Tummy or Heart ??

Lilly and Mylah have an ongoing debate that reflects religious debates found in the world. Lilly pointed to her chest one day and said that God was in her heart. Mylah pointed at her round little belly and said God was in her tummy. I don’t believe she meant to start a debate, but she did. Lilly jumped in to say that God was not in her tummy; He was in her heart!!

Mylah defended her beliefs, as only a two-year-old can, and insisted God was in her tummy, not her heart!  I told the girls they were both right. God was in our hearts, tummies, feet, arms, heads, and anywhere else He wanted to be. They settled down to dinner, but the argument resurfaced several times during the next few days.

I kept Mylah on Thursday and Friday, and she revisited the subject as we settled into bed on Thursday evening. She likes to play with my hair while she’s drifting off to sleep, and she was twisting and turning it with vigor after we read her new library book. I detached myself from her grip, turned off the light, and snuggled next to her. She said quietly, “God IS in my tummy.” I told her I knew He was, and she said she wanted Him to stay there. She was looking for an ally in the debate with her older sister. I told her again that God could be anywhere He wanted to be, and she drifted off to sleep.

Christians in this world are just like Lilly and Mylah when it comes to details, doctrines, and denominations. I’m right; you’re wrong. I know God better than you do. God’s on my side! God is this! God is that! The girls little arguent was cute, but similar exchanges between adults are not so endearing. They irritate and leave me wondering, “What ever happened to love one another?” If we would put as much effort into loving God and loving our neighbors as we do into arguing about Him, the world would see a new dynamic that would make them to want a loving relationship with God instead of a place to hide from His fighting children.

The trouble with doctrines and denominations is that they replace relationship. I am amazed at the venom and violence that grow from the lines we draw around God. I suppose it’s human nature to want to corner the market on God, but Christ came to change our nature. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we allowed God to be who and where He wants rather than who and where we want Him? Conflict over creeds will exist as long as there are two churches standing in this world.  Heaven is a place of unity and peace, and I do wish the same were true of the body of Christ.

God is love, and walking in His kingdom is about loving one another in a way that makes the world see the disciples Jesus describes in John 13:35.

Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (The Message)

Love changes everything if given the chance 🙂

Flesh & Faith

Imaginal cells begin to line up in the body of a caterpillar as soon as it goes into the chrysalis. These special cells will eventually become a butterfly. They signal the immune system to begin consuming the body of the caterpillar because it is no longer familiar to the creature. A deep connection to the caterpillar remains in the butterfly because without the body of the caterpillar, transformation would not take place. Anodea Judith’s description of the process resonated with my heart and brought a wholeness that allowed me to breathe deeply and be grateful to the flesh that allowed my spirit to grow in a new and beautiful way.

“With loss, there can be a loss of innocence. And the paradox is that with losing innocence a new found wisdom is gained. In this new wisdom, there is an even greater inner connection to this innocence, allowing the possibility for wholeness.” (“Waking the Global Heart” p. 35)

I’ve always been fascinated by butterflies and used their beautiful transformation to teach middle school students to be themselves. Deep down, my soul has always longed to become the creature in my imaginal cells. I know people don’t have the same cells as a butterfly, but I see a beautiful comparison when I think of Christ’s love trying to form me into the creature God created me to be. My sinful nature has to be consumed like that caterpillar before His transformation can take place.

Lent proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected this year. As I prayed about what to give up, I knew God wanted me to stop trying to please everyone. That included Him!! He doesn’t want to be pleased; He wants to be loved. I really didn’t think it was an appropriate gesture for the Lenten Season, but I knew it was what God desired. Old habits are hard to break, and I was shocked by how much of my time and energy went into making other people happy. I also decided to do something nice for myself each day during Lent. That proved to be an even greater challenge. Why was it so hard for me to do for myself what came so naturally with others?

The answer was not an easy one to hear, but it was one I had to hear before I could move forward. I still did not believe I was worthy of love, particularly God’s. I’m learning that isn’t true and never has been. I have a wonderful family and great friends who love me dearly whether I do anything for them or not. I’m beginning to see myself in the light of Christ’s love, and that precious love is slowly eating away all that isn’t the me God created me to be.

It isn’t easy to go through the transition God desires; but if I don’t, I’ll always be a butterfly trapped inside a caterpillar’s body. The pain and struggles are worth the new life that will come. I thank God for giving me a glimpse of His glory and teaching me that faith is the key to transformation. As the immune system begins to destroy the caterpillar, the new creature has to let go of its flesh and hold on to its faith so God can do what He does best. The same is true for me. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it best.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 



Make Up or Makeover?

