11 Oct

One Thing is Needed

one thing is needed

 

…one thing (is needed)…chosen what is better…

Balancing a small cup of grape juice and a bit of a communion cracker in hand, I leaned over to try to hear his words. Tears. Whining.

The Pastor continued to speak. To preach.

Body….broken for you….blood…shed for you.

Tears and whining.

Help me, Lord. Help me choose you in this moment.

The truth is, it is hard to be a mom sometimes. To guard your child’s hearts and feelings. To keep your squirmy, wiggling little people from distracting others around you. To worship when there’s whining and tears.

But in the silent, holy space of communion I knew I had a choice. To chose the one thing that is needed…Jesus.

I closed my eyes and focused on the pastor’s words….listening for God, offering my repentance for choosing (maybe always?) what feels more important in the face of discomfort, embarrassment and all things tangible.

Peace. Communion. Me and my Jesus.

And when the holy moment exhaled and we could shift gears, there weren’t any more tears or upset little people. I had chosen the one thing that was needed and it wasn’t taken from me (Luke 10:41).

——

Music filled the air. I stare out the window over God’s girls worshiping. Blue skies. Trees. Beauty crafted by the Creator we are worshiping.

Beautiful.

And then I hear it, the phone ringing. The only phone in a signal-less area.

God, what do I do?

Answering means stopping worship. Answering means putting God on hold.

I quietly walked over, unplugged the phone and returned to worship. Returned to God.

The looks, the faces, the scowls told me that many in the room did not share my perspective for what was needed.

I chose God. It was unpopular and difficult.

…only one thing is needed….

But at the end of the day, I want to be right with God…even if that means I’m not right with His people all the time.

(btw, I plugged the phone back in after worship!)

I looked from them to him. Was there tension? Were they upset?

Music playing. Hands of others lifted in worship. Yet, I couldn’t concentrate.

Caught up in others emotions and thoughts I couldn’t focus on God…others were uncomfortable and upset.

…praise…. I sang the word and it stung.

There’s nothing about me praising you, Jesus. I’m choosing something else. Forgive me.

Over and over again lately I find myself face-to-face with moments of choice. Will I choose the One thing that is needed…my God? My Lord. My Savior. And I wonder how often do I subconsciously make these choices, never noticing that I don’t allow Jesus to be my One thing…do I make Jesus move over for children, spouse, comfort, phones, anything that I choose in that moment.

In this time of cell phones, texting, Facebook, twitter, you name it, never be alone technology I can’t help but wonder how often we choose to text in church, to troll Facebook rather than immerse ourselves in the Word, do we choose what rings and vibrates over the One that whispers and waits.

As a mother I find it a constant struggle to keep God as my God…number one in my head and heart…when family presses in, when children whine, when I worry, nurse and hold. I am learning. I fail more than I succeed right now, really, but I ask forgiveness and the strength of the God who made my mother’s heart and push on.

In the story of Mary and Martha, Martha choose her to do list and her preparations over Jesus. Mary chooses Jesus…the One thing that was needed. She chooses Jesus in the face of family pressure, dinner guests, to do lists and life….Mary chose Jesus. And oh, how I want to do that…to just chose my Jesus.

What is it that distracts you? What keeps you from focusing on Jesus? What battles to take the spot of the One thing in your life?

Father, thank you for loving me enough to offer grace…oh, how I need it! Help me to focus on You — to be still, to turn the world off, to put away all that distracts me…to learn to just be with You…hear You…choose You! Amen.

 

03 Sep

Thirsty? Jesus is the answer. (period)

thirsty

Ring.

The phone was ringing again and I began to wonder if it would ever stop. With a sigh and a quick prayer I answered it. On the other end was another woman wrestling with confusion, anger, hurt and questions. I had no answers or remedies to offer, just a heart devoted to Jesus and to her.

This was women’s ministry — no programs, no music, no speakers, no budgets. Two of Jesus’ girls looking for answers and comfort in Him.

I had no idea that God was using our church turmoil (and ultimately our leaving that church) to change my ministry…to change my life.

Without a church. Heart broken. Missing our friends and church family. Our family became part of a small house church and life group — through simple worship, back to basics Bible study and much prayer God would change me forever.

This new simple(r) approach to worship and discipleship coupled with new Bible study tools and methods awakened a hunger in me I pray is never satiated. More Jesus. More Bible. To know Him more!!

