Be careful what you pray for. In the last year God has been almost palpable to me.  I've felt His presence in a new way in my life.  I think it started when my dad got sick.  I begged for God to just wrap me in His arms and give me comfort and strength because the ache from losing my dad just left me reeling. Through out this last year, my family has dealt with some things that have caused me to draw into those same arms time after time.  They have become a place of refuge and comfort for me.  I've come look forward to time in my Bible and prayer each day because I long to be in His presence.  It is peace.  It is encouragement.  It is a reminder of unfailing love. Or at least it has been until recently. It is still all of those things, but the more time I spend in my Bible and prayer, the more I realize how far I am from loving like Jesus loved and living like Jesus lived.  It is convicting and uncomfortable sometimes.  The discrepancy becomes more pronounced the more I study it. Several months ago Heather Gillion (author of Dancing on My Ashes and speaker) spoke at one of our Inspire meetings about being interrupted.  Her message was powerful and I prayed for God to interrupt my plans with His own. Mission Accomplished. Enter a plethora of crazy God moments that have lead to amazing Christian friendships and connections, ministry opportunities, and a renewed passion for my relationship with Jesus.  I was definitely interrupted.  And He keeps interrupting me by drawing me out of my comfort zone and into opportunities to put hands and feet to what I believe.  It is amazing and terrifying and utterly awesome. Then, fast forward to now. I read Jen Hatmaker's For The Love and fell head over heels for her writing style.  She's hilarious.  The book was so much fun to read but also full of good, Godly insight.  I loved it enough that I picked up another one of her books  called... Interrupted.  Jen is not the only one with a sense of humor because here comes God with the same message months later, after I already felt like I had already been pretty darn interrupted. I read her book on a flight to LA last week.  As I took off from a layover in Denver, I looked out my window into the darkness and saw thousands of porch lights and street lights and city lights twinkling.  I was reminded that each little light was a home or a business full of people. And I prayed, ""God, Open My Eyes To Really See Your People.  Interrupt Me." And because He's gracious and I am a slow learner, God continued to spell out what being interrupted actually looks like during my flight as I read through the book and in the following days.  I spent that week in LA working with my ministry friends, Shari Rigby and Claire Lee  (authors of Beautifully Flawed), as we hashed out plans to share stories of lives redeemed by our loving and merciful Savior.  I visited The Dream Center and was shaken to my core by the beautiful testimonies of broken lives made new by our gracious God.  (This place has my heart!  Look it up.  www.dreamcenter.org  It is one of the boldest, most beautiful examples of Christ's love in action that I've ever seen.) I came home and I've been a little crazy.  I've been unsettled and stirred up. Then yesterday, my kids and I went to our regular weekly work day at our local food pantry.  My heart was a little raw.  I can't even tell you how much these people have ministered to me over the months we've worked there.  I've had many people speak a blessing over me as I helped them carry out their bags.     I've been invited to church several times.  I've even been preached to a time or two. But yesterday was amazing.  I met this woman who was a warrior for Jesus.  As we walked out to load her bags into her car, we talked and I learned that she is a recovering addict and drug dealer.  Two of her three children are in prison and she is raising her grandbabies.  She's been clean for 18 years.  And she is one of the most beautiful examples of the heart of  Jesus that I've ever seen!  She talked about the love of her Jesus like he was standing there beside her holding her hand. She explained how hard it was fighting through her addictions and then leaving a profitable life as a drug dealer.  She talked about how Jesus has been her rock every moment of every day since then.  She shared the passion that she has for sharing her story with others because she knows that many other women struggle with overcoming their past and sometimes even their present. She praised God because nothing is ever too broken for Him to make it beautiful. She cried as she wondered if her boys saw too much before she was saved and were too tempted by that lifestyle.  She told me how fervently she prays for her children, her grandchildren, and her community.  She told me that we have to help those who get out of prison because way to often, they go right back because they have no hope. She told me we have to do more.  We have to spread His hope. She and some of the other ladies in her church feed kids in the projects over summer break and school vacations because a lot of people are hungry.  She gives a testimony in church every chance she gets because someone may need to hear her story to see a chance for redemption in theirs.  She asked me to help her reach others for Jesus and she pours out her desire to serve others because she is so grateful for all that God has done for her. And my heart turned inside out because I've been interrupted. Once again, He tells me to loosen my grip on my plans and to let Him work out His own.  Jesus reminds me that His heart is for those who are on the fringes.  He doesn't see the world or people like we do.  He desperately wants to love people and wants them to turn to Him.  He aches for those who are lost and hurting. Those are the very people He met with when He was on this Earth.  The woman at the well.  The adulterer.  The tax collector.  The leper.  The woman with an issue of blood.  The hurting, the lost, the sick, the broken, the poor, the needy, the outcast, the lonely, the unloved, and the struggling. Those people who were an awfully lot like me before I met Jesus.   And maybe a little like you use to be too. Just like my new friend from the food pantry, He wanted to reach those who need Him most  .And now I do too.  And it has interrupted everything. Mark 2:17 "On Hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."    
