Life Unbleached

August 2, 2017

Starting Over (again) & Wise Words that Warm the Weary Heart

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It has been a bit like a knotted ball of yarn, this site development and maintenance. Just when I had my new site Life Unbleached.org tweaked and rolled it out, my host (Hostgator) decided to have server issues. Sigh. We have tried for over three months to work with them, but now have settled into Haste Hosting. 😀 So, this site rebuild is my way of taking back what has been lost. It might be a bit wonky for a few weeks, but isn’t it great when you can start over, and even over again?  I think so!

Life is full of  “C”s! You know;  Changes, Challenges, Chaos, Curve balls, Confusion, Catalysts, Coincidences…you get the picture! The past month has had all of the above for Hubster and myself.

I am so very glad that the Lord packages and delivers wise words to us in the midst of our “C”s.  Aren’t you? Especially when they are expressly suited to fill those unique gaps in our worn and weary heart.  This was the case on Sunday for me. I had not “heard” much from the Lord recently. So much going on that probably it was because I was not finding it easy to listen. But that changed yesterday morning.

Here are a few of the Wise Words that I unpacked:

 It takes 1,000 hours of cold cold weather for the Peach tree to develop fruit.

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I did not know that!  Those beautiful orbs dripping with sweet nectar require, no, demand bitter cold days? It’s a deep dormancy where a short spurt of warm weather won’t be enough to “wake” the tree up. The cold requirement for peach trees is dependent on this period of rest. Not even a shred of greenery to deflect the wind, nor hinder the ice or snow. Shivery hours of seeming nothingness. Ever been there? I have. I kinda am now, as I have a “peach” of a dream God has given me but it is nowhere within physical sight.

 Why do peaches need cold? Without this period of rest, the buds that were set the previous summer can’t blossom. And if there are no blossoms — you guessed it, no fruit!

BUT something is happening in these dark, cold, chilling hours.Roots are digging deeper, and  branches are strengthening for that amazing day of bountiful harvest and hot peach cobbler and fresh peach preserves.Oh! And don’t forget peach bread!!!!   images

Worth the wait!

Two hallmarks of  a great person are Giving and Forgiving.  

The giving is easy to understand. Everyone loves a giver, right?  They know how to release things- to pass it on to another without regret. Forgiving really is the same. Letting go of that hurt, that offense and trusting it to God to bring healing and releasing the offender to God as well. After all, HE knows better than we do all the details and exactly what is needed to bring forth fruit in both the forgiver and the forgiven!

You’ve found a good place to stand.

It was raining hard after service this past Sunday morning. “Hubster”  volunteered to get the car while I waited under a pop-up canopy provided by the church. A lady passing on the sidewalk said “You’ve found a good place to stand. I reflected upon the message just delivered;  Sonship, a Believer’s  Identity in Christ.  If you don’t believe that you were a “final” purchase of God by Christ’s blood, then you will not live as one who is pardoned, and welcomed as a Family member. You will believe a lie and you will live that out instead of the destiny divinely planned by Abba Father. Embracing the “upgrade” from believer to adoptive son or daughter places you under the canopy of His limitless love. heartstatus

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Just as I had thought through all that, a couple hurried to their car, the woman  holding her Bible over her head to shield her hair ( life) style. Did you know that your hair carries your DNA? And that DNA identifies  you.  It is the most often used source for forensic investigations to solve mysteries of who is whom.  When we by live under the precepts and instruction we have the Word of God as our covering. Our lifestyle will reflect that covering. We will be preserved as we pass through the rainstorms of life.

If you are in a season of waiting, stay under the canopy of His word and His love.. .

That’s a good place to stand. 

  

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August 2, 2017

Love Affair Letters; The Story Behind the Collection

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ads_loveaffairletters_inkyflower1Arranged marriages are so very different from those not arranged. For certain, there have been many couples who had no voice in the coupling and yet learned to love each other. But many have not.  The vast difference between these two approaches to matrimony is seated in choice.

That is also the difference between living faith and  religion. In religion there are so many ways to perform instead of love. To fake it, if you will. But when you choose to know someone and let that same one into the depths of your will, thoughts, emotions, it  supersedes boundaries because love knows no bounds!heartstatus It is a commitment by choice, an act of your will. Religion does not require nor need your thoughts, your will. You simply perform the expected actions.

ads_loveaffairletters_flower1But sharing life with Someone is living the faith. And a daily choice.

