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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Alabama Hostage Situation

right now my heart is hurting for a young child. He is being held hostage in an underground bunker somewhere in a small  town in Alabama. it's a place that I've never heard of, but has yet been put on the map by an act of hatred.

There seem to be a lot of those popping up lately..towns making names for themselves through horrific acts of violence. I would of never heard of newtown, for instance, had it not been for the devastation that captured our hearts and attention. Now, it is a name that I will never forget. Columbine. Aurora..
and the list goes on, and will continue to grow.

I see the demonic in this situation. The man who is holding the  boy is possessed by a demon. Ask me how I know. I've experienced enough of the demonic to know when it rears its ugly head. I can see the darkness when it presents itself. But I can also see the light..That is my God given ability - the ability to differentiate between the beauty and the power of God and the disgusting and relentless hatred of the darkness.

There is a realm that we don't recongize and yet, I can see it clearly for what it is. If the world, acknowledged Satan, then then the world would be forced to acknowlege things like sin and greed and corruption. But the world would also realize that there was a living and loving Savior who wants to teach us to truly live.. He wants to show us the abundant life... a life.. not measured in things, but rooted and flowing in the purest and most perfect love.

Today, I kept thinking about the parents of the child trapped in the house. I kept thinking of the bus driver who was relentlessly shot. And I think of the man responsible. He is already imprisoned and held captive by forces that he doesn't even recognize. At some point in time, he chose a path and the darkness only grew inside of him. He doesn't realize or know anything of  grace, and I can't help but wonder if anyone has ever taken the time to tell him.

In the world, we repay hatred for hatred. we keep tabs and we always vie for justice.
Today, I kept thinking of how to free this boy. I kept thinking of the law enforcement officers with their megaphones trying to get him out of there alive. I kept wondering what it was they were saying to the man, what kind of negotiations they were trying to make.

And for a split second, I just truly wished that I had the microphone for a just a moment. I would tell the man about grace and love and how Jesus wants to set him free from the demons that are affflicting him.
I would tell him my story, about how I was a horrible person that once did some pretty ugly things myself... But Jesus set me free from all of that and showed me the most brilliant and beautiful light.

I know this post won't sit well with some people. that's fine. Anything you say can't hurt me. I've been through hell enough, and all I can say is that I will pray for your freedom also.

Join me in praying for everyone involved in this situation. The victims. The perpetrator. The police with the megaphone.. that they may see when negotiations fail..there is always love.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

deathly afraid

Sigh. This week has been a week of frustration.  For the past decade or so, I have always noticed how bad things tend to happen in the month of January. Yesterday, I asked God why January seems to hate me so much. I even asked God if He was mad at me for something. I haven't heard back yet, but I will let you  know what He says.

One thing that is promised in God's word are tests.. Tests and trial of various sorts. This month has been a month of testing. I can't help but feel as if I have failed a few of them. I have, as of late, let frustration get the better of me.
Today is another day of testing. I'll elaborate because I know that this is going to help someone. Yesterday, I was the cause of a very minor "accident." It wasnt' anything major. No one was hurt. But, something was left very slightly damaged. I told a few people about it and I was simply told to keep my mouth shut about it..because, "after all, it's not a "big deal."

But truthfully, anytime we do wrong and don't admit to IS a big deal. Truthfully, the thought of admitting to some things make me deathly afraid.  I realized, as of late, that I am afraid of certain things. But yesterday, God kept reminding me that, when we choose to do right and honor Him, then there is really nothing to fear.
yesteday, I kept thinking of the role of the conscience. God tells us in His word that He gives us a concsience..He gives us innate knowledge of  right and wrong. Everyday we have a choice to excercise that right. When we initially choose to do wrong, our conscince should let us know.... When we continaully choose wrong, our conscience grows weak, and before we know it, we are steeped in sin and headed down dark  roads. We have to remember that sin separates us from God.

Yesterday, I watched a video by a man who said that God told him that this year was to be a year of testing. Friends, I urge you to do the right thing. No matter how hard it may seem. When Christ dwells in us, He gives us strength. He tells us not to fear. He tells us that when we work and live in integrity, then we will never fall away from His hand.

