Monday, December 22, 2014

Talkin' to Jesus

"Jesus," Z started so matter-of-factly. Then he turned to me to explain before he continued, "I'm paying to the Lord for the rain cuz, it's raining and, I want to go outside." The he turns back to the glass doors. We had all been watching the rain pour in sheets in a sudden down pour. He began again. "Thank you Jesus for the rain, so i can go outside. Amen." He gave himself an approving head nod and jumped down from the chair to go on to his next exploit. I laughed to myself at his childlike prayer. Did he realize what he was praying about? And wait, was he praying that the rain would stop so he cold go outside? or was he being thankful for the rain, wanting to go outside and play in it? I shrugged it off realizing it really didn't matter. He felt it was prayer-worthy. So he talked to Jesus about it.

Just a few short hours later, I overheard him get upset at his brother.  "Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus, Thank you Jesus." He repeated to calm down. I chuckled as I realized he was replicating one of my calm down tactics. Often he will see me look up and say " Thank you Jesus", several times in a row. To this he always asks, "Mommy are you OK?" It usually takes me by surprise and makes me laugh. Seeing his response to  his present frustration - giving thanks-  really pricked my heart. He took his frustrations to the Lord.

Still later that same  day J was crying his usual cranky cry. Z is always so concerned with J's well being, and always empathetic with his tears. I walked around the corner and caught him trying to console him by patting him on the back, and saying "Shh, shh don't cry J, don't cry." Then he sighs and says "Jesus, can you please help J stop cwying. Please Jesus. Amen." My heart melted.

I swooped in and picked up baby J, thinking back over the various prayers that Z prayed throughout the day. I marveled at the ease at which he prayed. I pondered at the normalcy of how he addressed the Lord. Just like he would say  mommy, or daddy, or one of his siblings names- "Jesus", he'd call.

How often do we call Jesus only when we think it's prayer worthy?
The thing is God denotes every moment of our lives as prayer worthy. He beckons us to acknowledge Him in all our ways so he can direct our paths. He instructs us to  be anxious for nothing, but in everything make our requests known to God, that we may have peace that passes all understanding.

Let's run to Jesus with our every moment like a child to daddy, and let him be the source rather than the resource of our joy and peace.

Friday, November 7, 2014

What I learned while vacuuming salt

"Moooommy! Mom!"
I went into mini panic mode. Brace yourself  I thought.
"Mommy, J poured sugar on the floor!"
 My eyebrows furrowed into an  I got this- I will not panic expression and I rushed along behind Z as he led me to the scene of the crime.
Oh!No big deal I thought as I surveyed the damage. Two small mounds of white - not sugar - but salt sat strikingly in the center of the living room carpet. J proudly looked on, pointing.
"J!" I exclaimed in my stern mom voice, and I gave a audible huff and furrowed brow ( yes the furrowed brow comes in handy) for good measure. Meanwhile I am mentally breathing a sigh of relief . Shew! This is as easy as  waltzing with a vacuum to a Frank Sinatra tune.
I grab the vac and notice that as I get closer its a little more than two neat mounds. It's two un-neat mounds that underwent a ripple effect. Two mountains, a couple mole hills, a valley, and a plain of salt. It's saltville in the center of the living room. OK maybe I'm stretching the truth a tad, but it made me laugh. Note: I had no salt to cook with this evening. Thanks J.)

But I digress. Let's just say it was more salt than meets the eye. It took more than a few forward, backward and side-ward strokes to get the  salt up. As I vac'd I realized two things: (1) I must need a new vacuum as it seemed to uncover as much salt as it inhaled and (2) salt really gets in there.

I mean, it's tiny folks. Tiny little crystals that just get in there.

Beautiful, unique, small but mighty crystals that get.in.there.
You shake it and it goes deeper.
It gets in, finds  the holes and, in organic material, changes the makeup.
It preserves. It burns, but heals. It makes the unsavory, savory.
And we all possibly know, by experience from salt over-kill, that a little packs a big punch.

Jesus calls us the salt of the earth.
You, us, beautiful, unique, small and mighty salt crystals that can get in there and stir some things up. We can make a difference with our difference. ( Note the emboldened word to the left there.)

Will you
Be the SALT.