If you believe in God, as I do, then you know that He is limitless power, limitless wisdom and worth. He can do ANYTHING, yet He chooses not to do some things. Those things all have to do with His greatest gift to us: our free will, our voice, our choice. He could make us love Him. But He chooses not to. He could slay those who do not, but instead He waits. His patience is unfathomable, but simple. He wants us to choose to love Him. He will invite us, draw us, but ultimately the choice to know Him intimately as a bride does her groom; that choice is ours. He has put so many examples of how to understand Him in 66 chapters of the Love Letter He crafted for us.

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He shows us how to live with others, and how not to- because He  wants to see us succeed. He is so very jealous for us. His heart longs to see us embrace Him, and even more, allow Him to embrace us. He sent His Son as a Living Love Letter.

He dipped His pen of mercy into the well of sacrificial love and wrote of His love for us —

a letter written in red.

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He did not stop short of costing Himself a part of Himself. His very likeness was given to demonstrate how very much He wants us to be with Him, forever.

It is a choice. Like any relationship, business, friendship, family or romantic, it is a risk. Those who take the risk will find ups and downs, questions and answers, mystery and bewilderment. But if the choice is true, if it is sincere, learning the heartbeat, the preferences, even the humor of the Master Artist is the reward. I can’t imagine a greater opportunity, a more undeserved privilege. When I stop, really stop to think of it, He is the ONLY One who has offered this to us.

No other “faith” has sacrificed and triumphed in the truest, deepest love affair that is more ancient than the universe itself.

God knew you before/ when He formed you in the womb. He numbered your days, your words, the hairs on your head. hechoseyou  One might say He is obsessed with your heart. Let Him heal it.

Let Him caress it; let Him tell you His secrets and help you understand Him, the lover-of-your-soul.

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August 2, 2017

How to Follow while Standing Still: The Story Behind the Collection

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How to Follow while Standing Still: The Story Behind the Collection

“Follow”  is an ancient word that has become popular speak in the Christian community the past few years due to Kyle Idleman’s book “not a fan“.

That is a good thing. A necessary thing. Because American Believers had nearly forgotten that concept.

We are fans of so many things and it is impossible to follow each of those passions with our whole heart. We need a center. Jesus is that center.

But this post is not about that book; not about that particular concept.white-fields

   Several years ago during a time of private communion, I had a vision in which Jesus and I were walking together much like we had 20 years prior to this day. We were near a stream edged with flowers. He led me into the adjacent field of white flowers with a backdrop of mountains. He stood beside me and then I heard Him say ” The women of the veils are beyond the mountains. Will you wait for Me?”. He then turned and walked away. I looked down the field and saw mountains.

I knew what He meant– what He was asking. I knew it would be some time before the dream of ministering to veiled women  He had placed in my heart would come to pass. It was not a question of if, but when. And a question of would I wait while I am following Him?

I am still waiting in so many ways. It has not been easy after having led a life of much ministry to people in several different cultures and nations.

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Here is what I have learned about following:

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aas_lessonslearned_arrowFollowing is not for the timid, nor for the comfort lover.

marisal-arrow059Following is a decision more than an action. It WILL lead to places – – both physical and spiritual you never intended, let alone imagined that you would go. Go anyway.ads_follow_takeastep

005974-quilted-floral-icon-arrows-arrow-moreads_follow_encounter_typographyFollowing means you take no baggage.

If you try to hold on, you will become extremely exhausted and will wish for more familiar yet unproductive situations. The shortest distance between two points is irrelevant in following God. Time nor space have little to do with the Ways of God.  He does not move in linear ways. His ways are more like a spiral in the sense that they events, truths overlap and build upon another.

It can at times not feel logical nor safe. You will often have to walk through high grass where visibility is “iffy” and snakes abide. Fear not!  If you stay on the path He has chosen, you will see yourself change and mature. Don’t try to “make things happen”. Allow for the season of “being still and knowing He is God”.

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aas_itiswell_arrowDetours ARE to be expected. COUNT ON THEM. They will actually lead you to where HE wants you to  go.    Don’t fight them. Don’t try to do away with them or find a more convenient route. You will regret it. ( Been there, tried to escape, but finally bought the t-shirt *and now wear it with chagrin!)  Abba Father has a way of causing you to go right back to the beginning and run that race again so that you don’t lack the endurance He wanted you to gain in the first place. He is all about excellence!

