Explosion!

We love because he first loved us. 1 John:19

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                This is the beginning of a new year, a new and fresh start for all of us.  I thought I would share the story of how I became new.  It started around this time of year, 26 years ago.

I was in Junior High and had been attending a new church with my “boyfriend”.  I had no interest in God, yet I really liked this guy.  I felt very shy and totally out of my comfort zone.  I was trying to sing the loud and crazy worship songs that I had never heard before.  I didn’t understand anything that was happening in this contemporary, charismatic youth group.

A guest speaker was there one night, and I can’t even remember what he talked about.  He invited us to come up to receive prayer.  I didn’t consider getting prayer, yet I found myself up front.  I had no memory of standing up, no memory of moving my legs to walk towards him.  Yet somehow I was there, waiting for prayer.  When the speaker prayed for the guy beside me, he started crying like something was touching his very soul.

“I wonder if this preacher will know that I don’t believe in this stuff,” I thought to myself as he approached me.

“You are having doubts about all this stuff.” He said, as though he was reading my mind.  Suddenly the youth pastor was right next to me and asked, “Do you want to receive Jesus into your heart?”

I had never thought about asking Jesus into my heart.  I didn’t even know what that meant.  Before my mind could tell me “yes” or “no”, I heard myself saying, “Yes!”

I repeated the prayer that the pastor prayed for me.  It went something like this;

“I believe in you Jesus, that you are the son of God.  That you died and rose again to take away my sins.  I ask you to forgive my sins and come into my heart.”

Immediately I felt something explode in my heart, and my eyes were opened to a wondrous and completely new reality.

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I never expected this to happen!  I didn’t even know what being “saved” or “born again” was, yet here I was experiencing it.

I spent the next week in a glorious daze!  Everything was lovely and fresh.  I never realized how beautiful a tree was!  How amazing a doorknob could be!  Or how much I loved my parents!  The world was different because now I knew that God loved me.  Since then I have learned that long before I ever thought about God, he was pursuing me.  Even when I wasn’t seeking him, he was seeking me.  I am so glad he found me.

I have also learned that new life isn’t something that just happened to me once, 26 years ago.  It is something that happens with each new day because his mercies are new every morning.  Jesus promised that we would have streams of living water coming from our inner most beings.  The adventure of this life is accepting and allowing and enjoying that pure, fresh spring every single day!

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Happy New Year!!!  I hope you have fireworks of his love exploding in your heart.

May you enjoy a Happy New Year… every day of the year 2016!

In Honor of Spring, New Life, and a Baby Girl

I know we are still having winter weather, but I just can’t stop day dreaming about flowers, warm breezes, Easter, and a baby girl to be born in April!

So I think it is about time that I brightened up my blog a bit and post a story about new beginnings.

 

“The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins, he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord,” Isaiah 51:3

 

It was the early spring of 2008, and I was surveying my new yard.  Our family of eight had moved into this beautiful, older home in the fall.  However, the yard hadn’t been touched in years and was overgrown.  My husband, Chris, had just finished a week of “vacation” spent clearing bushes and brush from our corner lot.  I was amazed at how much he had accomplished.  Still, I lamented over the barren patches of earth the roots had left behind.  I despised the remaining scrubby bushes that Chris didn’t have time to dig out.

“How I wish he could have finished the job!  How I long to see grass growing and flowers blooming!  One of my favorite signs of spring is the delicious smell of lilacs in air.  Lord, how can I get a hold of a lilac bush and get rid of these awful ones?”

Days passed, leaves came forth in the warm sunlight, and I surveyed my yard again.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  Two of the ugly eyesores had been transformed into lilac bushes!  The tiny lavender buds held the promise of that glorious scent.

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“Thank you God that Chris wasn’t overzealous in his yard work after all!”  I prayed with overwhelming gratitude.  God answered in his gentle way.

“You wish that I would remove all the ugly parts of your life.  You even blame yourself that they still remain.  But you don’t judge as I judge.  Under your barren ground there are seeds that will grow!  I have allowed the “thorns” in your life to remain because I know that when the spring season comes, they will bloom and blossom.  Then you will realize that the blessings you had prayed for have been with you all the while in disguise…as a trial.”

 

God, help me to see my life as you do, full of you promise and potential.