The Inspired Heart

Captured by the Beauty of God

Spiritual Moms…God’s Treasure

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Today, on Mother’s Day, I celebrate my beautiful mom and her forever love. And I celebrate the Spiritual Mom’s God has brought into my life.

Growing up, I was not raised in a “walk with Jesus” home. God was believed in, but so were many other spiritual things.

I came to Christ when I was sixteen years old, and since that time, God has provided Spiritual Mom’s along the way. These are women that have shown me the unconditional love of Christ. They have shown through example, word, and life that Jesus is real.  I have learned lessons from each woman who I could not learn in a book, or from well-meaning family members that do not know Christ. I could not learn these lessons from my peers, from men, or from the many examples the world has to offer.

No, the lessons learned by my Spiritual Mom’s are treasures that have changed my life forever.

390139_3044000378453_429654819_n  Vicki was my first experience with a woman who I watched and learned from. Thirty some years later, I am still watching and learning. I learned about family, commitment, perseverance, and always being positive when things were bleak.  She continues to teach me that you do what is right because it is right. Her family is her treasure and her mothering has been a great encyclopedia of wisdom, laughter, and experience that helped me through difficult years in my own attempts at mothering.  The most important life lessons were that everything seems better when your carpet is freshly vacuumed, and pine-sol makes your house smell like you cleaned all day!

julia  Julia, was my next Spiritual mom. I learned about a life of unwavering integrity. She continues to this day to represent a woman with a teachable spirit and is always growing in the Lord. She was my Pastor, my Shepherd, and continues to have a very special place in my heart even though we are miles apart. I learned about grieving well, teaching me first hand as she faced a personal unthinkable tragedy. She introduced me to wanting the deeper things of God, and she taught me about acceptance…as she embraced a broken and hurting young woman who needed guidance. I have learned about forgiveness through Julia’s example, making the hard choices to follow God, and always put the Bible and Prayer first.  And of course, and important tidbit I now need in my convertible bug, is that you CAN and SHOULD use the air conditioner when the top is down! And don’t forget your scarf!

nelda  Nelda, what a treasure. My first encounter with Nelda was when I was teaching and she was watching me with crossed arms and an inquisitive look. I thought for sure she disapproved! My greatest joy in Nelda is her honesty. She loves me enough to tell me when I am crossing lines, and how to improve as a teacher of the Word. Her looks are often out of concern that I protect myself and use wisdom above all things. She is one of the wisest women I know. She is always behind the scenes and yet always in the forefront of my heart. Nelda has taught me that it is o.k. to be real when life is not easy. She has led by example to take off the mask and say it like it is, and God loves you all the more for it. As a Pastor’s wife, she has taught me that you don’t jump ship when things are not to your liking. I see faithfulness in her, and exuberant life. She has a discerning spirit that is alert, and her constant awareness of when I need prayer always amazes me. The most important lesson I have learned from Nelda is to sing! And the Old Hymns ROCK!

mary black  And then there is Momma Mary. To be hugged by her is to be embraced, swallowed up by grace, and touched by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Mary has taught me to watch my mouth! Speak faith, child! Everything she does, says, and believes comes from the Word of God. She challenges me constantly to be faith focused. No matter the circumstance, she does not break out a sweat…she trusts God completely. She has not had an easy life, she has had to put God to the test and He has never failed her. She is like a magnet in a room, much like Jesus was. Everyone wants just a moment with Mary. I am privileged to call her my momma! And she don’t mess around, the devil doesn’t stand a chance when Mary prays! The most important lesson I have learned from Mary is to make sure you have a chair behind the people you lay hands on to pray for! You never know what God may do!

I could continue on…I have been greatly blessed by the richness of fellowship with Godly women.

Yes, I have been hurt by women, but the riches of what I have experienced in the presence of women of faith that truly live out what the Bible teaches far surpasses any pain a woman has caused me. I hear too many times that women do not want to go to a Women’s Bible Study or event because they are afraid…

I challenge you to let Jesus introduce Himself to you through the eyes, the words, the hugs, the tears, the laughter, the prayers, the journey together of women touching the lives of other women.

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Lord,

I am so grateful for these women, and others that I could have shared about, that have graced many lives. I pray that as we celebrate Mother’s today, we not forget the Spiritual Mom’s in our lives. And for those women, who are afraid, I pray for courage to step out and receive what can only be given woman to woman. Father, you knew what we needed…thank you! Make me into a woman who will bless others as I have been greatly blessed.

