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The Heart Stone

Ever since Richmond, we’ve looked for hearts.

It was July and every day we walked the hot black asphalt to get to our classes, Jackson and I to ours and the kids to theirs. Missionary training.

And one morning when we were running late of course,  Sunshine girl stopped on the black and pointed down. “Look momma,” she called to me already pushing ahead. “It’s a heart.”

Something, a divine hand perhaps, caused me to slow.

Sure enough, there in the burning black lay a speck of white, a glistening heart.

I looked my sunshine girl in the eyes and I told her that God wanted us to know that He loves us. “He’s sent us a message,” I said. “He’s reminding us that we are loved.”

Her smile and twinkle told me the words reached deep and we held hands and arrived late to our classes. Ever since then, we’ve searched for hearts.

And one day when the ordinary and mundane are in full swing and we are driving down I-40, Sunshine girl exclaims, “A heart momma! Look!” And I look up and there on a blank white billboard is the shape of a heart. It’s cut out of the board and you can see clear through- just an empty billboard with a heart blown through it.

We know we’re loved.

And one day when we are walking down the sidewalk, there’s a chalk heart and Sunshine reminds me “we are loved, momma.”

And then one day we go hiking with friends. Seven kids and four adults and getting lost and feeling tired and carrying piggyback…and a perfect heart. “Momma! Look what I found!” She’s yelling at me from behind, interupting the adult conversation that’s so rare. “What is it,” I ask and there she holds it in her palm: a heart stone the color of gold.

“Let me see, let me see!” her friend cries and snatches it out of her hand. “No, it is mine, I found it!” And mommas have to intervene and calm the fight.

Later, she slips up to me and whispers, “I gave Anna Grace my heart stone” and I have to admit my heart twinges strong. I want her heart stone to go into her keepsake box, a little reminder of how loved she is.

But I smile and tell her that was so kind and I stroke her face and she beams at me happy.

He speaks to me in that moment, He does. “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. Herein is love made perfect in us.”

Love is perfected in me when I love another.

Love is perfected in me when I love another!

Love is not complete until I give it away. And I look at Sunshine girl~ who cares so deeply about a heart stone~ slipping it to a friend who throws it in the dirt and moves on.

Isn’t this why we hold back? Is this not the reason why we find love imperfected in our lives? Because we know someone will take the sacred from us and trample it? This is the kind of love that fears, an imperfect love, because perfect love casts out fears.

So we give stingy love. We love as long as it doesn’t cost us. We love if it’s going to be worth the investment. We aren’t lavish and free and generous with our love. We protect our stone hearts.

I wonder how to overcome the fear. How to give it away, just like that heart stone…even when you know it’s going to be ill treated or lightly esteemed and I cry for my girls who need to see momma letting love be perfected.

That’s when He speaks again:

“My child, you can never lose love. You can only lose the stone heart.”

When we give love away, love is not lost. Only the heart of stone is. When I give love, even if it is trampled, I only lose that which is worthless in me. I can never lose the precious.

If love makes a demand that I want to shy away from, I need only remember that He is asking me for my stone heart. I can never lose the precious!

So friend, in whatever situation you are facing, here’s your heart. It’s to remind you that you are loved.

Stone Heart

Now what are you going to do with it?

Photo credit

Linked up with Ann today, along with many other great bloggers. Check them out?

Energy Explosion- Updates now on FB

Many of you have expressed an interest in participating in the Energy project. I have created a Facebook page to update (instead of using my blog-I want to keep this place quiet~ smile)

If you are interested in Energy Explosion and want to know when it is ready, please like the FB page (below)!

Thank you sweet friend!
AJ

How a seed bears fruit {Making 2012 Productive}

I’ve thought of it ever since October, how to take the seed of a day and turn it into the fruit of a year. How can I be like Isaac, who “sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold?” (Genesis 26:12)

How does the labor of the small become the fruit of the harvest? A simple, ordinary woman needs to know.

Is there really a way to reap one hundred fold?

So when Pastor preached on Mark 4 three months ago, the passage about the keys to the kingdom of heaven being given to us, a seed burrowed in and took root and it’s been there, gestating and shaping my habits.

There is a way to reap a hundredfold.

