"While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:18
If you read my blog on a regular basis or are friends with me on Facebook, you know my Saturday morning ritual. I wake up, grab my coffee...quietly as to not wake up the kids or puppies, and pick up my Bible and journal. I sit in my favorite spot, our window seat, and I meet with my favorite, my God.
This meeting is not an option, I make sure this happens. Other times I take time during lunch or before bed, or at a coffee shop. I don't do this as a legalistic type of thing but as what I need to be healed. The week is long, there are many trials, but, there is one place where I can find peace, at the feet of Jesus.
It hasn't always been this way, and I probably wouldn't be in this place if it weren't for my friend asking me to join her pursuit group. No devotional, no reading plan, no rules, except, meet with God, often. When God says, Be still and Know I am God, he means it. It is very rare that I come from my time with him without hearing from him in some way. He changes my heart.
Remember last week when I talked about how I was going on a worry and fear fast
? That God had laid it on my heart to turn to him when I start to worry or be scared? Well the very next day, I was reading Jesus Today by Sara Young. He handed me this passage, and I couldn't believe my eyes:
Be of good courage, and I will strengthen your heart. I want My children to be brave-not cowardly. In fact, the Bible contains warnings of dire consequences for the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers.
When you are going through very tough times and there is no relief in sight, you usually start looking for a way out. These escapist longings stem from self-pity and a sense of entitlement: You think you deserve better conditions than your current situation. But when you think this way, you are ignoring My sovereignty over your life. Though your circumstances may indeed be painful and difficult, they are not worthless. So muster the courage to say yes to your life, trusting that I am in control and I am with you in your struggles.
Come to Me with a courageous heart, hoping in Me, and I will bless you in many ways. Moreover, I will multiply your small act of bravery: I will strengthen your heart.
Friends, this is just a glimpse of what the pursuit of the father looks like. We commit to sit with him, and he teaches us who he is and heals our hurts. And then, in his strength sitting under the canopy of his love and care, we pour out all we have at his feet, and we leave it there. Because, dear ones, we need him. We need him to be courageous, we need him to do what is right, we need him because there is nothing in this world for you that is any better.
A year ago, I doubted his presence in my life, and now I can see only him. He is so worthy of our praise. Maybe it's time you answer his call to meet with him. Maybe you just need to sit down and say, "change my heart God, because I can't do it." I feel called to go boldly before the throne for you:
Jesus, you are good, you are mighty and I pray that those who read this today, will answer your call to meet with you. They will be brave when you ask them to do what is right, and they will know who you are. You love them with a pure love, that we can not imagine. I pray they experience your peace, and will turn to you alone with their hurts and pains. Change us Lord, we can't do it, we need you, it's so simple. Help us to not make our time with you complicated, but a time where we can hear the faint whisper of your voice over the rumblings of this world. Take us to a place we have never been and arm us with strength and compassion. Thank you father, thank you for these sweet people. Amen
Deuteronomy 13:4 - The Voice (VOICE)
Remain loyal to Him! Fear Him and obey His commands. Listen to His voice. Worship Him alone. Be fervently devoted to Him.
What would life look like for you if you took away worry or fear? How would you navigate those feelings if you chose to not live with them in your life? What or whom would you turn to instead?
These are the questions I'm asking myself. It all started when I was driving down the road, listening to the radio, and someone was talking about fasting. The only time I ever fasted from food it ended in complete disaster. So, basically I was half listening... However, they went on to explain they gave up two things: worry and fear. THIS got my attention. I felt God grip my heart in that moment. I clearly felt moved to fast for 40 days, starting today, giving up the two things I know keep me from peace.
Over the years, I have clung to fear. I have allowed fear to guide my decisions, and I have given huge portions of my day over to worry. Sometimes I have experienced fear that was so great I couldn't move on from it. This really isn't conducive to joy. Certainly not God's joy.
