Glorious Adoption

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I have been blessed to study the book of Romans in depth this year through BSF on Tuesdays mornings. We dig and dig each week into a handful of verses. We wrestle with each verse and let God speak to us. What a gift! Romans is a difficult and wonderful book! Either because it's so great, or because I am not "getting" it enough, God thought I needed more Romans. My husband and I just joined a Bible study on... Romans! It is using a book by Timothy Keller and so far it has also been challenging and beautiful.

I have been struck lately with the truth that we are Adopted as God's Children. I am a Child of God. If you are a believer, then you, too, are a Child of God.

Adoption is quite the word.

Last December I sat the courtroom for another hearing for our foster daughter's case. But this one was not just another hearing. It was her "best case" hearing. Basically, our agency was laying out evidence to the judge that our daughter's "best case" was to be adopted by us-- her foster family who has loved and cared for her most of the years of her life. It was gut wrenching and sacred. I am not "allowed" to speak in court, but I sobbed silently in the last row as the judge declared my girl's standing and placement to be "best" with my husband and me. She has been ours all along, but with this declaration she becomes a full member of our family and she inherits full rights as our daughter!

It's the same for God.

God, our Father, sees each of us as His Child.

How does God feel when we let Him claim us as His daughter or son? Probably similar to how I felt in that courtroom! 

We are His all along and then we can finally be freely loved by Him. We get the full benefits of being God's child.

 

 "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." Jesus in John 14:18
Behave instead like God's very own children, adopted into His family-- calling Him Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

The Greek word for adoption here is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture. God, our good, good Father adopts us. We will experience this fully One day (Romans 8:23), but it makes a difference in our life here and now as well. We are His. You are His. You are claimed and adopted. I am claimed. I have been declared His Child. What a gift! I get emotional when I let this truth sink in and when I live out of that place. How about you?

 

When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6

There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

 

God our Father cries in the courtroom, too.

It has been decided. We have been claimed. Let Him claim you. Let Him claim me.

I have Full Rights as His daughter! My prayer is that I sit in it and live from it. How about you?

2018 is Coming!

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Goals and Dreams. So much fun for some of us!!

I am squarely in the camp of loving goals and dreams. I have many short term and long term dreams for various areas of my life. I have a spot in my Life Management Binder for dreams for each decade of my life. Some are just fun, like learning to raise chickens. Many are very important and meaningful, like our dream to pass along faith in Jesus to our daughters. I regularly spend time translating my dreams into goals and those goals into plans and into calendar space. It's fun!

My husband and I were given the gift of going out to lunch today and we talked through some of our dreams and plans for 2018. Honestly, it's a much harder exercise for him, but even he appreciates the time and planning to lay out our hopes for 2018 before the Lord and with His blessing to start going in those directions! We talked about a couple possible short trips to take, what we pray for in 2018 with our foster daughter, dreams for my business, goals for his work, hopes about friendships that will grow in 2018, race times I want to improve on in running, and other fun things.

 

Do you like to plan and dream? God is a planner, an expert planner. And we are created in His image. So, we can plan, too! Of course our plans come under His Lordship and ultimately we trust in His timing and His numbering of our days.

 

What do you want to achieve in 2018?

Growing closer to family and friends? Serving more somewhere? More clients in your business? Finishing a race or other health goals? Paying off a debt? Traveling somewhere?

What character traits do you want to grow in next year?

Patience? Presence? Courage? Being a more loving spouse? Having more confidence in the Lord? Many of us chose a "Word for the Year" to reflect this goal. How about you? Ask God what your Word for 2018 is. He will challenge you and grow you-- and He will be beside you the entire time! I almost have my 2018 word. I'll let you know in January :) 

How do you want to grow closer to the Lord?

Letting Him really love you and be your Father? More prayer time? A solitude day or other spiritual discipline? Joining a Bible study? Starting a Bible study?

 

Dreams and Goals are proven to be met and achieved more often when we first write them down, and second when we tell them to someone else! As your coach I would love to be that person! I will encourage you in your goals and together we will be on the look out for obstacles and plan how to reach the goals and dreams God has given you! Having a Life Coach makes a difference! I know, I have one, too!

 

Here is a New Year's Package Option for Goals:

Two phone sessions in January for 45 minutes each to plan goals for 2018.

Follow up phone session in February and one more phone session in March.

Total of 4 sessions (45 minutes each) for $200. (Regular rate would be $300) This is an investment in you! God has already made His investment by giving you gifts and dreams! Now is your chance to use them! As always, if you are interested please contact me and we will figure out the cost. I want to work with you and help you live the life God is calling you to!

Happy 2018!

Your Coach, Anne Marie

 

 

Bleached Hands & a Cracked Heart

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Jesus Calms the Storm (Mark 4:35-41)

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Lots of us have struggles. Hmm... ALL of us.

All of us have storms and struggles.

 

Mine this week include kiddos being sick and therefore "messing up" my schedule both on Monday and today. Also my soul being a bit weary from a time of transition. My soul is longing for connection. If I am honest, I feel a bit alone lately. I know indeed I am not. I have amazing family and friends. And the Lord is near.

