Friday, December 14, 2012

The beauty of grace....

"Take time to be holy.  The word holy does not mean goody-goody; it means set apart for sacred use.  That is what these quiet moments in My Presence are accomplishing within you.  As you focus your mind and heart on Me, you are being transformed: re-created into the one I designed you to be.  This process requires blocks of time set aside for communion with Me."  Jesus Calling, Dec. 14

Isn't this refreshing!?  One of my best friends and I were talking about this yesterday.  I think it is so easy to focus on the "doing" of our relationship with Jesus.  Or if we don't know Jesus, that is why.  Because we feel like it would be too hard.  We have to do better, or be better.  Try harder.  That is not what our relationship with Jesus is about!  I think the enemy twists the truth (well we know he does) and makes us think that it is about the work that we do.  ha, well guess what Satan, it is not about us and how good we are!  It is about Jesus and how GOOD He is, and the sacrifice that he made for us and paid for us, so that we could be in this amazing loving relationship with HIM!  Covered by grace, not trying to keep the law.  Under the law, there is death.  We can not grow in a relationship with Him under the law.  We will never be good enough, therefore it brings death.  But Grace!!  Undeserved merit and favor, that comes from God alone, now that brings freedom!!  The freedom to fail, the freedom to try, the freedom to just BE.  And as Jesus Calling has said today, we do not have to be holy, to be perfect to try to prove ourselves to God or anyone else, but to be set  For the work that Jesus wants to do in us.  The work that He alone can do in us, when we surrender ourselves to him, and offer ourselves up to him so that he can do in us and through us, what we would NEVER be able to do alone.  What was life-changing for me several years back, was when God finally took the scales off my eyes.  I had been trying to live a perfect life and not mess up...ever.  If I did I would berate myself.  Then His Word jumped out at me and he said, "Monica, if you were perfect, then I died in vain!  I died for nothing, if you could be perfect enough and do everything on your own!  There would have been no need for me coming to earth and dying for YOUR sins."  WOWZA!  That hit me square between the eyes, and led me to repentance as I realized the way I had been living, in my desire to please God had essentially led me to a performance treadmill.  That was not my heart, it was not me intentionally trying to be in control.  Nevertheless I was there.  But there is something about surrender.  About acknowledging the fact that we don't have it altogether, and we never will.  But with Jesus we can do anything and everything that he has laid out for us.  It is not a crutch.  Jesus is not a crutch.  He is our HOPE!  Our only hope of anything good coming out of this life, the pain and the heartache that we face. and for our life eternally.  Oh that brings me joy.  Jesus just wants to love us.  And there is so much of ourselves that get in the way of allowing him to love us.  And it started in the Garden of Eden, when Satan twisted the truth and lied to Eve and her man.  Our own desire for control, started there, and it has not left us... ever.  Only by the grace and love of Jesus can we come out from under that heavy burden.  That is a heavy load! To try to figure things out in life, and what to do?  What path to take?  How to navigate through hurt and pain that changes our lives.  What do we do with that??  How amazing to release that control and surrender to the ONE who holds the world in HIS hands, who knows ALL things!?  Give the burden to Jesus and let Him carry it for us, now that is freeing....... and He wants it, and then we know Him more.  I can tell you that there is NOTHING better.  I am free.  And it's not because I have everything I desire.  It is because Jesus has revealed himself to me as I have surrendered to Him and His will.  He has met me there.  In His pool of grace. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Take heart!

Jesus Calling has stirred up a lot in me this morning!  I need to get it out.  If you are a reader of this awesome devotional, then you may know what I am talking about.  If not, then here it is...... 

November 15 -

Approach problems with a light touch.  When your mind moves toward a problem area, you tend to focus on that situation so intensely that you lose sight of Me.  You pit yourself against the difficulty as if you had to conquer it immediately.  Your mind gears up for battle, and your body becomes tense and anxious.  Unless you achieve total victory, you feel defeated.

There is a better way.  When a problem starts to overshadow your thoughts, bring this matter to Me.  Talk with Me about it and look at it in the Light of My presence.  This puts some much-needed space between you and your concern, enabling you to see from My perspective.  You will be surprised at the results. Sometimes you may even laugh at yourself for being so serious about something so insignificant.  

You will always face trouble in this life.  But more importantly, you will always have Me with you, helping you to handle whatever you encounter.  Approach problems with a light touch by viewing them in My revealing Light.