Lord help us to do the right thing, to own up and admit to our failings and wrongdoings. Lord, we can hide nothing from you. I would rather lose all in this life if it meant securing a life with you in eternity.
Give us the strength to not fear man, for we know that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Teach us to abide in your ways, forsaking all that hinders our walk with you. Grant us your mercy and guide us as we place our lives in your hands. Teach us to do right and chastise us when we don't.

I am going to post two youtube videos. They are both pretty serious. Let me know your thoughts.

but first, I leave you with these verses

Matthew 19   Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you!

James 1:2  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
1 Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

James 1 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

1Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

 Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. 7 Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Phillipians 4:6-7

 When a person trusts Christ and he is equipped by the Holy Spirit to embrace the teachings of the Bible, his conscience is given a new education every time he opens the Word. According to the book of Hebrews, the believer’s conscience is cleansed by the blood of Christ (10:22). It is purged of uselessness and made serviceable for the purposes of the Lord (9:14). Rather than being an adversary to our freedoms, it is transformed into an ally for eternal good (Hebrews 13:18, 1 Peter 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:5, 19). There is nothing quite as comforting as a God-equipped conscience that is “void of offense” (Acts 24:16) and “pure” (1 Timothy 3:9).
Be wary of a silent conscience. Value a pure conscience. Remember that the conscience is not a “guide” but a “referee.” Pursue your guidance, not from your internal referee, but from your “Coach” in the heavenlies. Allow your conscience to be educated in your daily devotions with God. Trust and obey.. from this website

p.s..didn't get to watch the last one, but i have heard his testimony..

Monday, January 14, 2013

the rat running through the house, Les Miserables, our enormous waste, and some tidbits from a crazy week.

this has been a crazy few weeks. As most of you know, the engine quit working on my car. So, during the course of the past few weeks, I have been negotiating with mechanics and trying to find the best price on a new engine.
Around the same time, my cell phone quit working. So, during the course of about two weeks, the majority of what I owned was broken. I have to trust that there is a reason for all of this and that all things work for the good.. I also realize that these minor inconveniences are nothing compared to the trauma and tragedy faced by people every single day.

One thing I can say is that I am grateful for family members who have let me borrow their vehicles while mine gets repaired.

More minor drama came last Sunday, when my borrowed car got stuck in the mud. I missed church that day. My dad pulled me out with his truck at the last minute. I didn't have time to get ready for church, so instead, my sister and I decided to take the love of Jesus to the nursing home. We visited my friend Rick, who has terminal cancer. We prayed for him. I believe in the power of God and that He still heals people. I KNOW this..and yet, I am never quite sure who to pray for.. A man once told my grandmother that she was going to be healed, and she wasn't.. This kind of messed me up and made me cautious about telling someone something that may or may not be God's will.. anyhow, I'm confused on this issue, but I'm praying that God will begin to show me things in this area.
We also visited Mrs. Dorothy and her husband. Mrs. Dorothy is a very frail little old lady. Her husband is blind. He was absolutely smitten with our kids. He kept saying how happy he was that we came. Mrs. Dorothy told my sister that she loved her sweater. So, my sister took it off and gave it to her. Of course, she doesn't know that I'm writing this..because she is not one to draw attention to herself ..

This week, I saw Les Miserables twice. I fell in love with the characters. I fell in love with the fact that something so beautiful could actually come to a theater. I fell in love with the grace shown to Jean Valjean, and how that grace set him on a course that would change his life.
I felt such empathy and compassion for Fontaine, and realized that, in real life, she would be judged, thrown under a bus, and left for dead.
I fell in love with the music..I will post a few of my favorite lines at the end of this post.

I was so enamored with this musical, that I wrote a few new songs of my own this week..and even went into the studio to do a little recording. I'm working on a song called, "ennui" It is french..I wrote i years ago.
This week, I once again fell in love with God's grace. So often, I feel unworthy. I am unworthy.
So often, I feel as if I fail. So often, I struggle with things like fasting, and discipline, and even witnessing. So often, I waste resources.. money, food, TIME.
I overeat.
I have a dreadful caffine addiction. I am flawed, and I get tears in my eyes everytime I hear that God actually loves me. I haven't made a video in weeks. I feel discouraged,and uncertain.
But today, I feel as if  God showed me that I can do nothing in my own strength. He loves us all, and He gives us the strength to be who He created us to be..and He gives us the strength to do the things that He has called us to do.
He gives us the strength to let go and what we need to "let go" of..
I think of the verse, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.."
( on a side note, I once heard this verse misued by a famous preacher who said that God gives us the strength to be rich..) Really? I didn't know being rich required much strength. The hard part is giving up and letting God provide your least, that is my understanding of things.. Am I wrong?
Test it all against the Word.

