord" by Sandra G. Kennedy, she shared that the word prosperous in Joshua 1:8 has nothing to do with money.  When you look at the meaning in Hebrew, this verse is actually saying that if you will be a doer of the Word, you will "push forward and break out."  So, if I don't want to be stuck, but want forward momentum in my life, I must first know the Word and then be a doer of it.   

2. It's timely and relevant.
God's word given to you by someone, like my ribbon was, or when it just leaps off the page like it was written especially for you, is always wisdom for what's going on in your life or preparation for what He's about to do...preparation for where you're headed.

  When I got back from the retreat, my husband and I were asked by our Pastor and Elders to lead the elementary school ministry at our church.  The children's Pastor and his wife are stepping down after 18 years of amazing service.  This new role tempts to be intimidating for just regular Jesus-loving folk like me and my husband, until I remembered my scripture and the context in which it's found in the Bible.

You see Moses, the long-time, much-loved-by-God leader of the Israelites just died and God was calling Joshua to take over as the new leader to take the Israelites into the Promised Land.  He was giving Joshua direction as to what he was to do.  And God's direction to Joshua as He called him to lead was to be in the Word, to meditate on it day and night, and to live it out.  And finally, to not be afraid because God would be with him.

How good is God that He gives this scripture to me just days before I was asked to lead a children's ministry that had been led by a faithful man and his wife for years?  I was already blessed by the scripture I received, but when I read it again in light of this new season and ministry, I was totally amazed!  It is this word that I will cling to as I "push forward and break out." 

  God always prepares us, equips us, and moves us forward to what's ahead and He does it by His Word.  

I'm ready to dive in, how about you?

Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday? 
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series

Monday, April 9, 2012

Precious Garments

When I was in my teens, twenties and early thirties, my identity was found in my appearance. The need for new clothing was a temptation for me that I rarely ever resisted.  The reason I got a part time job at 15 was so I was able to buy new clothes.  Having a new outfit to layout the night before just made going to school the next day easier. Subscriptions to Seventeen Magazine, Vogue, and In Style were my bibles, before I knew The Bible.  My major in college was Fashion Merchandising.  When I graduated I worked in the fashion apparel retail world for years.  Appearances were everything. Wearing the latest fashions was a requirement of the industry, which suited me just fine and gave a "justified" excuse for my well established clothing obsession. 

Thankfully those years and twisted mindsets are long behind me because meeting Jesus in my mid-thirties helped me to see the worth and value on the inside of me.  I was set free from needing to pretty up the outside to find my identity and approval.  I still enjoy fashion and purchasing a new outfit or accessory, and have even created a fashion pin-board on Pinterest, but my priorities have changed and with the needs of a family to provide for, the opportunity to buy myself new things is much less frequent.  I'm creative and have learned how to "make do" with what I've got in the closet.  But, every now and then that old ugly temptation shows up and presses into me with whispers, You can't wear what you have, you must have something new.

I heard it last week over and over.
It's Easter, you must have a new dress to wear.  Everyone will be wearing something new and you have nothing.  You must have a new dress, after all it's for church.
It was tough to resist. 

Now, there's nothing wrong with wanting to dress nicely for church or buying a new dress for Easter, but this was different.  If I'm going to be really honest, and I am, it was about keeping up with the Joneses.  It was about not wanting to feel inferior and less beautiful.  It was about pride.  Pride is ugly and insidious.  It slips in quietly and cunningly disguises itself into something that looks good and very palatable, but I felt it and knew the motivation was ugly.  I wrestled with it for a couple days.

The ugliness of the motive to buy a new dress was staining the new garment before it was even purchased, blotting out the divine and covering it over with striving.

You see, we like getting something new, it makes us feel good to wear something beautiful.  But we need to be careful, especially someone like me, with a past of bondage to appearances.  Everyone see the outer garments.  They give us compliments that build us up.  We can end up striving for them.

I fought the urge to use a credit card to run to Kohl's and buy something "new and pretty". 

This all may seem trivial to you, but I knew what I was dealing with was a wrong mindset trying to take hold of me again, so I prayed, asked my husband to pray.  Later I felt God gently beckon and remind me of the garments I was already wearing.
Those without spot and wrinkle.
  Those purchased at a great price.
Those that all the money in the world could not buy.


