Monday, March 29, 2010

Treasures in Earthen Vessels

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that this power is from God and not from us.

This power. This power is from God and not from us. This power is a treasure. A treasure of God that exists in this dirty broken earthen vessel, a power that is not from us, but from God alone.

It is easy to worship the vessel, to think that the power belongs to the individual vessel it resides in. But power and glory belong only to God. Anything we do for the good of the kingdom is because of the power of God in us. It is because he has empowered us to do the work he has planned for us.

So why worship the vessel that holds the power, when you can worship the giver of the power. Perhaps the vessel is easier to see than the power source? But the problem with worshiping the vessel is that it will eventually disappoint us. Even the most full vessels cannot fill us up to the brim without emptying themselves. And what if their cup is smaller than ours? Then we end up half full and they end up empty. That is not a good outcome for either of us. So why not worship the ultimate cup filler? Worship the one whose supply never runs dry, and the one who will fill our cups with infinitely more than we have asked or imagined. That's our treasure, his power dwelling inside of us, creating a future beyond our wildest dreams, if we choose to trust and obey.

Friday, March 26, 2010


When you look at the hardships in this life, sometimes I think that it is amazing that any one of us survive. I went to a conference this week on Child Abuse Prevention, and the stories I head were just gut wrenching to say the least. I listened to people talk about thier worst fears realized and others telling the stories of countless others whos worst fears were realized. And I stare at them amazed, they are so real, so raw. And yet they are so complete. You can see that despite the horrific traumas they endured, they are somehow better for it. God somehow did what he said he would do, imagine that. He made all things work together for these people, the good and the bad, all to the glory of him. The two women I watched speak were equally amazing.

But...they are not the people that break my heart. They are not the rule. They are the exception. They are women who took what hapened to them, and somehow rose above, amazingly resiliant, and blessed. But...what about all the others. The others who were abused or mistreated and fall into lives of drugs, or sex, or pornography, or abusive relationships, etc, etc, etc. What about all these other people? Why is it that some are able to overcome and others are stuck in lives of repeating the same patterns, even though deep down inside they desperately long to get out?

I don't know that I will ever have the answer to this question, other than knowing that God is good. And I know that he is good, and he ultimatelly has an intricate plan weaving together that is much too complex for my tiny mind.

I do know this though. I know that God made people who care. I know that God made people who will never give up on others. Who despite all odds care about hurting people, and who will gently guide and lead them to true freedom which comes only from Christ.

I wrestle often with what my calling is on this earth, should I do this or should I do that? But ultimately, I know what my calling is, to Love God with all my heart-soul-and mind, and to love others with that crazy God love that he loves me with. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can all rest assured that this is our calling. the words of one of my favorite songs I will say that in Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song. He and he alone commands my destiny. No power of hell, or scheme of man, could ever pluck me or any of his beloved children from his hand. And till he returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It is for freedom that I have been set free. Tonight's bible study was amazing, and I must say I was deeply moved. Chains are rapidly dropping to the ground, and me and God shared a few awesome moments in which he gave me this.

Like the wind blows the rain, so is my love for you
You see, the tree is stubborn, it does not move
It does not bend to the wind, it is strongly rooted in itself
But, as the rain falls steady from the sky
So it is moved by the wind
It does not fight, it does not bend and yet stay rooted among itself
No, it flys wherever the wind takes it
Falling exactly in the spot it needs to
Do not try to be the wind yourself, trying to move others to a new place
For only I am the wind
Be like the rain,
Fall freely from the sky, wherever my love may take you
For it is here you may be able to move
Not because you want to
But because you have been obedient to the wind and landed where you needed to
Watering what I wanted you to water
And now you may see a flower grow
Never by your own intentions, but only by mine
For only in me can you be made whole
Only I can turn a raindrop into a flower
Only I can teach you how to water
Never the tree
Never the wind
Only the rain
I have called you to be the rain.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

She Speaks Conference

Well, we survived it, and actually had a good time I must say! Spring break with two children who not only prefer, but NEED routine. And tomorrow we head back, back to school for the kids and back to work for me. A part of me is excited to return to the crazy normalness we live with, and the other part just wonders what it would be like to carry just a little less on my schedule on a consistent basis.

And so I begin to wonder, why do I do so much? I work to pay the bills of course, and I do a support group and go to a bible study because I LOVE both of these things. But…I also LOVE my family. How can I cram it all in!!!!

