Hope Among The Mess

I took this picture not knowing the meaning it would hold for me less than 24 hours later.  It’s a picture of my 12-year-old’s daughter’s room. As is.

Can you just see her life in there?

One glance at the picture and you can see who she is.  She’s a free spirit. A lover of pink. A dreamer of Paris.

She’s also a mess.  That’s why I took the picture.  I took it to remind myself that one day she’ll grow up and move out and she’ll take the whole messy pink bundle of girlish charms with her. Her laughter. Her smile. Her joy. It will all grow up and move out on me one day. And I want to remember it all.

As is.

I chose not to fuss at her this time for the way her room looks, but she fussed at me for taking the picture. She fusses at me for a lot of things these days. She is twelve after all.

The next day I learned that someone else’s child was shot and killed at her church in Texas. Dozens more were killed simply by doing what my family does more than once a week–going to church.

I am so thankful to still have that ‘one day’ to look forward to.

Anytime tragedy strikes it causes us to reevaluate our lives a bit. Do your loved ones know that you love them? I mean, really? Have you done enough to teach and mold your children? Has your life made a difference to those around you? Are your priorities in line?

Perhaps tragedy makes you feel angry or frustrated.  Maybe it causes you to spring into action to help those who are directly affected by what happened. Or maybe it happens so often that you have become desensitized to it. I know that has been my reaction many times, I am almost ashamed to admit it.

Somehow, this one hit home for me. I’ve lost track of the number of disasters and unspeakable acts of violence this year alone.  But the news of innocent children murdered sitting next to their mothers? It’s too much. It’s too raw.

So, I look back at the picture I snapped the night before. I can practically breathe in the fragrance of my daughter. I can almost see her sitting there at her vanity doing her hair. And I can’t help but wonder if tragedy is around the corner for me too.

However, my peace lies within the knowledge that my child knows Jesus. She teaches me about Him a lot when she doesn’t even mean to. Does she stumble sometimes? Yes. Does she have a lot more to learn? Yes. I pray protection over my children every single day.

I know that God can allow some horrible trials to strengthen His people. None of us are immune to tragedy, but my child is immune to death.

This is what gets me through horrible news stories. The promise of eternal life for those that know Jesus like my child.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t mourn over this tragedy or losing someone they love. It’s not even my child and I have wept. I’m saying that there is hope. Hope for grieving parents and a grieving congregation. Hope for a town that suddenly finds itself thrust into the national spotlight and making a mark in history for all the wrong reasons. There’s hope for a nation that just can’t seem to heal before another tragedy strikes.

You’ll find that hope nestled in the random picture I took of my daughter’s messy room. It’s sitting on her dresser. Do you see it? It’s a Bible. Between the two pink covers lies every answer to every problem you’ll ever face. It’s comfort. It’s hope. And it’s sitting in the midst of the mess we’ve made, just waiting for us to return to its promises.

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My Journey To The Other Side Of Heartbreak {See Ya 2016!}

 

2016, I’m over you!

Typically, I couldn’t care less about a calendar year and don’t anticipate much a new one. But this year, I feel like I should ceremoniously rip December from my desk calendar and prominently place January 2017 where everyone can see it’s shiny newness.

Poor 2016. It’s not your fault.

It’s just that I walked through a whole lot of hurt with a whole lot of my favorite people. Including myself. The sudden and mysterious death of a parent. The death of an old friend. Divorce. The break-off of an engagement. Serious injury. Financial strain. And my personal experience of losing a very close decades-old friendship that I thought would last a lifetime.

Maybe you were dealt a similar hand this year and you can relate.

Hurt.

I could easily feel helpless walking through all of that. And I did. I still do, sometimes. But looking back I can see who I was in January 2016 and who God has stretched and molded me into using all of those trials. If 2016 has anything going for it it’s that I learned more than I ever have about leaning into Jesus for my healing, guidance and strength. I am humbled beyond measure by His mercy and grace and I am learning to set aside the idols that get in the way of His will for my life.