So, we all have storms. Mine are minor compared to what I know many of you are going through.

Today God gave me a reminder of His help and call in the struggle and in the storm. A reminder to have courage. You are courageous! I am courageous! The Lord is WITH us. He's with you and He sees you! He's with you in your thoughts and doubt and worry and wishing you had done something different. He's with you trying to figure out what the doctors say. He's with you in the stress of the holidays and relationships and family. He is with me today and my bleach scrubbing hands and slightly cracked heart.

 

Be reminded of Him. "Get into the Word. It helps." A wise friend told me this week. It helped!

 

He is Mighty and Powerful and Calm and Gentle and WITH.

 

Peace from Him,

Anne Marie

Winter. Death. Beauty

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Even though the sun has warmed us these last couple days, winter has come. I know this for sure because this week we cleaned out our garden and backyard. I found that even when dead the flowers are beautiful. We also cleaned up and put away our fire pit and chairs. Sad day.

I do find winter beautiful and I love snow and our three girls of course love sledding and playing in the snow. I love making soup or coffee and curling up by the fire inside with a book. There is something calm and peaceful about the dark and quiet of winter. But, I really miss enjoying our backyard and fire pit! As I have written about before, this fire pit is our burning bush. We truly know we are on Holy Ground in our backyard when we share in food and conversation there.

Sometimes it's just my me and my Bible, sometimes it's just my husband and I enjoying a drink and talking. Sometimes it's the five of us, or family friends we have invited over, or big parties with dozens and dozens of people. However many people-- God's presence is there.

This year as I was putting away the fire pit I was struck with a sadness. You see, I have these ideas that play out in my mind of certain conversations or certain people that will happen in our backyard. They represent deep hopes and dreams. I think they are Godly hopes and dreams, but it turns out God's timing is different than mine! :) He has really been growing me in patience this year and I think I still have a lot to learn.

Can you relate to that? Have you imagined a conversation in your head and hoped how it would go??

 

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So, as I packed up the fire pit I realized a couple of those conversations did not happen this year. Maybe they will next season. Or the one after that. Or maybe not. I am learning to let go of these expectations and trust more and more in God's perfect timing. He is time.

This winter, I am letting these pieces die. Jesus will bring them, or something else, to new life in the "spring". It's what He does. It's who He is.

There is beauty in death. What is not dead cannot be resurrected.

God's glory and goodness will be on display in that resurrection. Read the story of Lazarus in John 11 for a beautiful display of this.

 

What needs to die in your life? What needs to die so that the very Creator of Life can bring it back in newness?

Use this winter season to be reminded of God's great timing and to let it die.

If you would like a helper in this season give me a call! We'll do it together!
Your Coach, Anne Marie

 

 

 

Table. Convivium.

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As we approach Thanksgiving next week

I am thinking about tables.

What's your favorite type of table? My favorite is a big, rustic, farm table. The ones that are made of beautiful old wood and tell the story of all the meals eaten there in the nicks and scratches and discolorations. We have a small farm table in our kitchen and I love it! It bows a little in the center, has various spots of paint on it, and definite marks from a fork where a toddler stabbed it. It was given to us when I was pregnant with our first daughter and we will keep it forever!

 

Most of us will gather around a table for Thanksgiving with family and friends. We will sit a little longer than usual. We will share stories and be thankful. We will eat a little better, a little slower, and probably a little more than we need! How fun! We treasure time at the table.

 

Convivium is the Latin word for feast. The fullness of the word means "a banquet, feasting, drinking, gathering with good company". I first learned of convivium in Randy Frazee's book, Making Room for Life. He argues for families and communities to make the daily dinner meal a true feast in both food and relationships-- a convivium. He reminds us that this is how Jesus, the disciples, and the first church in Acts shared many a meal. It sounds wonderful, right? To slow down enough to really sit and enjoy the company and food God has given us! It's complicated though. Schedules and our culture just don't place a priority on this kind of practice. 

My challenge to you is to think of how you can bring the spirit of the best of Thanksgiving dinner to each week in you home. How can we slow down a little? Be more thankful? Really talk and listen to the good company around us? Make and enjoy real food? Sit at the actual table. Turn off our phones (I am terrible at this!) Maybe light some candles. What else comes to mind for you? How can we thank & feast?

Getting better in these practices is good for our bodies and our souls!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Your Coach, Anne Marie

Fly

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I never used to notice or care much about birds at all. I would say that has been changing in the last couple years. My oldest daughter loves birds! I remember when she was younger she would run towards the robins near our home and chase them. She would sob when she could not catch one. Now, she still loves birds and studies them, draws them, and knows a lot about them. This has piqued my interest in birds as well. My favorites are the cardinal and any eagle.

God has also drawn my heart to birds recently. He has used cardinals and eagles as reminders of His Presence. He has spoken to me by having a cardinal show up at just the right moment time and time again. I notice them in my backyard out the window as I do dishes and sometimes feel alone. They cross my path often when walking or running at the forest preserve. Seeing the red feathers is to me God saying, "I notice you, Anne. I'm right here." That's a powerful reminder. Seeing eagles is a reminder to me of God's Majesty and Power. The beauty as they soar is incredible!