I'm reminded of the fears I have learned to overcome through trail running. At the beginning of my trail running experiences, I fell several times. Each time, my pride was bruised along with my hands, and sometimes my knees. Then one day, my dear husband, asked me to run through a greenbelt. This area was rather rocky. I literally felt I couldn't run through it. I wouldn't listen to my husband as he tried to coax me through this somewhat challenging but beautiful spot. I ended up having a terrible time, and I'm sure he did too. Now, as I run at one of our favorite nature preserves, while I'm sometimes fearful in places, I no longer allow that fear to keep me from doing something I really enjoy. This is due to a trust, a trust that comes from listening to my husband, who has studied trail running extensively. Similar to giving up fearful running practices, giving up fearful living allows me to raise my bruised and dirty hands to God and experience his peace.
When God asked me to give up worry and fear I wondered, how on earth was going to do it. This morning, with a renewed sense of purpose, I have been very cognizant of these two powerful emotions. I know that I won't go through a day without worrying or being afraid but what I do with these emotions is what God is concerned with. When I have felt a worry or fearful thought creep into my mind, I have tried to turn them back over to Jesus. This has enabled me to move on and focus on what really matters, my relationship with God and serving those he loves.
It's only been a day, and really the day is not over, and I am astounded at how much I give over to worry and fear. I need Jesus to live in freedom, I cannot do it on my own. Sweet ones, don't worry and fear, instead cling to your Father in heaven, who loves you so. Listen to his voice. Devote your time and efforts to him, nothing else. Let your minds be renewed!
“The Eternal saves His faithful; He lends His strength in hard times; The Eternal comes and frees them—frees them from evildoers and saves them for eternity simply because they seek shelter in Him.” Psalm 37:39-40
The more I delve into my relationship with God the less I doubt his presense in my life. There was a time that I thought my doubts would always rule my heart, my mind, my life, and my actions. I wanted to believe but I needed to know for sure God was real and real in my life.
My response was counter-productive, I stepped away from God. I turned towards my selfishness, and left our relationship in the dust, in the ashes, in the pile of broken pieces. I wanted to hide my sin, my shame, and my brokeness, because I thought that God was not big enough to heal any of it. I decided to carry my guilt like a badge of honor. No longer was I going to struggle with doubt, I was going to embrace it.
Oh friends, what a terrible choice I made. What I found was a year of hardship, heartache, and my spirit became sick and I was weary. My burden was heavy, and grew heavier everyday. I turned to humans, to fill the void, and what I found was that I was filling my time, my life, and my work with selfish pursuits.
It was only when I grabed the hand of my savior and accepted his invitation to come, that my doubt melted away. Not to say it doesn't creep back sometimes, but the tighter I hold on to my heavenly father, the less that doubt has its way with me. This requires that I seek Him before everything. I wake up early, I skip going to lunch with friends, I am still, I praise, and I am thankful.
I didn't ask to go back to God, I was beckoned to and he assured me he had waited there for me all along. He's waiting for you. He has his hand held out. His scars reminding you and I of the price he paid for our sins so that we can abide in him without guilt of who we were. My soul was weary and my righteousness was rags
, He saw past that, and loved me through it all.
Are you doubting God and who he is and how he works in your life? That's OK. That is where you will find Him. Spend some time being still. Ps. 46:10 says "Be still and know that I am God." In our business is where our selfish ways, and broken hearts live. When we are still, we can sit by a river, drink the water of life, hear his whispers in the wind, and be healed.
Sweet friends, I lift you and your lives up to the Father. I pray his blessings over you, that you may know the richness of his love, and that we do not forget who he is. May you know him in a way that you will not be shaken. God loves you more than you know. Drink it in, let all else go.
Broken hearted and devestaded, I had avoided many reports about Moore, OK. Yet, I had to know what happened, so on my way in to work, I listened to the horror the city was going through. Tears, fell from my eyes, as the accounts of little ones taken and families losing all they had were told. I just couldn't wrap my head around it, and really I still can't. I pleaded with God to show those parents mercy. I asked him why such a thing was allowed. I cried in the arms of the one that gives peace that passess my understanding.
Then he spoke, "Draw near to me and I will draw near to you."
