20 Jun

Love will break you but it is good

storm

In the distance the thunder rolls.

In the house a door slams.

A storm is rolling in…inside and out.

storm

I sat on the edge of the stairs and watched the storm move in.

Slamming doors, banging on walls, a little voice filled with rage and fear.

The storm was picking up steam.

Here, I sat…weary.

Beyond weary….exhausted…drained…broken.

The thunder rolls…the sky gets dark.

Slamming…banging.

Tears build up in my eyes and in that moment I’m not sure how this plays out.

I’ve got nothing left. I whisper. Hoping…praying…that the God who brought the rain will somehow bring the sun.

I begin writing a blog post in my head about what love looks like….

Love whispers when you’d rather yell to be heard.

Love knocks on the door that just slammed again.

Love promises to stay through curses and cussing and being pushed away.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

hopes….perseveres….I’ve got nothing left. I whisper again.

Then from the living a song rises that I’ve never heard before.

The storm rages — the wind blows, little feet kick doors, the thunder shakes the house, slamming doors rattle the hallway, the lightening is so bright and close that it is almost blinding, a little voice spews anger at deafening decibels — and here I sit on the stairs. Tears streaming down my cheeks and Jesus singing into my soul from the living room.

“Love’s not safe at all
Love might let you fall
Love’s not easy
But it’s good, it’s good, it’s good
Love will take your time
Love might feel unkind
Love will break you
But it’s good”

It is not my love or my energy or my efforts that will reach our foster peanut…our someday son….it is Jesus. His love pouring through me…and when I’m empty it can only come from Him…that…that is perfect love…love that is kind…love that casts out all fear….love that will always persevere…love that is eternal.

Like all storms, this one passed. The thunder rolled on and a little body grew tired.

The sun shone. A faint rainbow glimmered above. And I rocked a small body in my arms while he cried and let go of all that was battling within him.

This is exhausting work…this work of parenting in the wake of trauma, abuse and neglect….

Love will break you…It’s not easy….but it’s good.

 

 

 

19 Nov

Beautiful Disaster

Light plays across the ceiling as the candles burn low on the mantle. The smell of fresh bread lingers in the air. Snuggled up with a cup of tea, a warm blanket and a book. Pandora quietly plays the perfect low key station. His soft snoring fills the space in around me.

Insert contented sigh.

As I sit, warm and safe…content and loved…home…I hear the quiet notes begin. I know the lyrics before they come…I know the pain that hangs in the melody that’s coming. The song is me…the girl in the rearview mirror…I know her…I was her…I am her….Beautiful Disaster…

I’m sitting in the driveway. The sun is just starting to rise and I catch my reflection in the rearview mirror.  Salty trails of massacre and tears cut down my cheeks. My eyes are red, bloodshot and puffy. My hair is a mess. I look old. Tired. Used.

I lay my head on the steering wheel and bawl.

She’s giving boys what they want
Tries to act so nonchalant

Under cover of darkness I was someone else. I had gotten involved with a man who didn’t want people to know we were “together”. When the sun went down I began to drink and party. One more beer, one more bar. Waiting for the phone call. When the phone rang I’d drop everything and run to where he was.

I would act as though I didn’t care about him or for him. I’d allow him to do things to me that made me ashamed and hurt me. I held my breath and hoped he’d call, because I didn’t want to be alone. And I knew he didn’t love me…despite his drunk dialing “confessions” of love and need for me…I knew I didn’t deserve love…this was the best I could expect.

When he was done with me he’d drift off to sleep. Never looking me in the eye, never holding my hand, never calling me by my name. Under cover of darkness I’d get dressed, slip quietly out to my car and drive home….ashamed…broken.

She prays one day she’ll find someone to need her
She swears that there’s no difference between the lies and compliments
It’s all the same if everybody leaves her

Oh, how I wanted more…dreamed of more…but I never felt worth it….never.

And one day, he moved on…someone cuter…funnier…whatever. That man who had no use for me dropped me like I was yesterday’s trash and moved on. I was devastated. I couldn’t even give myself away….

I sat in my car and cried.

—-

His snores bring me back out of tear filled memory.

Just his presence. His snoring….his breath…pulls on my heart.

This man who loves me…even when I feel unlovable…even when I’m hurt and broken and failing. Even when I haven’t showered or I’m not in the mood. Even when I lose my temper or am hormonal. Even when I admit who I was before…..

There are so many miles between me and the girl I was. I don’t miss her…or her life. Or her heartache.

I remember sitting in that car, like it was just a breath ago. I wanted everything to be different…anything to change.