-Chantel

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Life is like a bike ride ( and other great analogies)

Life is like a bike ride.
You get bruised before you cruise. (Most times. )
You have to learn the lean- the just enough but not too much lean.
You have to learn to balance, and go forward AT THE SAME TIME.
You have to learn to trust yourself, plus trust the person that's says they're holding the back of the seat, even when they let go.

Yes life is like that.

And it's said that there are two roads to learning- The easy way or the hard way.

The easy way is, well, you get advice, you listen to that advice. Bam. You skate away without the drama.
The hard way is, well, just the opposite. You get advice, you DON'T listen to that advice. You get the complicated thing going on.

May I propose, however, it's not always that simple. See there are things in life that aren't a matter of wrong or right, just a matter of learning.  You just have to learn, not the easy way, and not quite simply the hard way either. It's called trial and error.

For example, it's not wrong to choose Butter Pecan over Cookies and Cream; it's a matter of what you like or don't like. But- you have to learn that, right? It takes, trial and error.

You learn that you can't function the next day if you stay up too far past nine PM, due to a couple mispronounced words in the AM, your face feeling like a brick hit it, and the not so holy thoughts in your head when some little person manages to pour out all the laundry soap on the carpet and give it a taste test. Trial and error.

There are some things in life that you have to learn all by yourself. The advice of another can help, but they're just there to hold your seat a little bit while you learn to balance and lean. Hopefully they're there to pick you up when you fall off the bike. You-  yes you still have to learn how to brake in time, and apply the different speeds if you have 'em, and learn to coast when you need to.

You have to realize that just because Alice went down the hill on her bike in 15 seconds, that you have a different make and model and year , and different physical proportions than Alice.  The results just wont be the same, no matter how many times she insists you just need to do this and that,  no matter how hard  you grit and roll down that hill , you only make it to the bottom -  without the bike. I'm just saying, I just might have a little bit of experience here. Just might.

The point is this. Be patient with yourself.  Be you and love that. Give yourself some credit for being just who you are in Christ, and don't stress out trying to compete with others. Don't be surprised if someone doesnt like your bike, or can't   get with the way you ride it. Don't beat yourself up over mess ups. Get back up. Learn and move on. Trial and error baby. Trial and error.

Now hey! there are some things cut and dry, now. The Word of God for example- very much set in stone. The red light that means stop- set in stone. But the person you are, your character, your likes and dislikes, requires patient learning of you and those around you.  it also requires surrendering to your Maker, allowing him to restore the original design sin  corrupted. That perfect blend results in  the unique person God intended you to be in him. Learn your bike, your lean, your balance, and then you can enjoy the cruise.... ( at least til you hit a crack or bump in the sidewalk but hey that's life, right ?! ). And those that stick around can enjoy the ride too.

Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

-Chantel

Friday, October 24, 2014

ALL your heart?

It was about 7:30 PM.  Dinner done. Bath time was under way. Whew, I can sit down. I sat on the couch, tea cup in hand.  The plush, firm cushions were beyond inviting to my tired muscles. My back sank into the overstuffed pillows behind me. *Cue long sign of relief, followed by deep inhale, and just as deep exhale. I grabbed my tablet to catch up on my email,  my instagram, and yes, Facebook, and it hit me. I felt unsettled.

I felt a tad lonely.  My sweet hubby was in our room unwinding. Im out here, unwinding. I realized I wanted his company. So I went to search him out.

Well in the room, it was all wrong.  For me that is. It was dark, it was cold (he loves the fan), and it was loud with sports on the TV.  I wanted his company,  but not at the cost of my discomfort or his.  I sauntered back out.

In the warm, lit, semi-quiet living room I sank down into the couch again. But the desire for my husband's company crept up and sat on my head. Aww, come on! I thought. The decision to be cozy versus cold, volleyed like a ping pong ball across a tennis table between my ears.

Then the thoughts ran to deepville. Are you not willing to inconvenience yourself for the pleasure of his presence? [yep, deepville].  Then like  the Central Avenue jumbotron the spiritual parallel scrolled across: how far are you willing to go for the pleasure of HIS presence?  Will comfort stop you from seeking? Will convenience stop you from seeking? And will that seeking be with all of your heart?

OK , you got me, I said back to the "voice" [AKA God] in my head. I walked into our room, threw my robe around me, plopped on the edge of our bed, stretched my legs out, and enjoyed an intriguing sports segment WITH my sweetheart.