This week, I was grateful for creativity. I started to condemn myself for working on music. It can get a little pricey...but I know that all that I have and all that I am..I long to give back to God. I know that is beautiful to have a vision. I can't imagine the world without the Les Miserables..and the artists and composers who gave their all to a vision of a better world. I think of the verse, "without a vison, the people perish, and I hear God whispering..."For you have been called to freedom, not freedom to fall back into you sinful natures, but to serve one another in love..
All I know is that freedom can come in the form of music. It comes in using talent to love on others and bring smiles and glory to God.
Freedom. Such a beautfiful word..and on my darkest days, this verse comes to mind..and I realize that I am free. There are no chains on this chic. 

This week, I wanted to have a footwashing. And then, I realized that it may be awkward to wash men's feet. So, instead I changed the "footwashing" event to a hot cocoa gathering. No one showed up. It was just as well because I realized that there was a rat in the house, and I would have been mortified if he had showed up and scared my guests. sigh.
I am determined to use my tiny little abode for the good and the glory of Christ..I'm just not one hundred percent sure how to do it yet..

This week I learned about Gospel for Asia. ( I learned that there are people there die for their faith. I have learned that there are thousands of people die all around the world, because they belive in something great...because they profess to be a Christian.
I read about the enormous waste in our country. It's saddening to see the numbers. It still amazes me that we spend billions of dollars on churches..(mulitmillion dollar structures in some cases) and the world goes hungry and the people down the street..or even in Mexico ( our neighboring country) are without blankets and electricity. My mom went on a trip to a tiny village in Mexico and said families live in such poverty that our minds can't even comprehend.  Sometimes, people accuse me of wanting to change the world.. Guess what?
I do. These kinds of things make me sad, and I think that if Christians would unite and quit our arguing and pettiness..then, we could really make the world look a little like it was intended...
For now, I write..I pray..and I will ask God how to make better use of my time, my talent, my resources.. what will bring Him the most  glory...

anyhow, that is enough for tonight. I'll try to write again soon.
Love you

" to love another person is to see the face of God" - Les Miserables

Hmm..i just had an interesting thought..I scheduled my "footwashing" so that I could practice hospitality...but. how often do we miss the chance to practice that kind of love and kindness every day? Why do we need special occasions, or events, to show people that we care. It should be lived out all that we are and in all that we do..When we inhale Christ, we exhale something beautiful and vibrant that is contagious. Love makes good things grow.
Yesterday, God gave me a verse.."be kind to one another, forgiving one another, even as Christ forgave you." Isn't that something basic? That verse is so simple and so basic, and yet, it's implications and it's effects could literally change life on earth as we know it. Be kind. Forgive. Christ forgives you. If we all, took this to heart..then we would see great things. Acts of kindness are so rare these days, that when they happen,..they often make the news. Let's live this out daily. Seeking no fanfare or attention..
Another thought...Is the reason we can't grasp this verse or even adhere to it...because we are blind? Didn't God say that many would be deceived and blinded? We cater so much to our flesh that it is impossible to see and do what the Holy Spirit wants. And even though God loves us, are we really being all we can be for Him..Are we letting Him have His way fully in our lives?
Am I?
The other day I was thinking about what it really means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus..It means going where He went. It means witnessing. It means being willing to walk in the desert. It means being willing to show love and grace to everyone..It means telling others when they are wrong..
anyhow, got to go..


Saturday, January 12, 2013

A God Story

the other day, I heard a really amazing God story.  My "little sister" (Big Brothers/Big Sisters)
Alicelynn recently had a grandmother who lost her home due to a house fire.

