Release, Receive, Rejoice

We recently uprooted from the rolling hills of Tennessee and began to plant new roots in South Florida not even 3 weeks ago. Emotions had already been high yesterday as I dropped my husband off for a business trip to Italy, on this the 19th day in the home we’re renting. I was missing a familiar life and routine, as well as longing to be establishing our potential forever home here on Earth, rather than honing my gecko-swatting skills in a home that is not our own.

Sleeping has been hit-or-miss for both of us here. I can count on one or two fingers the number of restful nights of sleep I’ve gotten here so far, not entirely sure why, but last night was no exception. As I laid down to sleep, mind somewhat racing, replaying details of church conversations just an hour before, and thoughts of my husband’s trans-Atlantic flight, I was hyper-aware that it was teeing up to be another restless night.  Continue reading

Eclipsing Glory

Have you ever sung a song for years and, when you really stopped to think about it, not truly known or understood the meaning of the lyrics? I’d sung “How He Loves”, written by John Mark McMillan and made known by David Crowder Band, for 9 years before even scratching the surface of understanding the powerful depths professed in the truth of these lyrics.  Continue reading

When Everything, Yet Nothing, in Your World Changes

I have slowly, often fraught with resistance, learned that I’m not in control and I don’t have it all figured out. This realization would have served me well decades ago, but better to discover in decade 5 of life than much later! I don’t have it all figured out, I don’t have the best plan in mind, and I must let go of control and rely on the only One that does. Continue reading

Sin’s Intriguing Wrapper

dolls-eyeMany of our weekends are spent enjoying time in the north woods of Wisconsin. In fact, I grew up in the north woods of Wisconsin. I’ve spent hours upon hours, in all 4 seasons of the year, walking through the pristine, pure Nicolet National Forest. I’ve seen plenty of wildlife, plenty of berry bushes, plenty of leaves, thorns, and trees, overall a mainly green sight to behold…until September 2016 when I encountered what you see in this picture!

This plant (or what was it?!) stopped me in my tracks. It magnetically drew my eyes to itself in this vast sea of green.

I thought “Is this even a real, growing plant, or is this plastic that someone “planted” out here? What in the world is this thing?!” I examined it closely, but didn’t touch it (thankfully, I’d discover later!). Compelled to capture life’s moments daily on camera, I snapped a few pictures and continued on, perplexed.

After returning to wifi range, I immediately posted this picture on Facebook to solicit any botany-savvy friends’ knowledge, while simultaneously beginning a Google search that included “white with black dot plant” 🙂  Surprisingly enough, I immediately found results that indicated this was a doll’s eye plant (or white baneberry), and I learned it is highly poisonous!  Eating these berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death!

The encounter with this seemingly rare and fascinating plant stuck in my head, and then it came to me, the way in which I must write a blog about it.

The strangely beautiful, intriguing, fascinating, somewhat begs-to-be-touched plant that captured my attention and stopped me in my tracks is such a profound parallel to the way our enemy Satan uses sin tactics in our life. We often grow up thinking of Satan as someone vile-looking with horns and a pitchfork; scripture teaches us quite the opposite, that he was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. We know from 2 Corinthians 11:14 that today, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Nothing visibly unattractive about those descriptions.

Sin sounds like a bad, negative, unappealing image, right?  Well, sin itself is bad, a horrible, death-inducing, God-separating, self-elevating, relationship-killing, fact of life since the Fall in the Garden, BUT sin is most often presented to us as everything wonderful that we want and think we need for happiness.  Sin catches our eye. It’s presented to us as exciting, intriguing, fulfilling, self-exalting, soul-satisfying options that draw us in until it costs us more than we ever imagined.

