Friday, December 19, 2014

The Only Word of Mouth That Really Matters Anyway

Not even sure where to begin with this. So I type and you read and I'm sure I'll get to the point eventually. ;) Actually, the fact that this blog is the flavor of procrastination you choose for these few precious minutes is a blessing to me. You are a busy person. As am I. So when we choose to spend this time together I am thankful.

It's not that I haven't felt like writing. It's just that we are in the "busy season" here as a pastor's family. I contemplated running through the basic list of all the obligations and responsibilities we have, but honestly it was making me a bit nauseus. Best not to think of it.

The Christmas season and end of the year, has a tendency toward the analytical. I can't tell you how many product reviews I have read on amazon and other websites. I've spent even more time reading recipes and comments on food blogs as my family steers their food consumption to a more whole and healthy diet. I've read warning labels on medicine, testimonials on home remedies, book reviews, Pinterest boards, tutorials...

Because in the end I want to know that if I put forth the time, money, effort, that in the end it will be worth it.

Because everything costs something, and I really don't want to waste anything.

So I filter searches, and follow stars. The ones attached to the general opinions of the masses.

And in all the assessment, I assess myself: How many stars would I give myself for the condition of my home? My care of the sick children? My songs in worship? My coaching of the team? My disposition? My generosity? My patience? My cooking? My wife-ing? My mom-ing?

I follow the stars. And they lead me in circles.

Then I open my impulse buy, and reading this stops the spinning and it makes all the difference. 

It reminds me that God's choice to come save, graft-in, this tired, weary soul is the only review that matters. The stars, the ratings I attach to myself- the ones I perceive come from others- those wither and fade.

God didn't seek four-star all-inclusive accomodations to house his flesh-born Son. We marvel that He would choose such humble surroundings, and yet forget that what makes a place spectacular is not the decor and finery, but the One who made it, dwells within it, chooses it.

Like our lives. Surely God could find a more worthy heart than mine in which to dwell. One not so tainted and jaded by sin. A person who can keep it together at least.

But it is the One who made us that matters. It is the One who dwells within us and chooses us as His own that transforms our lives into a beautiful story of His love, power, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and faithfulness. You are amazing, a miracle, because God has made you His own. The shortcomings we possess and can't ignore, they aren't a monument to our failures, they are a living testimony to the greatness of our God.

"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, 
that we should be called children of God; and so we are." 1 John 3:1a

There is only one star we need follow, and it is the one the directs us to Savior. Because the time, riches of heaven, and effort God put forth in His Son Jesus were all worth it to save us. We are worth it and He is worthy.

He says so.

"In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God." Galatians 4:3-7

And that is really the only word of mouth that matters anyway.


Would it not just be so amazing if I was able to write again before the end of the year? Oh, friends! I'm going to try. I really and truly am. I drive and live and read and think, "I need to write about this!" Then life passes, and I go to bed wondering what I did that day. It wasn't writing. So scout's- honor I will do my best to get to writing because I have so much to share and I really do enjoy our time together. Merry Christmas

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Gift of Kindness {GratiTuesday}

Let me just make this clear before I begin- I am way more fun with kids that don't belong to me. Right, I know none technically belong to me at all, but you know what I mean. A neighbor kid comes over, a visit with my nieces and nephews, and I am pretty fun. Not crazy fun mind you, but pretty fun.

So when I was feeling fun with my kids the other day, I decided to make the most of it. It was one of those times where I turned into a monster and it was a good thing. One of the very few times.

I grabbed the toddler and pulled her into my arms as I collapsed to the ground. I roared, "You'll never get away!" She screamed, "I need save! I need save! Waaaa! Waaaa!" Her rescuers snatched her from my clutches and climbed on top of me for a wrestling match. As I rolled on the floor tickling the kids, (this actually happened- I'm still shocked) I rolled onto my back.

It was then that I got a firm heel to the eye socket.

With one powerful swing, the two-year-old kicked me in the eye. Direct hit. I held my eye, not quite in tears, and looked at the perpetrator, smiling triumphantly. The other kids all turned to her with shouts of, "You can't do that," but she was just so happy that she had incapacitated the monster momentarily that she kept shrieking, "I did it! I did it!"

We laughed. It was hilarious really.

I write today because on Thursday I will be giving thanks with my family and I pray you find yourself doing the same things with family and/or friends. I write this story because we fall victim to fatigue and "too much togetherness." If not with family and friends, then with other people throughout the year.

And honestly there are times we just want to kick someone in the eye because let's face it, they can be a real monster.

But people aren't monsters, no matter what act they put on. And a swift kick to the eye socket rarely rescues anyone. Ok, maybe never.

I am praying that as we all navigate our holidays that one thing prevails, kindness. Not necessarily our kindness to others (though that would be cool), but God's kindness to us.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.
Psalm 145:17 

In all His works, God shows mercy and love and kindness. Overflowing kindness that comes from a love that knows no bounds. And He infuses us with that love! What a gift! For that we can be truly thankful.


P.S. To all my family and friends with whom I am able to celebrate any of life's adventures... I don't want to kick you in the eye. I really love you so much! XOXO

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When You Need More Hands, but You Really Just Need His {This Day Thursday}

I’m a bit stretchier than I used to be…

I bear birthing battle scars that no amount of cocoa butter will ever fade.

And more recently my foot took up the stretchy cause and decided to pain me with its choice. Fairly certain I was suffering a stress fracture in my foot (and praising God that not everything in my body was stressing to pieces), I went to the chiropractor for an adjustment. I told him I knew I would be a bit off with the compensating I was doing while walking. So he took a look at it- no stress fracture, but I did receive an informative discourse on foot health and ligaments.

Am I about to share the wealth? You know me too well.

He compared the ligaments in my feet (and really anywhere in the human body) to plastic wrap. 

While muscles stretch and tighten like a rubber band, ligaments stretch and stay. Like when you stretch plastic wrap over a dish and then take it off. (Again, thankful they don’t twist and wrap in an impenetrable mass of uselessness like the aforementioned wrap.) So here I am with stretchy ligaments and orthotics in my shoes, praising God I can afford orthotics and good shoes.

This day, I need support. We call it all manner of things- hands, help, sanity. Support.

The tendency towards overstretched stress goes beyond feet and body parts. It gets to the heart and soul of who we are. And much like my foot, when we are overstretched in one area, it puts pressure somewhere else- somewhere it should not be, somewhere too weak to hold up- and pain is the inevitable outcome.

It’s time for some support.