I love how God brings back similar themes over and over. This summer I knew several times God was telling me to "fly", "fly high". In times of prayer and solitude this was confirmed to me. The symbol of a feather and verses about birds, eagles, and feathers stood out to me. It was an encouragement and a call on my life to break free, step up, and be who God made me to be! To live and breathe as one who is spoken for. Jesus makes me brave and in Him I fly!

This past weekend I went to a women's conference with a similar theme.

God wants you to be free! God wants me to be free!

In His freedom we are no longer wounded and broken birds. We are free. We fly. We fly out of the cage and captivity we used to be in. We can be saved by Jesus, but still not free. He desires a full and abundant life of freedom in Him for His sons and daughters!

What is holding you captive? Ask the Spirit to show you.

What truth are you believing that is not true? Maybe your worth or identity? Maybe in an area of your life that is difficult right now-- marriage, parenting, finances, etc?

 

Put on your armor! (Ephesians 6) Know you are protected by the Most High! (Psalm 91) Speak God's promises over yourself & others. All His promises are "Yes and Amen!" (2 Corinthians 1:20)

 
"Catch The Wind" by Bethel Music
 
I am strong and full of life
I am steadfast, no compromise
I lift my sails, to the sky
I'm gonna catch the wind
I'm gonna catch the wind

I am bold, no fear inside
Spread my wings, open my life
Like an eagle, whose home is the sky
I'm gonna catch the wind
I'm gonna catch the wind

Your faithfulness will never let me down
I'm confident I'll see Your goodness now
I know You hear my heart, I'm singing out
There's nothing that can stop Your goodness now

I am bold, no fear inside
Spread my wings, open my life
Like an eagle, whose home is the sky
I'm gonna catch the wind
I'm gonna catch the wind

Your faithfulness will never let me down
I'm confident I'll see Your goodness now
I know You hear my heart, I'm singing out
There's nothing that can stop Your goodness now

Like standing on the edge
Of a mountainside
I can feel the wind stirring
Lifting me up high
I was born into freedom
I was made to fly

 

Fly, my friend, Fly

 

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Name

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What's in a name?

 

I think there's a lot in a name! What does your name mean? Is there a story behind why your parents chose your name? Do you have a nickname? Does it fit you?

 

One of our family assignments for our homeschool curriculum was to look up what each of our names mean and to make signs and display them. It was so fun and we learned a lot! My name means "full of grace" which I already knew. As a kid I got made fun of because I was not physically "full of grace" at all! I fell often and was clumsy. Now, as an adult, I know I am indeed full of grace from God and I love what my name means! I have nicknames, too. My family and some close friends call me "Anne Marie", my two brothers call me "Annie" (they had much meaner nicknames for me when we were kids!), and a couple friends call me "Soaps". I love nicknames. They carry a sense of closeness and story with them.

God gives those of us who belong to Him a name, too!

Child of God

Wow. What an important truth and an important name! A daughter, a son of the very Creator of the universe! And He gives us many other names, too. We are called Saint, Masterpiece, Beloved, Beautiful, Worthy, and more! All through and in Him!

 

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God changes our name and our identity when we surrender to Him and live towards Him. Take time to look up some of these verses and reflect on their meaning.

 

What name do you need to lean into today? What truth is in your name? How can you ask the Holy Spirit to show you more of who you are in Him?

 

I would love to hear what your name means and how God has used your understanding of your name! Comment below!

Your Coach,
Anne Marie/Anne/Annie/Soaps
Any other nicknames you would add for me?? :)

 

Water

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Water is powerful. I know this well. I am married to the Culligan man! He says I know more about water from listening to him talk than some of the guys he works with. Ha! Water is common in our day to day life-- for drinking, washing, cooking, etc. But we need not underestimate the power of water. It carved the Grand Canyon afterall!

We have seen the power of water recently in the devastation from several hurricanes this season. Locally, we had terrible flooding in July. Water is powerful. This power can be destructive, but it can also be life-giving. We can not live without water. Our bodies, our earth are designed to need water. Water refreshes us and gives us life.

God uses water as a powerful symbol to us. 

Water as Washing

The word of God is often referred to as water in the Bible because the Word acts as a cleansing agent which explains what Paul meant when he wrote concerning Jesus’ cleansing the church “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:26-27). Ezekiel writes about where God says “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (Ezk 36:25) while the author of Hebrews writes “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:22).
 

Water as Eternal Life

Isaiah says “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3) while Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10) because “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). In this chapter Jesus refers to water as the “living water” and it springs up to eternal life and He is the source of this living water that we can draw “water from the wells of salvation” from. In Revelation 21:6 Jesus says “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” and “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1) giving further indication that Jesus is this source of living water, even in the New Jerusalem.
 

Water was powerful to me a few Sundays ago.