I have been beaten down, bruised and broken.  But never abandoned. Even in the midst of all the hurt I never felt my Savior let go of me. Even on the days when my grief was crippling, I learned to focus on the One who was calling to me among the crashing waves. Every day is a new lesson in remembering to clothe myself in the full armor of God, but trusting Him to be the one to fight my battles.

One word to change my life for 2017

2016 was the toughest year for me emotionally that I can remember. But I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.  I know when I am under fire it’s because I am being refined like metal. All my impurities will melt away transforming me into something more precious.  I am promised an abundant life in Christ and it is in Him that I choose to stay.

Perhaps you are one of many people who will choose a word to guide you through a new year.  I chose ‘intentional’ for my word in 2016. I had a much different idea of the word at the beginning of the year! I thought it would help me build intentional relationships with others. Instead, I found myself being intentional with my prayers, my quiet time, my thoughts and putting on that armor every. Single. Day. Or trying to.

I didn’t give much thought to my word for 2017, but I didn’t need to. God promises that he will work all things for my good and bless my abundant life. Heartbreak is never easy and no one asks for it, but sometimes God allows us to walk through it for the ‘soul’ purpose of getting to know Him better and learning to trust Him more.

That is why my word for 2017 is TRUST

Trust that He will never leave me nor forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Trust that He will deliver His promise for good. (Romans 8:28)

Trust that His dreams for me are way better than anything I could imagine for myself. (Ephesians 3:20)

Trust Him to heal me and to restore me. (Psalm 147:3)

Trust that the journey He brought me through in 2016 has prepared me for His plan in 2017 and beyond. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I never thought I’d be thankful for my heartbreak or that I would ever be able to turn my hurt into praise. Still, some days are easier than others.  But it’s because of those promises in Scripture that I am able to find hope. In good times and in bad. So, while I know my journey isn’t over (I am still breathing after all), and I know that the year is long, I can feel the Lord’s strength within me and that still small voice cheering me on through His sustaining power in 2017!

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Peace {How I Found It With A Wish}

I lost an eyelash this morning.  Not really a big deal. But I lost an eyelash this morning and it taught me a huge lesson on what really matters.

My husband and I have been pretty diligent about staying out of debt for the last 7 years.  We worked really hard to pay off student and car loans and credit cards.  It took us a good while to get there, but when we did it was very liberating  and we were able to begin saving for emergencies.

We’ve had our share of car breakdowns, vet bills, and home repairs.  Anyone living in the free world experiences these things. But God always provides. Always.

This year though we’ve had a rough go. Our entire air conditioning unit needed to be replaced earlier this Summer giving us a huge $6,000 hit to our emergency fund. We reluctantly paid it but we were thankful not to go into debt and to have cool air. Southern summers are brutal, y’all. (Oh, how I love them!)

We slowly began to rebuild our emergency fund from it’s crippling blow, but life seems to want to beat us up a bit more. Both girls needed braces at the same time. The same. Time!

My oldest started high school along with musical theater and choir and dance and fees, fees, fees!

My husband needs to have surgery within the next few months. If you’ve been living in America the last several years, no doubt you are aware that even if you have insurance your medical bills are nothing short of ridiculous. I could go on since this is my blog and I can.  But I won’t.

Also, because of the extreme drought in the Southeast, my house is slowly settling it’s way into the ground and beginning to crumble around my ears. Just say the words “Foundation Repair” and you see dollar signs flash before your eyes. Go ahead. Say them. Right? Dollar signs!

Last weekend both of our cars, BOTH of our cars died on the same day.  One is still sitting dead in my driveway.

It’s all a bit overwhelming.

So, we pray. And we plan. And we pick up the things that God has put in our path and try to count it all joy.

We look for ways and anticipate how He will provide for us. We give it all over to the one who gave us our home, our kids and our health in the first place and let Him manage it all.

That’s where you find peace.  And you know you have it when you have moments like when you lose an eyelash.

You know you’re supposed to make a wish when you lose one, right? You make a wish and as with your birthday candles you blow it away.

Well, I don’t believe in wishes.  I believe in prayer.

