Can I just say I’ve never seen a dog with smile lines. Maybe I just never noticed. This little rescue pup of ours has stolen my heart, and spending time caring for him has taught me such valuable lessons about worth, and how God sees us.

We’re rejected and abused, left alone, labeled “bad”, “broken” or “unteachable” before he adopts us into his family, too.

A child of God. What a treasured position to be in. 

We are so fortunate to have a God who wants to be a loving parent to us.

I’m reflecting on what our pastor Matt said on Sunday, “gratitude seals the provisions of God in to our hearts.” 

Each time I see my dog’s smile begin to curl around the corners of his mouth .. all because I speak to him, and spend time delighting in him… I feel Jesus’ warm smile over me. He says, “this is how I see you. I delight in you – not because you can do anything to add worth to yourself- but just because you are.”

The God of Moments & Movements

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I cannot believe it has already been one year since we took this photo. I’m just sitting here having a small praise-party. Let me tell you a little bit about why this photo– out of ALL of my photos– is so important.

In this photo, Jonathan and I had just come “home” for our once-a-year visit to our families. I stared out the window on our way into Bean Town and prayed, “God, please break my heart for what breaks your’s.”

So naturally, I was absolutely wrecked. Tear-stained insomniac. I lay awake several nights crying for New England. My own home. Jonathan and I both kept saying, “How have we just always come home to ‘visit’- like it’s a tourist attraction?” We knew our eyes had been opened.

We felt a beautiful season in our lives coming to a close in Texas, but we had no idea how to go about it or what God wanted.

Jonathan encouraged me to pray for the things God had laid on our hearts. We began a process of laying those very thoughts and ideas God gave me- back at His feet.

I prayed for a church whose heart was broken for the things that break God’s heart. I pleaded with God to even let us get part time or full time jobs in any field… just to get back to New England to start sharing Jesus’ love! 

Kind of funny, how we bargain with God on the very desires he puts in our hearts, isn’t it?

Three months later, I found myself online, and I just stumbled across a church right in Concord, near my hometown. It was called CenterPoint Church. I had never heard of it. I kept repeating the name – wondering why I didn’t know them. Turns out they were First Baptist Church of Concord, under a new name.

I really didn’t think anything of it, but I reached out to them- and the rest is such a blur!

We found ourselves the second week of March, back in New Hampshire, meeting CenterPointers, sharing meals, smiles and hugs. They grew on our hearts immediately. Here at CenterPoint there is buzz of conversation, topics such as: “My life has been CHANGED since I met Jesus!” and “God’s spirit is really stirring here! He’s doing a new thing…” and my favorite: “we long to see the day when every man, woman, and child in New England has the repeated opportunity to hear the gospel.”

We just knew this was where God wanted us to serve.

One year ago today- I prayed a prayer that I was convinced would take years to be answered. See sometimes, God puts a desire on your heart long after a moment or movement has taken place, because that is the time when you are needed. Not before, not after. Right now.

Whatever you’re facing…

In the book of 2 Kings, the Assyrian King named Sennacherib wanted to take Israel captive, and was taunting Israel’s God- the one that all the people in that day feared- knowing He had saved them from Egypt- caused plagues, and killed an entire army with the Red Sea.

Hezekiah was the king of Judah and he followed God, and didn’t worship other gods, “just-in-case” as was so common in that day. Sennacherib sent this message to Hezekiah:

“Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

Sidebar: I cannot imagine going through something like this! My troubles seem so insignificant compared to a mighty empire wanting to kill & plunder- and it’s heading toward my doorstep. Those words are scary, “don’t think for a second your God can deliver you! Have you SEEN what I’ve done to the other nations?” 

But notice what Hezekiah does:

And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “ Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.” 

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: 

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. This is the word that the Lord has spoken against him: “ ‘Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord. And you have said, “With my many chariots I have ascended the heights of the mountains, the utmost heights of Lebanon. I have cut down its tallest cedars, the choicest of its junipers. I have reached its remotest parts, the finest of its forests. I have dug wells in foreign lands and drunk the water there. With the soles of my feet I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.” 

