JESUS in Springtime

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While the World is in crisis, God stands firm. Part of the promise of Christ’s presence is how He invites us to come closer through the wonder of His creation. The wonder of His creation that continues to speak His name and show different qualities and aspects of His character. The trees have buds that are developing, promising future, fragrant flowers. Hope has not died. It is here, if I will open my eyes and behold Christ. He is here.
A long welling desire of mine has been to have chickens. It has been part of my healing process, part of the healing to return to the woman God has called me to be, holy and enraptured by His presence. I have eagerly watched my little baby chicks, cheeping harmonious music that I only understand as peace and contentment in who they are: chickens. They do not long to be like anyone else but themselves. LORD, teach me contentment. Teach me to sing continuously even in the unknown places and the grief. My six precious fluff balls depend on me, to feed, water and take care of other necessities. They need me. In this I see how much I need Jesus, my protector, sustainer, provider. Sometimes I live like I have all things under control, (sometimes my chicks attempt to avoid me) but I desperately need Jesus. Without Him I cannot breathe, survive or thrive.

“Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation. “Psalm 91:9-16 NKJV

 

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:10,14-15 NKJV

Jesus gave you and me His life. He gave it up for us and rose victorious. I can trust Him with my life, even in the chaos and unanswered questions.

Life.
I woke up this morning and smiled. I had been given life, life in Jesus.

Life. Breath, air. In Christ I have enough, I can choose to be thankful and see Him amid sorrow and grief. Jesus gives me strength, hope and purpose. When the world falls apart, Christ stands firm. In Him there is healing no matter how great the loss.
This spring, I want to immerse myself in Christ’s presence and have a heart of gratitude.
I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. She talks about seeing God’s love woven into our hearts by the giving of thanks.

While the world crumbles around us, let’s choose to see His gifts to us, and to give thanks in His gift of Life, through Himself.

Blessings.
Anna ❤

 

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My babies names are Hope, Grace, Beauty, Sunshine, Anna (think Frozen!), and Princess. Aren’t they cute!? ❤

 

-Bible reference taken from Holman Bible New King James Version. 2013

I’m Beginning to See the Dawn

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Sunlight streamed through the window triumphantly declaring JESUS as my victor. Recently I was watching “A Bruised Reed” presented by Joni Eareckson Tada. * Her face was all aglow and her smile shone, matching her sparkling eyes as she spoke of Christ’s grace through our suffering. God never healed Joni’s body. She is still in a wheelchair, but her faith in JESUS is solid and strong, even though she longs for eternity.
Somedays are still so hard for me, the flashbacks, the grief, the scars.
But
I’m
Beginning to behold the dawn.
Satan will not win this battle over my life. He cannot win. JESUS has already won, and I stand with Him, my Savior, Rescuer, Redeemer and Friend. Satan still tries to pull me down, and I still struggle with depression and anxiety. But I know I can come boldly into God’s presence. He is my healer even if the grief does not completely cease, till I am bowing at His throne.
Jesus is teaching me. If Joni the quadriplegic can praise Jesus than certainly
I can too
And so, can you.
Because His Grace is sufficient.
“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:8-10
“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Corrie Ten Boom.

Love,

Anna

 

Much Thanks to the Lord Jesus who allows me to write and to my very loving mother who edits for me. ❤

 

The Holy Bible [Book]. – [s.l.] : Holman Bible Publishers, 2013.

 

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Reason to Rejoice

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I woke up this morning to the quiet hush of the rain, musically soothing the world back to slumber. In the air there was a sense of anticipation and wonder undampened by the rain’s refrain. In the middle of life’s devastations, there is peace in God’s unchanging character. I’ve been reading Beholding and Becoming, The Art of Everyday Worship, by Ruth Chou Simons. In her book she talks about seeing the greatness of God by being in awe of His creation. It’s quite easy to focus on my troubles and not notice the love letters God is writing to me with the dew on the grass, the rain’s gentle descent, or the sunset’s stunning silence. These are all messages from God asking me to trust Him. He is bigger than my suffering. The realization of how big God is does not diminish my pain, it doesn’t decrease my suffering, but it puts my pain in proper perspective. Because while my heart, emotions, and life are a mess, God is perfectly at peace and perfectly in control. And so, with eyes on Him I can say, yes, it is well with my soul.
This year has had so many high hopes and moments of healing from the past. It’s also had devastating dust storms sweeping and uprooting my heart. From the surface it looked like all was lost, but the foundation, the foundation stood firm and unwavering.
In the middle of the lies, the doubts, the tears, the regrets, and the unanswered questions I must cling to the Truth that is deeper still than my hurt.
My Jehovah Rapha -my healer heals me. (Jer. 30:17)
My Abba Father – comforts me. (Romans 8:15-16, 26-28)
My Strong Tower- hides me. (Prov. 18:10)
My Hero- fights for me. (Ex. 14:13-14)
I am saved by grace alone not by my actions. (Eph 2:8-10)
Nothing and no one can snatch me out of my Father’s hands. (John 10:27-30)
The love of Jesus has no limits. Nothing can separate me from God’s unfailing love! (Romans 8:31-39)
Regardless of how I feel, Jesus is always enough. (Rev. 1:5-8)

