Thursday, December 31, 2015

America {No Longer Beautiful?}

On this last day of 2015, I wanted to give a small synopsis of the last six months in regard to the spiritual state of our nation.  To say that I am heavy hearted would be an understatement. Over the months, I have found myself with tears streaming down my face, literally grieving a nation that was once called "The Beautiful."  When I look around at the nation as a whole, I see anything but beauty.  If beauty is absent, then God's blessing on our nation must be, as well.  He is the only one that can bring true beauty upon a soul or nation.  Nations aren't beautiful because of the landscape but because of the truth and freedom that radiate from the inhabitants.

As a whole, we are not free.  As a whole, we are not true.  As a whole, we are not beautiful.

At the end of June, God started showing me things regarding our nation.  I had the audacity to ask what was on His heart and He was faithful to show me.  Regarding our nation, God made it clear that our nation was so far from the true vertical that collapse could not be prevented.  The book of Amos talks about the plumb line, if you want to study this concept.

In August, God showed me that our nation is similar to Babylon when Belshazzar was ruler.  Daniel (whose name means "God is my Judge") deciphered the strange handwriting on the wall and told him the kingdom had been numbered, numbered, weighed, and divided.  Read Daniel 5 for further study.

In September, God had me study the book of Ezekiel.  I learned about the concept of "searching Jerusalem with lamps."  Ezekiel was shown all of the abominations of his people.  The idea from God was that perhaps if the people SAW their sins, they would repent.  (He is a merciful God and longs to show mercy and grace!)  All summer long in our not-so-beautiful nation, God searched us with a spotlight.  He brought hidden sins out into the open (such as the Ashley Madison website.)  He showed us our blatant legalization of sin when we spit in His face regarding the definition of marriage.  He exposed Planned Parenthood and showed us that we not just abort His image, we sell it off to the highest bidder.  (An organization that despite their revealed heinous sins, we as a nation will still continue to fund.)  God also exposed our political allegiances when we decided to give billions of dollars to Iran in a nuclear deal.  We turned our back on Israel in that moment and Genesis 12 says the end result for us as a nation will be a curse.

At the end of the exposure of all of these sins, there was a moment I thought we might repent as a nation.  Look how ugly we have become!!!  Surely, we see that we are spiraling out of control and about to fly off of the mountain.  But, sadly, we did nothing.  Perhaps a few individuals repented (praise God!) but our nation as a whole has refused to repent.  We have become our own gods.  I am reminded of the book of Amos where God tells the prophet to look at a basket of ripe fruit.  "And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more."  {Amos 8:2}  God is telling him that judgment is inevitable.  There simply was not a harvest of repentance after all the warnings.

While praying for a new word for 2016, I was a little taken back by what He revealed.  It's the first time He gave me a word that carries so much weight.  But, with the weight of what He showed me, I am reminded that His glory (which means weight in Hebrew) will be showcased.  Isn't that what we long for the most? What we long for is not the right Presidential candidate.  Even if "our guy" gets into office, we know that the weight of the world's problems will still not be solved.  We need a Good King.  It's time for a Righteous Monarchy, where Jesus reigns in the visible forever and ever. 

So, whatever lies ahead in 2016, I am going to remind myself that all of the burdens...all of the tornadoes and wildfires and floods and earthquakes and wars and rumors of wars and hunger and disease and job losses and ruin and broken hearts and deaths scattered here and there...I am going to remind myself that all of these point to a Savior coming soon (very soon!) to make all things right.  The very earth is begging for His return. Shouldn't we, as well?

In 2016, I am going to force myself to rest in Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts.  "The Lord of Hosts is with us, though the earth be removed , and the waters roar; and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.  God is and must be ever sufficient for a ruined church as for a ruined world.  And the Church, because of the deposit committed to her, may need His help even more than the unbelieving world, which is yet so far from Him.  It is the Lord of Hosts who punishes His people for their unfaithfulness.  It is again the Lord of Hosts, who, when they have been chastened, smites their adversary and brings them help and full deliverance." The Names of God by Andrew Jukes.

If He were to slay us, would we still praise Him?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015: Favorite Posts

I write for one main force myself to remember who God is.  These posts helped me see Him this year.

Jesus Loves Me. This I Know.

