Renovation By Love


20161004_150844 (2)When you say yes to God you are being made into God’s image. Print that on your resume!  In the eyes of God you are worth dying for. Would you let this truth define the way you see yourself? Would you let this truth define the way you see other people? Every person you see was created by God to bear his image and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is God’s plan. This is God’s promise. And he will fulfill it! Because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

-Max Lucado/Unshakeable Hope

I was reading Genesis 4 a few months ago, and a lesson I had never seen nor heard preached continues to return to me like a great friend with whom I am having coffee. It’s the kind of friend with whom I do life, laugh and talk about realities.

I just met with a good childood friend on a recent trip. We not only laughed, but we both talked realities, some hard. And yet, we both left lightened for having included Christ in our conversation.

In that spirit, here is the text that has returned to encourage me…

Adam was intimate with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain. She said, “I have had a male child with the Lord ’s help.” Then she also gave birth to his brother Abel…

Adam was intimate with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, for she said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel… and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of Yahweh.
-Genesis 4:1‭-‬2a, 25-26 HCSB

God mentions names because they matter to His Story. For my point’s sake, I am removing the usual story we focus on in this chapter.

Instead, I am focusing on the brackets…those steadying objects which keep books or thoughts together. They may seem less important, but are the most important, for the objects in between would have no form, no context.

When I read this text with fresh eyes lately, I notice Adam and Eve mentioned in a positive light; carrying out the mandate to be fruitful, multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it. Eve praises God while naming her sons, and then the crescendo, a tiny, but the most powerful and significant phrase…

At that time people began to call on the name of Yahweh.

The first woman, created by God through miraculous love out of the body of Adam; the two who are also known as the first couple to infest humanity with the plight of sin, were also in the process of being redeemed in the fourth chapter of The Book of Books.

God does not contradict Himself, but as a human, I must guard against focusing against a repetitive doctrine that excludes details that appear along life’s trail that grow me more in love, and set me more free to love others, including my human family in Biblico. This is my greatest guard against dogma.

Is it possible that though Adam an Eve failed terribly, that they were also the first ministers proclaiming the name of God to their offspring that they might begin that trip towards a more perfect Eden through God’s promise to bruise the serpent’s head?

Adam and Eve said Yes to God after they said no. Is that not all our stories? Do they and other failures not deserve a shot at redemption just as we have?

What is known about the physical brain and the tie to the human body today is amazing, which is why all person’s must be treated with dignity, for even so there are therapies able to correct the once thought uncorrectable, including cooperative hardened criminal brains and unreverseable conditions, that one’s quality of life and more peace may increase, according to Dr. Daniel Amen of the world famous Amen Clinics.

“Healing brains can lead to healing in relationships.” -Dr. Daniel Amen

I know this is true, I’ve been there, and Dr. Amen’s Clinics have already helped me substantially. I did a lot of work on my own before going, spiritually, physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially, which gave me a healthier brain before testing. The results were fascinating and made me praise God more!

My answers included supplements and other simple therapies, for my brain is overall healthy and getting healthier, thank you God.

I am in a few transitions, but one of my goals is to be in a place to help others better through my writing and sharing health information.

No one but God knows a person’s real heart, and the true changes it makes to be inspired by God and formed by the Messiah.

Though it can be deceitful above all else, the heart is the Home the Holy Spirit of God chooses to reside today when confessing Him and asking humanity’s most consistent Ally in.

God perpetually knocks at every soul’s heart, which is why we are all very near Him. Dr. Caroline Leaf, mentioned in past posts, a neurologist, along with other neurologists, mentions over and over the finding that our brains are wired for love…that was God’s plan from the start, and that subduing the earth is multilayered including removing all forms of toxicity to improve all human function.

Imagine Adam and Eve takimg responsability for their actions, acrively workimg on removing the toxicity in their brains and minds, and replacing it with the beauties of Eden. Who wouldn’t want to tell others about this beautiful place and it’s God?

Imagine them continuing to birth God’s plan by having children. No telling the stories they told about that perfect world they had come from. It must have been hopeful, mind changing and a player in God’s plan of redeeming the family of man into God’s beautiful Kingdom here on Earth.

Forgetting sin means that we may recall the sin, but the sin does not have us. We can rewire our brains and minds for good and for God by retelling a bad story redemptively for ours and others sake.

That person who was difficult in a season or generation or two may end up being our best ally later in life. If we were the difficult one, we can change and reap a new season of hope with a new mind and brain. Current science is showing God’s redemptive Love everyday.

Yahweh is the Hebrew word for God, a word too sacred to speak and write, for in it contains all of His Attributes, the greatest of these is Love, the way we were all wired to give and accept from others for all are His image bearers.

Amazing!