And I began to wonder, are we missing the mark? Do we as churches (as ministry leaders) work so hard to make everything a show — something to draw people in — that we forget that it is Jesus that brings them? There are so many books, theories, diagrams, and conferences on how to make church (ministry) more effective that I wonder if we haven’t lost sight of teaching people to read the Word…to understand the Word…to just come to Jesus.

Okay, before I get hate mail or angry readers let me pause and say: I think church is great. Life groups (small groups) have been an incredible part of my life. Women’s ministry is close to my heart, and needed. I like all those things, but I love Jesus.

And if it’s not about Jesus. We’ve failed.

If we aren’t teaching Jesus’ people how to find Him, draw near Him, live in Him. We’ve missed the mark.

Last year God called me out of my comfort zone into something that could only have been from Him. (Cuz I would never have woken up one day and said, “Gee, today, I think I will start doing something that scares me and stretches me like Gumby on a hot summer day!!)

Out of my own want for a women’s retreat God grew a ministry. A small, retreat (12 women) tucked in a little house in the mountains…Bibles, worship, prayer…oh, and, of course chocolate.

I’ve never experienced anything like that retreat. Verse by verse we worked our way through the book of Esther. We studied scripture and shared about our lives. We laughed so hard it hurt and did some ugly crying together. We came out of the mountains in love with God and a new sorority of His girls.

I’m now preparing for the third retreat like that one — different topics, different make up of women. But small, intimate (with both God and girls), amazing. This year I have led a Bible study in our home…verse by verse through the minor prophets. With fun and engaging topics like sin and rebellion I wasn’t sure we’d get much of a crowd; in truth I’m not sure we could fit any more in.

What I have learned from the smashing success of the retreats and the Bible studies has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with Jesus. People are thirsty for Him…to know the truth of Scripture…to find how Jesus works in their lives.

In the beginning was the Word…

John 4:1

…let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink…

John 7:37

Oh, do you see Jesus beckons us to Him — to fill up, to be refreshed, to find Truth, to know Love. And Jesus is the Word. The Word come flesh. The Truth born man. If we don’t start there as the church…we are missing the mark.

We don’t have to make Jesus flashy or fancy. There need be no entertainment or show. People need Jesus. They need us…the church…the leaders…the Jesus’ people…to live like Jesus works and help them find His Truth for their lives (in Word and in deed).

It’s all about Jesus. (period)

20 Aug

My Name is Mine

My Name is Mine

I have always hated my name.

Wendy.

So boring. So plain.

In middle school I wanted to be Missy or Melissa. {yeah, I don’t know why}

After reading “Anne of Green Gables” I wanted to be Anne, with an “E“.

In high school Spanish class I chose Antonia as my name, Toni for short. Oh, how I wanted that to stick forever!! Especially when the boy I had a crush on took to calling me “Toni”.

I sought out nicknames, titles, anything so that I wasn’t Wendy.

Flash forward many years. With lightening filling the sky in a wondrous heavenly light show. Josh Groban’ “You Lift Me Up” filling the air. A green-eyed boy said, “Wendy, will you marry me?” My name never sounded so lovely. Seeing the love in his eyes, tasting forever in his words, I saw beauty in my name. Oh, I would never change it…that I might always be Wendy, the girl those words belonged to.

Belonging to my hunky hubby. Being  part of his forever has changed my life. Changed my heart.

As though giving a girl who felt unlovable, a girl who couldn’t imagine ever being anything more than alone, a lifetime of love wasn’t enough. God has whispered more.

 I have called you by name, you are mine… Isaiah 43:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long before eharmony and diamond rings. God called my name. He took the empty name of a cartoon character and placed it back on me like a title. Wendy. I didn’t know that I would grow into that name…that God knew who I was, but He was calling me to become the woman He designed. Wendy.

Years ago, in the days of Anne with an “E”, someone gave me a little card with the meaning of my name on it. It said, “white browed wanderer, seeker of truth.” I didn’t understand it, but I never forgot it. Little did I know that someday I would become a seeker of His Truth…a Bible study teacher whose heart beats to teach others about the Word. About Truth!

When I bowed my life and heart to Jesus. He called me His…Wendy. In that name He wrapped up my history, saw my future and gave me His forever. Forever. You are mine…forever.

Oh, I would never change my name. That I might always be Wendy, the girl those words belonged to.

Then this morning, I was met with this grace. This whisper.