I was baptized in the lake in our neighborhood a few weeks ago! It was a holy evening. A few dear friends gathered. We prayed, worshiped, and shared communion. I declared my belief in our good, good God and His work on the cross for me. He is my life, my hope, my anchor, my confidence. Then, as the kids dangled their legs in the water off the dock, and my family stood beside me, my pastor, Dave, and my friend and mentor, Amy, led my under the water and back up again. Wow. In the waters of baptism God has provided a powerful symbol of who we are when we are in Christ. Water is powerful.

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My prayer for each of us is to seek after God as our Water.

Oh God, You are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you!
My whole being longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
~ Psalm 63:1

Which verse about God as Water speaks to you? How does God refresh you and give you life? How is Jesus your living water? Thank Him for being your very life!

What is Life Coaching?

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This blog post will be a little different that most of the rest of my posts. I want to help you understand what Life Coaching is and how it could benefit you or someone you know! Feel free to share!

 

What is coaching?  


The first time it was ever used, the word coach described a horse-drawn vehicle – a stage coach that would get people from where they were to where they wanted to be.  Most often today coaches are people who help athletes and teams move from one place to another that is better and where they want to be.  
But coaches also help musicians, public speakers and actors, who rely on coaching to improve their skills, overcome obstacles, remain focused, and get to where they want to be.  Today, coaching is very popular in business and corporate settings around the world. Executive coaches work with people in business to help them move from where they are to levels where they are more competent, fulfilled and self-confident than they would have been otherwise.    
In summary, coaches guide people from where they are toward the greater competence and fulfillment that they desire.  

 

"Christian coaching is the art and practice of working with a person in the process of moving from where they are to where God wants them to be."   Gary Collins, Coach and Author 

 

Yes! This is my desire and passion! To help others seek the life God has for them! It's an honor to journey alongside clients as we "face the Lord" together and work towards this life!

 

Why would anybody want a coach?  
Coaching helps people who want to get unstuck; grow through life transitions; set and reach goals in various areas of life- in relationships, in health, in parenting, etc; coaching helps those who want to grow deeper in their spiritual journey, and coaching is a place to be listened to well while being challenged and encouraged along the way!

 
Sounds great, right?! It is. Think about where you want to be in six months or in a year. What do you hope is different? Your job? A specific relationship? A certain area of your life? A character quality you want to grow in? How do you hope your walk with the Lord will grow in the next season? Change doesn't happen on it's own. We need to be intentional. Contact me to help you get there! We'll do it together!
Your Coach,
Anne Marie

Here is a podcast that help explain more of what Coaching is:

http://professionalchristiancoachingtoday.com/002-what-is-professional-christian-coaching/

 

Wrestling

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But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint.
The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.” Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.” The man said, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
Jacob asked, “And what’s your name?” The man said, “Why do you want to know my name?” And then, right then and there, he blessed him. Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!” The sun came up as he left Peniel, limping because of his hip. Genesis 32:24-29
And he set up an altar there and called it “God, the God of Israel” Genesis 33:20

Have you read this passage before? Do you identify with Jacob? Have you wrestled with God?

 

I have been in and out of wrestling with God for the past two years. It's painful. It's heart-wrenching. But it's also been name-changing, life-changing. It's worth it. The blessing is God's very Presence.

I have wrestled with God about my worth and my purpose. I have wrestled through my prayers, hours of journaling, conversations with other Christians, many tears, reading and digging into His Word, miles and miles of running and praying. I have sought out helpers in my wrestling-- a coach, a spiritual director, a mentor, a counselor. They have each been a gift in the wrestling.

My prayer in the sleepless nights and doubts of my wrestling is the same as Jacob's. "I'm not letting go until You bless me." I tell Jesus again and again that I am committed to seeking Him. I know He will be found. He is the blessing. He is the peace. He is completeness. He is the star-breather. He is Yahweh. He is. I think I am coming out of the wrestling. I have confidence in my new name. I am His. I am a child of God. I am not ruled any longer by fear and doubt and feelings of unworthiness. Don't get me wrong-- these feelings still show up! I know it will not be until I am truly Home that I will not struggle with doubt and feeling unworthy. But I have learned in the wrestling that they don't rule me. Jesus rules me. He is my Hope and my Anchor. I have decided to follow Him.

Just like Jacob turned Israel did, I am ready to build an altar. A physical reminder to all who see it that God is. I'm not sure yet exactly what this will look like. I'll let you know!

Are you struggling today? Do you find yourself in a wrestling match with God? I know it's hard. I know the pain and the fear. I know the frustration as you try to come to peace with God’s plan for your life. I understand the fear of letting go of every burden and turning them over to God.
I also know the change that takes place in your heart when you have taken the time to engage God, to get to know His Heart. I know how He changes and blesses when you seek Him with your all. I know the joy of Him.

Are you in a wrestling match today? Hang in there. He will change you forever.

Your Coach,

Anne Marie

 

God's Presence

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Two weeks ago I was driving north on highway 53 near Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and I knew God's Presence was with me.