You will always face trouble in this life.........yes we will.  One of my favorite verses is John 16:33, which states, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world."  I love this.  Jesus states emphatically with an exclamation point, take heart!!!!  I am here, I have overcome, there is more to this life......well, than just this life!!!!  I think Jesus allows hardship, trouble, pain, calamity, into our life because He loves us SO MUCH!  And I know that sounds weird, from a human perspective, but from a God perspective, just think about that?  He loves us, and he knows that when things are good, floating along just fine, we don't need him as much, so we wander around, try to do things our own way, and yet we are not experiencing the full love of God, of WHO HE IS!  I know when things seem to be fine, that doesn't automatically equal happiness in my life, you know??   Sometimes, it's just kind of blah, and I think, ok, well on the outside everything appears fine.  Life is good.  But on the inside, I am not necessarily pressing into God, and experiencing His full love.  The love that has been proven in my life that I won't experience without hardship.  Now I know this is not for all people.  Some people can really press into Him in the good times, and experience His full love.  But generally speaking, I think it is safe to say, that many of us often have to be brought to our knees, to really let God in. And to turn to Him, and to let him have his way with us.  As Jesus lovers, I think, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way!  You know??  And I often times have to learn the hard way.  And He wants to show us Himself, but often times He can't, until all we can do is focus on him.  Until things are so bad, or we are in so much pain, that all we can do is scream his name, JESUS.  And He is right. there.  Always.  The same, yesterday, today and forever!!  And we will experience Him in ways we never have, and never could before.

The problem is, that we all have brokenness.  Every. single. one. of us.  It looks different.  As I sat with people this week, and reflect on my own life, here are just a few areas of brokenness.......fear, anger, depression, bitterness, pride, jealousy, envy, struggling with anorexia, unhealthy relationships, as we look to others to find significance.  Really, anything that we look to, to find our significance, OTHER than Jesus Christ, will always fail.  Will always let us down.  Will always never (love that, double negative) work out. Will always be broken.   Because it is not in God, our Maker and Designer.  And so God allows things in our life, and Satan wants to mess with us.  It can be any or all of those things.  Satan knows our areas of weakness, and brokenness, and wants to dig in right at that spot.  To discourage us, and ultimately take us out.  But because God is the victor, he wins in the end.  And he uses our brokenness, and works IN and THROUGH our brokenness, to REDEEM our brokenness and USE our brokenness to bring glory to Himself.  He takes broken pieces of our hearts, and puts them back together.  He brings beauty out of ashes.  Because it is then clear that it was HIM!  There is no other answer, no other way that healing could have happened.  Sometimes we even need to take ourselves out of situations, and rely on God alone, if we are ever going to see change happen.  We think we need to be involved, if something is going to happen.  I am guilty of this!  And that is so prideful!  Oh our humanness.........ugly, but a place where God can reach in and turn into beauty!  So if we do not experience hardship, I would wonder????  He loves us too much to leave us where we are......Do I really desire to know Him, and want His best for me??  Or do I want to settle for what the world has to offer??  Outside of Jesus, it is a whole bunch of crap.  It takes breaking and tearing away of our will, and surrendering to His.  He wants to bring our hearts and our lives in line with His will, and His purposes.  Be encouraged today.  If you are going through it right now, God is in it with you!  He has a purpose and a plan that He is working out.  Or He would not have allowed it in your life.  It doesn't always make sense.  Well, hardly ever.  But He is Sovereign and has a good plan....He is good.  It will all be made clear when we get to see Him one day!

So I love that Jesus Calling today talks about perspective.  I can get so focused on my problem, that I lose sight of Jesus and His dealings and thoughts on the matter.  I lose sight of His perspective and what He is doing, and how He is working through situations.  When I can back up a bit, turn my eyes to Him, and focus on Him, then my problems don't seem as huge and overwhelming.  I need His light shed on the situation.  Take heart!  It is in me, and me alone that you will have peace.  I love that, because it is not in his blessings, or what he can give to us that brings us peace, but it is in He Himself.  His person..........He brings us peace, because He is peace.

Monday, October 29, 2012

She said it couldn't be done.

