Shut Up Already

I remember my very first writing assignment in first grade. I had a cutout of a girl, who I had to color and decorate to look like me. Her body served as the place I would write a few paragraphs all about me–the things I liked to eat, the places I liked to go. Since then, I have been hooked on the 26 letters that can form new thoughts and ideas. Simple words that can make people laugh and bring people to tears.

I've been asked the question: If you could do anything in the whole world you wanted to and not have to worry about money what would it be?

Of course, for me, the answer is writing.

I have prayed over this desire of my heart. I have began three different novels, or maybe four. I have a notebook full of ideas–some I have seen written already by other authors. And God has blessed me with the opportunity…and now, for the first time ever, the motivation.

He gave me an idea…then His word to back it up.

Then during my fast…he slammed me over the head. Like for real. Like when you are playing with one of those bouncy soft, big summer balls with the kids outside. Somehow your son gets sidetracked and starts staring off into oblivion. You call his name, you call his name again. And then you realize you have the ball in your hand so you chunk it at his head to get his attention? No. That's just me?

So Jesus slammed me over the head with the ball, because I just haven't been pay attention. I may have been playing around with this writing dream, but I haven't really engaged in it.

In the midst of me fasting and praying–crying out to Jesus to give me a true purpose. And he did. My focus on writing was all wrong, it was about me, what I could offer and what I can write. When truly everything I do is about Jesus, and is simply an overflow of all he has done for me.

In my journal, I wrote these questions:

IS THERE WONDER & AWE AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE?

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMED AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU?

When Peter and John went before the Council in Acts 4, their goal was to shut up the Spirit led men so the message of Jesus couldn't go any further. Peter and John were warned–keep your mouth shut. This was there response:

“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.”

I can just see them responding in the same way I tell my kids:

“I hear you. I hear what you are saying, but No, it's just not going to happen.”

Calmly, respectfully.

It's like what the council was asking was impossible for them. It's like they were saying:

Have you seen what Jesus has done? Do you have any clue how he has changed me, redeemed me, used me? There is no way I can shut my mouth about that, even if I tried.

And that is how I am trying to live my life. This is how I am planning on writing, with an overwhelming amount of compelling of the Spirit to tell all that Jesus has done for me. I pray that you can do the same. You will have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness of what Christ has done for you, and you just won't be able to shut up about it. Not to your kids, your family, friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store. If you know me at all, you know that I don't really shut up anyway–so this should be easy for me.

Do you need a word from God? Do you need Him to show you something? FAST WITH US!

JULY 1

JULY 2

JULY 3

He speaks when we empty ourselves. Comment and commit. Then invite 3 people you know to fast with us!

Ever felt like you just can't shut up already about Jesus? Comment and share! I want to know!

 

How To Live Recklessly: Lessons From A 3 Year Old

Anyone who knows me knows that I love me some kids. Adults can get on my nerves, with their well thought out opinions, thinking they know what they are talking about. Kids, most of the time, actually do know what they are talking about. Kids are so much better.

Yesterday I spent the day in the Fiesta Texas water park with my youngest and two nephews. For hours, me and this little were BFF’s.

Fearlessly, he ran through water, climbed up rope ladders and swam deeper and deeper. We walked into the pool, that gradually got deeper as you walked into it. With every step, his little heart raced, becoming more and more excited at the adventure that lied ahead. I wised up pretty quickly and rummaged through to find a small enough life vest. He moved his little arms and legs as fast as possible, not knowing that it was me who actually propelled him forward.

He was swimming.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. ”

As we reached the shallower areas, he would just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. I would say, “Blake, put your feet down.”

He realized he could touch the bottom.

He would jump, jump, jump, letting his vest bob him along the shoreline.

Then off he would swim.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

After three hours in this pool we trekked to the wave pool–and for anyone who has been at Fiesta Texas and pushed a stroller from the bucket play area to the wave pool know the trek I’m talking about. Oh, my friend, I’m thankful to not have to use a stroller any more.

The waves encouraged a whole entirely new level of courage in that little person. He bobbed along, jumping, allowing the waves to push him in and out, up and down. The waves would get the best of him, and he found himself under the water. I would say, “Blake, you have to hold my hands.”

His little fingers would grasp tightly around mine, rebuilding his trust in himself, knowing I would not let him go.

The water would come crashing, forcing out giggles and wonder.

One little hand would surrender.

Then the other.

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.”

He would bob along, and closely I stood, as he was determined to master the pool himself. The water would come crashing…and again I would gently remind him, “Blake, You have to hold my hands.”

Come,” he said.

Then he would see “the Guys” splashing and playing several feet away.

