Mar 15, 2017

Adopted by God...

Have you ever thought about adoption in the Bible?

Since becoming an adoptive parent, this theme throughout the Word of God has really stood out to me... 

You might remember the story of Moses being taken in by the pharaoh's daughter or how Esther was raised by her uncle Mordecai, or even Jesus' adoption story! 

Unfortunately, I think that there are many people today that have a distorted view of what adoption is...

Throughout history, adoption has been a legitimate way for families without children to have an heir to carry on the family name. 

These children were given the inheritance that generally would've been reserved for birth children, but an adopted child was seen and treated as if they were actually born to these families.

Now, nowhere in the Bible has this truth jumped out at me more than when I recently read through the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew chapter 1. 

Ok so let's be real, we've probably all lazily skimmed or outright skipped over all those names... but this time I felt compelled to read through it carefully.

What I read in verse 16 completely floored me!

After seeing names like Abraham and Isaac and Judah and Boaz and King David and on and on, we read, "and (then) Jacob the father of JOSEPH, (who was) the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah."

  So this is the part where I had to stop for a minute in order to fully wrap my mind around this important piece of information.

 The genealogy of Jesus is based not on Mary, His birth mom, but on Joseph, His ADOPTIVE FATHER'S family line! 

 Prophecies from the Old Testament were fulfilled from Jesus being born of a virgin AND from being a descendant of David, but He's considered a descendant of David based on the legitimacy of his sonship through adoption by Joseph.. 

 So now that we have a little better understanding of how God views adoption, my hope is that we can better receive what the Bible says about US. That WE have been adopted into Christ's family and that God is our loving Father in heaven. 

 Romans 8:15 tells us that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but that we were given the Spirit of God when He adopted us as His own children at salvation so that now we can call Him Abba Father.

 Here's an interesting side-note about that word: Abba is actually an Aramaic word that literally means Father, but not just as a reverent title, but a word a child would use like papa or daddy. It's a very loving and relational term because we were made to relate to God in this loving, tender way. 

 Here's a little experiment for you: If you were to close your eyes right now and picture God, not Jesus, but God... how does He appear to you?

  Seriously now, I want you to dedicate the next 5-10 seconds to this. Where are you? What's He wearing? How far away is He? What's His facial expression? Write it all down.

 Does he appear distant or cold? Stern? Aloof? Or is He happy and near to you? Does He seem excited to see you and to hear all about your day? 

 When I did this awhile back, it seemed God wasn't very interested in me. When I looked deeper, I realized that I had a faulty worldview of Him based on my religious upbringing and the negative references I had heard about adoption growing up - hearing that it was just 2nd best or a plan B for people that couldn't have their own kids. 

 I kept wondering & asking why I didn't believe that God loved me like His own child when it hit me... 

 I felt like He was just Jesus' dad, not mine - not really anyways. 

 This realization was huge for me. 

 I don't personally view my adopted children in this way (as 2nd best or less than), but somehow this tainted worldview had weaseled its way into my heart and was poisoning my view of God.

 Seeing God in a healthy way is pivotal to having an intimate relationship with Him. Without it, we likely won't try to know Him better or listen for His voice or seek to be more like Him each & every day.

 Knowing that we are adopted and a legitimate child of the Creator of the universe helps us to better understand our true identity. We can see ourselves the way He sees us and therefore trust the good plans that He has for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11)

  If you struggle to view God as your Father based on your own negative experiences with your earthly father I'd encourage you to do a little soul searching. Ask God who He is and how He sees you. Direct the conversation to Jesus or the Holy Spirit if talking to a Father is too much for you. 

  For a glimmer of inspiration - I've shared a photo above of a very positive relationship between a father and his son... actually this is my husband and our son Ezekiel :) 

 God truly loves you and delights in all that you are. Keep seeking Him and trust that He has your best interest at heart. May you be blessed & highly favored. Amen.

May 25, 2015

Free-will & the redeeming power of God (Bob Ross style!) ...

