Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Move Close to the Heart of Jesus

Do you ever feel like you can identify with the Israelites?

I’ve read about the many miracles they witnessed first hand and wondered how their faith faltered so often. I mean come on, they saw the Red Sea part!

Moses reminds them in Deuteronomy how God loves them. Not because of how good they are, far from it actually, but because He’s chosen them.

In the same breath he also calls them out for being a stubborn people.

Oh good grief, here I am, raising my hand. Yep, that’s me. Just go ahead and put the name tag on. “Hello, my name is Stubborn.”

I come from a long line of stubborn people. We’re a strong willed bunch and it can take us longer to listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting than I’d care to admit.

It goes back to our faulty self preservation mentality. Generations of abandonment and addictions led us to believe the only way to survive was to dig in our heels.

However, let’s not forget an important part of Moses’ reminder. God chose them! Hand picked. Set apart. WANTED

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:4-5 (NLT)

I love this! My family may have been “back row people” before, to stubborn to come to the front row when called, but we are chosen!

Chosen to rise up from our past and come forward
into a relationship with Jesus.

I want to step out and have a front row seat at the feet of Jesus unobstructed by distractions. Nothing to block my line of sight to the everyday, wonderful miracles God has for each of us through His grace!

We may never get to see the Red Sea part but we have seen addictions broken, lives saved and legacies changed.

Many of us have been more than happy to hang out in the “back row” out of fear to move to the front. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of being truly seen.

If God is calling us to come forward, He’ll make the path,
we just need to step out and follow it.

If you’re reading this and not real sure you feel chosen, let me reassure you, Abba Father is calling you. The whisper you hear somewhere down deep, it’s from Him. He wants YOU!

It doesn’t matter who your name tag said you were before, God is calling you by your true name, “Chosen”.

Whatever is holding us back from moving forward as God calls to us, let’s offer it up to Jesus. Take His hand, put one foot in front of the other and move into whatever row will put you closest to the heart of Jesus.

I'm sharing this post with several other blogger's at these Faith Linkups. I encourage you to check them out. If this post resonates with you and feel it would help others please feel free to share. Easy to share buttons below. ~Laura~

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fully Alive!

Five Minute Friday is so much fun for me. No pressure! Simply a word prompt on twitter (#fmfparty) on Thursday night and then write. No over thinking or editing. There is a linkup on Friday at Kate Motaung where we can read other's five minute free write.
This week's prompt is: Alive

Jesus’ death. Heart wrenching and devastating, yes.  Yet...because of His death we now have life. Not just any ordinary life either. Abundant life!

I’m so grateful the story doesn’t end with Jesus’ death. He is alive!

We serve  not only an amazing God but the only living God. This is huge. I’m not worshipping an inanimate object or idol. I’m in a relationship with the God of the universe who is ALIVE!

It makes me giddy with excitement. I want to live my life grabbing a hold of this abundant life. Not settling for anything less than God’s best for me.

The best way I know how to live this out is to die to myself. Not easy but necessary.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24 (NIV)

I want to be fully alive. How about you? Are you ready to throw off the grip of death that tries to hold us down?

Death can’t hold Him and it doesn’t win with us either!

Let’s go out today and live fully aware of the life we’ve been given through God’s grace. Living fully alive!

If this post resonates with you and feel it would help others please feel free to share. Easy to share buttons below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Into the Deep End of Faith

Is it just me or does life feel messy sometimes?
I feel like I can be going along and life feels kind of simple for a while and then wham, hit with something else!
Not too long ago my youngest brother was living life pretty fast and hard. Some choices he made were not in alignment with God's will for him.
He was in a pick up accident which almost took his life.
SO many broken bones along with serious head trauma! Just to name a few were his back, neck, face, ribs, sternum and one leg. The only thing not broken were his arms and they were full of glass. His lung was punctured and full of glass as well.
The phone call you get after an accident like that is kind of burned into your memory.
My dad was the first person to get the call. Before he called anyone else, he prayed the following verse for my brother.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)
The doctors were giving our family the worst case scenario. They said there wasn't much hope of him surviving let alone being restored to full health.
It was time to step out into the deep end of faith. As a family we could have crumbled and given in to the fear but we cried out for God's mercy and stood firm on His word. We spent quite a bit of time in prayer reminding God of his promises.
We let the doctors do their job and we did ours as a family, 
standing in the gap for my brother.
I won't lie and say it was easy. There were tears shed and frustrations vented. Many days of hearing the worst case scenarios could have threatened to steal our faith. The thief came to steal, kill and destroy. We were holding onto the promise that Jesus came to give us life abundant. (John 10:10)
We already knew God was in control and would never leave us. We also knew God is sovereign and His ways are higher than our ways.
Many times, well meaning friends would comment how nice it was to see us “hoping” he would be fully restored. It wasn’t just hope like we normally think of it. Not the wishful kind of hope anyway.
It was an expectant hope. A confident and assurant hope. 
In other words...it was faith!
There are no shortcuts to faith. We must spend time in God’s word so we’re ready to do battle when the tough days come. Arm yourself with God’s promises so you too can cut down any attack from the enemy!
God makes impossible things possible.
My brother is a living, breathing, fully restored, walking testament of God’s miracles. He will always have some scars to remind us of the battle God won!
I'm sharing this post with several other blogger's at these Faith Linkups. I encourage you to check them out. If this post resonates with you and feel it would help others please feel free to share. Easy to share buttons below. ~Laura~