I was driving to northern Minnesota to direct and teach a week of leadership training for high school students. It is one of my favorite weeks of the summer. I was spending my windshield time in worship and prayer. Lately I have been loving Steffany Gretzinger of Bethel Music. So good!! I was listening to one of her albums, drinking good coffee, and praying for our week. I was praying for our students and how God would meet them at training. I was praying for my family and friends back home and for the challenges and joys I knew they were facing. There was a weight of peace and glory in that car. I looked left and a bald eagle was flying low to the ground, parallel to me over the median. He was only there five or six seconds, but I think I stopped breathing for those seconds. It was God's Presence. Maybe that sounds weird to you or maybe that makes perfect sense to you. All I know is it was God.

I have had many moments like that over the years of walking with the Lord. They have been much more frequent in the last year as I have opened my hands, my heart, my life to His Love. Often they are moments during worship or when I am praying or reading scripture outside. But they have also happened recently in line at a restaurant and in a forest preserve parking lot.

God is real. He shows up.

His Presence is with His people.

 

Where do you experience God? In a Sanctuary? In creation? In the love of other people? A smile? The embrace of a friend? In God's Word?

 
Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Revelation 21:3 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

1 John 4:16 “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

 

If God says that He will give us rest in His presence He will.  If He promises to be there among the body of Christ, He will. If we abide in love, He abides in us, knowing that He goes wherever we go. In this knowledge, you will find joy in His presence and look toward being in His literal presence someday taking comfort in knowing all these things.

 

How do you experience God's Presence? Could you benefit from a helper in learning to seek Him? Practicing some spiritual disciplines can help us draw closer to God and His Presence. It can allow us to get out of our own way. Contact me for support on the journey! We'll do it together! 

Our God is a "with" God!! 

Be a Caddie!

 

My husband and I both love to watch good sports. We love the talent, hard work, tradition, and drama of sports. We even like to watch golf! This past weekend we were watching The Open and got to cheer for one of our favorites, Jordan Spieth. He hit a terrible tee shot on the 13th hole, but someone managed to still secure the win. It was like magic to watch!

In his interview while holding the trophy, he held back tears as he looked at his caddie, also in tears, and said, "You kept me in it today. This is as much yours as it is mine." Love it! How can you not love golf!

This got me thinking about sports and coaches and how interesting the position of a golf caddie is. There are few other individual sports that have this built in human support system. I played tennis for many years and my coaches were not allowed to communicate with me at all when I was on the court. Look at the pictures above of Jordan and his caddie, Michael. Always near. Encouraging. Helping. So cool!

This relationship of a golfer to

his caddie is beautiful.

The encouragement that is provided-- in actual words, or just by his presence. The reminders of what to hit and how to calm down. Someone next to you to keep you grounded. Someone to celebrate the great shots with. Someone to breathe with. Someone who knows your game as well as you do. The caddie anticipates what the golfer will do. Someone to help you figure out how to get back on track. To help you get the ball back in the fairway when the tee shot goes way off course. 

Someone to stand next to you. Side-by-side.

Shoulder to shoulder.

Facing the same direction together.

Amazing, right!! I am a terrible golfer. Terrible. But I am blessed with a couple beautiful caddies in my life. These souls stand shoulder to shoulder with me as we face the Lord together. What a gift! What encouragement! This, I believe, is a glimpse of God's Kingdom here on earth. A glimpse of true and selfless love.

I now pray each day that as a coach I can be a beautiful caddie to my clients. It is an honor to walk alongside others! Contact me if you could use someone like this in your life! To help you reach the goal and plans God has for your life. I'll stand beside you!

Read this passage to see an example of a Biblical caddie :)

2 Timothy 1 (The Message)

1 1-2 I, Paul, am on special assignment for Christ, carrying out God’s plan laid out in the Message of Life by Jesus. I write this to you, Timothy, the son I love so much. All the best from our God and Christ be yours!

3-4 Every time I say your name in prayer—which is practically all the time—I thank God for you, the God I worship with my whole life in the tradition of my ancestors. I miss you a lot, especially when I remember that last tearful good-bye, and I look forward to a joy-packed reunion.

5-7 That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn’t want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

8-10 So don’t be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner. Take your share of suffering for the Message along with the rest of us. We can only keep on going, after all, by the power of God, who first saved us and then called us to this holy work. We had nothing to do with it. It was all his idea, a gift prepared for us in Jesus long before we knew anything about it. But we know it now. Since the appearance of our Savior, nothing could be plainer: death defeated, life vindicated in a steady blaze of light, all through the work of Jesus.

11-12 This is the Message I’ve been set apart to proclaim as preacher, emissary, and teacher. It’s also the cause of all this trouble I’m in. But I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.

13-14 So keep at your work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as I set it out for you. It’s as sound as the day you first heard it from me. Guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.

Precision

Milkweed in my garden.

Milkweed in my garden.

 

Our God is precise.

 

He is not a "close enough" God. This is not hand grenades or horseshoes. Our God is concerned about the details.

It's easy to see God's precision and care of details in His creation. Look at a butterfly's wings, an intricate snowflake, a hummingbird in flight, our amazing human body! God's detail in creation is awe inspiring! It's amazing! It brings wonder!