I've never lost a child, and I can't begin to equate any experience in my life to that kind of loss. But, I have lost loved ones. I have experienced grief and a broken heart. And I have no answers to offer, and for reasons beyond our knowledge God doesn't reveal them either.
We have a desire to cover our hurt, avoid it, make it go away, and run from it. I know I have that in me. We just want to make everything alright. It doesn't work, then we are left feeling empty and just as lost as we were. Draw near? Could it be that simple?
Following Jesus, is actually very simple. It only requires you look to him. It reminds me of the story of Peter. He asks Peter to step out on the water, one rule, keep his eyes on Jesus. When Peter looked away, he started to sink. Drawing near, requires one thing, keeping your eyes on the one who calls you to come and he gives you rest.
When we hear of the devestation our neighbors have experienced, our first reaction is to shake our fists, and become angry. Then we sink in our despair, hope leaves us, and again we are lost.
Join me, in this moment, and let's draw near to God. Let's allow him the opportunity to heal us, to put together our brokeness. There is hope for those who know him:
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Psalm 51:17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Life is hard. We are going to experience great loss and hurt. We are going to make bad choices, people will hurt us. When our eyes are fixed on Jesus we won't sink in our fear and despair. We will instead walk upon the water and answer his call, Draw near to me and I will draw near to you. In our grief and hurt we can rest in arms and we are renewed.
If you or your family/friends were touched by this tragic week, I lift you up to the father. I ask that he shows his face to you in a mighty way, and eases your burden. I ask that he is merciful and completes his promise of comfort. I am for you, and so is he.
I've started this blog post over and over again, struggling with what I wanted to talk about. I re-read journal entries, tried to make sense of things but, it just isn't working. Taking a step back, I ask God, "what do you want to say," This is what I think He wants me to talk to you about. It may not make sense or be anything you care about. But, here it is: Jesus Loves You!The fact that I was struggling with what I wanted to say means that I was trying, in my own strength to make something beautiful for you to read. I wasn't embracing the message that you needed to hear today. You are loved.
You were loved from the beginning and you are loved now. You are loved when you fall. When you raise your dirty hands and face to God, He still loves you. He loves you when you don't even acknowledge he's there. We sow the wind, and we reap the whirlwind.
We leave our security, our safeguard, to do things on our own that we know will ultimately fail. Yet he takes our weaknesses and failures and turns them into something good.
These three words: Jesus Loves You, should be the most transforming three words you ever hear. Yet we reject it, we are satisfied with reaping the whirlwind. I know I am.
Hard to feel loved without any strings attached, isn't it? Our parents fail us, we fail our kids, we let our bosses down, we hurt our friends, and we love with conditions. Yet, there is someone who died on the cross for you. He loves you so much that he bared your sin and renamed you by his grace. Jesus Loves You.
I think about Mary of Bethany. Her reaction to Jesus raising Lazarus up from the dead and his love for her. Mary took a pound of fine ointment, pure nard (which is both rare and expensive), and anointed Jesus’ feet with it; and then she wiped them with her hair. As the pleasant fragrance of this extravagant ointment filled the entire house. I want to sit at the feet of Jesus and pour out all that I have, including what I value the most. Pour out my future and my past. Wash his feet with what I hold as beautiful. I want my reaction to his love to be sweet and fragrant and that is what people see. I want nothing more, because nothing else will do friends.
He loves you, and he loves me and nothing can separate us from that love. It's just that simple. Don't make it an act of works, make your life soft to Jesus' love. And then love one another, with as much grace and mercy as you can muster.
Spend sometime allowing Jesus to hold your hand and listen to the song below and then pour out what you have been holding on to so hard that you just can't accept this love. Lay it down and open your hands, and be loved. Bless you and thanks for reading today.
My Dearest Children,
As a child, I wanted nothing more than to be a mom. In fact I would lay awake at night and pray that Jesus would not come any sooner than I could have babies and be a wife. I didn't want to be a doctor, I didn't want to be a lawyer, or anything other than a mom.
