Not too many days ago, which, if I am completely honest with you – is about once a week – I have one of those pull-out-your-hair types of days.
Most of the time the impetus is my kids, and either some crazy mishap like poo on the floor, water all over the place, cooking extravaganzas gone horribly wrong or something else that is impossible to clean up.
Then I start playing the mole in the hole game as one thing after another pops up to drive me mad:
I start stubbing my toe.
The cabinets look a mess.
I can’t organize worth a small stack of T-bonds.
I needed to throw out everything (about 10 years ago).
I am the worst mom.
I can’t do things well.
Before I know it, I grab my AK-47 and start firing.
Normally the bullets hit my kids first, leaving what I assume are critical care wounds from words like this:
You are not listening.
You are not obeying.
You are frustrating me.
You are going to be punished.
You better do ____, or else!
I don’t want to be around you.
I am leaving you here until you can shape up.
Why can’t you __________?
Perhaps you shoot down your spouse this way too,
this kind of thing has been known to happen.
It’s interesting, isn’t it?
The ones we most love are the ones we most love to shoot. The ones that are closest always land our stray bullets. The ones most invested in us are the ones we most often try to rob.
It is as if somehow we know that their belief in us –
is also our greatest risk.
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Prov. 14:1
God’s spiritual inclinations repel from our earthly inclinations.
He’s basically like:
If you have a house, why are you ripping it apart? If you are building something great, are you really going to be so dumb as to ruin it? If you are wise, get wise about the words of identity you declare –
they determine the path of the ones you love.
Then, he graciously teaches mom his love and how to speak love.
He says, My Child, watch what I do,
then you will see and know how to speak.
I say things like:
I love you always, no matter how badly you mess up (or how bad your cabinets look).
I want to help you listen and obey.
I am with you and will guide you in the process.
I won’t leave you or push you aside when you fail.
I want to encourage you in all your ways.
If you have questions about my approach, just ask.
I won’t keep reminding you of all you have done wrong.
I love how I made you; I approve of you.
I love watching your small steps of improvement.
I wait for you to be near to me; I love being close to you.
What if I was to talk – like God talks to me?
What if rather than tearing down, I start laying down new bricks of life-long security?
What might that do to a dwelling? To the attitudes inside – and to the mom who feels subpar?
Somehow, I can’t help but think, when we start speaking grace, we start believing it.
Then, when moles sneak out of their holes, rather than believing they are creating dugouts that will sink our house, we remember what we have built. We step back, we see our foundation and we know God’s words and reinforced love made it strong.
We gently hear his voice say: “I will be with you. Just do your best and I will take care of the rest.”
And, things feel okay – and so does everyone else.
When I was with her, like a mind-reader, I could sense her emotions.
I could feel her temperatures rising – to the heights of Pluto.
I could sense all was not well with her soul.
Her words were shorter, her breathing tighter and her laughter less.
And all I could think was – what can I do to make her feel better?
Do you ever feel like me? Responsible to make others happy?
It wasn’t that life was crashing in. She was just handling groceries, dishes and daily clean up.
Yet, still, no matter how I talked, or what I did, her feelings didn’t seem to clean up. They didn’t. Despite my underlying words of: “Pull it together, so we can have fun together,” she didn’t budge.
And, then, what I did made it ten times worse, I’ll tell ya’ll, because I literally walked over, picked up her feelings and placed them inside me. I attached them to my heart like a fungus that even armies can’t beat. I wore anxiety just the same as her.
If you can’t beat ’em, join em,
unless you’re trying to minister to ’em,
and then you have probably just wrecked ’em.
Stepping back has given me the chance to see some things:
The wounded can’t easily be rescued by the wounded.
The wounded often need the Master Physician not the master fixer.
The wounded are hurting and sometimes space is the place where their heart finds peace.
If you want to minister and not manipulate, you have to terminate your need to placate.
If you want to stay at peace, you have to let others own their own feelings.
I am not the peace-maker, the joy-jester or the emotion-keeper, I am just as much a sinful soul that could fall down right next to that person if I am not careful.
I could fall down with the thoughts: I did something wrong. It is all my fault. She will not return to happiness today. I will have a horrible day. I don’t know what is about to happen.
