Delighting in the Lord

In my devotional time today, I read Mark 12:37b………..And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him. Other versions said they delighted in listening to Him, they heard Him gladly, and they were delighted with what they heard. My favorite version was the Amplified Bible  “The large crowd enjoyed hearing Jesus and listened to Him with delight.”

It made me question my motivations how I read His word, how I listen to someone else bring His word and how I read what someone else has written about Him in a book. For the most part I can say I enter in with great expectation of hearing from Him but there are times I just tune out and go through the motions. Just being honest here. I don’t like when that happens.

I hate when I have to keep reading the same scripture over and over cause I’m thinking about something else. Anyone else do that?  Or the times when someone is talking and I tune out and then they say, “What do you think, Diane?” Argggggggg Or how bout when you read a whole chapter in a book and when you get done, you can’t account for what it was about?

I don’t ever want to take the Lord for granted. I want to hang on His word the way the people did when He walked the earth with them. They were so excited they came in droves and stayed without even thinking about what they were going to eat. I think about the guys that believed in everything He said so they brought their friend to Him for healing and dug through a roof to get to Him. Now that is excitement!

David didn’t even have to hear Him speak. He was just delighted in spending time gazing on His beauty. Ps 27:4 The one thing I ask of the Lord— the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple

The dictionary defines delight as a high degree of gratification or pleasure: extreme satisfaction. PS 37:4 says, ” Delight yourself in the Lord, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.”  I have read this scripture a bazillion times. Seriously! What if we read it this way, ” Extremely satisfy yourself in the Lord.” Changes the whole way you look at that scripture. Right? The delight in Hebrew means to be happy about, take exquisite delight. Exquisite mean intense  as in pleasure.

We are so fortunate to have the Word of God! I don’t ever want to get to a place where I take it and the Lord for granted. God gives us so many rewards when we delight our selves in Him and His word. Just a few examples:

  1. We’ll get the desires of our hearts (Ps 27:4)
  2. We will shout for joy (Ps 37:47)
  3. The Lord will direct our steps (Ps 37:23)
  4.  He is blessed (Ps 112:1)
  5.  He can have a clean life (Ps 119:9-16)

I think I’m going to be looking at this with different eyes now.

Day 5 of our 21 day fast has been amazing. I feel great. Still get those hunger pangs but not as intense as the first three days. God just keeps giving me so much to ponder on every day. I can’t wait til what He is showing me about me will turn into how He plans to use me for His glory!!! Exciting days ahead!

I am a Sword Survivor!

Jeremiah 31:Thus says the Lord:“The people who survived the sword
    found grace in the wilderness;

I have always loved this scripture. It always reminded me that you can survive the bad things in life and find favor and peace in the wilderness that the sword causes you to run to.

I didn’t realize until today though, as I was continuing my reading in Jeremiah, that this was prophetic of the future for the people of God but also going to be very prophetic for my own life. I am a sword survivor.

I’ve had several battles in my life but no matter what I went through, my faith carried me through the wilderness times. Having grace during those times didn’t mean I was always going to be happy but I knew that God was with me. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned in the wildernesses of our lives if we’re willing to learn them.

My biggest battle happened 4 years ago when I faced a crisis in my marriage and ministry. I ran away from that sword and landed at a very wonderful friends house for 10 days. God was building me up, loving me through it  and promising me I was going to rise above my circumstances. Last blog I talked about the exile I have been in. The exile is the same as the wilderness. In that battle my marriage was saved but not my ministries.

The Lord opened the door for us to move to the country.  I love it and don’t want to leave it, it has been a place of healing, peace and solitude but it has also been a place of loneliness. Because we are so far away, it makes it hard to get involved in ministry. We tried to get involved with one ministry but the Lord showed me that my vision wasn’t the same and I had to step aside but I didn’t quit supporting it. It’s so important to allow God to grow you, where you have been planted whether or not it feels comfortable. We are now looking for a home that is closer to both our church and kids because the door has opened for us to both jump in!