The heart that receives the seed, retains it, and perseveres in it is the one who bears fruit, up to one hundred times what was planted.

It’s not just hearing that makes one fruitful. It’s not just knowing the Word. It is not getting excited and pumped about the Word that makes one fruitful. It is doing it.

And not just doing it once or twice… it is taking up a clear, specific “word” and working at it, sticking with it, persevering in it.

Sadly, this approach is often neglected in our spiritual training. We are taught to gain more and more biblical knowledge and to accumulate information. We go through a bible study, then move on to the next one.

Bible knowledge is indeed important.

But to bear fruit, a single seed will do, planted in the soil that receives it, retains it, and perseveres in it.

In all our knowledge gathering, we need to know how to take a very clear, specific word that God gives us and weave it into our lives. We need to become practiced at persevering.

I ponder these things for weeks and one day the dawn gives way to noonday as I think of Ann’s example. She has taken up the word “eucharisteo” and made it her practice, her lifestyle. This is a word God gave her to overcome her agoraphobia and self-loathing and she received it, retained it, and persevered in it. She worked it into her makeup.

And oh, the fruit is there, for all to see.

With Ann’s example, it is so easy to see what it looks like, what it means to take a specific seed that God gives you, a Word to live by, take it up and keep working it.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. Luke 8:15

All it takes to be overflowing with fruit is a single seed, properly planted.

So what is your seed?  What specific word has God given you to persevere in?

Take it up, work it, and see it blossom and bear fruit.

Does God Really Care about my Energy Level?

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching this weekend.

As a matter of personal integrity, I had to ask if it was worth the investment of time to do this project on regaining energy. I had to ask if it is something I really believe in and can be committed to. And most importantly, I had to ask if God was okay with me spending days, maybe weeks of my life preparing this and helping others work through it. It all boiled down to one question:

Does God really care about our energy levels?

I was in the car today, asking these questions, pondering if I could honestly be all “in” on this project, when a scripture was read on the radio:

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit…” Romans 12:11

You could say it like this: “Don’t let up on the gas. From the inner being out, be enthusiastic and energetic.”

When I heard the scripture read, I knew God was telling me that He cares very much about our energy levels. He wants us to give it all we have. He wants us to live all out, full of strength, enthusiastic in our thinking and in our living, knowing that God is for us!

He wants us to remove the weights that hinder us and run the race He’s given us to run.

He wants us to “be strong and very courageous.”

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7

Does God care about your energy level? 

{Overwhelmingly} YES!

We need to have a good theology on energy, meaning we need to see it the way God sees it. Scripture teaches that He wants us to live out of a spirit of “power.” This is the source of our energy and God relates with us very intimately and personally in regards to giving us the strength to “do all things” in Christ.

Thank you all for your patience with me as I work on this. I am really pumped about what He is giving me to share with others. And thank you all for your feedback and grace. I have been so blessed~ beyond words~ at your involvement and support. To Him be the glory!

When you need some positive in your day

On my knees on the red carpet, the one with the play dough ground in.

“I’ll be your hero, mom,” he had told me.

The girls had smeared blue play dough into the carpet and I had fussed and he had found a solution. He took the red play dough and smeared in on top, covered up the blue.

I had laughed and hugged his sweet body close and decided to leave the play dough just like that, hero style.

Now on my knees, I was face to face with that play dough as I prayed the verses for the very first time.

I’ve never sensed a greater “Yes!” from the heavens as that day when I prayed those scriptures. I knew the affirmation of God.

And when I returned to the states and walked the ladies bible study group through the verses, we all felt the “YES!”   It was a powerful time, a sweet time, a glimpse of heaven.

We had all stilled our hearts and closed our eyes and imagined the scene, the birthplace of God’s love for us:

There’s God in Heaven. Before the foundation of the world.

Before the earth existed and before the first man was created and before there was a twinkling in the skies.

Just God.

And He’s there, pacing among the men and women, boys and girls, the thoughts and plans of His heart before yet one of them was.

He’s walking back and forth, to and fro. Then He reaches you.

He pauses.

He turns.

And He stretches out His hand.

He touches and He begins to speak…

“I bestow upon you LIFE! I grant you full freedom and liberty in My Son Jesus Christ. I speak over your life victory, fullness, and give you the title “overcomer.”