The Witness of the Innocent


20161004_150844 (2)Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
ensure justice for those being crushed.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
and see that they get justice.
-Proverbs 31:8-9

There are places of safety for mothers in crisis and their unborn all over the world. The healthy centers have the mission of being Jesus to the unborn and their parents, as well as lovingly changing the minds of abortion centers with facts over emotion.

Their witness is strong, for saving both mother and child is the highest work of religion.

As I read James 1:27, I see a deeper meaning that I didn’t see until I volunteered at our local crisis pregnancy center.

baby-1866621__340Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. –James 1:27

Strong’s defines orphans as bereft (of a father, of parents); of those bereft of a teacher, guide, guardian; orphaned. And defines widows as feminine of a presumed derivative apparently from … the idea of deficiency; a widow (as lacking a husband), literally or figuratively:—widow.

Who is more orphaned than the unborn without future parents, or with mother – sometimes father – alone; mostly coming from difficult sectors, whether personally or socially?

baby-20339__340Christ is most exalted when those who cannot speak for themselves – whether the born or unborn orphaned, literal and figurative widow – are served and shown the Love of Jesus, first through service, then the healing of Christ’s Love, and then a presentation of the Good News for a New Life in Christ.

It has been a privilege for me to volunteer as I can at our local crisis center. All who come in are in crisis, even if married, for sometimes the unexpected child pushes a family into a lower economic class and family support may be limited. Who can fill in the gaps better than Jesus through the hands and feet of those who serve these precious souls?

baby-22194__340It is I who leave more humbled and filled after spending a shift volunteering with some of the kindest Christian family I have ever known. Prior to adopting our own Monika, I worked at this same center and gleaned so much courage by watching women who had less than myself and John chose to raise their children in the Lord, and be filled with His Joy as they grow in Him through ongoing classes.

I also am influenced by my peers who counsel and the admins who make the place run under the Godly leadership of the Executive Director and Center Director. Their stories of personal transformation have made them the leaders that brought our local center into the 21st Century with free well woman exams and free ultrasounds, among so many medical and personal services.

All centers are run on donations from donors who want their funds to go before them to help God’s Kingdom come to earth.

indexRecently Eric Metaxas, New York Times bestselling author, spoke at our index2fund raising Gala. His wrote Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. He articulated very well how abortion is the new slavery that needs exposing with facts and grace, for it took William Wilberforce 24 years to end slavery in England. So with facts and the hands and feet of Jesus, both child and parents can be spared and transformed for good.

For anyone reading who may be post-abortive – including men – please hear my heart and the hearts of a magnificent God Who loves you. There is redemption and forgiveness, no judgement. The Lord knows your story and is here to heal you permanently. There are many post-abortive programs that can help you become your best self and know how to tell your story so others might live. And for those of us who know souls who have survived this trauma, the best they can receive from us is unconditional love, and for us to listen and bear witness to their stories of redemption.

John 3:16 begins…For God so loved the worldThat means all of us!

Is God not an amazing God to not only save the Esters, but the Rahabs of this world for His purposes? He not only cares about the Josephs, but the Davids, and carves a place in history for them.

We are part of His Story as He writes His Story on our hearts. Ours is to step into our role every day, glorifying God in all we do, whether walking straightly, or getting up from another fall. Our response to failure by turning our eyes to the Lord – even if it takes a season – is all the Lord seeks from each of us.

May we all see the God-design in every human being, and know we too are God-Image-Bearers serving those who need Him most.

Thank you Jesus, for the opportunities today to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Amazing!

To My Two Earthly Loves


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Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. – Ephesians 6:18 /NLT

I couldn’t be who I am without the husband God gave me, nor my daughter, and so many others. But will focus on my precious two.

John made me smile the first time I saw him. One of my intuitions was that he was loved well by his parents.

He was.

He passed that love on to me with attention and humor.

Twice he has blindfolded me and taken me on surprise trips!

One of those times he drove around a rotary many times so that I would not know the direction we were going on for our vacation.

The other time, he drove around the city in many directions. It was a crazy ride, then he headed out west.

We ended up in Ruidoso, NM.

He said, “Do you want to spend the night here”?

“Sure,” I replied, Ruidoso being one of my favorite childhood vacation memories.

Ok, it’s actually Taos, New Mexico. Surprise!”

I was thrilled anyway!

Then he responded, “Surprise again! We’re here”!

That’s so John!

There’s so much more I could say about him; the support I’ve received in my life, for my parents, for my siblings, and then in exchange, his accepting my love and his family’s accepting my love as well.

I am also thankful for our daughter.

She’s spunky, asks great questions, is satisfied if we can’t answer them all, a good daughter – but yes, a human daughter and stretches us, as well as a good friend to many and is one of the most loving people I know.

One of my favorite scenes is watching John and MJ interact.