The Lord has loved me and remains faithful to the promises He has given me even though I am still waiting to see the fruit of those promises.

Jeremiah 31: 4 Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin Israel! Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers. Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim: ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.’”

God was promising to take the people back home, to their land. And He has promises these same things to me. The verse that really jumped out was “the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. I felt like for years I have planted but have not got to experience the fruit I have been able to produce. I believe the Lord was telling this is about to change and that I will now bear and experience it. This is just so exciting for me!!!

Day three of my 21 Day Fast has been a little uncomfortable. Not the hunger but my stomach has hurt a little and I have felt nauseated but I have pressed forward. I’ve been a little grumpy with the dogs today and their wanting to go outside every ok what seems like every 5 minutes.  I know how amazing fasts are and am already on the receiving end of God’s presence and speaking to me. Come on day 4!

Exile Doesn’t Mean Quit!

No matter where we are in life, we should never stop building, planting, and praying especially when God removes us from one place and takes us to another.

Day one of my church’s 21 day fast was pretty easy. It got a little tough at night as the hunger headache came on and I was really wanting something solid. I also had insomnia and didn’t fall asleep til after 3 am. But the trade off was/is definitely worth it and that is hearing from God in His word.

Right now I am reading in the book of Jeremiah.  In Chapter 29 God sent His people into exile for 70 years. He sent them from Jerusalem into Babylon. Exile means a prolonged, usually enforced absence from one’s home or country; banishment. (Dictionary.com) or  people that have to leave their own land, often for a long time. (Easy English Bible Dictionary)The false prophets were telling them not to worry that they would return soon. But God was telling them to build houses and live in them, plant gardens, marry and have children. Then He told them to pray for the land they were living in.

I have felt that exile in my own life the last 4 years. I am happy to say though that I have never quit. I  have kept and still keep trying to build and plant seeds where God had me living both physically and spiritually. I know that sometimes God has to move us from one place to teach us new things but He also replaces us to teach other’s new things. Although it hasn’t been comfortable and not all that I have wanted, I have had to learn to be content.

God is true to His promises and even though at times I have felt like I must have imagined them, He has been busy making it even far better then I could have dreamed. I think I am beginning to see a little glimpse into His plan. He will return me back to the places He has removed me in a spiritual sense.

When God told His people to pray He added, vs 7 “…..for in it’s welfare you will find your welfare.” No matter where God has us planted, no matter how painful it might feel, no matter if it’s totally different, we need to pray for peace. What we pray for others will fall back on us. We inherit the rewards of those who are rewarded through our prayers.

God promised them He would visit them and He would fulfill his promise. He will do the same for me and for you. It may not look the way it did when He removed you but it will be better, new, and restored.

God has been having me look above and below the promises he has given me in scripture in the past and tying it together for me in brand new, exciting ways. I didn’t even realize until I got to verse 11 that He was tying in my scripture for 2017:

Jeremiah 29:11 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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

DESTINY!

DESTINY: MY WORD FOR 2017

Every year our pastor asks us to ask God for a word for the new year. Last year God gave me the word THRIVE. And boy did I have to live up to that word. Some of those times were great and others were so painful. The hardest thing was letting go of a dream and the best was publishing my book.

So today as pastor was asking us once again to seek the Lord for a word for 2017, I closed my eyes and said, “Ok, Lord what is my new word for the new year?” As I was praying I could see a word being spelled out (in cursive even) d-e-s-t-i... immediately I said, ” No! That can’t be right. It has to be a verb like thrive….an action word. So I asked again and again I see d-e-s-t-i-n……….So I’m thinking ok this isn’t working. Destiny cannot possibly be the word He is giving me. Then I heard the Lord speak to my heart, “Diane, just STOP and receive the word I want to give you: DESTINY. This is your word for the year and you will understand more later.