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Adventure of a Lifetime!

People warned us not to do it! There were so many logical reasons not to go down this path but I will be the first to admit, at 18 years old, logic and I weren’t on a first name basis yet.

The coming together of two people in marriage is always an adventure. When you add a past with baggage to the mix, you better get a good grip as you’re in for a ride.

I should have known the adventure I was in for on one of our first dates. We went to move cows together. My horse just missed stepping on a rattlesnake. Mike pulled his rope down and in one whack hit that rattlesnake over the head, killing it! He then cut off the rattles and gave them to me. I still have those rattles.

Adventure isn’t always easy and there are certainly moments of discomfort.

We got married young. I felt like he was my savior as he rescued me from a bad situation. Six months into the marriage I realized it was way tougher than I thought it would be and wasn't real sure I wanted to be there anymore but felt obligated.

I will never forget exactly where I was when all of a sudden I realized I didn't HAVE to be here out of obligation.  I really, truly loved this man and it was worth the effort and I WANTED to be in this marriage.

My walk with the Lord still wasn't really in line yet but the Holy Spirit had never left me and was working in me even when I didn't realize it.

When I told Mike about how I had felt I was shocked to find he was struggling with the similar thoughts. Wow! Thank the Lord He was always watching out for us.

I had come into the relationship with a pretty big chip on my shoulder as I was mad at the world still. He was a little rough around the edges as well.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
During those early years there were quite a few sharp edges being rounded off of each of us. Truthfully, we’re still sharpening each others character.

One of the things I love most about my husband is I feel completely safe with him. Yet he does not treat me like I'm fragile. He encourages me to dream big dreams and doesn't ask me to hold back anything.

It's truly only by God's grace we have celebrated 23 years of marriage together. We did everything wrong and according to every statistic we shouldn't still be together. I’m not saying this in any way to brag because it is not because of us. Despite all of our brokenness God has been intertwined with us throughout our marriage and we are honored and blessed.

It hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows, that's for sure, but I wouldn't trade this adventure with my husband for anything!

I'm sharing this post with several other blogger's at these Faith Linkups. I encourage you to check them out. If this post resonates with you and feel it would help others please feel free to share. Easy to share buttons below. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Take a Leap of Faith!

Several years ago I felt a stirring.

It was simply a quiet beckoning but it persisted. I knew it was from God but it didn’t make any sense whatsoever so I tried to brush it aside.
Have you ever been there? You know God is calling you but it’s so far out of your comfort zone that it seems impossible...
I'm so excited to be sharing my leap of faith story at Suzie Eller's blog. Come on over to hear how God has not only redeemed my past and the shame, He's using it for His glory!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Real Dedication

This may seem a little off topic for me but please humor me. This dog taught me so much about unconditional love and as such opened my heart to a deeper relationship with our Lord.
I've been training and competing with Border Collies in sheep and cattle trials since the summer of 2000. Zac was a gift from God right at the beginning of my career in the stockdog world.
I recently wrote a short story about him and shared it with 
Chicken Soup for the Soul. It was selected for their new book 
Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog. 

I'd like to share it with you as well as giveaway a free copy of the book. See below on how to enter!

Zac was a working Border Collie. He was also my teacher and partner. Some people would say his life revolved around working livestock, but he loved working with me even more.

I had just started training dogs to work livestock when Zac was born. The minute I looked into his big, brown eyes, I knew he was put on the earth to be mine. The connection was immediate.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Step out of the Comfort Zone!

Sheep need sheep.

They’re designed as a herd animal. Isolation literally causes them to panic and eventually shut down.

Maybe I've been spending a little too much time with sheep, but there is a ton of information we can learn about ourselves and our walk with the Lord by observing sheep.

Sheep are a prey animal and as such are wired to be quite fearful. It's self-preservation.

It can also make it downright challenging to get them to come out of their comfort zone.

Is it any wonder in scripture we are so often referred to as sheep?