image Father God, This world is hurting.  It is everywhere we turn.  This whole world is groaning and crying out for its Savior.  People are reeling with heartache and confusion.  Lord, in the midst of chaos, help us turn to you for the peace that passes all understanding.  Help us to look for your comfort. Let us diligently seek your hope.  Help us to continually turn to you for strength. Father, in a world that's gone haywire, help us to remember that you are our constant.  You are our rock.  You are our good Father.  You heal broken lives, broken people, and broken hearts.  God, you are creator, sustainer, and ruler of all.  Lord, God, you are sovereign.  You are strong and mighty.  You are righteous and kind.  You are holy.  You are just.  You are near to all who call on you.  You are faithful and true. You are judge and jury. You redeem and reconcile.  You pour out unmerited mercy and grace.  You are love. We praise you for all that you are Lord.  We love you and we trust you.  We know that you watch over us.  You don't rest Lord.  Your eyes are continually upon your children.  You are our shield, our fortress, and our protection.  You hide us in the cleft of the rock.  You hem us in, behind and before, and your hand is upon us.  You are our refuge.  You are everywhere.  There is no where that we can go that you aren't present.  Let that be our comfort. Lord, when this world is madness and confusion, we turn towards you as our strength, hope, and comfort.  Father, give us peace in our hearts and our minds.  God, only you can bring peace in our world.  Give us the peace that passes all understanding. Amen Encouraging words from His word: Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 141:8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—leave me not defenseless. Psalm 139:5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 144:1-2 Praise be to the Lord my Rock,who trains my hands for war,my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge Psalm 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, [...]
image Do you know what I just love?  I love authenticity.  I love it when what you see is exactly what you get.  I'm not a fan of false pretenses or underlying meaning.  I don't really like fake.   I like to be able to take things at face value and trust that something or someone is who they claim to be.  I kind of just like people to be real. Because of this love for all things genuine, I just adore Jen Hatmaker right now.  To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with her until last week when a friend mentioned that they were reading her new book and loved it.  The friend quoted some of her work on a Facebook post, and I was immediately hooked. I could tell that she was the real deal! I bought her book, For The Love, and I just LOVE it.  Jen is hilarious!  I actually woke up my son the other night because I was reading her book in the living room and was just laughing so hard.  Not only is she just really funny, she has a way of boldly and unashamedly  getting to the heart of a matter. Her manner is bold and brave but she is also very transparent and therefore very vulnerable.  She is a straight shooter and I very much appreciate that! I think I love that quality so much because God is such a straight shooter in His word.  He pretty much just tells it like it is.  He gives us some clear direction and clear commands in His word.  There are things that He leaves mysterious because we cannot understand His ways, but when it is time to lay out expectations, He takes most of the guesswork out. Not only is He clear, He is repetitive.  He knows that we need to hear things over and over for them to really sink in.  I've been reading through the Psalms over the last week and God keeps hammering in one clear message to me.  He used Jen Hatmaker's book to reinforce that message.  Like I said, he like repetition.  He's good like that.  He likes to give us the old one-two to really be sure we are getting what He has for us. He repeatedly showed me this week that He wants to use US to deliver HIS message to OTHERS.  He calls US to sing His praise, to declare His goodness, to speak of His might, and tell of His works.  He calls US to think on Him and share our thoughts with our children and our families and our communities so that we can make Him known. He calls US to extol Him.  I had to look that word up.  It appears in the book of Psalms a ton and I wasn't really sure what it meant.  It means to lift something up and praise it highly.  