“When he summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.” Psalm 105: 16-17

Please tell me I surprised you with that one.

Psalm 105 begins “Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name…” so naturally I would turn there and read when writing a piece on God’s support, but it was verses 16 and 17 that gave me pause.

Stretching is unavoidable. In fact, if we make it our sole endeavor to avoid all stress it ends up becoming a stressor in itself. The world was stretched. Physically, literally stretched beyond its capacity. There was a famine, attributed to God, a gift of God to remind His creation that they needed Him. The pathway to their gift of deliverance at His hand and to His glory.

But Psalm 105 reminds God’s people of a greater gift- the present that God pre-sent. Joseph. God knew what His people would need long before they did. And He involved Himself in every little detail to ensure they would have what they needed… including humbling the man He sent to help them.

How often are we most helped by those who have been in bondage and freed by the Lord’s mercy?
The fiery trials of others blaze a path of hope for those in need of support.

And God pre-sends because He has it all in His control.

The key is looking in all the right places, and none of the wrong ones. The devil has counterfeits everywhere. The key is to keep our eyes on Jesus, the “author and founder of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) who did not avoid the cross and the strain, but took it up on our behalf.

If our day-to-day turns us away from the cross, takes our focus off the one who endured the cross for us, and depletes us  of the energy we need to serve Him and His people, then maybe it’s time to step back and reassess the busy business in our lives. Get out the proverbial sifter and shake out the little things that will not stand the test of time and will rob us of the gift of fulfilling our God-given passions for His glory.

Wisdom says, “I know there will be times when being stretched is just a reality- the question is with what will I stretch? With Whom?” True support systems will help you assess your activities and commitments through the glasses of godly wisdom.

“Never is a woman so fulfilled as when she chooses to underwhelm her schedule so she can let God overwhelm her soul.” – Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes

Equipping our soul with this day, every day, orthotics is believing in the truth that the Lord has pre-sent tools for our present troubles. It is trusting and putting our full weight into the knowledge that God knows our needs long before and more deeply than we can imagine.

Praying for eyes wide open to see His empty tomb and saving grace, and hands palms up to receive His help today and always.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wanted: Perspective {This Day Thursday}

I wasn't going to do this. My to-do list is long. My time is short. What I wouldn't give for a magic lamp... ("Ya got a list that's three miles long no doubt, well all you gotta do is rub like so...")

I figured you'd get it if I just let you know that my brain is fried, emotions fraying, and I just need to get. stuff. done. But God is persistent. No amount of laundry, packing, cooking, cleaning will give me the peace of mind only time with God can offer. And I can't multitask that.

So here we sit, you and I, and I need to do a bit of bragging. My mom makes hella-good banana bread. So good I almost engaged in a drop-down, drag-out fight over it. Is it mob-mentality when its just a mob of individuals assaulting each other?

Well, years ago I was on tour with my university's choir. Before every performance, a church would provide a meal. Usually a potluck deal. Good eats for sure. I chowed with my fellow choir buddy nerds and we chatted about all the whatnots going on in our "important" collegiate world. Then one of the guys takes a bite of the banana bread and makes some comment like, "This banana bread is good. Not as good as my mom's, but my mom makes the best banana bread in the world, so..."

That set off some playful banter along the lines of, "No way, my mom makes the best banana bread in the world. No my mom does. No mine. My mom uses cream cheese frosting. My mom does need crappy frosting. My mom's banana bread would make your mom's taste like cat food." Stuff like that. Good-natured at first, with just a hint of nasty. It was more than banana bread proficiency that hung in the balance, it was our mothers' honor- and that honor rested heavily on the quality of their banana bread. I won, by the way.

Anyway, in a world where we could disown our comrades over un-resolvable quickbread differences, we sure give a lot of ground when it comes to bragging up on our God. That isn't meant to be condemnation. I hop right on that train. People say, "look at this awesome stuff I have/do/think," and I say "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, that's so cool!" And truth is- some of it is. But I am so slow. So. Slow. To be like, "Hey look at this totally awesome stuff my God did!"

And if I focus on how my marble mouth stumbles over praising God out loud to people who have their own gods to think of, I get down on myself. Man I suck.

But if instead I think about how awesome God is, I cut myself some slack because hey, God is awesome. So awesome. And the point has never been to flog ourselves and straighten up- its been about the good news of Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean flippantly ignoring the grievous sin that would separate me from God, it means confessing and living like Jesus is alive. He took my sins to that tree, but that is not the end of the story.

So I am going to do a little bragging on God.It's totally Biblical. "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:31) Jesus is alive and living and active, and that perspective hit me afresh today.

This Day Thursday, I need some perspective. I need prayers for sure. But I really need perspective. God was good enough to sit down with me in Job. I didn't turn there out of Job-like self-pity. It was just on the way to Psalms, but I honestly didn't make it to Psalms.

Job 38-39 might as well have been titled, "The Lord Answers His Wild Woman." I have become aware that the times I am most apt to cry is when I feel overwhelmed and/or feel that things are out of my control. My kids and house, sure. Other people, definitely. And honestly, I felt a tad out of control this morning. I even said that, "I just feel like I have absolutely no control."

Guess what Job 38-39 is about? Control. God's control. Often I read it and play it out in my head that God is really giving it to Job. You think you're all that, Job? "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?" (38:34) While that is definitely the vibe it intentionally gives off, today I read it differently- not with the edge of a God who has had it up to here with self-justification. Today it whispered of God's mercy and loving care for every single tiny bit of His creation. There is no detail overlooked. No decision carelessly made. Couple that with Christ's sermon on the mount and we see that all flows out of the love and attention of the Creator of all- and that extends to me and you as well. The love that nailed Jesus to the cross is the love that makes known to us that we are valued and special, and that comes without any control on our part.

And then I flipped to John 17 and spent time in Jesus' high priestly prayer. God does these things for us and then He prays for us. That we would believe Him, be one, be kept from the evil one, be with Him. I ask people to pray for me, but I actually get to read the words that my Savior prayed on my behalf.

Perspective. The things out of my control- they are going to stay that way. And if I did have control, I would sure be bound to screw something up. But God's way is better. The picture He sees is complete and just the absolute best because it is built on and around who He is- holy, perfect love.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, November 6, 2014

When Joy Leaves You Constipated {This Day Thursday}

Pain pierced my chest. Sudden. Shocking. Acute, unrelenting pain. I breathed deeply. Nope. That made it worse.

I muscled through it. Sitting, back straight in my chair, feet on the floor, I read my music and sang the notes, but the pain still increased.