Knowing this, there is only one place to land oneself in a moment like this – at the melting-point of God’s Word:
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Ps. 118:6
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Prov. 3:5
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear… 1 Jo. 4:18
If God is in charge, I don’t have to be.
If I can leave him with my anxieties, I don’t need them.
If I trust him, I can trust he will work out that persons issue.
If I let him work, he will accomplish change in atmospheres better than I ever could.
If I let go of worrying about others, I can find peace.
If I step back, I can see his power at work between the space of me and them.
If I lean on God in the turbulence of fear, I can find strength in the face of hope.
Where might God be calling you to lean in?
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Do you miss it?
It is right before your eyes.
Waiting for your astonishment…
It is God showing off.
If you are head down in iPhone…you won’t see it.
If you are worrying your pants off about what is to come…you won’t see it.
If you are yelling to that person next to you in traffic…you won’t see it.
If you are looking at what everyone else is wearing…you won’t see it.
If you are more concerned with your ways than his…you won’t see it.
Not because he doesn’t care for you, because he absolutely does.
Not because you aren’t his loved son or daughter, which you hopefully are.
Not because he is angry at you, because he is not, he just waiting for you to run back to him in repentance.
You won’t see, because you don’t allow yourself to see.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13
Eyes that are looking for God, find him. Eyes that are distracted, miss him.
Last night, my son ran into my room with a mid-night dream he wanted to share. I hushed him up and pushed him back to his bed, deathly afraid I would turn into a walking-zombie mother the next day from lack of sleep. Success! He returned to bed.
Until, he came back. He woke me again, but this time I hugged him. I loved on him as Christ might. I enjoyed the quietness of the moment. Then, I looked out the window…and saw it. Bright as day, as close as the breath of my own child, as bold as a phone call in the middle of the night – it stood. It was the moon, except for one thing…this moon’s rays shined only two ways – horizontal above the earth, and vertical – ground to heaven.
This moon was emitting rays in the shape – of a cross. A cross that owned the world.
(This picture does the cross no justice, because its rays extended far and wide, long and distanced, crisp and sword-like, prominent and powerful. They went straight down to the ground and straight up to the sky…it was gigantic and breathtaking.)
This moon declared Jesus’ victory over the plains of the fearful and the plans of evil.
It proclaimed the earth as belonging to God.
It blazed like a victory flag over our mayhem-ridden land.
It shined eternal sovereignty, which will never, ever, fade.
It confirmed it can’t beat the the sacrifice that will always endure.
It magnified Jesus’ ability and desire to cleanse the world of all pain, agony and hatred.
But, what if I had missed it?
What if instead of stopping to let my eyes adjust to the light of God outside,
I let sleep lure me inside?
Awaken! God is all around, but when our eyes look down, we miss the exact places where he is found.
Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Ps. 33:8
If we stop in the middle of rush, we will see – that it is us that God wants to touch.
If we look for wonder, we will find ourself wondering how we have such a great God.
If we pray to see, God will open our eyes up wider than they are after our third drink of coffee.
God waits to awe our socks off!
Nature testifies to the natural goodness of God. It is the present testament declaring both testaments of our living King. It confirms his majesty, administration and intentions.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Ro. 1:20
If you only see the white noise hum of “bore” before you – you’ll miss the “tremendously more” that God has – for you.
Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Ps. 2:11
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Stepping into an environment that is bigger than what we know and are familiar with, forces us to expand our knowledge and stretch our thoughts.
As uncomfortable as it is to step beyond the place of familiarity, true growth can only take place when we reach the end of our abilities and enter into the beginning of God’s. For me, this is the place where I rely on Him to show up in order to be successful. It is the place where my heart flutters in uncertainty of what lies ahead. It is the place where the shoe is a little big for me, but I chose to wear it anyway and trust that God will help me grow into it.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 Read More.
Where do I look, Lord? How do I do this, Lord? Who do I to turn to for help, Lord?
I need you, Lord, to guide me through this puzzle called life.