All throughout the Psalms, we are called to praise and extol Him. I don't think that God is calling us to a passive thing.  I believe He is calling us to take bold action.  He is calling us to stand for Him and tell the truth of what He has done for us.  He wants us to use our story to show Him to others.  He has given us each a specific story to share.  We get to be the connection for people!  Wow!  That's just plain crazy!  We have the privilege to introduce others to Him by sharing what He's done for us. Psalm 145: 4-7, 10-12 "One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom." That's kind of a big deal.  And it's not a responsibility that we should take too lightly.  It is a privilege and an honor.  Can I be honest?  It's also a little intimidating.  If I'm going to introduce people to Jesus, then I want the introduction to be a good one.  I want to share my story in a way that compels people.  I want to show other's how much Jesus has done for me.  I want to share His goodness, love, mercy, and grace.  I want others to be drawn to His saving power like I was.  But, that requires a lot of bravery and a lot of courage.  It requires me to be authentic and real and vulnerable. I can't really tell you of His grace and mercy without telling you what He's done for me.  I can't show you how He unconditionally loves me if I'm unwilling to show you how often I've failed Him and how often He extends love to me in the midst of that.  I can't really show you the power of His redemption unless you see how far He has brought me.  And I can't really show His strength until I show you my utter dependence on Him. To follow that call to praise Him and extol Him and declare His works, we must be uncommonly brave and bold.  We have to be willing to share.  And it's scary because being vulnerable is hard.  It's hard to just put ourselves out there for the world to see because the world can sometimes be a harsh and judgmental place.  But there is also a lot of love and grace and mercy there.  And there is freedom in the sharing because our boldness not only gives glory to God, it breaks down our own walls and it gives courage to others. My favorite quote from Jen Hatmaker's book addresses this specific thing.  She talks about telling our truth to the world regardless of our hesitations.  She says, "Just tell the truth because it sets us free.  This first domino unleashes a chain reaction of liberation.  If we tell the truth in the small things, our honesty is well-practiced when stuff gets dire.  This creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving.  In a world full of the fake, artificial, pretend, and superficial, we have the sustenance to nourish starving hearts.  I promise to be gentle with your truth-telling, and you've already demonstrated tenderness with mine.  And as we witness this beautiful community, we aren't just observing vulnerability but rather chains breaking, darkness receding, victory rising.  We are watching the light win truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has no where else to hide.  Show up.  Be seen.  Tell the truth.  Be free." I seriously love that!  What a bold deceleration of our responsibility to share our story and to be the ones pointing others to Jesus!  This morning I prayed for a renewed boldness and strength to stand for Him.  I prayed that He would give me the courage to be authentic and to share.  I'm praying that for you too.  I'm praying that we all will take Jen's challenge To Show Up.  To Be Seen.  To Tell The Truth.  And To Be Free.  After all, I think God calls us to the same thing.  Let's Extol Him.  Praise Him.  And Declare His Greatness. Love and blessings, Bobbie
image Alright.  I'm warning you all in advance.  This post makes it sound a little bit like I've gone off the deep end.  That's my early disclaimer.  You've been warned. I didn't grow up in church.  Matter of fact, I didn't come to have a relationship with Christ until I was an adult.  I can vividly remember going to church every once in a while with my aunt when I was a kid and being more that a little intimidated by those people who were obviously sold out Christians.  They quoted God's word.  They prayed loud and proud.  They praised unashamedly.  Their lives were obviously different.  I can't even put my finger on it, but something about them was obviously different.  It was totally weird to me and a little scary. Even after I had come to know Christ in my 20's, that fully sold out approach to believing was a little strange to me.  I loved Jesus and was so thankful that He bore my sin and shame.  