Nerves burning, tingling, I motioned to my director that I had to stop. The choir continued as I made my way to the back of the chairs and lay down on the cold tile floor. The pain shifted, but never lessened. I hung in there as long as I could, but as I hobbled back to my dorm room I envisioned all the things that could be wrong with me.

I was dying. I knew it. My mind raced through every scenario. How it would happen. How they would find me. My parents left without their oldest. My siblings consoling each other. The music at the funeral. My friends bereaved. I held back the tears as I pondered my own demise. Surely the end was coming, and far too soon.

I staggered into my dorm room. My roommate and her boyfriend were hanging out, unaware of the tragedy at their doorstep. They looked at me and their expression changed.

“What’s wrong?”

“I am in pain. Sharp stabbing pain. Right here.” I pointed to my upper chest. “I think I need to go to the emergency room.” I looked from face to face. First, my roommate who was confused, but concerned. Then at her boyfriend, a muscle-man who served in the Marines and was a Chicago city police officer. I was searching for answers, a plan.

Then he spoke. His answer was like his name- tough and straight to the point. But what he lacked in tact, he made up for in confidence.

“You have gas.”
“It’s just gas.”
“But, no. The pain is up here…”
“My mom is a nurse. I know what I’m talking about. Trust me. You gotta fart.”

The diagnosis was startling and more than a little humiliating. He didn’t seem at all ruffled by the matter. It was a fact of life. And I am sure you have gathered (since I am writing you some 10+ years later) the situation… remedied itself… just a couple hours later.

It is my first adult memory of bowel awareness. Little did I know that in a couple short years my life would largely revolve around bowel movements. Mine and others. And the more bowels we added to the situation, the more my life revolved around the toilet. Little did I know that soon the most frequently asked question when my children were out of sorts would be, “did you poop today?”

Before we continue: This Day Thursday isn’t about poop- though maybe that is your prayer for today, and if so, that’s totally cool. I get it. It also isn’t about doing more. Busy does not equal joy, and there are no awards for the fullest schedule. No need to log community service hours or reading minutes or money saved.

This Day Thursday is about release- it’s about joy. Joy is a gift of God, but if you aren’t feeling the joy, it doesn’t mean you don’t have the gift.

It might mean you have 1 of 2 spiritual issues. You could be filling yourself up on the things of the world, and leaving little room for the things of the Spirit. A diet of worldly junk makes it hard to perform any duty of life with joy. A sort of spiritual malnutrition.

Or it might be a sort of spiritual constipation. It sounds gross, but that’s where my mind goes- so you are welcome. You are doing the “right” things. Reading your Bible and any devotional you can get your hands on. Going to church, Bible study.  Filling up on Jesus! Yay! But denying yourself the opportunity to let Him out.

God is a mover. He is unchanging in that He does not grow, or learn, or need. The God of the beginning will be the God of the end. But He is movement too. Think of His earthly representations- wind, fire, living water (which is moving water). He designed our bodies in the way He designed creation- things don’t stay stagnant, or if they do they usually lead to decay and disease. (Funny how the church is also described as the body.)

Your joy may be “down in your heart to stay,” but that does not mean it should be hoarded. God placed His creative spirit in each of us- something special He shares with you specifically, to help you release your joy in Him. To help you enjoy Him. It might change over time, but there is usually one thing that you have that helps you release tension and enjoy your time.

I’m not talking getting a mani-pedi. Or shopping. (Maybe giving a mani-pedi. Maybe making something to sell.) Creation, not consumption, is the key. Whatever it is- a common problem is our culture does not allow time to fulfill the creative side in us.

For me writing is cathartic, but singing is even beyond that. Not singing- making music. Creating, collaborating. I physically feel myself giving over to God what He has given to me. Breath gives life to notes and words, and makes something beautiful for and with God. It moves something inside me.

If joy is a daily prayer- and oftentimes it is for me- take a quick inventory. What has God given you to do and enjoy? Take photographs? Draw? Sing? Play? Paint? Write? Act? Dance? Create? Cook? Explore? Have you given yourself time to deliberately spend time with God while doing these things, just for the sake of doing them? Not to get busy points. Not to meet a deadline.

Facials, spa trips, weekend getaways- there isn’t anything wrong with those things. They give rest and rest is needed. But if joy is what you are after, you need something that gets deeper. Something you and God enjoy together. He gave you that gift. Turn off the comparisons and schedules and take time to enjoy Him. You may find that in releasing your time and expectations, God will release your joy, and your whole body will thank you for it.

It gives a whole new perspective to “let go and let God.” ;)

“My heart overflows with a pleasing theme…” Psalm 45:1

Thursday, October 30, 2014

When Life is a But {This Day Thursday- Peace}

As I sit to compose today’s This Day Thursday on peace, only 4 feet behind me a toddler composes her own masterpiece on our piano. Dissonance, cacophony, and “poopy diaper” belted full force assault my ears. The irony is not lost on me.

Peace- Halloween is tomorrow. All Saints Day on Saturday. And with all this focus on death and fear, perhaps it seems odd to ask this day for peace. Perhaps that would be better addressed during Christmas when Peace on Earth induces warm fuzzies and songs of praise.

Maybe, but peace seems easier to come by when it seems the majority of our society is on the same page- goodwill toward all and such. Even in the hustle bustle madness, there is something to be said for radio stations that exude melodies of peace and joy and charity drives brimming over with gifts and donations.

But what about today? Where is the peace when your kids tell you they had indoor recess that sunny afternoon and you find out later it was because a boy was apprehended in a nearby town after making shooting threats at his Christian school . When you find out they were on the brink of lockdown.

Or when the bullies barge. Or when the neighbor kids reveal how much they know about things of which they should have no clue at this age. What about when I have absolutely no control over issues that could cause serious pain in my family’s life? Where is the peace?

The truth is, I chose peace first because that is what I have most recently struggled with, but also because peace lies at the root of so many of all those other things we ask for. When we ask for peace, we ask for faith. With peace comes joy, contentment, wisdom, and so much more.

But it is hard to have peace when we don’t know what comes next in the story.

The disciples felt it. In their greatest moments of faith, they thought they knew what came next. Jesus, the man they knew, the man who performed miracles no one else could do, the man they were building their whole lives upon- He would be king. And they would be rewarded. Their arguments over who would be first in His kingdom make sense when you realize they were thinking earthly stuff. Sure, He said weird things sometimes- things no one really understood- but that was part of His charm. And when He promised there would be trouble it was easy to see how He was just giving His friends a pep talk before He delivered the kingdom of Israel from their oppressors.