She said it couldn't be done......and that she, was me.  Not as much couldn't, but wouldn't.  End of September I ran my first half marathon.  My family and friends were there to support me as I ran with a few of my dear dear friends.  My family took pictures all along the way.  I told them, you better take lots of pics because this is the only half marathon I will do!  Then I ran it, and decided I may do it again.  It was so much fun.  Hard, but fun.  My training went great for the first 8 weeks or so, and then as my long run distances started increasing, so did my pain!!! Oh my, I didn't realized I had knee pain until I started running.  So I increased my massage and chiropractor appointments and they got me up to snuff.  I am so thankful!  And I realized I needed to do a better job of stretching my muscles too, I am not that great at it.  I enjoy running.   I never, ever, never, never, ever thought I would hear those words come out of my mouth!  It feels good, there is just something that happens as you run.  Maybe it is the endorphins??  So to all my friends who say, I am not a runner, I say to you, you can be!  I was not a runner, and now I am a runner.  I really enjoy 3 or 4 mile runs, and I will continue to do that, as it is not as hard on my body as the long runs are.  I think I even got my bro and sis to commit to running the half marathon next year, and my parents may walk the half.  That would be so cool.  What I loved the most about this run, is that apart from training, I would not have been able to do it.  I followed the beginner training plan to a t, to begin with, and I knew, if I stick to this plan, I will be able to run on race day.  But if I hadn't had a training plan, I would have been freaked out, not knowing if i would be ready come race day.  I love that!  I don't mean this to sound cheesy, but I think that it is a lot like life you know???  God has given us his WORD, and has let us know the WAY to get to Him, to be accepted as His sons and daughters.  All we have to do is accept HIM and choose to give our lives to Him and surrender to his will and his way.  If we stick with Him, and follow Him and stay close to Him, we will show up on "race day", the final day when we get to go to Heaven to meet our Lord and Savior, and He will say, "You did it! You made it, Well done."  We will have hardships and pain along the way, but we will survive!  I had major pain along the way, but stayed faithful to the training plan, and I ran.  It wasn't pretty, but I ran.  It wasn't fast, but I ran.  It was such an amazing experience!  Friends asked me if I felt emotional crossing the finish line, and I really didn't.  I was so thankful and happy to have had the opportunity to run. I ran for myself, and for Esther, and for Jesus.   Even when I was in pain, or it was hard, I thanked the Lord for the 2 legs and 2 arms that I have, and that I am able to run.  I know there are many who are not able to, and I am very aware of this fact, and super grateful. ( in my case, having lost a child and not being pregnant yet, and hearing other people who do have children complain about things.....I am not saying that it is wrong, it is just fellow baby-loss moms can identify :)  The race was hard, but I have arms and legs to run )  So I have practiced thankfulness in the midst of my training, and still feeling so full of life.  Air in my lungs, sweat dripping off my body, stinking a stank that I have never smelled on me before!  I am alive!

So I never thought I could do it. But I did.  And if I can do it, ANYONE can do it.  Seriously.  It is all about the training.  And it does take sacrifice.  Early mornings, I knew that I had to run.  I couldn't choose not to run, or I would not have been ready on race day.  You can do it!!

Enjoy a few pictures.......Our time was 2 hours and 14 minutes!!

                        My family came and supported me!!  They were so encouraging!

Our shirts were made by a dear friend Rhonda Holtrop (middle with #2705 on shirt)  and her husband Jason who lost their baby Esther Frances to CDH back in May.  They are raising support to help other families who find themselves in need when going through loss or tragedy's with children! From left to right: Me, Jenny Bajema, Rhonda, Paige Huttula.
                                                      I am so ready!  Lots of adrenaline...
                 Mile 7 at Squalicum Park!!  There was even a band playing.....We're smiling, and we have Jazz hands for some reason!:)  Thanks to Paige and Staci Zenonian (pink shirt) for sticking with me!
                                          Mile 12 ish......still smiling....and almost done!!!!

          My faithful running/training partner and bestest friend Paige Huttula!! Thank you friend..

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Come Away My Beloved.....

I have been struck with a few thoughts and prayers from a devotional I kinda stole from my cousin.  Well I gave it back now, but I have had a chance to read some of them at random, and they really express my hearts desire.  I wonder if you can relate as well?

From Come Away My Beloved......."I am the Lord your God.  I know no limitations.  I know no lack.  I need not reserve My stores, for I always have a fresh supply.  You can by no means ever exhaust My infinite resources.  Let your heart run wild.  Let your imagination go vagabond.  No extravagance of the human thought can ever plumb the depths of My planning and provision for My children. 
Rejoice, therefore,  and face each day with joy; for I have planned ahead for you and made all necessary arrangements and reservations.  I am your guide and benefactor.  Put your hand in Mine."

Jesus has recently freed me, and continues to because it really is a daily thing, of some things I was wrestling with.  I felt like it was hard to pray for our family and our desires to have another child.  I wasn't sure if it was wrong to or not?  I mean, if that is not what God has for us, then why would I want to pray for that?  I became discouraged in that, and kind of stopped praying for a child. I am so thankful that I have so many friends and family who have and are standing in the gap and lifting us up, lifting me and my heart up to Jesus.  THANK YOU!  You know who you are..........  I have realized though that that is where the enemy would want me, to not pray for the desires of my heart.  To even twist that, to keep me from going to Jesus.  That is right where I need to be, in Jesus's arms!  As I read this from the Lord, I was so encouraged, because I can't even possibly ASK for what He has planned for us, I have no idea.  My human mind and heart cannot comprehend.  I want what Jesus wants for our life!  I trust Him, and I know He has plans and provision for us.  Sometimes it feels like He does not, or that we have been forgotten, but I know that is not true.  Just because His plan and timing is not my plan and timing, doesn't mean He is not God and is not still working!  He has made all the necessary arrangements for each day for me.  I want to live in the moment of each day, and I know I have said it before, but I don't want to miss what He has for me each day.  But it is a struggle, as my eyes waver from HIM, and I begin to doubt.  Much like Peter walking on water going out to meet Jesus.  He began to sink when He took his eyes off and looked at the waves around Him.  I know Jesus just wants my heart.  My surrendered self all to Himself.  I do not want any idols, or to desire anything but Him.  When I am surrendered to Him, I feel so free!  I desperately want what He wants for my life.  To bring glory to himself and to draw others to HIM!  I know He knows my heart, and so I will continue to pray for the making of our family.  A dear friend told me last week, about when Jesus promised to Mary that she would carry the Savior of the world.  Even with this promise, Mary responded, "May it be as you have said."  The word may means, let it be yes or no, or a promise of a possibility.  As I pray, I want to have the posture of Mary, to ask and believe, but hold it loosely, really as I should everything in my life!  "Lord, whatever you want.  This is my desire, but whatever you want, and whatever timing you have.  Just give me the grace to walk through this!!"  I am thankful that He does give us everything we need to walk the journeys we are on.