How does sin look attractive?  The allure of sin draws us in through the flattering neighbor who seems to care about listening to us more than our spouse does, the allure of sin draws us in through the accolades at work that drive us to make our job the ultimate focus and idol in life over our spouse, family, and most importantly our Lord.  Some of us may feel a thrill in receiving extra change back from a purchase or having an item go unlisted on a restaurant check that we don’t mention. Nearly all of us will savor marinating in the praises of someone ready to pour compliments over us and then allow ourselves to puff up and begin to diminish in our mind the true defiled state of our heart (Jer. 17:9). (side note for a quote I love, “Man is the only animal that when you pat him on the back, his head swells up.”)

Are the above incidents sinful in and of themselves?  Not necessarily.  At what point does it potentially turn to sin?  It turns to sin in how the next step is taken.  Do these scenarios begin to play over in your mind and fuel a longing for more, do they feed your mind with imagined future scenarios that deceptively feed your flesh, and do you take that next step in the  moment or in the near future; do you seek out the neighbor for more conversation, do you allow your mind to be consumed with career around the clock, do you let the merchant’s mistake go unmentioned and take what isn’t rightfully yours? Which lies do you begin to buy into?  It’s a myriad of temptations to each person.

The above examples,when isolated, can be quickly repented of and taken to God for strength to rely on Him for help immediately and in the next encounter. The problem lies in relishing these types of incidents, entertaining ideas in our mind, where the allure of sin draws us in and then keeps us there wanting more and going back for that false sense of satisfaction or significance. James 1:15 comes to mind: “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

By  nature, we are fighting an uphill battle. “Original sin distorts us, actual sin distracts us, and indwelling sin manipulates us.” says Rosaria Butterfield. This uphill battle can only be conquered through the One who conquered sin and death. Romans 8 assures us, specifically verse 2 tells us, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”

As in my tracks-stopping moment in the woods,  Satan presents something alluring and attractive to catch our eye, reel us in, and hook us; he finds a “door” that we’ve left open, a crack in the foundation, where our satisfaction and fulfillment is not being found in Christ alone.

I’ve been fooled and have failed too many times to count in my 40 trips around the sun, and it’s only gotten more manageable by giving temptations to God through prayer in the moment, and ultimately by finding my true worth, satisfaction, and fulfillment in Christ alone.

In what areas do you detect a weakness that Satan may tap into?  Which areas of life might you allow to escalate further than you’d ever imagine…should Satan ever punch in just the right combination of factors that speak to your need for significance?  Where does the world have a grip on your heart and mind? Examine these areas that you have the opportunity to give to God, and trust Him to provide what you need.

” And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

I can assure you of this, friend.  Tried, true, and tested, Jesus Christ has the power to break every chain, to manage every temptation, and to free every prisoner held captive by whatever bill of goods this world has sold in exchanging the truth of God for a lie. I’m living proof.

 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:20-21

From a “Bottoms Up” to a Hands Up Lifestyle

broken-wine-glass-2-2336265This weekend marks 5 years that I walked away from drinking socially, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  Many people seem confused when you state that you quit drinking, but not at all because of alcoholism.  When people ask me why I don’t drink, the answer is short but lengthy. Plain and simple, “Because God told me to.” Continue reading

Changes in Time

imageI took this picture on a beach in Florida. There were yards of these amazing sand formations that took shape over time from the water and wind (I presume!). The intricate and perfectly formed detail reminds me of God’s hand as He works on the rough edges of our lives through each moment – painful and joyful. Nothing is wasted. All is for our good and His glory. “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Eccl. 3:11 Continue reading

What’s Behind the Name?

woman-lifting-her-handsI pondered a blog name for quite a long time, debating ideas around what would capture the message of God’s transforming work in my life, and ultimately give glory to the One to Whom it’s due.  When I heard the phrase “hands up, worries down” in a song, I knew that hit the proverbial nail on the head for what I wanted to encompass with this blog. Continue reading

Beautifully Broken

IMG_7367I embraced turning 40 this year, because pausing to reflect on 4 decades of growth and change is a good thing. I shutter at the thought of getting to my golden years and still acting out in dysfunctional patterns that were prevalent in my 20s or 30s. It’s a sad state to witness. I don’t want to waste any years in stagnancy, having no forward growth.   Continue reading