The Ark

7 Years: The Wilderness

The Three Stories of Desire

Rain and the Finished Work

The Day Love Won

The Love of a True Friend

Elijah:  Just Like Us


The Day that Sin was Embraced

Summoned by the King:  A Lesson in Delight

The LORD, the God of our Fathers

A Beautiful Inheritance

Exposure {Nothing is Hidden}

The Writing on the Wall

Repentance {Soften this Heart of Stone}

Beach Letters {Rend Every Last Heart}

The God of Provision


A Look at Betrayal

Dry Bones {Always, Always Hope}

Madigan {A Short Story}

Sight for the Broken and Barren

Treasure {Wisdom Calling Out}


Writing with Meaning {The Art of Carving}

The Color Fade

Delight {2015 word of the year}

2015 was the year of delight.  It wasn't a word I would have ever chosen for myself, but God made it clear in December 2014 that it was the right word.  On the fourth day of the new year, our sweet Herb/Papa died and left us without his contagious laugh and Godly counsel.  Knowing the signs of grief personally, I found them written on our hearts for much of the year.  Disbelief, a bit of anger that things could have been different, shock, depression, coping mechanisms, laziness, apathy, endless sleeping...the list goes on.  Even when you accept the good sovereignty of the Father, grief is still a hard pill to swallow. 

That's why when God dubbed 2015 the year of delight, I was a little taken back.  Looking over the year, it seemed fitting.

I focused on one verse regarding delight..."Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I fought for sweet solace with the Savior, knowing only His presence would fill the ache and void.  When you are down, it is hard to really "desire" anything, but I still desired to "see" God.  So, while delighting in Him, I would pray that He would fill my desire to "see" more clearly.

He allowed me to "see" starting in the late summer in ways I never have.  I guess the best way to describe that is through images or word pictures.  The post about the dross in the ocean was one example of that.  Many of these images are tucked away, unclear as to what to do with them.  I haven't always liked the message God is telling me through them.  But, I do believe He has answered my prayer and allowed me see in ways I never have before.  There is delight to be found in that...another level of intimacy with the Father.

There were tangible expressions of delight throughout the year, as well.  We celebrated Cade going to National History Day and the family getting to tour D.C. together.  (We equally celebrated not having to drag the 2 year old along with us, thanks to BeBe!)  We celebrated Eli's soccer achievements and his team making it to Premier League.  We celebrated Sam and his musical talents seen at his guitar recital.  We celebrated Cade making the high school baseball team.  We celebrated the A's brought home by all, but even more, their souls that have remained in tact after a season of grief. Finally, we celebrated the writing group I became a part of, as well as the friendship, laughter, and encouragement it has provided.

2015 was a year where sorrow took delight by the hand and asked it to dance.  They always made the best partners, anyway. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Sweet Family {and a Merry Christmas}

I never dreamed in a million years that I'd have only boys.  I just can't imagine being any happier, though!  Cade just made the high school baseball team, so I am officially a Wampus Cat Momma.  Eli had three teeth pulled yesterday and lost another the day before.  We have been treating ourselves to lots of smoothies.  Sam played "Away in a Manger" and "Joy to the World" at his guitar recital.  I'm so thankful to have a kid that loves music.  And Asher, well, that boy decided he might want to start peeing on the potty while at Toyota while getting our oil changed.  He went about seven times in a row.  The next day, we were back to diapers as if nothing had happened at all.  We might just need to move into Toyota in order to get him potty trained.

You guys, we started the year with death and we ended it with death.  It hurts to lose your favorite people.  But, I am clinging to the sweet times, and doing my best to remember that sweet baby God-boy that brought such joy. These are my favorite lyrics right now.  Merry Christmas from all of us.  We pray that you, too, can find the joy amidst the ache.

"Baby Boy"
by For King and Country

If you told me all about your sorrows
I'd tell you about a cure
If you told me you can't fight the battle
There's a Baby Boy who won the war
The war was won by a Baby Boy

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven's ringing
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

Oh, before that silent night
No Savior and no Jesus Christ
The world cried out so desperately
And the Baby Boy was the reply,
Yes, Heaven's reply was a baby boy

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven's ringing
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

See, the King is coming down
And He's here without a crown
The Baby Boy without a bed
Giving life back to the dead
And hear the angels shout it out
As the people come and bow.
Unexpected majesty
Alleluia, what a King

Alleluia, we can sing it
Alleluia, Heaven's ringing
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

Alleluia, we can sing it!
Alleluia, yeah, Heaven's ringing!
Endless hope and relentless joy started with a Baby Boy

{I am oh-so-grateful for all the above photos by Todd Owens Photography!}