Holding my hand
So I can take the next step
Feeding and filling me with Your Word
So I can share it with others
Loving me – missing pieces and all
So I can love others in spite of their “missing pieces”
They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words. Luke 24:4-8 (The Message)
The chief of the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled. “What’s going on here anyway?” Acts 5:24 (The Message)
Even Jesus’ disciples, the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled… Read more…
A funny thing happened when I finally let go of my reputation – God intervened. First of all, I learned that God cares about how others perceive those who are His. He will always defend His children because He understands our pain. Jesus knows all too well what it’s like to have a reputation destroy you. He was perfect and without sin, yet He was laughed at and mocked to the point of death.
He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. – Isaiah 53:3 (NLT)
Secondly, God taught me what it means to seek Him first in all things… including my reputation. When we hold on to things and choose to use our own strength to defend ourselves, we aren’t allowing God and His strength to take over. God wanted to renew my reputation, but I refused to trust Him with it.
I felt like what I did made me who I was, “that pregnant girl.” Then I met Jesus, and the truth set me free.
What we did in the past doesn’t make us who we are; it’s what Jesus did for us that confirms our identity.Jesus had already taken my shame to the cross, it just took me a while to find that out. When Jesus overcame our shame, years of disgrace were replaced by grace.
I shared this story while speaking at a women’s event. After stepping from the stage, countless women couldn’t wait to say “me too.” This is why we need to tell our stories; because we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
When we share how God brings beauty from ashes, our past story becomes part of our grace story.
So goodbye shame, Jesus took you away, and I will gladly step into the light and tell others about it.
I was so focused on trying to run away from my fear that I just made myself busier and busier. I was afraid to be still because I knew it would overwhelm me. So I tried to fight my own battle by doing everything but sit still and silent in the presence of God. But it wasn’t my battle to fight.
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Ex. 14:14
We must claim our freedom daily.
Joshua was nervous to carry out all the big things God told him he was to do. God constantly reminded him that he had no reason to fear! There is no shame in going to God daily, moment by moment for reminders and encouragement.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Josh. 1:9
We are called to freedom for a purpose. God has something already set in motion for you to do! Don’t let your past, fears, or mistakes hold you back in chains! Use your freedom to serve Him and others.
When I opened my Bible the other day and ran across this verse: “And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”
Clearly, Paul, the writer of Philippians must have been mistaken. How can anyone think of suffering as a gift? Surely, suffering is not God’s will for us, right? Wrong. Maybe suffering is our own fault, and it will go away as soon as we turn back to God. Nope. Oh, OK, then perhaps God only allows us to suffer temporarily, so He can then show His healing power. Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no.
The Bible says that suffering, not just the release from it, is a gift from God.
How in the world could this be true? I dug deeper. What I found was a God who cares deeply about our suffering (Exodus 3:7) and hears our cries for help. And while sometimes He does rescue us, He more often delivers us in our suffering and speaks to us in our affliction (Job 36:15).
His purpose for allowing suffering is not to harm us, but to draw us closer to Him.
Sometimes I feed my children an improper view of God.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but let me explain what I mean.
My (tween) boys love to play Minecraft on the desktop computer in our office-turned-schoolroom. Our oldest takes an online course which teaches him to code Java, and the class uses Minecraft as the platform to teach advanced coding.
So of course, he and his brother need to play in the worlds he creates, to see that it all comes together the way he planned.
I’m good with that. But only if they play by the rules.
In our house, the rule for using any kind of computer or video screen is–Ask First. Because there are a number of important things (like schoolwork) that must be done first. Not only that, but I’ve read too many articles about screen-time turning young minds to mush, and so I limit their time. About this, my boys are thrilled. 🙂
Evenso, the temptation is strong for them, to turn on the computer and click on the little Minecraft icon.
Sometimes I find them playing without permission, so I created a password for them to type in each time they turn on the computer.
The password I created? GOD-SEES.
Just a little reminder.
Just a harmless little reminder. Right? But no.
Recently, I read Psalm 32:8 on a friend’s blog, and it left me thinking about my snappy little password.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
What am I really saying to them when I’m saying God Sees?
I realized that my point was not that His loving eye was upon them.
I wasn’t exactly trying to say God will guide you because He loves you and desires the very best for you.