I have redeemed you (Isaiah 43:1)…I have written your name on the palms of my hands. (Isaiah 49:16) 

Oh, don’t you see, my friends. As sure as the sun rises, God calls us. Loves us. Knows every detail about us. That knowing all that we would fail at, the sin we would wrestle with, our temper tantrums, and all of our shortcomings Christ chose the cross…the nails. Our names are written in His scars. And He calls you by name.

Take a moment today. Still your mind and just listen. That you would rest in that hope. That you might taste forever in His words. Know that the God of the universe, your Creator, calls you “mine“.

Rest in the security that when you come to Christ, your name never changes. You will always be Mine, His girl.

23 Jul

Mercy is in my Savior’s tears

wipe away every tear

Tears stream down her cheeks.

Heartache hangs in the air.

Father, give me wisdom. Your words. I breathe a desperate prayer. Please.

The words don’t come.

She cries.

I sit. Supporting. Loving. Silent.

Hours later as I drive home the words of a song ring in my heart.

“Mercy’s stronger still than my struggles are.”

Is that true? (Yes.)

Do I believe that? (Yes.)

Then I saw it…

Jesus wept.

Lazarus had died. His sisters were grieving. Miracles were coming that wouldn’t change the minds (or eternities) of some of the Jews.

Jesus wept.

Jesus. Son of God. Wept.

I thought of my dear friend’s cheeks wet with grief and heartache that refused to be contained.

Jesus wept. God born flesh…flesh. His cheeks were wet with compassion…with love.

We serve a God who loves us so much that He came to earth not only to die for sins (and reconcile us onto eternity)…He became one of us….He cried like us. For us. With us.

And the truth is. Sometimes, there are no words to say to mend broken hearts, to usher one through tough times and hard choices. Sometimes all you can offer is a tear shed in compassion…like Jesus did.

Jesus wept.

And just when that seems overwhelming lovely…more than we can hope for (and more than any other god — little g, human created and worshiped — does or promises)…I want to assure you of one more thing.

Read Psalm 56:8 in your Bible.

(no really, go ahead…I’ll wait)

Read it. Soak it in for a minute.

Let God minister to your soul through His Words.

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?

Oh my sweet friends, don’t miss this. 

Don’t miss this.

He collects each tear in His bottle.

My friends, God not only sees Your tears…He collects them in His bottle.

They are not wasted or worthless. But treasured by a God who loves you…cherishes you. Grows you through trials and hardships.

When pillows are damp with tears shrouded in darkness…

When the waiting is hard and ‘when’ is your only question…

When your eyes are burning and you are cried out…

God is with you. Holding you. Collecting your tears in His bottle. And your Savior (who sits at God’s right hand) is full of compassion…He knows the tears your cry.

The song was right…”Mercy’s stronger still than my struggles are.”

Jesus is bigger (and stronger) than our struggles.

And He is mercy.

Mercy is in my Savior’s tears.

21 Jul

When There Are No Words

Morning breaks with rain. The parched land softening.

Sleep lingers just this side of prayers and stretching. Body aching. Eyes blurry, heavy.

Fatigue of the soul, a heart reaching for Him heavy under the weight of the life and pain.

Jesus.

My only whisper. No words, just a need.

The news filled with images and words. Evil. Heartache. Death.

Before I can even get the details straight, I’m overwhelmed by voices crying out in pain and fear. 911 tapes…witness accounts…massacre.

Jesus.

My only whisper.

More of a groan from somewhere deep.

Jesus.

Oh how we need you.

Questions swirl in my head and heart all day. Oh the weight of tragedy. Senseless. Dark. Confounding.

Patience short. Heart heavy.

And yet, our van is filled with little voices praising.

Because God is still good…and little hearts remember.

Jesus.

I fill the house with worship music.

That even when my spirit groans it begins to remember.

Darkness doesn’t dwell here.

Jesus.

For you see,

When the news puts darkness in front of us our hearts begin to dim.

When evil visits suburbia and changes the world in unspeakable acts, we begin to believe Satan’s lies.

When voices cry out…near and far for rescue…for help…

When people are empty…broken…overwhelmed…

Jesus.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Groan His name.

Cry it out.

Whisper it.

Sing it.

Pray it.

Whatever it takes to remind others (and ourselves) darkness doesn’t win.

There is One who longs to love forever.

Jesus.

There is One who already won the battle.

Jesus.

There is only One who can offer hope when the world seems evil and dark.

 No Sweeter Name

11 Jul

The Shoe is Supposed to Fit

cinderellas_step_sisters-1670

Clunk, clunk.

Wobble, wobble, wobble.

Clunk, clunk, clunk.