God's wonder is noted many time in the scriptures. Here are a couple:

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. ~ Job 5:9
Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you-majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? ~ Exodus 15:11

God's precision goes beyond His marvelous creation. It appears in our very lives. It manifests itself in how our Father weaves our hours and days together with care. He loves us so! He shows His love in providing just what we need. Not almost what we need or close enough to what we need-- He provides exactly what we need.

God is infinite in wisdom and therefore He is precise.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be. ~Psalm 139:14-16

I recently had a day when God showed me just how much He loves me by supplying exactly what I needed-- and I didn't even know it was what I needed until it happened! As I have shared, I am in a transition in some relationships. God gave some powerful words of encouragement to a friend of mine and she had the courage to share them with me. What a gift! Those words read to me as a reminder of God's very love and care. It was exactly what my heart needed. Has that ever happened to you? Just the right phone call or conversation, just the right words of encouragement, running into just the right person at the store, hearing just the right song?

It's not coincidence or good luck. Our God is precise. 

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. ~ 1 John 5:13-15

We who believe in Jesus know we will receive what we ask for in prayer! John 15, Philippians 4, Matthew 7, and Matthew 21 all bear witness to this truth. We who abide in Him can ask our good Father for what we need and He will answer. He will answer precisely. 

Where do you see God's precision and care? Have you thanked Him for it lately? 

How do you need God's precision to show up today? Ask Him for it!

 

 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" ~ Matthew 7

 

 

Cultivate

 

Cultivate= to foster the growth of; to improve by labor, care, or study.

Relationships, friendships, and community are on my mind and on my heart lately. I am blessed by some amazing relationships. They are true gifts! I am also in transition in some relationships and it's hard. At the same time God is growing a couple new friendships which is exciting. Relationships and friendships are vital! I long for deep, meaningful relationships. I think we all do! It's how God created us!

 

"Meaningful and lasting relationships are formed when we reveal ourselves to others and others reveal themselves to us"

I first learned this almost 20 years ago in my training program to be a youth pastor. I have experienced this statement to be true! I have shared it and taught it to hundreds of students. I have practiced it-- sometimes well, sometimes not.

 

Building friendships can be difficult! Even as an adult they can be hard to navigate. I will be 40 years old this year and I still feel like a junior high girl when I attend an event for one of my daughters and I see another mom or a group of moms. In going over to say hi, it's like I am really saying, "Hi, will you be my friend?" Right??!!

Friendships, relationships, and community are vital to our "full and abundant life" with Jesus!

We were created out of and for community. Our God, our Creator, is 3-in-1. Community.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47  
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Jesus in Matthew 18:20

Community like this doesn't happen by itself. We must cultivate a faith community.

"Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess and pray, Christ speaks." ~ Max Lucado

Yes! Relationships and community are vital. And we know that they do not usually appear on their own. It's takes works. It takes cultivating. How do we do this? Look back at the opening quote. We cultivate community by spending time with others. Sharing ourselves and listening to them. One way is to say "yes" to an invitation from a friend. Over this holiday weekend we were invited by family friends for an afternoon of hanging out. We were honestly a little tired and not sure we were up for it. We said "yes" and I am so glad we did! We shared a meal and great conversation. We shared a rain storm, gorgeous clouds, and many laughs. We cultivated our community.

  • Say "yes" to the invitation. 
  • Ask that mom and her toddler over for a play-date.
  • Call someone you admire and invite them to a cup of coffee.
  • What else can you do?
  • What will you gain in doing one of these things?

 

Cultivate community.

Court and Being Made New

As a foster parent I spend a lot of time in court.

The family court building in our county is not stately and regal as you might imagine. No marble steps to enter the building. No open and echoing hallways. No dark, solid wood doors to enter the courtroom. The family court building that I frequent is a brown, plain building from the 1970s. It has low ceilings, florescent lights, and not many windows. We enter through a metal detector. No food or drinks are allowed. No coffee. No water. We sit in the waiting room in airport terminal type chairs. The room is always full and buzzing. State workers and lawyers and police walking back and forth.

The weight in the actual courtroom is incredible. The emotional and spiritual weight is thick enough to touch. These are notes from my journal after being in court for one of our cases a few years ago.

On my right only inches away is the woman who gave birth to the little girl who calls me mama. This woman visibly shakes as she talks to the judge. I am confused by the language and codes that the judge and lawyers and case workers throw around. “Continued until August” says the judge. I understand that one and we all file out, back to the waiting area. The waiting area is packed full. I look around and can easily spot who the birth parents are; who the foster parents are; who the case workers are. I am easy to spot too, I am sure. We are all here for the love of the children. She is mine. She is not mine. There are so many other stories represented by the many people in the waiting room. So many other children represented. Most of these stories are seeping with brokenness. Lots of brokenness. 

As a foster parent I want to pull "my" child out of the brokenness. I want to bring him or her in out of the storm they are in. I want to stand with each of them and stand for them when they can't stand.

Friends, this is just how God our Father loves us and stands with and for us!

In the midst of our run down, tired, packed, and noisy lives of brokenness He pulls us to Himself. Isaiah 43 says, "For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?" I love that! God is working to bring restoration! Look around-- He has already begun!