I want to not lack anything, I know that is what Jesus does in us through our suffering, through the refining process.  Many times I want to scream, I don't want to be refined!!!  It is hard and it is painful.  But it is good.  God knows us and LOVES us, and knows what the refining process will produce in us. Only the power of the Holy Spirit in us can take away the things in us that we humanly cannot do ourselves.  To make us more Jesus-like, and that is what life is all about.  To reflect Jesus and hopefully draw others to him.  I want to be a true reflection..........

This last prayer from this awesome devo is SO where my heart is today!  I got up this am and ran really fast on my treadmill, for me a 9:00 minute mile:)  and worshiped the Lord as I ran!

"Grant this one prayer more, Lord, that You would give us all that is lacking in us; intensify our hunger and fire our devotion; take the indifference from our spirits; and have within us Your wonderful way and perfect will, O God, we pray; Amen."

"Lord, have within ME your wonderful way and perfect will............Amen, and Amen."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I just got out of a really hot shower, after a 5 mile run with a friend, and a dinner that was thrown together out of what I had in the freezer!! It was strange, but good.:) As I was in the shower, I thought............I need to go write. That hasn't happened in a long time, but there are some things that I have been pondering. This morning as I was reading my devotional, our roommate Kelly came in being carried piggy back by her boyfriend. I thought to myself, oh, young love. With a warmness in my heart. Then it hit me....... would I be so happy for them, if I was not so happily married, or didn't have that for myself? And I realized that I probably would not. I know that is sad to say, but that is where I have been at for awhile now in regards to hearing of the throngs of women who are pregnant and having babies. I have had a hard time being excited for others. There I said it! Not that I am not excited for them and having a baby, but my very next thought is always, "Lord why can't I have that?" It is easy for us to be happy for others and celebrate, when WE have what WE want right? I have felt challenged by the Lord in Romans 12:15, "to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn." I can do that! It is easy for me to mourn with others who have lost a loved one, because that is a road I have walked. It is SO hard to rejoice, and I realize that I have not been doing a very good job, and I feel the Lord saying, "Monica, you need to rejoice with others. I am not asking you, I am telling you." And I am sorry to all of my sisters who have had babies, and I am sure it has been hard to tell me, and I really have been excited for you! It has just been my own selfishness and has made me recognize what I don't have and to ask why I don't have it! Of course that is where the devil would want me to sit and stay. Discouraged. Feeling like I am missing out. Like God is holding out on me. Like a little kid!!! And I do not want to, and I will not stay in that place. I have always said, it is easy to love the loveable, right? In our own human strength we can love those who are easy to love. But we need Jesus' love through us to love those who are hard to love. We can't do it on our own! And I think I have been trying to just do this on my own too, and to try to "feel" my way into rejoicing? If that makes any sense? But I don't often feel it. And it doesn't work like that! Life is not about feeling! It is a choice, and I need to choose to trust Jesus enough to help me, and just do it. I believe when I choose to rejoice with others, then it is through the rejoicing that He will strengthen me and change my heart!

I have been practicing thanking the Lord. He has blessed us so much, and I have a wonderful full life! I am so grateful for the amazing man God brought me together with. We never had "young love"! haha, because we were a bit older when we got married, but we had "new" love! I am so grateful to God for his timing in bringing us together. I am thankful that he had us "wait" until just the right time, his time. But it was a long time!! Especially for Brian, who was 38 when we wed! But so so worth it. Almost 4 years later, and I love him more and more every single day. I am grateful for the foundation that the Lord has laid in both of our lives, and the foundation that is so strong because of Him, and also what He has brought us through. I am hopeful that we will have a family soon!! I don't know what "soon" means, but I am believing that God is just "waiting" for the perfect time to bring a brother or sister for Esther and a son or daughter for us! I trust Him. He has not failed us! And will not........

Friday, July 13, 2012

What's new?......running shoes!

