Fan Girl Praise

My husband and I have had the privilege of attending the Denver Comic Con the last two years to celebrate our anniversary.  We are just that adorably geeky!  We are even planning on going this year, and we are excited! Because of these cons, we have decorated our bedroom with signatures of all the famous people we have met.  We call it Nerdvannah.  Hands down, my favorite actor we have met was Cary Elwes.

Typically, when you stand in line to meet any of the actors at comic con, they are standing or sitting behind a table next to a staff person who collects the money and asks if there are any special requests for the signature and basically gets everything set up for the celebrity to sign and say hello. That is what usually happens.  Not Cary.  With every other actor, you are lined up in front of the table and you can see how the celebrity interacts with each of the fans. Not Cary.

Cary’s line went all the way up to a curtain. Perhaps he was protecting himself and keeping people from snapping illegal photos, but that isn’t how it seemed.  When we finally were let behind the curtain, we were met with the same staff person that orders all the details.  We handed her our “As You Wish” book for Cary to sign, and she placed it further down the table.  By this time, my eyes were communicating to my brain that Cary is not where he belongs; he is not behind the table. Where is Cary? Only then did I realize a man standing beside me, and it quickly registered as he turned toward me that standing directly in front of me is the one and only Cary Elwes.  And as he looked into my eyes and reached for my hand, he said, “Hello! it is a pleasure to meet you. What is your name?” You heard it, ladies.  I have looked into the eyes and shook the hand of Wesley! He was so sincere and genuine as he met his fans, and he was extremely intentional.  As my husband and I left the curtain, I was clutching the book with joy, and I must have had the stupidest grin on my face because my insides were bursting.

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So, lets walk through this again, only this time, I’m going to tell you what is happening in the fan girl brain.

First you are standing in line.  You always have this sense of expectancy, but with Cary being behind the curtain, the expectancy was elevated. You begin thinking, “I’m going to meet Cary Elwes! Me.  I’m going to meet him. He may never remember my name, but I will soon be able to say that I have met him! This is the best day of my life.  It doesn’t get better than this.  It will never get better than this.  I can die happy after I meet Cary.  My life will be complete. Now don’t you freak out in there.  He is still a person, so treat him like any other individual. But I am meeting Cary Elwes.” Obviously some of that is an exaggeration, but that is what expectant minds do.  The fan girl imagines meeting their idol and tries to figure out how to control the swooning.

Then you finally are let behind the curtain, and the moment comes where you find out if you are a fainter, screamer, or calm one about meeting your idol. Everything in you wants to shout with joy, hug the person, or totally fan girl freak out, but something also makes you freeze inside and lose all ability to speak to the person. You have no thoughts.  You are frozen in time and suppressing every desire to scream. Luckily for me, my husband is much more calm, cool, and collected and could think of something to say besides, “Hi! I’m Megan.”

Then the unfortunate moment to move on comes, and you exit with your new prized possession in hand.  All reverence and respect and suppression is now thrown out the window.  Whether you squeal, scream, faint, or burst with smiles, you are thinking, “I just met Cary Elwes.”  This time it is one of ecstatic amazement rather than expectation.  You are thinking, “I just met Cary…. Elwes.” After you say that to yourself a few times and let it sink in, you start calling him by the roles he has played.  “I just met Cary Elwes, the one and only Wesley from Princess Bride, the one and only Pierre Despereaux from Psych, the one and only Robin Hood from Robin Hood Men in Tights…. I just met Cary Elwes!!!” And with a wide-eyed grin, you are filled with joy that oozes out of you uncontrollably.

Sometimes, God wants us to give a fan girl praise for Him.  If we are having any kind of quality time with God, we should be expectant that we get to meet with Him.  We should be expectant that He will show up because He promises that He will be found whenever we seek Him.  We should be excited to meet Him.  And when we do meet Him, there should be that reverence and respect and sincerity. That is good and important, but what we often miss, is the fan girl rejoicing after we have met with Him.  We should leave our time with God thinking, “I just met with God.  I just met with God.  I just met with the one who holds the entire universe in His hands.  I just met with Jesus, the one who died and rose again!  I just met with the one who heals the sick and paints the sunrise each morning.  I just met with the Redeemer, the Deliverer, the Rock of Ages.  I just met with the Provider…” I could go all day.  And in that fan girl rejoicing and declaring who He is that you just met in your quiet time, an unspeakable joy begins to ooze out!