But then He died. And it wasn't as though they knew the end of the story. It wasn't as though they acted heroically in His defense. It wasn't as though the rulers of their people and their neighbors would be able to just forget this all happened without seeking some sort of punishment for those who followed this man Jesus. Peace was the farthest thing from their minds.

In fact, I can imagine that at every attempt to gain peace and confidence there was always a “but.”
But what if they find us?
But what if they take our families?
But what if they bankrupt our business?
But what if they hold this against us?
But what if they take our lives?

Those words of peace Jesus spoke to them before His death died with Him. His peace? If they remembered it at all what would it matter? He was dead.

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, 
he will teach you all things
and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you. 
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:25-27

There was one thing they didn't take into account. Jesus was alive. And after they learned that they still needed the Holy Spirit because without the Holy Spirit we have no help.

If you are like me, you know the Holy Spirit lives in you, but that doesn't always help you shake the fear or restlessness. The but's get in your way. You still don’t know what the future holds and you know so many things are out of your control. Well God has a but of His own...

But the Helper, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

But God- the whole Trinity- is involved in teaching us all things. Teaching us peace. It's not something you just get and you are set. It is a life-long learner deal. When the but's coming knocking at the gate, we can answer them with But God. And He never stops teaching. He never stops giving His peace. Then Jesus says- 

Not as the world gives do I give to you…

We have such a Gracious Giver, and He functions nothing like the way the world does.

The world expects results in return- God gives without needing.

The world can be easily disappointed in best efforts- God gives without strings attached.

The world could coldly sacrifice the happiness of one person if it meant benefiting the greater good- God gave His Son for you and will not make decisions regarding your life or the lives of the ones you love apart from His great love for you. That is important- Nothing that happens in your life, no matter how painful, comes from an indifferent part of God. Every. single. thing. is bornHe
 out of His love for you and others.

This post could go on forever… Peace is such a wonderful thing to ask this day. And to know that the whole Trinity is working in your favor to give you this peace is overwhelming. God bless you all today, tomorrow, in the days and weeks to come. Peace.

A little testimony for all us people with peace deficiencies- 

I am totally aware that it takes more than a one time, or every day, devotion on peace to get to the issues that plague us. I am also aware that there are very physical stress-inducers that keep perspective on the horizon. No matter how much I prayed, read, acted on my lack of peace- I never felt I could get a handle on it. I knew what I should do and think and believe, but felt physically incapable of doing it. The pressure of every day life was enough to rob me of joy and confidence. I am telling you this because in the society we live in, we are surrounded by stress and pressure and schedules and work and media, and as a result our bodies can't keep up. I talked with a chiropractor/acupuncturist and she said I was in the majority of Americans that suffer from adrenal fatigue. You can read about adrenal fatigue here. Basically, the stress of life was wearing my system down, which started a vicious cycle I couldn't climb out of on my own. Honestly, I suffered with it a long time and didn't even realize it. I didn't go to the acupuncturist for my stress- I just wanted to give it a shot. (Pun intended)

There are supplements (notice: not drugs) that help your adrenal glands function the way they should so they don't spaz out or run low. They don't fix your body- they give your body the tools to heal itself, which is what I really need. If you feel you might want to explore supplements to help your adrenal glands, talk to a medical professional that takes the link between nutrition and hormones seriously- usually chiropractors, nutritionists, acupuncturists, and others that look for whole body health. There are different types of adrenal supplements, so it would be good to talk to a professional before ordering anything online. 

There is nothing wrong with needing extra fuel for your body. It is a broken world and I thank God for the people who care enough to help our bodies deal with the results of it!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Daily Bread When Bullies Barge {This Day Thursday}

"Mom, were you ever bullied?"

I racked my brain. "I don't remember" was the best answer I could come up with for my daughter. Her father had stories to tell of being bullied. I really didn't. Maybe I was the minority. I was a Navy brat who moved every three years. I didn't have time to be bullied. I hung out with decent kids, was active in sports and music. Maybe I avoided the bullying issue.

Then I remembered. It was middle school. There was a verbal skirmish on the bus. I don't remember exactly what was said, but I made it home in tears because a boy dared to insult my mother. To which my mother responded, "But, Honey, why are you upset? He doesn't even know me." A phone call was made to his mom and he had to apologize to me.

Then there was the boy who tripped me on the soccer field. I was humiliated and he was standing over me laughing. I knocked him over, a fight started and we both landed in the principal's office. It was this kid's third strike. I was a good kid just sticking up for myself. I was released. He was suspended.

I'm sure if I thought hard enough I could recall other fights and cruel words, but I don't have the energy for that.

Because this day I need wisdom. Because this day my daughter is talking to her guidance counselor about her own bully.

Because this day I ask the Father for my daily bread, and He supplies.

I was so excited to start this series: This Day Thursday. Wasn't planning on bullying starting the subject matter, but that's how things happen and in all things God works for the good of those who love him.

We've all been bullied- if not by physical human beings then at least by the lying devil. And when that happens, there is a part of me that rebels against Sunday School answers. Not because they are wrong. Not because they are not applicable. Some are actually really wise words and to be considered carefully. But because formulas for life don't always work the way we think they should. When people tell you that if you pray enough and read enough and thank God for Jesus enough then everything will be sunshine and roses, but that just doesn't cut it. Not from my experience. Those things are all good, but "enough" is the question mark that leaves us with uncertainty. Maybe if things are going wrong, then I am not doing enough.

I prayed and pondered the other night about why I am so rebellious against textbook answers, and I think it is because there are so many examples in the Bible of righteous holy people having a really really hard time. They made the cut to appear in the Bible, and they couldn't even keep it together! They prayed day and night and still struggled with insecurity, infertility, grief, exhaustion, marital problems, parenting issues, frustration, etc. They talked with Jesus face to face and still struggled with doubt and fear. You name it- someone in the Bible dealt with it.

Life was hard then and it is hard now, and if we are relying on being "enough" we're screwed.

As I prayed, Jesus' words came back to mind:

"Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil."
(Matthew 6:9-13, emphasis mine)

Even Jesus prayed for the Father's provision. Some people see it as just another formula, but it is so much more. It is a prayer that confesses aloud, I am not. enough. I need you. "Give us this day our daily bread..." I need you everyday. Not just every day- this day.

I need strength this day. I need energy this day. I need patience this day. I need joy this day. I need peace this day. I need ________ this day. I need the Bread of Life this day.