I drank more. Cried more. And just wanted to give up.

And then grace whispered….in a little room under the eaves as late afternoon sunshine streamed through the window I felt a whisper of my worth….

Jesus

It took months, weeks, really maybe even years for me to believe that I could be loved….was worth loving. That even this amazing overwhelming love that I knew Jesus had for me felt more like obligation…I mean He’s God…doesn’t He have to love everyone???

Would anyone choose to love me? Fight for me…protect me…love me.

I’m not sure when my heart got it….really got that picture of my Jesus.. arms spread open wide on the cross….fighting for me….protecting me….choosing me….loving me.

I still struggle with it…and in all truth I’ll never fully understand it.

But I waited for someone to take me home…to love me…and He was already there waiting.

I was so that girl from that song….and I never believed that my life could change.

My life isn’t a Beautiful Disaster anymore….more like a beautiful (dog hair covered, toys on the floor, laundry piled up) mess. And sometimes I take it for granted…I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

Feeling put upon or like this isn’t what I wanted, and then this song blows a memory through my living room.

I’ve seen sayings on Pinterest and Facebook that say something like the things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. And then today, I realized the things I am taking for granted…I used to pray for…..

11 Nov

When Your Life is Burning Down

When your life is burning down

Blind with tears I penned these words…

I don’t know what road you are on or what hell you will go through to get to our arms. If I did I’d walk there. To hell and back. Through hell and back. Just to hold your hand and whisper that you aren’t alone. (read the whole post about waiting for the child God has for us here)

As I read my own words hours later, an image very clearly came into my mind.

Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods. (Daniel 3:25)

My torn heart teaches me something of a grace I still cannot fathom. I ache for the child we are waiting to adopt from foster care. If I could take on her hell I would, but her hell is what brings her to me. It is what will grow him, mold him, and build in him a testimony of God.

And in the dark, quiet hours of night as I wrote about waiting I tasted the salty tears of a heart made in the image of my Jesus. I longed to go to our child…right where he is…and hold her, whisper to him, wrap them in love.

When we find ourselves in the furnance heated seven times hotter than normal. When our lives are burning down around us.

We are not alone.

The grace of heaven descends like a dove. Through the flames, in the flames, of the flames.

When your life is burning down

{Photo courtesy of Creation Swap}

Jesus comes to us.

His heart full of love and unspeakable mercy He walks through flames, through hell on earth, through death and back to whisper of grace.

In your job loss when uncertainty reigns. When cancer ravages the one you love. Under the heavy cloud of depression. When your heart’s longings are unfulfilled.

We look for rescue and curse when it doesn’t come.

We struggle with our suffering and miss whispers of grace.

The very heart of God – the holy and powerful – it beats for us. It is His breath that fills our lungs, it is His hand that leads us through.

When our lives are burning down around us there is One that walks in the flames with us. We are not destroyed because we are in Him – eternal. We are not singed because grace is our skin. We do not smell of smoke for it is His fragrance that lingers.

My heart hurts as I wait…for I don’t know our child’s details – where to find him? What she is going through? How long we will wait?

But, Jesus knows right where you are sweet friend. Your circumstance is not lost on Him, it is used by Him.

Look for Him all around you….

…in the simple gifts like the sun warming your skin, a stranger’s smile or the giggle of a child.

…in the impossible circumstances where provision can only come from Him.

…in the prayers seemingly unanswered…for He always hears us and is always working on our behalf…even when it feels like our prayers aren’t answered.

…in the waiting…for you do not wait alone.

Parts of my life are burning. They are hard and painful, and, in all truth, I don’t want to go through them. But, I am. It is my prayer that in this fire and on the other side of this fire all people see is a girl who walking with Jesus.

21 May

My Heart Hurts for Them

storm

Tears streak down his face.

Somewhere deep inside I breathe a prayer of thanks. Thank you that this is the injustice he struggles with today…how many cartoons he got to pick.

When mommas hold their breath on the edge of fields of rubble….

When family’s salvage treasures from under destroyed houses….

When storms ravage and life hurts….

Thank you, father, for the tears of innocent childhood.

My heart hurts for them…them. Those who are victims of storms, of fear, of a life that seems cruel. I think of them as clouds hang dark and close over a blanket of destruction that  just a breath ago was neighborhoods and life. Those moments when why can hardly be uttered and God seems so far away…when the air tastes like grief and it is hard to see grace through the debris.

I turn off the tv and close the news webpages. Shielding little hearts and eyes from images my heart can barely take. And then I realize the luxury of these moments. That lunches and backpacks were backed yesterday with love…no knowledge of final goodbyes or last mommy hugs. This day was like any other until death broke in. And my heart screams for the mothers who know a grief I cannot fathom…and I whisper for God to come close…because that’s all I can do.

