Tag Archives: joy

Work In Progress

5 Dec

I have learned so much in the past 10 years. 10 years ago today, I went to a tea at a non-denominational church. I began attending this church every week. Within a few months I bought my own bible for the first time AND I actually began to read it. 9 years ago today, I was re-baptized at that wonderful church.

You have to know this. I am still a work in progress. I have been studying His word for 10 years. I have been in deep relationship with him for about 8 of those years, or maybe 7. I am being changed and healed and softened and made stronger, every single day.  I submitted every nook and cranny to Him. And then, I pretty much forget and take it all back on my shoulders for a bit, then re-submit. It’s okay! That is our journey with Him. Not one part of us is perfect and we cannot perfect our selves. He can though. I am slowly being perfected. One day, when I get to heaven, I will be perfected. Not before then.

I say this often because I really struggled to grasp what Grace meant, what Jesus meant to me, for me. “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Hebrew 5:8 NLT.   I had to learn that being a Christ follower has nothing to do with me. It is all about Him. I didn’t earn my way to heaven. You can’t earn it by being good. Heaven is about accepting that this Christmas birth was a gift! That Jesus came to show us what faith is. What God is seeking from us is to let go of our own ego’s and our need to earn; our own checks and balances way of living and just accept the gift.

Salvation is simply a life altering, mind blowing, ego balancing, rule crashing, insecurity killing acceptance of the greatest act of love ever.

I have learned that abusive people and unkind people, swindlers, manipulators and cruel people can actually have that mustard seed of faith and can also be saved. I have learned that really devout people have super big doubts sometimes. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what we do or who we are, salvation is not about us. It is about accepting Christ. In the same breath, I have accepted that God is not a punishing God. We don’t earn that either. We do suffer, but everyone suffer’s. Jesus did too and God as His Father, suffered for us, and Mary his mother, suffered. It’s our journey here. We suffer because of darkness, sin, because of brokenness. It’s important.

If you know me, I promised to be transparent every step of the way.  This former perfectionist put on a good front for the world. The need to be right enough and validated enough girl is now the self-proclaimed wishy washy Christian. I still sin, in my head, my words and in my heart. I am constantly learning and growing, I have a sense of confidence in Christ I have never had before.  God has changed so much in my heart, healed so much and filled the hole inside my heart.
I am also the girl that has a hard time with trust. Actually I believe that to be my biggest hurdle.  Probably for all of us, this is the biggest hurdle. Trusting when we can’t control or see the future. Trust is faith. Period. Trust when it all looks like it’s falling apart at the seams. Trust when our hearts our broken. Trust when we can’t understand.

No matter how far I swing away, no matter how close I walk; the words below are my reminder, and if I write it all on my heart, then I can constantly redirect my fears, my worries, my self reliance, my anger, my sorrow, my hopes and my desires of my heart. If we are seeking His will, we will have perfect peace, if we focus on our own plans, our own path; there is no peace.

They say “Leap of Faith” for a major reason! Faith is hard! It’s also an amazing journey full of amazing people. There is a deep joy that comes from hope in God. I have had deep doubts in Him, He was fine with that. He is steady, sure, unchanging and un-freaked out.
Isn’t it time to figure out what you really know about Him, what is truth to you? Based on learning who He really is? Not what you see a building of people being but what His word tells you about him?

Without Him I am nothing.

“My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
nothing you desire can compare with her (wisdom).”

Proverbs 3:1-6 NLT

Re-done

2 Dec
If I were to come up with a description for the past decade it would be Re-Creation.
I went back to church 10 years ago this month. I remained unable to really connect the dots of faith to my why until July 2010. Entering this decade brokenhearted, lost and so unsure of my why; ‘Why was I here? What did I have to live for? ‘ These were some very overwhelming questions for me.
I often quote my friend Pastor Brent Knox.” I am either in a trial or between a trial.” Such truth!
Nothing lasts forever except The One who created it all. No trial, no moment. But, His love endures forever.
Isaiah 40:28 says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Endings are as much a part of life as beginnings are. Grief and joy, peace and struggle, gain and loss…. Nothing is without meaning and value, but nothing is done without Him beside us and the Holy Spirit within us. He is sovereign. Always. We choose to trust in faith or struggle alone.
This is the hope I hang on to every day. He has it all figured out, and it’s all meant for my good and His glory.

There is perfect peace to be found in the bumpy journey, even when it all falls apart. I am so grateful to have found this joy. This life is so not easy, and it will only become more difficult as we grow older.