So this morning when I lost my eyelash, as I often do, I paused to think about what I should pray for. I was in front of my mirror so I just looked at my reflection and smiled.

Hmmm… Should I pray away my trials? Should I pray for money to fall from the sky?

But I truly didn’t feel like I should waste my ‘wish’ on those material things.

So, I dug around deep inside my soul to find my purest desire. I drew in my breath and prayed.

“I pray for my children to grow up to know Christ.”

I surprised myself, honestly. It was in that moment when I realized I don’t really need money. Or health. Or even a house.

I need the assurance of spending an eternity with the ones I love the most.  I need to know that when they grow up and have trials of their own they will know they should lean on Christ the way my husband and I have tried to these last few months. I need to know that they are taken care of even in those times when I fail to do so.

Only the saving knowledge of Christ can provide any of that. Along with the peace He so lovingly provides during life’s most difficult trials. And all we have to do to get that peace is pray, trust and wait for Him to send the provisions He has already promised.

 

How has God provided for you during your difficult times? What did you learn from it?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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The Power of Prayer

Let me start by saying that I know this will sound like I think I got it goin’ on. I know. But that is exactly why I have to tell you about it. Sometimes the things that seem the craziest are the very stories we keep to ourselves. And that is the very moment when the enemy wins.  When we don’t share our ‘God winks’, we stiffle the glory that God deserves. The glory that makes those moments even possible.

It hasn’t rained here in my sweet-home Alabama town in many weeks.  We are in a burn ban drought emergency situation.  That is a bit unusual for this neck of the woods.  My house has settled so badly that there is a very large crack in our foundation that will need some serious attention.  Many homes in our neighborhood are experiencing the same thing.

My husband and I were talking about the situation last night and as we were getting ready to go to sleep I said aloud,

“I wish it would rain.”

That’s when the Spirit reminded me that wishing and praying are two totally different things.  One works. The other doesn’t.

I realized I had not prayed about the situation at all.  Not even once had I asked God for rain. So I took a moment and silently prayed for some rain.

Amen.

This is the part where you might think that I am a bit full of myself.  At the very least you might label me a Jesus freak, but I am ok with that one!

I was in the bathroom getting ready for church this morning when my husband came in to tell me that it was raining. Rain was not in the forecast for days! Zero percent chance!

Unless of course you prayed for some rain. Because God is in the business of answering prayers.

Now, it didn’t rain for hours and it wasn’t a gully washer. It was just enough for people to notice, puddle up and for me to be           awe-inspired by my God while He taught me a lesson about prayer. Which is exactly His point!

Have farmers been praying for rain for weeks? No doubt!

Are their prayers being unanswered? No.

I’m here to tell you that God still answers prayers every single day. Prayers for health and healing. Prayers for mended relationships and healthier finances. Prayers for your children to grow up and thrive. He answers each one, every single one, for our good and for His glory in His time.

I don’t know why He is allowing a drought in my region.  I don’t know what He is accomplishing through it.  But I do know it’s for the good of all who know Him.  And He’s teaching us all something through it if we will just pray and listen.

I also know that as crazy as His immediate response to my simple prayer for rain sounds, if I keep silent on my glimpse of His provision today and how He answered my prayer, and how He hears even me. Sinful, hurting, disobedient little me, the lesson He is trying to teach me about prayer will be lost and His glory won’t shine.

So, thank you, Lord for hearing my prayer and for sending the rains to replenish the earth.

“If you believe, you will recieve whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22

How has God shown you He’s listening lately? I’d love to hear from you. Comment below if you’d like to share.

 

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My Senior Quote and Other Words of Wisdom

“God asks no man whether he will accept life; that is not the choice. You must take it; the only choice is how.”

H.W. Beecher

My oldest daughter just started high school at the same school I graduated from a couple decades ago. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about my high school days these last several weeks. The above quote rests next to my Senior picture in the yearbook for all eternity. When I chose it back then I’m sure I was dreaming of a lucrative career as a blogger. Married. 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. Well, I’m married anyway. And to the boy I was dating when that Senior portrait was taken nonetheless. I suppose some dreams do come true.