Well I have been gone awhile.  Literally gone......... not just from the blogging world.  When I have a chance to sit down I will let you know where I've been over the past 2 months.  But for now I am excited to say that I have decided to train for, and run the Bellingham Bay half marathon.  I know, if you know me, you are thinking, what?!  I hate running.  BUT i have decided that I am sick of being sluggish.  I need to exercise. Really exercise, and in order to do that, I need a goal!  Or i will not run.  I was inspired by a book I read called Working it Out, by Abby Rike.  She was a season 8 contestant on the Biggest Loser.  She was overweight and it had been a year since she lost her husband, 6 year old daughter AND her 2 week old baby boy in a car accident.  She felt like she was just existing (well yeah?!)  and she needed to do something different.  So she ended up getting on the Biggest Loser.  Her story is one of great faith and hope even in the middle of such tragic loss.  As she got physically better, she noticed emotional healing on the inside as well.  I don't feel like i have just been existing, however i have felt just kinda blah, and sluggish!  I need a change.  My excuse for exercise has been, well next month i may be pregnant?   But, it has been a year, and that has not happened yet, so I have decided to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and RUN!  Quit making excuses, just do it.  Another theme while camping, was "do hard things".  My brother in law was reading a book with that title, and we talked about that a lot.  It was all about where teenagers are at in this generation.  As I have run this week, (so far i can run about 2 out of the 3 miles that is required for the 1st week.) I keep saying to myself, do hard things, you can do this!  I have done hard things, and I know with Jesus I can do this too.  I just have to dig deep and do it.  I have run 3 days, and although it kicks my butt, it feels good at the same time.  Interesting, that with Jesus, hard things in life, are not ALL bad.  There is good and bad at the same time, and I think that is the element that ONLY Jesus brings. We have pain, and yet we have joy too.  We have to work hard and it hurts, and yet it feels good at the same time?  Crazy, but fun.  I am looking forward to it. I am letting you all know so that you can hold me accountable!  I figure you are all my family and friends on here anyway, thanks for your support! 

I leave for Malibu Young Life Camp on Monday, with 90 students and leaders from NWC Young Life!  It will be awesome.  Please pray for us when you think of us!  

When I return I will post some updates and pictures of the past few months.  Stay Tuned!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mommy Poem for Mother's Day...

Mother's Day is tomorrow.  Happy Mother's Day to all of you who are mother's, whether you have children here on earth, or if they are in Heaven.  Last year this time, I was having a rough time. I knew I was a mom, but I didn't feel like a mom.  I was wrestling with all those emotions, and then I got a message from my dear cousin, and at the end she said, "you are a wonderful mother."  And I bawled!  That was the first time I really truly thought of myself as a mom!  And I guess I just think that there could be some mom's out there today, who like me, don't feel like a mom, because their children are not here.  Yesterday, I went to a beautiful memorial service for a friend's baby girl, whose name was also Esther.  It was so glorifying to God and honoring to Esther.  It was their first child, and my friend will be spending her first Mother's Day tomorrow, without her child, and that is so hard........

I found this poem on the blog of a grieving mom. I loved it. This is for all of us mom's who don't have our babies here with us on Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day, you are ALL wonderful mothers!!!

I thought of you and closed my eyes,
And prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a Mother,
And I know I heard him say:
A mother has a baby,
This we know is true.
But, God, can you be a mother,
When your baby's not with you?
Yes, you can he replied,
With confidence in his voice.
I give many women babies,
When they leave is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime,
And others for a day.
And some I send to feel your womb,
But there's no need to stay.
I just don't understand this God,
I want my baby here.
He took a breath and cleared his throat,
And then I saw a tear.
I wish that I could show you,
What your child is doing today,
If you could see your child smile,
With other children who say:
We go to earth and learn our lessons,
Of love and life and fear.
My mommy loved me oh so much,
I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have a mom,
Who had so much love for me.
I learned my lessons very quickly,
My mommy set me free.
I miss my mommy oh so much,
But I visit her each day.
When she goes to sleep,
On her pillow's where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek,
And whisper in her ear.
"Mommy don't be sad today, I'm your baby and I'm here."
So you see my dear sweet one,
Your children are OK.
Your babies are here in My home,
They'll be at heavens gate for you.
So now you see what makes a mother.
It's the feeling in your heart.
It's the love you had so much of,
Right from the very start.
Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother,
until their time is done.
They'll be up here with Me one day,
And you'll know that you're the best one!
~Author Unknown

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Right where I am supposed to be....

