Calling

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭11:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My dad recently retired from a long career in the banking world, and has begun a new season as the associate pastor of my parent’s church. 
My dad is the one that taught me, both by word and example, that calling isn’t the same as vocation – although the two can certainly overlap. I watched my dad work hard in his vocation to help people buy homes, and I watched him care for their hearts in the process. 

A long-standing joke in our family is that we can’t go anywhere without running into someone that my dad knows and has probably helped get a loan. Even when I traveled to China the missionaries I worked with greeted me with “Your dad made us a home loan!” But beyond loans, every person we ran into spoke of how my dad had ministered to them. 

“He prayed with me in the office.”

“Your dad listened and gave me such good wisdom.”

“My wife and I were going through a divorce and your dad spoke truth to me. He referred me to a pastor for counseling.” 

“Your dad was so encouraging; he wasn’t afraid to talk about Jesus with us even as we got a home loan.”

“I was a single mom that no bank would take a chance on, but your dad helped me get a house and blessed me by teaching me how God cares for me.”
These statements are his legacy in the banking world. My dad has always ministered, always pastored, always cared for the hearts that walked into his office. He has always listened to the Holy Spirit and followed His leading in conversations, business deals, and his own life. 

He has retired, taking a well-deserved step back from the hard pace of secular vocation. He worked well at his job, all to the glory of God. 

But his calling is irrevocable, and he continues into a new season that has been his heart all along. My dad loves God and he loves people. 

What a legacy of calling. 

Seen and Known

“So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” – Genesis 16:13

I used to say I would never live in Houston…I’m a fall/winter kind of girl and let’s be honest, Houston is a summer/hotter summer kind of place.  But then, 7 years ago, God divinely took me there. I would end up staying for 4 years.  At the time, it didn’t feel divine.

A year of living in a borrowed RV, with two cats, a part-time job that required a one-way hour commute, no family or church home, and a whole lot of heartbreak doesn’t paint a divine picture.  It was the most difficult and soul-searching year I’d ever experienced.  When the school year ended along with my part-time music therapy contract, I moved home for the summer…but….

I moved with the intention of only staying the summer.  I left all of my things in a Houston storage unit.  I applied for a full-time Music Therapy position with the same school district.  What made me want to move back there?  I wondered that to myself, even as I searched for apartments online from my family’s home.  I could have sought out jobs anywhere else.  I had previously lived in Ft. Worth and loved it – why not move back? Divinely, I was drawn back to Houston.  Back away from family.  Back to where the heartbreak had occurred and still had no resolution.

I spent 3 more years in Houston, before moving once again to seek resolution in a relationship.  So much had happened, but I didn’t fully realize what God had done until I visited Houston a month ago for the first time in an additional 3 years.

“Come and see what God has done; He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of men.” – Psalm 66:5

I drove around my old stomping grounds, I saw the streets I loved, the schools I poured my heart into, the small group and church that had become my lifeline and family.  I saw the tall trees I’d fallen in love with as I drove to work, tears of heartbreak and grief and confusion streaming from my heart.  And I realized that I had been seen.  I had been known.  That I felt misunderstood and confused, but God understood and knew the path.

Oh how He shaped me in those Houston years….how He used that humid place to mold my heart.  I had nowhere to turn but to Him.  I had no one that fully knew me, save Him.  I had no family to hold, so I fell on my knees before Him.  I learned how to grieve loss, how to trust completely, how to let Him be my daily bread and all-sustaining life.  And I didn’t even realize He was doing it.  He knew the road I would need to walk later, so He taught me how to live and breathe His life then.

I wouldn’t trade those years.  I would happily live in Houston the rest of my life if He were in it.  I would move across the world if He asked, because He sees me.  There’s no place I can go where He cannot find me, love me, pull me up.  When I felt the most lost, I was actually the most found.

So take heart.  You are seen and you are known by the one true God.

Thy mercy, my God, is the theme of my song.

The joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue.

Thy free grace alone from the first to the last, hath won my affection and bound my soul fast.

The Abundant Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  – John 10:10 ESV

 

Most of us would agree that Jesus is our eternal life, even our very breath of life that sustains us on earth, and the risen life that has awakened our mere human lives to a new life by the spirit.  But how do we define “abundant”?

 

How is it that I have spent so many years accusing God of holding something back from me? How is it that I can read John 10:10 and think it’s something to be accomplished, something to be attained here on earth and that I have not yet done so? That somehow, Jesus spoke the truth but He just hasn’t given life abundantly to me yet? Perhaps I’ve received 65% of that abundant life.  Thanks, Jesus, for your eternal sacrifice, but I won’t have life abundantly until ________ (fill in the blank).

