The Burden of Obedience

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22: 42

I sat with a friend in court as she faced someone who had abused her verbally, emotionally and physically. She was there seeking protection for herself and for her daughter. God  could have made it so that this man didn’t show up in court, signed over his parental rights and she could be free of him. God could have taken this cup from her, but He didn’t. She was granted the protection she was seeking but only for a limited duration. Next year she’ll pray for God to step in and remove this cup again and no matter what,  she’ll submit herself to His will.

I had other things to do this morning. This was my morning to go to the food bank instead, God was inviting me to go to court with my friend. He was inviting me to go into an uncomfortable space, in an uncomfortable setting to be His physical presence of support for her. This morning wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about her, it was about Him and following His will. God knows I’m a “nervous Nelly” and He could have removed this cup from me  and had her ask anyone else but He didn’t, He had her ask me.

There is a burden to following God, and though Jesus tells us it is light (Matthew 11:30), a burden is still a burden. Jesus spent His last night on earth asking God to provide a way out from what was coming the next day and what is so awesome about this prayer is that He never wavered in His commitment to do God’s will. He put forth His request, remove the cup, and ended with obedience, Your will be done.

We face the burden of obedience every day if we walk closely with God. Everything about being a disciple of Jesus is counter cultural in American society today. Society tells us that we are our own top priority, that we can accomplish whatever we want and that we are number one. The burden of obedience tells us that we are the least in priority, that God’s will for our lives trumps our will and that God is number one. Following Jesus becomes like a walk in a river against the current and without the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us, we would be swept away.

I believe the lightness that Jesus is talking about is that our burdens are fully supported by Him. If we will choose Him, choose His will, He will carry the burden with us. Our job is to say yes, and once we do He comes in and takes over. The burden of obedience becomes light because it’s not our power that allows us to do all things, it’s the power of the Cross of Christ. (Philippians 4:13)

Whatever burden of obedience you are carrying today, don’t hold on to it too tightly because your power can’t get you through. Walk in obedience and submission and He will carry you through. The world around you may call you crazy but don’t worry about that, God calls you blessed. God’s promises of unending faithfulness will always be proven true.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. If you need a prayer partner, email me at kaprayingforyou@gmail.com.

 

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Out on the Water-My New Season

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” – Matthew 14:29

Two summers ago at my church’s summer Family Camp, one of the leaders spoke about getting out of the boat. I felt God calling me out of the security of my blog into a new world of writing a book. I was nervous and excited at the same time. I’d never written a book and I had NO idea what to expect. I was, however, very clear about what I was hearing so I embarked on this new process. Ten months later my devotional book, “Reliant” was released. Can you say WOW??

In January, God impressed upon my heart to be prepared for something big taking place in August of 2014. I had no idea what that might be. My initial thought was that it would be the book but that released in May. I’ve been praying about August 2014 all year wondering what was coming, knowing that it would be ALL God and another opportunity to step out of the boat.

As August started, I began to feel God speaking to my heart that my time at my current employer was coming to an end. At first I was fully excited! I’ve been praying that God would release me from this position for the past 2 years. I have had a very successful and blessed career where I currently am and I am ridiculously thankful. However, it is not my passion and my heart is longing for ministry.

As I was praying about God moving me away from my job, I began to ask the next logical question, “Where are you leading me God?” At first I didn’t really get a sense of anything in particular except just leaving. Then I got assigned a publicist for my book and a publicity campaign began to emerge. As this was happening, I felt God telling me that it was time for me to leave my secure career, trust Him fully, and pursue speaking and writing as well as building my Mary Kay business. I was completely certain I was hearing Him wrong so I immediately called in the prayer warriors in my life. Through much prayer, much consideration and much faith, I decided that yes I was hearing God correctly and He was asking me to step out in faith. My time of ministry was starting now.

On September 2nd, I went to my boss. My boss is awesome and I thoroughly enjoy working for him. Trying to figure out how to tell him what I was doing felt overwhelming. Yet, I trusted God that I was doing His will and I just simply explained that it was the time for me to pursue my dreams and step out in faith not being sure of what would happen. His reaction was not what I expected. He told me that he fully supported what I was doing. That he was happy for me and that he wished he had a dream for more like I had. Talk about humbling!! (Let me just say that so far, only 1 or 2 people have expressed any doubt in this decision, most of the people who know me have been overwhelmingly supportive. Thank you Jesus!) We agreed that for the next few months at least I would work part time in some capacity until he could figure out a plan. My resignation caught him completely off guard. (me too!!)