“Guys! Guys!” he would yell, quickly letting go of me, his safety, and “swimming” as fast as he could toward the big guys, ignoring the crashing of the waves that threatened to fall upon him.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Oh I want to be like Blake, like the child Jesus wants me to remain.

I want to move my arms and legs as fast as I can, knowing Jesus is guiding me forward, closer to him, closer to fulfilling all he has for me.

I want to run as fast as I can, not even knowing I can put my feet down to walk.

I want to jump out of the boat when I hear the voice of Jesus, letting go of all I know that I know is safe, ignoring the crashing of the waves, recklessly ignoring what my mind would see as treacherous.

Everyday, I want to pursue Him so fiercely that I am completely exhausted from the joy of being in his presence.

Kids are so much better. Live Reckless. -Tiff

Father’s Day For The Fatherless

I flipped through my grandma’s Avon catalog. She was a big believer in Avon, therefore, so was I. I came across all the Father’s Day goods. Cheap cologne, and pens in the shape of baseball bats or golf putters. A golf putter it was. My grandmother placed the order and I waited with great anticipation for it to come in. I wrapped it up, and couldn’t wait to give my prize. Father’s Day came and proudly I walked over and gave the coolest gift ever…to my mom.

She deserved that pen, after all she was my mom and my dad. Although through the years I had a step dad and a fantastic grandfather, I grew up without a dad. In fact, my biological father’s parental rights were terminated when I was eight, and I was never adopted by anyone else. So 29 years ago, I officially became fatherless. Like legit fatherless.

My life has been a struggle of wondering and wandering. Searching for acceptance, fighting rejection, asking myself why I wasn’t worthy enough. Even now I struggle. Especially watching my own kids with their fathers. I hear them call them dad, and I have no ability to even begin to wrap my mind around what that feels like to call someone dad.

As an adult I’ve reached out to my father and he still has no desire to be part of my life or my brothers. I can’t answer for him, or find any reason. He’s not a drug addict or homeless. I see photos of him on Facebook playing with my cousins kids and celebrating Christmas. But still he has no longing to be a part of our lives.

Periodically I’ve had to answer questions from my kids, who have grown up without a grandfather:

Why doesn’t your dad love you?

Why doesn’t your dad want to be our grandpa?

Where is he?

What does he look like?

I show them one of the only photos I have of me and my dad, tell them he lives somewhere in California or Colorado and then answer the same questions I’ve asked myself throughout my life with an emphatic: I really do not know.

As I’ve searched for my earthly dad, my heavenly father has gently drawn me near to Him. The teenage years of crying in my room, God was there, listening. The years of self-destruction as I longed to be loved, God’s grace covered me. The moments I sacrificed my dignity to be accepted, God’s mercy rained–in fact, it poured. When I found the man to spend the rest of my life with, God gave me tremendous love…a love that is patient with my pain, and understanding of my lifelong grief. A husband who is a loving, caring and wise father to all five of our kids.

So to those who are like me and are fatherless on this father’s day, hold tight to hope. You indeed, my friend, are not truly fatherless. God has sent his love to you in some fashion–whether it’s your mother, your husband, your children. And even if not…even if you feel as if you are all alone and unwanted, God has never left you, abandoned you or rejected you.

The pain you feel for yourself is the pain God feels for you, with you. He never wanted this for you… He never wanted this for us.

I cannot answer why, or tell you when the pain will end…but I assure you, the depth of his love for you is immeasurable. He does what every father should do….

He listens.

He quickly forgives.He comes to your rescue.

He is proud of you.

He is patient.

He willingly gave His life for you.

Because He loves you.

So happy father’s day….to all the dads who have loved …to all the dads and grandpa’s who have passed….and to the husbands who love their kids more than life. Happy Father’s day to my Father in heaven.

Happy father’s day to MY husband who has taught me the love of Christ…and gives my kids a better life than mine, a love that I have never had for myself.

Jesus said:

….You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 

HOW TO DO SOMETHING DRASTIC FOR CHANGE

A fast can defeat you before you even begin. I wrestled with the idea of not having pasta and bread three nights a week, what it would feel like to not have my morning caffeine and all the other reasons I just couldn’t for months before I committed to it. God would prompt me, I would say, “Yes, LORD!” But then every time I would think about what I had to sacrifice or what “events” were going to “get in the way.” I would talk myself out of it. I just couldn’t do it.

My commitment to fast was strictly out of obedience. Jesus fasted. If Jesus did it, we are not above it. I also was in a place where the pain of my circumstances outweighed the fear of the sacrifice, or the change that would become of it.