Just because one person makes me feel worthless does not diminish the value God has given me.  My value was already ordained by God Himself. I am His image bearer. (Gen. 1: 26-27)
God in His amazing love daily walks with me towards healing and closer intimacy with Him. After a fire there is unspeakable devastation and new growth comes. But the new landscape doesn’t look anything like what it was before. Something new is created. Something new must be created.
Every good gift is from God. This includes healing and restoration. This includes the gifts that God knows are good that I didn’t want and would not have chosen. Did I want to grow closer to Christ? Yes! Did I want to walk through the valley of the shadow of death? No. Not in a million years. But I cannot have closeness with Jesus and not walk through suffering.

 

The wonderful things in life that I cling to aren’t really mine. I know that’s a spiritual cliché, yet it is something I must choose to think. This is has been a season of suffering and stripping surrender. And this won’t be the last time when I must painfully release. Each time looks different. Surrender could be gracefully letting someone else run something at church or work that you would be better at. Surrender could be letting your child go and live the life they have chosen, even if it breaks your heart. Surrender could be learning to walk content in Jesus in the way you didn’t want your life to turn out. Surrender looks different in different seasons; some are natural and hard while others are unexpected and devastating.
But God is still good.
Daily, God calls me to lay aside my past, my idols, how I believed my life would look, and give Him the glory and thanks He deserves. That’s what I will be doing for all eternity! God deserves all the praise, honor and glory regardless of my state of happiness. His deservance of worship is not based on how I feel or whether or not I have what I “need” to make me happy. HE is God and that is reason enough to praise Him.
He beckons me to go deeper. He calls me to see Him in every situation and seek Him during my highs and lows. After all He is the prize. Intimacy with Him is greater than all of life’s wavering seasons and people’s inabilities to meet our hopeful expectations. People will fail and fall short. Your life may be painfully different than what you had meticulously planned. When we give our doubts and dreads and deep hurts to God, we may feel like a tree stripped of its bark. We may feel very empty and vulnerable with arms raised to Jesus. There is no way to rush the grieving season.

But even in this God does not forsake us.

 

Even if you can’t see Him. Even if He seems distant, He is not silent. He is always working even when you can’t see or can’t understand. We cannot allow how we feel to dictate our view of The unchanging Savior.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
“Work together for good” does not mean that my original plan for how my life needed to work will fall neatly into place. I cannot forget that God is the Master Craftsman. For those that love Him (adore Him, worship Him) He works all things out for His good, for His glory. God used the death of Jesus on the cross for His glory and for the purpose that you and me and all of humanity could find Hope and eternal salvation in Him. But God didn’t erase the hurtful things that were wrongfully said about Jesus. The death of Jesus was a very terrible thing but God knew it had to happen so we could have the best relationship with HIM forever!
Every day, Jesus is so good to me on a personal level. He sends people in my life to Whisper His Words of hope. It could be a text, a hug, or my army of angels pleading the blood of Jesus over me, or a simple yet profound- how are you doing?
I am blessed by the King of Kings.

I am blessed by the Truth of JESUS which is always greater than the lies.

And so
This Thanksgiving,
This Christmas season,
Through the pain,
I have reason to give thanks. Because no matter what
He is always good.

Amen.

