Thursday, April 30, 2020

Valley of Trouble Transformed into Door of Hope

It was only weeks ago that I was at Disney World celebrating my daughter's 10th birthday. We laughed and danced and savored every minute. It was more fun than I have had in a long time. 

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At one point, as I was dancing and laughing at the Magic Kingdom, I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart to "prepare" for what was ahead. I tucked that fleeting thought into my heart and kept having the time of my life. God saw what was right around the corner. He knew what was about to crash into our happy world. And I'm sure His heart hurt. If Jesus cried as a man, and we are made in God's image... then you have to wonder if God cries. 

In a matter of weeks, Tim would lose his ability to work as a dentist. Our second income (rental house in Florida) would be shut down as the beaches are closed by the government. We would begin living in a world of fear, masks, isolation, and me trying to make sure I can feed our large family. I think I was living on adrenaline for the first 2 weeks. 

My 2 year old got a 100 degree fever so I had to quarantine her within our quarantine. Just me and her as I wonder if she has IT. 
 Would she die? Would I die? 

While I was quarantined with Belle, a tornado comes raging through Chattanooga. At almost midnight, I had to scoop children out of bed and cram us all into a tiny pantry with a mattress as we prayed. The tornado did not hit us but it did hit our friends and cause some of the saddest destruction I have ever seen. 

We certainly weren't at Magic Kingdom anymore. Meanwhile, Tim is trying to figure out what his new normal looks like. He can't work for an undetermined amount of time. He is the provider for 10 people. Who could have ever dreamed that dentists and beaches would both be CLOSED? We are now living what feels like a weird end-times movie that certainly isn't believable. I grieve that my children have been exposed to so much scary stuff at such a young age. I try to "shelter" them as much as I can. 

Stress is high in our home as I am battling fear and worry. The teenagers just lost their ability to do ANYTHING with ANYBODY. My little ones are stir crazy (2 and 3 year olds are not built for being stuck inside for months!). There are a lot of apologies happening in our home these days. We are all doing our best to respond to an ever-changing scary situation.

God is purifying us through it though. We are all uncomfortable. We are squirming like LIVING sacrifices as God changes us through this trial. 
 The dross of our ugly ole flesh is surfacing. But as we give God control to USE this for good, and purify us, He gently wipes our dross away...
leaving us stronger and more vibrant. 

"I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.

Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."

Is 48:10

"For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver."
Ps 66:10
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests the hearts.
Prov 17:3

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. 
Mal 3:2

This refinement through trials is not a fun process but it is "necessary" in the lives of believers.

"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, 
IF NECESSARY, you have been grieved by various trials"
1 Peter 1:6

Tim and I have gone through our share of HARD. I think the Christian life can (in some ways) is harder than the non-Christian. Because of the warfare and because of engaging in other people's lives in an intentional way. It would be a lot "easier"  to be sitting in a recliner watching reality TV or doing whatever we wanted to do rather than actively being engaged in a war. People who live for themselves and are "checked out" to others' problems  never even know there is a war in the spiritual realm. 
But that isn't what God has called us to. Even stuck in our houses, we are still engaged in battle. We can war in prayer and by digging into the Word in order to hear God's voice about which direction to go in this dark wilderness.
We can still call people and tell them we love them and we can pray for them. I tried to call 5 people everyday for the first few weeks of this. It blessed me to reach OUT.

God promises to use all things together for good for who?


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If you love God, that promise is FOR YOU! What the enemy intends for evil (and the enemy absolutely intends this virus for evil, no doubt about that!), 
God uses for GOOD!

The enemy desires to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus gives ABUNDANT LIFE!!!

I love this verse that God keeps bringing to my mind...

"I will return her vineyards to her

and transform the Valley of Trouble into a DOOR OF HOPE."
Hos 2:15

God transforms valleys of trouble into doors of HOPE! How cool is that? He can totally transform all of this trouble into HOPE!

I don't want to waste this time of trouble. I want to surrender to God's work in my life and in the lives of my children. His Spirit is actively working! Doors of hope are opening for the gospel to be proclaimed.
The Holy Spirit is being poured out if we can just stop worrying long enough to see it.

 I don't want to hyper-focus on the trouble. I want to fix my eyes on JESUS the author and finisher of my faith and the TRANSFORMER of trouble. 

The Bible says that Jesus sought out lonely (desolate/wilderness) places to pray.

"But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
Luke 5:16

We can pray in this lonely place. God loves spending time with us in prayer. He moves mountains and performs miracles in response to our prayers. He deeply cares about you. Spend time in this wilderness TO PRAY.

The enemy is bent on destruction. He wants anxiety and worry to wear us down. Especially our minds. 
But God has not given us a spirit of fear... He HAS given us a spirit of love, a spirit of power, and a spirit of a SOUND MIND.
He has given us the mind of Christ.