Today i feel like my heart wants to burst. It really is hard to describe! Well the sunshine does help, but i have felt for awhile now that I am right where I am supposed to be. That WE are right where we are supposed to be. A few months back, the sun was out, and Brian and I were taking a walk outside. I just had this overwhelming sense, that in spite of everything that our last year held, that day, we were right where God wanted us. It is a strange but peaceful feeling. Not because I had what I wanted, or because anything special or exciting had happened......but that God had us right where HE wanted. This past week, that has been affirmed. I love ministry. I love being able to meet with my young girlfriends. Share life with them, share their joy and their pain, and listen to them and hear where they are at. I LOVE IT! For my job, I get to meet with people to talk about Young Life, and the possibility of them being a leader. As I get to hear their story, I just burst inside! I get to share with them what it means to be a part of the ministry and serve the Lord, and how THEY will be blessed, and encouraged and strengthened in their walk with Christ. AND I AM ENCOURAGED..... AGAIN......and i hear it again, "Monica, this is what I put you on this earth to do!" Not because it is all about me, but because God has gifted me and placed me, right here, right now, at this point in time, for a reason. WE all are. We all have a purpose and a divine design and when we are operating in that place, it is so sweet...........and it is all from God. It is his work that he does through us. Would I be here right now, had we not gone through what we did? Losing our baby?? I don't know. But i know that God is Sovereign and he makes ALL things work together for our good. Yes that is a song, and yes that is a verse. Romans 8:28.........I know that experiencing loss has given me more compassion, sensitivity to where others are at, discernment, and a LOVE that I did not have before. God just meets us! In our deepest pain, GOD SHOWS UP! And HE changes our lives in the process. Does it hurt? Yes....terribly. But God will redeem anything that we bring to him, that we give to him. ANYTHING!!! In John, Jesus talks about remaining in Him, and about pruning in our lives. Branches are cut off, that are not producing fruit, and branches are pruned, so that they can produce more fruit. I want to produce more fruit. I do, desperately. I want more of God and I know that does not come without pain, and challenges. He is using my life experiences. He brought Brian and I together at this place and time for a purpose. Brian was 38 for crying out loud! When i talk to my young friends about waiting for God's best, i tell them our story, and they go, oh man 38!!! I don't want to wait that long...... I get it, i didn't either, and I KNOW Brian didn't want to wait that long....but he did, and I did, because we trusted God and knew that He had something more for us. It is no accident. It is no accident that we lost Esther. God in his loving Sovereignty allowed that to happen, and I know He brought others to himself because of that. That is what it is all about. Not about us. Having said, that I am hopeful for a brother or sister for Esther. Someday...... I don't know when that will be, and whether our family will be natural or from other mothers, but it will be God's perfect timing. And I trust Him. Thank you to all of you who are so faithful in praying for us to have a baby. He really has given me such a peace about His timing, and His plan. I need to do what He has called me to do. Right?? Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.....or something like that. I just trust that He is taking care of us. He always has, even in our darkest place, and he always will. I am so grateful for his blessings. Like I have said before, I appreciate life so much! More than i ever have, and this life does not compare to what life with Christ in Eternity will be. I have such an appreciation for all the people God has brought into my life this past year. Other grieving mothers, I have such a love and so much admiration for them. We have all walked a hard road, one that no one wants to walk, and many cannot imagine, but they have shown courage, just walking it. That is all we can do is walk, we have no choice, but He shows up to walk with us. God works in miraculous and mysterious ways, and I have seen His awesomeness this past year! The leaders I get to walk with and encourage in life and in ministry......what a gift for me!! I feel like I have so many "spiritual kids" because of the time I have spent in Young Life ministry. Ones I have seen come to know him, and even stray away, but years later come back to him!! It is all about planting seeds. Loving people unconditionally. Accepting others where they are at. I was loved on this way growing up.......and I strayed away.......but I came back............My cup is overflowing..... God you are so good.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

God Is Able

Sunday at church the youth worship band led us in worship. They were amazing~ I can't believe I have never heard this song before, but God is Able, by Hillsong is powerful! As i have listened to it the past few days, over and over, I feel like it describes my heart! I was reading my bible this morning. Sometimes I feel like even though I am spending time with Jesus, I don't necessarily connect with him. But I love worship. That is my language, and I feel like when I have no words to say, or need to connect to God, I can turn on a specific worship song, and it is as though it speaks my heart, and God is right there with me! This morning as I turned this song on, I just got all choked up at these words......

God is with us, He will go before
He will never leave us, He will never leave us
God is for us, He has open arms
He will never fail us, He will never fail us

This is who God is! It doesn't matter where we are in life, what hardships we are going through, this is the truth. As Beth Moore says, our hardships set up the backdrop for God to show up, and show off! This is the kind of God we have. And life is hard, and painful, but it does not change WHO God is. That He is able, that He beat death! "Lifted up, he defeated the grave, raised to life, our God is able. In his name we overcome!" He has the power to raise us to life! Real life. Eternal life. Our brothers and sisters in Christ, our children, we have lost who have gone before us, we will see again, because He died and rose again!! Death will die forever when Jesus comes back. Isn't that awesome?? And whatever we go through on this earth, God is with us. He will never leave us, he will never fail us. Ahh, such truth my heart needed to sing to God, to tell him that I believe that this morning!!

Ephesians 3:20 - "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."