Back between the pages of my high school yearbook, I was a Christian. I met Jesus for the first time in my bedroom when I was in middle school so I felt like I had a good idea about who God was and what he wanted me to do with the life he gave me. Go to church. Do a few service projects. Be a good girl. I had all of that covered.  I could live out my life and call upon Jesus whenever I felt like I needed him. Things were good.

But Jesus didn’t die on the cross for your life to be good. Good is decent health, a job to pay the bills and people who love you. Good is average. Midgrade. A ‘B’ at best. Good is the free samples of vanilla ice cream they hand out to everybody.

…I have come that you may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10.

Maybe you have all those good things.  But are you still stressed with too much to do? Do you worry too much about the future? Maybe your job pays the bills but do you still keep striving for more? Discontent?

Do you have some really great people in your life that you ignore too many times or take for granted?

Your health is probably pretty good, but do you take the time for yourself to rest properly, excercise and eat well?

Do you sometimes feel like something is missing?

Maybe that’s because the way you are accepting the life you were given is to try to do things your own way. And that, truly my friend, just goes against the grain of the reason for humanity.  If God created you for the sole purpose of loving you, how in the world can we just sit back and accept life as good? Reading a passage in the Bible here and there. Say a short prayer every now and then. That’s an insult to your Creator.

You were made for a purpose. And yours might be very simple.

Maybe you homeschool your own children and train them up in the way they should go. Or, maybe you work in retail and you shine your light every day to customers who  just want to get high on a good bargain.

Maybe you’re a missionary or a pastor and people seem to put you on a pedastal because of whatever preconceived fabricated human idea that those positions get you closer to God.

Perhaps you spend your days in corporate meetings and make a living handling other people’s money.

All of those man-made positions and ideals are nothing. It doesn’t matter how hard you work, how late you stay up, or how much money you make. It’s all nothing. If you are working for the paycheck and for the praise. None of it matters, unless at the end of the day you acknowledge the One who put you there. Unless you can turn back around with the life you have accepted and open-handedly offer it back to the One who gave it to you, nothing you do matters.

What matters is how intentional you make the life you’ve been given. Are you aware of your purpose to glorify God in everything you do?

So, you have a choice.  I have a choice.  God breathed life into your lungs and gave you life without your consent. He made you without consulting you and made you wonderfully and purposefully.  The only appropriate response is to seek His will in every decision and wish more than anything in the deepest areas of your heart to please the One who gave you life. The One who came to give you life and to have it to the full.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6

 

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The Irrational Dilemma of Being Stuck

 

When I was about 10 years old I went to the mall with my family. I remember being on the 2nd floor and stopping to peer over the railing down to the main courtyard with my dad. We were waiting for my mom to finish shopping. As I watched the people bustle below me, I pressed my knee between two of the retaining bars as many children often do and I left it there. It was then that my mom came out of the store. But when I tried to pull my knee out from between the bars it wouldn’t budge.

I was stuck.

In my 10-year-old mind I panicked. I frantically started pulling and tugging and twisting around trying anything to get my leg free from its unexpected prison.  When I couldn’t free myself my thoughts escalated into irrational scenarios.  Surely the fire department would need to be called in. Mall managers would yell at this little kid for making such a mess and ban my family forever. And my parents surely would refuse me my allowance for causing them to have to pay for the damage.

My face began to get hot from the embarrassment. There seemed to be thousands of  people walking by. I had no doubt they were thinking that I was so fat and stupid. How else could someone get their leg stuck?  I could already hear the kids at school calling me names when they got a hold of the headline, “Girl Gets Her Fat Knee Stuck at The Mall. Emergency Amputation Performed on Sight.”

Tears started to burn my eyes when my Daddy placed his hands on my shoulders from behind me and calmed me down. He said, “Stop moving. You’re just going to hurt yourself. Extend your leg gently and try to pull it out.”

I argued with him a little bit and told him that it was going to be stuck there forever. There was no way that doing what he suggested was going to work.