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice!” The Greek word for rejoice here is an exuberant praise, a hailing, like you might for a king. Rejoicing looks a lot like a fan girl.  It looks like an overwhelming joy and awe in realizing who you have just met with, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  And when you rejoice, your life is filled with joy.

Let out a fan girl praise to God today!

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Trust and Obey

Life gets busy.  We slack on the things we need to do.  We make time for the things we want to do.  Or maybe I am alone in this selfish cycle of putting my pleasures before what is needing to be done.

As I sat down in my planning period to try and focus on God, these were the things running through my heart.  I’ve been running nowhere all week, staying busy with things that aren’t important, especially Facebook.  I haven’t been sleeping enough or well, and as a result of these combined forces, my intimate time with God has become less and less.  I hate when I do that.  It just leaves me with this deep longing for Him that feels hard to fill. Of course, when I put away the striving and just quiet myself, He shows up right there in the midst.

Today I was reading in Numbers 20 where Moses and Aaron are instructed to speak to the rock and to tell water to come forth from it, but instead, Moses struck the rock, and he was punished for it.  In Exodus 17, God told Moses to strike the rock.  In this passage, Moses was told to speak to the rock. When God rebuked and disciplined them, He said, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (Num. 20:12 NLT) As I read that, I felt like God said to me, “All disobedience stems from a lack of trust.”

I began to think about that and go through the 10 commandments.  If we put other idols before God, we are not trusting that He is who He said He is, the One true God, the I Am.  If we curse Him or use His name in vain, we do not trust that He is holy and to be revered.  If we covet, steal, or fail to follow the sabbath, we do not trust that God provides all we need.  If we murder, we are not trusting God’s justice.  Every disobedience can point to a way that we are not trusting God’s goodness, holiness, faithfulness, justice, peace…

And as I thought on that, I realized that when I fail to slip away with God because I am tired or because I don’t feel like I can engage with Him, when I fail to wake up because I didn’t get enough sleep, I am failing to trust that He is my source of strength or that He is able to redeem that time. When I choose to do what is on my agenda before what is on God’s agenda, I am saying I don’t trust Him enough to meet me and help me accomplish everything else.

Today I will choose to “trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus then to trust and obey.”

Levitical Ponderings

As I am reading Leviticus, I see there are 5 sacrifices that God instructed for his people: burnt offering, peace offering, grain offering, sin offering, and guilt offering. We still depend on these sacrifices today! Before you virtually stone me for some kind of false doctrine, no, I am not talking about literally slaughtering animals and burning them on an altar before God.I’m saying that each of these laws of sacrifice have been replaced in the new covenant and are still being fulfilled today.

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The first three sacrifices that God lays out to Moses are sacrifices of worship, thanksgiving, and consecration to God. They were to be burned on the altar as, “a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” In previous years, God really highlighted this portion to me, challenging me to ask of myself, “Is my aroma of worship pleasing to the Lord?” As I look at these acts of worship, I am reminded what Paul says in Romans 12, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.”(12:1 NIV). We, our bodies, hearts, and minds, have replaced these three sacrifices; our lives are to be an aroma of worship to God.

The last two sacrifices are the sin offering and the guilt offering. These were not sacrifices of worship, but of repentance and atonement. They are what made the Israelites right before God. These were to be burned outside the city, and they would purify them from their sinful nature as well as their sinful actions. These sacrifices are summed up and forever completed under the blood Jesus shed on the cross. What I find completely fascinating to really bridge the gap and seal the deal that Jesus was our sin and guilt offering is that he was crucified outside the city. God completely fulfilled the law when Jesus died, but having overcome death, his sacrifice was once and for all.

There is a daily sacrifice that must happen in us. We must choose to put fuel on the fires of our worship, on the altar of our heart (just like the priests had to daily put wood on the fire of the alter for the fire was to never go out). This fuel is the word of God. We have to also sacrifice of our desires and selfish nature every day. And we have to acknowledge and embrace the work of the cross by making Jesus Lord, by choosing to surrender to His way of living and not our own. When we daily do this, the law is fulfilled in the new covenant and we are positioned to hear from God and to know God more intimately.

Yep, Leviticus can be hard to read, but it can also be so beautiful and powerful.

Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust

I don’t want to be one of those people who write out a list of impossible resolutions that never happen. I don’t want to be one of those people who make a list of generic things they want to change at some point in the next span of 365 days which they have never changed before. I don’t want to be one of those people who write a blog about all they are going to change and then find themselves in the same place a month later. But guess what… I’m going to be one of those people for a moment.

My parents were visiting for Christmas and New Years, and they left this morning.  I love them dearly and wish they could have stayed longer, but it was good and necessary to find some quiet space in our tiny apartment again this morning.  There have been lots of changes God has made in my life in the last few months.  He has begun speaking a new destiny and purpose over me, and He has helped me to eat healthy and get healthy.  As we rode out the 2016 landing pattern, I began to think about how I want to make these a part of my every day life and what other changes I should make. So in the quiet of the morning, I wrote a few goals into my journal that need to become routine and habitual.

  1. Start my day with God not Facebook: I have a tendency to “wake up” by scrolling through Facebook.  I don’t want my day to start there.  I want it to start in the Word of God with an ear tuned to Holy Spirit.
  2. Make time for Holy Spirit Listening and Learning Time: There are things I feel God instructing me to do that take time and sacrifice, and I need to stop pushing it aside saying “I just don’t have time,” and simply obey.  I must make time.
  3. Spend time with Stephen (my husband) and not with my iPhone: I also have a tendency to neglect my husband, especially when we watch TV, to play games and scroll Facebook some more. This is the key to an unhealthy marriage, and I need to break that habit.  I want my husband to know I love him because I cherish my time with him, not just because I say the words.
  4. Make time for Daily Cardio and Strength Training: I discovered Christian Zumba on YouTube, and I need to utilize it for my health.  God already began the transformation by giving me the strength and desire to go (mostly) paleo, but I want to kick it up a notch and pursue a full healthy lifestyle.  The gym is hard to get to, but I need to try to commit to strength training at least three times a day.
  5. Spend my “free time” constructively: Instead of wasting the day away playing games, scrolling Facebook, and binge watching Netflix, I need to transfer my inflow to podcasts, sermons, books, writing, song writing, piano practice, etc.

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As you look at making goals and resolutions for the new year, and as you ask God what those changes should be, I want to leave you with a nugget that God recently highlighted for me.

Yesterday, during church, the pastor was reading the story of Abraham being tested. God had promised Abraham a biological son through Sarah.  It was so beyond impossible by worldly medical standards.  They were old!  But God in his miraculous power made a way, and they conceived and bore a son named Isaac.  God wanted to test Abraham’s faith, and He told Abraham to sacrifice his son.  When they reached the mountain where they would climb and make the sacrifice, Abraham turns to his servants and says, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:5)

Did you see it? Did you catch the nuance of faith in what he said?

We (Abraham and Isaac) will worship and then we will come back to you.

Abraham didn’t say that they would go worship and he would return.  He said we, a pronoun that implies himself and at least one other in the party (Isaac).  Although God is telling Abraham to kill his son on an altar, Abraham had the faith, while walking in obedience, that God would either spare his son or resurrect his son and that no matter what Isaac would return with him. That. Is incredible. Faith. And if we take it a step further, Abraham had to put his son on the altar and raise the knife before the salvation appeared. He never swayed from obedience.  He never delayed in obedience hoping God would relent. He stepped out in complete faith that God’s promise would still come to pass.

As you meditate on this verse and story, and as you begin to think about the changes you want to make in 2017, this is what I want to leave you with:  Your obedient sacrifice will never negate God’s promises.

What is God asking you to place on the altar? Do you have the faith to trust God through the sacrifice? Sometimes the dreams He places in you are put on the altar and are seemingly dead, but if that dream was a promise from God, He is faithful to resurrect and make it happen.  Obey and seek God first, and let your heart be filled with faith in Him.

God’s Thoughts: How Vast and Powerful

I can’t tell you what Pastor was preaching on when he read Jeremiah 29:11, for at the moment I heard the New King James translation of this verse, I was flooded with questions, wonder, and curiosity. God has been taking me on a journey to discover his thoughts toward me.  This translation of Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I began to see this verse in a different light than just “God has eternal purposes for our lives.”

Although this verse was originally written to God’s children, Israel, in exile, it still has eternal truth in our lives today.  Being grafted into the promises of Israel, we too can cling to this promise about God’s plans, purposes, and thoughts toward us. Though we may experience spiritual bondage and exiled separation from God, He has a plan of deliverance! As Paul puts it in Romans 8, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So, no matter where you are at, no matter how difficult and lost you may feel, you are not out of God’s deliverance! He has a firmly established plan and purpose that only He could think up for you, and for me!