God’s is always working on my heart, but I always get in His way. Last night, I had a long talk with Him and gave Him the go ahead to do whatever He wanted with my heart. It was like leaving the house with expert designers and trusting them completely. As I drifted off to sleep, I had no expectations for the first time in my life. By putting limitations on God, I’ve ended up with a new coat of paint but never the makeover He wanted to give me. Fresh paint is nice and looks great for a while, but underlying problems quickly resurface. God gently reminded me last night that temporary make up isn’t the permanent makeover He knows I need. He asked me to trust Him and get out of His way. I agreed and drifted off to the most peaceful nine hours of sleep I’ve ever had.

I woke to an image I wasn’t expecting. I’ve seen enough Extreme Makeover shows to know that’s the norm when folks let go of what they have in mind and trust the experts to do what they do best. I shouldn’t have been surprised when God wowed me in a wonderful, but unexpected, way. The image was a couple I know kissing in front of their fireplace. I watched as they loved and embraced one another tenderly. My heart was freed in a way I cannot describe. God knew I was ready to see what He wanted, and that signaled an important turn in the transformation He worked in my heart. He made me realize that I truly do want the best for those I love. My wish was for the happiness of another, and that’s what Christ’s precious love is all about.

Selfish needs and wants never satisfy my heart. Like make up applied to the face or a new outfit put on the body, temporary changes make me feel better for a little while but don’t go deeply enough to cause true change. Selfish wishing and wanting keep God waiting, but letting go allows Him do what He does best. I can say I love and mean it, but I don’t truly know love until I let God show me Christ’s selfless love. Love that flows freely and allows self differentiation. Love that doesn’t smother with its embrace. Love that wants the very best for the one loved. I finally get it, and it feels great!

Some make up, a beautiful outfit, a coat of fresh paint, and some new furniture make me feel good for a little while, but God’s makeover makes me feel like a butterfly coming out of her cocoon. The change is beyond what I could ever imagine on my own, but it’s exactly what God has had in mind the whole time I’ve been crawling around on my own. He knew I would get it once I saw what He was doing. He is God after all, and He is amazing!! My heart belongs in God’s hands, or should I say my heart takes off from God’s loving hands when I let go of it and let Him give it wings.

Transformed Heart

Working Out of the Old Me

I started interval training last week and love the way I feel. I’ve always  loved hanging out at the gym because of the close connection that comes when I sweat with others. There’s a realness to the gym, especially when I’m pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. The vulnerability that comes from exposing weaknesses brings a new strength and resilience as others cheer me on and sweat with me.  I’m encouraged by my sweat and theirs.

My instructors are amazing; they make me believe I can do the impossible and help me when I get off track. That’s important because I begin to see myself as they do. Knowing that God believes in me is what makes me continue along the path He sets before me. He always stretches me beyond my own limits in a loving way, and that changes the way I see myself.

Working out isn’t about getting a new body; it’s about getting rid of the old me. The me that believes I can’t, I’m too old, I’ll never be able to…. Love enables me to beat the old me and see myself in a new light. It’s what transformation is all about. Recognizing and getting past the old me’s negative notions are the keys to moving on to the new and improved me. When I saw the photo Sussy posted this afternoon, I smiled and thought about what working out means to me. It means working my way out of those negative notions and into a whole new me.

I know I can’t get to where God wants me to go until I work my way out of the cocoon that keeps me from getting out into His world in a way that allows me to be who God knows I can be. Working out is never easy, but it is much easier with a guide and others in the same boat beside me. The same is true when it comes to living and loving as God desires.

Bonnie Pfiester
Bonnie Pfiester

Look! It’s Touching the Sky:)

Pepe and Ray opened the pool today, and the girls were mesmerized by the process. We had to put little chairs by the door so they could watch. When they finally got to go outside, Lillyann pointed to the water and said, “Look, it’s touching the sky!” I smiled as I heard her perfect description and wished I had thought of it:) I also couldn’t help but think about how wonderful it is when we touch God through His Holy Spirit. Just as the pool touched the sky when the cover was removed, so did my heart touch God when I allowed His Holy Spirit to remove its cover. The pool was covered all winter, and I know that water was happy to see the sky. My heart was hidden for far too long, so I understand both the longing and the joy involved in touching the sky:)

I love watching the water, especially the little ripples created by the filter system. The openness is inviting, but I know I have to wait until the filters and potions do their magic before venturing in. It’s fun to watch the transformation taking place, and I can already see a noticeable difference in the color and clarity of the water. Until the transformation is complete, I can only look at and anticipate a refreshing swim. The girls were just beside themselves, and Lillyann kept asking if she could get in. I know she will love swimming, and I know we’ll have a lot of fun playing together in the water. I hope I never forget her reaction to the pool the first time she saw the water because it will remind me to make sure she sees God in me the same way she saw the sky in the pool.