I had to laugh later cause that is so me thinking it had to be a certain type of word when I know God is so creative. I even just blogged about the creativity of God.

The dictionary defines destiny as the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. The scripture that best fits this is Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified Bible)”For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster to give you a future and a hope.

God has given this word to me for THIS YEAR! Not next year and not last year. I have waited years to figure out what my destiny is. I gone back and read and reread all His promises and the biggest thing that stood out was I am an encourager.

I have been and always will be what God has gifted me to be. I have done almost everything in ministry except Men’s Ministry and the finances. I’ve taught, I’ve lead worship, I’ve organized other ministries and events, I’ve started new things, I’ve sang, I’ve preached, I’ve babysat, I’ve lead bible studies, hosted bible studies and small groups and fund raised. I’ve pastored, mentored, evangelized, mobilized and energized. I’ve been church secretary, ran sound, ran media, and set up and torn down. I’ve painted, fed the less fortunate, cleaned the church carpet, decorated, etc…
In all these things I’ve done done done. I’ve led led led.

Today I had a revelation. As I sat in our church staff meeting, the Lord showed me that He is not asking me to jump in and be superwoman anymore but to use my gifts of encouragement, faith, wisdom and prophecy to help encourage other super women! So already God has begin to show me what 2017 will look like. DESTINY!

Don’t Box Yourself In

Day three on my weight-loss journey was soooooooooooooo hard. I had such a bad headache all day and I just broke down and cried. The chronic pain I felt plus the changing of my lifestyle combined was tough. But I knew today, (Day 4) I would feel great. I read the word and tried to journal but I really didn’t hear anything. I think God was letting my brain rest. Today I was back in His word again and He gave me another portion of scripture to ponder.

I love the way God works. It’s never the same way with each person. Just look at the different ways He healed. He healed without even being where the sick person was. He laid hands on them. He healed by the faith of another for the person He was asked to heal, He healed by spitting on their eyes. He touched them and He healed by allowing someone to touch the hem of His garment.

Our God is so creative. He speaks to people differently as well. He speaks in an audible voice, through other people, His word, in visions and dreams, through our thoughts, supernaturally, through the Bible, through circumstances, etc….

As I was continuing my reading today in Jeremiah, the portion of scripture that jumped out at me was chapter 18:1-6

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.

God spoke in various ways  to Jeremiah but this day He chose to use an allegory of the potter and the clay. He didn’t just want Jeremiah to hear the word, He wanted him to see it as well. He could of just spoke right to Him but He used what he saw to help Israel understand His plan.

In our weight-loss journey God can use any method to help us lose weight. And He will allow us to choose what works best for us. But whatever method we use, if we want His help, He is their to lend a hand. He uses many ways to speak to us: His word, friends, circumstances, books etc…We need to be careful that we don’t box ourselves in or others by thinking though, that there is only one right way to lose. We can be just as creative as He is.

 

Your Word Became My Meal

Weight loss is not fun, especially the first two weeks. For me the third day is the worse. Hunger headaches, nausea, insomnia, constant wanting to reach for something to eat drives me crazy. But I’m committed. I know what to expect and prepared myself for it. Ibuprofen or peppermint oil for healing of headaches. Play candy crush til my eyes can’t stay open any more for insomnia…I know I’m weird. Most people’s brains get stimulated; mine goes to sleep. Cupboards and refrigerator cleaned out so there’s nothing tempting me…except for those chocolate bars of Greg’s. Not my favorite though so I think I will be able to hang. Unfortunately I haven’t found anything to get rid of the nausea but I know this too shall pass.

The biggest successes for me in the past were staying in the word and keeping myself accountable. Contests sometimes if the payout was good. I have a hard time with groups (even though I am part of a really good nationwide one for the exact diet plan I am using) because everyone signs up but maybe one third participates and that usually last a couple of weeks. And there I am all alone with no one to encourage or to be encouraged by.