BREAKTHROUGH CAN HAPPEN WHEN PAIN OUTWEIGHS FEAR

I needed something different and I needed more of Jesus because I was just too much. Even for myself to deal with. And when you can’t even deal with yourself, friend, you better do something drastic. I still stand with an abandoned heart needing Jesus to seep into certain areas of my life.

Do you need Jesus to seep?

Into your marriage?

Into your husband’s heart?

Into your child’s life, so they can be free from that addiction?

Into your bank account?

Into your daily self-doubts?

Into your health?

I implore you–do something drastic with me. Commit to fasting with me –and dozens of others–on

July 1, July 2 and July 3.

As you begin to prepare, here are some things that are true about fasting:

  1. You can always talk yourself out of a fast or doing anything that requires any level of self-discipline.
  2. Events, holidays, birthdays are always right there. You might have to forge through.
  3. You can’t think about what you have to sacrifice, you must focus on what you will gain
  4. You really can’t do it. If you can give that food up on your own, you need to consider sacrificing something more difficult.
  5. Fasting is about sacrificing FOOD.
  6. FASTING is a form of deep prayer. If you give up food and don’t pray you are simply starving yourself.
  7. Fasting is NOT a diet or a means to lose weight.
  8. Your dietary sacrifice can be anything that is challenging to you. You don’t have to go all out and not eat at all. (Especially if you haven’t been cleared by a doctor.)
  9. You must begin praying NOW about what your fasting commitment should be.
  10. You must be specific in what you are going to pray for.

Can you do it?

Yes

Because…

We don’t do anything alone.

We do life together.

Jesus commits to being there, to helping, to loving, to listening, to bringing freedom.

 

Let me know if you are IN by commenting. And then share this and challenge 3 friends to fast with us!

To our lives changing, because they will, my friend, they will.

Tiff

HOW NOT EATING CHANGED ME

At the beginning of May I entered into a 21 day fast. It was the second time I've done this crazy thing. But what I found even crazier is that there are people who have been Christians forever and ever and ever who have never ever fasted before.

Now I'm not super Christian who fasts all the time and does everything right and who is always obedient–in fact I'm quite the opposite. Just a few nights ago you could have found me fully clothed, sitting in an empty bathtub with the shower curtain closed screaming at God because he doesn't seem to be listening.

This was the very reason I began my 21-day fast because I needed God to listen, and more than that I needed Him to speak. I have been drowning in grief and confusion and every voice I heard was muffled and water logged, so I exhausted myself wondering if it was God speaking, or simply one of the echoes of my temper tantrums that daily emerged. I needed to empty myself…to empty my stomach…to remove distractions and caffeine and all the things I love so the sounds of my heart could maybe become audible.

This fast: no bread, no sugar, no meat and water only. Not quite as strict as my last one, but no less difficult–I love me some caffeine…I LOVE me some bread, I adore, absolutely addictively adore, sugar. I knew my soul needed Jesus more than my tastebuds needed anything. And so I embarked.

For twenty one days:

I prayed and prayed.

I read scripture.

I cried.

I yelled.

I discovered some really ugly…like really ugly parts of me.

And He answered.

Not every single thing in the way I hoped, or in the timing I wished for. In fact daily I'm still going before the throne and praying for a specific miracle. But I emerged with a new perspective, well..mostly.

With every fast comes the specific requests. Mine were personal and filled with hope.

Please lift depression from my daughter and give her vision for her life.

Please give me some sort of vision for my own life, because why do I wake up every morning?

Please please please break this financial bondage that we are in. Too many years, too much stress, too many curses.

Please just fill us. Empty our lives of us and fill us up with you.

God has answered my prayers for my daughter, given me a new hope in him, even though I hate it here still. He has filled us up, drawing us each nearer to him–however, we are still broke.

Fasting isn't realllllly about having Jesus wave his wand and bless you, answering all of your prayers because you so sacrificially deny yourself of something you love. What it's reallllly about is you becoming less like you and more like Him. He will answer prayer, but only if it's in your best interest. He will answer prayer but only if you have a heart change first. He will answer prayer but only if it transforms you–making you less and Him more.

Him more. In your mind…your heart….your thoughts…your requests.

I'm not hating because he didn't methodically check off my list of requests. I'm loving because I am free in a way I wasn't free on April 30th.

I'm a work in progress–and so are you

So plan on fasting with me.

For three days:

July 1

July 2

July 3

And the rest of this week I will convince you why …. I will show you how he worked in my daughter's life. I will envision you with the vision He gave me. I will explain the importance of obedience and fasting and obediently fasting. And we will do it together…Changing our hearts, and changing the World…solely for Him.

Are You In?

Comment and Share with me your emphatic or reluctant “YES!” And stick around the blog this week…

LG|LP Tiff