Praise to our God who is able....

you can pause the playlist on the bottom of the page and then listen!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Water into Wine

So i have had some thoughts brewing for the past few weeks. I was preparing for a Young Life club talk. I just have started reading, "Just Give Me Jesus" by Anne Graham Lotz, and she talked about Jesus turning water into wine. How many different ways that it applies to us in our lives and the different seasons we may go through. It captivated me. Because I had been chewing on that for some time, I decided that I would speak about an aspect of that miracle, that very first miracle, at club. As i read it over and over there were so many things that struck me, especially in relation to where I am at in life right now. John 2 begins with Jesus and his disciples,and his mother at a wedding feast, when the wine runs out. Now this was a huge deal! Back in those days, the groom could have a lawsuit slapped on him by the bride's family because of this! Can you imagine that? The fact that the wine ran out, was big. I wonder how Jesus' mother knew that the wine had run out. Was it the wedding of a family friend? Someone they were close to, maybe a sibling of Jesus? But Jesus' mother finds out and tells Jesus. Of course Jesus says, I love this, "dear woman, why do you involve me?? My time has not yet come." But then she says to the servants, "do whatever he tells you to do." I love that she knew that Jesus could change this situation. She knew the power that he had, even though up until this point he had not performed any miracles! But Jesus having been conceived by the Holy Spirit inside her womb? Yeah, she knew who He was:) The servants obeyed, they filled big stone jars to the brim with water just as Jesus told them to do. And then, this is so scoop some out and take it to the master of the banquet. What?! I can imagine what was going through their heads......Jesus, you just had us fill up these stone jars, these foot washing, ceremonial cleansing jars, and now you want us to bring THIS water to the master of the banquet?!? Are you kidding?? Well that's what would have gone through my head...... Crap, what am i going to do when i get there with this nasty foot washing water? But the servants obeyed. And when he got to the master of the banquet and served him, it was the best wine he had ever tasted!! Jesus didn't turn wonderful, pure, fresh water into wine, but he took dirty water that was not even used to drink, and turned it into the most amazing wine!!! Amazing........As i was picturing this scene, i thought about my own life. What is the "water" in my life? That as I do what Jesus asks me to do, he turns it into "wine?" The best thing. Whatever that is. Because this account doesn't say that Jesus touched the water, and then it became wine. It doesn't say that, although he could have. But as the servant walked the water to the master of the banquet, by obeying THE MASTER, the water became wine. Monday night, as I spoke, and held the pitcher of dirty water (I made a concoction of water with lemon juice and soy sauce, looked like dirty water i would have imagined it looking like??) and walked as if i was walking to the master of the banquet, it just struck me that the miracle happened, in the obeying, as he walked.....somewhere along the line, the water had become wine! What in my life, is the water, that when I bring it to Jesus, obey what he tells me to do, can turn into something amazing!? In my life right now, I believe it is the "waiting." I feel like I am in a waiting period. But what I have always believed about waiting periods, is that I never want them to be "wasting" periods. I don't want to waste my life waiting for the next thing. If you know my story, then you probably know that we have such a desire to have children. But it's not happening right now. So in a sense I feel like because it has not happened yet, that I am waiting for it happen. Then I hung out with a dear single friend last week, who is reading a book called, Lady in Waiting, and I thought, you know what? At different seasons in life, we are all waiting on something. I remember being single, and desiring to be married so bad. But wrestling with that with the Lord, and coming to a place of contentment. I didn't want to waste what the Lord had for me in that time. Because it is rich! There has to be something big that God has for us in the waiting period.......Refining us, shaping us, molding us, pouring into us, in ways that only He can in that time. Whether we are waiting for a spouse, waiting for a child, waiting for the perfect job, waiting for retirement, waiting for__________......fill in your blank. Whatever it is there are seasons of waiting, and yet they should not be wasted. How sad for us to miss out on what God has for us in that season of waiting. We learn contentment. We are strengthened. We rely on God, and not on a dream of what we "think" we want or need. He wants to be our EVERYTHING! And He knows that so often He is not. Because we have a tricky, conniving, deceitful enemy who wants to steal our joy. He wants us to be unhappy where we are, and want "more". To never be satisfied with where we are at. And i say, Get out of here Satan! You have no place here. My God is loving, giving and kind. He has blessed me so much! He cares about me more than anything! He does not withhold things from me, HE wants the best for me!! He has great things in store, but it is not according to my plan. God does not follow my rules. It is according to His plan, because He is good. Life is painful at times, but HE IS WITH YOU. He is with me. He wants me to fully rely on him and only him. So in this season, I am bringing him my "water" and as I go, as I obey, as I follow him each and every day, I trust that He will turn that into "wine." The best wine ever! Do i know what that is, or what it will look like? Nope. But I know, because He is God, and He loves me and Brian, that He has good plans for us. And I can rest in that.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jan. 6-8 : Chains Broken

A few weeks ago, I attended our Regional Young Life Leadership Conference in Ocean Shores. I went to this last year, and the Lord spoke very clearly to me at that time, about where I was at a year ago. So grateful for that. I was excited to see what He had in store for me this time! As I have shared I had been struggling. And I don't think I realized how much I had been struggling until this particular weekend. Because you see, Jesus set me free! I was reminded of this this morning at church, as we sang, "In the Name of Jesus, there is life and healing. Chains are broken, in YOUR Name." I was again, so grateful that Jesus had broken the chains of darkness that had been hanging over me. I realized that we often don't see the mess that we are in, while we are in the mess. Or we don't see how bad it is, until we are no longer in the mess. Hindsight, I guess. But I see now, and am so so grateful to God for the healing that He brought about that weekend.......