(I did want to be a comedian for a brief moment but, I wasn't very funny. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction mom.)
On July 7, 1997 at the very young age of 20, I gave birth to a 7 lb. dark headed, blue eyed baby boy. I held you son, in my arms, and realized just how unprepared I was to be a mom. It was at that point I remember thinking, "I really don't know all I thought I did." What I did know is I've never loved someone as much before that moment. God saved my life that day, I died to a deep and powerful selfishness. I saw the love of the father in your eyes.
On March 6, 2003, into the world came a 10 lb dark headed, blue eyed baby girl. So, unexpected this sweet girl, came into the world bigger than we had planned. Sweet girl, you are in the middle of our family and perfectly you have been placed. You bring us together with your love. Our bad days are sweetened by your hugs and kisses. God saved my life that day, I died to my unbelief that someone could love me so powerfully. I saw the love of the father in the sweet smell of the top of your head.
On June 18, 2008, a blond headed, little bitty 6lb baby girl came powerfully into this world. Labor brought pain, and was quite possibly the hardest thing I've endured in my life, physically. As I learned to nurse you, we spent quiet and lovely times together in the darkness of night. Little bird, your singing and dancing brighten this otherwise dark life. God saved my life that day, I died to the belief that a happy life is a life that isn't hard. I saw the love of Jesus, as we have spent time together, thanking him for cheerios and mac and cheese.
I want you all to know some things. I will not claim to be a great mom, or even good. But what I will claim is that God loves you more than I ever could. I can't even think how that is possible but, it's true. I will fail you, I will disappoint you and I will stumble in my love for you but, he will be faithful in his loving kindness. When life gets you down, it is an opportunity to turn your heart to God, the one that is constant and always near. He is unmovable. You will stray, you will mess up, you will get dirty, and trade what you know is true for lies. But, the hope you will find in your God will never disappoint. He picks up your broken pieces, and your ashes and gives you a crown of beauty in return.
I have named you Charles, Madeline, and Zoe but he will write a name on your heart that will never go away, Grace, Mercy, Redemption. If I teach you nothing else, please hear this, our world hard, it will not get easier, your burden will be great, and people, they will hurt you. But you are loved, by me, by your dad, and by a savior who sent his son to die on the cross just for you.
I am so grateful to be your mom. Each of you bring me delight more than you will EVER know. This privilege was an answer to a prayer I prayed at the age of 5. Thank you for being born. Thank you for the blessing that is you.
It's spring, and if you're a gardener and live in Texas you know you have your work cut out for you. Here in North Texas the soil is hard and unforgiving. The weather is unpredictable, and finding time to garden is nearly impossible. Producing something of worth is back-breaking work. There's hope, and it comes in the form of fresh veggies, and beautiful flowers. These are the fruits of your labor.
This is the way it is in my life. I've made a mess of things. Even as I say that, I know that I'm make my sin palatable to you. I want to soften the blow. I want to say, it's OK we all sin, I'm fine. But, sin isn't soft...It's as hard as the North Texas soil. It covers a soft and pliable heart for the Lord. It is chasm, filled lies, unfaithfulness to God, idols, discontent, and more.
Plant a crop of righteousness for yourselves,
harvest the fruit of unfailing love,
And break up your hard soil,
because it’s time to seek the Eternal
until He comes and waters your fields with justice.
Tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month. That means, at my church we will take communion. Since I'm leading worship I was asked to lead that process as well. I've taken a step back and looked at communion, and what does it mean to break bread with my fellow believers. We are all so very broken. Broken into pieces by the hardship of living in this world and by sin. I would often pass on taking communion because, I felt like I needed to bring to God a perfect life. I would feel unworthy of sacrament. I thought it was for others and not me, not this dirty and wretched woman.
I'll be honest, I missed the mark. That self-centered belief that God wants perfection was so wrong. God asks that I bring to him my broken pieces, my ashes...my messed up life. He asks that I lay it at his feet and ask for forgiveness. He asks that I look at my sin through his eyes, and see how it grieves him. He asks this of us, not so that we reap judgement and shame but that we trade these ashes for beauty, that we may bring him glory. This dirt in our lives, he uses to draw us nearer to him.