Fight to protect your sound mind by taking every thought captive and soaking in the Word as it literally RENEWS YOUR MIND.

Ask Him to give you fresh vision. 
Ask Him to give your your daily bread!
The disciples asked Jesus how to pray and this is what He said!

This, then, is how you should pray:
“ Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one."
MattHEW 6

This prayer helps reset my vision on heaven. And on the basics.

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If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Savior, cry out to Him for salvation right now. Don't put it off any longer. He loves you. He doesn't desire to punish you. He took your punishment! Ask Him to forgive you and HE WILL! Begin a new relationship with God today as you start reading your Bible and learning more and more about WHO HE IS! He is faithful and true and you can trust Him with your anxiety and worry. Cast it on Him! He tells you to!

I am not minimizing the effects of this pandemic. Our family is being HIT hard. We just have to keep walking by faith that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And that His promises are YES AND AMEN.

I love you and I am with you in this! God will prove Himself faithful. He cannot deny WHO HE IS!

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True."

Rev 19:11
Be Blessed!

Monday, April 8, 2019

John 3:16 and Me

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
John 8:36

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about this new DNA test that can unveil much more about your ancestry than you could have ever known. It can tell you your health predispositions, traits, relatives, etc. By exploring your 23 chromosomes, the website says that they can tell you a lot about YOU. Just pay $200, mail in some of your saliva, and they can unlock a whole lot of information.

I have quite a few friends who have done this. The reports are usually not encouraging. People are finding out truths about ancestors that can be somewhat unsettling. I just read about a girl who discovered she had 29 siblings after growing up as an only child. Their biological father was a sperm donor. That's a lot to find out!

People who were adopted are finding out who their real parents are. They seem to be left with more questions than answers and are having to walk through deep pain along with the discovery. One of my friends told me that the test told her that her daughter had a pre-disposition for being bi-polar. That is unnerving to think about for a mom! But, it runs in the family so it may just run right into her? 
Another person I know found out that her mom was married to more men than she was ever made aware of. 
Often, the information obtained opens wounds but the people needed to talk to for reconciliation are no longer living.  It is extremely difficult to process.

There tends to be misplaced shame and a deep darkness that comes with the uncovered knowledge.

What do we do with all this information? Is it beneficial to even know?

I think as we continue to see the breakdown of marriages and the family, our generation is left with a lot of unanswered questions. Who am I, really? Where did I come from? What are my pre-dispositions? What is the truth about my past?

If we aren't careful, this can become damaging... we were never suppose to look into our DNA for these answers. It can feel hopeless.

We have to press on! Not looking back but looking forward by faith!

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Phil 3:14

It doesn't matter if you come from a solid family or the most dysfunctional family since Adam and Eve. Either way, we have inherited a broken and sinful nature. We inherited it from our parents who inherited it from their parents who ultimately inherited it from theirs (a famous couple in the Garden of Eden). 
Every DNA test is going to give you BAD NEWS. I can save you some money by telling you that your ancestry will include some of the following: alcoholism, mental disorders, divorce, suicide, homosexuality, infidelity, cancer, abandonment, and every other sin. 

You have the same predisposition for brokenness as they did! 
That is the bad news. :(

Here is the GOOD NEWS!!!!! You have been REDEEMED!!! 
Not with spit but with the precious BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were REDEEMED from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestorsbut with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."
1 Peter 1:18,19

When you give your life to Jesus Christ, you are given a whole new DNA!!!

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:4

You can overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Just like all of the overcomers in Hebrews 11! How did they do it? Two words... 

They longed for heaven. They didn't focus on the past or where they came from. They focused on where they were going!
If you look long and hard enough, you will find FAITH in your ancestry as well. 
There are people who have gone before you who finished well!

Yes, you need to be aware of your weaknesses that may have been inherited. If you come from alcoholism, don't drink alcohol. Don't give the enemy a foothold to trap you! If you come from a long line of divorced people, invest in your marriage and ask God to stop the cycle of divorce through your faithfulness in marriage. Give your children a heritage that they can stand on. Let this be a reminder that we are all handing down SOMETHING to our children. 

We all come from dysfunction thanks to Adam and Eve. We can get discouraged by what we find out through our spit OR we can focus on building a foundation for the future generations coming after us!

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.  Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
Romans 5


If my kids were to get a glimpse into my life before Christ, it would be so sad for them. One hard look into their spit, and they will see the emptiness of their DNA and how much they need Jesus!
It is devastating for me to remember who I was without Jesus. 
Tim and I have both apologized to them for the years we squandered away with sin and bad choices. Apart from Christ, I have NOTHING to give them. But Jesus didn't leave me like that. He REDEEMED me from my empty life with the precious blood of His Son. He has given me a new nature. My children need to know that without the blood of Christ, they will walk in their own fallen nature as well.