This word “thought” in Jeremiah 29 has also been translated as purpose and plan. It is a device or invention of God’s mind that He has resolved to accomplish.  It is something He has set in motion and firmly established for His children. In Psalm 139, David compares God’s thoughts to grains of sand, “How precious to me are your thoughts, Oh God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.” So, God thinks billions of billions of thoughts toward us every day. In fact, a conservative estimate of all the sand on earth would put God’s thoughts at close to a trillion per second for every second of your life! And each thought is not just a whimsical thought, but it is all part of His plan for our lives, which He has firmly established and resolved to accomplish in us.

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A paraphrased sketch of this powerful verse taken from my journal

Now Jeremiah describes these thoughts with a very powerful Hebrew word: shalom. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace (thoughts of Shalom) and not of evil…” We often hear shalom and think of the Hebrew greeting and peace.  It is so much more than that.  Shalom is the wholeness of God.  Shalom speaks to being whole and healed in the physical body.  Shalom speaks of being whole in the mind, which is where we get the idea of peace.  Shalom is being at peace in our covenant relationship with God.  Shalom is being content in God. Shalom is being safe and secure.

So if we were to put all of that into this verse, it would say, “For I know the plans, purposes, decrees, and thoughts that I think and speak and firmly establish over you, declares the Lord. And these thoughts will bring you to a place of peace and rest in me, to a place of healing, prosperity, and wholeness, to a place of peace and contentment, to a place where everything I have designed for you in your body, mind, and soul can actually happen. These thoughts are not going to destroy you; they are not going to bring wickedness, pain, hurt, anxiety, or stress upon you. These thoughts are instead going to give you a future and a hope, something to look forward to with expectation.”

The promise doesn’t end there, though.  God goes on to say that when we begin to see his shalom invading our lives, we will turn toward Him and seek after Him. The more we seek Him, the more we will find Him.

When God starts speaking His thoughts toward you, it is powerful.  He is speaking to the whole of what He created you to be.  Just as He spoke at creation and it became, when God begins to speak out His thoughts toward you, it will be a firmly established promise for you. Write it down and declare it, and see that thought begin to become your identity because these billions of thoughts that He thinks per second are designed to bring you into the fullness of who God created you to be.

Don’t believe me? Ask God to speak out His thoughts toward you and see how it brings you into the fullness of Shalom in your body, mind, soul, and identity.  I’ve only begun this journey with Him.

Seeds of Identity

As I drove into work today, I was captivated by the red mountains as they shined in the glow of morning light.  They were as red as Mars.  It was breathtakingly beautiful.  I find nature in all of its seasons and forms breathtaking as they point to my Creator God.  Each season has a purpose and is full of beauty.  Summer is a season of life, a season of preparing for harvest. Autumn is a season of harvest and transition.  Winter is a season of rest while getting ready for planting, often times starting the seed at home to be planted in the ground in the spring.  Spring is the season of planting and blossoming new life.

Although we are still in the autumn season, my life would seem to be in winter.  God brought me to a place of complete surrender where I chose to let go of my dreams.  Everything I ever thought I wanted had to go completely dormant for new life to grow according to God’s destiny and purpose for my life.  The moment I laid down every dream and hope I had for myself, I made room for God to plant in me His dreams, hopes, plans, and destiny. And when I went to a conference last week, that is exactly what He did (and continues to do).

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Although I feel like new life is coming forth, I am not completely out of the winter.  If you live in a four season climate with heavy snowfall, you know that in order to have a summer garden, you will often plant some things in the middle of winter in your homes.  That is the best way to describe where I am.  The snow and ice are melting as I continue to surrender my hopes and dreams, and God is planting new seeds into the home of my heart and mind. He has given me the picture of the garden to see what the fruit He will bring will look like, but without the seeds He is planting now, I won’t be able to reap the harvest he has destined for me to reap.

He began planting seeds of identity: warrior seeds, child of God seeds, powerful seeds, alive in Christ seeds, beloved seeds, fearless seeds, mouthpiece of God seeds, Shalom wholeness seeds, kindness seeds.  It continues as every day He speaks to who He says that I am.  He calls things as the way they will be not always the way they are.  I may not feel kind, loved, or fearless, but I declare that I am because that is what my God is saying about me. I may not feel like a warrior, but I declare that I am because that is what my God says about me. Every day God is showing me His thoughts about me, and each one is so timely in speaking to something specific that is happening in my life.