 

Now, we would agree that it would be ridiculous to fill that blank with a number of things.  A million dollars, for example.  4 brand new cars.  No debt and a mansion to boot.  A peaceful ranch with all the horses and beautiful views a human could envision.

 

But why do we try to fill that blank with other things? Things the world says complete us? The American Dream.  A perfect family.  No sickness.  No evil.  A husband.  Children.  The perfect job.  A ministry that thrives and never encounters a human problem.  A perfect church.  All worthy things to seek (the exception being the American Dream…), but how much weight do we put on these?  How much are we expecting them to make our life abundant?  Why are we somehow less than living without them?

The truth is, God never promised me any of those things.  In fact, He guaranteed our world would have trouble.  Does this mean He lied when He said our lives would be abundant?

On the contrary.  Our lives are abundantly full of mercy, grace, love, peace, joy, purpose, the glory of the Most High God, truth, ministry to a broken world, freedom from sin, worship and beauty, and service to the Kingdom of Christ – storing up treasures that last eternally.  More abundance awaits us, but yet we have God.  We HAVE God.  Here and now, His presence dwelling among us, His Spirit guiding us into all truth, His purpose being fulfilled to bring Him ultimate glory.  We have HIM.  In light of His goodness, I choose to believe that my abundant life is complete in the having of Jesus – anything else He brings my way is beautiful and holy icing on the cake.  Our world needs followers of Christ than are about His purposes, His kingdom, His gospel of truth in the midst of darkness.

 

Can we dare to live like we’re lacking nothing? Can we trust Him enough to place more weight on life with Him than life with these other things? Can we stop settling for a life with God after other earthly dreams have not panned out?  Can we instead live our abundant life to the fullest extent in the time we’re given?  Can we see Him for all of His goodness in light of all the world deems good?   Can we live our story like we trust the One writing it?

 

He’s holding nothing back from me.  He is good.  He is abundant.

Charity

Steadfast Love

I’ve been thinking a lot these days about how the Lord is my anchor.  How He holds fast, how He never moves.  In a world that on a good day is fast paced and busy, and on a bad day is chaos and overwhelming – He is literally the one thing that never moves.  Like a rock, a mountain of strength, He remains.  He endures.  I can lean on Him and He can handle it.  I can lean heavily on Him, and He welcomes it.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

How can I spend so many minutes of my day completely involved and taken up with things that don’t matter?  How can I forget how good He is? How reliable He is? How much He has already done for me?  How is it that His love is so great that He not only remains, but that I can hide behind Him? That He is faithful when I am so faithless? So forgetfull?

“Oh Lord, what is man that You would pay attention? Our lives are but a breath; all our days are fleeting.  That even in my sin Your love never left me.”

“For Your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in Your faithfulness.” – Psalm 26:3

“How blessed we are, that You are our God and we are Your people. You make our sons like tall oak trees.  You make our daughters like bright flowers.”

Oh, that I would spend my days, energy, strength, and words on Him.  He is so faithful, good, and true.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Obedience

20 Kids and Counting. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. How many people have heard those names and quickly passed a thought of judgement? I’d like to offer up a question to the naysayers, because sometimes I feel so passionate about something that I just can’t stand being quiet 🙂

When was the last time you were so sure of something the Lord had told you to do and you were so committed to obeying Him that you did it in the face of the world’s pointing finger? I can honestly say that I haven’t. I want to offer up high regard for the Duggars for being obedient to what they feel the Lord has told them to do with their family.

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to Him” Psalm 128:1

Can you imagine what it’s like to hear the negative comments regarding their family? People who have never met them, never spoken to their children, never spent a day with them automatically assuming they know what it’s like to be a part of that family? Quickly passing judgement. Assuming those kids have any less love, attention, knowledge, desire to follow God, etc than another child in a smaller family? What about families who choose to raise their children on the mission field – out of obedience to God? I don’t hear anyone passing judgment or making negative assumptions about those families… What about families who choose to adopt once their other children are grown? Nope, pretty quiet about that too, aren’t we? It seems we’re only judgmental, outspoken, and opinionated about the things/situations that 1) scare us: 2) are something WE’D never do: 3)or don’t understand.

If the Lord has put it on the Duggars’ heart to allow Him to be in charge of how many children He blesses them with: I say more power to them. The Lord is clearly blessing them for their obedience. They have well-rounded, well-loved children who have desires and joys and the blessing of knowing their parents are walking in obedience to the what the Lord has told them – despite the naysayers (who are more often than not, Christians….).