Joy isn’t happiness, joy isn’t laughter. Joy is deep. It is resting assured in faith that I don’t have to have the answers, that I am deeply cared for, loved beyond measure, I am not alone, and one day, this will all be new. I will live forever with Him.

Joy is pouring this truth into another life;Being able to be completely transparent, no longer having to pretend I have it all together. I don’t!

Joy is knowing that even if I made a huge mess of a thing, even if all the pieces make no sense; I don’t have to have the vision of the future. He does. I just need to be so in touch with Him, so patient, so steady.  He will not leave me, nor forsake me. Men may leave me. friends may, but not God. Joy is confidence in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The one truth remains, our lives are still so rich with blessings. Our trials become our lessons and the lessons become our testimony. When we give them all to Him, He uses our difficult testimonies to bless other’s.

This heart is so grateful, even for the hard, the goodbyes and the trials. This girl is glad for the decade of crazy, coming to a close. This girl is grateful for every mistake, every tear cried, every lesson, every sorrow. Without each of them I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be where I am.

I love this re-creation of me. He is pretty smart!

Phillippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Follow The Leader

15 Oct

 

How many times have I held myself hostage to shame or guilt; Lost sleep over things I have said or done, things I wish I had done differently?
How many times have I sat in sorrow, feeling like I have blown it all; Blown God’s blessings for me, messed up and knew He must be so disappointed?
How many times will I question whether I am being punished by Him?
How many times do I question my own belief; How many times will I feel too hypocritical? Like I am supposed to be better than I am doing.
How many times will I be offended or feel resentful over things, hurt by rejection or presumed being unchosen?
How many times do we say, I have to do better, be better, watch my words, grab hold of my sins and fix them?
How many times do we want to do the right thing and ask God over and over, “what is your plan”, “what do you want me to do”, “Open doors, close doors”, and become frustrated because He didn’t answer. Maybe it didn’t matter? Maybe it was more about submission than the outcome.

No More!

This is probably the most powerful truth we can grasp. He wants to be in a close relationship with us. He wants to know us. He wants us to know Him.  To submit our will to Him, our independence to Him, our need to fix life, fix people, fix ourselves achieve stuff, to Him and Him alone. To have a real relationship with Him.

If we believe that Christ was the sacrificial lamb, who died and rescued us from the punishment for our sins, that his death was merciful and complete; Why do we throw that away and reclaim the hopelessness of being judged by the law?

The Sermon on the Mount is so powerful in the expression of the true consequence of our belief. If we judge sin, we will be judged by the law. If we surrender sin, we will be washed clean. Surrendering our ability to do to the one that already did, is powerful and because of our ego, very difficult to do. We don’t have to be perfect to know Him. We just have to know Him, seek Him. We begin to fill up with Him, through His word, through prayer, through being still and letting the words wash over us, by journalling, with praise of Him, worship of Him.

Take your tears, your anger, your brokenness, your fear, your hopes, your wishes, your control, your illness, your insecurity, your anxiety, your hopelessness, your joy; take this all to Him. He knows everything and still loves you enough to take it all away and make you new. Build you back up, create in you a new mind, a new heart, a new hope.

If we don’t trust God with our complete hope, we fall short. We, the ones trying to do the impossible-becoming perfect, or running away so fast because we are imperfect, we need to remember who is the only one that will ever be perfect. And learn what His love and death for us, did for us.

We are all sinners.
All are welcomed by God.
We love ourselves and love this world best when we begin with loving God and accept His love in return.
We don’t turn from our sin and with this perfected new self, accept Christ and His Grace and Mercy.
We turn to Him, the only one, that can rescue us and transform us by our own submission to Him

It isn’t those that worked so hard at changing their sins and being good, that will be known by Him.  The ones that knew they couldn’t do anything without having a deep and trusting relationship with our Lord, will be known.

We are so unworthy, every one of us, to sit in Heaven with God, but He chose you, not because your so great, or so perfect, not to be the judge, or the next teacher; not to be the next amazing, not to be the next best, but to be loved by Him, for Him, for this world.

He will transform you, rebuild you, for His purpose. He will not leave that work undone. He did not say you will not leave the work undone. He did not say reject those people, judge those sins as abomination. He said be a light in the world. Know you are a sinner yourself and from that joy of forgiveness, let other’s see what grace is and does.

When the townspeople were set to stone the woman for adultery, Jesus taught the message of let the one without sin, throw the first stone. No one could. But don’t miss the second part of that message. Everyone left, leaving the woman alone there. Jesus is the only one that didn’t leave that woman alone in her sin. He loved her so much even in her sinful state of being an adulterer. He didn’t judge her. He instructed her to not sin any longer. I would love to know her testimony from that rescue, that love, that welcoming.