I realized I was feeding them the idea that the Lord is just watching for them to make a mistake. That He’s present where they play, but He’s waiting to zap them with a punishment, the way Mom sometimes assigns an extra chore or gives them sentences to write when they disobey.
But I was wrong. I don’t want my kids to believe God is just watching in order to punish them.
I want them to remember God’s loving eye is on them,
to guide them toward choices that are best for them.
I want them to understand He desires to lead them toward freedom and success, not always in the way we define success, but His way.
I want them to know His eye on them is the gift of His presence–at all times, in every place. That He wants to know them all the way down to their hearts, because of the depths of His love for them.
I also want them to want to know the Lord–to look into His heart and see who He really is.
My mistake led to an important conversation between my boys and me, and God used it to lead all of us back to the truth. I changed the computer password to what I really wanted to remind them to do in the first place–AskMom1st.
I hope we’ll never forget that God Sees—but that we’ll remember God sees all of us with His loving eyes.
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Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
My 4-year old son asks me a million questions a minute. Rapid fire, it’s like a barrage of bullets that I feel I can’t dodge sometimes. But, he wants to know, he must know. He won’t quit until he DOES know.
It’s a personal pursuit for him; he is trying to figure out how he fits into this grand ole thing called – the world.
I answer. He always believes. And asks more. And is eager. Hungry. Hopeful. Listening. Ready.
Willing to learn. Expecting to hear.
My son makes me think…
We love to focus on this verse: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Mt. 11:28-29
We jump up and down when we read this one: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Mt. 11:30
But, we hardly consider the verse just a couple lines above it:“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; Mt. 11:25
Could it be that verses are related?
Might we not feel our burden is light, because we haven’t really established God as our sight?
Perhaps, we haven’t fought after God’s ways like a child would – like my son would.
A child might beg,“What things do I need to learn? How do I do it? Tell me. Tell me. Tell me. Show me too. I want to learn! I want to do it!”
Do we want to learn? Not in a heady, heavy and show-offy sort of way, (like the wise and understanding ones that God hid truth from), but like the hungry, listening, watching and active children that are rambunctious for truth.
God easily hands out rest to those seeking children; they need it – they tire themselves out with their relentless pursuits. He lays them down in the comfort of his safe pastures, under the wings of eagles and in the safe refuge of his mighty tower.
God lets the hungry be full – with his nourishment that never stops filling.
They seek God and they find him.
They hope for an answer and they hear one.
They wait and they receive the power of his Word.
Hungry. Hopeful. Listening. Ready. Eager to know the one driving them around all the time, leading the way, staying close minute by minute to make sure they stay in good health.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Mt. 11:27
The Father knows the son, the Son knows the Father.
How can we expect to know the Son, without asking to see him?
Pleading to see him,
leaning in to know him and crying for a chance to behold him.
God picks up the whiney children wailing for more, and carries us to make our loads lighter.
Then, we lay up against rest and lean on trust.
Gone, is the weight of striving and, present, is the hope found in abiding.
Our daddy takes good care of us, as he always does for a loved child. Our souls find the rest after listening to the answers for our million questions we were always hungry for.
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I am delighted to welcome a new regular contributor, Angela Nazworth. She is not only a friend, who I adore, but an eloquent writer who always teaches me a lesson about God’s goodness. I hope you relish in her words the same way I do. Welcome Angela!
My hair has issues. Or perhaps the more honest statement to make would be for me to write that I have issues with my hair. I always have. Not even when I was five and my golden locks rivaled those of Rupunzel did I like my mane. Oh, I liked the length, and when it was properly curled and styled I pretended to be a princess, but I did not like the tangles. Even less did I enjoy the pain and aggravation caused by the untangling process.
My mom, being the one who had to listen to my whining protests, decided that my long hair had to go. This decision was made when I was in the fourth-grade, and it was one with which I agreed.
There was a downside. It was the year of the mullet. Not only is the mullet an eye sore, it’s a lot of work. My hair still easily knotted in the back and a brush was no longer the sole implement required to style my baby fine tresses. Each morning my mom had to stand over me with a hot curling iron to make the top portion of my head look more feminine, which in 1984 meant high and fluffy.