Do you remember trying to walk in your mom’s high heels when you were a kid? They made a ton of noise…clunk, clunk, bang…as you tried to walk. And keeping your balance meant sticking your arms out tight-rope-walker style and stopping to wobble every now and then.

Those cute little feet swallowed up by those big heels. A physical exercise in wishing and hoping, as you imagined your somedays when your foot filled the shoe and your gait would echo a quick “click, click” like your mom when she walked in the heels.

Fast forward 20 years (or way more…hold that button down a little longer) and I have found myself trying on other shoes. This time there are no cute feet. This time, picture me Cinderella’s step sisters style, trying to cram my foot into a shoe that not only doesn’t fit…it isn’t even mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have the incredible blessing, and often envy inspiring curse, of being part of a terrific network of women’s ministry leaders, writers/bloggers and speakers. Cruising the interwebs and scrolling through Facebook I see update after update on book deals, speaking engagements, blog posts, hundreds of followers, retweets and more. Successes to be celebrated! Victories for the Kingdom! Reasons to envy.

And as this fire of envy begins to burn in my gut, what have I done? Oh, I begin to try to be someone I’m not. (picture me, step-sister style grunting and grimacing as I shove my foot into someone else’s shoe) I try to use more flowery language or write about things that don’t weigh on my heart (more from the weight of a should or keeping up with Miss Jones). I try to brag about the engagements I do have and turn them into grand plans I don’t have.

I work so hard at trying to be someone I’m not, that I forget to be the woman I am. I am blessed. God has called me to certain work for Him — marriage to hunky hubby, homeschooling momma to two little peanuts, and to love on and encourage His girls through opportunities He provides (blog, Bible studies, and now speaking/teaching). And, I begin to believe the whispers of lies (from the world, from Satan, from my own insecure lil self) — that I’m just a wife and mother. That 15 blog readers or retreat attendees is not enough. That I’m small potatoes.

Like that stepsister with her gigantic foot folded into Cinderella’s custom designed glass slipper, when I put on someone else’s calling I’m rendered ineffective. There is no walking or moving when you are desperately just trying to keep on this thing that isn’t you…isn’t yours…wasn’t custom designed just for you.

God has something to say about that…

walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1)

Your calling. Your calling.

My calling.

God made a calling just for me. And as sure as Cinderella’s slipper fit on her tiny little foot, you better believe God’s calling for me will fit just as snugly! Perfectly.

So here I sit, my sweet friends, humbled by the thought that you are reading my words. That you chose today to take time out of your crazy busy life to pause with me and look for God in our lives. I pray, that every time I put finger to keyboard it is with grace and love…in the way God designed me to do.

I am learning to let go of my comparisons. If the God of the Universe custom designed a calling me for…designed me for my calling…then shouldn’t I focus on that? Easy words to type, but what does that look like in real life…well….

It looks like a woman who prays for her husband (instead of complaining about him). Like a woman who now settles into the comfort of shared silence, working as a team, and hugs after a long day. A woman who studies her husband and with God’s help tries to be the woman who compliments the man he is in Christ!

It looks a like a momma who sees everyday with her precious peanuts as a new opportunity for discovery and learning. That relishes parenting and homeschooling for the God-sized gift stuffed into little bright-eyed bodies that wiggle, giggle and love that it is!

It looks like a woman that cheerfully writes what God lays on her heart (for the 15 to 75 that might click it). It looks like a woman who will pour over translations and commentaries and get all wound up in the meaning of one word, in hopes of teaching even a whisper of the Grace that lines the pages.

It looks like a Jesus girl that wakes up every morning, and before her feet hit the floor she whispers, let me walk with you today Jesus.

 

 

09 Jul

me + repentance = Grace

path

My Bible lay open on my lap.

Reference materials spread out on the couch and open on the computer.

Grasping for understanding I search pages and pages.

 Recently, our ladies Bible study began to study the Minor Prophets. We began our journey in Hosea.  Truth is I hadn’t studied the Minor Prophets before. If I am being 100% honest I haven’t read them through all the way. I get caught up in the abstract pictures and historical references I don’t understand.

 But, yet…

 The blessing of being a Bible study teacher is you learn so much. So much more than is every taught or discussed in your group. And God shows you so much of Himself when you are on a quest to show Him to others.

 There I sat. Bible open. Searching.

 And there in the pages. In the verses. In the words. There in what has been called “outdated”. There. I found a very vivid picture of the world that marches on just outside my front door. A society strayed far from God. Searching for answers under their own steam and on their own terms. A society to prideful to repent.