Later that night, wrapped in my warm comfy robe, I was intrigued with the treasures I discovered in the Word of God - choosing to seek HIM, against all the excuses.

How about you? What is God calling you to "get beyond" in order to find Him?

-Chantel

Jeremiah 29:12-13 NKJV

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me, and find me, when you will search for me with all your heart.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What if we all?

What if we all walked around yelling angrily at others, because, you know, we feel like it, and "It's my raw emotions and I have a right to get it out how I want to", inciting others to angry outbursts, lashing out in retaliation until it escalates into violence and death...



What if we all walked around frowning, getting deeper and deeper into gloom, making it easier and easier to find the negative in everything, causing everyone around us to feel unmotivated to aspire to anything because, what's the point if it's going to just disappoint me anyway...





What if we all walked around  selfishly caring about no one but ourselves, shrugging our shoulders at the plight of others, kicking others down to "make it to the top", and turning a blind eye to the hurting of others-  getting what we want even at other's expense-


 And what if we all FAILED to realize there was someone who could rescue us from that, and transform our corrupt thinking into a right thinking, and provide a miraculous way to start life over and BE DIFFERENT FROM THAT....

Well,
There'd be CHAOS.


Jesus wants to free us from the chaos!

From the clamor 
From the sexual immorality that's painted as freedom
From the violence that's called being in tune with your emotions
From the broken marriages
From the cycle of temporary pleasure to pain to temporary pleasure to when-will-this-all-stop pain...

But What if we all decided to break free from the surreal life and get back to the REAL LIFE? What if we all recognized this temporary existence is , just that, temporary, and we began to focus on our created-for purpose?
no copyright infringement intended

What if We ALL?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Teaching Moments- Safe in his Grip

There I was sitting on my knees in the dim light of the early morning. The light that tried to push its way through the slits of the blinds just made it seem, foggy. Or maybe it was my mind that was foggy- still trying to shake off sleep. Whichever it was, I felt like the psalmist David whose pillow was made a pool by his tears. 
I risk baring the naked truth here, yet I was at a point in my mind where I could not see the worth in this set apart life. I was growing weary I suppose with all the doing well. Where is the reaping, God, I thought. I feel constrained rather than liberated. I feel imprisoned rather than free. Yes, yes I know the right response, but it failed to be a heart response at the moment. 
Then Baby J ran in the room, or it could have been Z- but that detail doesn't matter. He went to, let's say,  play with a a plug and I grabbed his hand. . He struggled to free his hand from mine and his struggle only tightened my grip. As he relaxed and submitted to my grasp, my grip loosened to a casual hand hold. As soon as he lunged toward the plug, I gripped his hand ( also popped his hand), and instructed him to sit beside me and he did. 
Then it dawned on me. When I  feel the grip of God, for instance, as opposed to his hold, could it be because I'm struggling against his protection, and against his grace? The times I feel imprisoned rather than held, could it be just the arms of grace bracing me from the hit of my own fall? I suppose it's just like the times my father threw his arm out across my chest firmly to brace me from the force of an abruptly tapped brake, though I was strapped in.
 Hmm. 
Suddenly my perspective shifts. When I feel trapped by Him rather than simply held by Him, it reveals I am longing for something outside of Him. Because of free will, there is nothing wrong with this longing in of itself, but this longing is fruitless, because outside of God, there is nothing worth going after. Outside of God, is a hopeless existence. In God is hope-filled living. The pleasurable things this lawless age has to offer appear appealing for the sake of drawing the flesh. The appeal is in giving in to the entitlement of the flesh, which which is rooted in pride. It in turn is rooted in idolatry. We think, I can do what makes me feel good- I am my own god. This is a dangerous pit to fall into, and it only takes one moment to send us there. It only takes one moment of  wallowing in self-pity. 
Commitment is a decision. Not a one time decision, but a " I die daily" like Paul, decision. Everyday we have to be renewed in the Spirit, and renewed in our convictions and commitment to the cause of Christ- ups and downs alike. See in this life we will have trouble, but with Christ we overcome those troubles rather than those troubles overcoming us.
Maybe you feel defeated, or conflicted, or constricted and feel like you are ready to throw in the towel with this set-apart life- this holy life- the Christ-following life. 
Maybe.
But what if God is trying to teach you something in the moments around you. Listen and you just might find a perspective where you can see yourself and your situation and others around you through the Savior's eyes.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Thoughts on true Liberty: Independence Day