Fast-forward 30 years and you will still find me complaining about my hair. I have dyed it various shades. In my attempts for the perfect color, my hair has been green, pastel orange, purple, gray, and pink. All unintended. I have also tried myriad styles: short and bobbed, long and spiral permed, short and spiral permed, pixie, etc.
Once, as I sat in the salon chair of a former stylist eagerly waiting for her to transform me into a super model with just a few clips from her scissors, (I tend to have high expectations) she said the most peculiar thing to me.
“You are so lucky to have straight, fine hair.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said with surprise. “I wouldn’t wish this hair on anyone, plus what is with my crazy hair line in the back that grows upward and that hideous cowlick?”
“It’s much better than having hair like mine,” she bemoaned. “It’s so thick and coarse.”
I looked at her long, voluminous, perfectly coiffed blonde hair and giggled.
“This is too funny,” I said. “You have my dream hair!”
“Well, I guess we all want what we don’t have,” she replied.
How true that is. For sheep, the grass is always greener on the other side. For women, the hair is always prettier on the other head!
Moreover, it doesn’t stop with hairstyles. I will be perfectly happy with my blog’s design until I see the makeover another writer’s site recently got and then, suddenly, I determine that my online space needs spiffing up. I will feel content in my house until I overhear the sales rep at Home Depot tell another customer that “Aqua Chiffon,” is the most popular color for living room walls and I realize that I don’t even have anything close to that shade anywhere in my home.
It’s easy for me to brush off this cycle of comparison as innocent, human nature, but in reality it’s unhealthy and emotionally dangerous. Disparaging what belongs to me opens the gates of envy, coveting, and bitterness. Focus shifts from God and His goodness to selfish desires and I begin to lose sight of blessings that surround me. When I’m in the mode of comparison, discontentment and want, the vision of my heart blurs and I open myself up to being more susceptible to commit other sins in the name of pride.
Why is it so much easier for me to want something I cannot have than to thank my savior for the many gifts I possess?
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. – Colossians 2:6-10
So while the grass may appear greener, hair prettier, furniture grander, homes bigger, and figures thinner … I now try extra hard to not be so interested in the proverbial other side. I am going to focus on how to make my inside look more like Jesus and foster a spirit of thankfulness for all He has given me.
What about you? Please use the comment section to share something about your life for which you are thankful and no longer desire to change.
Angela Nazworth is a flawed and forgiven recovering perfection who writes mostly about the beauty of grace, faith, friendship, vulnerability and community at angelanazworth.com. She is a wife and a mother of two, who manages philanthropic communications for a nonprofit, national healthcare association. Angela’s also an encourager, a lover of good books, coffee, girl’s night out, sunshine, and waterfalls. She believes the creator of the universe is both the author of and lead character in her life story. With every experience she learns more about who she is in Him … and takes another step on her journey to love others better. You can also chat with Angela via Twitter.
Fear freezes us. It keeps us from moving ahead. It stops us from witnessing. Fear paralyzes us when God tells us to serve Him. It mutes us when He says, “Speak!”
I don’t have to know what is ahead.
God knows, and when I walk by faith, that is enough.
Friend, what fears are holding you back today?
Learning to depend on God will be the greatest blessing you can experience.
Through my disability (loss of sight), God gave me abilities.
He enabled me to trust him completely.
He gave me the ability to serve him and to encourage others through writing and speaking.
He has shown His mercy, because four years later, I still have some vision.
My Reflection: Perhaps it’s not so much what we see, but what God wants us to see as we trust our disabilities to him.
Anytime we flip the switch in our minds and hearts and focus on pleasing God more by pleasing our mate something changes deep inside our heart. It’s like the door called self opens and love and light flow into the place once darkened by negativity or complaining.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
My Reflection: Sheila says switching power is found through clenching God’s Word. This is how we flip the switch. Then we see the truth and we walk differently.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
I needed help with my shopping tendencies, so I told my bible study girls to “get in my business.” Something radical had to happen. I gave them a pass to speak truth into my life even if it meant my own embarrassment and humiliation.
P.S. I felt led to sell a purse at a consignment store as an act of obedience. When I went to pick it up, the owner told me that she couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell.
But I knew.