“Trust me,” he said calmly.  My daddy was always so calm even in the midst of his daughter suddenly facing leg amputation. Such a good quality. Wish I had more of that.

I did what he said and lo and behold, my knee came out with ease!  It was a little sore, but I was so thankful that the news crew hadn’t arrived yet that I didn’t care.

I looked around expecting a crowd to have gathered behind me to jeer and mock me while I was stuck there feeling so vulnerable.  To my surprise there wasn’t a single person pointing fingers. There wasn’t anyone there making fun of me. But there also wasn’t anyone there feeling sorry for me either. Despite all the lavish delusions that went on in my head, the whole episode had gone unnoticed by everyone except my Father.

Do You Ever Feel Stuck?

I haven’t learned my lesson very well.  My knee isn’t trapped between bars at the mall, but I still feel stuck sometimes. Things I think should have happened by now haven’t.  Things I think I should have overcome by now just seem to keep nagging at me.

It’s easier to let our minds race with damaging and irrational thoughts and let panic overtake us. allowing that leads us to believe we will never get unstuck. All the tugging and twisting trying to free ourselves from unexpected stuck-ness only causes us to hurt ourselves more and remain stuck. And that is exactly what the enemy wants.  You can’t do much to advance the Kingdom if you’re stuck.

Maybe you’ve been stuck deep in debt and you feel like you just might drown.  Or maybe you’ve lost a close relationship you thought you’d have forever and you’re stuck in the hurt and grief. Maybe life happened before you could finish your degree and you are feeling underpaid and underappreciated. It could be that you are stuck in sin or an addiction and you just can’t seem to find your way out.

Are you hurting yourself more by tugging and twisting trying to figure things out on your own? Are you making the situation worse than it actually is by listening to the voices in your head? Or are you being still and listening to the direction of your Father to help you out of your sticky situation?

So How Do I Get Unstuck?

Here’s what I have learned in my years on this planet. Life is sticky. It’s not always easy to wipe away the messes that catch us off guard. In the moment it seems like the pulling and the tugging are the right things to do. But that only hurts us more in the end. If we could just learn to Be Still and listen for our heavenly Father’s instruction on how to get unstuck, we would save ourselves so much heartache.

Ask for a way out. There is no debt, no loss, no sorrow, fear or injury that can leave you stuck forever if you seek His glory through the pain. Even when things seem impossible to overcome your Heavenly Father is waiting there to help you find your way out.

Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Asking for help is easier if you know the person you are asking.  Be still and know… We can’t get to know anyone if we’re constantly on the move. It used to be so hard for me to be still and I am a work in progress with that one. Being still doesn’t mean sitting in a quiet room and not doing anything.  It’s sitting at His feet and seeking His face. It’s wanting the Truth more than anything else and finding peace within that. Being still is bathing in the Word and soaking up what God speaks to you through it. And then trust Him! Get to know your God through prayer and ask Him to reveal ways to become unstuck while you are being still and He may astonish  you!

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33

For more on how to get unstuck through reading your Bible, click on the Bible verses above or click here.

A Description of What It Felt Like When I Wandered

Wandering

 

The sound of sirens screamed above my head warning me that something dreadful was approaching. Like many times before, I walked along a narrow path in the wood. There were no signs of a storm. No wind. No dark clouds billowing in the distance.  The sun, warm and yellow, filtered through the trees.

“Probably just a test,”  I said aloud to the peace in front of me.  There was no one in my way. I was carefree and glad to be wandering on my own. The birds dashed, dived and called to one another overhead. The flowers seemed to radiate colors never seen before. It was an exquisite afternoon and I was drawing in every quiet moment.

“There is no way there’s a storm coming. Not when the sky is immeasurable blue.”

I ignored the warning and continued on my way.  If I had really been in danger I thought it would have been obvious. The sirens would have kept going or rain would have begun to fall. But the noise calmed itself and seemed to fold away, and with it any thoughts I might have had of being harmed.