Here I sit, my babies safe, my home intact.

My heart aches and I want to whisper, why??? 

All I can do is lean into Jesus and know that He knows….that He is there. That it is the Lord’s sovereignty that I praise in the sunshine and question in the rain. And I know that He is God of restoration….as sure as spring comes after a barren and cold winter…as sure as the sun after the storms in Oklahoma…as sure as the stone rolled from the empty tomb.

When hearts ache in the waiting for answers….Jesus.

When life feels destroyed and our security seems broken…Jesus.

When it is dark and the storms loom large….Jesus.

My heart is heavy today…for a land I’ve never walked on, for families I’ve never met.

I whisper prayers…short…heavy…

Lord, please be there.

Jesus hold them.

As sun streams through the windows and little hands push pencils across paper. The dog’s slow breathing moving my furry footstool slowly up and down. The birds (and cicadas) filling the air with siren songs. The sounds of laundry and vacuuming filling in the chorus of normal life. Thank you, Father, for this breath, this life, this love…fleeting though it is.

 

 

 

30 Jan

An Exercise in Sinking

Exercise in Sinking

Peter sees an opportunity and jumps at the chance (Matthew 14:28). “Tell me to come to you on the water.”

Tell me. If it is your will, my Jesus, tell me to come to you.

Peter has a reputation for being impetuous and hurling headlong into situations. But here, we see Peter reach out to Jesus, God walking on the water. In perfect submission, “Oh Lord, I want to do this but tell me if is okay first.”

Oh, and what does Jesus say?

Come.”  Come to me. Join me in the extraordinary. In the impossible. In the things that only I can do.

Discipleship builds faith. Stretches your faith muscle.

Peter had no hope of walking on water on his own. Did he? It was only through Christ’s power. It was only through Peter’s faith in the One that he loved that he had any hope of succeeding. Any hope of walking on water, any hope of the extraordinary lay in Christ’s power alone.

Christ says come, not only so that Peter could experience God’s power through this water walking, but that he would also know his own weakness, his own dependence on God.

Peter got down out of the boat. Sounds simple enough. But, oh how its not. The side of that boat was likely 3 to 4 feet tall (that’s like standing on your dining room table at home). The waves are tossing the boat around. The water rises and falls. Can you imagine what it took to get out of that boat?? To step over the edge and lower himself down to step onto the water. Faith, friends.

 

Faith. Peter believed that Jesus’ power was enough for him – that it would hold him, keep him safe, allow him to do the impossible.

Peter gets out of the boat and what happens next??

He walks on water.

He WALKS ON WATER.

My version has four words. Four measely words for the impossible, amazing walking on water.

And Peter didn’t head off for shore or walk circles around the disciples still sitting in the boat. No. Where did he go? Peter walked toward Jesus.

Storm raging all around Him. Faith focused on Jesus. Peter walks toward Jesus.

And, oh, if that was the end of the story. That Peter did the impossible with God by submitting his plans to him and stepping out in faith. Oh, what a grand story that would be, huh?

But that’s not where it ends.

vs. 30-31: But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

When Peter saw the wind and he was afraid.

Why? Because he took His eyes (and his mind) off Jesus.

It is the same wind and waves, Jesus walked on as He called, “it is I, don’t be afraid.”

It is the same wind and waves Peter stepped out onto and into when he got out of the boat…and yet. He was afraid.

We do this don’t we? We take our eyes off God and begin to look at the world around us – war, famine, unemployment, divorce, illness, the brokenness of people. We begin to look around us and we begin to fear. The goodness of God. The mercy of God. The grace of God is pushed out by “what ifs” “oh nos” and “how comes”.

And we begin to sink. As Peter did.

As Peter began to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Peter cried out! Friends, that’s prayer. Peter opened his mouth and cried out to the One whose power could hold him up.

Do you cry out as you begin to sink? Save me. Or do you take a few more steps…will it to happen…try to do the impossible under your own steam and your own power. And then when you are up to your neck cry out, “save me”.

The awesomeness of Jesus is it doesn’t matter when we cry out does it? One step, five steps, after weeks of trying to do it on your own? Jesus will answer us the same way He answered Peter.

Immediately.

Immediately Jesus the spoke to the frightened disciples in the boat. Immediately Jesus reached out his hand to save Peter.

Immediately.

Jesus could have let Peter flounder. Let him learn from his own mistakes. But he didn’t. His love and compassion are ever present, ever ready. All we have to do is seek Him, call to Him.