Angel Ruiz is one of our divisional vice presidents for Young Life, and was the keynote speaker for this weekend. He talked about going BIG, and what we have to do, or release in our lives, to be able to grab hold of what God has for us, in order for us to Go Big. Go Big in Jesus, and in the ministry. What is holding us back? He shared his story, about how God spoke clearly to he and his wife that it was time to pick up and move their family across the country to L.A. That there are kids in L.A. who need to be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! They obeyed and moved and are there, but had no idea what they were doing. I thought, that is me! Brian and I know that God called me back on staff with Young Life full time, but it was not our plan, and frankly I was scared. I have been scared thinking of how it will all work out, and when kids come into the picture, can I really do it? Can I work full time and raise a family? I believe that the enemy began using that doubt and those questions, to begin to "build a fortress" and set up camp in my life, to cause me anxiety, and fear as I thought about the future. So interesting..........clear leading, clear calling, and open doors and affirmation. AND STILL, I began to doubt, to try to humanly understand, what is not my job to understand!!! I read Proverbs 3: 5-6. "Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart. Lean NOT ON YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING, in ALL your ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM, and HE will make your paths straight." I am thankful for God's WORD. When I try to understand, think about, process the future, that is when I am weakened! That is not my job. I am not supposed to understand HOW it will all work out, I am supposed to trust the ONE who knows THAT it will work out, and it will be good. My job is to trust. How many times have I said that to myself? I was in such a negative place. I was looking at God like a family was what God was not allowing me to have, RATHER, than trusting him and WAITING expectantly for Him and HIS plan and HIS timing. The day after I got back from this weekend, Jesus Calling said this, Jan. 9. "Much, much stress results in your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert my Sovereignty is in the timing of events." Wow! I said, thank you thank you God! Thank you that you are in control and have the plan, and again, I wait on Him. God graciously shows me that again, and again, when we get to these major points in life. And so this weekend, I knew in a minute what I was holding onto, and what I needed to release in order to Go Big, and allow Jesus to do with me what he wants. Angel asked us to get on our knees and physically hold our hands out, with whatever "that thing" was that we needed to release, so that God could replace in our hands what HE wants. Oh God did it. He took it from me, as I layed my desire, my plan, my timing for a family in HIS hands, and opened my hand to take HIM. I felt like God was saying, "Monica, you have allowed this desire to take the #1 place. I need to be your #1, and your family, and everything else has to come after." Seek first HIS kingdom, and all these things will be added to you. I had gotten my priorities out of order. And isn't this what the evil one wants. He wants us to get distracted by lesser things! Not that having a family is a bad desire, but if that desire comes before Jesus, then things are out of whack! The enemy wants us to get distracted by our own desires, worries, fears. And he sets up camp. The rest of this weekend was amazing. After this release, I began to see Jesus fulfilling in me, what He had called me to do. Had awesome time with the leaders, I have the privilege of leading. And God used the story of one of our leaders to increase my faith in his timing and his plan. He didn't call me to this job because I have everything I need for it, or because I am qualified. He called me and promised to qualify me! What a gift! I am learning to trust Him more, to trust what He can do in and through me, and not rely so much on myself. I know that whatever he brings me to, I can handle because He will give me what I need. Not before, but as I need him and his strength.

As I drove home from this weekend, I felt free. I felt like I was floating home! The previous week, I had not slept well, was experiencing fear and anxiety, and as I drove home, I knew it was gone! I was free. I thought, is this what people feel like when they first receive Christ, maybe those who have lived a bit longer and have more that they realize they have been forgiven for!? That is what I felt like. And it was nothing I did, but everything Jesus did. All I had to do was release what I was hanging on to.........I look forward to what God has in store. But daily, I need to go to HIS WORD for encouragement and strength to battle the enemy, because he knows that is an area of weakness. We must use our weapons from the LORD to battle the very real enemy....with His Word, the Shield of Faith, the Sword of the Spirit and Worship HIM daily! The devil hates Worship.

I encourage you today......Is there something in your life that you need to release to Jesus, so that you can Go Big in this life? What has he called you to do, and are you doing it? Sometimes we have to let go of something, so he can fulfill His purposes in our lives, which will be AMAZING! Praise the Lord he doesn't give up on us!