Alicelynn's mom said that her mother very well could've died on the day of the fire..but, as she was making her way out of the house....she was surrounded by fire on all sides...but, as she was passing through..she saw the fire literally part and move out of her way.

she said that, as she was making her way toward the door, she found herself, in a tunnel of cool air...
If it hadn't been there, she may not have made it to safety. She said the fire made an arc..there was fire above her..and fire on all sides..but there was a perfect path..a tunnel, where there was no fire, nor any heat.

Friends, God is good, and I see His hand in moments like this.
The lady who was trapped in the fire said that she was certain that God was with her, and the He moved the fire out of her way and gave her path of cool, fresh air so that she could escape.

want to hear some more amazing God stories?
Read my blog.
God has done some amazing things in my life. Tonight, for some reason my mind keeps going back to something that happened when I was younger. I was on a road trip with my family. It was night, and the moon was shining bright in the sky. I began to sing the song, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." I remember looking up into the clouds. I was awestruck,as I saw a pair of perfectly formed hands..chiseled into the clouds..It was perfect..Perhaps, it was God's way of letting a young girl know that prayer is powerful..and that, even though we can't see Him, He still holds everything.

Tonight, I read another interesting story. I encourage you to read it also..It's facscinating. It's about a little girl who was lost in the woods. Her parents prayed for days for her to be found. Meanwhile, a man whom she had never met, miles away, had a dream. His dream led him straight to her..When they found her, she was being protected by a bear. It was treating her as a cub.
Here is the story:

Also, I want to leave you with a verse. This is the verse that  first showed me the true power of the Word of God. There is an amazing story behind it.

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

a few things i've learned in my 36 years of living

today, I keep thinking on all of the things that I have learned in life, thus far..
If you have read my blog frequently, you have probably heard these things before..
but today, I simply want to expound upon the things that I have learned throughout the course of my 36 years on this earth.

1. Life is better enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate

2. Life is better understood through the eyes of Jesus, and giving up hot chocolate through fasting and spiritually better than actually drinking it.. is undoubtedly hard to give up hot chocolate

3. There is a spirit world. There are angels and demons.  There is a Heaven and a Hell. These things simply are not Bible rhetoric..nor are they metaphors. They are real, and I have experienced them..but our focus should not be on the supernatural world. Our focus should be on Christ and Christ alone. He is the path to the Father. (NO one comes to Father but through Me,
God is a Spirit of Love..and Love is the greatest gift that anyone could ever recieve..

4. Criminals are people too. I guess I am writing this because I have seen it firsthand. I have seen the depths of despair and hopelessness of what we consider "the dregs of society." We judge them without ever having walked in their shoes. We haven't seen what they have endured. We have not seen the abuses they have faced..While I would never, EVER justify their crimes..I am forced to admit that, society, as a quick to cast them away for life..never once offering them a shred of compassion or a thought of a second chance. Man's laws scream for justice. Christ cries out for mercy.. At least, in many cases.

5. Life is beautiful, but life is hard. We should keep going, anyway..

6. Another human being will never "complete" us.. Only the unconditional love of Christ can make us whole. Then, we get to take that love to others. Therein, lies joy.

7. Telling someone that they are wrong for not judging them. It is love, and it shows that you care about them.

8. Things are great..Money is nice, but happiness is not contingent on these things. True joy comes in a relationship with the Father. Happiness is not a place or a thing. It is assurance of that which you believe, and comfort in knowing that no matter how tough life can matter what curve balls are thrown, there is something greater and more beautiful on the other side...

9. Not all powers or experiences are from God.

10. There are trillions of dollars..maybe billions spent every year on programs, new buildings, and chandeliers at our churches..but the majority of that money, could literally be used to feed the world. If we saw everyone as our brothers and sisters, world hunger would end. If we took God at His word, then we would take care of one another and share our things with one another.

11. Debt is a form of slavery, and I long to be free..(only a few more months :) )

12. God gives each of us gifts. If we used those gifts to make a living and glorify Him, we might find more fulfillment. However, life is not necessarily about our own fulfillment. We should seek to serve God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

13. If we trust God to lead our lives, He will come through for us.. He has shown me this time and time again..He has spoken to me, without fail, on numerous occasion....There have been times when I have asked Him a specific question, and had someone tell me the answer in the strangest of ways the following day. God provides when we trust Him. He is real and for today.