I have felt like I am sinking lately. Drowning in the weight of the tasks God sets in front of me, weighed down by the heartache of recent hurts and overwhelming heartbreak over the state of so much in our world. And as I sit here this morning on this overcast, gray morning my heart hangs heavy. And my own words echo back to me (the ones above) from part of a talk I was privileged to deliver last fall.

When you are sinking? Do you cry out to Jesus? When?

I’ve been try to walk on water, I suppose, but really it is more an exercise in sinking. I can’t do this water walking without Jesus…it is His impossible, amazing that He invites me into. And when I watch the waves (the seemingly insurmountable in my life) and listen to the wind (the voices of critics, insecurities and other people’s faith issues) I sink. We can only do this life in Christ if we are striving to live in Him. Eyes on him…heart focused on him…walking toward him…. Anything else is just an exercise is sinking.

How about you? Are you struggling with something this week? Look to Jesus, focus to hear Him above all else! He will reach out…save you…touch you…love you. You have to choose it first!

10 Dec

Ultimate Christmas Gift Giveaway

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I wonder, sometimes, what His laugh sounded like. The One whose image we bear. The One who created us to love us.

Do you ever wonder what Jesus’ laugh sounded like?

I think of the smiles; the giggles; the side-splitting, tears-in-your-eyes laughter we share as humans and I think of God. Does He revel in the sound of laughter like I do when my sweet little peanuts get the giggles? We who love to laugh and smile, do we sound like Jesus when we laugh?

So many of us work hard or are struggling with so much right now and we take on Christmas as a thing to be managed. We forget that some of our greatest gifts are the people God allows us the opportunity to study with, serve with, minister to, and, yes, laugh with. And to that end, this year, for our Christmas party my hunky hubby and I set out to just enjoy our family of friends. We aimed for fun and laughter and reveled in the echoes of joy in our home. Thankful for the place and time to play and laugh, unwind with and draw near to those we hold dear.

We played “Minute to Win It” style games — quickly learning who had serious competitive streaks, who cheats (HA!!), and how much fun it is to let go and do the silly sometimes.

Toss the marshmallow through the Wreath (most in wins)

even the some of the littles played (and beat some of the adults!!)

well, there’s always one in every bunch….

The “Nutstacker” Game (use only the candy canes)

She might not have won the Cup Stacking with One Hand Game, but the face is priceless (ooh and she is color coordinated with the cups!!)

Perhaps my favorite part of the evening…the photo booth!!

Some of the incredible women I have had the pleasure of studying the Word with this year…my sweet, albeit crazy sisters in Christ!!

So as we celebrate this season of joy…looking for the grace and laughter God gives us…I am celebrating Christmas with a the

Ultimate Christmas Gift Giveaway!!

(Woot!! Woot!!)

I cannot think of a better Christmas gift than helping someone grow closer to Jesus…get deeper into the Word.

I am giving away the book and workbook “Living by the Book” by Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks. It is a great resource for studying scripture, growing closer to God and unlocking the amazing, overwhelming mysteries of the Bible!! Book description from Amazon.com: “For every person who draws strength and direction from the Bible, there are many more who struggle with it. Some call it a long book with fine print and obscure meaning. Some call it a mystery. A chore to read. An undecipherable puzzle.

The good news is you can easily solve this problem. With over 300,000 sold, this revised and expanded edition of Living by the Book will remove the barriers that keep Scripture from transforming your life. In a simple, step-by-step fashion, the authors explain how to glean truth from Scripture. It is practical, readable, and applicable. By following its easy-to-apply principles, you’ll soon find yourself drawing great nourishment from the Word–and enjoying the process! TheLiving by the Book Workbook is the perfect compliment to provide practical application of lessons.”

This book is a wonderful resource and I have been  just fascinated as I work through it this year. Want to grow in Christ…dig deeper…discover God’s love verse-by-verse.

 

 

The contest runs all this week (Dec. 10-14) and each comment is an entry! Earn more entries by subscribing to the Common Graces newsletter (——->>>>> over there in the right margin), share on Facebook or Twitter (and let me know), and share this post on Pinterest (and let me know!!)! Winners will be posted on Monday, December 17.

Share with us how you are looking for Jesus this Christmas season. Parties? Celebrations? Volunteering?

Do you ever ponder the physical characteristics of Jesus?? What did Jesus (the man) look like? What His laughter sounded like?

Merry Christmas my friends!!