Over the last year the county (maybe the state?) has been building a new family court building right next to the one we go to. It is coming together! I was there last week and it looks like the new building and new courtrooms will open soon. There are lots of windows! It's clean and new! It's not brown! A shiny courtroom will not change the brokenness of the families who frequent it. The windows and light will probably not lessen the emotional and spiritual weight that comes with children's very lives in the balance. But God used this new building to remind me that He is indeed working. He is a God who restores. He brings new!

What is broken in you? What needs restoration? What is God building in you? Where do you see new?

Contact me to walk through these questions with you!
 
Your Coach,
Anne Marie

 

 

The God who Sees

God sees you. God sees me.

God notices you and me.

"El Roi" is The God who Sees. (Genesis 16:13-14)

I want to be seen. I want to be noticed. Don't we all? I want to be seen and noticed by my husband, by my friends, by my kids. I want to be seen and noticed for the things I do and for the person I am. Sometimes I just want to be seen for having completed nine loads of laundry, three meals for five people (all of whom I also kept alive), and dozens of emails in one day! More often I want to be seen and noticed for who I am. That a friend would notice my caring and listening. That my husband would notice my love and beauty.  I have been learning lately about my El Roi. My God indeed sees me and notices me! He saw Hagar. He sees you, too!

Psalm 139 reminds us how close God is and that God knows us intimately. Verse 17-18:

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!

I have been reading J.I. Packer's Knowing God. It is challenging and encouraging. In his chapter on the Majesty of God he talks about how God sees us and notices us. 

"Just as I am never left alone, so I never go unnoticed. Living becomes an awesome business when you realize that you spend every moment of your life in the sight and company of an omniscient, omnipresent Creator."

What comfort! What reassurance! To be in the sight and company of my God, my good God!

I have been convicted this week that I have not thought big enough of our great God. He is God. God.

Sovereign. Almighty. Majesty. God.

 

I am sorry, Lord, for my unbelief of Your Majesty. I know now that You will never abandon or lose even one of Your precious sheep. You have not and will not abandon me. You are near. You know my name. You see me. You notice me. You also created the very heavens and the earth! Your power and wisdom are limitless!

Help us, help me, God, to make big of You!!

 

 

How to Say Goodbye

I am closing out a season of saying goodbyes. Several of our close friends have moved away and other pieces have come to a close. I am getting good at saying goodbye. I am not sure this is a quality I was looking to grow in, but I did!

Of all the recent goodbyes, the hardest was our dear friends who we helped move out West last week. Here are some things I am learning about goodbyes:

It’s important to be intentional.

I am Lutheran in roots and I have a deep appreciation of liturgy, potluck meals, and congregational cookbooks! I'll focus on liturgy for this post! In our family we make regular life event into big deals! We “mark” them with a “ceremony”, a “liturgy”. Birthdays and anniversaries are big deals! We celebrate our daughters baptismal anniversaries each year, too. We have had a house blessing ceremony each time we have moved. We had a funeral for our fish, Twinkles, after his death. (Check out Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren if you are interested in these ideas)

You don’t have to be a pastor to make ordinary events into sacred moments. Invite and acknowledge the Spirit’s presence, light a candle, say a prayer. Find ways to “mark” the time. The Israelites did this by building stone altars to mark a spot where God had shown up. The stones helped them to remember God’s faithfulness. See Joshua 4 for one example.

So, in saying goodbye to dear friends we had a “goodbye liturgy”. I was honored to help them move so I was also able to do a short house blessing in their new home.

Make memories

A wise friend reminded me to make memories and have some fun amidst the deep emotions of sadness and feelings of loss. Great advice! I got matching outfits for my friend and I and we laughed as we drove cross county getting weird looks at gas stations! We seized the time we had together. We cried and hurt, but we also made great memories! I think it's important to be fully present and vulnerable. Say the things you want to say. Be sad if you are and ask for what you need from those who love and support you. 

What or who is God asking you to say goodbye to? Do you have any goodbyes coming up? How can you be intentional and invite the Holy Spirit to be part of those goodbyes?

The other side of a goodbye is usually a new “hello”.

Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Do you not perceive it!” This is a prophecy of the coming Christ who makes all things new, but God has used this verse to encourage me that He brings newness and life. He IS newness and life! I know my old friends are still friends—there is just a new way we will be friends. And God has been so good to bring in some new relationships that are so life-giving. I feel very blessed!

What newness do you see God bringing to you? Look for it—it’s there. He is there!

Your Coach,

Anne Marie

 

 

No Turning Back

Once you start some things there is no going back.

We have lived in our home for almost three years. We love it! We live on almost a full acre and we also have plenty of space inside to homeschool, have foster kids, and have two home offices. We love our home! But it's walls are painted and wallpapered from a couple decades ago! We have lots of ideas to update and redo some cosmetic things. For many months we have put these improvements off. I would often be tempted to start peeling at the wallpaper in the kitchen. Green plaid and floral isn't really my style :) But I always thought we would not have enough time to get the project done, so why start? Or I would think that changing the kitchen walls was not a valuable use of our resources-- I'll save that topic for another post.