In Jesus lovely Name,

Amen

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Lured…

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It was a beautiful day in Oregon, lakeside with lawn chairs and fishing gear. I hadn’t fished with my dad since I was a little girl! I was determined to show that I remembered everything he taught me as a child and was going to bait my hook by myself! (Arms crossed, huff! Little girl moment!)

The funny thing was that there were no worms!
The bait and methods had changed in the last ….years! Go figure!

I watched, listened, and learned as the old “cheese” bait was now every fluorescent color under the sun, and they must have been girl fish we were after because the bait was full of glitter! Who knew trout liked bling!?

Next came out this bottle of goo that my dad squeezed on the bait and I was schooled that this was “smelly stuff” and the fish like it. Simple enough, and  “Make sure you have the hook completely covered.”

Fishing began…

As we waited, because that is what you do when you are fishing, a lot of waiting… I began to watch the fishermen around us, my dad included.  They would cast in different spots, add weights to go different depths, change bait colors, etc.

The goal…lure a fish to take the bait and hook him for dinner!

In a moment I began to see Satan’s methods acted out before my eyes!

He knows what person he is going after, hence what type of bait to use.    He makes sure the “hook”, his trap is completely disguised, covered, so that we are unaware of the danger.  He uses the “smelly stuff”, the “bling” of this world, whatever he thinks will attract your attention.  And he will wait…

And like the fishermen I was observing, he will adjust his methods over and over again until he finds the right combination of “hook, line, and sinker” to reel you and I in.  

His goal…to serve you and I up for dinner!

1Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, (like a patient fisherman with every kind of bait imaginable), seeking someone to devour!

As the day went on, dad caught one fish, but the couple just a few yards from us caught their limit for the day! My dad went and talked with them and I asked what bait they were using.  They were using the SAME BAIT we were!  But those fish were biting like crazy!

I realized that day that the devil has as many tricks up his sleeve similar to an experienced fisherman! One thing we often forget about Satan is that he is VERY PATIENT. He will wait and try over and over until he finds what will lure us in.

Those that are in Christ are not spared from this tempter. This verse in 1Peter is directed to Christians.

Do you and I know what “bait” of the world is a danger to us?  Do we know what temptation looks like when it is dangling in front of our face?

We need some self reflection to prepare ourselves before we are face to face with danger.

I love the promise that we are given in 1Corinthians 10:13-25

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”          

We will face temptation, but God provides a way of escape every time if we are willing to take it!

We can lean on God’s Word for understanding, warning, and direction to know where Satan’s fishing holes are and how to stay far away from them.

We can leave Satan standing there with his pole in hand and not bite! (Like the fish we were trying to catch, to no avail!

Lord,

I thank you for a day of watching and learning the wiles of Satan through fishermen. I pray that you will cause us all to be alert and aware of what attracts us to the bait Satan uses to lure us away from Your glory.  May we always find fulfillment in You, tasting and seeing that You are good.  Lead us not into temptation, Father, but deliver us from evil. And may we be used to direct others into your truth. May we live each day dependent on You, living by Your mercy, and obedient to Your ways.

In Jesus Victorious Name,

Amen 

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Do You Smell That?

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My favorite place is by the ocean, it immediately soothes my soul and every muscle begins to relax.  This weekend I had an invitation to join friends on a getaway.  We arrived at a cute hotel at the end of a jetty surrounded by the ocean! My next favorite thing is to have a balcony, and guess what, oh yes indeed!

That just made my weekend! Me, Jesus, my coffee, Bible, the balcony and the ocean! This is my idea of heaven on earth! 

We rush in, check it all out, we are all giddy with glee…I guess they thought I was going to share the balcony! We lugged EVERYTHING up the stairs, we are girls!  From inside we could see through the large glass doors that beauty lie waiting patiently, for our viewing pleasure, just on the other side of those doors.

The sunlight was twinkling and teasing us as it danced upon the ripples of the water.  The palm trees were swaying to the tune of the breezes blowing in rhythm with the ebb and flow of the waves. And the sound of the those waves were beckoning us to come.

Once settled, out to the balcony we went, yes, I decided to share. We had great anticipation of ocean breezes, fresh sea air, the fragrance that only is found by the seaside. 

We settled into our deck chairs and the glory of the moment was quickly overshadowed.  The beauty around us was suddenly a distant memory as we began to cough and choke. One of the girls had to quickly go inside.  Below us were a bevy of smokers and the beautiful breezes that caressed the sea and the trees also elevated the cigarette smoke of the crew below us onto our coveted balcony!