 

Love,

Anna ❤

 

A Beautiful Reminder from one of my younger angels. ❤ 20191124_092246

 

 

All photos taken by Anna. ❤

Hope Through the Tears

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This has been the darkest season of my life. But in my soul I know that Jesus fights for me. He is for me and He stands behind me. He has never left me, and He walks with me through the valley. Every day, I have moments when sadness overwhelms me, but God stands firm and His love continually washes over. Way back in January my word for the year was hope. The valley of the shadow of death, is anything but hopeful. What I love about Psalm 23:4 is it says, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.” “I walk through.” By God’s grace I will not stay in the valley. I will come back hopefully more like Him then when I went in. And that gives me hope. ,
“Yet, He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold.” Job 23:10 (HCSB)
Never in a million years would I have wanted my tragedy to be etched so deeply into my story. But I wonder if God loved me too much to leave me complacent. God knew that I loved Him before the tragedy, but He continues to call to me to come closer, go deeper. I want to emerge out of this valley of death more reflective of Him. I cannot move or breathe without Him.
Today was hard, really hard. I have to go to work. I have to get out of bed and get in the car and keep going with my life. I have to put one foot in front of the other and breathe in and out. Quitting is not an option. Each new day is a miracle from God. I want to run back in bed and pretend it never happened. But I must grieve with God and all who love me. I am not alone. Like I said, today was hard. I was trying to hold it together but inside I was falling apart. I was taking groceries out to a customer. I was hungry, my hair was a disaster, and one of my earrings had fallen out! Ah! I began my normal procedures for dispensing. My customer smiled big and launched into her little speech. “God told me to buy a coffee for whoever brought my groceries out. I’m so glad it was you!” She thrust an extra-large cup of coffee into my shaking hands.
And then I lost it. All the emotions I had bottled up inside of me came gushing out in big heaving sobs. I couldn’t stop crying! Thankfully I hadn’t put makeup on that morning. She smiled in a caring motherly sort of way. She didn’t ask me to explain my messy, tragedy. She took my hands and she prayed. She asked Jesus to cover me in His love. Actually, to be honest I don’t remember much of her prayer, only that she said, ” God You know how broken Sarah is, but You are not broken, God.”

No, while I am falling apart, Jesus holds me together. He is not stressed out or taken off guard. He is in control and He is good. I couldn’t stop crying because the love of Jesus was too overwhelming! When you are enveloped by God’s love there are simply no words. I think that is a slice of what Heaven will be like. We will be overwhelmingly beautiful in His awesome, glorious  presence.
First when God gives you a nudge no matter how small, obey Him. Maybe that means asking the cashier for her name and how her day is going. Maybe it means helping the struggling momma with three little ones and full hands. Maybe it means sending a card in the mail, or sending someone a text. I don’t know what God is telling you to do, but simply say yes.
Secondly, I cannot say thank you enough. I could never thank everyone enough for lifting me to Jesus when my prayers were only gut-wrenching moans. For all the people who texted, prayed, hugged and let me cry, thank you. For everyone who took me for coffee and continues to let me know that I am loved. I am forever blessed with my immediate family and my HUGE Jesus family! It wasn’t until I was shattered this deeply that I realized how deeply I was loved. And every time you reach and show me love you are giving me hope and showing me that God does not give up on broken people.

JESUS sees You.
JESUS knows You.
JESUS Loves You.
“The LORD is my shepherd.
There is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life
He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
For You are with me.
You rod and Your staff-
They comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love
Will pursue me
All the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
As long as I live.”
Psalm 23
Holman Christian Standard Bible

 

 

❤ Anna

Surviving the Darkness

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“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)
I never knew a valley could be so dark, so disgusting and so full of deceit.
I never knew the desert could be so dry, so hot and so barren.
I never knew that my life could be wrecked like a tornado. When the storm keeps hitting over and over again and all that’s left are ruins. Pieces of your life all over. And all you can do is cry, yell, and ask why?
Why God?
Why God?
Why must I walk through a valley so deep, so dark and more deceitful than I ever thought possible?
Why God?
As a younger Christian I always wanted to be closer to Jesus. I wanted to be like the older ladies at church that loved God with a depth and a closeness that I hadn’t yet known. I wanted to sing like them. When you saw their faces, you knew they believed every word. Jesus had loved them all the way. They knew it was so sweet to trust in Jesus. They knew that amid sorrow God was still good. I wanted to sing with that depth. I wanted to have the Bible with crinkly pages with torn edges with highlighter marks and journal entries. I wanted the faith and the wisdom of the older ladies.

But
I had no idea how terrible,
How devastating it would be to
Become closer
Closer to my Jesus.
I wanted to be gold refined in the fire
But I didn’t want to walk through the refiner’s fire
Repeatedly.

Must intimacy with my Jesus come at such a high price?
Yes.

I can choose to resist Him or run to Him.
God is no stranger to immense suffering. He had to watch His beloved Son die for the human race that didn’t understand, didn’t seem to care and didn’t know. But God’s love was greater.
Jesus is no stranger to immense suffering. He was betrayed by a disciple that He had poured into for years. Judas had talked with Jesus, saw the miracles, and saw people run to Him. But Judas turned Jesus to the cross. Judas betrayed Jesus.
But that didn’t stop Jesus.