 
“To you, I give the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
 
“I decree that no weapon formed against you will prosper.
 
“I give you full access to the throne of grace.
 
“I call you by a new name. I grant you forgiveness. I call you holy.
 
“You are set apart, precious, special.
 
“I delight over you.
 
“You are sealed and protected forever.
 
“Greater is the One who is in you than he who is in the world.
 
“I grant you everything you need to live godly in Christ Jesus.
 
“I seal you with My Spirit, who will spring up in you like wells of living water and produce love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control.
 
“You are My Beloved. Nothing will ever seperate you from My love.
 
“I am Yours and you are Mine. Forever.”

 

And the tears flow and the hearts are soft and we feel the presence of Love God.

As I did that morning on play dough carpet.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed ~ eulogeo ~ us with every spiritual blessing in the HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ, just as He chose us in Him BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD…” Ephesians 1:3

 

Energy Explosion (A Preview)

Jump start your energy with this 7 day step- by- step guide!

Are you ready to get your energy back? This seven day guide to power up your energy level will help you establish a framework for living full, energetic, and strong.

We are made body, mind, and spirit and as such, these three all work together for our total makeup. To fully address our energy issues, we must jump start each of these areas. Each day of this journey will address one crucial element for body, mind, and soul.

Body: This is where you will find instant tips to feeling energized. Each day we will add a new habit for increasing energy levels…never too much at a time! Also includes information on top energy foods and recipes for using them.

Mind: As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. By changing our thinking, we guard the “wellspring of life” and keep it fresh. This section will daily give you Power Scriptures that renew, rejuvenate, and infuse hope and faith.

Spirit: It is common for moms to suffer from low grade energy drains at the spiritual level. This daily section addresses these strength sappers and provides strategic ways to effectively remove them.

How Energy Explosion came about:

After two years full of job changes, two international moves, an international adoption, four children, (three of them within 23 months), and no social network of support, I discovered my adrenals were sapped and my energy was gone. Even fulfilling the most basic of tasks was often daunting.

I was constantly tired, even after a full night’s rest. Time did not help. Two years later, I was still exhausted all the time and the demands of running a household were overwhelming.

I gave it enough time to know this wasn’t just going to go away. I would have to be proactive and implement some proven, yet realistic changes to get my energy back. So I slowly began researching and discovering how I could feel better.

It wasn’t until I was back in the states at a MOPS group and one of the prayer requests was that this mom have more energy. Every mom in the room erupted! We could all relate! At that moment, I realized that this issue is very common…and that God desires for us as moms to function at the very best energy level possible.

This plan is the result of my personal journey. I have my energy back…energy not just to enjoy the life God has given me but to pursue life and make the most of it.

Give me a week of your life and I’ll give you your energy back!

So are you ready? Let’s get started!

This is the intro to my energy project. I’ve almost got the rest of it done (will keep you updated). Any thoughts? Also, I’d love to hear which title you like the best:

The Energy Makeover

Energy Explosion for Moms

A Mom’s Guide to Increased Energy

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

 

On Increasing Energy…A Little Help, Please?

Hello all you wonderful ladies. I am posting this to ask for your help.

Wednesday at my Mom’s group, a mom there asked for prayer to have more energy. When the request was read, everyone in the group seconded it and we all laughed at how tired and exhausted we were! I know I can sure relate.

I have always been a low energy person, even before kids~ smile.

Well the thing is, increasing my energy level is something that I have been working on for some time. After Wednesday’s group, I realized that low energy is common to moms and I might have something of value to share. Last night, I couldn’t sleep and had to get up and jot down the plan and process to regaining energy. What I came up with is a 7 day step by step guide to increasing your energy.

So here’s my question for you. One, would this be something that interests you? And secondly, would you be available to preview what I have and offer feedback on it?

Please leave your thoughts and/or contact info in the comments. Thanks so much, sweet friend!

Quiet Times for Desperate Mothers

You’ve been there… you get up early to have quiet time, get your coffee ready, sit down and open your bible, savor the quiet for just a moment, and… the door opens and your child comes stumbling out, ready to start her day!

This scenario happens to me…a lot.