I gladly accepted His gift of salvation and did my best to repent and turn from sin.  I made some major changes to my life because I wanted to please my Heavenly Father.  But still.  Those fully sold out Christians weirded me out a little.  I wanted to love Jesus, but maybe not with everything I had.  I wanted to be set apart, but maybe not really far apart.  I didn't want to just go totally off the deep end! It has been roughly 14 years since I became a Christian.  And can I be really honest, here?  Up until recently (like really recently), those all in Christians still kind of weirded me out.  They intimidated me.  I just could not grasp how they could just live and love and praise and pray like they did.  It was uninhibited and bold. But then something strange happened.  Maybe it's the time that I've spent in my Bible lately.  As strange as it sounds, I've fallen head over heels in love with God's word.  He draws me to it like a magnet.  Maybe it's the amazing Sisters in Christ he has placed in my life who help point me to Him.  Maybe it's the books that some of these friends have recommended.  Maybe it's the time I've been able to spend engaged in small groups and in Church.  Maybe it is the powerful messages of healing and love from the retreat I attended this weekend.  Maybe it is that He has been at work in my heart for a very long time.  Maybe it's the community (real life and on line) that I'm beyond blessed to be a part of.  Maybe it is that I'm finally getting out of my own way.  I'm not even sure exactly what the catalyst was that brought about the change, but I think I'm becoming one of them!  AND IT REALLY WEIRDS ME OUT! What is even weirder though, is that it doesn't really scare me anymore. Strike that.  That's not entirely true.  It doesn't scare me, but not as much as it use to.  It still scares me a little, but instead of seeing it as weird, I see it as absolutely beautiful.  And, oddly enough, I'm kind of excited about going off the deep end. I can feel God calling me to go all in.  I can feel Him asking me to just close my eyes and not be afraid to jump off of the deep end.  Have you felt that?  (Please tell me I'm not the only one because then I'd have to really wonder if I am, in fact, a little weird.😉) I can feel His tugging on my heart to fully commit to the life He has called me to.  I can feel His urging me to turn over the things that I've been hesitant to let go of.  He wants those things that I've held on to a little too tightly because it might be a little uncomfortable to let them go.  He is calling me to give him the hurt from my past, my stored up pain, my heart that's been broken and mended, my time that I want to keep for myself, my present and the things I give myself to, my future and my plans.  Really, I can feel Him asking for my all.  And even though it may seem a little like going off the deep end, I'm going to just willingly hand it over. Because, I've not really done a great job managing those things all by myself.  Matter of fact, I'm kind of a hot mess.  If you get a grade for trying, then I'm an A+ student.  However, as far as performance goes, I'm more than a little lacking.  I still let my past tangle me up.  I still let this tattered heart lead me in more decisions than it should.  I still guard my time and my plans like they are my own to control.  I still cling to my own visions for my future.  And that's ok.  Because God works at His own pace in each of our lives.  Obviously, He knows I'm a slow learner and more than a little stubborn since I'm still very much a work in progress after 14 years.  That's what grace and mercy are for.  So, as much as possible, I'm going to get out of the way and let Him have control. Are you there too?  Are you feeling Him lead you just a little out of your comfort zone?  Is He calling you to step out of the norm? It's ok.  Just jump with me.  He's trustworthy.  He's faithful.  He's good.  He's true.  He's strong and powerful and Holy.  He loves us.  He has plans for us.  He's big enough to catch us.  He's great enough to lead us.  He won't fail us.  He's got this even if we don't. So, weird or not, I'm going all in.  See you in the deep end! Love and blessings, Bobbie