14. I look up to the people who serve in orphanages more than the ones who drive super nice cars, have huge houses, and speak from behind a pulpit.... To me, the servant looks more like Christ.

15. The gospel should NEVER be sold for a profit. Jesus showed me this, Himself. "Freely give as you have been given." We should take care of one another..those in ministry, those with a true heart for Christ, our Brothers, and sisters, the poor, the less fortunate..but we should never be guilt tripped into giving.. The Bible says that we should never give out of Fear or compulsion, but should be generous according to what we have decided in our hearts..

16. All things should be tested against  the Word. Even this post.

17. I am praying that this is the year for more doing. For more acting on our beliefs, rather than just giving lip service.

18. I feel as if God is less concerned about whether or not we have tattoos, than He is about the condition of our hearts. If our hearts are right, that's what matters.. At least, that's my understanding of that huge thing called, Grace.

19. Some people use Grace to justify bad behavior, and even Peter warned that Paul's teachings on Grace would be twisted by some.

20. "The world is too much with us" Give me more of Jesus, than this world anyday. This world will only lure you in, and then let you down. But Jesus is a friend that sticks "closer than a brother."

My crazy, daring new year's wishes

today I keep thinking of "new year's resolutions"
Truthfully, I don't even keep resolutions, so I ultimately consider them a waste of time..
However, I once read that if you are going to make resolutions, then they should be something attainable and not too far out of reach..That way, if you fail..then you won't feel like such a failure..

with all of that considered, I suppose that I don't have any "resolutions" per se..but, I do have things that I would love to accompish..
More than anything, I would like to set aside "personal ambition" and truly allow Christ to work through me..
This requires a setting aside of self..

People probably often wonder why it is so important to set aside self..
Despite the fact that the word says that it is critical, I think that it is the greatest form of love.. ONly when we set aside our selves, does Christ truly have the opportunity to be Christ. Only when we are willing to humble ourselves, are we ever really poised to grow....
Love lays down it's life for its friends. Love is best exemplified through self sacrifice.

The other day I kept thinking about how..I want this to be the year of going into people's homes..and conversing with strangers.

I read something the other day. I watched a video and a man was talking about what happens when Hurricane's strike. He was talking about the thousands of displaced people. He wondered why Christians aren't opening up their homes to care for strangers displaced during times of natural disaster.

I started thinking about what he was saying.. Why aren't we opening up our homes more?
I started thinking of going into homes to share the love of Christ..and truthfully, a part of me, was slightly afraid..
I started thinking of all of the slasher films I had seen in my "worldly" days.
But one thing that I am aware of is that, as a society, we often base our thoughts in irrational fears.
But, what are we afraid of?
The Bible says to not fear man, but rather fear God.. and He also says that Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.
He says that He hasn't given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of Power, of Love, and of a sound mind..

So, why do we fear letting people, "strangers" in our homes? why do we fear walking across the block to tell others what Christ has done in our lives?
Is Christ doing something in your life?
ARe you giving Him that kind of liberty or are you listening to a wide path gospel message that  tells you that you don't have to do those kinds of things? Even though the Bible says to preach to good news to every living creature? and to make disciples of all men?

I want this year to be a year of fearlessness.

On another note,. this is the year when I will be debt free. This is the year where I trust God, and begin to work my way out of our man made systems..of debt and financial slavery.

If I were to choose a few things that I simply wanted for this year..then I would have to say..Travel.
I want to travel.
The other day, I made candles out of coconut shells. I want to be more creative and use the gifts that God has given me...I want to start my own buisness, at some point in life.. make my own hours, spend more time with my children..
I want to have a foot washing. I want to invite people into my home, and lavish love upon them..I want people to see less of  Rachelle and more of Jesus.

I want to visit my friends in Italy, and order Rosetta Stone. I still want to ride a scooter, but I guess I may just lay that down for now.
I want to parasail.

I want to be content eating more fruits and vegetables..
I want to invite the lonliest of people to eat dinner on my front porch..
I want to entertain strangers.

I want to finally get around to recording the songs I've written..and then giving them away..
I want to find more joy in giving and give abundantly..
I want to be more like Jesus

What are your new years wishes, resolutions, desires?