Friday, December 30, 2011

Yours Truly

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV)

These words have been making visits in my head the last month. It's capitalized in moments like talking about uprooting and moving - doing crazy things for Jesus, or when I read garbage about Tim Tebow getting slammed for his beliefs. Well for all you haters out there - I want to tell you you're right - we are freaking crazy! Us "Christians" are strange - making no human sense at all! We're weird and illogical AND we're fools! Every last one of us. I don't dress to impress you - but rather the Lord. I don't wake up in morning and walk through my day concerned I've won you over with my wit and awesomeness. You will not find me justifying my faith or selling my beliefs to you.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." (1 Corinthians 1:27 NIV).

My encouragement.. I will be used to shame the 'wise' and the 'strong'

Ladies and gentlemen I'm proud to introduce you to a foolish weakling... Lovely to meet you.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Let's Do This!

"The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board. This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities." Ephesians 3:6-8a

I think of this scripture as I dream about the upcoming days and months...

I can confidently say God is refining me...with what seems like a chisel...hurting (my pride) every time...

Today I had a beautiful friend come to the salon for me to do her hair. I'm always amazed how getting your hair done can be a time of refreshing and incredible fellowship. This impecable young woman and I began to share about high school & the days when Jesus wasn't a priority. It was a moment. It hit me...the scripture:"Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." Romans 10:11

Anytime I have looked back at my life and process through the times I acted on my own behalf....more times than none...well lets be honest.... everytime - I've felt regret...compromising in my mind a "do-over" will need to be necessary. But anytime I've recalled a moment 'I know for sure I acted in obedience to the Lord' or when I walked in Him, righteously - I NEVER have regretted and actually begin to feel proud and honored about the life I live...and remember to give it right back to him. 

No one ever regrets living in the love of the Lord and walking in His ways. The outcome of a life lived in obedience is that you are honored to live it, people are served and blessed by you and your life AND most importantly God is honored and GLORIFIED...

We are confident - so confident that we are selling everything to go where God is calling us. I must be honest with you though - as I want to give an accurate account - and prove that God uses flawed, sometimes hesitant people...The truth: I.... well we, sometimes get a bit worried. Stress about giving away our stuff. Distrust that God is going to act appropriately. Doubt His calling on our lives. And freak out that were giving up things that really do mean a lot to us...they have memories. But then I have those moments, where God - in all His mercy - meets me where I'm at and comforts me with the Truth of His Goodness...His Presence fills the gaps I've created with my doubt...and His sheer encounters make me confident that we're gaining so much more than we are losing...Him...all we need. All we were ever created to need.

To my family it is foolish. I expected it. And in their love have still shown some grace by not full fledge calling me an idiot...but no doubt voicing their concerns and opinions. Still some nodded their heads not really sure what to say (the kind of response I'd rather prefer). And just like the motto "There's an app for that.." I remember "There's a scripture for that.."

"This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength." 1 Corinthians 1:25

We stay confident in this truth and I leave you with this.

"Then Peter chimed in, "We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?"
Jesus replied, "Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first." Matthew 19:27-30

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get On With It Already

"We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It's a wonder God didn't lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
  Now God has us where he wants us, with all the timein this world and the next to shower graceand kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing." Ephesians 2:1-10 - Message version

The New Year is coming. 2012. It's INSANE! This year was fast and furious. With the New Year comes a sense of a fresh start. I read the above verse this morning and thought it very appropriate for this time...a few days before the brand new year. To recognize where were at - where all of us are at AND then recognize where God is taking us...if we let him. 

"We neither make or save ourselves." What a verse! And if looked at the way it is intended - WHAT A FREEING VERSE. It's not up to me. The goals and dreams God has placed in me to accomplish - are totally up to Him to accomplish - I simply --- (it still baffles me) have to believe He will perform...staying FAITHFUL and FRUITFUL. Faithful = Obedience which produces FRUIT.

"He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing."

Love that. God has qualified us. Once we're mature enough to stop whallering in our past mistakes..and acknowledge (to admit to be real or true, recognized the validity and authority of) we are heirs (a person who inherits or has a right of inheritance in the property, rights and ruling of anothers) with Jesus Christ. 

And because Jesus is a pretty important guy - like any important person - He has stuff that needs to get done. And because He's so important He has a LOT of stuff to get done. And similiar (but not really) to Donald Trump - He has people working for Him - doing their specific jobs and called to execute specific jobs/talents/giftings/work...."work we had better be doing." Unlike Donald Trump, God can do it all by Himself - but rather wants us to be fulfilled and flourishing in our special and unique giftings. 

A few things to ponder..We are Jesus heirs...if we accept Him as our Lord and believe He died a sinner's death for us - beaten and nailed to a cross. What I love about being Heir to Jesus is that I didn't and couldn't do anything to deserve it ..."a gift".."God does both the creating and saving." I also love that I'm His Heir is...unlike being a natural heir to a human...Jesus left no debt unpaid. Often as an earthly heir we can be left with a spouse's or family member's debts. How refreshing. 

Second thing to ponder.. is the "work we had better be doing"...what a statement. A command. Now that we are aware - we are responsible to act. Our responsibility is to know the Lord, to know our giftings, to do the work we were given breathe for. 

What is the work that you had better be doing? It's the kind of work - we're accustomed to..the kind we dread. This kind of work that we are uniquely shaped for. The kind you LOVE doing. What you dream about..what would use EVERY part of your being. 

What is the work that you had better be doing?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2 Things I Ask...2 Things I Desire...

Faithful= steady in allegiance or affection, reliable, true to fact or standard.
Fruitful= productive; successful.

2 words that describe what I want to be said about my life. Faithful....Fruitful.

"But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you." 1 Samuel 12:24

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

I want to be a woman that lives a life every day (even mondays) with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and discipline.