So where does that leave me now?? Out on the water! Believing fully that God has got me and this is what He is doing in my life right now, I’m moving forward in pursuing a new career in ministry through speaking and writing as well as my Mary Kay business. I’m so ridiculously excited and humbled and just….just, that I get emotional when I think about this new season. I know lots of people won’t and don’t really understand what I’m doing and so I say that’s ok, just pray for me. Pray that I hear God clearly. Pray that I don’t let anything stop me from doing His will. Pray that I make an impact in people’s lives. I love people so much and I want them to see that God loves them so much more! I want to impact this world for Christ through love, service and prayer. I want to share my story at any opportunity God presents. My dreams are HUGE and there is much work to do. I believe they are from God because without Him, they will never happen. I’ll keep you all posted!!!

Step out of the boat when He calls. Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy.

KA 😀

Always Here, Always Near

Deuteronomy 31:6b:  “…for it is the lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Joshua 1:5b: “I will not leave you or forsake you.”

Matthew 28:20: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I woke up this morning feeling distant from God. Like somehow things just weren’t right, things didn’t feel right. My natural inclination is to feel like He turned away from me because I did something wrong. I ran through the day before in my head and couldn’t find anything I had done wrong. I went through my mental checklist: quiet time, check; prayer, check; kindness to others, check; cared for my daughter, check. I had done everything I thought I was supposed to do so that God would be happy and love me.

(Insert screeching halt here!) Yes, I had done everything I had thought God would have wanted me to do yesterday in order for me to feel He was happy with me and loved me. The tremendous flaw in that is I can’t do anything to make Him love me…He just does! My actions, while they are either pleasing to Him or not, do not dictate how much God loves me. Hear this please: what you DO does not impact who God IS and that He LOVES YOU!

If I am living life in a way that is contrary to what God desires, of course the natural outcome is I won’t feel close to Him because I’m not close to Him. That’s not a mystery, it’s a relationship. Relationships are two ways streets and the only way to stay close is to face the same direction and move at the same pace on the same path. The great thing about God is this…He never leaves, never forsakes me. No matter what I am doing in my day, God is there. My choice is to align with what He has for me or go it on my own but neither move God, only me.

My “feelings” this morning could have led me down a dark road. I could have decided that God had moved, forsaken me, and left me alone. I could have started to shuffle on down the road by myself, hands in my pockets, head down and lonely. I have made this choice many times in my life and likely, so have you. The great thing about today was that I relied on my head knowledge from hours spent reading God’s word instead of my feelings. God’s word promises that He never leaves. HE NEVER LEAVES!! He knows me to my core, all of my dark thoughts, all of my broken promises and yet HE NEVER LEAVES!!

Admittedly, even though my head knowledge is in complete control and I am leaning on God’s promise that He is always with me, I don’t really FEEL a whole lot different right now. However, I am putting all my eggs in this one basket believing 100% that I am not alone and that eventually, my feelings will catch up with the truth. My faith in God’s promises is larger than my feelings to the contrary. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself in the same place…live in your faith.

If today you feel like God has left you, please know that is a lie. The enemy wants you to believe it so that you stay far away from God. Look up the verses at the start of this entry for yourself and see that I didn’t change them in any way. Write them on a note card and carry them with you to read over and over and over…as many times as necessary. Don’t let your feelings dictate your relationship with God because they will be misleading. Lean on the truth…God never leaves, never forsakes.

Email me if I can pray with you at kaprayingforyou@gmail.com. Sometimes just asking for prayer is a breakthrough, so don’t miss out.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy.

Love you,

KA

Vacation…All I Ever Wanted?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Ok, so last week was our end-of-summer vacation to San Francisco. Here was the plan: Monday morning take the 9:30am train from Seattle to Emeryville and then bus over to San Francisco. Be sightseeing by 10am and see all the sights all week long. Be completely tuckered out and totally stuffed with food and trinkets. Catch the bus back to Emeryville at 7:30pm on Friday and be home and in our beds by 9:30p Saturday. We had lots of excitement over the adventure because we’d never been to San Francisco before and I had bought all kinds of tickets for use to see all kinds of great things!

Now, here’s what actually happened: We spent 22 hours on the train Monday, 7 hours in San Francisco Tuesday and were back home on Wednesday at 9:30p. If your brain is trying to figure out that math, it will help you to know that we arrived in and left from San Francisco on the SAME DAY!! Talk about not expecting the plans God has for you!

The train ride down to San Francisco was lovely. It’s fun to travel by train and Sylvia had our own room so we were set. Our only challenge the first night was trying to figure out how to shut off the light in our room. We tried to sleep with it on and then around 11p I looked up and saw the switch. Nothing like paying attention!!! Other than that, we met lovely people and spent the day just hanging out and chit-chatting.