 But just as I was ready to wag my finger at the world and shake my head at the sad state of affairs in our culture, God pricked my soul.

 I began to dig into the original language (Hebrew). There I found where my Bible said “corrupt,” the Hebrew says…God says… “defiled.” Where my Bible says “rebel”, the Hebrew says…God says… “entangling with demons.” 

I began to see a picture of God, painted so plainly. Arms open, blessings at the ready, His heart set on His children. And where are they? Seeking what feels good, what numbs us, answers that come easy and require nothing of us. Where are they? Mired in their own sin.

 Sin.

 It is an ugly word. One that we gloss over, leave out or pretend we don’t do.

A commentary I read this week said that Hosea is one of the least preached books of the Bible (if not the least) because it deals with sin and churches don’t want to touch that.

But, as one of my sweet Bible study friends said this week, “If we don’t talk about sin, we don’t need a Savior.” So true.

 Sin.

 It makes me unclean…defiled…not Holy. Not of God. Not able to come near God.

When I push against God (rebel) and choose my own pleasures or my own way…He sees it as entangling with demons. Demons!

 How easy it is to read about the Israelites and see how wrong they got it! How easy it is to look at the world around us and see where people are getting it wrong!

 How wriggle-in-your-chair, let’s-talk-about-something-else uncomfortable it is to talk about our own sin. To face our choices that don’t equal God.

 Really, I suppose it comes down to simple math as sit to add up my day.

 God, I chose to overeat today — to fill up on something that wasn’t You.

me + overeat ≠ God

 God, I chose to get angry and growl under my breath at the driver in front of me – to be ruled by emotions, not by my God of love.

me + road rage ≠ God

 

God, I chose to lie to my family member today about whether we can visit this weekend – to turn away from Truth to make me feel more comfortable.

me + lies ≠ God

 

God, I chose to get on Facebook before I sought Your Face this morning – to choose anything over God…hello idolatry.

me + idols ≠ God

 

Wrestling with our own sin is uncomfortable and something most of us simply don’t do. We pray for forgiveness, “God, forgive all I did today” or just “know” that we are saved and we don’t have to deal with that. But God says otherwise.

 For today. First step. Deal with it. Lay it all out there. Name each sin. Take responsibility for everything you’ve done that does not add God to your life – big or small, private or public, spoken or thought. It is going to be uncomfortable. I can promise that.

 But God, promises forgiveness. Restoration. Healing. To remove your sin and see you as His righteous, holy child! And if you stick with it, really go through this thing with God, you’ll find doing His math is the most amazing math you’ll ever do….

me + repentance (truly taking responsibility for and turning away from sin) = Grace

Read that again

me + repentance = Grace, Forgiveness, Mercy, Love….Jesus!!

30 May

In the Garden

in the garden 2

The kids are bickering. The dog is barking at some invisible force of evil. The phone keeps ringing. There are chores to be done and emails to answer. The calendar is full, there isn’t an inch of breathing room or a moment for us to take a breath. In the last couple of months, we’re taken one huge step closer to adopting; we’ve bounced from family crisis to family crisis; we’ve buried my grandmother; and wrestled with health problems.

But here, the birds are singing and a slight breeze kisses my cheeks.

It all falls away. All the stress. I can breathe. I can think. I can hear myself think.

When my hunky hubby comes home and finds me here, he chuckles, “how did I know you’d be out here”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At my grandmother’s funeral we sang her favorite hymn, In the Garden.

And as I pull weeds and water I begin to sing…

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own,

The joy we share while we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

In these crazy days of late spring when calendars go crazy and family drama seems to be at its highest I find I am running on empty.

Our garden full of growing goodness takes a lot of work. But somehow, to me, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like relief. In the quiet of the garden the rest of the world fades away. From my vantage point in the corner of the yard I can watch family life unfold and be a heartbeat away, but I can pray, sing, and tend to my heart’s content. It has become the place where I go to be with my Jesus.

We need that, you know? Someplace we can put the world down and just be with Jesus. Exhale our issues and inhale the aroma of love and grace. Where is that place for you? I have some friends who have prayer corners/areas and others who take a walk. I would love to hear about your places of refuge and respite.

For months I’ve been looking for God, wanting to feel Him, to know He’s close. And yet, somehow I felt so far away. No matter how I prayed, or worshipped or begged, God seemed to have pulled away.