I want my life to be a confident record of faithfulness....steady in affection to the LORD. He has been faithful to love and show compassion in light of every idiosyncrasy I have...we have. He has chosen to show faithfulness to us...

He is deserving. Deserving of a life of faithfulness and fruitfulness.

Nothing I'm more desiring of than of SUCCESS. Not in a monetary-big house-high paying job sort-of-way. But the kind success - that at then end of the day (everyday) AND the end of my life - is deserving of the words "Well done, my good and faithful servant" from the Creator of the Universe.

I can't do that without Jesus.

"so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:7

I'm responsible for the rest by being faithful and fruitful.

We're choosing to be faithful to God's obvious directing and praying that until we are where we're heading that we are fruitful...faithful AND fruitful in the small that our fruit at our destination is even greater and that our whole journey produces good, quality, life-giving fruit.

I recently had a woman come up to me after church, with a sincere grab of my hand and an intential look in her eyes - commiting to pray for our family on our new venture. Not the kind of praying that people say they are doing in a time of need. But the wrestling the kind of praying you'd do... fighting a war.  That moment made me feel special and valued. Those of you following I'm asking for you to pray for our young the following weeks are crucial. Current request: that we sell our house and car.

We LOVE you.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not Lacking Not One Thing

"but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you." (Psalm 139:12 NLT)

I hate the dark. I dread having to go out to my car after the sun goes down. There's something about it. I shouldn't live in fear of this - its silly. I can recite 'God doesn't give you a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind'.. And run in dead sprint to get in my car parked 10 feet away... Pathetic.

Often in the seemingly dark times of my life - where God 'seemed' (by my diagnosis) to be so far away from me - I would find myself in fear & panic. I would worry and fight - I would seek discord and speak in bitterness - I would find my heart angry and in distress - I would feel bull dozed by the smallest life challenge.

Most of my darkness was in the shadow of not being able to conceive. I wanted a baby, to be a mother and to make Ben a father more than I wanted to breathe, most days. I would also feel God wanted to be distant from me because I didn't feel righteous. Feelings - I'm fueled by them.

I would feel in the dark about areas of my life I knew God gifted in me - because I "felt" they weren't being used. I would react quickly in desperation of being used for anything exciting. I wouldn't search God on things and jump with all my gumption towards things God didn't have for me. Then there were other times where God specifically placed me under leadership to refine my "following" skills and I'd blow it more than I would honor it... And in my defense I would sin more. Again I write:

"but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you." (Psalm 139:12 NLT)

In all those dark days, to me - God saw them as bright as day. He gives us our daily bread (dark or bright the day) and knows exactly what we need to take on that specific day. But what I also believe God is saying is those 'dark' nights are just as brightly refining as the day for us.

Knowing where God is taking us has been confirmed by the journey God has already brought us through. Just as when I look at my son and watch how perfectly matched he is to us - Ben and I see why & how God's timing is PERFECT! We'll recount conversations or prayers we prayed and then see them months and years later fleshed out in Paxton Oliver. Those 'nights' and dark days I'd weep uncontrollably when the pregnancy test said negative and I would see others grow their families - I see now that God was birthing Paxton IN my heart not under it.

"for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4 NIV)

"because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:3, 4 NIV)

Be so encouraged! This 'night' you're in is bright to the Lord and He has your back - your front - He's got you. He wants you to lack nothing! My prayer is that you are encouraged and truly refreshed by this. That you perservere - and NOT LACK A SINGLE THING GOD IS GIVING YOU...becoming mature and complete.

You are invited to follow our family on this journey - where in the coming weeks we will expose where God is directing us and give you an account of God's faithfulness and provision. We are excited and honored that God has invited us to partner with Him - though He could do it all on His own. Be blessed.  - The Ward Family loves you.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The END is always the best BEGINNING

Last year around Christmas time I began to blog and though I have had only a few posts I have enjoyed it and truly believe this next year will bring even a bigger adventure and testimony to God's favor and goodness to us.

It's so important to the Lord that our journeys are documented that people around us see what the Lord did for His people - that they may be encouraged and that He is honored. "Now go and write down these words. Write them in a book. They will stand until the end of time as a witness." (Isaiah 30:8 NLT)

This past year God gave us a son through a series of events that only God could of written... So unique and beautiful... He gave us a son - a family - a birthmom - a story... That we are honored to be given a part in His Grand Story.

He has shown us that He is more than enough. He is ENOUGH. He can do it all on His own.. But from His track record..has shown us that.... (drum roll)... He wants to invite us on the journey. For more reasons than we can presume. "For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9 NLT)

.. And thank God for that.. Because some days I'm losing it.. Where I find myself holding a dish in the laundry room while I still have a towel on my head and my other hand is holding a toothbrush trying to brush my teeth because im also trying to talk on speaker while my phone sits on the washer.. And I think.. why do I still have this dirty dish in my hand?????

I follow a Holy Big God.. Who is continually reminding me every seemingly unordinary day that He wants to do something EXTRA ordinary with my life...

So with that we believe God is calling us and our family - all 3 of us are going to be faithful to listen and do.. Totally believing that He who created us knows EXACTLY where we belong and were gifted to do AND what we will fill the most satisfied. I promise to be more faithful to journal this journey - that it may bring God glory and encourage you to listen and "go".

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me! (Psalm 139:13-18 NLT)

Be so unbelievably blessed this Christmas and I beg take at least 5 minutes today thinking about a baby boy, born of a virgin, who grew up in love with God the Father to then die so young, beaten and hanging by huge nails on cross, by choice - so even maybe one person would accept his sacrifice and gift. I thank God I don't have to do anything but accept His gift - that I may be His daughter and heir. Merry-Blessed-Favored-Loving Christmas!