 

 

03 Dec

Wonder and Whispers

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The sky begins a faint glow…the horizon painted with yellows and pinks. The morning begins to kiss back the darkness with possibility and hope. An old song sung of new possibilities fills the trees as the birds announce the coming of the sun.

I sit in our nearly dark house, breathing in the stillness that dawn offers. A stillness steeped in mystery and possibility. A breath where sleep still lingers and the day unfolds, where to-do lists lie in wait, and the heaviness of yesterday’s sin has melted away. Hope rises with the sun.

And yet, here in the living room I sit in a pool of light. Oh how the Christmas tree glows.

These moments, these still, glowing, decorated moments of peace are perhaps my favorite all year. There’s something magical about a Christmas tree all lit and lovely. Each ornament a shadowy, glimmering tale of cheer, memories, love and Christmas.

It is here, in these moments I remember the wonder. The awe.

Christmas is mysterious and magical when we give it room to be. When celebrating Jesus grows and moves and fills the room around me, I remember what it was like to be a child with eyes full of sparkling lights and a heart full of Christmas wonder.

Here in the living room I sit in a pool of light. Oh how Jesus glows in me.

Beyond the horizon the world is waking. Coffee is percolating. There is bustling and hurrying. To do lists dictate and schedules overcrowd hearts. And even as the sky begins to grow light I feel the world pressing in, trying to crowd out the peace that dances here in a pool of light.

We do that, don’t we? We let life bump us and swirl us around like a twister with its own agenda. We fill up calendars and gasp for air. Christmas becomes a list of things to be done and people to check off. We fill the space around us with noise…lights…distractions…and we miss the glow of Jesus that beckons us to breathe in peaceful, heavenly possibilities.

And here we are in the this month called December. The weeks where retail shouts of good deals and time running out. The weeks where calendars fill up with obligations dressed in red and green. The weeks that are meant to build to a crescendo of love culminating on the day when Love came down become weeks that we rush through, surviving it all…barely.

Oh, will you pause with me? Will you set out to make this season different? Will you greet each day with breath??

Like those predawn moments that whisper of sun-kissed promises as old as our Creator, Christmas whispers too. The lights, the trees, the carols…they are all meant to remind us of the One who clothed Himself in humanity so that He could clothe us in righteousness. Reminders. That’s what the symbols we become numb to are…reminders of Christmas…of Jesus…of love.

My sweet sister, look for Jesus this December. Find Him in quiet moments. Whisper His name when your heart wrestles with busyness. Allow the things of this tinsel-covered, holly-decked holiday to whisper I love you.

30 Nov

Love-Shaped Holes

jesus 2

There’s nowhere to hide when it hangs in your living room.

The one with her name on it.

The one he carved.

 

The one from her favorite store.

There they hang.

Here I sit, a puddle on the floor. Tears flowing down my cheeks, the cold bitter sting of grief.

Christmas has come. It didn’t ask for permission or pause to breathe in my hurt. It has arrived full of sparkle, tinsel, child-like glee and memories that bear painful witness to the holes in my life.

Scented candles, yummy baked cookies, cold crisp air that begs for snow. Yet, it is hard to breathe when grief hangs heavy.

Twinkling lights, flickering candles,  brightly wrapped packages of every shape and size. Yet, it is hard to see when tears blur your eyes.

And as if haunted by memories I’m scared to forget I try not to remember. The faintest trace of a memory and I blink it away…don’t want to remember what it felt like to hold you when my arms still ache from losing you.

I don’t know Christmas without you….perhaps the truth is, I don’t want to.

And my eyes drift to the ornaments that remind me of my why…of our why…of the reason for the season. {as cheesy as it sounds}

The one who hung on a tree, for me.

The one who died on a tree, for me.

And I beg in my heart, Jesus help me to see you as enough. To hold you higher and greater than I hold my grief.

Help me to celebrate you…YOU.

As our children decorated the tree this week, their laughter and excitement nearly hurt my ears. Oh, for just a bit of that bottled!! They meet each Christmas carol, twinkling light, box of decorations, wrapped package and Christmas card with wild abandoned.  Their excitement and love are contagious as they hurl head long towards Jesus’ birthday and the gifts He gives us.

And, even as I grieve, I want that. I want a childlike spirit that chooses Jesus’ joy over tears. That embraces memories and adventures with the same excited passion.

And again, I ask you, my Jesus…will you help me to celebrate You?

Jesus’ own words in Matthew 5:4 promise there is comfort yet for me {for us…those who hearts have love-shaped holes}….Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Oh, the sweet promises of Savior who comes close.

As I sit at the foot of my tree, hands clenched, eyes burning, tears falling, I know.