“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.  
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

This day I need wisdom and patience in spades. Maybe you are in the same boat. Over the next months This Day Thursday will address people in the Bible who struggled with the same things we do. People who would have responded to my poll in the same way you did on Facebook. And we will watch how God delivers. How He heals and helps and loves and cares. 

Because when we are not enough, He is always enough. And He invites us this day to ask Him for all we need. Praise Him for His amazing grace and love. We have such a fantastic God!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

There is More {to the Story than a Good Samaritan} {GratiTuesday}

A Jew and a Samaritan walk into an inn. Ok, well the Samaritan walks. The Jew is carried. And the familiar parable in Luke 10 tells the rest. So often I relate to the Good Samaritan. And honestly, that seemed to be the main point of Jesus’ parable. At the conclusion of the tale, He asks the question, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (verse 36) And we all receive a very poignant message about the lifestyle of generosity.

Then there are those days when I may look like the Samaritan, but I feel like the victim. In fact, one of the most common struggles a chronically ill person encounters is that they don’t look sick. I can tell you that from experience, as well as from countless conversations with chronically ill buddies of mine.

And sometimes you even fool yourself into thinking maybe the outer appearance is telling the truth and you don’t need any help. You should be able to handle this. I’ve done that too.

Well this past summer I made an additional trip to see my rheumatologist. For the past 18 months or so, my wrist had become gradually more swollen and it was time to get that taken care of. So I went in for an ultrasound and a shot of steroids to reduce the swelling.

It was there that I looked into the eye of the monster that was slowly destroying my body. It is hard to explain, but up until that point I had never really seen evidence that my body was deteriorating. I had painfully swollen joints in the past, but even to myself I looked ok. And there were moments where I really felt ok too. But I was still sick.

In the ultrasound, my doctor showed me the literal, undeniable deterioration of my wrist. When I asked what caused the inflammation and fluid buildup her response was, “ That’s just your disease.”

“Oh, JUST my disease.” And we chuckled at the flippancy with which we now referred to my rheumatoid arthritis.

But something changed that day. When I felt my wrist, looked at it, I just couldn’t shake the knowledge that under that skin there was something toxic eating at me.

I went to pick up my children whom my friend had been entertaining at the zoo. God bless her. She prayed for me and over me. God bless her. The swelling went down. In a few days my wrist was tip top. And God and I had a little conversation about helping others. Did I want to be healed completely? You know it! But I had it in my heart that there was something larger at work than a miraculous healing. There was a ministry here.

Hurt people sometimes hurt people. But helped people also help people.

I wanted to be healed, but more than that. I wanted to be helped. Healing would come eventually one way or another, and maybe not on this earth. But the helping, that could happen immediately. And if that was God’s intention, then that was sufficient for me.

My disease is a constant reminder that there are a whole lot of people out there that look ok, but they aren’t ok. Not on the inside. And they need help too.

So what do the Samaritans do? Love. Serve. Help. Notice the Samaritan in Jesus’ story never healed the robbed man. He cared for him. He helped him.

None of us have a call to heal. Take that off your shoulders right now.  You were never meant to carry the burden of healing- only the Great Physician can handle that. But you were called to help and be helped. Not because God needs a hand, but because in helping others you get to join in the marvelously detailed process God uses to care for His creation. You get a front-row seat to the unfolding of His plan for His people. It is a blessing to bless.

But here is one more important note: Maybe at this point your head is spinning because you can’t even conceive of helping anyone else when you can’t even help yourself.  You are the Jew left for dead. You have been through the wringer of illness, betrayal, grief, or any number of tragedies. And for that there is no condemnation, only know this: you are being helped. Even when you can’t see or feel it, God loves you enough to endure your struggle right there with you. You are not encountering, in fact you CANNOT encounter, anything God hasn’t already overcome in your stead.

Read these words for you. In fact, make it personal. Read it aloud twice and substitute the parenthesized words the second time through.

“For we (I) do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our (my) weaknesses, but we (I) have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are (I am)- yet was without sin. Let us (me) then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we (I) may receive mercy and find grace to help us (me) in our (my) time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

Sometimes you are the Jew. Sometimes you are the Samaritan. At all times you are the beloved child of God. Even in helping you are being helped to help. You have a God who carries every detail of the ways of man, and you will not slip through His fingers.

God, bless us and open our eyes in thanksgiving for Your almighty and all-merciful help today. May it give us joy that bursts the bonds of our struggles and frees us to serve others in Your name. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lord, Help Me... {When Pain is a Gift}

I’m in the middle of reading 3 parenting books right now. Sounds a bit desperate, I know. Well, I’m really only technically “in the middle” of one of the books. Which happens to be fabulous and changed my perspective on princess parenting. The others (also awesome) I’m about a chapter or two into. I tell myself I just need to sit with those chapters and let them settle in my mind and life before I move on. Don’t want to rush these things, right? Truth is, by the time I get back to reading them, those things I learned in the previous chapters will have settled so far down I will have to reread them just to stir them back to the surface, if ya know what I mean…

I'm also "in the middle" of Lysa TerKeurst's new book, The Best Yes.

And 3 autobiographies.

And 2 fictional books. One of which is the second book of the second series I am "in the middle" of. The other series I need to complete... well I got the second book of that series at the library a couple days ago and I am so excited to start reading it...

I need help. 

What I really wanted you to know is just that. That is why I'm reading 3 parenting help books and a "self-help" book. Those other books are just fun facts to enlighten you on the type of person I am.

And when this morning I explained (quite loudly) to my two-year-old that no, I was NOT going to get her toast because Mommy needs to sit and read the BI-BLE... yeah. I needed a bit of help this morning.

What about you? What do you need? Help? Physical, emotional, spiritual? No, I"m really asking. Seriously I want to know. Here. On my Facebook page. On my Twitter handle @LJensensational. Shoot me an email at sljensen0129(at)me(dot)com.

If God could give you an extra dose of something... what would it be?

Why do I ask?

Because today I woke up painfully aware that I needed help. My wrist was killing me. I've been given a disease that at best is annoying. At worst crippling. And the arthritis affects my right wrist more than any other area.

So I thumbed through Isaiah "randomly" searching for what I needed to hear this morning and I just knew that Isaiah 41 had that something I needed to hear. So I skimmed it just make sure it wasn't a lot of wrath and foreboding. (I was pretty sure it wasn't, but didn't want to get through it and wonder why I read it... I know that's not a good attitude, I know.)