And that’s when I saw it. Like something out of storybooks a different and more alluring path was suddenly revealed to me. In all my years of following this same path never had I noticed the tiny segue tucked under the vines and underbrush. I stopped and looked around to see if there was anyone else who noticed this sudden revelation. This secret garden filled with enchantment. But it seemed as though it was just for me.

A wave of excitement took me over. It was something that looked so inviting and promised to offer adventure that my usual way never had. I was full of curiosity and time seemed to stretch like a sleepy cat, so I chose to wander away from the things I knew. I told myself I wouldn’t stray for too long. I’d just walk a little ways down the path and turn back to my familiar surroundings in a few minutes.  I just had to see if I could find something better heading a different way. I took a deep breath and began my journey down a path that lead to anywhere. It felt so good. It felt like an adventure. Doing something different than what I have always done. Going a different way. There was no telling what I might find!

It seemed to smell sweeter. The earth dark and fresh with life. It felt soft beneath my feet. Comfortable. New. I was alone but felt like the whole world needed me to do this. The whole world needed me to discover promises of something better.

Suddenly, a cool breeze rustled through the canopy of branches and gathered around my shoulders. I shivered at the dramatic change in temperature and thought it would be best if I turned around to head back to my old faithful path. But I could see a clearing up ahead and I let the temptation of the rush of freedom under an open sky overwhelm me. So, I walked even farther down the unfamiliar path. Twisting and turning my way into satiated oblivion.

High on exploration, suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks.  An eery darkness fell and I could feel something lurking. Something so perfectly intriguing. Something obscure. Something heavy and powerful. Magnetic and inhuman. Something was watching me.

I wasn’t alone.

Rolls of thunder began to call in the distance begging me to turn back. I looked over my shoulder to see how far I had walked down this unmarked road and my stomach lurched. It was dark behind me like a curtain had been pulled. A veil shielding any light that may have once been there. Panic shot up my veins when I realized I had wandered too far.

I was lost.

What I had thought was a path was simply a fabrication in my mind. All of it’s beauty and allure suddenly vanished and I couldn’t believe I walked that far and never realized there was nothing special about it at all. I felt empty and foolish. Hopeless. There was nothing to show me where I had come from. Nothing to indicate how to get back to what I knew was safe and would lead me home. Fear sped through my spirit like a freight train. I didn’t know where to go, or which way to turn. Frantic and scared I began to run back in the direction where I thought I had come.

Straight into the storm I had denied was building.

I kept running blind just hoping that whatever force that had been minding my steps was not continuing to follow my every move. I knew I was wrong to have wandered off the road marked before me and I was desperate to be back on that path. I didn’t care what it took to get me there, but I didn’t know where to turn and there was no one around to help me. The distress over my isolation crashed with the streaks of lightening in the sky.

There was nothing left for me to do but to fall to my knees and endure the heartache of weathering a storm. I cried out for someone, anyone to save me. I begged for shelter and mercy from the unrelenting rain. Wind tore through me and I feared it would rip me apart. Lightening struck a tree and firey fingers fell around me like darts. It looked like a war zone. It felt like an attack. Angry at myself for not heading the warnings. In disbelief that I had allowed something to pull me away from my straight and narrow path I yelled through the unforgiving downpour.

“Lord, save me! Fight this storm for me, Lord! Forgive me for my wandering and rescue me from myself!”

You won’t believe me when I tell you but all of it is true. My sweet savior came to me immediately and quieted the storm swirling around me. He lifted me out of my own muck and mire and set me down on dry ground among the path marked out just for me. He took my hand in his and said, “My child, I have heard you. Now come. Follow me.”

With tears streaming down my face and my heart bursting with gratitude I looked at him and said:

“Lead the way.”

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The Things Jesus Doesn’t Know About Me

RepentenceLately I’ve been wrestling with a question that I felt was pretty stupid. I often don’t ask questions like that except to my husband who is always so gracious with my naive spirit.  But even this one I kept close to my wandering heart. I just felt awkward even having the thought. Finally, one night this week I had to try to quiet the rattling in my brain,

“If Jesus was perfect and never sinned, how can he relate to me, a sinner, struggling with repentance?”