I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Grieving is so hard. Anger, anger, rejection, shock, disbelief, and deep deep sadness.
But God.
He is there in my shadows, He is there is my valley, He is there.

And how great the suffering is. I am now breathing and eating now….slowly.

But God has lavished me in His love.
So many people have put their arms around me and prayed for me, cried with me, and loved me.
I never understood how many people loved me.
I never understood the depth of my mom’s love: when she will sit with me at two in the morning until I stop weeping.
I never understood the power of prayer to bring out the Truth…even that which we didn’t want to hear.
The love of my family and friends does not cancel the pain but it overwhelms me to know that I am not crawling through the valley on my own.
Jesus has not left me.
His love does not stop.
His love does not fail.
My worth is determined by a Savior who proved His love for me. He calls me beautiful.

Yes, I am walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Never in a million years would I have chosen this as the plan for my life. I wanted to be really close to Jesus without going through the valley. But that is not possible. And I believe that God loved me enough to not allow me to live a life of complacency. Jesus loved me enough to allow me to walk through the valley, the thorns, the bleeding, the questions because He knew that He would be glorified. I never would’ve chosen this suffering. I never would’ve chosen this valley, but God. But God is good, and I hope that He would be praised and that my utter weakness would point others to Him.
Just remember sweet friend.
“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.” Corrie Ten Boom.
And God is with us when we walk through the valley.
And sweet friend don’t forget the end of the twenty third Psalm.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:6
If we have trusted in Jesus then when we die we will be with Him. Maybe a good thing about my suffering is I am reminded that this world is not my home. It’s not my home. JESUS Himself is my home. One day I will dwell in God’s house forever. I will be in His glorious presence. He will wipe every messy, gross tear from my eyes and I will be complete in His amazing love. Praise Jesus. One day I will be home.

Beautiful and Beloved

SAM_4291                      Beautiful women are quite diverse. Some wear cute dresses with coordinated eyeshadow, others wear jeans and oversized tee shirts. Some are stay at home mommas while others manage companies. Some lovely women are divorced, single, widowed or married. But I will tell you what makes a woman beautiful. A gorgeous woman is one who is fixed on Jesus. Her clothing style, family status and hair color matter little to her identity. This woman finds herself worshipping Jesus in the middle of the chaos. She cries out to Jesus to speak the Truth to her when the lies thunder on her heart. When the painful moments come, she raises her hands and cries out to her Abba Father who hears. A lovely woman doesn’t look to others for approval, identity, or worth because she knows she belongs to the King of Kings. While she does take care of herself, she is not the focus. Jesus is and bringing others His love is her upmost concern.
Maybe, like me ,some mornings, you don’t wake up feeling gorgeous. Maybe you don’t even feel loved. Where is your focus dear sister? Where is your focus? Jesus loves You!! I heard this ever since I was a little girl but recently it has actually started to plant deep roots in my soul. No longer is “Jesus Loves Me” just a song, it’s my heart cry. When the lies come and make me feel shameful and gross I must choose to remember that King Jesus left Heaven’s splendor because He loves me and dear friend, He loves You too!
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9 (NKJV)
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the Light of His glory and grace.”
Sometimes the pain of this earth overwhelms me. I cry out for relief wishing God would erase what I don’t want etched in my story. But He is the Author of my life, not I. In the middle of the painful moments I must lift my eyes to Jesus and through the tears sing hallelujah. He is worthy to be praised. When I stand on the mountaintop, He is worthy to be praised. When I am wandering in the desert of doubt, He is worthy to be praised. When I am lying in the valley, He is worthy to be praised.
Someday, for those who have trusted Jesus, we will be in Heaven. All our wrinkles, blemishes, stretch marks, broken bones will be gone! The brokenness, insecurities and lies will be gone and we will no longer remember the pain of the past. We will no longer lie awake tossing and turning over former regrets. Being free will be so wonderful! But somehow it won’t matter quite as much as we might have thought. All we will see is Jesus’s face.
JESUS, the one who bore our sin and took our shame. Emmanuel God with us. Only this time He will really be with us. In the light of His glory, all I will be able to do is worship. With arms lifted as He wipes the tears away, I will sing, hallelujah.

Now that’s what I call beautiful.