This is what it means to follow Him. Follow His examples of prayer, of relationship to the Father, to surrender and submit over and over and over again.

Grace cannot be earned; Grace is not the goal. Grace is the gift, the fulfillment of requirements, someone else took the punishment of your sins for you. Grace is the invitation to join Jesus in a relationship.  ALL are welcome to this.

This relationship will be harder, not easier. Submission is hard. God transforms you, and it can be difficult to be healed in many ways.  Remember though; In the perfect garden, Eden, where all needs were supplied, where God walked as a friend, Eve chose deception for more than all supplied needs and God as a friend and Adam chose to please Eve and blame everyone. We are built this way; Imperfect creatures. You are never going to be perfect. Not ever.

Knowing who God is, knowing He loves you, letting that fill your heart, letting that move you and guide you; trusting in Him, through every up and down, every betrayal, every trial, every loss… That is where your purpose and your freedom is found. That is where joyful living begins and endless pursuit of happiness ends.

“For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy].”

ROMANS 6:14 AMP

https://www.bible.com/bible/1588/rom.6.14.amp

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ———-”

John 8:1-11 NLT

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/jhn.8.1-11.nlt

Sermon on the Mount is Matthew 5-7. I encourage you to read this.

https://www.bible.com/bible/116/mat.5.1.nlt

The Letter

10 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

My mom put a letter in my hands as I left her house and said “read this when you get home.”  I asked her if it will make me cry, she smiled her sweet smile and said “yes”.

I have held the letter in my hands for long minutes, staring at it, unable to open it. Wanting to hang on to the mom I have always had, strong in mind and spirit. Not ready for what is coming. Not ready to read her words.

I am so grateful for the time I am blessed to spend with her and leaving her gets more difficult. As her body grows weaker with every passing week, her spirit grows stronger. She is more peaceful, happier.

This is what the hope of Heaven looks like. Peace. I am blessed to see it in my mother’s eyes.She is at peace with her journey and is now beginning to look forward to meeting her beloved bridegroom. I am encouraged by her inner strength.

As I set the letter back down, my heart streams down my face. I say a silent prayer for her and I decide maybe I will open it tomorrow. Not tonight.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4 

Hope

2 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

God gave my friend and I this word last night. It was just one word. A powerful word.
I have realized that Hope is what drives everything; Everything!
We go on dates because we hope for this to be the one.
We flirt, we share, we open our hearts up because we hope for the relationship to be important, we hope for love.
We begin new jobs, plan families, plan vacations, all from hope.
We fight disease from hope.
We stay in jobs because of hope.
We invest energy, resources and time in the hopes of outcomes.
We go on diets, and begin exercising with a hope of achieving a goal.
We look forward to an event, hoping for a fun time.
We pray from hope, and sometimes we pray for hope.
Today, we pray for a hurricane to move away, we hope for safety, for lives to be spared, for change.

Hope is hugely important and drives just about all we do or desire.
The Hebrew root words to describe Hope all stem around the word trust: To trust, or worthy of trust.  To put our trust in God is to put our Hope in Him.

The entire bible is about Hope. Jesus himself was about Hope. One of my favorite scriptures is the epitome of that Hope. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is a hope that comes from knowing that at the end of our time here, at the end of this amazing and turbulent world, we will no longer suffer and there will be joy everlasting. What a hope this is.

There is a hope that comes from trusting that even when we can’t see an outcome, with things out of our control, God is still in charge, still working all things out for our good. There is a hope that when we look back on our lives, we can see that we always came out of hardship. All the pieces made us who we are, gave us our purpose.

When you don’t have that hope, when you are trying to do this all on your own, when you have lost the ability to see hope, find hope, we become desolate and alone. We crumble. Sometimes hope is all that is left when the suffering is great. It can be just a thread, but it is life itself. Without that thread of hope, we have nothing.

Hopelessness is a rampant disease these days. People suffering and taking their lives, because they have lost hope. Our world isn’t becoming more evil, our world is losing hope.