Our fathers' God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.
(verse 4 )


 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.- 2 Corinthians 3:17

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Just like a child

Daddy and Baby J
Daddy's truck pulled into the driveway. They could all see the front end through the window from the basement. I heard all the "Daddy's here" exclamations, so I went outside. I'd sent him for a quick run to the store to pick up a few things on the way home from work, and ran out to help carry them in. What a sight as I got to the door and through the glass was a little face excitedly pressed up against the glass. The eyes were wide with anticipation. "Z, open the door for mommy, baby." He looked past me grinning, watching. Daddy reached the front door and the eyes gleamed. Literally. 

I can't remember how we got through the doorway with the the 3 year old pressed against it, but as soon as the door cracked open, the jumping and squeals began. And Oh! there was the baby right behind him, yelling with delight- "Daaaaa! Da-Da!", over and over. It was a loud reception. Daddy was home.

Later that night when daddy left the room, J was not happy. He went into a heartbroken cry and, like a scene from a  Oscar-worthy drama held onto the foot board of the bed, reaching toward the door for his dad. Really, J? Really?

The next day as I prepared to spend some time with the Lord, I gathered my thoughts. I began as normal: A deep breath in, and a relaxing breath out- I get to be with my Father for a set time; then, "Father, I thank you..." I thanked the Lord for all that came to my heart to thank him for, but then the memory of yesterday came.  I felt like the Lord was asking me, how would I be toward him if I was just like that. Just like a child.

Good question, God.

 I then imagined being before Him like a little child. How would I feel?  Without worries, happy, no care in the world. Just me and my dad. What would I see or hear? He's smiling. He laughs. My carefree joy is his delight. What would I do? In response to this I began smile, to dance and lift my hands toward Him. I began to jump up and down and tell Him how much I love Him. I felt light and free. It was the joy of the Lord. I felt him smiling. I want to remember that.

 He takes pleasure in us. Psalm 149:4, Psalm 147:11.  I can come to Him just like a child- excited for his presence and agonized at the thought of not having him right there. Like a child I can just trust, and not be afraid. Like a child I can believe what he says, and treat it like the words of a God- for that's what He is. Like a child I can share with him my fears, my accomplishments, my likes, dislikes, joys and frustrations. Like a child I can be real, and not fear losing his love. That is real freedom. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. This is something liberating about being a child. Our Father invites us to that freedom in Him.




 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.Luke 18:17


Friday, May 23, 2014

When praises Go Up?

"When praises go up blessings come down" - I haven't found this specifically in the Word. Instead  I have found that He is enthroned in the praises of "his people" (it says Israel in the bible).  Psalm 22:3. I agree wholeheartedly that God's presence alone is the greatest of blessings, and mighty things happen in the Holy presence of God. Paul and Silas can attest to what praises can do.  Acts 16:25-26. Indeed  miracles are blessings. 

So instead of focusing on praising God to get blessings (which we tend to denote as material or physical in many aspects) let's praise God for,  or because of his blessings he's already given us: the blessing of new mercies,  unfailing love,  salvation through His name, and too many more to list. Let the praises go up and His  glory come down. In his presence there is fullness of Joy. Psalms 16:11 Acts 2:28. That is the blessing.

Friday, May 2, 2014

All worked out

" I believe in you.. I believe in you... I believe in you."
I woke up this morning with the song " I believe" by Micah Stampley coursing through my head. It resounded loudly, compelling me to believe the words- I believe.
I whispered it. Then spoke it a little louder. I wanted to speak it until I believed it. I believe in you, Jesus."

 The believing I am referring to is not the believing unto salvation from the curse of sin and death. The believing I am talking about is the believing in God's daily provision of grace for every moment.
Its the "I believe in you God to supply my needs today- whatever those needs turn out to be. I believe in you God to supply my peace, to supply my healing, to supply my mental fortitude when the baby is crying non-stop."
I believe in you God.

I believe in you to take care of the loose ends- the things I can not control and thus should not worry about. I believe that you can  handle -no-  are handling it.
I believe you are masterfully orchestrating every moment of my life to reveal your great masterpiece- and, you know what? it's bigger than me.