They joke, she accepts his wisdom about life, especially boys – a girl’s best defense – they cook well together, play soccer almost identically and both love God.

It’s a wife and mother’s dream.

Are we perfect? Only by God’s grace, for He has covered much in each of us. Is all 100%? Only because God is merciful, for His mercy has provided so much.

Do we get scared? Have lows? Treated unfairly? Yes, but as my “cousin” Tom Norton has painted so beautiful a picture, in the span of eternity, life is a dot.

God is the great equalizer, and we are trusting Him more deeply as a family and learning how to support each other and our loved ones better everyday on this dot of an experience. For it is all we have now, while looking into a hopeful future.

Nearly every night is filled with the tradition of mentioning the three blessings of the day for each of us. We then end our days with petitions and thanksgivings to God.

I thank God for my husband and the family God’s created by our coming together. It keeps me on my knees always, and I am so thankful that God listens.

Amazing!

Lord of the Butterflies


20161004_150844 (2)So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image -2 Corinthians 3:18/NLT

Transformation fascinates me; God in me is a mystery so blessed and sweet, it is difficult to put into words.

When times are tough, sometimes silence and listening to His still small voice is of greater value. Conversely, sometimes when successes come, all I can say is Thank You.

Success and failures are transformative, but my choices determine whether I am reflecting God or not. And when I don’t, God’s sweet forgiveness, Christ’s companionship and the Holy Spirit’s tenderness come in like a flood. Not that I want to miss the mark to receive more grace, but it is there in abundance, particularly for any blind spots.

Thank you my sweet God.

Transformation has many sides.

On the outside, it looks simple enough. But for the butterfly to be, it has a powerful effect. The butterfly looks nothing like its former self. But the caterpillar accepts the changes made in the chrysalis, and works its way out into a beautiful being for all to admire.

Its persistence is inspirational.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. -Sir Winston Churchill.

After the transformation, there is beauty, the kind that God sees in us all as we walk together and as grow more in His likeness.

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. -Matthew 17:1 & 2/NKJV

I have to wonder if our ultimate transformation – our new bodies in Heaven – will be as brilliant as the Transfiguration. For then, we will truly be reflecting God not only inside with Holy Spirit power, but on the outside of our perfect bodies that we might continue to praise Him and do wonderful works forever.

Amazing!

 

Seasons of Jobs


20161004_150844 (2)What do you do when you are in a Job-like season, and it seems your loved ones are also.

I am not sure, except to study this book of wisdom more deeply and with fresh eyes. Recently our church studied Job in concert through a series of devotionals every morning.

After considering Job and the devotionals, I had a few takeaways, though only touching the hem of what God may want to teach.

Listen.

…to God’s still [immovable], small but perfectly powerful voice, trust, get counsel where needed.

…to God’s still [continued] small but perfectly powerful voice, trust, get counsel where needed.

…to God’s still [small] but perfectly powerful voice, trust, get counsel where needed.

“Then Job replied to the LORD:

‘I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.

‘You asked, “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?” It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.

‘You said, “Listen and I will speak! I have some questions for you, and you must answer them.”

‘I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.

‘I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.'”

-Job 42:1-6/NLT

What I am learning…

1 – Be humble.

2 – Refuse to be a Job’s friend.

Or door #3, an option yet to be revealed.

Whether one is a Job or a Job’s friend, God wins, as do God’s image-bearers.

Job was blessed with a double portion of everything in the second half of his life. His new daughters were the fairest in the land. He also included them in his will along with his sons.

Humanity is God’s most prized Creation. God’s enemy is here to destroy God’s success and take over.

But GOD IS, GOD HAS WON, GOD WINS and GOD WILL WIN!

Job’s win is God’s win. Job’s friend’s obedience is God’s win, and in the end even Job’s friends are blessed due to God’s mercy and Job’s prayer.

Amazing!

Coffee with Christ


20161004_150844 (2)You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. -John 1

Coffee and Christ are a constant theme in my life.

In a day of 24/7 media saturated bad news, I chose to have a positive imagination. When God captures it, it’s allthemore wonderful.

I woke up one morning with an image of Christ sitting with His Father over a cup of coffee talking about their Kingdom and the subjects who live there.

“Father, there is a sister who has lost some precious things, could you help her find whatever she needs to continue her journey”?

“Yes, son. Because you asked, I will do it.”

After another cup, I can hear Christ say, “Father, did you see the humor in that brother’s misstep? He humbly sought to do good. It backfired and he laughed it off. I can so relate. Remember the time on the mountain, it was just the two of us. I was walking as I spoke to you and was transfixed by the sunrise. Then I was sideswiped by that branch. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at how strange and wonderful it is to be human.”

“Yes, son. Without your perspective and wounds, I would never know what my own creation is feeling or suffering. I am glad to give the gift of comfort, humor and anything else to those who ask.”