Then one day a couple weeks ago, my husband was out of town and I started peeling! First, just the corner... but that came right off! I knew there was no turning back! I employed my daughters to help me and in no time we were done. The scrapping of the glue backing took a little more time, but it was so worth it! We will paint soon. I'm excited for that! I enjoy the space a lot more already. It's clean and fresh without the patterned wallpaper.

And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. ~ Hebrews 12:1-3

Jesus is the "pioneer", the "author", the "founder" of our faith. He is the very source of our faith, and we, as His followers, also decide to follow Him. We each make a decision to accept Him and from there our life is not the same. There is no turning back! We pray for perseverance to not lose heart, to not grow weary. It is no small decision to follow Jesus. I am amazed by it daily. I can only choose to follow Him because He has first chosen me.

There is an old church hymn you probably know:

I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back
The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back.

Jesus, You are our greatest prize! Our greatest treasure! We forsake all for the joy of knowing You! We fix our eyes on you. We have decided to follow You. No turning back, Lord, no turning back. Amen. Let it be.

 
Your Coach,
Anne Marie

 

Sweet Spot

Have you ever had a "best day ever"?

The kind of day you dream about? The kind of day that fills your very soul and leaves you overwhelmed to the point of tears at God's goodness? I had that day last Friday. Our daughters were staying with family for 24 hours. I knew I would have some time to myself and then a big chunk of time with my husband.

I woke up early to run and then enjoyed reading, praying, journaling, and studying outside.

After studying, I had coffee with one of my favorite women to talk with, laugh with, and learn from. (I didn't get a picture-- I didn't yet know this was going to be a day to document!)

I got to go home and do some gardening which I love. My different lettuces are already coming up and I added other flowers and veggies to the garden.

IMG_20170512_141430.jpg

Then my husband was off work and we went to play tennis. Fun! We both love tennis and used to be decent players. We laughed a lot and enjoyed the competition and time together. After tennis we enjoyed dinner and again got to be outside. I am realizing I really value outside time! Our dinner was perfect. Time together talking, talking about upcoming summer events, talking about our kids, and just enjoying each other.

Isn't he cute!

Isn't he cute!

What a day! I am so thankful for God's blessings in my life!

It felt like when you hit the tennis ball right in the middle of the racket-- hit the Sweet Spot.

There is a  Sweet Spot for each of us in our spiritual life, too! That Sweet Spot is to be in the very center of God's will.

The Sweet Spot of God's will is a place of protection, a place of covering, a place of safety. We are loved deeply by God in this sweet spot. It's a place of trust in Him.

Psalm 91:4 describes this spot. "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."
Psalm 17: 8 reminds us that we are each God's favorite. We can be confident in Him. "Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings."
Psalm 61:4 also gives us an image of this sweet spot. "I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings."

The key in these verses is that we, as beloved children, trust in God's covering. We know that we are loved by God. We know we are His favorite! We know His protection is for us and for our good. Therefore we can trust Him completely. This is what it's like to be in God's perfect will. To be in His Sweet Spot!

Are you in your spiritual Sweet Spot today?

Study these verses (and others) for yourself and spend some time in prayer. Thank our God that you are His favorite! Ask Him to help you as you seek His Sweet Spot for you!

Your Coach,
Anne Marie
 
 

 

Distillation

kettles.jpg

My husband and I enjoy craft beer and brewery tours. We both like to learn about history. I love old buildings and I am from Milwaukee. He is a chemical engineer. So, for many reasons, brewery tours are a natural fit for us :)

A few weekends ago we went on the historical Pabst tour in Milwaukee. We learned about the story of the Best Family and the Pabst Family in the early 1900s. Their dedication, hard work, and courage led them to become the largest brewery in the United States for several decades!

We saw the huge copper kettles where the liquids are separated from the solids and the wort can be distilled down. This brewery is not currently operational so the kettles were sparkling clean and made for a gorgeous picture!

It makes me think about the process of distillation.

Dictionary.com defines distillation as, "The action of purifying liquid by a process of heating and cooling. The extraction of the essential meaning or most important aspect of something."

Distillation is a process.

What has God been distilling in you? What is essential in your life? In your week? In your day? What is excess? How do we know the difference?

Having a vision, purpose, and mission statement for our lives helps!

In coaching I help clients go through a process to develop these foundational statements. It is powerful and exciting!

I have welcomed God and a few key people to help me craft and get clear on my vision, purpose, and mission. It has been humbling, new, honoring, and inspiring to know how God has made and called me. I have made changes--some small and some pretty big-- to live more in line with these statements. To live more in line with these boundaries God has given to me in His perfect love. My days and weeks look different on my calendar. Some of my relationships look different. I will continue to let God distill and purify my goals and dreams that come out of my vision and mission. It's an honor to be in the process.

How about you? Do you have a mission statement for your life? How has God called and equipped you to show up in this life He has given?

Contact me if you want a helper to work through your process. We can celebrate with a bitter IPA when we are done! That's my favorite beer, what's yours? :)
Cheers! Your Coach,
Anne Marie