 I can’t work my way closer to God — there’s no magic formula of prayer + worship +works = God. I can’t demand God to come close or manipulate Him through tears and begging. It is not my church, my pastor, my life group or my husband that are responsible for drawing me close to God.

It was at my grandmother’s funeral that God’s words struck a chord in my heart,

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him; (Psalm 37:7)

But it would take a couple of weeks before I could really hear those words. Know that they were for me. For my heart.

There I sat in the garden. Weeding done. Watering done.

The droplets of water on the tomato leaves caught my eye.

The sun glinting of the water. How beautiful and magical one leaf and one little bead of water seemed. So refreshing and beautiful.

It was there. It was then. I got it. I understood months of silence…what God has been leading me too for weeks.

All the things I do for God are great — ministry, keeping our home, teaching our children, Bible studies, volunteering and more. They are great opportunities to exercise my faith and work for my Jesus, but they don’t earn my to God or make Him want to draw close to me.

It is when I’m still. When I wait on God. When I just lean in and listen to the heartbeat of my Savior. It is then, there, that God begins to draw close to me.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. (James 4:8)

It is when I put the world down and come to God that He comes to me.

…He’s been waiting for me….in the garden.

And so it is, this spring, that if I don’t answer the phone or return your email. If Facebook is silent and blogs are stale…you know where I’ll be….

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

24 May

Living a Life, Leaving a Legacy

Grandmas bible

As I stare at the stained glass window and let the pastor’s words,wash over me. I begin to think of her.

I can hear her voice. I can see he face as she sings hymns of praise. I remember her Bible on the table next to her chair in the living room.

Time, age and,illness have robbed of us of who she is. Her shirt stained with today’s meal, her grunts and vocalizations instead of words, her ability to sleep and eat at the same time…these were the things of everyday life, now, with my grandmother.

But as I sat in that church and listened to her favorite scriptures, her most loved hymns, of her life, her marriage,and her faith…I began to remember my grandmother – virtuous woman of God.

And as so often happens when we ponder someone’s death I began to think of my own, someday. What will my children remember of their momma and their childhood? Will how I loved and served my husband be a story written of Jesus and my love for Him? Will my life of faith offer comfort to my family at my death?

My grandmother gave us a gift, perhaps not even intentionally, to help us celebrate her life, her faith, her love for Jesus and the Bible.

On the inside cover of her Bible she wrote a list of Scriptures that touched her life and heart, of hymns that moved her heart to praise. It was with this list that her funeral was planned…a glimpse of Jesus in her life.

And as if writing a love note to her broken-hearted family, the page starts out…

“Have no anxiety about…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And ends with…

Do not let your hearts be troubled. John 14:1

And as I think about my grandma dressed in robes of righteousness, face-to-face with her Jesus, I’m not anxious or sad or troubled. I’m moved to joyful tears. For she is where she was made to be…where her heart always looked towards…

So, my friends today I urge to keep your eyes on Jesus. When the work hours are long, when the kids are bickering, when you are stuck in traffic or in life. Just lean into your Savior, following Him. For each moment writes the story of your life…you are living a life and leaving a legacy…for yourself and for Jesus.

13 Sep

The Luck of the Blessed

clovers in bible

My husband finds four-leaf clovers everywhere. Just walking across the yard or a small patch of grass he just bends down and pulls them up. It amazes me.

I could search for days, weeks, months in small areas and wouldn’t find one. Not one.

A few weeks ago, I asked hunky hubby to find a clover, then show me the area it is in. Don’t point it out, let me find it.

Last week while preparing the yard for mowing he found a small patch (a couple of square feet) of clover and it had four four-leaf clovers in it. The odds were totally in my favor. And, I found them, well three of them (our daughter found the other). I was so excited. And I joked that they probably weren’t lucky anymore since I didn’t just find them on my own. Nonetheless, I came inside and pressed them in my Bible. These were keepers.

As part of this standing on the edge, following God lifestyle, I am hosting a retreat this fall. {Local? Want more information? Click on the Retreat link to the right or email me.} I chose a very simple format that will have the women deep in God’s word for the whole weekend, allowing for many moments of worship, prayer, reflection and bonding. To this end, I chose the book of Esther. We will read, study and absorb the truth in a powerful little book that while never mentioning God’s name delivers a powerful picture of providence and destiny.