I cannot ignore the fact that I continue to feel called into some sort of women’s ministry. What exactly that entails, well that is yet to be revealed. And that’s okay, what fun is life without a little mystery? However, I know and trust that God is piecing together my counseling degree, my love for writing, life experiences, my love for him, my passionate need to share with other women, and my battles with so many issues – he is piecing them together into a beautiful picture that only he could create.

And so…I was reading the devotional that is delivered to my inbox daily…when I stumbled across Lisa TerKeurst’s blog (which by the way is amazing and definitely worth checking out often). She is giving away a scholarship to the “She Speaks” Conference, which I had never really heard of before, but it looks like an amazing experience. It is for women who feel called into some sort of ministry to learn to write and to speak better, and to perhaps narrow their calling a little bit, which I could DEFINITELY benefit from  It looks like an amazing time with God and an amazing time with some phenomenal women of faith. Here is a link to the contest - and a link to the conference in case you might be interested as well

So I am writing this post, and linking it to her blog in hopes that perhaps I will be blessed with a scholarship to attend this conference. And, even though this sounds like an amazing opportunity, and I would love to go, I know that it is ultimately in his hands. So…we will see!
I hope you all have an amazing week! Blessings and Love Always! Stephanie

Friday, March 19, 2010

What would it mean to know God loves you? Would it change your everything?

I really don’t have anything to give as far as wisdom, I am learning that more and more every day. Every day God is humbling my heart more and more to realize that anything decent that comes out of my lips is straight from him, because my flesh is just a big mess. And my thoughts are a little disorganized today, but somehow I feel that there is a message in what I am feeling that I hope someone else gets something out of, so here goes.

I have been struggling hardcore with unbelief. Don’t get me wrong, I believe Christ died on the cross for my sins, but trusting him beyond that has been a struggle for me. To know him and believe that he loves me, yeah that has always been a nice thought, but how many of us really believe that he loves us. I am going out on a limb here, but I would say that more of us struggle with the idea that he truly passionately loves us than we would care to admit.

Why do we struggle with this, well I’m sure the answer to that question could vary greatly with each and every one of us. But, I do know one thing, God was willing to send his son to have him marred and beaten to where he did not even resemble the likeness of a man, mocked and murdered on a cross. If I am really willing to accept that he did that for ME, well I have to accept that he loves me, at least from an intellectual standpoint. Just think about sacrificing your own child, and you know this to be true. However, how do we let this sink down from our heads to our hearts.
Well, I don’t know the answer for everyone, but I know what is working for me. Accepting his love and believing he loves me is a choice. I choose to believe it, even though I don’t feel it all the time. I choose to claim that it is true, even though uncertainty floods my thoughts. I pray daily for God to “help me overcome my unbelief, and forgive me for the sin of not believing”. Because honestly, when we look at how many times his word says he loves us in a million different ways, and we choose not to believe, we are sinning. We are perhaps in a way saying that what his word says is some nice fluff, but not really true. And believe me honey, I am not casting the first stone, I will be the first one to admit that I STRUGGLE with some unbelief. But, I am not going to give up!

So my dear sister, I plead with you, don’t let Satan strap you down with the obstacle of unbelief. The last thing he wants you to believe is that God loves you, because if you did, you might stop telling yourself all those nasty lies, and then God would be able to do some awesome things through you, and he soooooooo does not want that. Lets take him down girls! This life is a battle, not just of flesh and blood, but a spiritual battle, and we are not giving in, not for a second! Let’s get out there and fight. He sent his son to die for us so that we could be set FREE, DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE BURDENED BY ANY YOKE OF SLAVERY!!!!! He loves you. Yes he does. HE LOVES YOU!!!!!