God gave that purse back to me, and now I carry it as a reminder of His mercy and grace—with confidence! Whenever I carry that one, I am careful to share my story of grace with anyone who will listen!
My Reflection: How can we grab the support of others to finally push through that loitering sin?
When I saw him, all I can say is that what I felt was pure joy. After 3 years, three months, and two days (of agony-filled waiting), my child who was lost had been found, and that was all that mattered.
Wasn’t that how I came to God?
Wasn’t He the one who was waiting for me,
watching for me in the far-off distance
when I wandered home in my ruinous pain?
Before there was an explanation, a repentance, a hope of restoration, there was that moment when I walked right up to Abba in my brokenness and pitiful rebellion, and we embraced. I can only imagine that for Him in that moment with me, all that mattered was that His child who was lost had now been found.
I was found — in that moment. I was home.
My Reflection: How might you be running from God today? How might he receive you if you would only return? I think he would cry tears of joy to see you return in that one small way to him.
The world may not see my pain, but God does. The duties may not go away, but God will walk beside me and help me to carry the load.
Not only does God see my pain, but He is near to my pain. And he has promised to heal my broken heart.
Can you picture that?
God wants to pick you and me up gently in his arms and hold us tightly and remind us that even when the world is crashing down around us…
He loves us. He is in control. He is good. He has conquered the world! There is HOPE.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
God called me away from everyone else’s thoughts and ideas and invited me to spend time in His word. Just the two of us. No other influence or interpretation. No other filters or explanations.
Just him talking to me through the Bible.
Friends, I’m not kidding taking a break from bible study was scary for me. I was afraid of loosing the accountability. Afraid I’d miss the social aspect. Honestly, I was afraid I wouldn’t understand a thing I read. I’m still somewhat new to this whole bible study thing.
God kept gently calling, asking me to trust Him.
He was right.
My reflection: Sometimes getting away from talking heads, helps you to hear the one who is at head. Sometimes, all we need is his voice.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Psalm 118:6
Are you facing something new? Did you hear God call? Are you questioning whether you heard correctly?
Make a calculated decision in the face of fear, with eternity in focus. Continuing the venture into new territory, I learned about and submitted various stories and articles, often proceeding with knees knocking (Kristi took the risk of facing rejection and walked intentionally even though she was scared).
It was about God, about eternity, not me. Battles in the Old Testament were calculated as well. Think Jericho. They “heard” what to do, then they “did” what God called them to do. The victory wasn’t as quick nor easy as a snap of the fingers. They didn’t eat from fear’s plate. They ate of the Lord’s faithfulness instead. You and I can too.
My reflection: We may not feel safe, but we can move forward with whatever stands before us knowing that we are!
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This may be the oddest blog post you have ever read, but I am just going to go with it – brace yourself…
My writing chair, is more of a writing chaise, it faces my patio where I watch birds peck around for their next God-promised meal, pesky groundhogs graze on my grass and raccoons duck their heads into the light.
But, what my eye is drawn to the most is that small, sweet little chipmunk – the one that so often pounces around my (ahem, dead) flowers.
I love these little chipmunks. They are so sweet, so precious, so free of long tails, glowing night eyes and stinky smells. They touch my heart because when I look at them – I see innocence.Pure, humble innocence. Not savage instinct, but a joyful presence. They are the good amidst the smelly. The humble amidst the powerful.
Christ kind of looks this way too – the spotless lamb that shines out among dirty humanity. The pure vessel amidst the ugliness of sin. The joy to behold in a world that has a ravage hunger for everything it can consume.
“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 1 Pet. 2:22
Singular purity. All-encompassing morality. The definition of unity.
Jesus – a walking breathing sacrifice, always giving, completely offering, genuinely treading earth for those who need his touch – a spotless, sweet, pure and whole example.
And, while the chipmunk is no equal to the Savior of the World, the chipmunk surely has been created by him. And, he shines his glory all the same, because all creation has been made in adoration.
all things have been created through him and for him. 1 Col. 1:16
I guess this is why God kind of stopped me in my tracks this morning (literally).
You see, as I drove my car, I saw him. Right in the center of the road – my chipmunk.
Dead. Pure. Humble. Small. Run over by the world.