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❤ Anna

JESUS, My Forever Refuge

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What in your life is making your days difficult and your nights torturous? I’ve been walking a journey of chronic pain and am learning to trust God in ways I never thought possible. Most days I struggle to get out of bed. I constantly battle fatigue, constant headaches and a myriad of other health problems.
But GOD is so good.
Yet many times I only see me, and my suffering and fail to look up into my Father’s face. He is Jehovah Rapha, my Healer. He is the Almighty, God the Creator of Heaven and Earth. He is my refuge and my strong tower. I can always run to Him. He is my always. He is trustworthy and in control. My hope is to encourage you through this blog by pointing you to Jesus and His omniscient perspective. We have darkness in our sin. Apart from Jesus we will stay in a state of hopelessness. But in Him alone there is eternal hope. Our struggles to overcome sin can seem like such a daily battle that many days we are too weary to fight. We have difficult situations that no one can begin to understand. We have trials that couldn’t possibly make sense no matter how matter questions we ask God. We say why God? Why? Why would You allow this to happen? Why would You allow someone I love to make this choice? Why would You allow this suffering, this pain? But God is not confined to our darkness. God is not confined to our pain and grief. He is not confined to our finite brains.

HE is SO much bigger.

He is the Maker of Light. He is Light. My suffering is to glorify my Savior and to make Him known. Remember God Almighty was here long before you had a name or a beating heart. Before there was anything, He knew your name and your story. He made you to reflect Him. Dear child, don’t fret. God’s got this. Love you.
Anna ❤

 

How It All Began
– Parts of Gen 1 &2 with artistic license. Read Gen 1& 2 for the full and accurate version.

Darkness
Silent and still
In anticipation.
As its Creator dipped His fingers,
Swirling the emptiness
And in a moment
A split second
That forever defined eternity
Four words were spoken
“Let there be light.”
It had no choice but to obey.
And the darkness was forever changed
Never to be the same.

God smiled.
The masterpiece before Him
Was astounding.
He spoke and created
Mountains, layered upon layer
Sunsets, rivers running into the ocean.
Animals roamed freely
And harmoniously.
It was all so lovely
so perfect.
What could possibly be better?

But God turned to the Holy Spirit and to Jesus
And they knew.
They knew what was missing.
It was time to for the best part
Their magnum opus.
The one that would outlive eternity.
It was time.

Time to create man and woman after Their image.
Smiling as He thought of what would come
Grieving as He knew of the pain that would be undone
Of the times when they would turn away
Cause devastation
And run away.
Times when they would blame Him and shout in His face.
God foresaw when He’d have to send His dearly Beloved Son
To pay a price His image bearers
Could never afford.
But knowing and understanding what only He could
God created man.
First.
Out of the dust.
Because out of the ashes
Beauty will rise
Out of the dirt
God restores our lives.
Apart from His breath
We are dead
We are silent.
We must allow The Almighty to shake us
And breathe into our nostrils
The breath of life.
So, with His hands
He: with the breath of eternity
God created man.
In His image.
And behold,
It was very good.
But The Sovereign God
Was not done
With His great plan.
No, this man
Needed
A companion.
One that was like him in shape and size
With a different kind of beauty
One that would mesmerize.
She would also reflect the image of God
But differently.
She wouldn’t come from the dust
But from the man’s rib.

God smiled
Knowing what was to come.
As a skilled and gentle Surgeon, He
Softly hushed Adam to sleep.
Adam obeyed and was soon dreaming
quite deeply.

Meticulously
And carefully so
The Lord crafted a woman
From His side
And brought her out of the man
To be his bride
His companion
Fit only for him.
“Oh, my word!”
Adam declared.
“I can’t believe it!”

He was speechless.

God brought her to Adam
And performed the ceremony
Right then and there.
No need for a long engagement.

Only Adam spoke the words
That God needed.
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh
She is like me
And was taken from my side
I’m not complaining LORD
Yes, she will be my bride!”

They were both happy and free before
Their LORD, Creator, and Father
Just as they should.
They took long morning walks with God
And learned all about how He formed the sod.
They talked of the bats, bugs, and the bees
And how He created each individual tree.
And their intimacy with God and each other grew
Everything was as perfect as the sunset’s hue
As lovely as the morning’s dew.

All was happy in paradise.
Perfect communion with God
No need for any of sacrifice.
If only life could stay this way
But that’s another
Story….
for another day.

So, whatever you’re facing don’t ever forget
That God created you!
You’re made in His image!
When you forget who’s in control
Look at the stars scintillating in the sky
The rivers, the tall oaks
and the people passing by.
Trust Him.
HE is LORD
Even when you can’t understand
Your painful why.

 

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Photos taken by Anna. 🙂