When we arrived in Emeryville, we hopped onto a coach bus and headed into San Francisco. I hadn’t done a TON of research on the city but I had City Passes and Open-Top bus passes so I felt like we were all set. The weather was lovely too, which was nice. The bus dropped us off in the Union Square shopping area which was just a few blocks away from our hotel so it was a fairly easy walk. We headed out down Powell and turned left on Geary and that’s when everything shifted.

I began to notice that the neighborhood got a little dirtier and run down. As we were walking, I started thinking, hmm…this could get interesting. I was still feeling optimistic that our trip would be awesome and then we came to the hotel. If I hadn’t been looking for the sign, I wouldn’t have seen the door. It was about the 5th hotel in a row, each getting a little less “pretty” on the outside. We got checked in and headed to our room.

This room was, well, um, four walls with two beds and a bathroom so yes, it was a room. The door was flimsy enough that I’m pretty sure I could have broken it down if I leaned on it just right. There was a lovely, musty odor. The view from the window was of 3 other buildings roof tops. On the bright side, there was a ceiling fan AND a TV! The bathroom was also pretty nice. (Too bad you had to go through the room to get to it!) At this point it’s 10a and I’m starting to feel worried that I’ve made a horrible mistake.

We chill in the room for an hour and hit the road to hop on a bus and tour the city. The guy at the front desk didn’t know exactly where we were supposed to go so we wandered a little bit until we found a city information booth and got some directions. We hopped on the bus and began our San Francisco adventure! I kid you not, within 6 blocks of where we got on the bus, and about 2 blocks from our hotel, the tour guide points out that we are now on skid row. Awesome! I chose a hotel that was 2 blocks from the worst part of town!! (I clearly need to be a travel agent ‘cuz I’m THAT good.) At this point I’m starting to pray and ask God for guidance on what to do next. I know myself well enough to know I won’t be able to sleep in the hotel and Sylvia was already feeling like the place was creepy.

So as we are touring along, I’m trying to soak the situation in and still look around what is a huge and old city. We go over the Golden Gate Bridge and nearly get blown out of the bus. It was an awesome view, no doubt about it. It was also extremely windy and chilly. As we are coming back we decide that we want to go back to the Haight/Ashbury district and do a little shopping. Altogether, by the time we go around the large loop once and get back to Haight/Ashbury, a little over an hour has passed and I’m thinking that we need to be sure to be back in the hotel before it gets dark. Not exactly what you want to be thinking on your vacation.

We get off the bus in front of Golden Gate Park to about 30 homeless folks in 3-4 groups. Some smoking cigarettes, some drinking from paper bags and some smoking other things that are much tangier scented. I’m now much more nervous and just want to go to a couple stores and then head back to the hotel. We pop into McDonald’s for a pit stop and find that the only way into the bathroom is to be buzzed in due to security. Great! We head off to a couple shops and pass a drug deal along the way. Perfect! This is exactly how I envisioned this vacation!! Not.

By this time I honestly an uncertain I can keep us safe for the next few hours let alone for the entire week. I’ve been praying for peace and not getting any. I’ve been praying for guidance and just feel like not staying is the only real option. So, I called Amtrak and changed our reservation home from Friday to Tuesday. We went back to the hotel, packed up and checked out just a few hours after checking in. We walked back to the bus stop and by 7:30p on Tuesday we were back in Emeryville waiting to board the train home.

My plans were to have a relaxing and fun adventure in a new city with my daughter. God’s plan was to show me that there are a lot of hurting people out there that are living with no hope. My heart was so broken for the people we saw that all I did was cry off and on all day Thursday. I’ve seen plenty of homeless people but this felt different. This felt dark and sad. There was no light in the places we saw, no joy, no happiness. And quite honestly, no way out. It was an eye-opening experience that I was not expecting.

Sylvia and I did have a great week together. We hung out and chatted about the new school year and her friends. We met some awesome people on the train. We did some school shopping and more hanging out. I dare say we spent more face time and talk time together home than we would have had we stayed out of town and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful for God’s protection and guidance and for laying on my heart His burden for people. It’s been a great vacation and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. 🙂

I pray you are always open to seeing what God’s plan is for your life. I could have been mad that He didn’t give me more guidance in the planning. I could have been made at the extra money spent. Instead, I chose to say thanks for the new vision and heart for sharing God’s love with others. When we have our hope in Christ, we have to find ways to share it because there are a lot of people out there who don’t know what hope is and that’s frightening to me.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. Look for ways to share your hope in Christ. Love those around you. Oh, and make sure you know what area of town you are staying in BEFORE you get there. 🙂

Love,

KA