Opening my heart is a lot like opening the pool. Like pools, hearts must go through a transformation before they are ready to love as God desires. The first step is touching Him and reflecting His love in a way that invites others to come in. The lessons this week have been powerful ones that helped me open my heart a little wider and touch God in a beautiful way. Pastor John reminded me that I am God’s child, and that gives me the courage to reach up, touch God, and open my heart to the love He has for me. Pastor Jodi reminded me that I need to be filled, and I thought of her honest and beautiful message when I looked at the pool today. No matter how beautiful the pool, it’s of no use when it’s empty. The same is true for my heart. The images this week have been powerful ones that I pray will stay with and continue to bless me as I touch God, remember who I am, and remember to stay filled:)

Touching the Sky

Lent & Love

I stayed home with the girls this morning since we are all trying to get back to normal after nasty bouts with a stomach virus. Being sick reminds me to be thankful when I am well, and eating solid food is something I too often take for granted. They are much better, and I’m getting there. God placed Psalm 103:8-14 in my path today, and it was just the reassurance I needed.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.

For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.” NASB

The words of this beautiful psalm comfort when I think of the wandering I have done. He will remove my transgressions from me, but I learned this week that I have to be willing to let go of them first. My selfishness causes me to hold to them like a security blanket or pacifier, but my love for God enables me to let go and let Him take them as far from me as the east is from the west. You can’t get any further away than that, and I love that His ways take them where they need to be. My ways often keep them handy just in case I need them. Sin is often disguised as good, and I’ve wrestled with God in that department most of my life. Doing what I think is best is playing God, and that is the biggest sin of all. Thinking I know what’s best for me and others is right up there beside it as it shows I don’t believe He is who He says He is.

So glad God doesn’t stay angry and even more happy that He doesn’t reward me according to my iniquities. His love is higher than any love I can imagine, but I’ve taken it for granted and even taken advantage of His loving nature. As I’m giving up space during this season of Lent, I’m getting down to the bare bones in regard to what’s taking up space in my heart, mind, spirit, and soul. It’s been the most blessed, but by far the most painful Lent of my life. God needs all my space to render the transformation He has in mind, and that involves taking inventory and carefully discarding all that is in His way. Thursday was a difficult day, and Friday proved to be even more challenging as God emptied me as never before. I didn’t like what I saw, and that’s always the case when I let God show me the truth rather than trying to show Him what I would like to be the truth.

The beauty of cleansing is that no matter how much it hurts, the feeling I get afterward makes me forget the angst it took to get me there. I think that’s what Lent is all about, so perhaps this is my first real season of Lent. I’ve taken it seriously before, but what I gave up was always more about punishing me than about worshipping God and remembering the cost of having access to His amazing love. Christ came down at Christmas, and I love the beautiful season when we remember Immanuel; but Easter has become my favorite season as I remember the Risen Messiah who did not let the sins of this world keep Him down. He faced them head on, took them upon His own shoulders, died for them, and rose to sit next to God and intercede for me. That lifts my heart and spirit as nothing else in this world.

Lent isn’t over yet, and I know the lessons of Lent aren’t over either. I’m sure there will be more space to clear before Saturday, but I’m not who I was on February 13th. It’s been a difficult five and a half weeks, but I’m thankful for the changes He has wrought and wouldn’t go back for anything in this world. He is God, and He knows and loves me more than I can understand. That’s the reason I can continue with the emptying out; I know it’s what’s best for me and want to be even closer to Him. Lent and love go hand in hand. Lent isn’t about punishment; it is about taking stock and remembering that my sin put Christ on the cross. He simply wants me to recognize it and get it out of His way now so He can give me what He so desires for me to have. Holy Week is a special time of worship, and I look forward to all God has in these last few days of Lent. I know I will be surprised by all He has in store, but I’m learning to give Him the space and do what He knows is best.

A Glimpse of Glory:)

Last night, as I watched the sun set with awe, I wanted so badly to capture and hold on to the moment. I got a glimpse of His glory with the photos I took, but I learned an important lesson as the scriptures from this week took on new meaning.

Luke 9:28-36 describes Christ’s transfiguration. Hear God’s Word.

Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying. While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.” NASB

Like Peter, I want to design a tabernacle that captures a moment rather than live in a way that allows my heart to be His temple. It’s easier to build an arena for Him than to give Him my heart. Building tabernacles keeps me busy so I don’t have to worry about that temple:) The stillness that comes from seeing Christ’s glory is all I need to empty out the temple and give God all the space He needs, and He does need all the space! Like designers on HGTV or Clinton and Stacy on What Not to Wear, you gotta let go if you want to see a transformation. That butterfly can’t stay in the chrysilis and fly:) A glimpse of His glory gives me a glimpse of what eternity with Him will be like. That’s all I need to live the life He has in mind for me.