In my devotions yesterday Jeremiah says that God’s word became a joy to him and delight of his heart. The word became,become, becoming means to come, change, or grow to be (as specified). Joy doesn’t come naturally. Something has to happen to receive it.  In this case it was to find the word and then eat it. In weight loss, for me, I have to eat from the word to replace the hunger or head hunger I feel at any time. It’s the same when I fast so this month I will be getting a double portion.

Jeremiah 15:16
Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became a joy to me and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O Lord God of hosts.

In order to find something you  need to search for it. And when you find it, you need to do something with it. In this case God’s words were found and Jeremiah feasted on them. Jeremiah listened to God and it’s the same with us. We are so fortunate to have many ways to hear from God but the biggest blessing is the Bible. We need to open it up, wait expectantly and then let his word become our meal.

So if you are on a weight loss plan like myself….let God’s word be your meal and you will find joy not only in His word but in the changes taking place both spiritually and physically. And who isn’t delighted when their body starts reshaping and the world of fashion begins to open up to us in new and different ways?!!!

Weight-loss Arggggggg

January 2nd and I’m back on my weight loss plan for the 100th time. Losing weight and keeping it off, mostly keeping it off  has been a huge struggle of mine that started when I hit my late 20’s. Believe it or not until then my nickname was “String bean.”

I hardly gained any weight with all my pregnancies( only gained 3 pounds with my last one) but I would gain like crazy after. While pregnant I had to eat like a diabetic and with the last two of four pregnancies, I had to give myself shots in my stomach and thighs. So once off I went crazy to make up for lost time. The problem isn’t the food: the problem is I’m a pain eater.

I have been in pain since I started getting migraines at the age of 17; I’m 56 now. I actually pulled a muscle in my back at age 10 playing kickball and had back pains ever since. As the years have gone on, the pain in my body has increased. Not one day goes by that I’m not in pain. Everything hurts from my toes to my head.I don’t talk much about it (until today). I just live one day at a time. But because I keep it to myself, I eat my pain.

I’ve decided to use Medifast as my weight loss plan and have a group I’m part of…well off and on hahahahaha. Medifast has always worked for me in the losing of weight but I struggle in the maintenance part. By March of last year I was down 80 + pounds and decided to change to another plan. Bad decision! I need to learn to stay the coarse. I have a love/hate relationship with Medifast.

I also have an accountability partner, who I will be in contact with every day. We will be encouraging each other with what God give us each day in our daily devotions and setting weekly goals.

One of my favorite scripture is Psalms 81:10 I am the Lord your God,
    who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
    Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.  I use it for everything from spiritual growth to weight loss.

Well, today as I was reading it again the Lord prompted me to read on…….oh ouch! It kind of smarted a bit.
11“But My people would not listen to My voice,
And Israel did not [consent to] obey Me.
12 “So I gave them up to the stubbornness of their heart,
To walk in [the path of] their own counsel.

He was showing me how I allow food to counsel me in my pain rather than relying on His word to comfort me. He says if I open my mouth wide, He will fill it. He will fill it with His word. I need to feed on His word rather than food. I need to allow Him to kiss me with the kisses of His word (SOS chapter 1) because what he gives me is better then what the world has to offer.

Ps 81 goes on to say, “ 
13“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel (insert your own name) would walk in My ways!
14 “Then I would quickly subdue and humble their enemies
And turn My hand against their adversaries;

I’ve been relying on food for so long to ease my pain (really..it only adds to it). When my focus is on the Lord, overeating (my adversary, my enemy) is defeated. I always start my weight-loss strong and in the word but somewhere along the way…I lose myself and the patterns repeat. I need to keep listening even when I reach my goal because for me goal is just a beginning not an end. It’s just another beginning.

And finally
16“But I would feed Israel (insert your name) with the finest of the wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

That’s His promise! If I would listen and stay focused, He would be my comfort and even my healer. Wheat reminds me that he is the bread of life. John 6:35 Jesus replied to them, “I am the Bread of Life. The one who comes to Me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in Me [as Savior] will never be thirsty [for that one will be sustained spiritually].