Then I read these words in Isaiah 41:8-10: 

You, Israel, my servant, 
Jacob whom I have chosen, 
the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 
you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, 
saying to you, 
"You are my servant, 
I have chosen you 
and not cast you off"; 
fear not, for I am with you; 
be not dismayed, for I am your God; 
I will strengthen you and help you, 
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(emphasis mine)

There are sooooo many goodies in these verses. Pages and books worth. But this morning I needed strength. I needed my right hand. I had neither. And God said, "You are mine. I chose you. I called you. Stop being afraid. I will be your strength. Stop trying to do it all. Your right hand is weak. Mine is strong. I will hold you up with my own hand." 

God knows I tend to rely on my own hands. Which is at best annoying. At worst crippling. So He gives me the only thing He knows can get the job done- His own hands.

And I think you might do that too. Rely on your hands when God's are the only ones that can do the job. That's why I want to know what you need. Because I want to write about that. I want to dig into the Word and search for God's hands of help... with you. Let's do that together. They are there. Let's grab them and never let go.

He has called you. Chosen you. You are His. He promises strength, help, courage, and far more. Let's take Him up on the offers. 

Praying God blesses your day, and that He leads you with His amazingly righteous right hand!


On a side note: a prayer of Thanksgiving! God helped me spiritually and physically yesterday (right after I wrote this post). This morning I woke up with almost no pain in my wrist and I am just sooooo thankful for that!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let's Get Busy! (With the Good Stuff) {GratiTuesday} {Three Word Wednesday}

I don't do laundry because I want to or because I like to, or even because my family will go naked if I don't. Honestly, they have grown accustomed to trekking down to the basement and digging their clean clothes out of one of several filled laundry baskets, or the ever mounting heap of clean laundry in the middle of the cold cement floor.

I do it because if I don't, the mess of spiders and other nasty basement bugs that I find exploring the cotton blends and such could decide to move in permanently and I'll never get them back...

Am I the only one?

We are also doing a somewhat major eating overhaul of sorts around here, and laundry has gradually slipped back down to the bottom of the list. Especially with the family trekking and enabling all the way...

So where is the balance? Juggling laundry and cooking and cleaning and writing and praise team and little people and and exercising and bathing and more, all with a happy heart? All while trying to give God and my husband more than just the left overs?

Maybe the balls I'm juggling are different shades of chaos than the ones you are tossing up, but without balance don't they all come crashing down eventually?

And don't we all tend to juggle more than our hands can handle?

Well, I have some beautiful women who are taking a walk through Ruth with me (enter another projectile to keep aloft) and I have to tell you we are all busy. All of us. With stuff. And Ruth has been reminding me that we are all going to be busy and busy is not bad. Really busy can be really good. Ruth worked day and night. Gleaning and threshing day after day (save the Sabbath) for months on end to provide for herself and Naomi. All while grieving.

Was she worn out? You bet. Yet when Naomi told her to go, get up and head to threshing floor to lay at Boaz's feet and ask for marriage, she went. (Ruth 3) She responded, "All that you say I will do." She got dolled up and performed another task.

This was a super-woman to me.

She was busy for the Lord, and I couldn't be more grateful for it. The whole world was blessed by her obedience. She blessed her children and all the children that would come after her because her continual obedience to the Lord in the little things paved the way for the Savior we will welcome here again in a couple months.

So I look back at the laundry, at the meals, and the children, and the husband, and the praise team, and the Bible study and I am forced to make some choices as to what busy-ness to get busy with. Because when God calls me to obey, I don't want to be too worn out with the stuff that doesn't matter to actually heed His call.

We are coming upon busy days. Something like 10 or 11 Fridays until Christmas. I'm holding off on the Christmas lists and starting with a priority list. December leaves my head spinning every time. So this time I'm seeking wisdom and peace before the crazy to store up and draw from on the hard days. So that when I feel robbed of my time and energy, I can remember that none of it was truly mine to begin with.

Maybe we could do this together? And all those bits of peace and wisdom I collect, I will put right here for you and you can dish it right back out to me! Sound good? Great.

And the best part of all is that God promises to get in the busy with us! Love it! And love you all. Really. I'm so excited for us!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Parent

"Hey, Mom! I know! There should be a book called Diary of a Wimpy Parent; Kid Fever!"

Not sure exactly what prompted that except that we took a family walk after a very loud, very eventful supper, which was after a very loud, very eventful library snack time. And I was dra-gging.

"Good idea, G. You think I should write that book?"
Oldest always-knows-the-right-thing-to-say-daughter chimed in, "But, Mom, you're not a wimp."

I literally did not have the energy to laugh out loud on that one. I forced out a half-chuckle as I mustered the muscle to open the door to the house that I was only walking into because if the neighbors saw me sleeping in the driveway they might get a little concerned.

Diary of a Wimpy Parent felt just a bit autobiographical at that moment.

And you should see circles under these eyes today... could be the detox eating program I am doing. On. Day. Three...or the kids... or...anyway.

But the conversations I have been having lately have been circling around strength a lot. What makes you strong? Not letting the chaos out? Not letting the stress overwhelm you? Or is it admitting that this life is hard? Sometimes really really hard. Confessing you need help- and not the "pray for me" alone help, the "I need to talk to someone" help. The "I can't do this job alone" help.

As Christians, it's easy to get into the mindset that if we have God, we really don't need anyone else. But while God is obviously the most important, most faithful, most fulfilling partner we have in this life, to stop needing others is to reject the means by which God serves us.

God created Adam, and while God supplied all Adam's needs, He knew that Adam needed a partner, a helpmeet. God gave Adam the gift of a friend beyond his own friendship with God. Linked to his friendship with God. He gave Adam family, Eve. So when those perfect relationships were corrupted, Satan snuck in that little lie about self-sufficiency. Autonomy. Which is why God wrote into the laws how His people were to help and provide for each other. He knew our tendency to turn inwards in self-service and self-destruction.

God knew our propensity to believe that we could do it on our own. Without each other. Which meant without Him.

He knew we would be confronted with our own weaknesses and be tempted to despair instead of giving others the opportunity to fulfill their calling to help us. He knew we would rather rob someone of the joy of serving us in the name of the Lord than appear weak.