I don’t know a thing about what God and Christ really talk about, but I do know Christ speaks up for His own. The most beautiful union is between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By His grace alone I know He is speaking up for me. He also looks out for everyone in the world; those bearing His image.

I imagine the Holy Trinity caught up in laughter in their perfect Heaven, the place where pure happiness resides and is awaiting the gathering of all of God’s family home one day. I also see God wiping away our tears in this realm and forever in the life to come, empathizing with our sorrows.

Won’t it be marvelous to enjoy the Heavenly delights with our Father and big brother Jesus in the Spirit in which life was created from the beginning to be…

Good!

And it’s still all good!

Amazing!

Tri-God


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Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. -1 Corinthians 9:24/ESV

John, Monika and I recently went to the Ironman Triathlon Finish Line in our home town. It was a joy-filled chilling moment when one would run across the finish line, and the announcer would speak the person’s name and say, “…You are an Ironman”! It was the earthly equivalent of “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

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Some ran across the tape with extra energy, some barely made it, but all were joy-filled a millisecond on the other side of that finish line tape.

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It was a priceless experience, especially when our daughter captured their joy and chatted up a storm asking great questions and cheering loudly for the runners. Her excitement was as contagious to John and I as much as watching the runners.

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I attempted to run a triathlon once. Well, it was a women’s mini-triathlon a few years ago, but it was a challenge. It was transformative both during my training and in the actual race itself.

A girlfriend had asked if I wanted to participate with her and her daughter. Unbenownst to my friend’s family, they were some of our inspiration to continue on toward parenthood. So I dreamed and imagined being able to do a race with our own child one day, for this was before we learned Monika’s story.

It was a quarter mile swim, a 10-mile bike ride and a 5K run. Granted, the swim was in a lazy river at the Marriott. The river’s current was turned off, but the momentum of the women swimming and walking created its own wake. I am not a great swimmer, but chose to swim anyway, propelled by the rolling waters. I decided not only to give my best, but to also have fun. It was both encouraging, challenging and satisfying.

marathon-1082244__340I confess my thoughts weren’t always right on. Was I going to make it? Maybe I should have trained more [because I knew my family gene pool and past experience designed me to take the challenge]…maybe I should have trained less [and done more for others]and on it went.

When I realized I was being a bit hard on myself, I found Christ’s Spirit whispering We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Each time I allowed the Holy Spirit to capture those thoughts, I was blessed and given energy and joy in my training.

Back to my training time, I prayed, meditated and got lost in God’s creation, which also helped turn my thoughts around. I thought on excellent things. I dedicated this race to the memory of my brother as it was close to his birthday. I imagined him cheering me on. I know he would have done as much had he been alive.

runners-1814479__340The training made me strong, grew me and made me more compassionate towards others. It also allowed me to share my light and receive Christ’s light from other Christian siblings who were doing the race, as well as watching the best of human behavior in action. Women cheering each other on. Loved ones on the sidelines lifting up the participants! There was no respecting of persons, just encouragement to help those on the field of play finish what they had started.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. –Hebrews 12:1

I thought about Triune God. The Father who is my perfect parent, the One who trained my own father and his fathers, yet filled in the places where my human fathers could not. It made me love God and my own fathers more. I felt Christ’s love, lean into me more, giving me confidence to finish strong, along with the surrounding cheerleaders applauding loudly. I thought of my own brother, brother-in-law, father-in-law, and so many more who were now with Jesus, cheering me on!

stock-photo-woman-praying-and-free-bird-enjoying-nature-on-sunset-background-hope-concept-734732989I then began having thoughts like this: It’s not just a race Denise, its part of your destiny. Do it with class, great sportsmanship and all the kindness you have, for God in all His forms is magnified in this moment. Enjoy…En-joy…Be filled with joy as you participate…it’s contagious.

I know it is, for I too was infected with the joy of others and couldn’t help but smile and offer smiles despite sometimes feeling the tug of my humanity wanting me to give less than I should. And yet, I didn’t push, for that sort of pushing can hurt in a way that can sideline one for far too long and keep one from participating again.

Once in church we heard a wise man mention that his rest goes hand in hand with his work. I enjoy my rest when I get it, but resting in my work allows me to enjoy what God has given my hand to do.

This kind of rest keeps God present all the time. It keeps the Love flowing.

stock-photo-close-up-couple-hand-trying-to-reach-together-at-nature-park-background-for-spiritual-power-of-life-688621945I never imagined how much a triathlon training could connect me with a Triune God; my Father, Brother and Spirit-Lover. If we are missing something along the way and know God is the answer, the answer is to always Try God! Or better, Try God at the beginning of everything! He will never fail throughout the process!

Amazing!