In all that I have gone through, in all I have done, I can only give God that credit. It is because I learned from hopelessness, that He is my hope. And all my hope comes from the Lord. I have learned to trust in His sovereignty. I am grateful to not have to shoulder everything myself and I know this world will have it’s share of suffering and sorrows, but my strength and joy comes from the hope for heaven. For eternity.  I can lean on that when all else falls apart. This life is a vapor and it without the Hope of more, it loses all meaning.
Literally no one will know most of us even lived here 2 generations from now. We are not so important to be remembered like that.
However, we are so important to those people we love and those we encounter. We are also important to God.
We can be the ones that light the fire of hope in this suffering world. One smile at a time. We can be the hope that says to one person or many, every day, “I see you, you matter”. “There is still good here”. “You are loved, even if I don’t know you, I know God and He loves you beyond measure”.

Hope. We talk about being accepting, being love, but what we really need to be is hope spreaders.  We need to share what Hope looks like, feels like, and how we found it, how we find it every day.

That is our calling here. That is our legacy for the future generations. That is our light in the dark.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “- Romans 15:13

Through The Tears

16 Jul

By Beckie Halaska

The thunder rolls, the rain pours down as I sit in complete still and silence.
I am in awe of our awesome God. His power. His love.

I bring my grief and sorrow to Him and just lay it wide open for Him.

I feel a sense of His presence.  When I can just be still, I become so aware of Him around me. My heart is so full. So overwhelmed.

This is a practice of being aware of Him. Seeking Him.
When I stop being me focused, silence the crazy world and be still, alert, aware of Him, He shows off for me in big ways.

How can I not worship this knowing, protective, worthy, infinite, unchangeable God?

I will never be strong enough.
I will never be loving enough.
I will never be whole enough.
I will never be beautiful enough.
I will never be worthy of His beautiful Grace.

It pours over my heart, my spirit as I soak in His greatness.
It is a free gift He showers on me. Over me
His peace is beyond all understanding.
It is well. Deep within my soul, my heart, it is well.

My beautiful Mom knows this God, this rescuer and lover of our souls as much as I do.
It is all well with her soul. This brings me so much comfort.

She may be preparing her goodbye’s to this world , but her joy has only begun.
As the storm gives way to blue skies, I am so blessed by His love and comfort.

As the tears fall, the sorrow leaves.
Because of Him.

Joy overwhelms me, peace that makes no sense in these circumstances, transcends through my whole spirit.

And I sit in gratitude. Such a good, good Father.

Amen.

When Evil Seems to Win

30 May

There is an ever present evil in the world. We can see it every single time we open social media or turn on the news. None of us will be spared evil in some fashion.

When your life has been touched by evil, one of the biggest challenges will be to not become embittered in the battle, especially if it seems to not touch the one that caused the harm.

We want things to be fair, and when there isn’t justice, we can lose sight on what actually is true. Evil may seem like it is winning but the truth is, there is no “win” in evil, only destruction.  Evil also loves to seduce in numbers.

Maybe that is the real goal of evil, to make us really question if there is any goodness left, to stop believing in the goodness of the world. Obviously we know the goal of evil is also for us to ultimately question our faith and hope.

Guarding our hearts against bitterness is very important during this battle. Bitterness can choke out the light in us, God in us. It is a daily battle; A war for our souls.

When we filter our thoughts on what has been done, no matter what has been done, we begin the battle of unforgiveness. When we begin to want justice, we begin our battle against bitterness. The battle will be fought in many ways, but at the end of the day, the real battle with be within your own mind, your own heart.

Trials will absolutely always come. Evil will be at times, be very strong against us. It is a spiritual war and a battle for our soul. Evil will come in many forms to wear us down. There will be attacks. There will be slander. There will be times you are or feel all alone in the battle. You will feel overwhelmed, defeated at times and you will want to give up the fight.

That is exactly when we must stay focused and steadfast in our faith. Practicing even what we can’t feel. Trusting in God’s plan for our lives even when it seems so unfair or worse, impossible. Reading His promises even when we can’t seem to believe it fully. He tells us that His word never falls void. Keep reading it.

Evil utilizes comparison, isolation, judgement and fear. The word of God, prayer and steadfast commitment to Him is the anecdote.

God will always triumph. This is His story. Evil doesn’t win. We may not appear to win in this world, but we are not to conform to this world, we are to remain in Him.

Our journey is not really about our success, how we fit in, or what anyone else does, thinks or says about us.  Our journey is to become Holy.

There is only one absolute truth, we are in a vertical relationship with Christ, He and us alone. There will not be anyone else with you when you take your knee at the throne.

When evil mocks you, pray.  Tell Him your wish for justice, He understands. He believes in justice as well. He is also merciful and gave you grace.

Praying not only for your faith to remain steady and confident, but importantly, pray for anyone being used by evil. That is the greatest weapon we have against bitterness.

Grace.

“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