So I've been considering this when others have offered to help. Saying yes. Every time. (Ok, almost every time.) Because my reasons for saying no usually have less to do with my needs, and more to do with my pride. I don't enter this lightly with a diva attitude, but with a humble posture. I do what I can. I really do. But maybe if we stopped trying so hard to do it on our own, we would give joy to those who want to help us, and find the joy in helping others as well. Maybe that means talking to someone who has chosen to help people as a profession. Maybe that means scheduling in a much needed coffee time. I don't know what it looks like for you, but I do know this:

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31

He does it still. All the time. He uses the world's wimps to defeat Goliaths every day. To bring glory to His name. So we can look at our lives and say, "Wow, I was way too weak to handle that, but God provided. He sure did provide." 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

For All That He Is {GratiTuesday}

Ever read an article about a health issue and think wow that sounds like so-and-so, and then you visit your health care provider and they diagnose you with that thing that you thought applied to everyone but you?

I'll just assume yes for the moment. And say: Me too.

So was a pretty major happy point of last week. (Other than my husband having a marvelous and inspirational time at a conference and making it home safely.)

Because there is comfort in having someone look you in the eye and tell you that you aren't crazy for your blood pressure spiking when your all your children talk in the same house, in the same room, at the same time. And there is comfort in friends checking up on you because you finally admit out loud that you are stressed and need to say no because you are just tired of being a monster. And there is comfort in being held.

There is comfort in a professional writer telling me that I am a writer so act like it. And there is comfort in another professional mom writer telling me it's ok to cry because motherhood is like negotiating with tiny terrorists, only harder.

There is comfort in the surrender.When I tell God the honest truth that I am looking for the minimum. How much do I need to read, pray, write, sing to Him to just make everything ok? Twenty minutes before I start the day? A quick prayer before the I want's and I need's swallow my energy and patience?

Ok. That is all I am looking for. But that is not what God offers. He offers joy. Joy to the full. So a few mornings ago, I planned to climb the verses in the Psalms rung by rung out of my pit of exhaustion and I made it three verses before I saw Psalm 5:3.

O Lord, in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. 

About that time Pandora started playing one of my new most favoritest songs by Rend Collective:

All that I am for all that You Are, my Lord.
All that I have for all that You Are.
You're the pearl beyond price, greater than life.
All that I am for all that You Are.

Each morning is a surrender. Sacrifice it all. The fatigue. The plans. Give it all to the Lord- my Lord. Your Lord.

And then He does just the most amazing thing. He gives us Himself.

"Watch this," He says. And He takes the tired. He takes the schedules. Plans. Words. He infuses them with His Spirit, His love. He transforms it with His presence. He gives peacecomfortjoy without measure. He does what we would do for our own children whenever possible. What love. What treasure. Because He treasures us. He treasures you.

our ears to Your voice
our eyes to Your presence
our hands to Your work
our mouths to Your praise
our feet to Your will
our minds to Your wisdom
our hearts to Your love.

Happy, joy-full week to you all!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Dethroning Your Fear {Three Word Wednesday}

It is often said that people and animals respond to a threat in one of two ways.

Fight or Flight.

Then there's fear.

Fight or Flight- that's all survival there. Survival instinct. It is something that works beyond fear. In spite of it.

Fear works a lot like stress. Its result- paralysis.

Months back, I chose a word for this year. I prayed, sought, studied. "Fearless" commanded all other words silence, and refused to relinquish its hold on my psyche. So I chose it, and was soon warned that choosing that word could mean God would mess with me in that area. The prophecy was true and I can tell you that I have suffered more at the hand of fear this year than I can ever remember before.

That being said, I can hardly remember what I ate for breakfast, so my memory is not the most reliable gauge of my overall emotional health.

Still, the tunnel seems to be coming to an end- the light approaching ever brighter.

I can move and breathe again.

Too long have I been locked in an upper room for fear of... whatever. Name it.

I put on a good show. Muddle through in spite of the crippling thoughts that threaten to undo me. There is a lot to fear in this world, and all sorts of them have been seeking the throne in my heart reserved for God.

Not gonna lie, they have budged themselves on there more than once.

I'm not using the "respect" definition of fear. I'm talking idolatrous fear.
Because having no other gods isn't always about loving something more than God. Oftentimes, it's about ascribing more power to things other than God. Like all those things we fear.

And don't think for a second that you have to wait until you are completely immobilized by fear before it is a problem. No phobia diagnosis necessary. The moment it robs you of peace in the Lord, the moment it plants the seed of doubt, that's when it is a problem.

If we think too quickly about it all, we may try to find some way to justify our fear. I'm a mom, I'm supposed to worry. (Lie.) We are tempted to give fear credit for the fact that we are mobilized to take the reins and act in our communities. Or read our Bibles. Like those fears are driving us to our knees before the Lord.

Only fear does not do that. Ever. Survival- that's different. Love. Mercy. Grace. Those gifts from God are alone what send us searching for His peace.

Fear locks us away. It is a cunning bully that gradually shoves us in with the crowd that believed in Jesus, but were too scared to confess it because of what others might do. It leaves us helpless, frozen on an ocean in a squall.

It deafens us to Jesus' words:

"It is I; do not be afraid." (John 6:20)

It robs us of the gifts that are rightfully ours as heirs to the kingdom of God:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives so I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

And God knows that. It is recorded in history as one of the first emotions felt by our first mother and father after the Fall. He knew way back when, before Creation, that we would need a Savior. And that we would need a Helper. And He delivered. Just like God always does.

God may give us more than our feeble selves can handle, but His promise of salvation and a Helper are guarantees that offer real hope. Because there is nothing He cannot handle. Nothing.

Drop-kick our fear and deliver us every day, Lord.

Linking up today with simply wonderful Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Your Outside Voice! {Three Word Wednesday}

It could have annoyed me. The squealing, the dawdling, the giggling. I could have let it get to me. Had my children been the culprits and my attitude gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, it most certainly would have.

But it was me. Me! Squealing. Dawdling. Giggling. With one of my very dearest friends. And then we added another friend to the mix and it escalated.

Time to myself is a rarity and a gift. Literally. A birthday gift. A night away. Without the "office." I love my job, but everyone needs a moment to give your brain a break from responsibilities. Even homemakers.

So there we were doing all those things that girls a fraction of our age do, and loving it. And after our stay, right after the magnetic plastic keys were placed at the front desk, I turned around and saw her.

My aunt. From Chicago (which was hours and hours away from the hotel, by the way.) I called her name. She turned, did a double take. 

Then came the shriek. The scream. The unavoidable utterance that disregarded the dozen or so other people in the room. We used our outside voices.

Hugsscreamsquestions! "What are you doing here?! This is SO WEIRD!"