It’s not that I don’t want to have a good quiet time. It’s not that I fail to plan for one. It’s simply that early risers and all nighters and high octane preschoolers all mean one thing: no solitary potty breaks, much less ten minutes of quiet.

I recently heard an older woman counsel younger ones in the trenches to try trading “quiet time” for “rowdy time,” meaning that we can connect with God while we are, say, playing with our kids outside finding bugs.

While I agree with the concept, we all know that God’s Word is our daily bread. There is simply nothing that can replace His word in our lives. His Word is our sustenance and it is what divides the intentions of our hearts. It is what gives light to our path and strength to our bones. Boy, do mommas need steady and regular nourishment in the Word! So what to do when it is so difficult to get?

Join me today at Raising Homemakers where we are sharing our tips!

When It’s Time to Let Go…and be you

It’s when I’m reading The Perfect Love that I stumble on it, the story Ruth tells about how her son finally embraced Christ:

“Brian’s final decision (to accept Christianity) wasn’t easy for it involved a major identity crisis. It meant letting himself go, dropping from the noble and touching position of “lonely, unfulfilled searcher” to what seemed to him a vulnerable, horrible position of sameness- just another Christian.”

And I know that if we want to live out ”in Christ”, it means letting go of old identites.

It initially seems so wonderful, so readily acceptable, so pleasant to us. But upon further consideration, we realize giving up the old identity means we give up the perks that go along with it.

We give up control. We give up self pity. We give up rights. We give up familiar and comfortable ideologies we’ve held.

Giving up the old can make so much sense in our heads, but when it comes time to acutally make the switch, there is loss involved.

I’ve thought about him many times, that man lying on his mat next to the other beggars at the pool. And when Jesus asked him if he wanted to be well, He was also asking if he wanted to change identities.

Because to be well meant he would have to leave the beggar ground behind. He could no longer rely on the pity of others. He could no longer identify himself as “helpless.” He’d lose his means of support. He’d have to re-learn life.

When we embrace Christ, really take up what He has to give us, it always means we must change our identity. Do we really want to be well?

In the deep recesses of my soul, I find truth…how He comes to change everything:

We can use “I was abandoned” as an identity; In Christ, we cannot.
We can use “I cannot do that” (self-pity) as an excuse; in Christ, we cannot.

We can use labels to define us; in Christ, we can only use the labels He gives, loved, accepted, beautiful, enough.

He came to give abundant life. That means there is no room for crutches.

Do you really want to be well?

 

There’s Grace For That

The sky spits snow as I leave the house.

Five minutes later, I’m filling out new patient paperwork and then waiting for the doctor. When she comes in, I explain that I’ve had this cough and sinus stuff for 4 weeks. “It’s just not getting any better,” I tell her.

“Well you sure gave it a good college try,” she says and smiles.

Yes, I tell her, I did. “More than you know” is what I want to say but don’t.

I’m good at trying. For ever so long, that is what I did. I thought my efforts would somehow bridge the gap. Maybe I believed the American ideology that you can do whatever you want to…as long as you believe and try hard enough.

I approached God that way. Knowing there was a gap between me and Him, I determined to just “do better.” To try harder. To give it all I had and in the end, it was going to be enough. I could do this thang!

So I reared back and took a running start and dove headlong towards making myself good and right with God. I fell short. Time after time, same thing.

More and more bible reading and praying and spiritual disciplines and service and being moral, well it always fell short.

It took awhile before it finally sunk in: Your college try isn’t good enough. You need some help.

Just like my body needed some help in getting over the sinus infection, so my sin-sick soul needs help in being made right with God.

People cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in Him, who makes even evil people right in His sight. Then God accepts their faith, and that makes them right with Him. ~Romans 4:5

But God has a way to make people right with Him without the law, and He has now shown us that way which the law and the prophets told us about. God makes people right with Himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift.

So A person is made right with God through faith, not through obeying the law. Romans 3:21f

Friend, I’m not sure what you are struggling with today, but there is grace for that. There is grace for even the most evil of persons who will trust in His goodness. God has made a way…for however you are falling short. It is not through trying harder and giving it all you’ve got.

It is through believing that HE WILL DO IT.

There’s grace for that. Only believe!

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