In other words, how is it possible that he understands why I do the things I do when I don’t want to do them? (Romans 7:15) How does He have any clue what it’s like to be entangled in sin and not want to be there?

How can He understand my gossip? My lies? My deceit? Insecurities? Doubt? How does He know what it’s like to wrestle thoughts I shouldn’t have or desires that don’t line up with His? I know I shouldn’t. I don’t want to do any of those things. My true desire is to become as Christ-like as I can. But I am human. And so was He. But He is also God.

I can’t compete with that!

Yes, Jesus was tempted with the same things that tempts me and you. Yes, He has felt the sting of betrayal and loss. He took on my sins to save me. But how can He understand remorse? How can He understand true sorrow over things done and left undone?

How can my savior fully understand repentance when He never had to go through it Himself? Wasn’t that the point of Him being sent here to Earth? So that He could understand my every heartbreak?

The conversation with my husband didn’t help me at all. (Sorry, babe!) He didn’t have an answer to soothe my worn out soul. In fact I became a little angry with the idea and started to feel alone in picking up my cross daily. I didn’t want to do it anymore. Pride began to creep in and I started entertaining thoughts of how much easier it seemed to do things my way.

That’s a dangerous place to be. And when you find yourself in a battle like that the best and only solution is to drop everything and sit quietly at the feet of Jesus. Oh, how I can’t wait to be able to do that for all eternity!

Because He does know exactly what I’m feeling. He’s God after all! Omniscient God! He knows every last emotion and thought. He knows my struggles and my pain. He catches every single tear and patches up the rips in my heart. The heart He made and gave to me. The heart He dwells within and calls His own.

It’s when I’m remorseful and sorrowful for the things I’ve done that He ushers up beside me, sits quietly, and lets me weep. He lets me pour out my heart without hesitations and He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t need to. He knows.

And when I am too weak to pick up my cross, He carries it for me.

 

 

Living Without Regret: Or Being Obedient

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My morning routine has been anything but these days. With my husband out of town these last three weeks I’ve been the one to get both of my girls out the door on time and in one piece. So, let me just stop right here and publicly thank my husband for his awesomeness in the morning and how much he helps me on a daily basis. I can do it without you. But I really don’t wanna! On top of getting our girls up and moving, he makes me breakfast each morning. I’m spoiled and I don’t even know it.

It had been about 2 weeks since I had eaten a decent breakfast. I could have waited until I got to my office and made me a bowl of the instant oatmeal that has been in my desk for months.  I am sure starving children in China would have been happy to have it, but I just needed some Chick-Fil-A. We all need some Chick-Fil-A. Little did I know that I had a divine appointment waiting for me there.

I drove passed the church where I work and a few miles out of my way to the closest Chick-Fil-A restaurant. I will never understand how that place gets people in and out so quickly. The line is always wrapped around the building. So I drove around the building to find my place in line. As I did, I managed to accidentally cut someone off resulting in them needing to take their place in line behind me. I cringed because my car has a vinyl cross affixed to the back window. Christian’s aren’t perfect, but somehow we have gotten a bad rap for thinking we are. I was hoping the guy behind me wasn’t muttering something ugly to himself about me, or worse, something ugly about Christians in general.

That’s when God suddenly showed up in my front seat and made me real uncomfortable.

I’ve been struggling with obedience lately. Ok. I always struggle with obedience. But here lately God has really been working on me. And not just with being obedient in the big things like moral issues, although He’s pressing hard on me there too. But the little things I’ve really noticed. Like, when my husband asks me to get the oil changed in the car on Tuesday. Tuesday is ladies day and we can save $5. Tuesday it was raining and I really didn’t want to have to go out in the rain to have that done. Plus, I always feel like an idiot because I can’t find the stupid lever to open the hood. I end up having to have the mechanic do it for me. They are always so polite to me, but I know as soon as I pull out of the bay they start talking about how much they hate Tuesdays because they have to deal with mechanically ignorant women like me. But, my husband asked me to do it. We can save money. So I went.