The mood quickly changed, the focus was now on the stench, the discomfort, and the odor.  No longer were we able to enjoy what we thought was this incredible gift of beauty and freshness.  For some this may not affect you the same way, but for two of us, it actually made us ill.

It reminded me of a verse in the Bible that has always stirred me.

2Corinthians 2:14-16 (The Message)

In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.

I realized that smell is a powerful thing! It can lift us, soothe us, and relax us, or it can be a stench that sickens us. 

As one who loves Jesus, I am to be an “exquisite fragrance” for people to breathe inAs they breathe in this fragrance that comes from my love and knowledge of the Lord, they are drawn out onto the balcony of God’s beauty and grace.

My fragrance should be inviting, calling, wooing, and reflecting what lies ahead for those who will walk out onto the balcony to take in the glory and vastness of the Lord.  I am not to bring them to a vantage point of God, only to leave them confused, distracted, and sickened because I am actually not what I appear, but a stench that taints their ability to see God.

As this passage says, it is through US that he brings the knowledge of Christ.  If we are truly enjoying our love relationship with Christ, His sweet scent will flow through us and rise up to God. 

This rich fragrance is LIFE and will become a saving addiction to the one who embraces it.

Lord,  Thank you that Jesus is sweet and fragrant with love and mercy.  Thank you that because of your presence within us, we too can have the exquisite fragrance of Christ wafting from our lives, leading others to get a balcony view of Your beauty.  Reveal in us anything that would be a stench, causing distraction, sickening, and taint the glory of who You are to others.  Give us opportunities to breathe in your sweet love, to receive it for ourselves with an understanding of the saving grace you have lavished upon us who Believe.  May we then, in turn, share this precious fragrant gift of selfless, sacrificial love to the world, and represent you in the fullness of your glory.

For Your Names Sake…Amen!

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Time in the Cocoon

I wonder what it must be like to be a caterpillar tucked away in the dark womb of a cocoon.  Does it feel safe as he begins to feel the dark creeping in?  Is he cramped or stifled as he realizes there is no immediate way out?  What must the caterpillar experience as it’s body begins to become jelly, literally?  It is no longer what it once was with no sense of what it will become.  Life as it once knew it is over, and does it even have a sense that life will begin again?

He is on the journey of transformation.  Are we not all on this same journey?

The process of being tucked away in God’s cocoon of grace, trusting His timing, His process and allowing Him to completely undo us.  It is not a journey for the weak of heart or those that want control.  It is not a journey for the strong, or self-sufficient, or the prideful…no, this journey requires the ability to be stripped, be in the dark at times, be hidden, become spiritual and emotional “jelly” until the time for new life to erupt in you comes to fruition.  This New Life comes only from the transforming power of God and His indelible print on our lives.

I have am slowly creeping out of my cocoon… I am still hidden, still in the darkness, but a sense of future hope is beginning to erupt in me.  Light is breaking forth into my mind and soul, creativity is beginning to be birthed in me again, and the desire to spread my wings, yes, even the thought that I can actually fly has come back to stir my soul!

Where are you on your transformation journey? What dreams and hopes are beginning to form in your imagination and heart? Regardless of where you are on the journey your wings are forming, and the light will shine into your darkness, and yes you will fly!

 

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Is pavement all you see?

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We are in Mammoth Lakes and I just enjoyed a brisk walk around the neighborhood. My husband is up on the slopes enjoying his first chance at skiing this season, a long awaited pleasure for him!  He just sent me a picture of his view from the top of the mountain.

It took my breath away, and quickly tears began to come to my eyes. Skiing and my body don’t mix, I will never know the thrill of reaching the top of a mountain and soaring to the bottom with the joy of the ride that the grand mountain provides.

I received the picture while I was walking. I looked around at my view. Pavement. Salt in the wound! 

Quickly the Lord reminded me that a walk for me is a big deal. I have been down for a few years with a myriad of health issues and I just had knee replacement surgery, I haven’t taken a real walk in a long time.

I realized that we often despise the “walk” of life. One foot in front of the other and all we see is pavement!

Then some well meaning Christ follower comes along and tells us about the view from their amazing quiet time, or the God experience they had, or how the Lord’s favor is pouring out on their lives…and we are walking, one foot in front of the other!

Jesus came to send us mountain top pictures as we walk this earthly road. He brought Heavenly perspective to our earthly limitations. He broke the barriers of what humans without His power could not do.  He showed us things that humans had never seen before. Snapshots of the view from above, the thrill of what He has seen, experienced, and knows as the Son of God.