image Have you ever placed your trust in the wrong person or the wrong thing?  Have you ever been let down by someone or something?  I think we all have.  I'm pretty sure that at one time or another we have all experienced the pain of broken trust. I know I have.  Even as a child, I learned the risk that comes with putting your trust in people.  I came from a divorced home and I would often sit, dressed and with an overnight bag in hand, waiting for my Daddy to come and pick me up.  Sometimes I'd wait for hours.  It was a hard lesson that taught me that sometimes people will let you down.  They often do not intend to.  My Daddy never really meant to cause hurt.  People are broken and flawed and sometimes react out of hurt or to protect themselves.  Sometimes, even with the best intentions and with love in their hearts, they fail you.  As Christains, we are called to forgive and to continue to act in love regardless. We've all had friends that have failed us.  Maybe a confidence has been breached.  Maybe you've been betrayed.  Even the truest friend isn't infallible.  People simply can't be perfect.  We understand that basic fact of human nature and we forgive and move forward in love. Maybe it's a spouse that has broken your trust.  Marriage is hard, friends.  When two flawed people come together, there is bound to be some difficulties.  Even the strongest and most loving marriages have experienced some level of hurt. I adore my husband.  He is one of the best men I've ever met. He is so kind and caring and compassionate.  He is so forgiving and so loving.  He is generous beyond belief.  However, our marriage has been littered with issues that involve hurt or broken trusts.  Every marriage is to one degree or another.  We've both made mistakes and we have both caused hurt.  Regardless, of the challenges that we faced, we embrace our Christian duty to forgive, to be united, and to daily walk forward in love. Just maybe, it is your own self that you don't trust.  There may be some thing that you are struggling with that has caused you to be the one who breaks trusts or causes hurt.  Hurting people sometimes hurt people.  It's often unintentional.  I know I've been guilty of this.  I know that I've acted out of pain in a way that has caused hurt to people that I love.  But I also know that God can forgive, redeem, and restore. Here is where all of this gloom and doom takes a beautiful turn for the better.  People will fail us.  We will even fail ourselves.   It is a given.  We are sinful people in this flesh.  However, that doesn't mean that we should ever become hard hearted.  We should never allow bitterness or unforgiveness to take root in our hearts or in our relationships.  We should always seek forgiveness, restoration, and love. Our hope doesn't lie in people.  Our hope lies in a God who is powerful enough to walk us through any hurt or broken trust that we may face.  He is who we look to.  We know people will fail us, but we know that God never will. Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." If you are in that place where your trust has been broken or your heart is hurting, look to the one who takes brokenness and makes it beautiful.  Pour our your heart to him.  Let Him be your refuge.  He has the power to forgive.  He gives the power to forgive.  He has the power to redeem and restore.  He has the power to change hearts and minds.  He specializes in taking situations and people that seem too far gone, and turning them in to a beacon of hope.  He is trust worthy. He does that in each and every one of us when we trust in him for salvation.  He promises that if we call out to him in our brokenness, ask him for forgivenness, repent, believe in Jesus, trust in His name, and follow him; he will save us from death and hell.  If He has the power to save our souls, He has the power to redeem any situation or relationship here on earth. He is worthy of trust.  He is strong and mighty.  He is good.  He is forgiving and loving.  He is merciful and full of grace.  He is the God who redeems and restores.  He takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful. And He desperately wants you to trust in Him.  First, He wants you to trust in Him for salvation.  After that, He wants you to realize that you can trust Him to redeem and restore other areas in your life as well.  He wants to heal broken hearts and broken relationships and broken people. The verses leading up to Psalm 62:8 are a beautiful example of why we can trust him.  As you read these verses, meditate on them.  Remember His saving power.  Think about the fact that He is the only rest for our troubled souls.  Trust Him to redeem and restore.  Turn all of that brokenness over to Him.  Trust in Him to make it beautiful. Psalm 62:5-8 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Love and blessings, Bobbie