Tonight I was listening to a teaching by Chip Ingram called "You're a masterpiece in the making."

I've often thought of the Lord as an artist... I mean, look at all the beauty around us! I definitely wasn't expecting a humorous vision about this though.

Ever heard of the "free-will" or "pre-destination" debate?

Well, this vision gave me a little different view of that topic. Not so much about which one is right or which one is wrong, but how they're used together perfectly in the grand scheme of things...

It was like I was standing behind Jesus as He was happily painting a beautiful nature scene onto a canvas with an easel. It was a painting representing the beautiful plan He had for someone's life (we'll just say it was yours). There were beautiful trees and a river winding about and mountains in the background & a clear blue sky, but every now and then He'd add something in that He hadn't originally intended. "Oh, ok we can put this tree over here instead..." this constant loving compromise went on throughout the entirety of your life & the canvas became a very large, intricate, & beautiful masterpiece over time...

...and then there was an odd splotch painted in the middle that really didn't seem to make any sense. There seemed to be a pause... and then Jesus smiled & said, "that's ok... lets just make that into a bird!" (I kid you not - like totally Bob Ross style!) I couldn't help but giggle a bit at the Lord's humor. :) 

God has given us the right to make our own choices. He won't force us to love or serve Him because He wants family, not robots. Love is patient, kind, & is not self-seeking... you know the drill. With free-will comes mistakes... human error... a separation from God (aka: sin). So then what?

The Lord's original plan for mankind did not include sin. 

We brought that element into the equation (remember the garden?). Because He is just, the sin we invited in was allowed & mankind was no longer allowed inside the garden. Because of His love, He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be the atonement for mankind - bridging the gap between God & man. Because of His grace, He redeems & transforms us from whatever we've been through (kinda like that mess-up in the painting being changed into a bird)! I'm so thankful for my God... my Redeemer :) Amen.

May 23, 2015

I've got the eye of the tiger... and encouragement for you!

Truth be told, God often speaks to me through movies. Any type of movie, really... I must be more open while watching one or something. Anyways, Native American totem poles were referenced... 

Now, I'm not at all into spiritualizing things that weren't meant to be spiritual, but I couldn't shake the leading to investigate these interesting things. I did some reading & even did one of those "very spiritual" online quiz thingers... you know, the ones that can tell you where you should've been born or what hairstyle you could totally rock! Ok just hear me out here... I took a quiz about spirit animals or something & realized I was selecting a lot of answers relating to "will-power" or "strength."

All animals were created by my Father God & can have very different personalities (just look at a cat & a dog!). I personally don't find it hoaky whatsoever to take note of this & have God speak something to me by pointing out similar characteristics I have with one of His magnificent creations... The animal I got from the quiz? A tiger.

"Tigers are actually very easy going people in the totem world. 
(As long as nobody disturbs their territory) 

You make a great friend, and will protect loved ones 
no matter what you have to do to complete that task. 
You can be extremely unpredictable, but Tiger people 
are wonderful people and make great friends!"

Call me crazy, but this meant a lot to me... so I had to keep investigating. I asked God what He was trying to tell me & continued my search until I came upon an article available to read online: Here  

I learned that: "The tiger's two most astonishing qualities are its hunger and its strength. It has been said the tiger walks in perpetual hunger, eating as much as sixty pounds of meat in a single meal. This bottomless hunger drive sharpens its senses to live in constant readiness to hear, watch, stalk, attack and consume. The "eye of the tiger" is a term describing the blazing intensity a tiger has on its prey. This intensity is revealed in the tiger's burning gaze.... Champions from all walks of life are said to have the eye of the tiger when they passionately concentrate their entire being on conquering the challenge before them."

Side note: I have been told on multiple occasions & by several different respected Christian folks, that God has given me a very specific spiritual gifting. Recently I was even told that I've been wasting it & need to take this gift seriously, so here it goes.

The Lord has called me to be a prophet.... 

I have what's called the spiritual gift of prophecy. 