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aas_ourlives_mini2_arrowdoodleCurves, Falling Rock, and mudslides are also a part of the journey. You will learn to maintain spiritual and emotional balance. The way may not be smooth. That’s o.k.; He will equip your feet to walk where you normally should not be able to!

imagesFollowing more often than not, will mean waiting. Sometimes even doing what seems like nothing related to what you believe is His vision for you.

THIS is a truth I am very familiar with.  In current Christian circles, especially “full gospel” and “Charismatic” circles, it is popular and prevalent to teach that if you are truly following God you will see lots of evidence of that decision. While this is true in it’s most basic form, it is not accurate nor even scriptural to expect tangible evidence of the “following”. Yes, Scripture says “by their fruits you will know them”. But it does not say you shall know them (Believers)  by their acts, ministry, notoriety, nor shiny shingles hung by the office door.  Yet these are the measuring tools used today. My husband and I have been challenged on this point by many well- meaning Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have bought into the idea that God responds to us instead of the other way around. Grace be to them and I understand because I also believed that at one time. It took a series of falling rocks, detours, and seemingly contradictory situations to get me to see the error. YES, God does respond to us, but those responses are the fruit of our having a teachable and humble spirit that listens and obeys HIS commands/direction, as opposed to  our visions and desires of our heart.

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While it is currently very popular and sounds good to say “Follow Your Bliss”–“Chase Your Dreams”
it is not scriptural. Sorry, it just isn’t.  If you want to be a stable, mature Believer that the King can call upon at a moment’s notice, you must embrace His Holiness and His Sovereignty. When you are a young Believer you will see results fairly quickly as the Father wants to strengthen your faith and build your confidence as you grow. Like earthly parents, He will increase the test and entrust you with more responsibility as we respond to Him in faith and trust. AND you will experience getting to know Him personally. Yes, personally. You will know what brings Him joy, what pleases Him and what grieves Him. And You will know what it is like to hear Him tell you “It is going to be ok”, or “Well done!”ads_follow_spiritualprogress

Following often means standing still;  THAT is not popular!

Abba is more concerned with character than He is our dreams. You know where you have come from, and where you are. But God knows also where you are going. Don’t give in to the pressures from people or the enemy to be in a big hurry. Hurry and worry are satanic tools: Peace and Patience are Heaven’s twins. When someone tries to tell you that you are being complacent or indifferent, remind them of a few  Scriptural examples where following God meant standing still:

  Abraham comes to mind. He waited quite a while on that promise of  countless descendants!

Noah. Yeah. He waited in a stinky, rocking box of a season of following before he saw the earth be renewed. God was with him every second of what must have been a very odd time in his life. Yet when complete, he witnessed the glory of God!

Job. Of course, we cannot overlook Job. You know, the guy that lost everything he had worked diligently for and then his family and health too! Yet, Scripture says “that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” ( Job chapter 1) He remained faithful and even though he questioned himself, he blessed the Lord. He was a follower on the inside, though every outward appearance would point to forsaken.

And Joseph– how does 22 years strike you? Yes, he waited 22 years. No “fruit” was produced during that time? I beg to differ. He learned meekness, patience, humility and longsuffering!  Yet a Believer today who is in obscurity is often ostracized instead of recognized as a faithful one bearing those fruits. We want flash, stage presence, checklists of accomplishments while God is looking on the heart. Let’s get back to the basics of Christian faith!

   Following often has seasons that are very quiet ( make that deadening-ly silent!), dull and unremarkable. Jesus Himself was not “in the spotlight” for very long upon this earth. Yet like Joseph, God was with Him and when the appointed time came it was obvious the favor of the Lord rested upon them both!

I have struggled with this. I had great dreams of traveling to many countries and cultures to learn of the people and share the Gospel with them. It has been over 10 years of waiting. I confess, we did try to speed things up, to give the cart a bit of help, until we realized that it had square wheels and was going nowhere without the hand of God to shape them! It cost us a few friends, and we had to come to grips with the fact that we had absorbed some erroneous teaching.   That’s when we bought the aforementioned t-shirt. *

Maybe my time, my husband and my  “appointed time” to serve in vocational ministry will only be a few years, or even a few months? I don’t know. I DO know that as long as my heart remains tender and  teachable, He is at work and preparing a place for us to stand. And when that reveal comes, we will, we MUST continue to follow. It is HIS dream, His vision and HIS Kingdom. So I choose to wholeheartedly embrace the season of training for our upcoming assignment. 🙂  I AM a follower who is learning that everything depends upon Him and none of it is about me.