I believe in you Jesus. You've got this. Hallelujah!
It's all worked out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The beginning for us all

I read the most awesome quote that I have to share. It said

" His death was not the end, It was the beginning for us all."


Such a poignant statement.

Remember the Cross, and remember the Empty grave.
-Chantel

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; -Isaiah 25:8

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Of Love

Suffering
long
Enduring
strong
Bearing
much
Kindly
touch
Faith-
ful
Against
the odds
Full of
Hope
Knowing
God.

- Chantel Lorayne, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pure in this world?


Psalms 119:9, 11, 15-16 NLT
How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Reflecting Waters

At least once a day I catch a reflection of myself in the mirror. Sometimes I look the way I think I look. Other times I'm surprised by what I see. When did I get a scratch on my cheek, for instance.  Or,  hmm, I'm starting to favor mom.
Sometimes I actually need a mirror, to help me get something out of my eye for example. If something feels not quite right on my face or shoulder,  or anywhere else on the body,   something
about visual confirmation helps me get a handle on the problem.
Again for example, I don't know why a child can fall,  scrape a knee and almost shake it off and keep going, but wait- they need a visual.  It's something about seeing that solidifies things for us. 

This is where the Word of God comes in.  James 1:23 compares hearing the Word and not putting it into action is like someone looking in a mirror at themself,  walking away, and right away forgetting what he looked like.

Further Ephesians 5:26 explains God's will for  believers to be cleansed with water by the washing of the Word. How fitting that the brass laver of the tabernacle was made from brass mirrors. That laver of cleansing became a mirror, placing those who used it face to face with the appearance of their spiritual state.
Looking in the Word of God helps us to see and know our spiritual countenance. Keeping in spiritual order, or addressing anything that is out of place,  can only be done by the Word of God.
What are you reflecting?

- Warmest thoughts and prayers,  Chantel

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Building Altars

Exodus 20:24-25 NLT

“Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me—your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.

1 Kings 18:31-33 KJV

And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord : and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.

It's a marvelous exhilarating feeling  in communion with the Lord,  when the presence of God rushes in like a crashing wave. You're pulled in by the overwhelming love of the savior.  It washes over you. Peace cascades about your soul and time seems to stand still.
Then there are times in prayer when it can feel like more energy and effort is spent reaching after God. Inexperience or impatience with this delay can result in frustration. "God where are you? "

Could it be that the instant release of His presence in one moment was the result of preparation from another moment with God beforehand?

God shared this perspective with me in a moment like the latter scenario. He impressed upon me that the specific prayer I was engaging in at the moment was preparatory;  I was building an altar.

How?
In Hebrew altar simply  means "place of sacrifice".  To me that means preparing the environment for a right sacrifice. Conditioning the surroundings per se- with praise and worship is one way. Repentance and surrender is another. Ps.51 talks about the broken heart and contrite spirit signifying complete submission. Letting go of our own agenda. This is the  act of building .

It takes time because sometimes we're convinced our way is God's idea.  God, in perfect timing, reveals us to ourselves.  One nugget of revelation on top of another gets us to the place of acceptance  and repentance.  Those weights from us,  of earth, of stone,  become the altar where now we can lay  the sacrifice. Romans 12:1 shows what this sacrifice is.

A Hebrew could sometimes use one large stone as a place of sacrifice.  Other times the altar was made of many stones. The spiritual
building of altars will parallel.
But the reward: Then He answers by fire - those worldly desires are consumed in His mighty Fire. We can get lost in His fiery presence,  where we are purified.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath

No two stories are the same.
No matter how many of the variables in  an identical situation are the same, there is  still one anomaly- the person involved.

People, we are all different. 
And everyone has a story.
We will all respond differently to the same incident no matter how minute the difference- different it will be. Or no matter how on our face we respond the same- trust me, there are some cogs at work in the brain center that are reading things unlike the way you are reading them. 
That's the truth with some cheese on it.

So be patient.
Show love. 
and did I mention 
be patient?

Sometimes things get clearer when you take the time to hear someone and  listen to their story. It may be you find out you're more like them than you thought. And still things couldn't be more different.

There's only one perfect one.

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.- James 1:19-20