My uncle and cousins joined in. It just so happened we were in the same city (2+ hours from my home), same hotel, on the same night. And had our schedules been off even 10 minutes we wouldn't have ever known it had happened. Thanks, God. Still thanks. You're the best. 

Introductions were made with my friend. More hugs. Goodbyes. And I climbed in the truck high on love.

Driving home I thought that's gotta be what heaven is like. Enjoying our friendship and freedom, and then screaming. Uninhibited shouts of joy! Imagine joining our brothers and sisters in eternity and all the shouting. What a party!

The thing I tend to forget is that the party starts here. Shouting for joy happens here. Happens now. No amount of junk the devil throws at us will quiet the joy and freedom we have received in Jesus. That's where satan trips us up. If he can quiet the true joy of believers, he can drown it out in the tears and murderous threats of hatred. When thanksgiving remains at a dull roar the lies of hopelessness flood our ears.

The reality is there is necessary grief at times. But there is necessary thanksgiving at all times.

I am too often silent. I feel it in my bones. The guilt of rejoicing in the small while others are in pain. The lies crowding my senses until thankfulness is not even a memory. 

But the Bible repeatedly tells us to use our outside voices. All the time. Sometimes we need permission. Whether you need it or not- here it is. Boast in who your God is. Boast in His love. His power. His resurrection. His goodness. It is your privilege. Your gift.

Let's get noisy, people! Praying your joy is raucous today. Raucous!

Linking up with the beautiful and busy Simply Beth again today!

If you are looking for a soundtrack for your joy, either to inspire it or reflect it, may I suggest the newest album from Rend Collective? It is raucous in the best possible way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

At All Times {Three Word Wednesday}

Do you find it odd that at the most scary part of a 24 hour period, that is the time when we are supposed to find rest?

The world has been getting to me lately. Quite honestly, it has kept me up at night. God's fearless wild woman trembles in the face of imaginary bullies. The ones that would rob her children of their innocence, and her heart of its peace.

And when the preschooler comes in our bedroom in the black of night and says she's scared of the dark, I say "me too." Because moms and dads have nightmares too.

Because in the light we could see for miles. In the darkness, only a few feet.

Because I often feel like I'm driving our family west at dusk. Chasing the sun. Reaching to catch it before it sinks, and I drown in darkness.

The darkness deepens. Indeed it does.

And I pray, "Lord, with me abide."

And He says, "I do."

I confess. I search frantically for headlights and reflectors to light the way. Because I don't trust God. He taunts me over the horizon. Drive further, faster. Come get me.

That's my emotions. My weak faith takes over.

That's not God.

He does not taunt. His "I do" promises I am.

His I am is eternal. Inescapable.

No high-speed chase of fleeting fancy.

He pursues. I wait.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from Him comes my salvation.
Psalm 62:1

Rest does not depend on our circumstances. The great illusion is that it will come when our situation changes. When we move. When our kids grow older. But the truth is there will always be a new fear or struggle to replace the old one. 

Rest can only be found in the unchanging I am. Ever present. Ever powerful. Always Mercy. Always Love. 

And He will remind us of that in the dark places. When He speak
s peace and rest into our sin-weary souls. It is no accident that our physical rest is to be found when the darkness is deepest. It is a reminder to rest in Him. In Him alone.

Praying your hearts are refreshed in Him.

Simply serving love with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday. For more refreshment, visit her over there and read some amazing writers. Love you all!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Labels Worth Keeping {Three Word Wednesday}

I'm back!!! What WHAT?! And for a Three Word Wednesday from my dear friend, Simply Beth! Not promising any new revelations. Kept up with the writing and communicating over the summer about as much as I anticipated- which wasn't much. But it was a nice healthy break and I am ready to write!

Soooo... I've been thinking...

The other day I performed my ritualistic and somewhat cursory, scan of my Facebook feed. I'm not here calling anyone out, so I'll keep it vague. A person I know referred to their spouse in a pretty derogatory way. Not an angry tirade against their spouse. Just a pattern of speech that seemed to flow pretty freely. Kind of a "ball-and-chain" reference.

Not a fan.

At. All.

And it just so happens I've been contemplating the devil's calculated use of divide and conquer with us simple human beings. It's all over the Bible. Just look at the first humans. Their consumption didn't separate us from God alone, but from each other.

The first husband and wife, and every couple since then. Every person since then.

Contrast that with Christ and the ministry of reconciliation He has given to us.

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19

People think it is the labels we put on each other that divide us. I think we're just using the wrong labels.

I've heard my husband refer to me in many ways. Not one derogatory. Our current favorite is true love, a label adhered during a conversation following Frozen.

This isn't supposed to gross you out. And please don't think our every word to each other to be drizzled with the nectar of love. It's just different. A good different. It reminds me who I am talking to and about. It seasons my words.

It keeps me from buying into the idea that our words are just words. That the careless words we speak in haste won't become a pattern in our lives. Because words can pack a punch. We know it's true. And if the devil can play into one insecurity using a comment I shouldn't have made (yes, I am culprit numero uno), then it's time I figured out a new speech borne of a new creation. It's a totally different language- not in an effort to appear better than others, but as a revelation of who I am in Christ. And who they are as well.

Because kind words pack a punch too. And praise God for that.

"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." 
Colossians 4:6

So I'm bringing back labels. Labels, like most habits, don't exist in a vacuum. We are born seeking an identity. To whom do we belong? Those of us blessed to know the Lord find our identity in Him. But removing the negative labels we have allowed to litter our self-image isn't enough. We won't keep them off unless we replace them with something new. 

That's what Christ did. He replaced the A of the adulterous woman with the F of forgiven. (John 7-8)

And in giving us the ministry of reconciliation, He has called us to do the same. To grab the emotional goo-gone and windex and scrape away the labels that wallpaper the broken hearts around us. To apply the ointment and adhesive of forgiveness and purpose. Labels like "His." Like "My Neighbor." "Brother." "Sister." He cemented us together in the Body of Christ for a reason, and that's not to do any verbal amputations, but to minister, heal, and work together in His kingdom. 

God spoke and it was. His Spirit in us gives us the ability to speak true life to our neighbors. Praying the Holy Spirit works that in you today and this week, into your heart and your words. Wouldn't it be an awesome thing to see reconciliation in our own lives? Our own neighborhoods? Our own towns? Praising God that He can make it so. Love you all.

And if you need a soundtrack to this particular post, let me direct you to YouTube and the fabulous stylings of Toby Mac in "Speak Life" and Matthew West in "Child of the One True King." I know there are many others. Please feel free to share your favorites with me. I'm always looking for good tunes!