As we sit at the table with other broken believers, we pass the bread in remembrance of Christ and his broken body on the cross, broken for us, broken for me. We pass the wine and drink deeply. This is in remembrance of Christ's spilled blood. The blood that pours down from the cross and covers or sins, my sins. It covers our past, our present, and our future.
1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
23 I passed on to you the tradition the Lord gave to me: On the same night the Lord Jesus was betrayed, He took the bread in His hands; 24 and after giving thanks to God, He broke it and said, “This is My body, broken for you. Keep doing this so that you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me.” 25 After they had finished dinner, He took the cup and in the same way said, “This cup is the new covenant, executed in My blood. Keep doing this; and whenever you drink it, you and all who come after will have a vivid reminder of Me.” 26 Every time you taste this bread and every time you place the cup to your mouths and drink, you are declaring the Lord’s death, which is the ultimate expression of His faithfulness and love, until He comes again.
I have a tendency to make my sin OK and justified. But, God wants to heal us. He wants to make our lives a reflection of his glory drenched in redemption. This is part of my story -this is your story.
I'm among the mockers that have brought dishonor to my king but, there is forgiveness. There is the body and the blood of Christ. He is our hope. He is our present hope and our future. He forgets who we were.
Allow God to break the hard soil, so that you may reap his righteousness. Come to the table. Bring your broken hearts, your shattered dreams, and your pains and hurts. Then, you will find communion among a body of believers who are broken like you and you will be healed.
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
, this was the way God drew me near, this time. He faithfully removed from my life all the things that took his place. My security was tucked into my things. It took a house, two cars, and a job for me to see how I had chosen to steer my life by my desires. He does this as an act of love and compassion. He saves us from ourselves, He saved me. Oh how he loves us.
Hosea 2: 14 But once she has nothing, I’ll be able to get through to her. I’ll entice her and lead her out into the wilderness where we can be alone, and I’ll speak right to her heart and try to win her back.
I was the bride God saw as unfaithful and wondering yet, in his goodness he wooed me back. He did all of this knowing, I would once again wonder in some way. Like a sheep in need of a shepherd, God scooped me up and brought me back. There I was, nothing left, and He spoke to my heart. "I've been waiting for you here." Oh how he loves us.
Hosea 3: 5 And afterward, once their devotion is renewed, they’ll return and genuinely worship the Eternal their God,
and they’ll end their rebellion against the royal house of David. In those days they’ll come trembling to the Eternal One and rediscover His goodness.
I consider times when I tried to worship out of my selfishness. The worshiping of me worshiping the father. My rebellion knew no bounds, knew no end. My worship was unworthy of his alter. As my honor was restored, once my devotion renewed, I entered into a genuine worship of my God. Oh how he loves us.
Hosea 2:23 To the one who has not been shown mercy, I’ll rename her Mercy.
During one of my quiet times with God, we spoke about Mercy. He laid down the name Mercy and etched it into my being. I had thought he may be bringing us another baby. But, now I see he was renaming my life with his Mercy. The world shows no mercy. It's hateful, and unforgiving at times. God renames us by his mercy. This deep and powerful act of love and devotion.
Unfailing is his mercy. Oh how he loves us so.
Trusting in Jesus often feels foreign to me. Time and time again my first reaction to adversity is one of sadness and loathing. Instead of turning to the one thing that has my best interest at heart I will, in my humanness, turn away. And so it went when I had lost everything.
Standing in the middle of a grocery store, being told my car's engine blew up, signified that the last thing we owned was gone. I had, up until that point, made the world know that I wasn't the type of girl to lay down in front of my home, and say, "NO you can't have it." But, here I was hearing the news, walking for hours, without purpose around the grocery store, as if someone had told me my child had been taken from me. Bitter tears and a broken heart and spirit didn't serve to bring me closer to Christ, at least I thought. Instead I chose to selfishly abandon my pursuit of him, during that moment.