2 Peter 1:20-21 says, "Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet's own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God."

According to 1 Corinthians 14:3, the purpose of prophecy is to strengthen, encourage, & comfort others... So I am now going to strengthen, encourage, & comfort you with the words God gives me.

"YOU have the eye of the tiger!" 

If you have received Christ as your savior & seek to follow/serve Him with your whole heart... you've got "the stuff" that true champions are made of. No matter your circumstances, God's fighting for you, He is in your corner, & will stick with you no matter what. 

Your source of STRENGTH is in Him and that strength/intensity will grow only as your HUNGER for Him grows, so lets be in agreement with one another & ask God for these things now...

"Heavenly Father, thank You for your grace. 
Give us the continual hunger & strength of a tiger. 
Start a fire down in our souls that we can't contain.. 
that we can't control. We want more of you God!" Amen

The hunger you have for God is intimately connected to the strength He will release to you when you need it the most... 

Please allow me to assist you in entering into a moment of worship with your Creator... ask & keep asking for a hunger to know Him more & for Him to release His strength to overcome whatever situation you are in right now. Whether it's for perseverance as a mother (like me) or to trust Him through an extreme hardship... He is for you, not against you. Click here to start worshiping! 

May you be blessed & highly favored... Amen.

(P.S. Signs/symptoms that the Holy Spirit is being stirred up within you could include things like tingling all over or feeling really warm... or at least this is what's up with me right now! ;) I know this is a bit deep for some, but know that God is a relational God. He wants to be close to you. Speak to Him & look for the special way He is trying to speak to you.)

Feb 6, 2015

"Perspective on Vaccines by a Cancer Mom" (guest post by my sister)

"We live in a world of gray. Many shades of black and white......

There is nothing in my adult life that troubles me more than those who cannot see the gray in deep issues.  We should vaccinate...  We shouldn't vaccinate... Black and White... This just is not the case with anything, let alone vaccines.  

I feel I have some unique perspective.  

You see I identify as being one of those "crunchy" moms. Granola, hippie, natural... you get the point.  I had heard the horror stories about vaccines and felt strongly about them.  We chose attachment parenting, baby wearing, nursing, etc.....  A common movement among mothers today.  I was not sure I was okay with the risks of the vaccines when a lot of these diseases seem to be eradicated diseases.  And I know this is a common thought process.  I also have met numerous moms who believe firmly that vaccination is the reason for a serious medical issue they experienced or are still experiencing with a child. It seemed very scary as a first time mom.

The flip side to this is my current reality.  Years after I had to make these decisions about vaccines, I am also the mother of a radiant 4.5 year old.  Big blue eyes, adorable blonde curls, and personality for miles. She is my baby.  My only child.  A child in treatment for cancer..."

Feb 2, 2015

Living Well Spending Zero...

We had a good thing going for awhile.

After admitting our struggle to communicate each other's daily expenditures, my hubby and I decided that what would work best for us would be separate checking accounts.

As a SAHM, I received a monthly allowance from him. With that amount, I had a little bit of freedom for my free-spirit (aka Amazon & Walmart) & could also get some of our grocery essentials.

Since the holidays though, I haven't been very organized with this... so I decided that this month required drastic action...

Jan 29, 2015

The Grace Card...

I wasn't prepared for that phone-call.

Have you ever experienced a call that completely threw you? Maybe it was really bad news or an unwanted reminder of your past? Yeah... I wasn't very impressed with the experience either :(

What do we do, as Christians, when we are forced to face our demons? You know, those lovely ungodly feelings reserved for extra special moments? Anger... shame... fear...??

It quickly turned into a very bad day...

Jan 17, 2015

My Secret To The Good Life... Inspired by "Living Well Spending Less" by: Ruth Soukup

After reading a book entitled, "Living Well Spending Less: 12 secrets of the good life" by: Ruth Soukup I was reminded of something I intuitively knew deep down in my soul, but desperately needed to be reminded of.