My heart broke.
Just lying there, on the ground.
Slain, undeserving of that pain.
Like the pure one. The beaten one. Driven over by our sin. Thrust down even though he offered so much. White as snow and humble down the road to death.
We forget that image sometimes. I forget it.
But, I don’t want to forget. I want to remember. I want to hold it like a locket over my heart that protects all the goodness, the love and the renewal packaged within.
I want to hold it so tightly that it seeps right out of me into the savagery of this world.
To the customer service lady who drives me up the wall.
To the husband who had too quick of a retort.
To the bills that stack high.
To the children who need a little too much.
To the poor who I would rather not see.
To the friend who really does need a helping hand.
To the coveted time I don’t want to dole out.
To my heart that can’t forgive – or forgive itself for that matter.
May his purity laid down for us, seep right into us and out of us. He loves us that much.
Cleanliness, slain – to reach our pain.
Hope, released – and purpose gained.
Life, secured – so we may endure.
None for him and all for me.
Today, let’s join the impending orchestra of all creation as we sing his truth:
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Rev. 5:13
One day, every knee will bow, tongue confess, mouth sing, heart see, eye understand who is King.
One day all will know,
until then, let’s live today like we do.
Knowing, not just saying…
Giving, not just mouthing…
…to the one and only. To the one who deserved royalty, a crown, an 11-course tasting menu, the heights of glory, the strength of power, but who endured the status of the worst sinner, the ridiculed idiot and the lowly donkey rider.
Let’s lift our hands to him today.
Let’s see his glory reign today.
To the one who lives, holds all power and waits for our much-anticipated arrival.
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I have been on a wild and crazy hunt to figure out how to get more of God – into me.
It’s wild because I often live in the wilderness – in the rocky ups and downs of faith. It’s just wild that a great God like him would want to dive into the disobedient heart of a girl like me. My head says yes, but sometimes, my heart says, it’s too off his beaten path.
It’s crazy because, I can’t even conceive how someone so “everywhere” and “always”, so above-it-all and so robe-laden, someone who made everything and with so much to do, could want to reside in measly me? Aren’t there a lot more exciting and missional places that he wants to focus?
But, it’s true.
God practically offers us all of him on a golden platter saying, I give you my heart. Will you take it? He doesn’t offer a part, a sliver, a shard, a splinter; he takes his whole body and throws it on the table for us, for vulture-like beings who did nothing to earn his gift of death.
“Take and eat; this is my body.” Mt. 26:26
He offers, but do I even value his gift?
The truth is the presence of his body, his life and his power is the greatest gift I could ever receive.
But, I must make a choice to eat his spiritual nourishment.
When my stomach turns in knots,
when holes trip me up,
when I shake in the darkness,
I must look up, verses looking around and see the one who is always ready to be found.
He is always ready to lead me in right ways.
His hand leads to truth.
Truth leads to love.
Love leads to fearlessness.
Fearlessness leads to passion and joy.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 Jo. 4:8
I wonder how often I hold back me – from God?
I wonder how much I fear his presence in me
because he seems too great above me?
How often I fear condemnation?
Even though I know his condemnation doesn’t even exist for me (Ro 8:1).
I forget “he who began a good work will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)
How often do you hold back because you feel unworthy?
Or try to gain worthiness?
Even though it’s impossible to be the weight lifter of his power.
Only one can carry (and carried) that weight.
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Eph. 3:16-17
The reality is, we need to the strength of the Spirit so that we can welcome in the strength of the Savior.
Then, the strength of the Savior more and more pushes out
the strength of the sinner.
It’s like the Spirit does the internal cleaning,
so the temple is clean, prepared and ready to be inhabited.
Jesus silences sins through surrendered faith. The sinner is siphoned away and more and more the new creation takes over. The sinner’s fears are left in the dust; the Spirit and Jesus become the only ones to trust.
I want this to happen more and more for me, don’t you? This happens when we call on the power of the Spirit to expand the territory of the Savior.
It doesn’t matter where you live – in the wilderness, in trials, in temptation, in sin – confess and call. That’s it.
Then we will find the power of God will move in – to move out – all that keeps us from him.
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