Isaiah 54:10 and 63:1-4

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When I am tired and alone
He is enough for me
When I am scared and afraid
He is enough for me
It doesn’t matter how long I have drifted away
He is still there for me
It doesn’t matter how many times I have turned my back and said I don’t trust you
He is still there for me
When memories come and my breath quickens and my heart begins to race
He holds me close
When I’ve cried all I can and all that’s left is numbness
He holds me close
When my heart cries out in worship and screams how can you love me
He breaks with me
When I want nothing more than the very things that have shattered me
He breaks with me
When I explode in anger at his feet because he hasn’t fixed it yet
He listens to me
When I tell him that I can’t do it anymore
He listens to me
When I finally collapse in his arms from exhaustion
He rests with me
When I acknowledge that I need him every moment of every day
He rests with me
And when I open up my hands dropping it all to the floor
He pours out his love
And when I accept his invitation and let him love me
His love overflows

Sunday, March 14, 2010

13 years

Psalm 119: 67-68
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
I went 13 years before disclosing it to anyone. 13 long years. 13 years where Satan continued to make me believe that I was responsible for everything that happened. 13 long years of shame, 13 years of believing that every day was another day where I must set out to prove my worth, lest I be nothing more than a dirty little failure. 13 years of going astray. 13 years of running.
But thank you Jesus, he sent some affliction. Thank you Jesus that you sent my depression and my anxiety, thank you that you allowed me to be buried in such a deep pit that I had no choice but to turn to you, and to face the realities of my past, lest they continue to bind me for the rest of the future.
In Beth Moore’s Breaking Free this is what she says, “The measures God takes to woo us to liberty may be excruciating at times, but they are often more powerful evidence of His unfailing love than all the obvious blessings we could expound”.
This last year I have definitely had my share of excruciating, more than I thought I could ever bear, but I am still here. And I promise you, if God hadn’t taken the wrecking ball to my life, I would have never stopped. I would have kept on achieving and kept on accomplishing, and kept on believing that the next accomplishment would fill me up. That the next thing I did was going to be the thing that finally made me feel worthy of being alive, that the next thing would fill the deep dark emptiness. I would have never stopped had he not loved me enough to starve and suffocate my self-destructiveness to the point of near starvation. I would have let Satan bury me alive in a sea of accomplishments that would never add up to anything.
But he loved me, he loves me. He loves me enough to have wrecked my life so that I could rebuild it with him. And he loves you. Whatever you are going through, wherever you have been, he loves you enough to make you a complete a total wreck so that you will have no choice but to cry out to him. Where sin increases, his grace increased all the more.
He is the only one that can save you. There was no person alive that would have had the stamina to pull me out of the pit I was in, thank God, because if there was I would have looked right at them and said, “Can I call you Jesus?” But God knew better, he made sure no one else could save me, so that I would have no choice but to turn to him, and no choice but to acknowledge his love for me.
So, if you are in a pit right now, I promise you, there is no one who understands your pit better than Jesus. He has been with you this whole time, he knows you better than you know yourself. And there is no one else that can pull you out. Psalm 107, cry out to him, and he is there. He may have wrecked you, he may have allowed you to be wrecked, but only so that he could be right there to rebuild with you. He will build you back up, and he knows the plans he has for you, and believe me dear sister, they are far beyond your wildest dreams.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

If you have been set free, my dear, you are free indeed

Confession of sin is a beautiful thing. There is nothing quite like it. To know that we can bring all of our wrongs to the foot of the cross-and not only can we bring them to the foot of the cross, we can leave them there, and know 100% full well that they are forgiven.

On the other hand, living with the guilt of sin can be unbearable. The same hand that lifts us up beyond our circumstances can also sit heavy upon us.
In Psalm 32:5 it says that he confessed his sin to the Lord, and that God not only forgave his sin, but forgave the GUILT of his sin. So many times we struggle with the fact that we know that Christ has forgiven our sins, but still we continue to fester and wallow in the guilt.

Did you know you don’t have to do that? Did you know that you don’t have to carry that guilt around? Did you know that God doesn’t want you to carry that guilt around? Once sin is honestly and humbly confessed and repented of, you are forgiven, and freed from guilt. That is, unless you CHOOSE to let guilt continue to oppress you.

Guilt can be a nasty little monster. It tells you things like, “I know God forgives you, but can you really forgive yourself?” Guilt can bring about so much bondage, it can tie us up and hold us down for good if we let it.
The truth is that when we confess sins he will surround us with songs of deliverance, even counsel us, and comfort us, and guide us in the direction we should go if we let him. If we are willing to put down the yoke of guilt, and believe that what he says is true. After all, who are we to think that God can forgive us, but we can’t forgive ourselves, are we of a higher moral standard than God, surely not.
In Psalm 32:11 David has just confessed a great deal of sin, and then he is not only forgiven, but he rejoices in the Lord. He is SURROUNDED with songs of deliverance, that doesn’t sound like a man who is burdened by guilt to me. And we don’t have to be burdened by it either. When sin has been truly and honestly confessed, don’t let Satan continue to beat you over the head with it. As Beth Moore has said, Christ came to set the captives free, but Satan came to take the free captive. Don’t let him take you into captivity, those whom the Savior have set free are free indeed. It is my prayer for all of us today, that we are surrounded with beautiful songs of deliverance. May we be a walking example of the freedom we have inherited as sons and daughters of Christ.