 So now you know the story behind the collection!

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 FOLLOW: My “one word” for 2017

fol·low
ˈfälō/
verb
verb: followfollows; followed; followed; following
  1. 1.

    go or come after (a person or thing proceeding ahead); move or travel behind.come behind, come after, go behind, go after, walk behind

    accompany, go along with, go around with, travel with, escort, attend, trail around with, string along with; informal tag along with; go after (someone) in order to observe or monitor.

    Strive after; aim at.

    go along (a route or path).  To come after in time or order.  obey, comply with, conform to, adhere to, stick to, keep to, hew to, act in accordance with, abide by, observe, heed, pay attention to;

    pay close attention to (something).
    • keep track of; trace the movement or direction of.
    • maintain awareness of the current state or progress of
    practice (a trade or profession).
    1. undertake or carry out (a course of action or study).
  2. conform to.
  3. act according to the lead or example of (someone).
    • (of a route or path) go in the same direction as or parallel to (another).
    go after (someone) in order to observe or monitor.  Be a fan of, be a supporter of, support, be a follower of, be an admirer of, be a devotee of, be devoted to

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August 2, 2017

The Story Behind the Collection: Knowing

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ADS_LB4Knowing_watercolorflower2 Knowing is important to us, it is a daily requirement.

It is in our nature to know  -even the original fall of man may have been  motivated by that desire to know.  To understand how strongly knowing affects our lives, consider if you have ever asked or heard these questions:

“What is that strange sound?”   ” Who sent you a text?”

“What is the weather forecast for tomorrow?”  “Will I be called for a second interview?”

“What are the results of the blood test  and scans?”    ” Are you committed to this relationship?”

“Will I ever overcome this bad habit?”      “Does anyone really love me?” and the statement

” I need to know someone truly knows me.”

Life is full of questions! And we ALL are seeking to answer them. But doubt can block that pathway.

First,    A working definition of doubt is “to lack confidence, to consider unlikely”. Doubt & uncertainty  are a difficult and  debilitating things; doubt often leads one right into failure and uncertainty can paralyze you- cause you to not make decisions. Doubt knocks on EVERYONE’s door. But not everyone invites doubt in to stay. Why is that? What separates those who live with confidence and those who daily battle a barrage of questions and uncertainty? You want to know?  Of course you do!

 

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Knowing what you believe is crucial to living a life that brings  fulfillment, some joy and one worth remembering.

Knowing overcomes wondering and wandering. Knowing gives one purpose, hope, and a compass.

Yet we all have struggles with the debilitating twins, doubt & fear. Laying a foundation of truth in your life makes it easier to shut the front door in the face of that obnoxious pair!  You and I do not need to feel condemned when they come to visit, to be tempted is not a sin! But to open the door of your heart to doubt and fear is to crowd out the already growing faith and trust! These cannot share the same space. One or the other have to go.

Many claim to believe in God. A fine example of this is found in the gospel of Mark:

Mark 9,   Jesus Heals a Boy with an Unclean Spirit

14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If you can’ !  All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose.

You can have a Christ-centered Compass!

The man believed in God. Perhaps he had also heard other teachings, like ones that are here today saying that there are many ways to God. But he was not certain that Jesus, who is the Living Word of God, would do as he had heard. He did not believe God. He did not believe what was said. That’s why Jesus replied to him with the statement of gentle rebuke “If you can”.

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You and I CAN KNOW. We can know that Jesus came out of a motivation of love, not sin-based. We CAN KNOW that this HOLY God is also the God who loves, who forgives, who heals, who provides, who sees us, who hears us and who saves us.  We just have to make the move- cross over into

TRUE faith…

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It comes down to a choice (doesn’t everything?!) to be willing to be wild, crazy, and adventurous enough to leap into the arms of The ONLY One whose wrists, feet, head and sides were pierced through as He amazingly yet willingly said YES to you and to me.

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And the leap is daily. And digging into His written word (Bible) is daily. If you don’t know where to begin, read John. And then Psalms. Each morning ask the Holy Spirit to teach you throughout the day. Ask Him to help you to KNOW.

Because Knowing is what living is all about. Our life here on earth is our pathway to getting to know HIM. 

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