Today as Richard sent me his mountain-top picture, he allowed me to experience his view, even from afar.  I saw that there was more than just pavement! However, to climb a mountain, you have to start with pavement! 

We need Christ followers that know how to get to the mountain top with God! We need those who know how to touch the hem of His heavenly garment and elevate us to His perspective! We need to see through God’s eyes!

I soon noticed cool, refreshing breezes on my walk. I enjoyed the smell of pine and toasting pine-cones baking in the sun. I watched the trees dancing their dance of praise as the winds caressed their branches. Even on the pavement, God is present, but often it takes a picture of a grander view to get us searching for more, right where we stand.

Lord,

Thank you that you came, Jesus.  Thank you that you alone are the only true “picture” we need of the grandeur that lies ahead! You are an inspiration to discover and enjoy Your presence even here on earth. I praise you for those who inspire us with their walks of faith. I am grateful for those that press through the mundane, the trials, the hills, and valleys and have discovered the mountaintop touch of your love, faithfulness, and joy! Draw us into your vastness, Lord, that we may see what you see! Open our eyes, right where we stand that we not miss even the small touches of glory around us…but can any touch of glory be small!  Thank you for the walk!

In Jesus precious Name,

Amen

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Forget the Past and Get On With Your Future!

photo by London Strieby

photo by London Strieby

Is there a time in your life that you so wish you had back?

Do you find it hard to let the desire to re-capture it in some form go and release it completely?

I have been grieving a loss that I had no idea was coming and certainly wasn’t prepared to let go of it as it was my passion and calling…it has been a much longer grieving process than I expected!  During this season of grieving, God has used it as a honing process, a sharpening, pruning, and refining adventure. I have come out the other side with a new focus and the re-build of my life is clear…it will be based on teaching and preaching His Word.

But I find myself falling back into memories of great times, glorious times, tender times where I knew that God was in our midst…and for a moment, the sadness will rear it’s head.

My husband often reminds me that I tend to forget to celebrate the victories, enjoy the moment before I am on to the next mountain to tackle. So today I choose to celebrate that I am moving forward and the re-building of my life has begun!

In the books of Ezra and Haggai in the Bible, we have a story of God’s people who were scattered, beaten up by life, lost, and God brings them back together and leads them into a building project.

Their glory days are behind them, the magnificence of the things God did in their midst are but a faint memory, and the opportunity to worship in God’s house, built with care and the finest of treasures, was all destroyed.

God desires a temple built where He can dwell and share intimate fellowship with His people once again.  After much hardship and delays they get the Temple built.  The younger men are all shouting with great celebration and having quite the party! The work that had been delayed for 16 years, was now completed!

But there was another sound heard that night, it was the sound of wailing, deep moaning, cries of painful grief.  These were the men that had been around before all of the destruction.  They had seen the glory of the previous temple that Solomon built in all of its splendor.  They remembered life when God and His people were living in harmony and they were a blessed nation.

Even though this new temple was built, they longed for what was.  They couldn’t enjoy, celebrate, or embrace this present temple because it was so lacking in comparison to what they had in the past.  Oh, how they longed for what they had before it was destroyed.

Are you unable to celebrate what you have today because you are comparing it to something you loved greatly in the past?

For all of us who have grieved the loss of something wonderful in our lives, I believe the promise God gave to His people that day is a promise for you and I right now in this moment…

Haggai 2:3  Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Is not this in your sight as nothing in comparison to that?

Yet now be strong, alert, and courageous, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord, be strong, alert, and courageous; O Joshua…be strong, alert, and courageous, all you people of the land, says the Lord, and work! (God ahead, put YOUR name in here!)

For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.

The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts; and in this place will I give peace and prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.

It is necessary to grieve the pain of loss, the dream that no longer exists, the business or marriage that failed, the child that is lost and struggling, our own health or broken relationship with the Lord…whatever your “loss” and the beauty of what once was is no longer…grieve...but then…

God repeats Himself three times, Be strong, alert, and courageous….and work!

Grief needs to have an ending and building life needs to begin again…God promises He will be with us and that the glory of what He will bring from the rubble will be better than what we lost from the past.

Isaiah 43 reminds us again…

18 “Forget the former things;
 do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
 Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

So are you ready to move forward, to forget the former things, to work to re-build…and no matter what it looks like are you ready to believe

God is with us…

The glory of what we are building with God will be greater than anything                          we have ever known…

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for some glory! 