Almost immediately opinions, disappointment and upset were hurled at me. After I got over the shock that my choice of subject matter for a free retreat, that I am doing all the work on, would draw criticism, I began to think about what people were saying. The major complaint or comment from women that weren’t coming was they had studied Esther before. Well, so have I. I had the pleasure of leading a Beth Moore study a few years back, and I learned a lot! I came away from that study inspired and empowered. I learned a lot about Esther (the book and the woman). But as much as I learned I didn’t learn it all. No offense to my friend Beth {oh yes, we’re friends, even though we’ve never met!}, but biblical knowledge does not end in her capable hands. No I think the hands that made Heaven and Earth are probably the ones that hold all knowledge. And until I am able to see His hands I will continue to study books over and over and over again looking for more of what He has to tell me.

As I prepared I was determined to put Logos Bible Software to the test as I searched the pages and verses for new meanings, new teachings, new concepts. So, I opened my Bible again. And what do you think I found???

 

 

The four-leaf clovers. When I slid them in my Bible I paid no attention to where they were and, truthfully, promptly forgot they were there.

You know, life is much like my experience  with these clovers. There are unexpected joys and graces EVERYWHERE {even in the boring grass we walk across}, and we miss so many of them. Those that we do run across are often dismissed as coincidence not recognized as the hand of God placing a blessing upon us for or before us to run into. We call it luck. He calls it blessed.

As we go through our days on earth it is the unexpected phone calls from a friend; the parking space up front in the rain; the sticky kisses of  small child; the gentle hand of a care giver; winning the lottery; a smile when the world seems bleak; and so many other things that God plants along the way.

Did you know that there are 300 species of clover? I didn’t either, don’t worry. Clover also grows in almost all of the Northern hemisphere, but can also be found in Africa and South America. Meaning that it can survive varying conditions and landscapes. Clover is almost everywhere. And considering the number of four-leaf clovers my hubby finds right here in our yard I dare to say there are likely thousands around the world at any one time. That’s a lot of luck.

Now, did you know that the word luck doesn’t appear in the Bible? At least not in any English translations. Hmmmm….

You know what I think? Of course luck isn’t in the Bible!! Because luck {a force that brings good fortune or adversity or the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual – according to the dictionary} implies that there is something in the universe left to chance. To think that God would speak a world into existence, send His son to die for those He so dearly loved and spend everyday caring for us and then just leave it all up to a roll of the dice. Absurd. Counting the good (and what we consider bad) as anything less than God’s grace, as anything less than His expression of love for His creation, is not only disrespectful, it is wrong. It is believing a lie and choosing to miss the truth.

Luck discounts grace. Luck discounts God. Luck robs life of the splendor of God. Of the splendor of Grace.

Again, I find myself deep into Esther’s story. She’s been chosen queen through a twisted beauty contest that ends in sex with a virtual, albeit powerful, stranger. One that swept her into not only living outside the law of her God, but also that required her hide her truth, her past, her faith (if she had any). Lucky?? I don’t think so. But destined to do amazing things for God, absolutely. Through Esther (the book and the woman) we learn that God’s power is not limited to our thoughts, dreams, hopes or mentioning of His name. God is sovereign and His will will be done, period.

The book of Esther is a great training ground for us to begin to recognize God’s hand. You know how it is, isn’t it always easier to see what someone else should do in their lives or how God is working in a girlfriend’s life? Well, so it is in the book of Esther. Read it. Find all the places you can see that God is intervening or has a laid a course straight toward salvation (not only for Jews in Persia, but for mankind through those same people). Go ahead. Now step back from Esther and begin looking in your own life. Look for the places God has chosen to bless you.

I’m learning more from Esther this time than any other time I’ve read and studied it, perhaps because God has called me to “such a time as this” (Esther 4). God calling me to Esther today, was not just to prepare for this retreat or just to study His word. No today it came with a reminder, three reminders actually. That grace is not luck…it is carefully delivered love. That God does not choose the lucky but blesses the broken. These are four-leaved reminders that God’s grace is everywhere, just waiting for me to spot it, find it, fall in it, walk under it…count it.

14 Feb

Fridge Magnet Truth & Tissue Paper Love


The little magnet on the back barely holds it onto the fridge. The sheer weight of its truth almost makes it too heavy to be useful. But even before it touched the fridge something about the craft struck a chord so deep in me that I almost couldn’t breathe.