I have a part to play in this mourning-comfort equation. These clenched hands that hold grief like a blanket over a raw and scared heart…they have to let go. Open hands receive grace…receive Jesus…receive Comfort. Letting go of grief, letting go of mourning, allows my sweet Jesus to pour into my hands the blessings of Christmas…of grace…of Himself. And those love-shaped holes in my heart are filled with memories of people who were gifts for a season and promises of greater love and reunion in eternity.

And as I open my eyes, I see…

You see, my grief-filled reminders hang on a tree that stands in remembrance of gifts Jesus gave us. That my grief hangs on our Jesus tree is not lost on me. That this picture of what He has given me is bigger than my heart can take in. This life — full of grace-filled memories, love -filled relationships, God-blessed breaths– this life!! Grief hangs on my tree. So do memories — of trips, travels, loved ones, little hands, my hunky hubby. So do dreams — of  travel, of some days, of my girls, of writing, of ministry.

You see, this Jesus tree, it is a reflection of my life and I can sit and stare for hours at one spot, one piece.  And that piece will become overwhelming, all-consuming for me. Too much. But it is when I back up and see it as piece among many…as a part of whole…not the whole. I remember….I see…

There is much to be celebrated even when grief hangs heavy….especially when grief hangs near. There was life lived in those love-shaped holes, and there is life to be remembered and love to honor. There is grace to share.

And, there, in the midst of it all…holding it all together…making it all stand apart…is Jesus. And I know He knows how my heart feels….for He wears love-shaped holes on His hands for me….

02 Nov

Blessed is the Woman who Believes

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(repost, but struck me a new this morning….maybe you too??)

 

A sweet song of worship rings in the air as my alarm goes off. The house is still and in the whisper of time before the day begins it is easy to remember God’s promises, to believe that every step of my day is covered in His plans, and to live like I believe.

But…
…there’s juice spilled on the carpet.
…there is a mountain of laundry and only half a cup of detergent.
…there are screaming children in the playroom.
…there’s eye rolling, back talking and timeouts.
…traffic.
…long lines with unhappy people at the checkout.
…even longer waits at the doctor’s office.
…there’s wondering if we’ll make ends meet at the end of the month.
…there’s family conflict.
…sickness.
….death, loss, grief.
…there’s the heart ache of the past.
…the uncertainty of the future.
Somewhere in the hail storms of life my belief becomes dented and beat up. And I find that I am not living like a woman who believes God loves me and He is working all things for my good.

Yesterday, my Facebook status said, “How would your life change if you woke up every morning BELIEVING that God works all things for your good and that He loves you?” My sweet friends over at Proverbs 31 posted it as their status too. Reading the responses was fascinating to me.

There was a large segment of people that answered “my life is different because I already believe that.” Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it in that light…the faith of salvation changes lives immediately. But how do you exercise that faith daily? What do you do to not lose sight of God’s love and plans for you in the midst of life’s moments?

There were a few “I needed to hear” that kind of responses, and to God be the glory on that one. If my fb status is being used by God to whisper to the hearts of His children…. Don’t even have words for the end of the statement…just WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I had asked the questions hoping for concrete answers…my life would be ____ . And I got some of those — joy was probably the top thing people said they would have. JOY!!

In the final days of 2010 I was struck by a Bible verse in a way that I can’t even begin to fully explain. I am drawn to it in a new way. It has become the basis for our women’s ministry theme this year. It is the reason I started blogging again. It is the fresh wind in my sails as I look into 2011.

Midway through the first chapter of Luke is the story of Mary coming to visit Elizabeth. In her sweet proclamation of faith and excitement over Mary’s visit, her greeting and the news of her pregnancy Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!

Let that wash over you for a moment.

That is where my fb status question came from. That is what I’m driven to find out…to teach…to embrace…to live. I want to be that woman. I want that written on the last page of my life here on earth – “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Because that, my friends, is what real life here is all about.

If I believe – I’m saved.
If I believe – I’m the daughter of the King.
If I believe – my heart is changed.
If my heart is changed I live a life that the King designed for me.
If I am living the life the King made me to live then I am living in victory, in joy, in love.
And out of those places spring the works of my faith – service, missions, worship, prayer, teaching, giving, parenting, loving.
And if my days are filled with the works of my faith, then my life will be a reflection of my God.
And if I am reflection of my God, others will be begin to believe…

So my question, rephrased this time, What would your life look like if you lived every day BELIEVING that God works all things for your good and that He loves you no matter what the circumstance?