Will I have 20 kids? Probably not. But I hope that I can face the world and humbly, lovingly, and with full confidence declare my obedience to what the Lord has asked of me – Thank you, Duggars’ for your example of complete trust in the Lord’s will for your lives.

“When you do common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” George Washington Carver

How to say “Thank You”


Love. Her.
Ok, everyone HAS to know, that us Wilson siblings have the BEST mom ever.  It’s just truth.  I’m sure your mom is awesome too, but in our minds – no one outranks Denise 🙂  So with Mother’s Day coming tomorrow, it’s just not easy to be away from her!  Sending a present and card in the mail is just not enough.  So the age-old question is, how to say “Thank you” to the world’s best mom? Especially knowing that so much of who I am and where I am today is to my parent’s credit.  How do you say “Thank you”?

Mom Rocks.


For countless meals fixed or fetched, for hairdos perfected before school and messed up before she got us all the way there, for refereeing more sibling battles than one can count,for praying for us day in and day out,  for pretending and being silly, for enduring back to school shopping with two daughters year in and year out, for listening, for taking us on vacations to places we wanted to go, for giving us Pooh Sticks, for Christmas PJ pictures,  for protecting us from harm, for comforting us when kids were mean, for correcting us when we were mean, for listening to kids’ music in the car, for teaching our VBS classes, for volunteering at the school, for making us laugh, for teaching us the value of coupons, for cheering us on from the bleachers even when our Jr. High B-team couldn’t win a game, for enduring our adolescent mood swings, for playing basketball in the driveway, for teaching us about Jesus Christ, and for doing all these things with love and a smile on her face. HOW? How do I thank my mother for raising me? And for doing it without letting on how hard it was?

I don't understand why people think we look alike....


I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to thank her sufficiently.  Hopefully one day I’ll be a mother as well, and then I can at least say “Now I know!” 🙂  But for now, with all the love and gratitude that can be sent across the airwaves between Houston and Canyon, THANK YOU 🙂

Happy Mother's Day!!

Love you, Mom.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is…

The last two days of been filled with reviewing the legal aspects of Special Education, the many many court cases that led to laws that determine the function and procedures of everyone involved with children in Special Education.

As I rehearse the “do’s and don’ts” of the laws and memorize what each court case accomplished and how I need to apply it, it got me to thinking 🙂  In the situation of Special Education and justice and crime and many things that fall into these categories – I am very grateful for laws.  They govern and define and protect, and even when they limit – it’s appreciated – because of the “crazies” of this world that are the reason we have laws.  It’s saddening to me that we have to have laws regarding appropriate and humane treatment of children with Special Needs – but I’m glad we have those laws – God only knows how much worse things would be if we didn’t.

 

But beyond that, in matters of religion –  it’s a different story.  While Christianity clearly has defined what is “sin” and the consequences thereof, it is the only religion that where “keeping the law” is not enough.  It’s defining characteristic from ALL other religions in the world is that salvation cannot be earned – it is a gift of grace – no matter how few or how many sins one commits.

“Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.  However to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”  Romans 4:4-5

Every other religion has laws, rules, etc that when followed, done, accomplished, completed can equal “salvation” – sometimes not even then – sometimes it is left up to the whim of the god.  How incredibly hopeless.  I, for one, would never make it.  And I don’t know of any human that can.  I’m so grateful for a True God.

So, when Christ has given us such a priceless gift of grace, why do Christians insist on trying to live out a works-based faith?  Is our God a God that requires us to keep appointments with Him, that requires us to follow rules to earn His love, that mandates works? He is a God of grace!  Even in the Old Testament, before Christ came to be the ultimate sacrifice for human sin, the followers of God lived according to His law to be protected and distinguished as belonging to Him – worshipers of the one True God.  But even that law did not earn them salvation, and sacrifices were not enough to atone for the sin.  When Christ died for our sin, both Jew and Gentile, the new law of grace by faith was established – now that the ultimate sacrifice had atoned for the sins of the world.  So – why do Christians insist on reverting to the old law – or even worse  – an extremely legalistic form of the old law that wasn’t from the Lord in the first place? Does all humanity need to be and act like the Jews of old in order to earn salvation? Absolutely not.  Do Christians need to be extreme and secluded in effort to be “not of this world” – in essence, imposing rules and religious mandates on the body of Christ? Absolutely not.   GRACE BY FAITH, NOT BY WORKS.

 

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Mark my words!  I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You, who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.  You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” Galations 5:1-7

 

” The law was added so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 5:20 – 6:2

 

 

Our God saves, through faith in Jesus Christ, and as a gift freely given – so that no man can boast.  So BREATHE.  It’s done.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  2 Corinthians 3:17