I can hear some of you now. Um, yeah, Wendy its a foam heart with a cross on it. And???
Stick with me here.
Just hours before Jesus died He was sharing a meal with those closest to Him, the disciples. It is at that meal that Jesus gives the disciples a new commandment. “Love one another.” There’s the long and the short of it. So simple and yet, so darn hard. Love one another. Not like. Not put up with. Love.
But, I digress.
Jesus says that is how the world will know that we are His. Our love for one another. Not by the Scripture you can recite. Not by the number of times you go to church. Not a pew with your name on it. Not how well behaved your children are. Your love for others.
What is stamped on your heart? As I held Isabel’s Sunday school craft project in my hands I heard the echoes of Jesus…by this they will know you…by this they will know me.

With that truth ringing in my ears I continued my quest for the perfect Valentine’s card for my sweet hubby. He always seems to find just the right card — love, devotion, God and romance all sealed tight in an envelope with my name on it. For every holiday. I struggle. I must read 50 cards every time I go searching for one for him. Be it valentines, birthdays, whatever. There are never the right words. NEVER!
And this year was no different. Feeling like a failure I gave up the hunt this year. There is no card for my man, because no one can speak the love that is in my heart for him.
Hallmark doesn’t make the my life sucked then you appeared card. Or the why do you find my attractive?? I don’t get it, but I’m thankful for it card. Or how about the thanks for putting up with my mood swings, food cravings and emotional breakdowns card (that would be a hot seller, huh?)
As our peanuts began making cards for daddy it struck me. I can make a card, because I know the love I have for that man.
So I wrote. (that was the easy part) I spilled out my lil heart on the inside of a folded piece of card stock. With the final stroke of my name signed at the bottom I was pleased…there is our truth in this card. The love, the laughter, the silliness, the blessings and the Creator of our love.
I folded it shut. Happy. Content. Excited to give it to him.
But there on the table laid a plain piece of folded white card stock. Hardly a romantic card. Then the spark of creativity flashed in my brain. Grabbing glue, tissue paper and a pen I was off like a flash. Creative magic was happening right here in my kitchen.
When I was done it isn’t exactly the beautiful masterpiece I had envisioned. Not so much…

And for a split second I was ready to toss it out. Ready to face my hubby with no card on the most romantic day of the year (okay, so it was a melodramatic split second). And then I opened it again.
There under that mass of sorta, kinda heart shaped tissue paper is our love. My heart calling to his. There would be no throwing it out.
I have spent years waiting for huge spiritual truths to come crashing into my life…like a heavenly meteor lined with the knowledge I need. I study and pray and wait for spiritual enlightenment in grown up ways. And where did it come from this week…fridge magnets and tissue paper. Ha, so simple I could have missed it.
Father, how blessed we are that You love us. That you teach us how to love. Thank you for the truth of who you are and what we’ve been given. Thank you using the simplest things to teach the biggest lessons.
19 Aug

He Waits for You

Someone asked me recently, “What would you want them to know?”

We were discussing the two children I placed for adoption in my early twenties. “That I love them,” was my immediate response.

With a nod she said, “Of course they’ll know that. Just by your sacrifice. They’ll know that.”

That answer should have given me a warm fuzzy feeling. After all that’s what marks the experience of a birthmother, the experience of carrying a baby for nine months and kissing if fair well…giving them up. Sacrifice. Right?

But it didn’t.

You see, I want them to know I love them. That a day doesn’t go by that they are not in my thoughts and prayers. That everyday there is a hole that only they can fill. That as wonderful as my life is, it will never be complete until I look into their eyes and tell them I love them. That’s it, right there…that I can tell them I love them. I wait for the day when our relationship is not defined by any labels, letters or words spoken by others but of moments filled with life lived together. I wait to know their laughter, memorize their smiles and get to know them.

And it occurred to me as I began to ponder the longing and the waiting. That perhaps my experience as a birthmother is not so unlike Jesus’s experience of longing and waiting for us.

The stories of His sacrifice are universal, people who don’t even “believe” can recite the details of His birth and His death. But He wants more than just a nod at what He gave up for us.

He waits for us to look for Him – – to understand that He is more than any label or book or words spoken by others. He is God. He made your heart and wants to whisper His love to you daily.

I have no idea if (or when) I will get the chance to know my girls, but every day I have the opportunity to lay my heart in the scarred hands of the One who waits for me. The thought that Jesus loves me and longs for me has taken on a whole new meaning in my life as I view it through the lens of my own wanting and waiting for love.

What do you long for? A baby? A husband? A wife? Healing? How does it make you feel to know that there is someone that has that same passion and grief for you? Take a moment today and bask in the love that we so often take for granted. Thank Him for waiting for you.

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