You have no need for a new Easter dress.  There's only one arrayment that I see as beautiful and it's what my Son gave you...what He won for you.
Nothing you can purchase in this earth can ever compare to the garments My Son purchased for you with His precious Blood.

Then I remember the garments I'm already wearing.


  Those of salvation and righteousness.  Those that allow me to stand before God the Father, forgiven, because of what His Son Jesus did for me in His dying and raising back to life.

I was already dressed in the perfect Easter dress. 
And the spell is broken with His word.  

I delight greatly in the LORD; 
my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness... Isaiah 61:10 

Do you find it curious that of all the regular days of the year and all the holidays we celebrate, not one of them puts such a focus on wearing a new dress as Easter does?
 One that we spend weeks in search of?
  One that we wake up early or even stay up late to prepare to wear, ironing out the wrinkles, matching up the accessories?

Could it be because our spirits cry out for the holy arrayment that only comes
 from a Life-Given for a life-spared?

The garment of salvation and the robe of righteousness, purchased for us and given without our striving.  More beautiful to God than any earthly garment.  I was thankful for that reminder.

  And knowing I was lovingly covered in those precious garments, I was satisfied with choosing something from my closet for Easter.

*artwork featured, Celestial Ecstasy: Sweet Surrender and Embracing the Glory:Empowered from On High, by Lillis Boyer, can be found and purchased in The Elijah List Store here and here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Good News

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could embalm him.
 Very early on Sunday morning, as the sun rose, they went to the tomb. They worried out loud to each other, "Who will roll back the stone from the tomb for us?"
 Then they looked up, saw that it had been rolled back—it was a huge stone—and walked right in.
 They saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed all in white. They were completely taken aback, astonished.
 He said, "Don't be afraid. I know you're looking for Jesus the Nazarene, the One they nailed on the cross.
 He's been raised up; he's here no longer.
 You can see for yourselves that the place is empty.
 Now—on your way.
 Tell his disciples and Peter that he is going on ahead of you to Galilee.
 You'll see him there, exactly as he said."
Mark 16:1-7 The Message

Friday, April 6, 2012

I Believe

I just finished watching "The Passion of the Christ" for what was probably the 1st time in 7 years, and it shook me to the core.  Oh the love of Jesus to endure the Cross, and the love of the Father to give of His only's challenges normal everyday penetrates psyche and ego and rocks you to the very bone. God's thoughts are unlike ours and His ways are higher; they are not our ways.

As the movie came to an end and I lay on my bed in the dark with the glow of the tv and the soundtrack filling the room, I closed my eyes and these words came to mind...words I had not recited in years and years since my days as a girl in Catholic church.  But they floated back to me as I lay there in prayer having just witnessed the height and the depth of God's love  for me and for all mankind.
These words....

I believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty.
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.
I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father.
Through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day He rose again in accordance with the scriptures;
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
 and His kingdom will have no end.

Now, although the church I worship in is no longer a Catholic one and I'm not much for a service that has planned and recited prayers, I sit here and realize, but what if the heart is full and ripe and the lips are eager to release what's in the heart?  Aren't the first words that come, I believe?  Believing is where it begins, how you endure in the middle, and where you triumphantly end on this side of eternity, all with a confession of faith, all with a fervent I believe!

Sitting here in the dark weeping for all that my Savior has done for me, for you, all manner of words could have come pouring out to attempt to match the gratitude, the love sewn deep in my heart.  But, these words, recited without a connection between heart and lips as a young girl, were the very words the Holy Spirit placed on my heart as a woman desperate to say thank you to her Savior.
  And they begin with, I believe.

If you're reading this today and you don't know how much God loves you, this I want you to know...
It doesn't matter what you've done, who you've been with, what's happened to you, or where you are right now, He loves you.  His love never changes.  Nothing you can do can separate you from the love of God. He loves you so much that He made a way for your sins, all the wrong choices you've made, to be forgiven.  He gave an offering for your body and mind to be healed.  He made a plan for you to have and enjoy your life.  All of it and much more was given for you by God through His Son Jesus.  He died for you on a cross to take the punishment for your sins and the sicknesses in your body.  He rose again to eternal life 3 days later so that you can have abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven after.  The only thing you need to do to receive all of that is to believe.  Believe in Jesus and what He did for you and ask Him to come into your life. 

Your first step into freedom, it all begins with I believe. 

Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday? 
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.
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