God blessed me with a special moment at sunset, showed me a breathtaking full moon at four, and woke me with a most amazing pink and blue sky with soft white fog snuggling in the mountains like a down comforter. I didn’t get a photo of the moon or the morning sky, and the picture I took of the sunset is a mere glimpse of the glory I saw, but the lesson I learned from those glimpses was a powerful one. I cannot capture or hold on to God’s glory. I can, however, see it and make sure all I do glorifies Christ because that is what the transfiguration is all about. I can make sure my body is His temple and forget about those tabernacles that draw more attention to me than to Him:)

A glimpse of glory:)
A glimpse of glory:)

The Sound of a House Becoming a Home:)

As Mylah slept on my shoulder this afternoon, I listened to Lillyann playing Candy Land with Mere. The sound of her sweet little voice echoing down the stairway was music to my ears. Mylah’s sleepy breathing almost lulled me to sleep, but I stayed awake because I wanted to hear the sound of the house becoming a home. Love was all around, and I basked in it thinking it was a bright and beautiful day even with the steady rain.

Pepe and daddy came in with a load of furniture, and Pepe smiled his beautiful smile and closed the doors so she could sleep. I listened to all the activity and hugged Mylah while she slept. I decided not to put her down because I was afraid she’d wake up. Tyler came into the room to check something and didn’t see us there. He was asking Rita a question when he noticed us.

It was time for Mylah to wake up, and she had been stirring a little. She heard daddy’s voice and popped awake, and exclaimed DA!! She and Lillyann act as though it’s the first time they’ve seen mommy or daddy each time they see them. I love that about them! They love being surrounded by people they love, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Lillyann is so happy I’ll be down the hall from her and Mylah. She looked at the sweet nightlight Ethel gave me for Christmas and said, “Now I can find you if I wake up and want to come to your room.”

I told her that was exactly what the light was for. I can’t decide if the beautiful views or the sweet children are more distracting. Between the two of them, I may just play and stare out the window for the rest of my life. That would actually be okay with me because each time I see the girls or the views, I thank God.  Needless to say, I’ve been thanking Him a lot lately. That’s been a very positive thing, but it’s also why I’m a little behind on my unpacking:)

The kids stayed at the house tonight for the first time, and I will be completely in very soon. I love the new house. What a pleasure to witness it become a home this afternoon as happy voices and a sweet sleeping baby’s breath filled the entire space with love. The house breathed in the sounds and let out a sigh of relief, and so did I.  The sounds of love are what make a house a home, and I thank God for allowing me to witness the transition this afternoon. It was a privilege, a blessing, and a taste of what heaven must surely be like.

Moving On:)

With all the moving preparations, I find myself between two homes. Both are bare and crying out for those things which make a house a home. The new house feels like home and is a beautifully blank canvas. I noticed a few sweet, pink strokes in the hallway downstairs yesterday, and they reminded me of my new little housemates. I smiled as I thought of Lillyann and Mylah running and squealing through the house.

The girls love the house and so do I. It’s filled with light, and I wonder each time I’m there which light I’ve left on. The skylights and windows bring in so much natural sunlight that you don’t need anything else on a sunny day.  The girls will take care of the sunshine on cloudy days:) They are, without a doubt, the best part of my new home.

Since I left my husband a decade ago, I’ve lived alone. The solitude provided a safe place and the necessary space for me to grow. I’m ready to live in the sweet community God has so graciously placed in my life. I’m sure there will be challenges for all of us, but I’m also sure that love will add to the glow that God has already provided in the beautiful home.

Being between the two homes is a little unnerving, and I find myself waking with thoughts of how, when, what, and where. I settle back down when I remember that the most important feature that makes this beautiful house a sweet home is who. I know who is going to be there, and that is all that matters.

The girls are coming over today while mommy and daddy move boxes and clean the carpet. I know they are wondering about the changes taking place at their house and at Gigi’s, so I decided to fill the empty spaces in my apartment with their toys. I’m sure they will like the new decor:)

Transitions are part of the transformation God has in mind, and I know He has wonderful plans when it comes to lessons in love. Love is about living together, and I’m ready to move on and love as God desires. We are designed for community, and I’m excited about the company I’ll be keeping because nobody teaches lessons in love more effectively than children. God knows that better than anyone. He knew a baby would satisfy the world’s longing to be loved.