Honey represents what is happy, pleasant, and delightful. Everything I need to cope and/feel better comes from Him, not man, not me.

So food you will no longer be my counselor! I’m moving on to better things!

Planning For Your Fast

January is the month that most churches across the country begin 21 days of fasting and prayer  with a purposeful focus  on God. Some begin the first day of the year, and others choose a few days later or even a week after. Fasting and praying allows us the opportunity to humble ourselves before the Lord and seek what He wants for us personally and corporately as a church.

This is my favorite time of year to fast. I used to dread fasting but God took me on an amazing spiritual journey many years ago which changed my whole outlook on fasting. Now I look for opportunities to fast and pray!!! My church will begin our corporate fast on Jan 9th! Have you ever seen that commercial where the woman is standing outside the door of a store saying, “Open…open…open”? She can hardly wait to get inside and start shopping. Well that’s me right now. I’m so excited; I might have to start a little earlier!!!

In My book Breaking Through To Higher Places at the end of chapter four, I lay out 9 questions to help you prepare for your fast.

  1. What type of fast will you do?
  2. If you are eating things, what will those things be?
  3. How long will you be on your fast?
  4. What will you do when you get hungry?
  5. When will you spend time in the Word?
  6. What events are coming up that could be a hindrance to your plan?
  7. Write down how you will handle each of them?
  8. How will you handle your fast at meal times for those in your family who aren’t fasting with you?
  9. Name at least three people you can make yourself accountable to, to help you succeed.

I encourage you to write these down and answer them before going into your fast. You might even have questions you might want to add. Having a plan will help you succeed. When we make a plan and stick to it, then we are free to spend time with the Lord without things getting in the way. And trust me, distractions come in all forms!

I always plan out my fast because I am eagerly awaiting and encounter with God. With a plan in motion, I am free to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Tuesday I Became a Published Author….

You should never underestimate the life experiences that you go through and how God will use them. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever believed I would be looking at a published book that I wrote. Okay in my wildest dreams I did publish a book but to think it would become a reality is beyond words.

10 years ago I had an amazing experience with fasting. I journalled my whole experience and at the end of a 30 day fast, shared it with my husband who thought it was so good that he encouraged me to write a book. You can read the story in my book preview at Breaking Through to Higher Places.

My friends Sheryl and Brian Valloton opened up their cabin for me to write and another friend Shawn Lynch edited the first version for me. I bound it up myself and ended up giving 87 copies away and actually sold 13 of them at a conference.

After that my life was in chaos and I put the book on the shelf with hopes of publishing it “some day”. 10 years later I was sitting on my couch talking with my friend Linda Heard. Somehow we got on to the subject of fasting and I handed her my book. She loved it! She loved it so much that she encouraged me to pursue publishing it and she began a publishing fund for me.  She and a couple of her amazing friends, Marilyn, Rob and Ali raised two thirds of what I needed to go through a co publishing company. She spent hours and hours editing and advising this book for me. I reformatted it to a bible study but at the last moment I went back to the original manuscript and just put the questions at the end of each chapter.

I called Linda and told her I found a publishing company and that I change the format again. She told me to make sure I watched out for errors because she wasn’t going to read it again for the fifth time! We both got a good laugh at that one.

I chose to go through Authorhouse and they have given me the best experience ever! I think I was talking to them almost every day as the book progressed through each step. And then……………..

Tuesday I got the call that my book was finished!! I quickly rushed to the Authorhouse book store and there it was was…my very first book..I cried, I laughed, I jumped for joy. I was so excited that when my Point of Contact, Josh called me and asked if I had questions, I said no and hung up on him. A couple of days later he called me back and this time I did have questions. Funny how he would know that hahahaha.