Not the I know somewhere in the back of my head God loves my kinda life. The life that says in the face of every circumstance, “My Father’s The King and oh how He loves me.” A life that says to every traffic jam, rude cashier, hard-to-love family member and frustrating moment, “God is strengthening me in this moment, and for this I will rejoice.” A life that shines in the darkest moments of humanity and says, “This is tough. And I’m hurt and scared, but God is strong and steady and His light will shine in this darkness.”

Blessed is the woman who believes….
Blessed is the woman who is living like she is believing….

22 Oct

Give Them Jesus

they need Jesus

“They need Jesus. That’s why we need you.”

She sits just a few feet away, this woman I admire. I look up to. And in casual conversation she says something that strikes a chord somewhere in me.

It is so much more than a reason for asking me to speak at a retreat {which is what the conversation was about}. It is about Jesus. About me.

And then a few days ago, I read this.

Now, I’m restless.

Restless I tell you.

Approachable words filled with Jesus. Words that live, encourage, lead, shape, mold. Can I find those words? No.

But, somewhere deep, God whispers…they are My words….give them My words.

A deep breath….over and over again.

Prayer…over and over again.

Writing. Rewriting. Breathing. Prayer.

Late into the night…struggling to write.

I’m not a speaker, I began to say {to anyone that would listen}, I’m a Bible study teacher. I’m not a woman gifted to stand in front of a crowd and tell them how to live the life of a Christian woman.

And then I felt it…I knew it.  I wasn’t called to be a speaker. Echoes in my head…they need Jesus…give them my words.

I began to craft messages around Bible study — when I dug into the Word I could speak for hours…how interesting, amazing, fulfilling God’s Word is. When we look into the depths of the Bible we find the stories of a loving God who wraps eternity around His beloved and expresses love in ways that will never be paralleled.

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-4

Give them my words…give them Jesus.

The Word is Jesus. When you teach the Bible…when you teach the Word you teach Jesus.

God had already given me everything I needed – a passion for His girls and love for the Bible.

My friend’s words had struck a chord because that chord plays the notes of my soul…what God made me to be….just a Bible teacher.

I struggled with nerves and worries of disappointing God, but I pushed through…obedience became a theme…this was bigger than me, my fears, or my nerves…someone needed to hear Jesus and God presented me with the opportunity to be the bearer of a beautiful gift. It was my choice — as the things of God always are. I could choose to walk away, but no matter how big the butterflies {or vultures} were in my stomach I knew this was going to be a defining moment in my walk with God…in me.

The words of that blog {linked above} ring in my ears like music…calling me…moving me. “We need Jesus.  We are seeking deep spirituality. We are seeking fellow travellers. We are hungry for true community, a place to tell our stories and listen to another, to love well. But above all, point me to Jesus – not to the sale at the mall.” SarahBessey.com

It is an honor and a weight this calling of teaching and bringing Jesus. That I’m looked at as anything more than a flawed and broken girl trying to figure it out seems scary and overwhelming. But when I lean into God, dig into the Bible and just be honest about how beautiful God’s grace is {even in the midst of my messy life} all the pieces fall into place. God is faithful to accomplish His purposes through His word {Isaiah 55:11}.

How can you honor God today?

What step can you take toward finding or stepping toward what He is calling you to do?

How can you bring someone just a little bit of Jesus today?

Father, thank you for Your Word. That in the beat up and worn pages of my Bible I can touch, read, and absorb the majesty of my beloved Creator. Whew. Thank you for making us for a future, for a calling, for being parts of the body of Christ. How blessed we are to carry pieces of Jesus to give to others. Help us to share Your Word, memorize Scripture and share it, study the Bible…Let us be women of the Word because that makes us women of Jesus. Amen.

 

19 Oct

I Know Why Jesus Wept

Jesus wept

Husband fighting addiction.

Bodies wracked with chronic pain.

Children lost, searching for answers.

Mental illness causing chaos and family strife.

Money’s tight, bills are piling up, and there is no work on the horizon.

Words that cut to the soul…grace and forgiveness hard to grasp.

Depression lingers and heart is heavy.

I know why Jesus wept.

I’ve prayed with these women, and more, this week. Women struggling under the weight of life’s heartaches. Women broken. Crying.

It is late and I lay here in the dark, tears running down my cheeks.

And I cry out to God…they need you…they are hurting….help them….help me help them.

Yet He whispers to my heart…the day will come, I will wipe away their tears.

Tears shed in strangers living rooms or face buried in a pillow, none are missed by God. He collects them in His bottle. That even your tears are precious to your Creator….oh, that’s love.

As my tears fall, and I approach that “ugly” cry, I begin to understand why Jesus wept.