So I will put my big girl armor on and with strength in the Lord and courage,

I will begin to WORK! No more longing for the past, but expectation of the future!

When it is done…get ready, you will hear me shouting! How about you?

Let’s have a good shout together, shall we?

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Who is pursuing who?

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It is the week before Valentine’s day and romance is in the air…

I so love Jesus and love that He refers to us as His bride and that He is the Lover of our souls! You can’t get more romantic than that!

Yet today as I was praying I found myself calling out to God as though I had to chase Him down.  We use words like “seek” in reference to God, and yet doesn’t He promise that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us?

So, if He doesn’t leave us, He shouldn’t be hard to find!

I began to ponder verses of scripture through my head and realized that 1John tells us that He first loved us and that is why we love Him

He pursued my heart, your heart with LOVE!

Matthew tells us that we are to LOVE the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

We are being wooed into a love story and yet we try to turn it into a stage play!  God you sit there and watch, I am going to jump up here on the stage of life and perform for you.  I will try as many roles and costumes as it takes to earn your favor, your acceptance, your applause…

Ephesians tells us that He chose us before the foundations of the earth! We didn’t have to beg or hope or jump through hoops for this love story,

He chose us! He wants us! He loves us!

                          So today as I realized that my crying out to a God in a far distant land was so against the heart of God! The provision of Christ is that He dwells with us and in us through the Holy Spirit.

            I began to just share my heart with my sweet Jesus with the intimate knowledge that He was with me! Truly WITH me!

I began to thank Him, and talk to Him about my concerns and joys, and how grateful I am that out of all of the world He created me to love…Now how is that for a love story!

This can be your story too…all you have to do is let Him know you so desire to know Him, and need Him in your life.  Jesus quickly responds to anyone who will call upon His name in sincerity and humility, He loves so deeply that nothing you have ever done will keep Him away.

I hope you will enter in to His heart and be so blessed this Valentine’s Day!

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Weakened to stumble or to empower?

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I have just gone through a three-year season of weaknessWeakness in all areas of my life to the point of losing myself and any sense of purpose.  To be weak is considered an offensive thing in our world, and personally I was quite offended at my weakness!  As one who has always been a fighter, to barely breathe, or think, or feel, or function was an offense to all that I believed or ever stood for.

Have you ever been weak?

One verse from the Bible that is often quoted is 2 Corinthians 12 spoken by Paul

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I was teaching a Bible study today and a thought occurred to me that made this verse come alive like never before.  In the book of Ezra, we have God’s people returning to their home in Jerusalem to build God’s once ruined Temple.

But the enemy forces around them continue to try to frustrate their plans; they accuse them and interfere in every way possible until they finally weaken them and they give up and completely stop!

Here it is!  The enemy wears on us to weaken us, he brings frustrations and obstacles of every kind to keep us from “building” for God…whatever the dream is God has birthed in your heart.  He weakens us so that we will finally give up!

His goal is to put an end to whatever endeavor God and us may have.  He is a squash-er of dreams! He is the one that knocks the blocks over after you just carefully built a tower on the playground of life!  He is the one that will accuse you, shame you, insult you, nag you, and put you down so many times until you believe it!

To Satan, weak means you are thwarted!

Now look at Paul’s thoughts in 2 Cor. 12.  This is in reference to what Paul calls a “thorn in his flesh”.  He has asked God three times to remove it and it is stated that it is from Satan. He has been about the business of wearing Paul down and trying to stop him completely.But here is the clincher! 

God desires us to recognize the truth of our condition!

In comparison to God we are weak!

As soon as we recognize this and stop trying to be all strong and tough and a faker, God’s power is made perfect in us!

To God weak means He can finally empower us to be strong!

Being weak in God’s hands positions us for endless possibilities! 

God elevates those that are weak with His power and we are able to do far more than we could ever do in our own strength or striving.

So why don’t we admit to God that we are weak and human and celebrate as Paul did…I AM WEAK!  Because we would no longer get the credit for any victory in our lives…all glory belongs to God who empowers us!

Our pride stops us from acknowledging the truth…we are weak!

If you are weak…are you being stopped, thwarted, frustrated, and deterred from building dreams OR are you willing to admit to God that you totally get how weak you are and celebrate that because you are so weak, He can now empower you!  You are now out of God’s way!  You have let go of control and your agenda! Now the possibilities are endless!

Woohoo! I am sooooo WEAK! Praise God!

For when I am weak I am strong, because His power is made PERFECT in me! Now that is incredible!

 

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Brittney Moses

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