“ ‘Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone. Their people, drained of power, are dismayed and put to shame. They are like plants in the field, like tender green shoots, like grass sprouting on the roof, scorched before it grows up. 

“ ‘But I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against me. Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.’ 

“This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: “This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. “The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. 

“Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: “ ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the Lord. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’ ” 

>>That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies.<<

So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.”

Whatever you’re facing- trust God. These aren’t just stories… They really happened. God hasn’t changed since then… It’s our reading of the Bible and our faith that needs to change! 

‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭19:10-13, 15-37‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/2ki.19.10-13,15-37.niv

Draw Near to God, He is already Near to You

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Recently I thought I had too much on my plate. I exercised my ability to say “no”, and took my day off seriously. Looking to the future: I tossed the idea of cutting down my hours at work. I wanted to work on future details of our family, make our house a home, and visit my family back home more.

None of that was the plan, for now.

In a recent turn of events I was asked to take on more of a leadership role at the Church, with more responsibility, with pay cuts and budget cuts all across the board for our church.

So. I dropped my plans and fell on my face before Jesus. He has been my Rock. I have peace. I have joy. I am brave.

I know God will make it possible for me to plan our future as a family, cook, clean, plan visits, have people over, take care of our pets, enjoy life… all while taking on this important calling. I just need to listen to His voice.

I’m ashamed to say in these times of turmoil… they are the sweetest times of worship for me.

Why can’t I seem to be this close to my Lord during the good times?

I realized today that I find the most peace and joy in the trials– not because God has changed, but because I have. Tweet this.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you {HE IS already close by}. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

God of Grace & Glory

This is an honest blog. The readers who don’t know me probably don’t need this tidbit– but for those who do: I never want to come across as though I don’t mess up, or admit that I do.

As a leader, one of the worst things you can do is do everything yourself. You place undue stress on yourself, entering high-risk for burnout; and in the process you take joy from others that could’ve done the task. Plus you’re not practicing Biblical discipleship.

Sometimes hardships cause you to re-evaluate and also bring you to a place of desperation for God to guide you.
I’m learning this in my life now. And you know what? When you assume the best in people and assign them a task- it creates buy-in from those very workers. Their confidence flies through the roof, and it ends up saving you (me) time in the long-term.

Because an army is better than one! We’re all workers in the church.

The opening hymn spoke to my heart (again) today in our Blended service:

“God of Grace and God of Glory” (Sung to the Tune of “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah”.)

God of grace and God of glory,
On Thy people pour Thy power.
Crown Thine ancient church’s story,
Bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
For the facing of this hour,
For the facing of this hour.

Set our feet on lofty places,
Gird our lives that they may be,
Armored with all Christ-like graces,
In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
That we fail not man nor Thee,
That we fail not man nor Thee.

There are dark days… but armored with The Holy Spirit’s power, and hand in hand with our brothers and sisters … We can accomplish much!

He is willing

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Then Jesus ordered him, “Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” (‭Luke‬ ‭5‬:‭12-14‬ NIV)

So many times we as Christians in our affluent and self-sufficient culture ask the Lord for things but we don’t really mean it. We don’t really think he’s going to answer… And I daresay some of us don’t even think he’s willing.

I think we’ve created to God in our minds that’s not willing to reach down to our level; to be born as a baby, to live among us, to love us, to sympathize with our weakness. To rescue us by his death and resurrection.

God wants to heal us, all we have to do is ask. He told the leper he was willing, and how many of us request from God that way? “Lord, if you are willing…” When Jesus is patiently standing there waiting, saying “I am willing.”

What do you think you should dare to ask for? What requests to you believe He is waiting and willing to answer?

Son or daughter of God- healing, deliverance, and wholeness in Christ awaits you!