Sunday, April 17, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about sincerity and realness in my walk with Jesus since our women's retreat last weekend. The speaker, Leslie Nease, was very sincere and even more real in her speaking to us. The second I saw her face online before the retreat I felt a kinship to her. I didn't know her whole story, just that her blog was titled REAL LIFE, and the way that she writes is transparent. Maybe it was something in her smile, her eyes.... or maybe not. It was Jesus. I needed to hear what she had to say, and let me tell you that the Enemy did everything he could to stop me from hearing it.

Money, transportation, gear, kids, my extremely unfaithful friend Fear, you name it and he threw it my way. Thank the Lord for my husband. He gently but firmly said that I needed to be there. That the Lord wanted me there and he knew it, that he wouldn't stand for me cowing down to the Enemy yet one more time to be led into that wretched hole the Lord has been trying so patiently to drag me from.

So I went.

I was a part of the worship team, which gave me some sense of a feeling of commitment to go, and yet the reasons that I had for being hesitant were real. But not as real as the message that was in store for me when I got there.

I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 10 or 11 years old. (I'm pretty sure it was 10... but that was a while ago.) My Grandma had passed away when I was 8 and a half, she was my best friend, and the world was officially off it's axis after that. My time at Camp Yamhill for those few summers, and the time I spent with the youth at Metro Church of Christ really watered little seeds that had been planted when I was a young child. But life, and sin, and trauma, and abuse, and and and..... provided fertile ground for me to become fearful, hopeless, angry, and lost for a lot of years after that day in the Yamhill River where I was baptized.

I went through the Genie in the Lamp god stage, and the life preserver god stage, and the 'wow I can't seem to get it right no matter how hard I try so I'll just keep God over there and I'll be over here giving myself a colossal beating so He won't have to' stage, then the ever so popular 'I am going to take the wheel now thanks for getting me this far I can do just fine now' stage, which promptly landed me into a spiritual, emotional, and physical (as far as my health is concerned) brick wall.

Leslie spoke about this, she called it The Try Cycle. Ya know, Try, Try harder, Try Hardest, Give up...... and under the heading of Give Up would be a myriad of horrendous decisions, or buying massive stock in the Enemies lies until a phone call, a visit, or the Lord Himself would pull me up and give me hope to try again.

What I realized at the retreat is that I was trying so hard all those years to be acceptable, to be worthy, to be lovable, and to do all kinds of good stuff hoping to achieve those things.

I had it backward.

During our quiet time we were instructed to go and spend some time with the Lord, no real hard parameters on what to do exactly, just to be with Him. So, I grabbed my journal and headed to my room. I opened it up and asked the Lord to speak to me, and here is what He said:

I have loved you with an everlasting Love.

My thoughts toward you are precious.

I am renewing and reviving you.

I will never let you go.

You are completely covered and forgiven.

And then;

From HERE on:

I am the Truth

I am the Way

I am the Life

But then He had me go back through and slash the word 'the' in the last 3 lines and replace
them like this:

I am YOUR Truth

I am YOUR Way

I am YOUR Life ~ Jesus

I had never thought of those words in that way. Always so general, now He was telling me that after all the affirmation He had just spoken to me, He is all the things that I am searching for. I left that quiet time totally humbled and very ready to hear anything further that the Lord wanted to speak to me during that retreat time.

At one point Leslie used a large blood red piece of cloth to cover up some items that represented her old life. I don't think I'll ever forget that visual. The things were totally not visible by ANYONE anymore. Covered completely. I have struggled with that for so long, feeling marked, labeled, condemned, and in that one moment the Lord used that visual to show me how completely in Him I am.

I had been striving all those years for something that already was. I am totally worthy, loved, and accepted in Jesus! It was already a done deal. Nothing I can do or say or be can make it anymore so than it is right now! I have shied away from the hand of the Lord, from the voice of my Father for so long because I didn't truly believe in my position. I was so ashamed of my sin, so afraid of his punishment for my rebellion, that I ran along the edges trying to build up enough good-ness that He might accept me.

He already does!

He doesn't even see my sin anymore, I am in Him, and in Him I am protected and valuable and secure.

No wonder the Enemy didn't want me there.

I must be honest and say that ever since I got home he has been doing his darndest to distract me, to continue to pummel my body, fire darts of doubt and lies into my mind..... BUT I have the Truth. I am in Him and He is in me, and He told me that He will never let me go.

I may feel the wind as the Enemy storms about, or the heat as his temper flares, but I am on solid ground, and I know who I am and WHO I belong to.......

and I BELIEVE it.

Finally. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.....

"What a fellowship
What a joy divine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!
What a blessedness
What a peace is mine
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms!"~ Elisha Hoffman 1887

Truly, is there anywhere else in this world where peace and joy can be found other than in the Arms of the Everlasting God?

This song has been running through my head tonight and it caused me to reflect on all the other things that I have 'leaned' on in my life. It is safe to say that the list is long, and actually humbling to recount. I have tried finding strength just about everywhere else on the planet before I came to the life-changing realization that true strength that stands when all else is falling is found in Jesus alone.

"On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground IS sinking sand." ~Edward Mote 1834

Obviously, people have been getting this for long before me. Thank the Lord that they composed such testimonial hymns to relate to us that would come later.

Hymns have always been a comfort food musically to me. I grew up with my spunky Grandma Freda singing and humming them around her little house in Portland, OR. Her 'Camp Song' books were left to me after she went home to Jesus, and I spent many hours reading them and thinking about their meaning as a young adult.

"I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood's atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory." ~ Eugene Monroe Bartlett 1939

Such rich, deep, truth embedded in every one. To truly understand what Christ did for me leads me straight to the foot of that old bloody cross, and to a decision as to what I'm going to do about it.

"Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost
But now I'm found
Was blind
But now I see."~ John Newton 1760-70

And what a wretch I was! And how lost.... I can't get through that verse without choking back tears of gratitude for the Grace that has saved me, given me sight, and led me home.
My salvation experience wasn't an easy one, no human led me in a prayer, no alter was around to hear a pastor's voice calling. In sharp contrast, however, was the roar of the ocean, the pounding of my own heartbeat, and the clarion call of the Saviour of my soul.

"At the cross, at the cross,
Where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away.
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day."~ Isaac Watts 1707

To finally grab hold of the truth that I have a Redeemer that truly wants to shoulder the burdens of this life has brought a rest to my spirit and peace to my mind that is near indescribable. The Enemy would love nothing better than to convince me that it is I that should be able to carry it all, and then back up to my emotional driveway with a truckload of guilt when I can't. Thank you Lord that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.

It's always about His strength, and about Him perfecting it in my weakness.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of music, for the depth of the Hymns, and for your Truth most of all.