Psalm 32
Of David. A maskil. [a]
1 Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.
7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Monday, March 8, 2010

What's Clogging up your drain?

As I stand there brushing my teeth this morning, I notice that the sink just keeps getting fuller and fuller. So, I plunge my hand down through some dirty spit water to grab the pluggy sink thing and pull it out. Apparently, I have not been diligent about cleaning this thing because it had about a million of my long brown hairs attached to it.

So it seems, that sometimes we just have a bunch of icky goo clogging us up. Icky goo can really take on any form; in fact it might not even look so icky at first. It can be pride, anxious thoughts, past history, overwhelming feelings, selfishness, needs of approval, drugs or alcohol, sexual addiction, codependency, and on and on and on. And of course any one of these things by themselves may not totally clog up our sink, but throw a few together, or even multiple strands of just one, and before you know it you’ve got a big wad of stuff clogging up that drain.

So there we are, the faucet is on, we are going to church, we are reading our bible, we have positive Christian friends in our lives, we are praying, the faucet is on to fill us up, yet our drain is clogged! Every thing that is trying to come in either never makes it past the surface or gets filtered through all of our ickyness and comes into us all kinds of tainted and nasty.

So what do we do then? We gotta pull that icky nasty mess out into the light and clean that sucker off. That means, dare I say it, EXPOSURE of our mess. We must bring it out into the light for God to heal, ask for forgiveness from him and others, and be open to others so that they can help us. Now if you tend to be perfectionistic like me, this can be very painful. Admitting that there is a mess below the surface may be excruciating, but it is necessary lest we want to remain in bondage and all clogged up. This clogging may have functioned as self-protection at one time in our lives, but now it just leaves us swimming in a sea of loneliness and starvation.

And I know that sometimes we can have so much clogging our drain that it really seems overwhelming. Sometimes I just get tired and worn out, and falling back into old habits seems so much easier. But, my sister, each and every one of us was created for a purpose. No matter how worthless and shallow you may feel, those feelings are not from God, he loves you so much and longs for you to invite him in to unclog your life so that he can fill you up with his love. Let him do what only he can do, let him be your Drano, and when the flood of living water comes down, it is so good. He is so good.

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
1The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4Now he had to go through Samaria. 5So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])
10Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
11"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?"
13Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
15The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."
16He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back."
17"I have no husband," she replied.
Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."
19"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
21Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
25The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
26Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Psalm 109:31

Psalm 109:31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.

Do me a favor, and close your eyes for a second. Envision yourself as the needy one. You are on your knees, perhaps sobbing a bit, hands held towards the sky. And there is Christ, standing there, perhaps holding your right hand, while he gently pushes back those who would condemn you with his other hand. And he says to you, I am here, I am here with you, they may condemn you, but I never will, all beautiful to me you are my darling.

I am the needy one, all to often, I am the needy one. But thank you Jesus, he came for all of us needy ones, to SAVE us. Whatever the pain, whatever the circumstances, you can rest in knowing that he is right by your side, in every single bit of your neediness, he is there. He is all you need. It is finished, and he has saved us from all condemnation and shame. There is no room for shame once you become his beloved daughter. All shame is wiped from your face, you are beautiful, and radient, refined by his fire, and never, ever alone.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taking a Ride on the TWISTY Slide :)

Not many people are willing to jump off a cliff. Too scary!!! Even if we are running full force to escape from danger, even if there is no other direction to go, the moment we are faced with the drop off something in us says WHOOOOOOOO!!!!! STOP!!!!!!! Not such a good idea!!!!!

However, twisty slides are great! In fact, they are so great that if I take my kids to a park without a twisty slide, they are greatly disappointed! There's not much that’s scary about a twisty slide once you’re past the age of 2 or so.