It's hard to admit that, as a Christ follower, I follow him so imperfectly. It's probably more than that, it's hard to admit, I turn away from God. Often, I'll write about how this hard thing happened and how much God lifted me out of despair. This is true, but it's harder to share when I choose the wrong thing. Friends, I make the wrong choice more often than not.
I'm a master of wrapping things up in a pretty package and delivering it to you. I say, "Here look at this, learn from me, follow what I've done." Not only do I fail to show you how broken I really am, I fail to point you to Jesus. It's not what I'm doing right and what you are doing wrong. It's not about loss and gain. It's less me, and more Jesus.
I'm seeing a stripped down faith. Faith that allows me to trust in the one that sent his son to die for my sins. Faith that flips me around and sits me at the feet of Jesus, ready to learn, ready to listen. Love, so grateful, sweet, and kind, that I'm blown away each day. How foolish I was.
Do not fear, you wild beasts: You will eat again,
for the desert pastures are green again!
And so will we: the trees bear their fruit;
the fig trees and the vines produce their bounty once again.
Joel 2:26 - 27
...you will eat plenty of food and always have enough,
so you will praise My name,
The Eternal One, your God who is merciful to you...
Return to Me and you will know that I live among my People...
Yes, loosing all my "stuff" was hard but that is where I found God. I'm stripped down and ready to follow.
When I was born in 1977, my aunt Rebecca was 10 years old. My mom tells me she was doting, and protective of me. I can't think of anything I liked better than to go to my grandma's house and spend time with Rebecca.
Despite being so small, I have nothing but memories of her. I would spend the night with her and she would teach me things. I think probably things she was learning in school. She was funny, and beautiful, so beautiful.
I remember one night we there was an eclipse. She used hair product bottles to show me how the solar system works. I recall her taking me to the mall and buying Nikes. This was luxury and we ran through the mall and laughed and laughed. Rebecca had a huge collection of Smurfs, and we would play with them.
She was also very moody and would put signs on her door for no one to come in. I remember asking my grandmother why she would do that and she just blamed it on her being a teenager. Now that I have a teenager, I get it.
Rebecca, being the beautiful girl she was attracted men. One man in particular, was separated from his wife. He dated Rebecca for a short time and went back to his wife. She was broken, this broke her even further.
She was 15 when she decided to go home. Left in her wake was a father who found her, after she used his gun to leave this hard place. I was sitting in my front yard, playing with a friend. My mom stumbled outside, screaming. She was left here too. To deal with this sadness,loss, betrayal of the heart. This broke her spirit.
After Rebecca was gone, I sat in her room. I cried and asked her why she left me. This friendship was over. I needed her, and she was gone. My spirit was broken, at 5. Learning what desperation is at such a young age, is a hard lesson.
Depression runs in my family. We wrestle in the dark often. But, I've found hope. In Psalm 30:11 the Psalmist says,"You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light." This is how I feel, most days now.
Yes, there are times when I don't want to do this anymore. When life gets really hard. I experience sadness and the darkness comes towards me. But, God is in the midst of my fragility. His care for me is so much greater than my care for myself.
All I have to offer God is my broken spirit. This is what he has said to me about that:
Beloved, I will take care of you, allow me to be your caregiver.
I am your safeguard and help
I will fill your emptiness with living water
You offer me you broken heart
I will take it,heal it, and protect it
I will hold you. I will help you be brave.
I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't say this. If you think your friend, child, loved one is sad and so sad they can't deal with it on their own, they can't. Get them help, battle with them, and don't give up. If you are in the darkness, and can't find away out, reach out and get the help you need. There is no shame in this struggle. God uses our weakness. Part of offering our brokenness on his alter is knowing we can't do it alone.
Rebecca walks with Jesus and sings praises to him. I'm happy she is now perfectly healed. But, I miss her. I want her to know my kids, my life, and me. She would have loved my husband as much I do. This is whats left when someone leaves too soon. In my sadness, I turn to God, he says, Blessed are those that mourn for they will be comforted.