Yesterday I got my free soft bound copy and today I should get my free hardbound copy. I cannot even begin to share the joy of holding that book in my hand. It’s so beautiful!

With the new year coming, it was a perfect time for my book to come out as many people will be fasting and some for the first time. My hopes and dreams are that this book would really encourage people to “want” to fast and instead of running away from it, they will choose to run to it!

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I have second book that is done well, I thought it was, but am rethinking the format for the 100th time. It’s a very transparent and vulnerable book on a crisis I went through 4 and 1/2 years ago. I know I was supposed to write it but not sure how the Lord wants me to do with it. It’s definitely  for a targeted audience. So for now it’s in a holding pattern. The good news though is I already have a title for my third, fourth, fifth, six etc….. one…I am feeling so inspired now to move forward!

The Job I didn’t ask for

The job I didn’t ask for became the biggest blessing in my life. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be cleaning houses for a living, I would have laughed in your face. I hate cleaning my own house. Why in the world would I clean other’s houses? Although in the past, I have always enjoyed cleaning other people’s houses…but as a career…naaaaaa.

Four years ago my neighbor opened up a Thrift Store and could no longer help a women she had been helping who was recovering from breast cancer. I had told my neighbor if she needed any help, I was looking for something to do. It’s very hard to get a job in a small town.

One day my neighbor called me over and asked if I would be interested in helping the woman she had been helping. I said sure and my unsolicited career in house cleaning began. After a month or two Julie (not her real name) recommended me to her cousin-in-law Susie (not her real name). Susie then recommended me to Jennifer (nhrn). Julie’s husband recommened me to the neighbors down the street who in turn recommended me to the couple around the corner and you guessed they recommended me to another couple who then recommended me to the neighbors on their street. Ha ha are you still following me?

Wednesday of this week I went to Julie’s house to clean for my last time. It was so hard telling her that this was my last time to clean her house. We are planning on moving back to the Tracy Ca. area to be closer to our church and children. Ok really to be closer to my grandchildren who are babies. Shhhh don’t tell my kids that. All my clients were notified a few months ago that as soon as we found a house we would be moving. I was planning on switching job careers but was trying to hold out for the move.

Every time I came to clean they would all ask if we found a house yet and when I would say, “no”. They would give a sigh of relief and say, “Good”. Have I told you yet how much I loved my clients? Unfortunately some physical issues have made it very hard for me to keep cleaning.  A few weeks ago my husband told me I should quit. He was seeing the pain I would be in after cleaning for 4 hours but I told him I couldn’t leave my clients. But lately the pain has moved into my arms which are a house-cleaners biggest tools.  On Tuesday night in tears, I told my husband I thought he was right and it was time for me to quit.We decided to let my body heal until we move and then I can look for a non physical job.

After seeing Julie’s face and the awkwardness of saying good-bye, I decided I needed to call all my clients instead of waiting. I wanted to give them time to roll it around in their heads before they saw me for the last time and I didn’t wan’t them to find out through the grapevine.

It was the hardest thing I had to do and after I hung up with the last one, I balled my eyes out. I have been so blessed and honored to work for these awesome, dear, wonderful people. They were all so supportive and just poured their love on me. They made me feel like family! I wasn’t just the cleaning lady but they let me be their friend too.

I will miss all our conversations, interactions, and sharing of pictures and life stories. I will miss blasting my music as I went around cleaning from room to room. Ha ha I’m sure they won’t miss that part. I mean who let’s you blast your music in THEIR house? I will miss Pebbles, Miss C and Sadie, Branson and Shasta my four footed dog friends who kept me company while I worked. And will surely miss the feeling of being loved and appreciated every time I stepped into each of their homes..crying as I write this. The last thing in the world I wanted to do brought me the most joy in my life and was one the greatest blessings God has given me. I will never forget my beautiful clients and will be able to keep in touch with most of them at their request!

Blessings do come in disguise. You just need to be open to see where they will lead you.