The irony of this is that they are both drops that decend to ground zero. But yet we say with great joy “Twisty slide-weeeeeeeeee-this is fun!!!!” But if we were to face a drop off cliff at a park we would have our cell phones out so fast calling the city parks department and heads would roll. “That is dangerous” we would say, and we would be absolutely right, cliff jumping is scary and dangerous!

Even in life, the twisty slide is the way to go. If someone were to walk in your office and say “Hey, what’s up, you wanna commit adultery?” - of course we say NO! We are not ignorant enough to go jumping off that cliff. We know where that ends up.

However, if someone of the opposite sex were to waltz into your office and ask you out for coffee after work one night, well, hmmmm. We might have a weird feeling in our stomach, but we could quickly ignore it, and, well maybe we might take a seat on the twisty slide. The only trouble is, that once we get on the twisty slide the only way to go is DOWN DOWN DOWN - A dizzy confusing spiral down.

Or maybe it’s our feelings that like to go for a ride on the twisty slide!! WEEEEEEE! So here we go on an adventure:

My husband didn't take out the trash – and I take a seat on the slide. He must not care about me I say to myself as I whoosh down the first curve. What if he doesn't love me as I swish through the second curve. What if he is having an affair-as I notice this slide is getting a little CRAZY!!!! I remind myself that my dad had an affair, and I tell myself “I knew he was just like my dad” – as I go slip slip slideing towards the bottom. “I am not good enough, my mom wasn't good enough to keep my dad around, and I'm not good enough to keep my man around”- THUD, and here we find ourselves sitting in the dirt pile or the mud pit at the bottom of the twisty slide. Our feelings are a train wreck, all after our husband innocently FORGOT to take the trash out.

How quickly things can spiral out of control. We have got to learn to reel that sucker back in before it begins its decent! But how on earth do we do that?

We have to learn and often FORCE ourselves to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

This ride on the twisty slide is nothing more than good old plain run of the mill cognitive distortions. Distorted, messed up, Satan fed thinking. He is the king of cognitive distortions because the more he can get our heads whirling and twirling over the small stuff, and even the big stuff, the more he can distort our focus from where it needs to be.

And, if we have genuinely been hurt, we need to be going to God with that hurt in prayer. Praying that he guards our hearts, heals our broken spirits, and guides our thoughts. Even if someone hurts you, and unfortunately that happens all too often in this world, don’t let Satan throw you down the twisty slide, or the cliff, STAND STRONG in the promises of God. Even if you don’t have to have the strength to stand, he has all the strength you need. And never underestimate the praying power of some Godly Christian women, ask for prayer when you need it, and call a friend when you need a hug or a Starbucks! That’s what friends are for  Hugs, Love, and Starbucks, LOL!

Monday, March 1, 2010

When hope and clarity melt away

I heard a phrase in a song the other day that really struck me, it said, “Do we have what it takes, when hope and clarity melt away.”

Well, what exactly is hope? The dictionary says it is to wish for something with expectation of fulfillment. So what is the absence of hope? You might say despair-the complete loss of hope, an overwhelming sense of defeat.

What is clarity? Clarity is free from obscurity, easy to understand. The opposite of clarity would be obscure, something that is unclear and hard to understand.

So here we find ourselves-hope and clarity melting away. And what are we left with? Two yucky words, despair and obscurity- and feelings of defeat, hopelessness, uncertainty, and doubt. So I ask you again, do you have what it takes when hope and clarity melt away?

The answer for ME is NOOOOOOOOO! I, in the flesh, do not have what it takes. But, God does. And if I do have anything in my life, if I am certain of anything, it is that I have me some Jesus.

And because of this I know that when I feel defeated, when I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the outlook is uncertain, and I doubt that my prayers are making it past my rooftop-I can fall back on my faith and the truth. The truth is that somewhere in me dwells the spirit, and the spirit is light, there is NO darkness in it. Somewhere inside of me is a spot of pure light.

So when the hope and clarity melts away, may we fall to our knees in prayer-praying for him to touch the spot that hurts the most. Because in him there is no darkness, and the light consumes the darkness like a flood, they cannot co-exist. May he reach down deep within us and heal us. Restore our broken hearts to you oh Lord. For only you can, only you have what it takes when hope and clarity melt away. May we find it again only in your truth. Thank you for loving us, and may we always be desperate for your healing touch in our lives, knowing that we don’t have what it takes on our own, but we do have you, and your storehouse is filled with a surplus blessings beyond our wildest dreams.