We have got to be reminded of the GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL!! That God can set "any old bush on fire" (as Kay Arthur used to say). It doesn't matter where you came from. It matter what Jesus did on the cross as He conquered death and made a way for you to be reconciled to God! He can live His perfect life through you. He knows what lies ahead for you. He knows your predispositions and He still LOVES you. When you accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of your life. He will give you the grace you need to walk through illness and He may miraculously heal you if you ask Him. We don't have to be afraid.
You can have victory over the enemy's foothold in your DNA. Jesus is stronger than the alcoholism, the homosexuality, the adultery, and whatever else is crouching at your door. You can participate in a DIVINE nature instead of your own! You can give your children a glorious inheritance of faithfulness and a life lived well! But it won't be through pointing them to spit, it will be pointing them to THE BLOOD.

I prefer "John 3:16 and Me" over 23 and Me. :)
It's not what my DNA says about me. It is what Jesus says about me!
He redeemed me from the empty way of life handed down to me (PERIOD).

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

It is no longer I who live but Christ!

I don't know why I have been burdened to write about this. 
I just want everyone to know that Jesus LOVES you. 
If you are writing your life story now of brokenness and sin, Jesus Christ can change that in an instant.  You have no power over sin and the enemy's grip on you. But Jesus does.
Run to Him and let Him give you new life today.

If you don't know how to start a relationship with God, please write me an email.
I can tell you.

"open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in Me."
Acts 26:18’

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Hang On

I have a couple kids at the baseball field, some watching "A Bug's Life", one napping, one playing with Legos and I decided to sit down and write. It feels like a whole lifetime ago that I blogged. I love processing through writing. 
I miss it. 
It is healthy for me. 
I think I will have to wait until heaven to process this life because it is going SO FAST.
 I seriously can't keep up... much less process it.

This past year has felt like "the third heaven" in some ways.  We have gone through such extreme trials that I have wondered if we died. They definitely should have killed us. Like Paul said, "I dare not speak of it". This last year of suffering has definitely felt like an out-of-body experience and God has spoken to us inexpressible and sacred things.

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.  And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—  was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
2 Cor 12

God has used physical suffering to weaken both me and Tim this last year. If we hadn't have clung to the Word, we would have despaired. 
Tears truly felt like my food like David said in Psalms.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor 12

This word "weaknesses" means physical sickness or disease
The word "hardships" means necessary distress and the word "difficulties" means a narrow place or extreme afflictions
I hope you canNOT relate to these words but I have a feeling you can. 
We are not the only ones who have been beat up by trials lately. 

Remember that your Christian brothers all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
1 Peter 5:9

I see suffering in so many strong believers lives. There is deep pain in their eyes as they share what they are enduring. These extreme afflictions are like a narrow space. They can be SUFFOCATING.  

I think my favorite word in the list is "hardship" because they are NECESSARY. 

These trials are doing something. 1 Peter 4 says physical suffering has "a RESULT".

 "Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God."

The result of physical suffering is that we will not live the rest of our lives for earthly human desires but rather for the WILL OF GOD. I can promise you physical suffering has done just that in my life. I look around as I drive my kids all over town and nothing feels familiar anymore. Tim and I long for heaven. We long for our kids to walk with God. We long to finish well. We long to tell people about God. That isn't because we are super spiritual, that is because physical pain and suffering has purified my heart. You realize what matters. There has been a result in our lives. We have been forever changed by suffering. And that is how I can delight in weakness.

In the last few years, we have also grieved watching believers fall and get "disqualified". 
At one point, they were serving God. Then over time, they begin walking in pride, the enemy seizes the opportunity to deceive and after years of compromise and rejected counsel... they FALL. :(

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. 
Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
1 Cor 9

That is a hard thing to watch and a hard thing to reconcile. I always think of the child of a pastor who at one time had a thriving ministry only to sacrifice it all on the altar of sexual sin.  How do his children process it? It is like schizophrenia. The person they were and the person sin has caused them to become are shockingly different. After all, they used to preach to others! Sin deadens their spirit and they lose their senses. It's exactly what leprosy does. It makes us numb. 
Such a picture of what sin does in our lives!

I read the story of Nebuchadnezzar to the kids last night. He stands on his roof and takes all the credit for the Kingdom. As the words were still on his lips, God rebukes him and he loses his mind. He starts eating grass, his hair turns into eagle's feathers, and his fingernails in to claws. 
This goes on for years until, by God's mercy and gift, he repents and comes back to his "senses". That is what pride does. I told the kids that if we see pride in one another, than we can feel free to ask "Is that a feather I see in your hair"? :) 

Pride has been the common denominator in the "disqualifications" I have watched. I don't think they lose their salvation but they definitely lose their minds and any opportunity to serve the living God.
I wonder if Nebuchadnezzar knew how bizarre he was acting when he was eating grass and had eagle-feather-hair. It doesn't seem like people know when they lose their spiritual minds. To me, that is the scariest part. 
One day you walk in and the once normal person is eating grass like that's normal.
Only God can (PERHAPS) grant repentance for a prideful, grass-eating, claw-having, eagle head.