How do you carry these burdens? I whisper to God. How does your heart not break?

And He whispers, Jesus wept.

Standing before Mary, Martha, and the rest of the mourners Jesus is moved to tears. {John 11:35} Not for Lazarus’ death, for He knows the plan of raising him. No, Jesus weeps silent tears of compassion for those mourning in front of Him. Their broken hearts touch His, and cries with them…for them.

 

 

God’s glory shined on the other side of their tears. His plan for miracles, resurrection and faith building was watered by their tears…poured into their empty vessels. God had a plan, but still Jesus wept.

We are not left to suffer and cry on our own. No, dear friends, we are given a Savior whose eyes fill with tears of compassion and love.

God has a plan. There is glory for Him in the miracles, resurrection and faith building on the other side of this storm in your life.

So my friend, let me whisper to your heart, you are not alone in this. If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior His heart beats for you…He weeps for you when you hurt, when it’s too much, when it’s hard. And I know, that I know, that I know that He waits for the day when He will forever dry your tears. And if He is not yet, your Savior, my friend, He waits for you…He’s whispering to your hurting heart come to me.

Tonight I am comforted by my God who tells me I’m not alone. Who reassures my burdened heart with reminders of what I know of Jesus and His love. As I lay my head down, I pray more…still…oh how they need You, Father.

Gracious Heavenly Father, thank you that you hear our prayers, that you collect our tears, that you gave us Jesus. There are so many women…families…people that are hurting and struggling under the weight of so much. I beg you, Father, touch them tonight…bring relief, comfort, rest…allow them to feel You, please. In the days and weeks ahead, please help me to bring comfort. To pray. To call. To show them tangible compassion. To remind them of Jesus. Amen.

16 Oct

A Weedish Offering

offering 2

The front door crashes open.

Little hands meet mine. Palms open I receive little flowers…broken, mangled, dry, crushed….beautiful.

I cherish those little yellow flowers, the clover, the grass, and whatever else finds its way into the little bouquets delivered by peanuts with sparkling eyes.

I trim them carefully and place them in vase, with all the loving care the florists use for the most expensive flowers and arrangements.

They look little, broken, dry…almost weedish…in their tiny vase. A vase salvaged just for small little, weedish bouquets. Every time I fill up the vase I wonder if this is the last time. Will they grow out of it next week? Will the somedays when little boys aren’t interested in kissing their mamas and delivering flowers come too soon?

His little love offering to me….

 

I begin to ponder these weeds. That no matter how they look, how clumsily they are delivered they bring joy to a mother’s heart.

I suppose my life…my offering to God…is not much more than this handful of late season weeds.

This sin-wracked life is broken…mangled…dry…crushed.

But as I seek my God, who longs for me to come to Him, perhaps the light cast on my handful of weeds changes. Perhaps as I come to God…as I try to be the woman He made me to be…perhaps my weedishness softens.

In the light of Heaven’s grace…of mercy…of eternity…of a God who knows that my dirty hands clenched tight around this life are trying to learn to deliver all I have to Him…my handful of weeds looks breathtaking, lovely.

You see, nothing matters with out the light of God cast on it. If we are living only to survive, not to thrive and shine. If we are living to fill up on what the world offers, not pouring out what God has given. If we are clutching our lives, instead of offering them up for God to mold, direct and breathe life into. It is an ugly, sad bunch of weeds.

But, oh my friends, how does it change when we are willing to open our palms and hold it all to the One who says, Come!! I wonder does God’s heart swell like mine when little palms deliver little offerings? Does He kiss our foreheads with heavenly glory just as I kiss my peanuts?

I watch my little man run off. Off to find more flowers to deliver. Some will be dropped, lost along the way. Others will be bent, broken, mangled. Some were dry and wilted before they were ever delivered. But for my little man, it is never about the flowers or the run up and down the hill to get them. No, it is about giving them to his mama.

The lesson there for us is palpable….the lump in my throat is too…our life is meant to be lived full of joy and expectancy as we go about the business of living for our God who loves us. Who dotes on us. Who is the beautiful light that changes all we are and all we offer.

What handful of weeds can you offer to your Jesus today? Can you give Him control…trust that He is big enough for your circumstances? Can you serve someone in His name today? Can you tell someone about the Savior who waits open-handed for your weedish offering?

 

 

Father, thank you that see the beauty in my broken, that you receive my offering from grimy hands, that you loved me enough to give me Jesus. Thank you for little peanuts whose simple, unfiltered love teaches me about how I can and should come to you. Thank you for accepting my weedish life and help me to continue to offer it to You. Amen.

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