As God plants these seeds into my mind, and as they take root and grow, they will open up into a beautiful garden.  There will come a day in a spring season when God will move these seeds to a garden where people will be able to see it.  There will come a day when I will get to share each and every plant with my neighbors and help them plant their own gardens of identity. And that is the new destiny and new dream that God has given me.  Without the seeds He is planting and teaching me about now, I wouldn’t be able to plant those seeds in others and help them grow into powerful men and women with identity and purpose. He is transforming me so that I can one day help transform others. And with that dream, new life and hope sprouts in the dead of winter.

When Waiting Sucks

Seasons of waiting suck. It feels like you are stuck in a desert as you run toward the ever elusive destiny God is calling you to do.

I recently applied for a job thinking it was a door God had opened for me.  There were still 26 applicants, and although I did get an interview, I didn’t get the job. In the past two days leading up to the devastating news, the devil had a megaphone to my ear with all sorts of lies.  He was trying to attach himself through rejection.  It almost worked.

Yesterday morning, before I even got a call about the job, I called on some of my amazing prayer warrior friends to help me overcome the mental battle.  We broke off all his lies and schemes, and we severed any ties to the spirit of rejection. I immediately started feeling the peace of God again.  I knew that whatever happened it would be okay. I began declaring who God says that I am just to seal the truth over the lies.

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I have destiny.
I have purpose.
So, shut up, you Ancient Liar!

I am a daughter of the King;
In Him, I have found favor.
So, back it on up, you Crusty Accuser!

I belong.
I am welcomed in by God’s grace.
So, run and flee, you Dragon of Lies!

–excerpt from my journal

So, when I finally got the call from the job and found out I didn’t get it, I was devastated, but I didn’t feel rejected.  I was upset and disappointed, yet I was at peace.  Yet, my heart was heavy still. It was this confusing range of emotions where I wasn’t mad at God, but I didn’t understand what he was doing. At one point I told Him, “How long must I wait? How long must I continue to show you that I will always trust you, no matter what? How do I know a door is you if your peace isn’t a guide?”

I think the most disappointing part was that I had so much peace about it, and it wasn’t the open door I thought it was. And because I had so much peace about this job, I dared to let myself dream again. I dared to imagine having a routine and a schedule.  I dared to imagine having influence and voice into young minds.  I imagined seeing kids I love every day.  I imagined having purpose in my job. But with not getting the job, it felt like another piece of the dream faded into the dark until it disappeared. And the saddest part of all, I honestly don’t know what to dream anymore, which is why this became my prayer:

“Help me to dream again.  With every interview, I dare to let myself hope, and it is as if a small piece of my dream fades into the dark.  I can’t do it anymore.  Take every dream that isn’t yours, Lord.  Shattered they may be, but they are yours.  Take every shattered dream and replace them with your dreams.  Shut every door that isn’t lit by your presence.  Give me eyes to see the right door, the God door.

In all of this, I said I would trust you.  I said I would praise you no matter what.  And I choose to even now.  Like a watchman waits for the morning, I will wait for you.  You are my song.  I will keep my eyes on you as I wait for your healing, for your job, and for your promises.  Even if it is 12 years, I will trust and serve you still.

Thank you for the job I do have.
Thank you for providing abundantly.
Thank you for your promises.
Thank you for your peace.
Thank you for the dreams you are placing inside of me, even if I don’t see them yet.
Thank you for healing, for Samuel.
Thank you for being my light on the path of darkness.
Thank you for family.
Thank you for being good.
Thank you for truth.
Thank you for being a God who is found when I seek you.
Thank you for your favor and delight.
Thank you for being mine. I am yours.  Take all of me.”

I don’t know how long I will have to wait, and it sucks, but my prayer is that God would help me to flourish where I am planted.  Which for whatever painful reason, it is being a substitute teacher. It isn’t what I want with my life.  I know I am meant for more, meant to speak into people’s lives every day. I pray God helps me to see and do that even now. I pray God helps me find routine because apparently this roller coaster schedule isn’t going anywhere. He is the only thing that sustains me, and in Him I must find my satisfaction.