 "if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,  and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."
2 Tim 2:25


Tim and I are still training up little ones in the Word. We are also discipling 2 amazing teenagers. God is teaching us as we teach them. 

It is hard to let go of the control you have had as a mother. I ride in the passenger seat now with a teenage driver. That's how this entire season of life feels... OUT OF CONTROL.
I'm like "wait, you are driving but YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO DRIVE!!". They are having to learn so fast in every area of life. They have to learn self-discipline, discernment, how to connect with people--- how to connect with the right people, convictions about dating, submission to authority, integrity issues, sexual purity. It's a lot. 
Especially in a generation that the enemy is out to get! How can a young man possible keep his way pure in 2019? the same way he did in 1919... by living according to THE WORD.  By hiding God's Word in their hearts so that they won't sin. By letting grace teach them to say NO to ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2). 

I can't lecture them into holiness, I can't ground them into holiness, it will be their decision and the work of the Holy Spirit. 

I can continue to pour truth into their lives. I can stop what I am doing and enter into their worlds for ANOTHER conversation about holiness. I can make them my priority in prayer. 
I have started praying lately that God would grant them a "willing spirit" (Ps 51) and make them "eager to do what is good" (Titus 2). I have also realized that is is only by the Holy Spirit that they will be able to say "Jesus is Lord".

"no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit."
1 Cor 12

I absolutely believe you can know Jesus as your Savior without calling Him Lord. This is an act of the Spirit and I have told my boys that. They can't even start living for the Lord apart from His Spirit. They need Him for the first utterance and desire! And as they call Him Lord, it is a beautiful relationship. We are yielded to Him. We view this world through His lens, not our own. We pray to do well in sports so that we can have a platform to reach lost teammates.  We don't participate in the sin all around us because of our deep love for Jesus Christ and gratefulness for what He has done for us. We understand that staying sexually pure brings God glory and our bodies are living sacrifices! Not our own but bought with a price that was PAID IN FULL. So we honor HIM with our bodies. 

I found an awesome verse yesterday. 

 they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people.
1 Cor 16:15

When I looked up the meaning of this word "devoted", it can be translated ADDICTED!!! It actually is translated addicted in the King James Version!

"that they have addicted themselves to the ministry"
1 Cor 16:15

I almost started to cry because of how this ministered to my heart.
It breaks my heart seeing an entire generation addicted to their phones, to electronics, to porn, to social media, to all sorts of things. It is SCARY raising teenage boys because of how the enemy is crouching at their door and his desire is to destroy them. But there are godly addictions! Addictions to ministry!! That is my prayer for them!  That they would ADDICT THEMSELVES to serving God! 

May we be obedient to teach our kids about the Lord. To teach them His Word. To pray for them and to stay humble when God does a mighty work in them!


The other part of this last year that has felt like the third heaven and an out-of-body experience is the HUGE answer to 10 years of prayer for a place to do ministry on a larger scale. We are so excited that God has opened a big door for us and I pray that it is for effective ministry!

"because a great door for effective work has opened to me"
1 Cor 16:9

Tim loves architecture and has been designing a home where we can live and do ministry for years. It is so fun to watch him do what he does best. He is a brilliant designer. Who needs Joanna Gaines when you are married to Tim Blackiston? :) 

So crazy that when I was a baby Christian in a prayer tower at Bible college, I prayed for a godly husband to serve God alongside of. Not only did God give me a godly husband but a godly husband who built my my own prayer tower.
That's God.
Exceedingly and abundantly MORE than we could ever ask or imagine. 

We are beyond excited about what God is doing in our lives in the midst of so much suffering. Sometimes God has to flatten us in order to bless us :) 
so the blessing itself doesn't ruin us...because we couldn't handle it. 

God doesn't want any of us to stand on our roofs like Nebuchadnezzar did as we look around at all God has done yet claiming we did it all. It is all by Him, through Him, and for Him! Our new home will be just that too. We are praying for God to breathe His life into our property. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of wood and windows.

Well, I have to go because it's time to make lunch. I hope this ministered to someone somewhere. 

This is hard. 
Life is hard. 
Heaven is coming. 
Be careful how you live. 
Not as unwise but as wise and knowing the times! 

Jesus is coming for us. I believe it is so soon. He is coming to make all things right. He sees your pain. 

Hang on, He is faithfully busy doing something amazing. 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.

1 Cor 2:9