That morning at Chik-Fil-A wasn’t much different. I could feel the Spirit telling me to buy the meal for the guy behind me. No matter what he ordered or how much it would be. He wanted me to bless him. Ok! I can do that! But wait…there’s more!

“And I want you to give him one of those Gospel tracts you found when you cleaned out your car this weekend.”

I already cut the guy off and now you want me to go all Jesus-freak?

I didn’t want to do that. But then I remembered that moment in my bedroom when I was in the 7th grade. I found a tract in my Bible that I must have pulled from church somewhere. I had a million questions about life after death because a good friend of mine had just lost her mom to cancer. I read the tract right there on my bed and met Jesus for the first time even though I had been to church all my life.

My heart started to pound as I pulled up to the window. I was making up excuses why I didn’t need to do what had been asked of me. Maybe I could just pay for his meal and have the girl tell him to have a nice day. Maybe she could just tell him I was sorry for cutting him off. Maybe she didn’t need to tell him anything and I didn’t need to pay for his meal at all.

What if the person at the window thinks I’m crazy? Or what if she’s inspired by my actions and it changes her for the better even if just a little bit?

Or what if the guy behind rejects it or it upsets him? That’s not my concern. I am to be obedient when God asks me to do anything and not ask questions.

But what if he’s already a Christian and could share the Gospel with me? Wouldn’t that be a waste? Then maybe he might be encouraged by my actions to do the same thing for someone else later. Someone else who really needs to hear the Gospel.

None of my excuses were getting me out of the task set before me. So, I told the sweet southern girl at the window that I wanted to pay for the guy behind me and asked her to give him the tract. She didn’t blink. Well, at least that settled one of my fears. She didn’t seem to think I was crazy.

She gave me my breakfast after I paid for both of us and I went on my way. I thought to myself that I’ll probably never see that guy again.

But what if I do and it’s in Heaven? What if my obedience that day shaped his eternity?

Being obedient isn’t always easy and a lot of times it doesn’t feel good. But I read something today that makes it just a little bit easier for me.

“Obedience to Jesus is the only path to no regrets.” -Billy Graham

I have yet to disprove that statement.

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Be Still And Know That It’s Ok To Stop Running

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…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. -Hebrews 12:1

Onward Christian soldier. Keep going. Don’t look back. Run with perseverance. Never quit. Never give up. Move forward. Fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith.

Have you ever experienced a time, maybe even a season, in your life where running was the last thing you felt like doing? Everyone around you kept telling you to keep going. Be strong. It will all be ok. And you believed it. A little. But deep down all you really wanted to do was quit. The ache in your heart was so great and the longing for someone just to tell you that it would be ok to sit this one out was consuming.

Maybe you lost your job and it has been months since you’ve seen a steady paycheck. Maybe you lost a loved one sooner than what you ever expected. Maybe your spouse has asked you for a divorce. Or the diagnosis was cancer. Maybe your child seems to be rebelling against everything you ever taught them in church. Perhaps your parents need more care than you have the time or money to spend. It could be that your life-long soul mate just hasn’t materialized yet and the loneliness takes over more often than you are willing to admit.

What if what you really need to do is stop running and just be still?

There’s no shame in that.  In fact I think it takes more courage for us to admit that we can’t handle it all. I think it takes more will to stop and to be still. Often we gain this inertia while running because that’s what we are supposed to do, persevere. But we don’t realize that somewhere along the way we started running away from and not toward the comforting arms of Christ.

It’s ok to be human. God created you that way. He created you to need Him. Sure, we are to run the race with passion in our hearts. We are to be so on fire that the trail is ablaze from our enthusiasm. But life is hard. Your savior knows this and He knows you. He knows what you can handle, with His help. And He’s there fighting for you as you take every step.

So, close your eyes. Breathe in the aroma of the peace and comfort provided only from the one who made you. Allow His arms to envelope your soul. Hand him the keys to the anxiety in your mind. Take just a moment to be still and know that He is God and with that truth everything else falls into place.

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